Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cameras and Expositions

Ruth 1967

When I turned 12 years old, I started babysitting and had my own money to spend for the first time in my life. I really wanted to take my own pictures and used my savings to buy a Kodak Instamatic camera. Buying and developing film was relatively expensive in the 1960's and I tried not to waste any shots as my income was quite limited.
Canada's centennial year was 1967 and there was a World Fair in Montreal to celebrate the event.
The Thailand Pavilion

There were many pavilions;- national, regional, thematic, and industrial. My parents took myself and my two eldest brothers to Expo '67 in June of that year. It was a big trip in my young life and I used my first roll of film at this event. I found some of the prints in a box recently with a description of the scenes neatly printed on the back of each picture. Looking at them today I couldn't help but notice how slim and well dressed people generally were in the 1960's! Take a photo of a group of people walking on a busy city sidewalk today, and you would certainly notice a difference.
My father gave me a rare compliment on the composition of the photo featuring the escalator in the geodesic dome of the American Pavilion. (We were always expected to do our best and compliments were sincere, but not commonplace)
American Pavilion

I knew nothing about photography, but this little positive comment got me hooked on picture taking. When I was earning more money as a young adult, I purchased a Minolta SLR camera and a set of filters for about $300.00. That was astronomically expensive considering my salary at the time. I took many slides with that camera because they were much cheaper and of better quality than colour prints at the time. It still gives me a lot of pleasure view them and they have not deteriorated over the years. While there are several artists in my family, the art genes skipped me completely leaving me challenged when drawing stick men. I have to create my own art through the lens of a camera.
Digital photography has flooded the world with instant images of everything imaginable. Sometimes sensationalism and sheer quantity make it difficult to find pictures of that are of really good quality. I take many more pictures than I did with my film cameras and find that I seldom keep even 10% of them. I like playing with the editing options on the computer, but try not to overuse them.
My grandparents had a handful of pictures to chronicle their entire lives, many taken in stiff poses with cameras that required long exposure times. Now we can record thousands of moments in our lives each year with ease and instant photographs can change perceptions of world news in seconds.
I still have very little technical knowledge when it comes to photography, but it is a hobby I will continue to enjoy and share with others.

Philip, Mark, Ruth, Stephen, Nathan (Sandland Brother) circa 1967


  1. It's so true that holding those black and white photos in one's hand somehow etches the images in your mind so much more than looking at hundreds of images to choose from on a computer. I remember when my uncle showed up one Christmas with a new concept... a poloroid camera...wow... instant photos you didn't have to take to the Photo Bug. Somehow with the ability to crop and heavily edit these days, I wonder if the image I am seeing was anything close to what the person saw!

  2. Ruth, I enjoyed this post so much! We are the same age and I had the Kodak Instamatic camera on my Christmas list. It was very expensive to have film developed back then so I was careful, too. I was the only 13 year old who took a Polariod camera on a school trip to Washington, D.C. I treasure all of the photos I have taken, like you.

    People did dress very nicely in the 60s. You looked particularly pretty and fashionable in the first photo :)

  3. Jayne and Mary- I had forgotten about the polaroid cameras. I don't know how well those prints have held up over the years. I remember the anticipation of picking up prints at the photo shop and how I would pore over the detail in every shot.
    Mary...Thanks for commenting on the fresh face of youth that is not appreciated by the owner until it is gone!


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