Before I attended high school, I had an epiphany regarding photography. I had worked hard mowing lawns, babysitting and delivering newspapers so I had a little cash available. My father always took great photos of us while we were on vacation, and I wanted to be able to take some pictures of my own. So I bought a very inexpensive Kodak 120 camera. The file was 35mm size, but in a cartridge that eliminated the need to spool or wind film. You just snapped a cartridge in and you were on your way. You could also add a flashcube, (sold separately) and it would turn a dark room into daylight!
Anyway, we took a trip to Orbisonia PA to visit the East Broad Top Railroad. The EBTR was the last narrow gauge railroad in PA still operating with its original steam equipment on its original tracks. The locomotives belched smoke and steam, and created a cacophony of sound as they strained to move their heavy hulks of iron over the steel rails. Although this was the late 60's, the scene was one out of the 1920's and was a dramatic demonstration of the technology of the past.
I had loaded my 120 with a black and white film cartridge and began snapping away. This was a simple point and shoot camera, no aperture settings, no shutter control, no focus required. I shot locomotives and rolling stock, the roundhouse and turntable, the water towers and maintenance equipment. I used every bit of film I had, probably 24 exposures, if I have to guess.
When the film was developed, I was shocked. The black and white exposures, sometimes blurry, grainy, over or under exposed, did not look like photographs taken in the 1960's. They looked like 19th Century, post civil war photos. There was nothing in the photo to give away the actual date, other than the Kodak date mark on each print.
It was at that point that I realized that the photographer could control the resulting image, and that reality could be altered into an expression of the artist's intentions. Ever since that day I have realized that I could be in a crowd of others with cameras, but it was only me that would interpret the scene in the way that I wished. It wasn't long after that I realized that my interpretations were usually superior to others, and that they had some artistic merit.
I can now afford state-of-the-art photographic equipment, and my Orbisonia photos were not digitized in time to save them from the ravages of age, but I still remember my simple camera, and realize that I captured a moment in time that cannot be replaced or duplicated. Photography is the ability to capture a fraction of a second in time, and preserve it for the future, and I hope that others will accept the role of archivist, and preserve the images of today for future generations.
Richard Weisser, Broker, Associate Broker,
Auctioneer, E-Pro, CE Instructor