This isn’t a shot for an advert—this is an image I photographed just a few days ago in my studio of the very real first camera I ever owned. It was given to me by my Dad in 1978. I was 12. That’s when I fell in love with photography. My Dad and I took a photography class at our local community college and my first self-assigned shoot was in a field surrounded by woods up the road from us. I’d ride my Schwinn hot rod bike all the way there after school and take pictures of animals and landscapes with this very camera.
Ahhh the Pentax K-1000. It was a pretty cool little camera back in 1976 when my Dad bought it, yes, at the Kmart camera department. It was Pentax’s answer to the brand new, at the time, hand-held SLR (single lens reflex) consumer rage. My Dad loved being the first to buy techie stuff. We were the first in our neighborhood to get a Microwave (which lasted 30 years!) and the first to get an 8-track player and the first (yes!) to get the black and white ‘Pong’ video game. Well, the same went for the Pentax K-1000. It wasn’t cheap. It ran about $150 back then which was equivalent to around $500 now!
When he bought it, it wasn’t like now where EVERYONE : ) is a photographer. Ya know, I’m showing my age, but you had to really want to be photographing something back then because there was no cell phones, computers, internet or YouTube instant photo education and it took pretty hefty investment in equipment and, yes, film and developing. So, to properly learn, my Dad registered for a class at our community college and asked if I wanted to take it with him. Of course I said yes and the rest is history.
I can remember the absolute delight in the assignments—the first being photographing an object or a product. I took a picture of a 7-Up bottle with carpet padding as a background. I used our basement window for light and shot on the Pentax with Kodak Kodachrome slide film (yum!). I remember that feeling—that raw excitement of setting it all up and the richness I felt from looking at the bottle swimming in the north-facing window light (little did I know that is the BEST natural light to shoot in!). I still get that feeling now when I’m shooting, retouching and compositing—without fail. I revel in the tiniest lighting, texture and color details just like I did then. To still have that excitement is a luxury that I don’t take for granted.
My dad didn’t really pursue photography. He was a busy business man. He gave me that camera to ‘use’. Even though I knew it was really mine, now. I loved that camera—the sound of the shutter and the tick, tick, tick of the film winding on the spool. Though I wouldn’t pursue photography professionally until after college, it was my Dad and the Pentax that started me on the journey when I was only 12. My Dad has dementia now and his memory is fading. But, I’m sure grateful to have those memories with him and to still have this K 1000. Thanks Dad.