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I Still Have My First Camera

On my desk sits the first camera I ever bought. It is an Olympus OM-1 MD, and I purchased it in 1978 while I was in high school. I remember looking through all the camera magazines, trying to decide which camera I wanted and could afford. It still gives me a thrill when I think about how I walked into Ardens Camera Store at their old location in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had the salesman show me the camera and how it worked, as it was a little different from other cameras at the time, with the shutter speed controls on the front of the camera next to the lens. I could not wait to go out and capture some images.

My brother Dan and I had been using my grandfather's old Argus camera, learning about photography together. We built a darkroom in our home and purchased a very inexpensive enlarger to print our own black-and-white print. It still gives me chills remembering the first time we saw our first photo appear in the developer. It seemed like it took forever for that print to dry so we could hold it in our hands and show our family. Having my own modern camera opened a new and exciting world of photographic opportunity for me.

This led me to take a photography class during my senior year in high school and allowed me to try different types of photography with my teacher, Dennis Grants. Many of my brothers took his class over the years, and we still have some contact with him to this day. I would go on to larger format cameras and fell in love with the 4X5 camera, which has helped me with my photography to this day.

The Olympus camera was built like a tank, and if I were to put film in it today, I could still capture some images with that camera. I love our digital cameras, but I also miss some of the excitement of photographing with film and the joy of working in the darkroom (sometimes.)

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