Old School Film Hack

Imagecraft Bootcamp — Your First Image


Hi!  This is Mitch, your host for this series.

The challenge for today should be a fun one for people of all ages — what is the very first image you ever shot and what has photography come to represent to you?  And by first image, I mean the very first photograph you ever captured that has managed to make it to today.

For me, it’s the image above.

This is my mother, when she was a few months short of being 26-years-old.  She had me at age 22, so I was just a few months shy of turning 4-years-old when I took this snapshot of her.

As far as this image goes, it was taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera (I don’t remember the exact model), with an attached flash bulb.  The negatives have been long-lost to the ages, but I know that it was the bigger roll film — not 35mm — that we were using back then.

I still remember taking this photo (super excited!) and thinking how beautiful she looked at the time.  It was only much later as an adult that I realized how tired and thin she appeared compared to other photos from the same period (this was in the mid-1960’s; she was newly remarried to the man I now call my Dad and we were in the process of moving into our new home together).

What do I have as proof that I took it?  The caption in the family album simply states, “Moving in — Mitch’s camera work — 3/65”.  And given that this is the next image directly after their wedding photos, that’s as definitive as it’s going to get in this instance.

This early photo — black and white and all askew — was all it took for me to embark on a lifelong journey of taking photographs and making creative things with my hands and mind.  My parents let me take photos from a very young age, though I don’t remember when I was given my own camera for the first time.

I do remember my first 35mm camera, though — a pro-level Pentax MX — that my parents gifted to me when it became clear during my high school years that I was moving toward the creative field as a career.  And I kept that camera with me nearly all the time through my college years and past my first job after graduation.  Why don’t I still have the Pentax MX today?  It died a horrible death while it was mounted to a tripod during a vicious thunderstorm, when it was knocked over by a sudden gust of wind and utterly destroyed.

Being an artist in the creative field during the 1980’s, those were the days of lean paychecks and making a dollar really scream, so it was several years before I could afford another pro-level 35mm camera — a Canon EOS 620 — which finally allowed me to take quality personal photos again.

Since then, I’ve shot with nearly all the major camera brands, except Minolta (which I never liked for some reason).  All my professional photo work in the past was done with Nikon F3 bodies and lenses, Canon EOS bodies and lenses, and giant rostrum cameras.  All of my personal photo work at present is shot with a variety of small cameras, but I’m particularly fond of old Leica M film bodies.

Now that I’m no longer a fully salaried pro photog, what does photography mean for me?  It’s a creative release, and one that I sorely need given that I’ve worked as a computer support professional for the past two-and-a-half decades.  It gets me charged in the morning before work, when I go on walks, during the weekend, and just about any spare time I find on my hands.

That’s my story — what about yours?

Your challenge for this week — should you choose to accept it: find your very first image that you’ve managed to keep until now and share it with us, along with what photography has come to mean for you.

Once you’ve finished, be sure to include “#photo101rehab”, “#photorehab”, and “#imagecraftbootcamp” with your normal tags — and if you wish to submit it to our Flickr group, you’ll need to join us there prior to doing so.

Reminder:  If you want me to tackle one of your throw-away images, but you’re reluctant to comment or post publicly (I completely understand), or want to contact me (Mitch) directly, just go to my About page — which you can find here — and send me a message via the feedback form in the “Contact me” section.  That will launch an email directly to my personal Inbox (sorry, I don’t publish that in the clear due to all the spam I get as it is) and we can communicate and work out the details that way.

For those readers that want to review the older Imagecraft Bootcamp posts, just click here.

Good luck, and see you next Wednesday!

P.S. I getting setup to do videos for future posts here, but it’ll take me a couple of weeks to get the details worked out.

16 thoughts on “Imagecraft Bootcamp — Your First Image

  1. graydaysandcoffee

    My stomach lurched when I read about how your Pentax was blown over! My first camera was a Canon T50. I was 15, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. All of my old photos are gone, but I sure enjoyed reading your post!


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      You and me both!

      It was a really dark night, rainy, and very windy. I was out shooting buildings lit by streetlights with monochrome film. I had set up the camera on the tripod and backed away from it to take a timed exposure. A blast of wind came through, I sensed some movement out of the corner of my eye, and looked up from my stopwatch just in time to see the camera tipping past the point of no return.

      And that was the end of it. A lot of old cameras can take a huge amount of abuse, but not like that.

      Do you have any prints from your old pix?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Melinda Green Harvey

    I had a clear recollection of the first photo I ever made – I was about 8 or 9, and we were on a family camping trip to Colorado. One afternoon, my dad and I took a short hike. He showed me how to frame up the mountains and a lake with a boulder in front to give it scale.

    Two summers ago, when I cleaned out his house, I found all his slides, carefully labeled. That made it easy to find the particular vacation I remembered, and I found the image I remembered in the first box I looked at. It was with a combination of relief and surprise to see that it was almost exactly as I remembered it.

    One of these days, I’ll get that slide scanned….


  3. ehpem

    Hi Mitch,

    I am not sure which was my first image, but I have a photo album from my first camera which was bought for me at the age of 7 before we went on a trip to Europe. It was a brownie hawkeye and I still have it. The first picture placed in the album is of my mother, once we had started our trip. I have no idea if I ran a test roll through it – surely I did? Surely my scientist parents would have thought that was a good idea?

    I posted about that album, and scanned it a while back now. The post is here http://burntembers.com/2013/09/10/green-photo-album/ and it contains a link to a scan of the whole photo album. There is one excellent photo in that album or a railway viaduct that I would be proud to have taken yesterday, especially with that camera.


  4. Pingback: Imagecraft Bootcamp: Our First Image | lucile de godoy

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