Bye Bye

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I enjoy photography.  Have since I was a kid.  I just love capturing moments or finding the small details in life because I know as they happen that I’ll want to reminisce about them someday.  Maybe I got it from my Grammarie, who always had a camera strapped to her wrist.  For me, I suppose it’s more personal than the intent to share them via the Facebooks and blogs of the world.  I’ve just been taking pictures of anything and everything as long as I can remember.

I used to bring my camera every year on the last day of school and go through a whole roll of film in one day.  My dad would develop the pictures, and then I’d study the negatives to make sure every last one printed.  Even in seventh grade, when the sun had gotten to my film, I asked him to go back and have them printed anyway.  He happily obliged, but I’m not sure what kind of magic a 12-year-old was expecting to work on some sun-exposed negatives from a cheap-ass camera.  Though I was no Annie Leibovitz, I did cut up my photos and make some pretty sweet collages.

A few years ago, I made the mistake of turning a hobby into my occupation and worked as a traveling children’s photographer.  I loved everything about that job.  Except for the snot-nosed rugrats.  And the ill-managed preschools.  And the overbearing parents.  And the lugging of heavy equipment everyday until I threw my back out, the only time in my life I’ve managed to do so (and it happened 3 times with that job).  And that one school in Glenville that was do dirty it left me with a days-long incapacitating flu that I’ve thankfully never experienced before or since.

No kidding, that school was the worst.  Stains on every piece of carpet.  Unidentifiable smells in every direction.  Not a bar or container of soap to be found.  It was the last school I visited before quitting and moving to Chicago, and I had to work there twice.  The last day was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and the school was conveniently located in the corner of a rundown plaza next to a check cashing place in one of Cleveland’s worst neighborhoods.  The plaza was getting crowded at the end of the work day, and a cop who was cruising by immediately made a beeline for me and helped me pack my car.  Even he couldn’t understand what the hell I was doing there.  He all but told me, “Get out of here.  What kind of employer would send you here alone with all this camera equipment in the first place?”

To add insult to injury, my stomach started feeling funny on the drive home.  By the next day I was a fire breathing dragon with my head pretty much glued to the toilet.  Some start to the summer I had.  My husband and friends all went out and enjoyed the 3-day weekend while I drifted in and out of consciousness.

I do have to give a proper shoutout to my best friend Audrey, however.  Instead of going out dancing or enjoying the first BBQ of the summer or drinking the night away, she opted to sit next to me on the couch all Saturday night and monitor my progress.  She was a fabulous hostess to my one-woman barfing party.  That’s a friend of the truest kind.  Aside from her, the rest of the weekend was one of the worst of my life.  Thank you, children’s photography company that shall remain nameless.

Before this turns into a full-on war flashback, I’ll redirect my thinking.  What I meant to say about this particular job was that I hated everything.  Except the camera.  The camera was by far the only perk, and though we weren’t supposed to, I took it out on weekends to play around.  i just reformatted the memory card on Sunday nights, and no one was the wiser.  To this day, some of my favorite shots of Cleveland came from that camera.

But life moved on, and I couldn’t convince the company to let me take the camera as a parting gift…or medal of honor.  And even though I worked briefly as a photography assistant on some pretty amazing shoots in Chicago, I eventually found myself in the concierge world and photography fell to the wayside.  Without realizing it, it had kind of lost its importance in the wake of such a bad experience.  I managed to get some good shots of the new city I loved, but they all came from the same 5 megapixel point-and-shoot that I’ve had since 2005.

Until now.  After feeling the itch over the past year to start getting creative with a camera again, and then being completely indecisive on which one to buy, I finally purchased a new point-and-shoot to start documenting life in Korea.  I’m starting small and I keep feeling that tug toward a higher end professional one, though I may have to quiet the ghosts that still linger in my subconscious.  And I swear, the first time I see some snot-nosed kid or his loud-mouthed mom jump in front of my lens, I’m out!  But for now, I’m having fun tiptoeing back into the water with my new camera.  And I’ll probably have it strapped to my wrist at all times just like Grammarie.