My love of photography is not uniquely my own – on this blog I share photos taken by both my Papou (grandfather) and Great Aunt from the travels they enjoyed in the 1950s-1960s in my Then & Now series. So I come into my love of photography honestly, and through those in my family, including my father. When I was born my father bought a Minolta camera and much of my childhood and family events were captured on it.
At times it could be tempermental, especially in low lighting and trying to get the focus just right. When Dad would raise the camera many of the family would joke about having to hold the smile for ten minutes, but we always loved the pictures that it produced. I don’t remember the camera traveling very far though – not to Europe and not to any distant destination. About the only time I can think of when we brough the camera out for destination photography was when the tall ships came to Maine in 2001 and we traveled up to see them and stay with my father’s fraternity brothers for the weekend. Dad purchased a new zoom lens for the camera at the time and many years later I use it regularly when I travel (on my Sony a55 DSLR). With that new lens and the old Minolta we photographed the tall ships together. So in essence, I also found a love of photography through my father, and his incredible taste in equipment.
My father never managed to bring the Minolta to Europe, we had to cancel a trip to Greece when he’d gotten ill, and never were able to schedule any others before he passed away.
A few years ago I dragged my camera out of storage at my mother’s home and brought it with me back to Europe with a vow to take it traveling, as a proxy for my later father. I purchased several rolls of film and packed it for several trips. The resulting experiences were highly rewarding and, at times, extremely moving for me. In many ways I felt as if I were taking my father traveling with me and including him in these journeys. The Minolta itself was a companion more so than an implement of photography.
I’m not artsy enough to claim a mastery of film photography but I found a passion for it that grew beyond my connection with my father. On many of the trips I traveled with both it and my DSLR, and found that the photos I took with the film camera usually were the optimal shots. Not because the equipment was superior in any way, but because I focused on lining up the shot and framing it perfectly. I had more experimental shots with the DSLR, more nuanced and closed up ones too, but the classic landscapes and travel photography really resonated strongly via the film medium.
After the film was developed and scanned there were a few photos that really caught my attention.
This photo from Montenegro was one of my favorites – especially since I had taken the same shot with my DSLR and could compare the dfferences between them. I loved the film photography for the drama evident in the picture without any need for filters or post processing.
The Minolta will never fully replace my DSLR for travel, I love being able to shoot lots of photos trying to get nuances of a trip in each frame, but I do see myself continuing to bring it with me. In memory of my father and also because the photos that it does take bring a new level of complexity, drama and beauty. Both mediums hold a place in my heart and on most trips can share room in my backpack for the forseeable future.
Croatia & Montenegro