Capturing Life: How Road Trips and a Camera Shaped My Story
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Throughout the tapestry of my childhood, nestled comfortably in the 90’s, the anticipated summer break was always bursting at the seams with potential for endless adventures and stimulating escapades with my close-knit circle of friends. Yet, my summertime experiences deviated from this common script in a most delightful and memorable manner, a tradition so precious that I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience in the world.
Indeed, like a precision-crafted watch, within a few days following the echoing of the school year’s final bell, our family would convene in a flurry of excitement and anticipation. We would hastily pack our hunter green Dodge Caravan, fully equipped with a conversion top, and set off on our yearly custom, a tradition steeped in exploration and discovery; our very own cross-country road trip.
Our trips were as varied as they were intriguing, taking us from the sprawling and awe-inspiring expanse of the Grand Canyon to the idyllic, tranquil beauty of Colorado and Utah’s majestic National Parks. Sometimes, we’d change course and venture down to the sunny, palm-studded landscapes of Florida. But regardless of our destination, we always made it a point to spend quality time at our quaint cottage homestead that’s been in the family since the early 1900’s on the lake, tucked away in Michigan’s picturesque eastern upper peninsula.
Nevertheless, amidst these shifting landscapes and varying journeys, one constant companion accompanied me throughout – my trusty, unassuming, yet invaluable Canon SureShot camera. It was a simple device, especially when compared to the digital gadgets of today. Yet for a young, eager child in a world still untouched by cell phones and digital photography, it was my treasure, my passport to creativity and visual storytelling.
This camera, my ever-present companion on our long road trips, became my source of entertainment and fascination. My dad, a skilled photographer himself, ensured that we were well-stocked with film for our journey, fostering an environment ripe for creativity. Yet, as much as I cherished my point-and-shoot camera, I found myself drawn towards the spectacle of my dad working meticulously with his SLR camera, his fingers adjusting dials and lens to capture the perfect exposure. In time, he graciously handed me an Olympus OM-1, a coveted hand-me-down that I continue to use and cherish to this day.
These long, scenic road trips were instrumental in igniting not just a passion for photography, but also a profound love and appreciation for the natural world. The National Parks, in particular, held me spellbound, and I found myself eager to immortalize these breathtaking scenes through the lens of my camera. Fast forwarding to the present day, as an adult nurturing a family of my own, I find myself continuing this cherished tradition of road trips and exploration. My trusty OM-1 is still with me, chronicling our shared adventures and memories.
As a homage to my dad, I have introduced my children to this beautiful art form, gifting them cameras of their own. Though fully digital, someday I will teach them the art of film photography. Through this, I hope to foster the same joy and creative expression I experienced as a child.
In a wonderful turn of events, this passion for photography transitioned from a cherished pastime to a fulfilling career. I was fortunate to secure a scholarship to one of the top art schools in the country. Even as I immersed myself in academic study and photographic technique, my reliable OM-1 remained by my side. It now occupies a place of honor on my desk at home, patiently awaiting the promise of our next grand adventure.