With all the researching, translating and documenting I’ve done on our family history during the past several years, I’ve come to the realization I was living in the past. And as time marched by, I wanted more time…but now, that time has gone.
I reflected on the near future; in the past month, things have changed. Things that cannot be undone. And I realized, too, that in addition to passing on what I’ve learned about our family history through these blogs, I need to pass the baton on as well for tomorrow. Small things.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve held a camera in my hand… from the time I was perhaps eight years old. I vividly recall looking down on the ground glass of my dad’s Rolleiflex TLR. And I know it was my grandmother or aunt who sent me a “Fujipet” 120 film camera from Japan as a gift. It had a plastic lens. There were two levers, one on either side of the lens; you pressed one down with your left finger to cock the shutter. Then with your right finger, you pressed the other lever “to take the shot”. I took a bazillion shots during our 1964 road trip to Chicago and burned through a lot of 120 film. I don’t think mom was too happy.
When I was twelve, I spent a summer in Tokyo; I was born there. My Aunt Eiko got me my first “real” camera: a Canon Demi-S. It shot 35mm film but in “half-frame”. In other words, if you had a 36-shot roll of film, you would get 72 shots – plus about four or five more at the end. I loved it. It even had a built in light meter, a soft case and a wrist strap. It went everywhere I went. I even bought yellow and red filters. I used it to take photos of the TV set when Armstrong landed walked on the moon…but none of the images came out because I wanted to use my new fancy-schmancy electric strobe with a DC cord. I got great pictures of our RCA color TV, though. LOTS of great pictures of our TV set. But on one – just one – you can BARELY make out Armstrong as he stepped of the Lunar Module.
While I did take one class in photography, everything else was self-taught through the years. Trial and error. That means lots of moolah down the drain…literally. I had a full darkroom in my parent’s house at one time. I must have developed and processed over a thousand rolls and printed thousands of pictures. While I did win a few contests in sports photography, I never learned the critical things that define a pro…like my bud Alan Miyatake (but I did best him in ONE contest. LOL).
Since becoming a young adult, I’ve always been the “photographer”… taking pictures at events, parties, of this and that… I don’t know if I was any good at it but people always seemed to ask me to take photos. Perhaps because I took them for free. But finally, I took snapshots at my own daughter’s wedding…and not someone else’s daughter for a change.
As I was taking my kids back to their mother’s two weeks ago, my twelve year old son surprised me by asking if he can have a “real” camera. Totally out of the blue but I was happy. He wanted to take pictures like his old man.
So yesterday, we headed towards the nearby beach; he wanted to take pictures of the sunset! I handed him my (getting old) Canon DSLR and monopod and while in the car, I gave him a crash course on shutter speed, f/stops, and ISO.
But he asked, “But don’t you just push the button, Papa?”
So with temps in the high 50’s (cold for us here) and a chilling wind, I gave him some basic instructions and I left him pretty much alone.
He took on his own challenge.
Here are a few of his photos; sure, I edited them a bit but he did darn well for his first time.
Must be in his genes.
As I watched Jack from a distance in that chilling wind, feelings of being alone and lament swirled. Sadness that time has surged by with tomorrows dwindling. It felt as if I was looking at myself… fifty years ago… with that Fujipet camera with a plastic lens dangling from my neck.
I hope he continues. The family needs a photographer.