Monday, April 21, 2014

The old Kodak came out every Easter

My wife and I did not pose for photographs on Easter Sunday. We arose early, went to the sunrise service, stayed for breakfast and then caught a fast nap at home before the 11 a.m. communion service.

Dressed in our Easter finery (actually outfits we found in the closet, all worn before but cheerily bright with spring colors), we did not even take a "selfie" with either of our phones.

Sixty years ago, my mother would have lined up her five children for pictures taken with her Kodak folding camera. Its 120 film captured only light and shadows, no colors. Seeing the pictures now, you have to imagine the colors on the dresses she sewed for my sisters, the ties my brothers and I wore, the Easter baskets with dyed eggs and the grass and trees in the photo. I still have the old Kodak she used for decades. It sits unfolded on a bookshelf beside one of the group pictures she shot of us, the camera's black and chrome parts perfectly matching the blacks and whites of the photograph.

When I developed an interest in photography as a teenager, I discovered that Mother's old camera had f-stops and shutter speeds, even a "B" and a "T" setting. I realized I could use the "T" (Timer) setting to take four-hour pictures of star trails in the northern sky from the front porch. The "B" (Bulb) setting was probably never used. If the camera was ever used for an indoor picture, I never saw it. After my experimentation with her old camera, Mother complained that I had changed the settings, which she had kept the same for decades once she found a setting that suited bright sunlight, the only lighting allowed for her pictures. She'd never be able to find the right settings again. So she never took another picture with that camera, which was replaced by an Instamatic and a Polaroid and other gift cameras. Years later, when she was throwing out old possessions, she gave me the old Kodak, and I've displayed and treasured it for years.

In almost all of our family pictures, one person was almost always missing. Someone had to snap the picture in those years before selfies and self-timers. The one photo of the entire family was taken by our cousin, who came over from next door specifically to snap the shutter. The picture shows the entire family — Mother, Daddy and the five children. For our parents' 50th wedding anniversary in 1987, we had the picture painted and gave them a large framed copy.

I don't remember whether the occasion was Easter, but it probably was.

1 comment:

Anita said...

What precious memories! I could just see your mother and the camera. Thank you for sharing.