London, ON, August 2008
About this photo: It's elemental week, all week long, here at Written Inc. Click here to get into the elemental groove.The first photos I ever took were stark black-and-whites using a simple - and simply bulletproof - manual-everything rangefinder camera that my grandparents might have been comfortable using. I was at camp, and the leader of the photography unit handed me the camera and told me to come back in two hours with no more pictures left on the roll. With 36 scenes to capture and a nearly empty stretch of green mountain terrain north of Montreal, off I went.
First lesson: no color, so I couldn't use it as a crutch to make an otherwise lousy composition seem interesting. All I had was basic light and basic composition - and absolutely zero ability to master either.
I long ago lost track of the photos I took that day, but I do remember willing myself to keep it simple, to not get too ambitious, to keep the scenes in my viewfinder from overwhelming a camera I didn't know, film that was color-blind and a newbie-photog's sense of...well, nothingness.
To this day, I remember what it felt like to strip it all down to the most bare of essentials. I had no choice, of course, because I may as well have been flying blind. But these days, with equipment that would seem Star Trek-ian to the teenaged me and a few years of making mistakes under my belt, I still most enjoy those moments when I get to boil it all down to its lowest common denominator.
Your turn: Simplicity is...?