When I was 7, my parents gave my brother and me state-of-the-art pocket Instamatic cameras for a summer road trip - Matt’s was red, and mine was light pink. Light Pink! It was beautiful, it was perfect, it was all mine, and I loved it. It was meant to capture the wonderful moments we shared together as a family- all of us gathered around the campfire, or dangling from ledges in the Grand Canyon- giant smiles immortalized in film as proof of our family fun that had been had during the 2000 miles in two weeks road trip. It was a great idea.
And I took photos. Oh-so-many photos. I was recording family history! And after two weeks of the inexhaustible license plate game, I got my first experience of dropping my hard work off at Walgreens, carefully filling out my name and phone number on that little envelope, and having them tell me my pictures would be ready in three to five days. The suspense! And finally, the moment of truth. The phone rang, my photos were ready.
24 photos. And not one included a member of our family or the fun times we had had. But I was elated. There it was, what I had seen! Signs, Trees, Rocks, Garbage. They were beautiful! Of course, at seven, my vision of beauty didn’t yet translate to others in the way I had hoped, and some kind and constructive ‘maybe you should put people in your photos, Maren!’ talks followed. But I knew I saw something.
Every day I see a little more, and every day I learn how to better translate what I see into a photograph.