The Next Camera

Fifteen years after my first tentative steps into photography, The Woman did what she does. Out of the blue, she bought me a camera for my birthday.

I hadn’t asked for a camera, hadn’t even talked about photography. She just bought the dang thing and who knows why.

Here’s a life tip for you. If you’re in the market for a wife, forget the Hollywood glam-mag fantasy images of some impossible vision of physical perfection. Look for The Woman of your generation. Selfless. Generous. Ebullient. Full of life and as giving as life itself. Look for someone who is better than you could ever think of being, and then spend a lifetime trying to be worthy of that transcendent vision. Count yourself lucky if you have the good fortune to capture lightining in a bottle. Live with her day-by-day, sharing a breath of the same air, walking side-by-side with true grace of the spirit. Do your best to avoid snuffing out that flame of eternity. Rinse and repeat.

But, as I was saying, she bought me a camera. A Canon AE-1. I was mystified, but I didn’t let that hold me back. In fact, I went crazy.

She might have had occasion to regret the gift. After a few rolls and a decade-and-a-half beyond my initiation with the Argus C3, I rediscovered the seduction of life from behind the viewfinder.  I can’t count the times I threw myself prostrate on the floor or the street, or hung out over empty space, to acquire the right angle.

For the perfect shot of the Peeping Tom

[Peeping Tom]

Or The Good Daughter

[F-16]

Or The Number One Son

[Goggles]

A photograph is the antithetical symbiosis of jazz. Photography is skill and inspiration frozen in time. Jazz is skill and inspiration experienced in the evanescent moment, best if absorbed, diminished by the attempt to capture it. Both are an exercise in simultaneously embracing and letting go.

And that is the lesson of life.  A balance of owning and releasing.

As a wise man once said, you have to hold it loosely.