This photo was taken when I was about 2 or 3 years old. I don't remember when. I do remember seeing my father snapping this photo of my crying. I cried because I wanted to hold the camera he was holding but he didn't allow me to. I said I wanted to take a photo with it. He refused to let me touch it and I cried. And then he took a photo of me crying. Of course at that time, I had no idea how precious a camera was to my father. I don't think many people now understand how precious and expensive a camera was back then too. I had no idea. I only knew that I wanted it.
I cannot remember how his camera looked like. I think it looked like this. He really took care of it. I understand why now.
Cameras were expensive and prone to damage. There were glass mirrors inside and extremely fragile. Living in Singapore, cameras and lenses are prone to moulds and fungi. You'll have to store them in a cool dry place. There are dryboxes on sale everywhere now, but back then there were none for the amateur photographer. They used film rolls. A maximum of 36 exposures per role. I don't remember how much they cost then. But they were troublesome. You had to buy film rolls. Fit them into a camera. Snap a maximum number of 36 pictures. The cameras were mostly manual and you had to set the right settings for every shot. (I remember my father took very long to set a shot before he pressed the shutter button.) After all the 36 exposures were used, you'll have to send them to a photo shop to be develop. There, they will take your film and say "come back in 3-4 days" and you hope for the best. 3-4 days later you come back to the shop and they will give you back your negative film and the developed film. This is where the excitement (or disappointment) happened. You may get all 36 exposures developed, or less than that. There will be exposures that couldn't be developed because of your settings. They can be overexposed or underexposed or fungus ridden. It's always a surprise. If you get above 20 exposures developed nicely, you'll be happy enough. Of course, you have to pay for the photos developed and buy an album too.
You see, it was a tedious process but definitely exciting. The whole family would be excited to see the photos developed and view them together. For memories.
That's the word. The first word. Memories.
The memories in our brain fades. A photo might fade too, but if you keep them properly, it can be around for many years. Definitely way longer than your life years. This was one of the reason why I took up Diploma in Information Studies. To preserve memories. Photographs, ephemera, books, videos, documents, etc. I just have a liking for them. I find it interesting to see what had happened before and understand how life used to be. I hope I can remember these memories all the way until I die by looking at photographs.
I have another interest too. Second word. Sights.
I used to live on the 12th floor of block 29 Dover Road. From the corridor I could see far far away. It was an unblocked view. I remember seeing the jet planes, helicopters and fireworks from the corridor during every National Day Parade. I love these sights. Buildings, views, sceneries, events, colours, etc. I store them in my head. The memory in my head. And I realise I couldn't store them all. After a while, I will forget. So i started to draw these sights. Things that I saw. I drew them. Since I didn't have a camera, I would draw them.
What disappointed me was, I couldn't draw. I tried very hard for many years, learning how to draw, but I just couldn't. That was when I decided for myself, one day I am going to get myself my own camera.
When I was a boy in primary school, suddenly there was an "invention" called the disposable camera. I was excited. I have always wanted to buy them. But mother said they were expensive and you will never know if the exposures could be developed properly. They looked flimsy and cheap compared to father's camera so they must be of poor quality. They were hung in dozens in front of a photo shop like how bananas are hung. Until today I never got a chance to buy them.
Sometime in 1994, I saw a flimsy camera on sale at a shop. It was placed where the toys were. I cannot remember how much it was. It was definitely more expensive than a normal toy so it couldn't be a toy. I used my Hari Raya money and bought it without placing any hope in it. It was definitely less than $10. But that amount was expensive then. At that time, my Hari Raya "collection" would never be more than $50. So $10 was a lot of money.
It looked like a toy. It felt like a toy. There were no batteries. No flash. No "ON / OFF" switch. It was just a flimsy plastic thing. It uses a 110 film which is actually a 16mm film made in cartridges. I went to a photo shop and asked for the film and there were very few left because that format was going obsolete. In fact even at that time, my father and I didn't know that it existed in normal shops.
I still keep the camera until today. It is my very first camera. I was surprised that it worked. The photos are all blurry and heavy to one side. This is because there is no focus function. The view finder and the lens were at different locations.
Here are some of the photos from my first roll.
They are not the best photos but they are definitely special. From that day onwards, I will not stop taking photographs wherever, whenever I can. I don't know what will happen to the photos but I don't care. When I die, you can use them or delete them. Sceneries, buildings, people, sights, change all the time and to be able to freeze them in time, is special. So, during my life time, I will treasure them.
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).