— Something that makes me glad to have grown up before the age of mass-media: film. I broke out my vintage 1972 Canon AE-1 the other day and a young man (I call them “kids” now) who I work with had no idea what it was—other than that it was technically a camera. He’s a smart guy, even an old soul of sorts, but he just couldn’t wrap his mind around the lack of an LCD screen, as well as the other modern components. Essentially, he had no idea what he was looking at. I told him it was a 35mm; he looked at me as if I was speaking Klingon. I showed him how to get the film out, how to load it, how to wind it up when it was done, everything. But what blew him away more than anything else was when I told him that I had to take the film somewhere, wait a few hours (or days, depending on the method), and then hope that my efforts were true—though I wouldn’t know any of that until I got the pictures back. It simply blew his mind—to the extent that I thought he was putting me on. And therein lies the vast distance between my generation and one just fifteen years younger—so close and yet so incredibly far apart. Perhaps nothing defines this chasm more acutely than the evolution of technology. And it happens so quickly, whole generations don’t even recognize an element of history that is literally right behind them—regardless of how vital a role that element played in the existence of their modern gadgetry.
Alas, such is the nature of the world we live in now—immediate, hyper-speed, temporary. Like I told him later that day, it truly is his loss—his generation’s loss. There’s a lot to be said for technological advancement, but there’s a whole lot left out, as well. Sure, you bet I have a camera in my phone, a digital in my bag, a flip-cam for video, and a few others around the house—but you want to know which one I always have within reach? The AE-1. If for no other reason than what it represents…and, of course, it takes killer shots.
Not only does it not bother me to simply be patient and wait for my shots, but I have to exercise composure and good judgment when I’m taking them, because I can’t go back and see what I’ve done. I have to understand my craft and my machine—I have to understand my skill set, recognize my limitations, understand my environment, as well as myself within it. And, of course, there’s only twenty-four chances, so I have to practice restraint. I don’t have a 500-frame memory card, so I can’t shoot every single thing that I see—thus exemplifying the “quality vs. quantity” paradigm that seems to have been lost on today’s youth. I have to decide which situation, or even person, is worthy of the shot, from the dozens of circumstances and people around me. I have to slow down; I have to see more, but remain composed—focused on the task at hand. I have to absorb my surroundings and allow my surroundings to even absorb me a little—all the while, avoiding distractions and other “stimuli” that ultimately doesn’t really matter in the long run. Yes, it’s all drenched in metaphor, as it should be. Much of the population within this so-called advanced era we live in, with its youthful participants, could stand to look and listen to people who literally just walked through an incredibly important part of history—and just a step ahead of the youngsters. Many of the transitional tools that supplement such a transformative age as this have a vital story to tell, as well as a lesson to give. My AE-1 is a perfect example of such. It allows me to see the world with a more guided eye, a more measured stance. I’m able to sit back and make better decisions, and if that’s not a metaphor for life, then I must be completely missing the point.
What’s The GOOD Stuff all about?
In an increasingly negative world, a little dose of the simple, beautiful things in life can make all the difference—a kind thought, a little nostalgia, a photo that takes your breath away, a video filled with laughter. There is a lot of GOOD all around you, just look and share.