On cameras

Rodrigo Tello


I bought my first new camera a couple of months ago. I was terrified. It was such a hard decision and process: which camera should I choose? Can I justify spending more than a thousand dollars in a non-essential gadget, almost a toy? A thousand dollars! I can't even believe that number when I say it out loud.

I don't remember having a camera growing up. I am sure there was a camera around, for sure, because there are some photos of me and my siblings as a kid, but not that many. Carrying the camera around wasn't my parents culture. With some effort I can remember a relatively small Kodak camera, it looked like something out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Robocop, slightly cyberpunk in retrospect: slim, yellow, thick buttons. But never had a good camera, like a Canon or Nikon, or anything more professional or robust. Definitely not a video camera.

When my parents divorced, communication with my dad became more intermitent. Years after, when I first visited it at his new house, I remember he showed me all these photos that he was able to collect and "steal" from my mom. He had it organized in albums, one for each of my siblings and one for me. That might have been the first time that I ever appreciated cameras as a memory document, something that actually carries love and meaning. It kicked me that my dad took time, going through stuff and spent time organizing this album, which was more like a book. It didn't sparked me the desire to take photos, but it did put a seed in my head that photos can actually have lots of meaning, specially when there was some effort in searching, preserving, keeping, and organizing.

Now that I think about it, this camera is actually the second camera I've ever bought. The first one was a used camera I bought from a friend in Mexico with the first or second paycheck I got from my first NYC job, so the USD to MXN conversion was really helpful. That camera however was my relationship girlfriend camera. I always knew that it was gonna be hers. So when we ended our relationship, she kept it, as she should. She had a better photographic eye than me. So I actually was relieved of not having a camera, somehow. It was a beautiful Fuji camera. Everything it shot was crisp and warm.

I bought a camera because I think I need a camera. I don't own a smart phone, so I don't take photos of my daily life, but sometimes I wish I do. There are so many things I miss and I wish I could capture and share with the world, but I tell myself that it's ok to let those moments go, to be experienced.