And that has made all the difference….

brownie-bullet-camera - Copy (2) - Copy - Copy - Copy
My first camera looked like this. Photo from

My first camera was a Kodak Brownie that I received as a gift when I was probably 7-8 years old. My first photo (and there are very few left) was of our rescued cat, Snowy, a tough as nails white angora with gold eyes and a toy poodle for a best friend that had been given to my dad in lieu of payment for some legal work he did. I pretty much loved them all equally.

That camera gave a shy kid something to do that didn’t require a lot of talking and kept me out of the awkward and dreaded position in front of a camera. “Smile.”

Polaroid swinger camera
My camp camera looked like this. Photo from:  https:///pin/96545985735206569/

I’ve been taking pictures since then except the one week in fifth grade when our class went to Camp Union and my mother graciously sent me off with her Polaroid Swinger instant camera, a roll of film but no instructions. I never figured out how to load the film and ruined the film in the process. I’m sure some fantastic sights were seen at Camp Union but without any photos, all I can remember about the week was that the thick and sweet Koolaid-style drink  (or was it Zarex) they exclusively offered at every meal made me throw up so I spent a lot of time dehydrated before I worked up the courage to ask for water.

IMG_6222 Camera collection Alison
Part of my collection. Anyone remember film or single use flashbulbs.

Lessons learned. Never drink Koolaid, and always know your equipment and have back up. I carry at least one and usually two cameras with me at all times, even when the cameras were those new fangled disposables (some worked underwater). Don’t laugh at disposables – I made my first sale (well barter really) with one of those. My photo was a swan for a young girl obsessed with the birds and an obliging and crazily talented mom from whom I received a sunflower watercolor study. Thinking I got the better end of that deal, the painting still hangs in my home.

IMG_6220 Camera collection Alison
My collection samples

As an adult, I talk a lot more, and really love writing. And my husband, Jonathan W. Campbell, and I share many hours competing like mad to get the best shot on our photo excursions. Some years he’s the top prize winner, other years I am. But always he is my go to person for advice on editing and printing. The skill I share in return is my ability to recognize a great photo opp out of the corner of my eye travelling 70 miles an hour down a highway. He’s not always willing to stop on a dime, but more often than not, we can loop around in some semi safe manner and have at it.

IMG_0962 Camera collection Alison
Picked up this camera as a bonus item when purchasing furniture from a consignment shop. Bought it because I had never seen anything like it before. Sadly, every time I open it up I forget how to close it again so that’s a time waster and frustration, but it’s so cool looking with snowflake like occlusions in the lens, I’m glad it’s mine.

When the viewer becomes the viewed….Cameras themselves are fascinating to me, and without meaning to, I’ve let them edge me closer to hoarding status. I’ve picked up several at yard sales, flea markets and consignment stores, usually looking for a price tag of $5 or so. Their design says a lot about the era in which they were created, even if I’m not well trained enough to identify the design style.

IMG_6219 Camera collection Alison
This part of my collection looks Deco-ish, or Nouveau

I owe a lot to my camera – it helps me explain how beautiful this world is without, for the most part, hunting for the thousand words on my keyboard.

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Self portrait

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell



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