In the winter, I resurrected my mother’s old point and shoot camera (a Canon Sureshot circa 1980s). It came to me when my dad moved, I think, and I shoved it into a drawer or cupboard or closet and forgot about it.
A battery was left in it, which had corroded and the corrosion was leaking out. I painstakingly cleaned off the muck with vinegar and q-tips; carefully dried it out; gingerly put a new battery in. When that motor whirred to life I felt a jolt, a sudden excitement, like my mother had tiptoed back into the land of the living.
I put a roll of film in, which advanced as it should. And…
…it worked. It has a ridiculously loud motor that made me laugh when I used it. And there is a unique joy that only a point and shoot can provide. No messing with settings, no choosing a focus, no missing anything that might suddenly come into frame.
In hindsight, I see a circular nature in this experiment. My mother’s old camera. My own old fake fur jacket, given to me by someone I once knew when I was the age my daughter was this winter, when I asked her to wear it so I could photograph her. My son, who developed the roll in his black and white film class a few months later, even though I didn’t have a way to see the images other than to hold the negatives up to the light and squint. And today, the delivery of a film scanner so that I can do more with the negatives piling up in my office because of this new film addiction.
Okay, maybe a sketchy circle. But it makes at least a little sense to me.
I’ll admit I’d been snobby about the idea of a point and shoot. But my mother’s camera was a breath of fresh air, a kick in the ass to remind me that fussy isn’t necessarily better, or more fun. And a way to reconnect with her, if only for the time it took to shoot a roll of film.
Sadly the camera croaked when I tried to remove the film. The motor just flat out stopped, and no amount of cleaning the battery compartment or shoving newer batteries in there would coax it back to life. I took it to my local camera repair shop where I’ve had several vintage cameras worked on, and they said it wasn’t worth repairing.
It was fun while it lasted.