The Post Where Cameras and Easy Bake Ovens Have Something in Common

I saw a picture online today that looked strangely similar to pictures I remember taking when I was maybe 12 years old with my mom’s Instamatic X-15. Yeah, that’s right. The old Instamatic X-15.

Oh, I’m sorry. You say the name “Instamatic” doesn’t ring a bell? (Ahem. How could it NOT??)

OK, how about this?

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

Yes, that’s a 4-sided flashbulb. You only get 4 tries and then it’s off to the store for another one. Good luck and thanks for playing!

And, just so there are no mistakes, Kodak made sure to clearly label it a “camera”. We wouldn’t want little Cindy to do something cute and have Mrs. Brady try to capture the moment using the Easy Bake Oven by accident, would we? (A device which also happens to be clearly labeled, I must mention.)

Does Not Take Photos. Barely Bakes Cakes.

Those darn electronic thingamajiggers can get so confusing. Proper labeling is the only path to the future.

Back to my point. When using the flash, that Instamatic X-15 took images that could best be described as ghost-like, especially if the subject was wearing white. Every surface on which the light landed turned almost completely white with zero detail and everything else turned black. Again, no detail.

It was sufficient for the time and I’m pretty sure my mom was tickled pink to own this cool gadget, especially that year I got my new glasses.

What? I can't hear you with all these boys banging down the door.

The image I found online today was much like I described – whites completely flat and blown out, with a dropped-off black background. Had it been mine I would have judged it rather harshly on its poor composure, poor lighting and poor everything. If it had been mine, I certainly wouldn’t have posted it online. It never would have seen the light of day. I would have shaken my head at my stupidity and considered telling my 12-year-old self to give it up.

Then, I would have opened another can of Tab and sent the Slinky down the stairs one more time.

But, the picture I’m talking about was taken just a couple years ago by a professional in her 20s with one of the most advanced cameras money can buy. And, much to my surprise, under this picture was line after line of comments from complete strangers saying it was a “fantastic catch” and “so vintage” and “my favorite!”

I skimmed through more of her shots and became completely enthralled. She’s creative, not afraid of breaking the rules and clearly not caught up copying what everyone else is doing. She knows who she is.

She also happens to be busy traveling the world shooting a new advertising campaign for Billabong, the hip and cool clothing line for all those hip and cool kids out there. She’s making a living being herself. How lucky!

It made me happy for her, but a little sad for me. I was kind of hard on my 12-year-old self.

And so, my observation is this: While you fight against everything you are, trying to make your work conform to whatever is popular or whatever rules you think apply to creativity, it couldn’t hurt to go back and appreciate what was done in the past. What YOU did in the past. Even the stuff you thought was no good. If you have the talent now, you probably had it then, and who knows, you may be able to learn from your 12-year-old self.

After all, you’ve got to give her credit for surviving purple polyester bell-bottoms.

I hear they're making a comeback.

Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.
Henry Ward Beecher

Images in this post are not my own.

Click it Up a Notch

This post is linked up to Clickitupanotch – for What I Learned 8-18-11

18 thoughts on “The Post Where Cameras and Easy Bake Ovens Have Something in Common

  1. I had truly forgotten about the little cube that cycled around. I thought it was cool as you did. And the bell bottoms, well the one picture of me carrying my third precious daughter I was in red/white checked bell bottoms, my first pair purchased in Fairbanks Alaska, where else? I think it was my last pair as well. I look better in slim dark blue jeans, thank you. I love your blog.

  2. This is so true and I should write this down so I can remember it. I was looking at pictures I took when we first arrived in Okinawa and critiquing each and every one of them. All I could think was “Why would I keep that picture??” But they are still memories no matter how blurry or under-exposed the pictures are!

    • I agree. It never fails that someone else sees value in a shot I’m about to delete because it’s not composed the way I wanted or isn’t tack-sharp. It’s still a moment in time. I think our phones are the equivalent of the old Instamatics. Taking pictures with my phone helps get rid of that whole must-have-perfection feeling. I’ll always carry my Nikon, but sometimes the phone just does it better.

    • Thank you! Just thinking about those silly flash cubes cracks me up all over again.

      P.S. Love the name of your blog. I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite movie of all time. After Sixteen Candles, of course.

    • I know, I kind of wish I had kept mine too! Unfortunately, the images in this particular post aren’t my own. I wish I had taken them, but I must have purged all my 70s/80s paraphernalia at some point along the way. There’s only a hint of regret. The rest is relief 🙂

    • Yep, that’s all you got! I think there may have been 3 or 4 bulbs in a package, but either way, you definitely weren’t clicking the shutter for no good reason back then like we can with digital now.

  3. What a great post :O) I love that that girl is out doing what she loves!! Thanks for sharing! Also, I didn’t know about that camera you were talking about so it’s fun to hear about the 4 flashes and that is it. Too funny!!

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