My camera, part 1

With the exception of a three-year stint in the aughts, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t taking pictures.

I took pictures of our collie, Princess, when she was an adorable puppy.

I took pictures for my high school newspaper and yearbook.

I took pictures of my dad opening presents at Christmas.

I took pictures of my mom flipping me off.

I took pictures of my eldest brother flipping me off.

I took pictures of my second eldest brother flipping me off.

I took pictures of my youngest brother mugging for the camera.

Then I learned to take pictures of hockey games. And soccer games. And rubgy. Baseball. Curling. Kids sports. Rep sports. Pro sports.

Man, it was so much fun. I’d go to a major junior hockey game and fire off six and seven rolls of film. Yeah, film. I’m old. Whatever.

Then I’d get grief from my boss for using so much film. It costs money, you know. Developing that film costs money, you know.

There were moments when I couldn’t believe I didn’t have a single shot to use. Too soft, wrong settings, overexposed, underexposed … augh, DAMMIT.

And there were moments when I’d nail a shot. The logo, you can see the logo on the puck! (It’s a big deal. For real.) The guy getting his drawers pulled up his butt while his mates lift him over the line to catch the rugby ball. The moment the ball hits the bat. The 14-year-old boy that looks like a grumpy old man as he throws the heat.

The joy on faces in moments of victory. The grief and confusion in moments of defeat.

When you work for a community newspaper, though, you aren’t just a sports reporter. You’re also a general news reporter, covering everything and taking the assignments the staff shooters are too busy to handle.

The grip-n-grins.

The check presentations. City council proclamations. Award ceremonies.

We call them “executions at dawn.” Line ’em up and shoot ’em.

(Oh and let’s not forget ceremonial puck drops. Make sure you get a picture of that. Oh gee, sorry, I didn’t have room to run that one.)

The have-tos. That’s the stuff that makes owning a camera a job. It’s the stuff that sucks the joy right out of it.

Yeah, sorry you had to do things you didn’t like to have a job you mostly loved, Angela. Man, you were hard done by.

I know. My career as a sports journalist was more highs than lows.

But the have-tos made me hate my camera. When a colleague dropped it and it broke, I took my time getting it fixed, so I had an excuse not to pick up those kinds of assignments.

It was also at a time when digital point-and-shots started to hit the market. Our paper bought a couple of them and the other reporters were empowered to take their own grip-and-grins, rather than have me tag along with them.

Then the right time for my career came. I took a job at a paper where only the full-time shooters were allowed to take the pictures. A year later, I moved to Calgary to work for a major metro daily. There was no chance I would be taking pictures.

I sold my gear.

Dropped it off at a used camera shop and got a couple hundred bucks for it.

I said goodbye.

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