My “first camera” was a Minolta. It looked something like this camera, but I don’t remember which model it was. It was the family camera and sometime around sixth or seventh grade I started playing with the camera. My uncle retired from the Navy and went home to the Philippines, my family gave him the camera.
We replaced the Minolta with the mighty Canon AE 1 Program. This is the camera that I learned on and the camera that I realized I needed glasses.
I love this camera. Nobody told me what to do…so I learned the old fashioned way, by trial and error. I believe much of my own personal philosophy when it comes to photo composition evolved from my time with this camera.
Growing up I was big into drawing and being creative with what you would call today, mixed media art. That transferred well into photography. Since the camera had a Program mode, I learned to compose photos that were interesting to me, without having to worry about the settings. Which allowed me to focus, no pun intended, on the image.
Honestly, not having to worry or think about the settings, other than what speed film to use, helped me grow and strengthen my image composition skills.
The Canon EOS Elan II was my first auto-focus camera…which led to the EOS 1.
By the time I got the EOS 1, it had already been replaced by the EOS 1n. I didn’t care. The 1 was Canon’s top of the line camera. I loved that camera. It was beautiful! It had so many cool settings that allowed me customize the camera to how I liked to shoot. It was sweetness! It was a beast of a camera. Plus, it was so hefty, I could put some serious hurt on anybody that tried to take my camera! Watch out!!
Canon had already unveiled their flagship EOS 1D, but I couldn’t afford it and I was having too much fun shooting film!
Since the mighty AE 1 I have played with, used, and or owned most of Canon’s cameras. I still love to shoot film! There’s no substitute for what you can learn from shooting film. Film has taught me to keep focused on what matters. This is the biggest lesson I have learned from the AE 1. It doesn’t matter what camera I use, film or digital…a great photo is a great photo. Composition is still King in my book.
My biggest advice is to learn to craft great images with the gear (camera +lens) you have. I see so many young photographers who believe, falsely, that they must have the newest and most expensive gear in order to become a great photographer.
Master your gear(don’t covet)!
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.