Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Grandfather's (Missing) Land Camera

When I was at my mother’s place last December, I found some more photographs that were taken with my grandfather’s Land camera, back in the fifties and early sixties.  There is a quality to the images that result from this device that I find particularly haunting.  It has to do with the immediacy and singularity of the image thus produced.  They remind me of Daguerreotypes; but I believe I’ve mentioned so before.

The first eight images here were shot by my grandfather, Kenneth Gibson, with his camera.  Most of them were taken before I was born.  These pictures include a photo of a car overturned in a flooded stream; my mother and her mother walking towards some parked cars in a driveway following a family gathering; my father’s mother standing at her kitchen door; my father smiling at my brother, Curt, in my mother’s lap; another photo of my father with my brother's early attempt at walking; Curt, again in my mother's arms, this time in front of her parents' house in Vernon; my grandmother, Marion Gibson, visited by her estranged brother, Leslie, and their sister, Ruth; and my parents with a two year old me. Then there's a botched photo of my grandpa Gibson on horseback taken by someone less familiar with the camera's workings. 

Next there’s one of my older brother, my younger sister and me taken either by my grandfather or my mother's cousin in Summerville.  The next two were shot by me, perhaps ten years later, with my Polaroid Swinger.  These show the Christmas tree shortly after the camera’s unwrapping, and my sister holding a leaf from a castor bean plant.  

The last four were, again, shot by me, ten years ago, but with a Land camera, similar to the one that belonged to my grandfather, which I purchased at a garage sale.  Sadly its lens is nowhere near as good as the one on my grandfather's model.  The first shows my friend, Roberto Pacheco standing in the striped light and shadow from the venetian blinds in my room; the second is of my boyfriend, Ne Oo, standing in front of the statue celebrating McKinley's assassination in the Panhandle Park; one of  me doing an old dance move, and finally a picture of a train entering a station shot off the television.  After my uncle Kenneth died I tried to locate his dad’s camera that I was told was in his possession, but it was either well hidden or disappeared.  I'm hoping that it was given to my cousin Jeff, who also has an interest in photography, and that I was simply lied to in order to avoid conflict.  I hate to think of it sitting in a closet somewhere going unused or sold for much less than it was worth at a flea market.

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