wp_head() My favorite Christmas gift, Juliana « portraits without borders
Your browser (Internet Explorer 6) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

My favorite Christmas gift, Juliana

As I waited with baited breath the auctioneer announces “$45 going once!…$45 going twice! Sold!” In the summer of 1981 in a hot tent at the San Jose flea market, I became the proud owner of a slightly used Minolta SRT201. Actually, I had only $42 saved from my allowance and I borrowed the rest from my little sister.

My interest in photography started back in my sophomore year of high school. I was always getting in trouble, and people who get in trouble get sent to detention, which was held in the library. Luckily for me the detention section was situated next to the photography section. What else can a “in trouble” boy do than pick up a book or two, or in my case a whole section. In hindsight I guess I’m blessed that the desks weren’t next to the romance novels, then I would really screwed. I kept busy by reading books, and gazing at images from great photographers like David Bailey, Henri Cattier-Bresson, Imogen Cunningham, Diane Arbus, and the like. To this day these people are still my sentimental favorite photographers because of their originality and what they contributed to the industry. This was the first time I ever felt jealous of what another person experienced and saw. Their images helped take me to far away places; places I never thought existed or dreamed about. Their photos helped me to realize my tiny world was just that, tiny compared to what the rest of the world had to offer. Their photos became the seed, and the camera I just bought (less $3) became the soil and water.

I must have examined that camera inside and out. I didn’t have a manual so I just guessed what things did. In hindsight I didn’t know an f-stop from a bus stop, and I learned quickly what I didn’t know. I decided to take the photography class that they offered in school. Everything went great till I went into the darkroom to develop film. I HATED IT! It was a lonely and scary place for me; a place I knew was going to keep me from pursuing this hobby. Because of that room I dropped the class. I don’t know to this day what I did with the camera. Knowing me, I must have thrown it away right along with my Betamax and 8 track player.

Fast forward 28 years. My ex-wife and I were rummaging through her parents attic when, to my amazement, I see a lens peering through a pile of miscellaneous wires. To my amazement it was a Minolta SRT201! The same model as what I had, only with a much better lens; 50mm f1.2. I couldn’t believe it! I found out Stephanie’s father owned it, and shot all the photos what were in most of her family’s photo albums. She told me he hadn’t touched it in over 20 years. I humbly asked permission to play around with it. I instantly fell in love with it again. Knowing what I know now and understanding how to work a bus stop…I mean f-stop, it was a joy to work with again. Fast forward to last Christmas and guess what they gave me!?

Since then I’ve given her (the camera, not my ex-wife) a CLA (clean, lubed, and adjusted) and as of yesterday I just finished changing the leatherette (outer leather covering) to a hot Indian kid skin goat leather. Isn’t she sexy?! I’m going to call her Juliana ☺

Written by Ashton Boni