This story actually begins in my village in Vendée, with a foray into the next town and its Saturday market. But you could argue that it began earlier in Nantes when I bought my son’s girlfriend an old film camera, a Canon AE1 with a 50mm f1.4 lens, that I nearly kept for myself, but in a pang of culpability, couldn’t. I would have replaced it with a more classic standard 50mm f1.8 lens. Damn you conscience!
Let us start therefore not at the very beginning but the second beginning, which is like the first beginning, but is in fact the second, thus being named the second beginning, but is still a rather good place to start as the Sound of Music told us whilst explaining the notes to sing by using a woodland creature, the sun, me, a long long way to go, sewing, a note after the previous one, an afternoon snack with bread and jam etc.
I might start at the very beginning after all. My son’s girlfriend is on a journey, much like myself, discovering photography. As some of you Dear Readers might have noticed, I’m ever so slightly old-school. Having a digital camera, and shooting like it was a machine gun hoping for the best is not my idea of what photography should be. I am more sedate, probably because I am more rotund middle-aged gentleman, aka fat bald git, but find that it suits me. I prefer to take my time. One of the advantages of film photography is that it forces you to slow down, and concentrate to take a picture, with apparently, but I’m not quite sure, supposedly even, more value. When I take a photo, I take a photo on purpose. I do not do it whimsically on the off chance of realising “the” shot. I also learnt on film, so maybe this is a habit I picked up early on.
Anyway…. I thought this might be a way to help Elise slow down, and to be more mindful when photographing something or someone. Mindfulness is all the rage at the moment, but I think it might just be more about taking your time and being conscious of the action you are partaking in. I refer the reader to the middle-aged rotund gentleman comment earlier.
I made sure she had some film in the camera so it was useable straight away, and explained to how to focus, not just the lens but mentally too. Explained what all the dials and displays were about and basically let her get on with it.
We are now at the second beginning, which is still an OK kind of place to start. The day is Saturday, and the previous day we had arranged for them to come over for lunch, and I said that I would go to the market and get some goodies, which means basically, some nice saucission, cheese, nice fruit, some duck sausages to be eaten later on during the week without necessarily needing to duck whilst eating them, but duck sausages, because they were made with duck meat. Obviously a duck that didn’t…. I came home with my goodies, and was told off for buying too much and how were we going to eat all that…. We gave it a fine go!
Elise then had the idea of doing the typical after French lunch walk, and we were all told that we would be doing it. However, a friend phoned to invite her to a pyjama party, so there went that idea. I riposted, saying that it was fine and that we should go out into Nantes to take pictures the next day with the film cameras. I prepared a couple of cameras for them to use, and some rolls of film.
Even if we didn’t go out I knew I would be at least good for a nice cup of tea. For Christmas, which was well before the beginning beginning, and even the second beginning, I had brought my daughter a mix to make Madeleines, which French people automatically associate with Proust, in the same way the English automatically associate a cup of tea, with another cup of tea. The smell as I came down was amazing a filled the house with loveliness and sweetness. There was also a huge dash of tastiness when I bit into Madeleine number one. I showed immense self control and put four of my Madeleines into a box with a further half a dozen to share with Killian and Elise. They too, were very happy with my display of self-control.
The enthusiasm for “going out for a walk” from the previous day had all but disappeared, but we eventually set off for Nantes to visit the Jardin des Plantes, which was where Jules Verne once hang out back in the day. Tradition, tradition, tradition….
I had my X100F, which I adore, Killian a 1960 Kodak Retinette 1B, and Elise the infamous AE1. We made a good go at it and ended up cream crackered after a nice long walk. As the all round good egg that I am I made sure we passed by an open bakery on the way back to the car to get the a treat for the gouter, which usually is the four o’ clock snack for small children, that older children or younger adults still seem to enjoy, even a middle aged rotund gentleman….