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I don't know how old I was the first time I held a camera in my hands. I know that I didn't know the words "camera" or "photography." It didn't matter. As I looked through the lens, the world shifted and remained everchanged. I loved the weight of the camera in my little palms, the motion of advancing the film, the sound of the shutter snapping open and closed. I loved the way, while looking through that lens, the world and all of its inhabitants and moments were mine to preserve. It was magic.

These days, I know an F-stop from a bus stop, I have years of schooling and training and degrees and life that tell the world a camera does, indeed, belong in my hands. I know the different makes and models of dozens upon dozens of cameras and what makes each one right or wrong for a certain job. I very rarely have to advance film and my darkroom is now more for fun than for necessity. That magic though, that magic has stayed. When I look through my lenses now, I know about measuring the light and framing the shot and aperture and shutter speeds. I know it all and it matters, and yet, in that singular moment, it also somehow doesn't. It's about the picture, both tangible and not, big and small. It's about taking that magic and knowing just the right way to capture it for future generations, mine, yours, ours.

There's never a day that I wake up thinking I never want to touch a camera again. There's never a day that I look at my collection of cameras and feel anything other than this sense of accomplishment and tenderness, a mix of love and thanks to be afforded the opportunity to do what I know matters, recording the moments and the magic of time, yours and mine, and putting into print memories that last for lifetimes.

~ Karen Pearlman

 

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