I asked my self this question very recently: can one photo make a difference?
You betcha! Here is the photograph that made the difference for me:
For more than a decade I’ve focused on medium format photography (Mamiya 7, Mamiya 6, Mamiya 645). This has left my half dozen or so Minolta 35 mm cameras very unloved. Oh, I would occasionally take them out for road trips; my snapshot, on the go cameras. For those times you just want to jump out of the car and take a quick picture, without dragging out the carefully pack ‘real’ camera gear. But I’ve increasingly used my ‘hand me down’ Nikon D-40 for that purpose.
Last Spring I decided to roll with my Minolta XD-11 as my road trip camera. We were on the highway, heading home from a photography workshop. My husband had seen an abandoned bridge he wanted to photograph on our outbound trip but the light was not ideal, so we stopped on the way back at the same roadside rest area.
While he was setting up his 4×5 view camera, I grabbed my 35mm, which was loaded with Kodak T-MAX 400 and wandered around. And I saw this image across the road, walked over for a closer look, took a couple of quick shots, and wandered back to the car.
Later in the year I actually printed this image in my home darkroom and shared it with my photographer friends, and showed it at a friends gallery. The response was so positive that I entered it in an online gallery contest. And Success! It made me re-evaluate my relationship with my Minolta cameras (XD-11, X-700, SRT-201, SRT-101). I also realized that I should not discard 35+ years of experience with this camera format.
So take a second look at those 35mm cameras that you’ve packed away. Most won’t sell for much on eBay. So use them, or pass them on to the many student film photography programs that are asking for donated cameras. One that comes to mind is the Weston Collective Scholarship Program – if you know of others, please feel free to leave contact information in the comments.
I leave you with this thought, generations of photojournalists made a difference with one 35mm image.
Thanks for reading,
~ Kathleen E. Johnson
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