Is a Thousand Words

Still the Value of a Picture?

By Jeff Salter

Topic: Looking at the photos on your phone (or camera, if you still use one), what place or type of event do you tend to photograph most often?

Some background / context before I attempt to respond to the actual topic:

In my household (as I was growing up), the only camera we had was one of those 1940s box cameras with the parallax mirror — you looked DOWN into the camera to see what the lens was going to depict in FRONT of you. Usually the framing was whacked and the pre-set focus was typically awful. Furthermore, we never had a flash attachment (so indoor pix were kaput)!

Consequently, when I was between my sophomore & junior years (high school), I bought a cheap – all I could afford – Kodak Hawkeye camera, so I could take my OWN pix and actually SEE what I was filming (through the viewfinder). Since it had a built-in flash (which required me to insert a small bulb before I used it), I was able to take far better photos, with much more detail, than had ever been possible (by me) with that old, clunky box camera. However, it still did NOT have any adjustable focus or variable shutter speed.

This is quite like I remember my own camera

I was a real shutterbug that summer (1966) – and thereafter – because it was MY camera and I could take it anywhere I wanted. These were the days when you used actual FILM, had to leave the exposed film at the drug store, they shipped it – by bus, I think – to New Orleans (where it was developed and printed), it was bussed back, and the drug store called you to say your pix were in. It was costly, time-consuming, and you never knew if your photos “came out” until you opened the envelope and flipped through the prints. [Often there would be a print of an empty frame, or a double exposure, or something completely out of focus because somebody’s hand jerked when snapping the shutter.]

I used that camera for a year or so. Not sure exactly why, but during my senior year, I don’t recall taking any / many photos with it. Hmmm. At any rate, it did not accompany me out of state for my freshman college year.

Step up to 35mm

Fast-forward to the summer of 1969 (after my first college year), when I got a job with a local daily newspaper in Hammond LA. They taught me how to use their Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SLR 35mm… and I also learned how to develop the B&W film in their darkroom, and print only the frames we needed. With the enlarger, I also had the ability to crop the print to fit what the editor wanted.

I took lots of photos for that paper – and a few for personal use – and for the weekly paper I moved to the following year. Then, in the military, I worked on three different base publications, where I also was a photo-journalist and editor. In all, at least 100 of my bylined photos were published, in addition to many that went to press without my byline.

Along the way, I finally purchased my own 35mm camera (at the base exchange) — Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL. Used that for both work (Air Force) and family photos. Sold that camera before I shipped overseas, knowing I could purchase a discounted upgrade when I reached my new duty station. There (in Greenland) I purchased an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II in 35 mm… and eventually collected a few additional lenses.

For a few years after my military hitch, I’d take occasional pix of the kids, but eventually, I just lost interest in camera work. For one thing, those were very LEAN years (economically) and the cost of film, processing, and prints was just one luxury we had to do without. One additional problem was that I didn’t have a reliable flash attachment for indoor work.

The Age of Digital Photoraphy

It wasn’t long afterward that FILM-based cameras were obviously on the way out. The other HUGE development (over my Pentax) was the ability to let the camera AUTOMATICALLY adjust both the focus and the shutter speed (vis-à-vis light conditions). Our daughter had the first digital camera, I think… and my wife soon followed with one of her own. From that point forward, there were enough digital photos being snapped that my trusty (manually-adjustable) Pentax was basically obsolete and completely neglected. Shortly before I retired and relocated (2006) I finally sold my Pentax, the extra lenses, and whatever else I had in that camera bag to a friend whose daughter was interested in “old-timey” photography.

Now, my actual response to this week’s topic

All that was simply to bring y’all up to speed — how my photographic interests started, what it went through, and how it waned.

Now the issue is: what have I recently taken pictures of?

The short answer is “not much.”

Usually whenever family shots are to be taken, there are at least two other people with fancy phones snapping pix. Rarely is there a need for me to get involved.

Furthermore, until last autumn, I had an older model phone (3G) which COULD take photos… but I had difficulty working it. And it was a hassle to transfer images from that old phone to my email… where I could make use of them.

[Before last autumn – and the 3G /4G switchover – I had a little cheapo Canon digital rig that stored images on a SIM card. To make use of them, I’d have to remove the card, insert it into my PC tower drive, then upload the images, etc. I had little control over the resolution… or much of anything else.]

New Horizon — phone camera

It’s only been a few months since I’ve finally joined the rest of youse guys… in shooting pix with my cell phone. Things changed a lot when our phone carrier forced me to “upgrade” to 4G and I received my wife’s “old” phone. Now I can snap my own images, easily send them to my email addy, and quickly upload them to my PC hard-drive.

But what do I photograph now?

A lot of it has been pieces of my fairly extensive collection of military gear, uniforms, and miscellaneous. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been downsizing that collection… selling items here and there. Anything I try to sell must have enough pictures to show its features and condition.

I also shoot photos of Bojangles and Mister – our pets – and various scenes around the farm.

Other than those – unless I’m somewhere without my wife (and her phone camera) – I don’t typically have much need to take my own pix.

Seems a shame to turn my back on all those previous years – professional, amateur, and personal – as a photographer… but these days I’m far more occupied using those THOUSAND WORDS that each picture would otherwise convey.


What about YOU? Do you snap a lot of photos? On your cell phone, presumably… but what do you shoot?

[JLS # 603]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in art, author's life, hobbies, Jeff Salter, memories, Random thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Is a Thousand Words

  1. Grant at Tame Your Book! says:

    Recently, fun and functional photos mostly. Play time with our dog and cat capture most of the fun photos. By functional, I mean capturing the images of things that need attention, such as a door lock to fix. Growing up, I consumed rolls of film like they were potato chips — just couldn’t get enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Did you work in B&W also? Or mostly in color photography?
      I have a couple of rolls of un-exposed color film (35mm, I think) that I need to re-home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grant at Tame Your Book! says:

        Mostly color. We now have a collection of old cameras ringing the top of cabinets in the gallery ― a mini museum of sorts. Never got around to working with 35mm. Went straight to digital. Used to work with Photoshop, but prefer Affinity’s Photo (no subscription) and does everything I need for styling images.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I remember the cameras that you had to look down into! My dad had one. My first camera was a Brownie instamatic with the flash cube. I took those with me to camp and on trips. And then there were the throwaway cameras. Yes, we got a lot of pictures that were unusable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Somewhere along the line we also had an instamatic with the flash cube. I neglected to mention that because I couldn’t recall where it fit in the timeline. It had to have been between the Hawkeye and the Mamiya… but I can’t recall anything other than I remember having it.


  3. Those were great cameras for their time. The Husband’s oldest brother gave us one of his expensive, but complicated cameras which we took on one of our few vacations to visit my aunt in Arizona and I lost all the pictures.I ran to Walmart there and grabbed a 110, which had two lenses.That thing took fantastic pictures. Too bad they died out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Some people are able to take beautiful pictures with these new digital cameras… but to get awesome shots with the old B&W film process, one had to be an artist. Ansel Adams, for example.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I recall all those cameras. Plus, the Polaroid.

    Very rarely do I take a photo with my phone. Usually, only when I’ve forgotten to take my camera with me. To me, a phone is a phone. All I do with it is receive and make calls. Sorry, The laptop is what I use for online everything. And a real camera for taking pictures.

    My camera of choice is my little Sony, which takes wonderful shots. It even has a zoom lens built in. Super easy to use and focus. I use the camera to take background shots for my advertising, personal pictures, uploadable pictures for my website, etc. When I upload the pictures from the SDHD card, I go to my photo program and adjust them there for my purposes. This is the simplicity I prefer. LOL

    But to each their own, as I always say. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    My dad had one of those cameras that you look down into. He didn’t want my sister and me to mess with it so I never took a picture with it.My first camera was a Polaroid. It was great to see your pictures immediately, but the film was expensive so I didn’t make many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Yeah, back then, even the most economical “box” camera was considered (by most families) to be a delicate instrument… and few children (I’ll wager) ever had much “exposure” (pun intended) to them.
      decades later, after me and my siblings had grown and moved away, Mom bought an SX-70 “instant” camera… but I don’t recall it being used very much.


  6. jbrayweber says:

    Beginning in high school, I became a shutterbug. Not for any paper or project, but because inherently I knew I wanted to capture faces and events for my personal enjoyment later. Since this was in the 80s, I was using a purple 110 camera. And that meant I had my fair share of overexposures or pix that just didn’t turn out.
    At any rate, I still take pictures of, well, everything, and have thousands upon thousands of photographs to prove it.
    I recently discovered my mom (after cleaning out her attics) used to love taking pictures and videos. And we have passed the photography gene to my oldest daughter, who hopes to make concert photography a career.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      was the 110 the model with the film cartridges? That was a cool idea to protect the film from being exposed after taken out of the camera.
      So your pix these days are with your phone camera? Or do you still own a digital camera of some sort?
      Glad to see your daughter shares you love of music and photography.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s