“Hey Dad! Can I borrow your camera? You know, the good one?”
On a summer afternoon before my sophomore year of high school, my dad fished his Canon AT-1 SLR out of the crawl-space, brought out the canvas camera bag, and laid everything out in front of me on our sky blue carpet. We sat there and tinkered with the lenses while he tried to explain the markings and settings, most of which flew over my head. It’s not my first memory of that ginormous hunk of metal (my first memory is posing for a family Christmas photo – camera on tri-pod, my dad sporting a perm, running for his pre-arranged spot next to my mom and three of us girls – SMILE!) but I will never forget it.
If you know my dad, you know he’s pretty particular about any equipment in general (i.e. wrap electrical cords the way they were made to wrap = no kinks = they last forever), so I got the whole spiel on camera care, how to load the film, how to line up the focus ring, how to adjust the tiny arm in the viewfinder by adjusting the aperture and shutter speed, how to advance the film all the way, and how to wind it all back up again.
In school, the darkroom became my playground. We had a tiny closet we would use to wind our film onto the developing reels. I can still feel the beads of sweat forming on my upper-lip as I blindly wound my film, fumbling and praying to God I got it right.
“Make sure the film isn’t touching or else it’ll be ruined!” Mrs. Hewlitt boomed from outside the door. With a drop into the canister and a twist of the lid, I would throw open the door (mostly because I needed air), scrunch my eyes to adjust for the light, and take a deep breath – let’s get this developed!
Queue the coolest black rotating door in the whole school – one that flipped your world to a reddish darkroom where the vinegar smell of developer would flood your nose and almost made your eyes water. I LOVED it. This is where magic happened.
With my Ilford box of paper in tow, I printed photos with borders, without borders, with a spray bottle, with paper towels, re-exposure (while the photo develops we would put it under the enlarger light again and re-develop it), and the list goes on. Every step of that process made my heart swell and it still does just thinking about it.
I joined my high school yearbook junior year, took some more photography courses while attending college, and worked for various portrait, print, and wedding photographers since then. Recently, my love for travel and photography lead me to the open seas and a position as photographer on Holland America Line.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
My medium is my camera. I don’t have the fanciest equipment but that has never been an excuse to not get out there and DO.
I don’t know where this road will take me but I hope it’s far, I hope it reaches to the corners of the earth, and I hope it leaves behind a glimmer of what life was like through my eyes.
And yes, I still have the Canon AT-1 (although it is no longer in working condition).
Works Well With Others:
In addition to being a second shooter for weddings with M.Rinaye Photography, I have also assisted on other photo shoots and projects. I would love to work with you. Please visit the ‘CONTACT ME‘ form to get in touch.
Instagram alias: smash_hayhurst
And of course, Facebook as Ashley Hayhurst : Photographer