Diary of My Camera Fatalities



I love to take pictures. Looking back, I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I discovered this passion, but I do know that it was born during the semester that I studied abroad in Europe. Perhaps it was because Europe forced me to pay attention to the world around me in a way that the United States never had. While I was studying in Florence, I walked slowly, I examined arches and doorways, I became enchanted by crowded piazzas, I savored every bite of food. It all fascinated me to the point that I just had to capture it. I had to immortalize the way the sun was angled over the Arno River as it set into the Tuscan hillside, or the way that April in Paris was filled with white-blossomed trees that surrounded the Notre Dame. I couldn't allow myself to be the only one who saw this; these moments had to be shared.

Almost a decade later, I still haven't taken an actual photography class, but I've experimented with different settings, read instructional books, taken thousands of pictures, and mourned the loss of three different cameras.

The first I lost because I was being silly and irresponsible. It was a small, pink Nikon Coolpix, the kind Ashton Kutcher is always sporting in his commercials. I took it on my very first trip to New York City and decided that it was far too much of a pain to keep the camera in my purse, so I decided to slip it in my coat pocket instead because it gave me easy access. Granted, it meant I had to keep a watchful eye on it, always double-checking my pocket to make sure it was still there at various points throughout the day. It stayed firmly in place for the majority of the trip, but one fateful day, I ended up losing it in the 3-story playground that is Forever 21 in Union Square.

My friend Alena and I ran around the store for hours, trying on clothes, fishing for sizes, lavishing each other with compliments. During the course of it all, my camera fell out of my pocket, never to be seen again. I still wonder if someone swiped it, or if it innocently fell into a pile of sweaters and was discovered, weeks later, by one of the salesgirls. I guess I will never know, but I did buy a replacement for it and that camera quickly suffered an even worse fate.

Shortly after buying it, I went to visit my parents in Northern California and decided one afternoon to take my sister-in-law's dog for a walk. His name is Tommy and he is a small yellow mutt with bundles of energy.

While I was walking him, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to photograph the little lamb that lived down the street at our neighbor's house. This lamb had become the talk of the town because it had been raised like a dog, and was rumored to behave like one. Essentially, the lamb's mother had abandoned it because she wasn't able to feed it, so my parents' neighbors decided they would care for it themselves. They bottle-fed the lamb and even allowed it to sleep in their bed when it was first born.

As a result of all their tender loving care, this lamb developed a strong bond with them and absolutely adored humans. In addition, it palled around with their pet dog, and whenever anyone walked past their fence, it was rumored that the lamb and dog would come over in tandem, bleating and barking and begging to be pet.

The sappy female inside me was positively dying to photograph this.

So I gathered Tommy and my camera and off we went. Just as predicted, I was greeted by the energetic pair of animals who literally tripped over each other with excitement. The lamb was every bit as cute as I'd hoped, and I picked up my camera, attempting to photograph the erratic animal that kept moving and bleating, and doing the very opposite of what I wanted it to do, which was sit quietly and pose.

In my other hand was Tommy's leash, and just as I was about to score the perfect picture, Tommy saw something that interested him and decided to lunge violently, tugging on his leash. The sudden jerk surprised me and pulled me forward a few steps, causing me to loosen the grip I had on my camera -- just the tiniest bit. Before I knew it, the camera had slipped from my fingers and crashed onto the pavement below.

It took me a while after that to buy a new one, but when I did, I decided I was going to splurge and get one that took killer night photos and had an awesome zoom lens. I vowed to take impeccable care of it, and even paid extra money for the Best Buy insurance policy, just in case I didn't. I figured I had all my bases covered, and have thoroughly enjoyed using it for the past eighteen months that I've owned it. Together, we have photographed San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and New York City. I can certainly say that my food blog would not have been as colorful or as interesting without it. However, I am sad to report that during a recent trip to Costa Rica, my third camera suffered an unexpected demise.

I was a bridesmaid in my friend's Costa Rican wedding, and was naturally snapping pictures all throughout the reception. Towards the end of the night, the groomsmen started to get a little drunk and feisty and decided it would be fun to throw Dan, the groom, into the pool.

The second I caught wind of this scheme, I picked up my camera and headed for the poolside. I got some decent shots of Dan being flung in the water, and even one of the bride when she decided to jump in and join him. The rest is a complete daze because all I know is that I somehow got caught amidst a group of rowdy wedding attendees who were trying to shove people into the pool.

I don't know what happened to everybody else, but I do know they succeeded in shoving me into the pool, right along with my camera, which was fully submerged.

Words cannot express my grief at that moment. I was thankful that I was sopping wet and that my mascara was running anyways because I was crying up a storm and it was conveniently disguised. The worst part about it was that I couldn't blame myself. In the other two circumstances, there were clearly things that I could have done differently, but in this situation, I was coming up short. My camera was ruined simply because fate had rendered it so. And that just didn't seem fair.

My friends at the wedding were quick to offer advice. We tried sticking my camera in a bowl of rice so that it might absorb some of the water. Apparently, it works wonders for iphones that have gotten wet.We removed the battery and the memory card and were able to preserve all of the pictures I had taken. Dan's brother even offered his fancy camera cleaning kit, and dried out all the parts and crevices as best he could.
But all of it was to no avail. I turned the camera on and was met by a foggy gray screen instead of a view finder.

Just as I was escalating into a deeper fit of depression, I remembered something: my Best Buy insurance policy.

It ended up being the best $70 I ever spent. I turned my camera in to the Geek Squad and they spent about a week trying to fix it. When that didn't work, they gave me a giftcard that matched the value of my camera, and low and behold, I was able to buy the newer, updated model for a very small amount of additional money. This new one shoots high definition video and has a 36x zoom lens. I combined the giftcard with a 10% coupon I had received in the mail, and was able to get a brand new, $400 Nikon P500, for a grand total of $50. Not a bad deal. And finally a bit of silver lining to a very, very dark cloud.