My father got sick and tired of me hogging his SLR - so I got a Lubitel TLR at age 10 or 11... I still have the first roll of film (both negs and proofs) that I shot that very day! I stillget goose bumps looking at them. And I sure remember how it felt to have a "real" camera of myown! I know that people don't change that much, kids have different slangs, music, etc - but they really are the same underneath. There is magic in film, an aura - and it hooks you, draws you in. Children right now have a very clear understanding of pointing something at an object and having the rsults appear on a computer screen - it is as pedestrain to them as automatic transmissions in cars and cordless phones or x-boxes and mp3 players. Its cool, its fun, but its not arcane, almost surreal, supernatural! The digital cameras are just another convenient electronic gizmo - with its own menus and user friendly icons, etc. The old cameras - they had the stuff! You had to turn all the right rings, almost like an ancient lock - to get the thing to work for you! Almost like taming a rune object or pulling the sword out of a stone! I know that photography can be summed up as a chemical reaction - but its not that, it is so very much not that! Its something that needs to be done in the total darkness, that needs to be done just the right way! There are all the magic potions, the correct order of doing things to a little black bucket that you cannot open until IT is ready to give up its secrets! And you have to do the right ceremony, incantations, dances, before it does!
And when all is said and done, in a dark little room by an erie red light, you breath the ghost from a little piece of film onto a piece of paper... and if you do everything right, the seanse results in the slowly coaxed, physical maniphestation taking shape in a little tray... Yes, its magic, I don't care what anyone says!
Most of us here are adults - and we still (at least I do) get a little stirr of excitement out of our photographic rain dance. We can know all the formulae and hard science. We can know all the physics behind f stops and light. We can know what all the little numbers mean and why. But we all still have some seed, planted long ago, that sends a chill up the old spine when that photo takes shape! And we're a bunch of geezers! We have no awe and wonder left in us compared to a kid!
Now take this powerful force and cast it onto the fertile soil of a child's imagination and you will have something absolutely magnificent!
I wonder, there are all these basketball camps, hockey camps, auto mechanics camps - you name it. A 35mm camera with a 50mm lens costs less than a pair of skates or a pair of basketball sneakers in the modern day, and thrift shops are full of them. I wonder what it would take to start a youth center where you could get a camera, some film, the use of a darkroom and some guidence from well meaning, open minded people? I think it would be wonderful. I think it would palnt the seeds of life long love affairs in so many, that we may not have to worry about the future of our hobby - if we nourish it in those who will takeover.
But, that is enough out of me - I get a bit long winded sometimes.