When I was around 12 years old, my dad gave me an old Minolta camera. It had a few lenses with it and he had used it for years and developed his own film. We have these great photos of my brother and I that he took with that camera and then enlarged. I love them.
That camera was my first experience with photography. I photographed EVERYTHING. Can you even imagine how many rolls of films that my parents developed. I am so very grateful. I never thought about it at the time, but now, now I realize how amazing that was of them.
There was a field trip to an beautiful garden area and I must have burned through 10 rolls of film. Shooting in manual and learning with those lenses is what gave me the ability to focus quickly and know my settings just by looking at the light. There was one photo of a flower that I especially liked so I showed my aunt that also loved photography. She liked that same photo and enlarged it for me and had it framed. It may have been just a flower, but to me it was so much more. It was the first time that I realized I was good at something. With her encouragement, I entered it into our local fair and won first place. I knew I could do this. I was consistently inconsistent at everything that I did, but I knew I could stick to this, that photography would always be a part of my life.