My Mother’s camera

I will admit, I had a wonderful childhood. My Mother was the image maker in our family and I remember her always getting the newest camera. She didn’t have expensive cameras and developing was quite expensive in the 50’s and 60’s. When my Mom suddenly died in the early 90’s my Dad gave me her cameras. One of those was the inexpensive Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.


The Hawkeye was designed by Arthur Crapsey(yes, that’s his name) and made between 1949 and 1961. It is a Bakelite piece of art. The waist level viewer is surprisingly bright. There is a model that also takes a flash, which I also have. It was one of the most popular film cameras in its day. It takes 620 film although I recently read it will take 120. I am fortunate to be able to buy 620 film at Blue Moon Camera in Portland, Oregon. The film is medium format so you get a wonderful large negative.

Last week I took it off the shelf, for a bit of dusting, and noticed there was film in it. So I decided to take it for a spin through my neighborhood. I didn’t know if there was color or black and white film in it and I was hoping it was 400 ISO (it was). My focus is a bit off on some, there is no way to focus, but it is what it is. I do a lot of pinhole so I don’t mind the softness . So here are the photos I made that day:

villebois_kodak Hawkeye452

villebois_kodak Hawkeye453villebois_kodak Hawkeye454villebois_kodak Hawkeye455villebois_kodak Hawkeye456villebois_kodak Hawkeye457villebois_kodak Hawkeye458villebois_kodak Hawkeye459villebois_kodak Hawkeye460villebois_kodak Hawkeye462villebois_kodak Hawkeye461

My Mom gave me my first camera at an early age. It was another Bakelite jewel, the Brownie Holiday. I loved it and many photos of me are with the camera around my neck…like here. This one takes 127 film which Blue Moon Camera also stocks. I still have this camera. I remember receiving new cameras for Christmas quite often. Over the years when college took me away and I had little money my photographing took a back seat to other things. I had no money to spend on film. I regret this now as I wish I had more photos of my life experiences. In a time when everyone has a camera in their pocket, when I grew up very few people took family photos except for celebrations and vacations. My Mom took more than most and I am the keeper of her early black and white negatives….all still perfect. You won’t be able to say that about digital in another 60 years. Slowly I am scanning her negatives…..from the 1930’s until she passed away.me_and_my_first_camera

It just shows that you don’t need an expensive camera to get started with film. Buy yourself a plastic Holga and get going or you can find one of these vintage cameras online or at Blue Moon Camera. Go for it. Shooting film slows you down. You might take 12 photos instead of 100 but out of those 12 you will have more keepers than out of those 100.

Thank you Mom.

About gretchen

I love living in the Pacific Northwest being close to the mountains and the ocean. My hobbies include photography, travel, reading, biking, walking and gardening. I am an Anglophile at heart and try to visit the UK often. My camera goes everywhere with me. I use both digital and film cameras.
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1 Response to My Mother’s camera

  1. you just got such beautiful results with this simple glass.
    my first Medium format camera was a Kodak Duaflex II and I just found inside this camera an old and empty 620 spool and by recommendations rewound the regular 120 film to this spool and used it. The results were terrible so i just put the camera to a shelf and never used it again.

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