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I received my first camera when I was around eight years old. It was a Kodak Instamatic Trimlite 18 that took 110 film anf used the cool flip-flash disposable flashbars. Like the one Michael Landon is hawking in this ad. I'd love to say that it taught me a lot about taking good pictures, but it didn't. Most of what I shot was crap - which was certainly not the camera's fault.

Around 11 years old, I received my first 35mm film camera, a Konica FS-1 with built-in motor drive. What a revolution. But my photos didn't improve much, regardless of how much kit I added to my repertoire. One thing I did pick up was the basics of exposure and the effects of shutter speed, aperture, and flash. At least that was a start. My Konica served me trough 2001 when it was stolen our of my checked luggage on the way home from a trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. I replaced it with a new Nikon N80 film camera in 2001, which remained my main camera until I finally went digital in 2005 when I bought a used Nikon D70.

I've also had a dozen or so disposable pocket digital cameras and even a Rollei medium-format film camera. The point is, I've had a lot of photographic stuff - almost none of which improved my ability to take good photos. Sure, smarter cameras and flashes can help solve exposure problems. But none of that stuff can help you find something interesting at which to point your camera, nor can it help you learn to compose interesting shots.

I do keep trying though. And I've taken a few of my more interesting pictures and plopped them on Flickr. Here's a slideshow.