The Voigtländer

I’m feeling inspired to share a new story about an old camera…

I mean—of course, it’s about a camera. I have a surprising number of camera stories, but this particular camera story is special.

 The Voigtländer

I’m feeling inspired to share a new story about an old camera…

I mean—of course, it’s about a camera. I have a surprising number of camera stories, but this particular camera story is special.

Cameras are one of the first creative tools I discovered as a young aspiring artist and maker of new things and new ideas. 

I’ve always felt connected to my Dad through cameras and their lenses…

For years, he used a vintage Voigtländer, and I remember DREAMING about the possibility that—just MAYBE, someday—that beauty might be gifted—photographer to photographer, from my dad to me…

And he DID, in fact, gift me with my very first SLR—his old Canon AE-1—and what a workhorse that camera was.

I used it all throughout high school, and he finally gifted it to me during my last semester of college.

I shot 100s of rolls of film on it—well into the early DSLR days. And then, I finally bought my first “real” digital camera—an *amazing* *8* MP Canon 6D with a zoom kit lens. Ooh la la! That’s when I finally felt like a “real” photographer.

But before ALL of that was Dad’s beautiful Voigtländer… 

I’m not sure where he got it, but I know he used that camera for years before he upgraded to the AE-1. Then, it was retired to the top of his closet and sat there unused for decades.

I started my own relationship with photography around age seven with a 110 mm Kodak Ektralite 10. And I eventually graduated to the gifted AE-1, and then onto a small point & shoot digital camera (or two) before finally sealing the digital-deal with that 6D, before moving onto even bigger and better DSLRs from there…

Over all these years, together, cameras and I, we’ve both grown and changed. And I’m excited to keep changing lenses and continue shifting my perspective alongside the ongoing evolution of cameras—inside my phone and out.

Now—back to that shiny, dreamy, camera at the top of my dad’s closet… 

Unfortunately, it was long gone, by the time he realized that I might’ve liked to have it.  What a bummer it was to learn that he’d sold it on eBay a few years back during a season of financial drought.

In fact, one day, towards the end of his incredible life, Dad shared how he wished he still had his old Voigtländer so he could gift it to me…

At the time, his sentiment felt just as good as having his camera (sort of), but I was always a little sad that I never got to shoot a roll of film on that beautiful work of art and German technology.

Let’s fast forward—just a bit—to this past summer of 2022…

I went to Sedona and brought home her heart and heat, losing my Art Barn to a random Sunday afternoon fire, two short weeks later.

Then, came an epic clean-up effort and the cleansing of ashes, from all that was lost and nearly lost, while counting the blessings of ALL that wasn’t lost, at all.

I let go of so much more than a physical creative space.

I let go of old ideas and creative directions.

I released SO much of the work that had been sustaining me (professionally) for decades. 

I released old passions for old projects.

I released previous expectations and practiced embracing the unexpected.

I let go of a LOT, and I learned a lot.

The whole thing was… a lot… 🙂

There were also a lot of “God Things”, as Mom calls them.

And this story is one of them…

Just one of the MANY tiny magic moments we were gifted while sifting through the rubble and remnants of that old barn and everything it held…

A friend of my mom’s from church reached out to her, just a couple of weeks after the fire… 

He’d heard that I lost some photography equipment, and mentioned that he had an old 35 mm camera that he bought in Germany while serving in the war. 

He told her that he didn’t have anyone in his own life who would appreciate it. And he said, he’d love for me to have it—if I thought I might like it…

A Voigtländer.

It felt a little like magic. Or a miracle. 

Same thing.

It for sure felt like a little wink from my dad… 

A God thing.

I can’t quite explain how surprised (and excited!) I am to finally get to shoot that roll of film—after all these years—and after all the other tools and ideas I’d been storing up in the barn, instead of using them.

I’ll share scans of some the prints with you, here, once I finish the roll and get them developed. Old school. And I’m using it, for sure—with new found joy 😉

Much love, more soon,

Aaron Embrey
Aaron Embrey
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