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A real camera makes me look more newsy

By John Toth

The Bulletin

If you see a tall, older (but not-so-old) man with a white camera around his neck at an event, that’s probably me.

I bought that Samsung camera from the Home Shopping Network around Christmas time six or so years ago. It looks like a real camera with a real lens and makes me look like a semi-professional photographer.

That is, until the real photographers show up with their huge lenses and cameras that sound like machine guns. When I snap a photo, it’s just one click. When they snap one, it sounds like they're taking hundreds of frames at a time. I’m not on that level yet.

This Samsung has all the bells and whistles, including manual settings, but I just keep it on “auto.” That’s the safest setting when you just want to point and shoot.

I have been taking my own photos ever since I started working at newspapers. I have always carried a camera with me just in case I ran into something newsworthy. Everybody now carries a camera (inside their phones) and a video recorder.

Having a camera with me has paid off many times in photo credits in the Houston Chronicle. Because I have always carried a camera, I also captured a lot of family events. They are now digitized, and I am glad that I have them.

I have been an amateur camera buff for a long time.

My first camera was a used one my mother bought in Vienna, Austria, in 1966. It was one of those vintage folding cameras that only worked with black and white film and could only be used outside.

We were glad to have it. We took a lot of photos with it before it developed a pinhole light leak after we got to the United States. I don’t even know what happened to it, but I kind of wish now that I still had it.

Then we went all out and bought a Kodak Instamatic camera that used 126 film and flash cubes. We were all set now for inside photos. I wish I would have kept that camera also, but I looked on eBay and can buy the exact one I had for $14, plus shipping. I may get it for old times’ sake.

It was exciting to open the envelope containing the photos after waiting for a week to have them developed. If we wanted to mail photos to friends or family, we took several shots of the same scene. Now we just zap the digital pictures and video all around the Internet.

Little Johnny (my younger self)then decided that he wanted a movie camera. I got a fairly cheap 8mm camera that could only be used in daylight outside. But that’s all I needed.

I became a movie maker, shooting scenes all over the big city. I even bought an editing gadget with which I could splice together the scenes. But I did most of the editing by just stopping and starting. Each film roll only lasted three minutes. Then we watched the movies a few times and put them in a box.

I have no idea where they are now. We didn’t have a “cloud” back in those days to send our photos and videos for safekeeping.

I keep forgetting that the white Samsung camera hanging around my neck also takes videos.

I’ll be taking some at the next community event and posting them. I am learning to edit videos now, but I’m still at the beginner stage. So far, only the family has been the beneficiary of my early projects.

To be truthful, the Samsung doesn’t do much more than the smartphone, but it looks more professional to use it rather than just whipping out my phone. It sets me apart from all the others who do that.

All I need now is a hat like Clark Kent (aka Superman) wore and a press pass to stick on it. Then we could change the name of The Bulletin to the Daily Planet. But Clark never had one of these handy white cameras.

The camera being white attracts some attention. It starts a lot of conversations about where I got it, how much it cost and what are some of the features.

That’s when I point to its most important feature - the auto setting.

(What have you done that made you stand out in a crowd? Let me know at We’ll share your story with our readers.)


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