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Family Bored as Uncle Talks Cameras


It started with a simple statement, “Uncle John, I’m thinking of getting a camera,” but as soon as those words left young Mercedes’ lips the rest of the table rolled their eyes and stocked up on provisions; this was going to be a long response…

Uncle John, you see, is what is known as a “camera enthusiast.” They’re a lot like normal people–they eat three times a day, they walk like normal folk, they work like normal folk, unless they’re retired. But make no mistake, they’re hooked on a drug called “photography” and will do nearly anything to score a camera conversation. Back in the old days (aka, the 1990s), folks like Uncle John would go to the local camera store and spend the better part of an hour purchasing a Skylight filter for a camera lens. Mind you, most normal folk at the time wouldn’t even know what a Skylight filter was or may have unwittingly purchased a cheap one for too many dollars the last time they bought an SLR with a 50mm lens.*

In any case, the process of buying one did not warrant an hour in a camera store. But Uncle John wasn’t normal; he wasn’t just there for the Skylight filter. Uncle John was a camera fiend, and was there to smell the place, ogle the cameras beneath the glass counter, and hopefully score a conversation about Agfa paper or the latest Tiltall tripod. (http://tiltallsupport.blogspot.com/p/tiltall-support.html).

But over the years, as first disposable cameras and then digital cameras took over the landscape, the conversations at the camera counter dried up. And then the Internet came, and but for a handful of old codgers, everyone transformed into bits and bytes. Uncle John went online too, and and frequented many camera websites and forums. But something was missing. Human beings. So on the rare occasion when an actual human being like the young Mercedes wants to talk about cameras, Uncle John’ his heart grows a half size, and he can’t but help himself and goes on and on and on..just like the good old days at the camera counter. And this story.

“Point-and-shoot…blahblah…iPhone bad…blahblah…serious compacts…blahblah…DSLR…blahblah…Steve Stonewall is a hack…blahblah…Micro Four-Thirds…blahblah…registration distance…blahblah…Fuji…blahblah…HDR is the devil…blahblah…Instagram is ruining photography…blahblah…prime lenses…blahblah…Rule of Thirds…blahblah…”

The fusillade of enthusiasm went on for the better part of half an hour, Uncle John on the verge of perspiration, Mercedes smiling politely and trying to absorb as much as she could while the rest of the clan ate quietly before wandering away from the dinner table and into their phones.

Afterwards, Mercedes was overheard, “Wow, Uncle John sure knows a lot about cameras, but that was a lot to absorb all at once. I’ll go to that website he mentioned…SteveStonewall.com… and do more research.”

For his part, Uncle John’s heart was still a half size larger. “I think that they are really interested!” He slept peacefully that night. And it wasn’t the tryptophan.
* Those people probably got the rustproof undercoating dealer option on their new car as well.


  1. Thank you for not using my name in this article. But it still hurts. I thought she was truly interested.

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