From the time I was very young, I wanted to take photos. I can remember the very first camera my sisters and I received—it was big, plastic, and purple, the kind parents give to their kids because they know they’ll destroy the real thing. I received a basic film camera when I was older, but due to the cost of film, I couldn’t shoot as often as I wanted.

Then came the digital age. I started with simple point-and-shoots but around the time I was to start college, I asked for a camera as a combination birthday and Christmas present. This time, I wanted a “real” camera. I pitched in some of my own money and I received a Canon Rebel XS.

I began my early photography by playing and exploring the camera’s various functions. I would edit my photos in Photoshop suite, having no idea what technical options were available to me. It was all about having fun…and adding vignettes because vignettes were all the rage back then.

The camera saw me through all of college, graduate school, all the way through about 2018 when it lost the ability to connect to any lens attached to it. This faithful little camera survived a decade of countless self-portraits, several photography courses, and many years of family Christmas photoshoots (and if you know my family at all, you know our Christmas photoshoots are EPIC). I took a ton of terrible photographs with this camera. I took a lot of great shots too, including a couple of college art show entries, one of which won first place.

While I chuckle at some of my old photographs, the truth is that my skills in photography grew more with this camera than probably any creative tool I’ve had in my life. It was a decade of mistakes and experiments, as well as coming into a place of discernment and maturity in my work.

After storing it for a few years I’ve realized that its time has come to an end. I’m not sure yet as to the fate of it—I have since purchased a new camera (including my first prime lens) and gave all the working parts of the Rebel XS to my sister. While I have so many fond memories of this camera, I’m ready to say goodbye. Even so, I’m thankful for all this camera helped me capture, and for all the growth that happened behind the lens.

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