Ragtime hits the NYT.

Going back for an evening of Italian food in my time machine.

There used to be a restaurant on 9th Street, in the middle of downtown Austin, called, Italian Gardens. It's been gone for maybe twenty years. But when I found the negative of the image above all of the memories of sliding downtown in an ancient Karmen Ghia and slipping into one of the many empty, free parking spots just in front of the restaurant, and settling in for an over the top meal of garlic bread, pastas, soup and little pizzas, all washed down with Chianti that poured from a bottle with a wicker cover, came rushing back as though it was yesterday.

That's one of the charms of having been a photographer for many years. I can't remember a time since I started that I didn't have a camera of some sort over my shoulder and ready to go. In this case it was my ancient Canonet QL 17 III. Stuffed with a hand rolled length of Tri-X.

I read now about how cellphones and pocketable mini cams have now made it possible to carry a camera with you everywhere. I laugh. We never felt unduly burdened by having to carry a small rangefinder and a pocket full of fresh film...

I love portraits taken over tables in dark restaurants. The only technique is to plant your elbows firmly on the table and make the intersection of camera and forehead the third point of your human tripod. Breath out and click. It's a technique that made film seem faster and less grainy and still works with digital captures. (What an icky word...).

While it's seems important to stride out into the big world and catch images of kinetic strangers you should not forget the pleasures of imaging closer to home. Take your camera to dinner along with your loved ones and you'll create documents that mean more to you in five, ten or twenty years than countless hundreds of photographs of strangers walking on random streets. They mean nothing to the rest of us but for you the personal images will be like fine wine aging in a barrel.

Doesn't matter which camera you use as long as you use one. The memories are fragile. The photographs make them stronger.