One of my earliest memories is of wanting a camera. As there were none within the family arsenal, I finally got one of my own when I was 13. For years, I saved all my Lucky Money—you know, those red envelopes that elders give for Chinese New Year, birthdays, Christmas, good grades, marriage, or a new birth. I gifted myself a Russian-made Zenit SLR. I remember the first time I held what is now a precious relic…it was heavy, solid, and I felt a sense of responsibility for the first time in my life. Armed also with a 200mm telephoto Hanimex (made in Japan), I was ready—ready to make mistakes, learn, and enjoy the medium.
This picture taken when I was 13 years old. Though quite bad, it was indicative of the "fun" I had during those times. Here, I was setting up to shoot a family portrait of my mother and grandmother. The camera was on a tripod or propped up on a windowsill. To my dismay, the shutter went off before I was ready—and there you have it, a happy accident. It nonetheless reminds me of the enjoyment of simple times, a boy's journey. It beats hanging out on the streets!