Zenfolio | Abi Fields | My Tackle Box

My Tackle Box

April 21, 2014  •  6 Comments

I’m stubborn. Some would call it hard-headed. Grandpa called it witty. He was also known to say “did you hear that bear snort?” during childhood hikes at the ranch when he farted. Sometimes it was a deer snort, but most days it was a bear. (One of the two was more prevalent than the other in the Texas Hill Country).

Regardless, he was gold.  The importance is not so much as to what side of truth he accompanied, but simply that he taught me how to find joy in the unknown. 

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Thank you grandpa.

My siblings and I on grandpa's porch. Circa 1989. The tackle box was to the right of the door, always. I'm wearing the loafers!

Not only was he witty, he was meticulous. About everything. The golden fishing rule of his ranch was you can only go into the tackle box with me. My 25 or so first cousins and I learned early on what fate was to be had in breaking the rule. No fishing for a month!


Every lure had its place. Organized by color, size, shape and rubber vs non rubber, he knew the contents like the back of his hand.  As an adult I see it as a “countrified” version of the hotel mini-fridge.


Even the slightest touch to a bottle results in motion sensor feedback.

And, of course, an unfavorable consequence. 

Back to the camera. My first memory involved my tall tale-telling Grandpa.  He owned a Kodak Star 110. It is rectangular shaped film camera with one button, and one button only. 


He kept it spotless. Pristine. His pride in it, and in taking photographs, contrasted sharped with the family’s impatience with him when he used it. Posing for Grandpa’s photos meant time. Waiting. More time. He’d hide behind it as he framed, focused, re-focused, changed angles and tamed the light. As a child it irritated me!

I wasn't alone. With a big family there was never less than 10 people hunched together contorting and bending so he could "see every face." And the whole time we all complained "“What takes so long to take a picture?! Seriously, it’s not that difficult! Come on, Grandpa/Dad/Ted!”

This scenario was a constant companion as I progressed through sports, band recitals, holidays and high school graduation.  I couldn’t escape it! At every turn, there it was; Grandpa taking forever to take a picture.  His “inability” to take a photo in less than five minutes became a legacy joke in our family. The more we poked fun, the longer he would take. (I could write an entire blog about how long it took him to cook (aka burn) brisket!)

People ask me all the time “How did you get into photography?” or “How long have you been doing it?” Standard inquiries in the photography business. If only I didn’t need an entire blog post to answer it!

I didn’t grow up with much but I did grow up with disposable, affordable, cameras. Thank you Kodak! We all have the “funny friend,” the “opinionated friend” and then there was me… the “funny camera friend.” I took photos of everything, everywhere.

I wasn’t fortunate enough for an allowance so I did what every other small-town Texas boy did. I mowed lawns. Enough mowed lawns to afford my addiction to disposable film cameras and Wal-Mart photo processing. I canvassed door-to-door in Johnson City, Texas; selling fresh cut lawns instead of smelly shoes in briefcases.  Me and grandpa at the ranchOne of the last photos taken of us.


My grandparents passed away, three years apart from each other, both from lung cancer. It’s only now, at 33, that what I once viewed as Grandpa’s wit (Grandpa’s idiosyncrasies) is in fact the inspiration and foundation behind my photography. I understand and appreciate the time he took to get every photo “just right.” I applaud him in his precision and unwavering focus. I see him in me.







I’ve learned his style of writing with light, which is this:

1)   A photo is not just a photo

2)   It is an experience

3)   It is emotion

4)   The moment, that exact moment, will never happen again

5)   Write like you mean it

6)   Have fun and be witty

7)   Protect your tackle box


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The things you have written here made me very emotional. I can feel the strong connection between you and your grandpa, along with your passion in photography. 'A photo is not only a photo' - I agree with what you have said here. It's not just a picture but also, a story that has passed on and will continue to live on as memories. After reading this I made a quick check on my pictures when I was a kid and it was like I was, being brought back to time where life seems so dreamy. Inspiring and powerful post, thank you for sharing this.
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Enough cut gardens to bear the cost of my dependence on expendable film cameras and Walt-Mart photograph handling. I peddled way to-entryway in Johnson City, Texas; offering new cut yards rather than malodorous shoes in folder cases.
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