What is my most prized possession? That’s a tough one to answer. Of course, the first thoughts I have are of my health, family, friends, home and job, for which I am extremely grateful. Yet, if we talk of actual possessions, then that’s a trickier prospect.
My music collection is very important to me. My life is there, among the plastic CD cases and the discs inside them contain memories, good times, bad times; some of which are limited edition, so I’d be sad to lose them. Naturally, for a book-worm, my little library has brought me hours of pleasure and learning over the years. I haven’t kept every book I’ve ever read but still have treasured ones from my childhood, and both hardback and paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings, which I treasure. So, from my love of music and reading to that of films, and yet more discs with hours of joy on them; but all these possessions could be replaced, for the most part, although the loss of them would pain me.
My photographs however, are not replaceable, and these are definitely among my most prized possessions; capturing moments, experiences, sights I’ve seen and loved throughout the years. Most of which were taken with a film camera, and once I changed to digital, I stopped printing my photos as often, which was a shame as I rarely look at them on my laptop. So last year, I started printing the digital ones too and it was as though I had seen them for the first time. For me, photography is a physical thing, the result being an object you can hold, frame, arrange in an album and admire, or use to remind you of something, or someone. Although I’m happy using digital, nothing beats a film camera, and the chemical smell of a darkroom as magic is created and an image appears on a piece of paper. And that’s it! That’s my most prized possession; my film cameras. I have a Minolta XG1 and a Bronica Zenza, which take wonderful photographs. I love the square format of the latter of the two cameras, and the necessity placed upon me to think carefully about each shot before I take it. The Minolta has been with me since I was a teenager, and I’m approaching forty now, so that’s a long time, and apart from the light meter, it’s still going strong. The Bronica also has extra significance because I couldn’t afford to buy it at the time, and so my brother kindly lent me the money so I could realise my long-held dream of owning a medium format camera.
Yet even as I write these words, I know that, despite all the pleasure these possessions afford me, there’s one thing which I really couldn’t manage without; my freedom. Without that, I could not buy such material objects, nor could I live where I choose to, earn a living and support myself entirely, without having to rely on anyone else for financial security. I can go where I please, wear what I like and make my own decisions. I am mistress of my destiny, and that, in all honesty, is my most prized possession. I am so lucky to have been born when and where I was, and even though the fight for equality still continues today, it is still considerably better than in my grandmothers’ day, let alone the during the time of the suffragettes, who fought and died so I can go along to a polling station this coming week and have a say in my country’s future.
The fact that I can go to work and pay my own rent means I have complete self-determination, which is still denied to so many women across the world. I can love who I wish, or no-one at all; choose to marry, or not, choose to have children, or not. It is all up to me, and how I respond to what life offers me. As a woman from a working class background, I was fortunate enough to have a free education, and then I supported myself through university and if possible, I’ll keep learning my whole life. All that I have; my books, music, cameras and films have all been possible because of the good fortune of my birth and the freedom that has been bestowed upon me, for which I am truly grateful.