The First Photograph I Remember

The first photograph I remember seeing is one of me and my grandad in his old wooden greenhouse, midsummer, surrounded by tomatoes.

I must have been about three or four, and in my memory the tomato plants are bursting out of the windows in all directions, heavy with large ripe red juicy tomatoes. I was in little blue dungarees, with red buttons that seemed to perfectly match the tomatoes.

I think I remember the image because he and my nan had it on display in their house in a little gold frame for years, so it’s probably not the first photograph I ever saw, but the earliest one that made a lasting impression.

The first photograph I remember making myself I thought at first was with my Holga, my first film camera given as a birthday present in 2012.

Just getting anything out of it felt like a miracle, being the ultra simple flimsy black hollow hunk of plastic it is!

This is the oldest I have in my Flickr, and though taken in 2012, it still looks like it was made in the fifties, or even earlier. It looks considerably older than the picture of me and granddad in the greenhouse!


Then I remembered that a former girlfriend and I had bought a Polaroid together probably around 2000, to try to make some artistic portraits.

I don’t have any of these left, they went out with a wealth of other stuff when we separated, though I remember some of the images.

Also, a few years back, I came across some other images I made with the same person, but obviously on some kind of SLR. I can’t remember what happened to those images now, only where they were taken.

They were clearly prints made from (black and white) film, and given the depth of field could only have really been with an SLR. But I have no recollection at all of making them, strangely. (I have an incredibly good memory for some things, and other entire passages from my past seem entirely erased.)

Far longer ago than this, I have a vague recollection of playing with my nan’s old Kodaks in the late 70s and early 80s when I was very young.

She had those Kodak 110 film cameras where the top half flipped open and down to make a handle. Something similar to this Kodak Ektra. So the first photograph I actually made was mostly like with one of those.

What’s the first photograph you remember – taken by anyone, and taken by you? 

Please share your memories in the comments below.

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.


21 thoughts on “The First Photograph I Remember”

  1. I think my first pic was taken at my first Communion, taken with a Kodak X 15, a fixed focus Instamatic with rangefinder type viewfinder. Was given it as a present. Served me well till my first real camera, an Olympus OM 10. Love to have that little camera back…

  2. One of my fathers photo’s I remember well. Taken in Malta mid 1950’s while he was in the RAF of a old fisherman sitting on the ground repairing one of his nets in the afternoon sun. Dad shot it with his Voigtlander Vito B (which he still has) and I believe he used Ferrania Pancro 30 film at the time. I was only wee lad when he showed me that image.

      1. My father does stored away somewhere I’ll have to ask him.
        Anything I done previously was destroyed or lost when I divorced.
        I had a rather vindictive ex-wife.

      2. Oh dear, sorry to hear. A chance at least to leave that chapter behind and create new work for, hopefully, a more positive time of your life.

  3. The earliest photographs I remember seeing are studio portraits of my sister and myself, both taken at age 2, and always on display in our parents house, and now in my house.

    The earliest photograph I remember taking is one I took at age 8 with a Kodak 127 Brownie. It is of our cousins’ house. I haven’t seen the print or the negative in 66 years and my sister has almost finished going through our parents’ things so I have pretty much given up hope.

      1. Yes I can. In fact, it’s the only memory I have of the facade of the house. I can picture the room layout, the back yard and a lot of small details but on the facade of the house I draw a complete blank except for my memory of the picture.

      2. Doug, I wonder with many of my earliest memories whether I am remembering the actual event, or a picture I saw of the event many times as a child, so it’s become more engrained in my memory. Maybe the difference between remembering an experience first hand or second hand.

  4. La primera primera que recuerde la tomé unas vacaciones con la Ieica IIIF de mi padre, a principios de los 70s, creo que a mi padre no le gustaba prestar su cámara, pero a mí me permitió tomar una foto en Córdoba, Argentina, aún recuerdo el momento, aunque algo borroso por los años transcurridos…Saludos!

    1. Pablo, thanks for your comments! Did your father let you use the Leica any more after that? Did it encourage you to want a camera of your own?

  5. The first photo I remember is a black and white photo of me as a young child with my teddy bear, Gregory. I still have the photo and I still have Gregory. They both mean a lot to me. The first photos I took were in high school of my high school friends. I probably borrowed my parents camera to take them and I still have some of the images. I have a box of photos that include many of my firsts and lasts of things. xoxo susanJOY

    1. Susan, the first and last box sounds a lovely idea. I wonder how my kids will feel about photos when they’re grown up. Compared with my generation the number of photos we have of them is many many times more.

  6. I had to think a while about this. The first picture I can remember being taken of me was on holiday in Cornwall. It is a small square black and white picture probably from a Kodak Instamatic 126. I am six years old and sitting on a huge rock with my mum and dad. We look so happy. Unfortunately my mum died suddenly the following year. I treasure the photo.

    1. Oh Jay, I’m sorry, what a poignant story, and it’s obvious why you treasure the photo.

      What’s the first photograph of your own you remember making?

      1. Thank you.

        Funny but seeing some of the royal wedding coverage reminded me that some of the first pictures I took were on a school trip to Windsor Castle. I took my brother’s instamatic (probably the same camera). Those pictures are long gone but I do remember Concorde flying low overhead, it was an early flight in its career, 1974 maybe? We were thrilled by it.

      2. Ah that reminds me of going to a lane in a place called Charlwood which was directly under the flight path of many planes taking off and landing at Gatwick airport. We went quite often as kids and it was incredible seeing planes so large and close, compared with how we usually see them high in the sky.

        Can’t recall ever seeing Concorde though – good spot!

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