It seems like yesterday that I was walking on Han-Ko Street (漢口街), looking for my first SLR (single lens reflex) camera. That was a summer weekend. I was a sophomore student, eager to express my thoughts and to distinguish myself from my peers. I needed a hobby that could show my aesthetic perspective and capture the most dynamic days of my life. Although I have been taking pictures since I was a kid, it was only then did I start to seriously use camera as a tool of creation.
Actually, my first SLR was a Minolta SRT-102b, an old mechanical camera that was a gift from my uncle. Subsequently I got 3 lenses for that camera. The Minolta did not serve me long because I was never satisfied with the image quality and bulkiness.
At the end of that afternoon on Han-Ko St., I got the first SLR that I actually paid money for--a Contax Aria. It is a tight, black, mechanical camera that only needs battery for its metering system, similar to my old Minolta or the then popular Nikon FM2. On the same day I bought 2 lenses --Planar 50/1.7 and Distagon 28/2.8--some films, a camera bag, and a lens cleansing set. It was as of yesterday that I was carrying my new toys home on the metro, excited and worried that I might have spent too much money on a hobby that will not last long.
The Aria brought me into a new world. I started to take lessons in photography and darkroom. Shutter speed, aperture, focal length, process time, zone metering, color temperature, etc. etc. The hobby that I expected to have low-threshold and shallow learning curve turned out to be a fiesta of chemistry and physics. Never did I complain about the overwhelming knowledge. In fact, I probably enjoy the science more than the art of photography.
No one realized it was the dusk of film photography. Films were cheap. Darkroom was mysterious and cool. SLR was equipment for adventurist of life. After every tour friends will re-convene to share pictures and see slides projected on a big white screen. Each shot was taken carefully because the second shot costs another frame of film. It was a time when pressing the shutterbug is making a decision; when recieving pictures back from the photo lab is a rediscovery of memory.
Was I a good photographer? Not at all. Two years after I got my camera, I realized I was just using the camera to capture the moment rather than to create something innovative. I realized I am a photography opportunist, that is, I only take good pictures when a beautiful scene presents itself. Like most people, I take good pictures when I'm shooting children, animals, speactular landscapes or people that I care. These pictures are good not because I'm good at photography, but because they are beautiful themselves. I didn't experiment; I didn't fake "hip" pictures or pretend I have a sharp style.
It took me another 2 years to realize that's OK. I don't have to be the most creative or skilled photographer to claim I am a photographer. I don't have to claim I am a photographer. Whether I enjoy the process, the product, the equipment, the science or the target does not matter; all it matters was that I was having fun. And I had so much fun.
Eight years have passed since the day I was on Han-Ko St., my Aria is still serving me well. There have been scartches and wears on my camera and my lens, but my Aria never disappoints me when the slides return to me from the photo lab. Sometime I shoot more intensively, other times I may be too busy to pick up my camera. But whenever I feel like taking pictures, my Aria will be ready in the camera bag, waiting for me to bring it out.
Soon I will buy a digital camera. The cost of films and the convenience of digital camera will no longer justify shooting films. Soon my Aria will be shelfed in a closet or a box; perhaps waiting to inspire a new generation. Soon I will forget about those films I had spent on my Aria, and all the excitements they have brought to me. But before that day, don't say goodbye.
在New Jersey的Hoboken至地鐵站的路上，接到我第一個，也是唯一一個提供(offer)。我的summer intern終於有著落了。
電話鈴響前，我還正在思考是否要擴大申請範圍至其他領域的事務所，例如專精international trade law的事務所。直到掛上電話後，我仍沒有預期的興奮，反而有一種"完成一件工作"的失落感，因為這意謂著下學期我用再費心一家又一家的投申請書，收一張 又一張的rejection letter。如我在法律這條路上其他的小小成就，我對這個好消息是忐忑多於得意。跟其他offer接不完的優秀學生相比，這個僅有的offer總讓我有 種"低空飛過"的僥倖感。
事實上這個offer來得很意外。一來interview不是call back，而是我在加州旅遊時順便安排的；二來interview時並沒有很click、沒有跟面試官有來電的感覺；三來我沒有如慣例在 interview後寄上感謝函，因此以為自己的疏忽已經搞砸了面試結果。我唯一能想到這次interview與過去的差別，是我當時已經豁出去了，就以 一種"已經是associate"的態度面試。可能是這種沒來由的自信使這次interview結果不同。
這個offer是來自一個專精智慧財產權(Intellectual Property)、反托拉斯法(antitrust)與複雜訴訟(complex litigation)，有約600位律師的大型事務所。我自然是分到智慧財產權部門。
我另一個忐忑的原因，是他們的summer intern program以競爭激烈聞名，包含在local office工作4週以及在總部訓練1週。據說在總部的訓練是將所有參加者(各個辦公室推薦的實習生共48人)分為每四人一小隊，各代表一件案子的原告與被告，在一週內從寫訴狀一路競賽到最後法庭辯 論。事務所會在畢業後聘請表現優良的參賽者。有看過美國電視節目"survivor"或是"The Apprentice"的人可以想像比賽的感覺。
PS: 回頭算一下。我過去這大半年，一共參加了5個job fair (DC, NY, PH, SF, LA)，25~30個screening interview，6個call-back interview (NY, SF, OC x 2, DC x 2)，一個offer。給有需要的人參考。