Of course we all know the standard cliché when it comes to portraiture. “It captures the memories and the moments for you to have and to hold forever.” Well, true, it does (insert shameless self-promotion here). However, I would like to speak a moment on something else portraiture and snapshots do, and that is how it links us to simply “being there”.
To illustrate, I will use a personal story, which fits nicely with the times! You see around this time 30 years ago, I was five years old, going on six. I remember the day was like any other in the life of a five-year-old with the exception of one thing: I remember my mom telling my sister and I that she had spoken with my dad on the phone and he said we might go see the new movie “Ghostbusters” that night.
Now, being five, I was not entirely sure what the movie was about and only really knew about it from my mom being so excited. However, going to the theater was always a fun thing to do so I was naturally excited.
That night, my mom, dad, sister (age 3) and I went to the theater and enjoyed the show. Now, I’ll be honest. While I remember the anticipation of heading to the theater that night, the following day and subsequent months between theater and VHS release (Yep, I’m that old), I really didn’t remember the storyline that much. I had vague recollections of Ecto-1 (the car) and Slimer in the hotel. However, I was simply at that age when I could not remember a movie’s story from theater to tape. In fact, it was not until “Flight of the Navigator” in 1986 that I recall not only being the instigator of a theater trip, but also being able to remember the story from big screen to little screen. But, I digress.
In the mean time, like so many others back then, between the movie and the tape release, I had a black t-shirt with the “Ghostbusters” logo on it and knew the song by heart After all the radio was great and MTV actually played music videos back then.
So I was obviously ready to watch it again. Then, sometime later, following the movie’s release on video, I did just that. I watched it again…and again…and again…and again…(dare I say?) and again! Truthfully, I watched this movie once a day for I don’t know how many months. After school, I went to my grandma’s house and watched “Ghostbusters”. To this day, If you set me down in front of that movie and mute the sound, I could probably quote it word for word with few problems.
And, being around five or six years old, next came the make believe fun! I made proton packs out of boxes, string, and cardboard tubes. My ghost traps were two-part traps (just like in the movie) made from cardboard tubes inside of other cardboard tubes. Then, I made a ghost storage facility out of tissue boxes, and, you guessed it, more cardboard tubes. I’m sure my grandma just loved all those boxes taped to the wall in the back room of her house, but I had to keep my ghosts somewhere, didn’t I? I even made myself a Stay Puft Marshmallow man out of styrofoam balls, felt, and toothpicks!
No doubt about it, I was a full-fledged “Ghostbusters” fan (click here to find some great facts a true fan will enjoy!). Needless to say, I was overjoyed later when the cartoon came out and was ecstatic when “Ghostbusters II” arrived in 1989. I even had the official toys from the action figures and Nintendo games to plastic proton packs and traps! And in more recent years, I even bought and enjoyed the Xbox 360 game, which was truly a treat for the true fan!
But back to the movie! As with any good sci-fi, one is going to have a favorite part in a movie. Mine was (spoiler alert) when the EPA, police, and power company showed up to turn off the Ghostbusters’ ghost containment unit. The whole scene was my favorite part, from the first wide angle, firehouse exterior shot with Walter Peck’s briefcase to the part where the ghosts are streaming from the firehouse’s rooftop.
This is where this tribute to one of the greatest movies of all time ties into the blog! You see, there is something about visiting objects or places you have only read about or seen in pictures, yet still hold personal meaning to you. Then, as a kind of memento or proof of contact, you have someone snap a picture of you in front of these objects or places.
Here’s where it gets exciting for me! You see, the Ghostbuster’s firehouse (well the exterior anyway where the ghost escape scene was shot), is a working firehouse in New York City. So, it only seemed fitting that, when we went to visit my sister-in-law in NYC some years back that I might try to find it and pose for a memento photo myself.
For me, this was on a different level than just the obligatory NYC Times Square and Statue of Liberty shot (we got those too, don’t worry). This was a piece of my personal childhood I was looking for…and I found it! Nestled away in a small side street is Hook and Ladder 8. It still looks the same as it did in 1984 and, when you finally spot it, you know it! That was one of the most memorable parts of my first NYC trip and I have several photos to show I was in fact “there” at the very spot.
That is part of the magic of photography many do not consider. While you can say you were there, the ability to capture that moment on film is priceless. If you have never done this, I strongly recommend you do so! I got my picture taken in front of the Ghostbusters’ firehouse! Now, if I could just time my visits to Universal Studios just right, I might have another blog to share on the 30th Anniversary of “Back to the Future”. However, to date, efforts to have me and the BTTF DeLorean in the same place at the same time have failed. But don’t fret! I still have just more than a year, right?
Anyway, for now, I will treasure my memory of “being there” at the Ghostbusters’ firehouse while I (hopefully) get to head to the theaters in August to see the movie on the big screen once again. And, this time, at age 35, I’m sure, when I exit the theater this time, I will (still) definitely remember the movie’s story…word for word!