memories of toy photos past

i came across some old photos recently and was reminded of my old friend fuzz. fuzz was a little scrunchy beanie baby. do you remember those? they were all the craze for awhile back in the late 90s.

nearly 20 years ago, when i was a serious graduate student on a fulbright scholarship to macedonia, i took fuzz everywhere. he’s been to the balkans, istanbul, russia, sweden, denmark, london and germany. and yes, he’s even been to the pyramids. i always had him in my backpack, sometimes riding on the outside, but often stuffed inside. he was imminently stuffable and didn’t mind it a bit. i could always whip him out, fluff him up a bit and pose him wherever i wanted. he saw all the sights.

i ended up talking to a lot of people on my travels, because they thought it was so sweet that i was photographing my teddy bear. and i honestly don’t remember ever being embarrassed that i was photographing a toy. i wonder where i lost that along the way?

i liked photographing him from behind best. he somehow seemed most thoughtful that way. it became a bit of a game to see how much expression i could get out of him without showing his face. even tho’ i was using one of those kodak advantix cameras in those days. you remember the ones? they were a film camera, but they had the gimmicky feature of allowing you to adjust between three sizes of photos along the way, including a panorama. i tried to save the panoramas for special occasions. honestly, i enjoyed that camera.

my favorite photo of him, i took at the hermitage museum in st. petersburg. he was posed looking wistfully at the fog out of a rather dilapidated window.  unfortunately, i didn’t come across that photo in the stack of photos i found, so i can’t share it.

the best part of that photo was that one of those old russian ladies who sits impassively on a stool in the museums, sternly frowning at the guests, lest they do anything like dare to touch one of the paintings, was so charmed by fuzz that she even pointed out several other places i should pose him for his picture and thanks to her he got to sit on some chairs that were otherwise roped off. so much fun for me, but i also think it was fun for her – a little bright spot in an otherwise boring day of frowning at people who got too close to the matisse. i’ll bet she still remembers it, just as i do.

maybe it’s actually a good thing i can’t find that photo. possibly it’s much better in memory than it was in reality.

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David Mathis (ElDavePhoto)

“i ended up talking to a lot of people on my travels, because they thought it was so sweet that i was photographing my teddy bear. and i honestly don’t remember ever being embarrassed that i was photographing a toy. i wonder where i lost that along the way?”

Oh man, that sounds super fun. More often than not, people get really weird when I break out a toy in public.

HerrSM
6 years ago

The thought of that one pic may not be better than the pic itself- but isn’t it remarkable that simply the thought of a picture can hold so much joy? Great…;-)

Shelly
6 years ago

There is too much that I love about this piece…fuzz, traveling, making connections across cultures with a toy, film…pretty much the whole piece. Thanks for sharing Julie!

Leila
6 years ago

Great story Julie!! I’d love to see more of fuzz’s travels!