The Yashica 124G and How it Helped Me Get Married – by Sacha Cloutier

By Sacha Cloutier

Like many people, my experience with photography started before a digital alternative existed. We remember that time, when most people didn’t have a cell phone and most pictures were taken by an aunt with no concept of what a 35mm point and shoot would do to your nose from a short distance away. It was a time when we didn’t document our lunches.

Now, don’t take that intro as my saying that the new age is bad. I have plenty of cellphone pics of my food, some of which find their way on my Instagram. I have been shooting digital for about 15 years now. My digital history started with an Olympus DSLR, that I eventually traded for a Canon XT. That is where my passion for editing came in. The XT would make way for the XSi, and eventually, my 7D. I stayed Canon until Boxing Day 2019 when I moved over to my Sony A7ii.

That’s not where my love of photography started though. My first foray into taking pictures was in the 8th grade when I had to do a school project for which I decided to include pictures. I can’t tell you what brand the camera was. I’m pretty sure that I had gotten it previously at a garage sale. I used it until I was 18 years old, sporadically taking pictures of friends over the years.

When I got to college, I got my first real job that was not working for the family construction business. With a job, I applied for a credit card. I was 1999 or 2000 and I decided to get an SLR of my own on eBay. I had not really done any research, Google was not really a thing. A few weeks later I received my Minolta XG 7 in the mail and started shooting.

To say that I knew nothing would have been a generous comment. I didn’t know what a light meter did, I didn’t know about exposure, and I sure as hell did not know what the shutter speed represented. My first roll of pictures came out completely black and the second one was completely white. Slowly I learned to speak the right language to get the camera to do what I wanted it to. This is where my love of photography really took hold: when it was hard and I had to earn it.

Corner in Old Port, Montreal
Old Port Montreal – Shot with my Minolta XG 7 (Early 2000s)

So what does this have to do with me getting married? We’re almost there, I promise.

A few years back, I was thinking about returning to film and got a bad case of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). I bought a Canon AE-1, a Canon A-1, a Mamiya 645E, and a Yashica MAT 124G, among others, before I had even shot a roll of film through any of them. I was attracted by the luster of a simpler time, well, more complicated, but you get the sentiment.

A shot using the Canon A1
Shot with Canon A-1 during one of our photo walks

Through all this period of purchasing I got cats, went through a burnout, and met my wife. She knew nothing about photography but was always very supportive. Being the amazing partner that she is, she listened to everything I said and took mental note of it. Relationship goals were achieved when we bought her a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. I was the happiest guy on the planet.

Fast forward nine months and I was ready to propose. The only issue was that I needed money for the ring. If my talking about GAS didn’t make it obvious, I totally suck with spending money. I was sitting with my best friend at a bar one day, telling him about how much I love Annabel and the step that I was ready to take with her. While 9 months might seem rather fast, it didn’t seem too fast to anyone that saw us together. When he found out that the only thing delaying me was money, he handed me his credit card and we ordered the ring.

The ring would be ready 2-3 weeks later which gave me the time to talk to her father. My wife is traditional and her so is her family, so asking her father for her hand in marriage was the right thing to do. As you can guess, that went well.

Shot of our cameras
Pic from my Instagram of our cameras early on.

All the gears were in motion, but how to propose? What would be romantic? What really spoke to our bond? And what does any of this have to do with the Yashica?

It came to me like an epiphany: hide the ring in the camera itself, ask her to remove the film from the camera, and I’d already be on one knee pretending to rummage through my camera bag. I would do it on the Saturday following the reception of the ring. It would be glorious! Just one of our photo walks but with a surprise ending.

There is one thing that I had not taken into account which was my impulsiveness and lack of patience. The ring maker called me a Wednesday shortly after lunch to tell me that the ring was ready for me to pick up. I texted my best friend right away to announce the good news. My second text was to tell him that I could not wait, it had to happen that night. He accepted to come with me at 4pm to get the ring. I called her best friend to tell her that I needed her to be part of this. Her shift finished much later, but she didn’t care, she left work to come be part of this event.

We made up this fake photoshoot that I was going to do that evening. Both of our best friends there to participate in that impromptu little photo session. Not knowing what was coming, Annabel changed into some comfortable clothes, including a t-shirt that read “Crazy Cat Lady”. She tried to find the roll of film when I asked her to, taking a whole 15-20 seconds before realizing what was waiting for her in there.

I proposed to her October 25th, with a diamond ring hidden in the film compartment of a Yashica MAT 124G. The following August, on the 24th, we got married in a ceremony officiated by the priest who worked at my high school, 20 years ago. What can I say, I like nostalgia and I like film.

Thanks for reading!

Sacha Cloutier
My facebook page: EvilKittenProductions

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About The Author

By Sacha Cloutier
Amateur photographer, mostly self-taught. Started back in the days of film but turned to the digital. Trying to make my film comeback and trying all matter of camera to get there.
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DeeDee Yelverton on The Yashica 124G and How it Helped Me Get Married – by Sacha Cloutier

Comment posted: 18/07/2020

What a great, fun story! I love it! But wait, where's the photo of her with the open camera and the ring in it?? :)

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