The Canon AE-1 was my gateway drug to a photography career

A magician making a Canon AE-1 camera "float", via the magic of levitation photography!
(Image credit: James Artaius)

I'm not the only person for whom the Canon AE-1 was their first camera. It was, after all, one of the best-selling and most ubiquitous cameras ever made. However, it was more than just a first camera to me; the AE-1 was my gateway drug not just to taking photographs, but to making photography my career. 

I'd always coveted my dad's Canon AE-1, in its handsome steel flight case with flashgun, power winder, 50mm prime and telephoto zoom lens. I also coveted the beautiful book, The 35mm Photographer's Handbook (by Julian Calder and John Garrett), in its snazzy plastic jacket styled after a strip of film. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.