When I was 16, I started playing around with my Dad's Minolta x-700, and bought some used darkroom equipment. It wasn't long after, I became the yearbook photographer in high school. It allowed me to go to every sporting and social event, and the best part was I got an unlimited supply of film from a local photo supply store.
The school had their own cameras which I had a love hate relationship with - the Canon AE-1 (loved) and a Nikon F3 (hated). The Nikon, which I'm sure was a great camera at some point, was old and beat up, and the film would sometimes get jammed and break inside the camera when I tried to rewind. It drove me crazy and turned me off of Nikon from then on.
Then came about five years of no camera and no photography. It was a sad time. I had too many other necessities and just couldn't afford a camera. When digital came out, I jumped on the bandwagon and bought a Kodak DX3700 3 MP camera. Like most digital cameras back then, it was junk. So I upgraded and bought my first $1000 camera - a Fuji s7000. It took amazing pictures and stayed at my side for years.
Finally, the Fuji bit the bullet, and I bought an Olympus SP-610UZ, with a massive 22x optical zoom and 16Mp sensor. For a point and shoot, it was an awesome camera, but my wife hated it and wanted something with more sharpness and clarity.
That's when I decided that I needed to by a real camera. I thought about all the fun I had shooting football games and swim meets, class portraits and dancing cheerleaders. Then I thought about the great cameras I used back then compared to the junky point and shoot digital cameras I had been using to capture my memories.
That was about 2008. It wasn't until the following year that I broke down and bought a "real" camera, one that I thought would do justice to my irreplaceable memories. In the fall of 2009, an awesome piece of equipment came out and I snatched one up immediately - the Canon 7D.
Three years and tens of thousands of photos later (along with thousands of dollars spent in lenses, lighting and studio equipment, etc.) I'm back! It's still more of a hobby, but if I ever lost my job, I think I would be able to pick up the business and put food on the table with a shutter click or two.
The 7D was supposed to be sold to help finance my latest purchase - the Canon 5D Mark III, but I was informed today by my wife that we will be keeping it as a second camera (hers). Now she wants to quit her teaching career and become a professional photographer. Sounds good to me!