Saturday, February 6, 2010
The only trouble was, I had no way of paying for photos to be developed. An expensive exercise back then. So I spent a lot of time (and family patience) deliberating over, and composing every picture, making each one count. Then it was either earn more pocket money; wait forever, hoping my father would eventually lend me the money; or wait for a birthday to swing by.
When I began working part-time in a jeweler’s shop as an older teen, anything left over from contributions to the home went on buying film and getting it developed at the local camera shop in Hale, Cheshire. The kindly old man behind the counter got used to my requests to crop this bit off here, and that bit off there from negatives. Looking back, I think he must have dreaded seeing me come in the door. But he was always the English gent, and believed in quality customer service. He did a grand job every time.
Another year, I received a small “How To” book on photography and it became the most dog-eared thing I possessed. Terminology was simple, as were diagrams, but it opened up new dimensions for me to grasp. I headed for the local cemetery to practice new skills and fell in love with shapes and shadows found there. Light filtering through dark trees held a particular fascination. I still have one cemetery picture (above).
One winter night, I set up my tripod in our street in the snow, and about froze off my toes taking wide aperture, slow speed shots by lamplight. I only did that once.
That basic grounding in such a fun hobby came in useful later when I began writing from England for The New Era magazine. Although I had to learn more aspects of photography when I bought a Single Lens Reflex camera, those early memories clicked into place and it all made sense. That, together with making sure I took dozens of pictures for each required shot, resulted in some magazine cover pictures among others, and many hours of happy work with British youth.
Now, of course, the digital camera has revolutionized photographic skills, and most of us can get a decent picture with a little patience and some Photoshop adjustments. For me, however, the pleasure that came from those black and white cemetery days was far more satisfying than any full color photo shoot today—and will remain forever vivid in my mind.
Famous Family Nights