My grandfather (my mother’s father, to be precise) worked as a commercial photographer in an era where this occupation was not only unusual but also well respected. From what I learned, his professional training was thoroughly artistic (including learning to draw and paint), but left him with enough technical knowledge to experiment with chemistry. Later he would work closely with Gevaert – a major manufacturer of photographic products – for field trials of new plates, films and papers. A true beta tester!
And here’s a view of his first photo studio, same period. On the top floor of the house of course: no way around using natural light in those days! Hence the big skylight overhead, with (look closely at the full-size picture) strips of black curtain to model the flow of light. Behind the curtain at left, a large and bright side window. Notice the intricate backdrop which, I heard, was just one of the available scenes, painted by himself. Add chairs and various props. And last but not least: the large view camera on its wooden pedestal. Ah, those were the days!
The picture above was taken in his basement darkroom, around 1926. He had just set up his shop and studio in Sint-Amandsberg (near Gent), his home base for many years to come. Quite a stylish portrait, most likely made by one of his study friends.
Many years later, my father would arrive there as a young boy, start an apprenticeship and eventually become a professional photographer as well. He first learned all there was to learn, and then fell in love with the daughter.
The rest is (my) history…
Gear notes: long forgotten
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