As early as 1949, he started a portrait photography activity during the weekends he spent back home. Gradually, he built up what it took to run a ‘real’ business: a studio and a darkroom.
The darkroom, July 1951. On the very left: an enlarger and a heat press to apply gloss to photos. Against the wall just left of center: a contact printing frame for glass plates and sheet films
Hard to believe from today’s perspective, but there was no tap water available in that neighborhood until 1952. You just had to be ingenious to set up a makeshift negative rinsing installation!By the early 1950’s, graduated and fully licensed, my father started to work full-time as independent ‘master photographer’. The family house became a photo store, and a new business was born! (And soon thereafter, so would I…)
During 1952-53, all Belgian citizens were obliged to renew their identity cards. As my hometown lies exactly on the virtual border between the Flemish and French speaking halves of the country, politics took its time, and it wasn’t until late 1954 that the action finally spread to that area. Meaning: all 30,000+ inhabitants were to be processed in just a couple of weeks! The sudden demand for passport pictures (shot on 6x9cm sheet film, each one hand retouched!) turned out to be a big boost for the young business.
To be continued…
Gear notes: long forgotten
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