Apr 10, 2010

Generations IV

With this episode of my ‘family saga’, we have arrived at a period that I have witnessed personally.

Being a son of a professional photographer means, among other things, that you discover the wonders of processing and printing well before you learn to read and write. That’s me below, about 20 months old, sitting next to the developer tray in my father’s darkroom (see previous post).

Rene_doka_april 1955-Editw
I have spent countless sitting around there, or some place nearby, fascinated by the images that appeared magically as the prints were developing… It took many more years before I was allowed to step in and perform the magic tricks all by myself! 

But I have fond memories of all the times (mostly in the evenings or nights) that I worked side by side with my father, helping out with big or urgent orders, learning not only the ‘how to’ but also the ‘why to’ step by step.

Fast forward nine years, bringing us to 1965. Still no Photoshop then, so post-processing was done purely by hand. Not only negatives were retouched (at least when these were 4.5x6cm or larger) but also the final prints underwent close scrutiny. That’s another way how I remember my father patiently at work, in a well-lit corner of the living room (we had a glass ceiling bringing in nicely shaded daylight). See the loupe, the pencils and the brush? Our basic tools have not changed that much since!

Large format black&white prints became a big trend in industrial photography in those days, like the areal picture above. If I remember well, this one in reality was shot from the top of a fire engine ladder. Retouching the big ones just meant rearranging the living room for a few days.

As time went on and my skills improved, I was allowed to serve as an on-location assistant, and finally to go out and shoot events and weddings on my own.

How tough can the life of a commercial photographer get? I shot this picture from my father in the mid seventies. If you are hired to cover the local carnival festivities (here the official reception at City Hall of the reigning Prince and Princess) what else can you do but join in and play the part? 

Gear notes: long forgotten; Nikkormat FT for the last one

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

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