…on how I became a photographer. I think that the “bug” bit me really early in life, when I saw the blurry black and white snaps being passed round by the family after holidays at the seaside, or a day out with relatives. I was always amazed at how they could relive the day when viewing the snaps and loved the idea that a memory could be captured on a paper print
There was a little plastic camera for sale in Woolworth’s for the sum of two shillings and sixpence (12 and a half pence today!). This took the then new 127 roll film and had a tiny wire frame “viewfinder” that flipped up to roughly frame the scene. I had to learn how to load the spool of film carefully and then wind on by watching the numbers appear in the tiny red window on the back. The first few photographs that I took were of steam trains on the old GWR railway station and sheds in Wolverhampton – oh yes, I was a trainspotter too! They were OK, given the limitations of a plastic camera with a plastic lens, but soon I became frustrated with the inability to compose the image as I imagined it could look. A new camera was needed! At the age of 11 I was given a Kodak Brownie 127…probably the most popular camera of the late 1950s for family snappers! This was a real improvement as it had a clear optical viewfinder and a little lever marked sunny/cloudy that changed the size of the little hole behind the lens (I had yet to discover the word aperture!). It was also possible to clip on a lens hood, which I managed to persuade my mum to buy for me. I felt like a “proper phototographer” with this attached, and could pretend that my camera was like the ones that I saw in the books that I read. A school trip to Spain in 1960 allowed me to try colour film…which was not only expensive to buy, but also to get developed and printed at the chemists, where most people took the films. I can recall the man in the shop telling me not to waste my money on colour film as my Brownie camera would not be good enough to capture photographs using it. Although only nearly 13 I was precocious enough to know better! I told him that the bright sunlight of Spain would allow me to take photographs and he bet me I wouldnt succeed…if I did he wouldn’t charge me for the prints. So… itook phtographs of a bullfight (from miles away from the ring, I have to say), the Pyrenees from the tarmac at Perpignan airport and also of street scenes in what was then a sleep Costa Brava resort called Calella – check it out now to see how 50 years can change a place!
The photographs turned out well enough to win my bet…they wouldn’t have won any prizes for anything else though Too far away, too many details in the photograph, no narrative…but they were bright, clear and colourful!
I will write more of my journey in photography over the next few days – please follow and met me know what you think…