It’s not my intention to write reviews about old cameras as it’s all been done a million times before, but the need to tell this story to people who care about cameras has overcome my intentions. It’s not since I lived in Southeast London and picked up an old 1980’s BMW that I’ve had this feeling. I’m sure we’ve old had it. The feeling that everything is in place, things have aligned and you just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was driving home from work as usual as I passed by a house with table with a for sale sign with about 50 cameras on it. I actually thought I was hallucinating (Long day of work, hot Sydney sun). I stopped of course and to my surprise found a table of old rangefinders. I actually thought for a second that it was going to be a table full of old Leica’s. It was a table full of 60’s and 70’s japanese fixed lens rangefinders. I spent the next hour searching through some beautiful old cameras. They were all there but as old cameras go, they all had problems. A konica auto S2 (fungus) a fujica with the little bottom lever (lever stuck) a Yashica lynx 1000 (shutter stuck). Finally, I stumbled upon a working Minolta AL which I bought for the princely sum of $2.50. Got it home, cleaned it up, opened the back and got out a roll of tri-x. This is when the old BMW came to mind. That feeling of getting into a car where everything is well planned, well thought out, things in the right place. This is one of the first cameras that did that for me. Little things like a small film catch on the reel, the focus knob in exactly the right position, etc… My BMW cost me the whopping sum of 300 quid and lasted me 3 years and 3 trips around Britain. I still miss that car today, hopefully this rough little diamond will be the same.
A little Britain for you
I take the train into the city and flip through photo books I can’t afford to buy. A typical rainy afternoon. I find a copy of Josef Koudelka’s book with beautiful black and and white panoramas and I remember a story that I had read by photographer David Hurn.
“I first met, josef in 1970. Elliot Erwitt brought him to my flat in Bayswater, London. My initial impression was of a huge grin on which was superimposed a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. Elliott suggested that Josef should stay in my flat – affectionately known as the ‘doss house’ by the many itinerant photographers who had stayed there – for a few days, while he developed some film. My memory is that the ‘few films’ were actually 800 rolls and that he used the abode as his base camp for the next 9 years.”
I can only imagine the comraderie, the time spent in the darkroom, the pondering over contact sheets, the smell of chemicals in the air.
I would love to say “those were the good old days” but in reality I wasn’t around then, and these days we sit alone in front of computer screens. I’d like to think that the comraderie still exists, the comments left, the words of encouragement, or maybe it’s just the effect of a rainy day.
Here’s a cool little Koudelka Clip
I’ve always been inspired by photos taken on public transport. The sense of intimacy in such a small place with such a diverse cross-section of a cities people make for some of the finest street work around. Photos taken on the New York subway in the 80’s have such a special grit that just can’t be reproduced today. The combination of grafitti, metal, tough characters and film just can’t be beat. I’ve been to New York and I can see it’s appeal, but a lot of that grit has gone, but I could still feel what these guys saw.
John F. Conn
No doubt you’ve all seen this already, but I still get a kick out of it when I watch it, so here goes…
I got the style but not the grace
I got the clothes but not the face
I got the bread but not the butter
I got the winda but not the shutter
But I’m big in Japan I’m big in Japan But heh I’m big in Japan
I’ve always been a huge fan of Daido Moriyama. In fact, I almost dropped $200 dollars on his “Farewell to Photography”, which may not seem a lot to some, but it certainly is to a guy who doesn’t own a camera worth that much. I found this blog while looking for some of his photos. Some of the photography is fantastic and with a good sense of humor. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
” “I am actually a reluctant publisher. I consider myself a photographer first and foremost,” says Turpin. “But I started Nick Turpin Publishing because I felt very frustrated I couldn’t buy the kind of photography I most admired – magazines rarely featured street photography and the last major street photography book, Bystander, was published in 1994″ “
I stumbled upon this web site today. It’s by Nick Turpin who is a phenomenol street photographer. He has started a quarterly street photography publication…what a great idea. It also has link’s to In Public’s 10th year anniversary book, which looks absolutely stunning. here are the links:
Nick Turpin’s work: http://www.in-public.com/NickTurpin
If you haven’t looked through Philip-Lorca Dicorcia’s work you really should. Some of his street photos are posed, some of them are not, but the common thread that runs through his working is outstanding lighting. The whole series entitled “Heads” was shot in New York with strobes attached to scaffolding on a city sidewalk. I have read that he used a 500mm lens for these shots, which would make sense given the depth of field and perspective. Often, if I’m bored, I try to analyze where the light is coming from in his shots. Well worth a look!!!
Check this one out! Interesting site with 90 second critiques of flickr photos. Interesting opinions.
Trying to get myself back into the flow on a Monday morning. A combination of a strong cup of coffee, Radiohead and Trent Parke’s beautiful photos from Dreamlife should do the trick.
Trent’s portfolio photos can be found on Magnum’s website. If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t seen them, it’s well worth a look.
Some of the greatest street photographers of all time have come or have gone to New York city. Markus Hartel is no exception to the rule. If you have some time have a look at his blog. Some of his black and white work is inspirational