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
All of us hit a block. A few rolls of film with nothing. A thousand or so digital files of nothing. Here’s a quick solution. Buy a cheap crappy good camera. My Ricoh rz770 was my girlfriend’s and has an overwhelmingly high buy it now price on ebay of $3.79. It sports a 35-70 zoom lens, a terribly weak flash that I always seem to forget to turn off, and… well that’s about it. But on the plus side; I’m not carrying a big camera, or multiple lenses, or a lightmeter or even a bag. Just the camera in my pocket and a few rolls of film and off I go. The real beauty is that you never know what you’re going to get, where it’s going to focus, how it’s going to expose etc… so all you can think about is your subject. Ahhhhhh ZEN. So, if you’re stuck or bored or not happy with what you’re getting, give it a try. You can usually buy one of these little gems for under 10 bucks at your local pawn shop. (less than the roll of film that’s in it!) It’s a lot of fun.
Ricoh RZ and Tri-x at Central Station Sydney
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.
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.
Here at five streets we will be honoring some of the greats of street photography by holding a contest each month selecting the five best street photos based on creating new images with that photographers technique in mind. The goal is not to duplicate the images of the greats but to use their ideas and techniques to develop our own.
Where to start??? Who better to start with than Robert Frank? As an “outsider” Frank’s view of America in his book “The Americans has had a lasting influence on street photography with it’s symbolism, blurred figures, and choice of framing and camera angles.
See the contest page for entry requirements.
A small sample of Robert Franks work