A love affair never to be forgotten that started in 1952
My name is John. The year is 1952. One day I am with my father at his auto mechanic business. In walks one of my father's friends who has a leather case hanging from his shoulder. I am just 12 years old and inquisitive. I asked him, "what's in there?"
Without saying a word, he opened the case, which revealed a black box. He took it from the case, pressed a button, and it sprang open-like magic to my young eyes. That camera, or one like it, is on the right.
When I set eyes on the old camera, my eyes lit up. I wanted it-on the spot! Of course, I never did own that camera. But the experience lit a fire within me that has burned for almost 60 years. And the flame is still alight today. One day the school counselor came to interview each student who would be leaving school that year. "John, what do you want to do when you leave school," she said. "I want to be a photographer," I replied. "John, I don't think your education is good enough to be a photographer." The rest of her words were a blur. I knew that I wanted to be a photographer, and nothing was going to stop me. I left school and
enrolled in night courses. I began to learn about photography, and started looking for a job. I saw an advertisement for a clerk at the Birmingham Mail newspaper, and I thought, "this could be my chance to get into photography." I got the job, and a couple of years later I applied for a transfer to the photo department. I was turned down. Undaunted I enrolled in full time photography courses. About two years later I looked for a job in photography. It didn't take me long to find one, and that's when photography REALLY got my interest. I was an assistant to a commercial photographer. I watched him. I listened to him. He sometimes bellowed at me when I didn't do things as he wanted. But the professional learning process had begun. I moved on and found a job in an advertising agency. I was THE photographer. I learned more! Later I saw an advertisement for a position as photographer at the Dunlop Rubber Company in Erdington, Birmingham. I applied and was hired. I remember that the boss gave me a huge wooden box. Inside was a 4X5 MPP technical camera, 12 dark slides, multiple flashguns with slave adapter, and a dark cloth. It weighed a ton! And the boss sent me out on assignments. Boy did I learn in a hurry. I remember burned fingers when a pf60 flashbulb would fire while I was inserting it into the flash gun. Oh that hurt! But over the next 5 years or so I learned a lot about industrial photography. It was wonderful grounding. At last I was a photographer! I have always remembered the school counselor who told me my education wasn't good enough. During those years, my father helped me to set up a darkroom in the attic of our home, and I began doing wedding photography with a Japanese Yashicamat. I burned the midnight oil producing black and white wedding photographs, but I earned some extra money. I stepped up to a Mamiya TLR, but dreamed of owning a Rollei. Then one day I decided I wanted to open my own studio. Again my Dad was there with elbow grease and money. I did portraits, weddings, some industrial photography at a local motor works, and PR photographs. But still the Rollei remained out of reach. To make a long story short, I emigrated to Canada and became photographer for a society magazine: Vancouver Life. Subsequently I again opened my own business, and for the first time I was able to own a high quality SLR, the mighty Hasselblad 500c. (What happened to the Rollei-I needed the interchangeable lens convenience of an SLR.) And here I am, almost 60 years after the love affair began, with a Rollei collection. At last I got to own not one, but 62 Rollei's! I sometimes wonder if that was the achievement of a dream or madness. But, to be honest, my love for photography is still alive. And my love for cameras is almost as fresh as it was when the love affair began. I've loved every minute of it!
March 15, 2009. John the senior citizen complete with a Rolleiflex from his Rollei collection-
A Rolleiflex T-with a Hasselblad prism.
The camera that ignited the Love Affair. A 1929 Zeiss Ikon 520-2. It has a 10.5cm f6.3 Novar Anastigmat lens. And it took 6X9 cm images on 620 film.
Me at my first job--a clerk at The Birmingham Mail.