In the beginning there was an Kodak Instamatic. Drop in cartridge, prints back by Tuesday, which captured images of my childhood. My father was a Zeiss Ikon fan … my mother a Kowa 2 1/4. We had a Bolex turret movie camera floating around that mostly was used by my brother. His favorite images, my father getting angry.
Started off in Seattle. Moved to SoCal. Then to Chicago, then back to SoCal. Went to college there and settled into a sleepy beach hamlet in South Laguna. My college friend who also lived there brought out his camera one day, a Nikon F2, and would share his prints which he developed himself. Just shooting things that happened in his life. That’s when the teeth of photography bit into me as a young adult. The year was 1974. I was finishing art school, a ceramics major, and needed a way to photography my pottery as it was the way that one sent one’s work off to be judged and accepted into galleries. At least that was my justification for my saving up and purchasing my first camera, a Nikon FM,
A downturn in the economy made my career as an ceramic artist last five years, and so it was go get a job, or starve. Without many skills beyond being a ceramicist I looked for things that I knew how to do and that dropped me in front of a camera store with a posted hiring sign. That was 1981.
About the same time my father moved to Carmel By The Sea from San Francisco and I would go and visit him. There I happened upon to be a group of photographers who ran a book shop and had meetings occasionally at the Carmel Sunset Center. This was the Friends Of Photography. I became a member, went to some of their meetings and started seeing photography a wee bit differently.
Can I say that working in a camera store, is like a fashion diva working in a clothing store, you don’t necessarily take home paycheck as much as you trade it for equipment. There was my first Nikon F2A, which morphed into a Hasselblad, (which spent two weeks in Yosemite retracing Ansel’s steps which taught me I wasn’t a landscape photographer). About the same time I met Rudi. He ran a camera shop in Tustin, California that catered to the pros in Orange County, and he courted me to come work for him. He didn’t sell cameras … except for a brand that I had heard of but never played with. Leica. Well all that equipment I had, along with a spot of cash, was traded in for a Leica M6 and two lenses. For the next twenty five years this is what I used. That and Tri-x.
Then of course digital made film obsolete. Not overnight but chipped away at it over the course of ten years and because I transitioned from retail to rep to distributor there was a need to embrace the new form. After going digital I had stints with Canon, Panasonic, and Sony … but none of them felt right.
Then in early 2015, I had heard there was going to be a new B&W Leica digital camera and with a few phone calls I got a chance to try shooting with it in New York over the course of four days.
It is inappropriate to say it was a little like having sex for the first time?
OK, I'll settle for embracing a dear old friend that I hadn't seen in along time.