February 17, 2017 – Vintage Photos


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What I love about photography is that it captures a moment never to be reproduced. Photographs are the mosquito in amber of human memory, imprinted with our own projected thoughts and emotions. Snapshots, if they survive long enough, become aesthetic curios. A casual photograph of a street scene in Manhattan taken in 1915 becomes more than a snapshot, but a historical document that captures, with accuracy, what life looked like in that particular place at that particular time.

One of my history professors once told me that the best way to have my work remembered would be to regularly go to the supermarket and photograph the merchandise on the shelves. Print, save, and catalogue them, and wait for time to do the rest. His thinking is that future generations will be thirsty for ideas about how we lived in the past, that the photographer of the present has only a vague concept of how radically a society can change in the short span of a generation or two.

My great grandfather was able to tell me the story of seeing his first automobile as a child and how dazzling it was. He could tell me how, years later as a young man, that the hand-crank engine starters were frustrating as he. He and his wife – my great-grandmother – operated a single-screen silent theater; he ran the projector and she played the piano. I say all of this to point to the last years of his life, with the internet revolutionizing instant electronic mail, cable television that allowed him to watch every Minnesota Vikings football game, and even a wireless headset so he could listen to the game without the noise of the game disrupting everybody else in the house.

Things change faster than they seem. And an old snapshot of a daughter or a girlfriend at cheer-leading practice somehow becomes a nostalgic conversation piece, a document of a by-gone era that makes the viewer think about their experiences in high school, wonder where the people in the photograph are today, or even if they’re still alive. It’s a faded piece of paper that reminds us how little time we have, and how precious these small moments might actually be.

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
Susan Sontag


February 02 – Tucson Streetside

02-02 DoubleFrame post

Monday saw the start of Film February – only film photographs for this month during the 2016 ‘Photo A Day’ project. I began with an image taken using one of my favorite vintage cameras from the 1960’s. I realized that my explanation about how the Fujica Half works might not be entirely coherent to those of you who aren’t as absurdly gear-headed as I am.

For more detailed specs, read about the Fujica Half here.

Today’s image is intended to illustrate a little more clearly what the Fujica Half accomplishes. Instead of one horizontal picture, like what you would get using a regular old 35mm film camera, the Fujica half makes a series of small vertical exposures – two exposures fit in the same space that one standard 35mm picture would go. It takes some getting used to; when you look through the viewfinder, the image plane is vertical. I can’t think of any other camera out there that operates like this.

These two images were taken a few years ago. I used to carry the Fujica Half everywhere I went because it was such a compact camera. In my free time, I would go on bike rides all over Tucson, looking for interesting things to photograph. If memory serves correctly, the palm tree is from the center median along Swan Road, just north of the Rillito River wash. The statue on the right is from Evergreen Cemetery, located near Oracle Road & Miracle Mile.