My first serious camera was a Praktica. When I purchased it I didn’t understand it was an integral part of the great communist plot to undermine the moral of decadent Western youth by making them permanently disappointed. Remember the Trabant? well a Praktica was the same thing but with a lens. When it failed to work, not long after I had bought it, the guy in the shop said, ‘they do that and there is nothing I can do,’ It was my first experience of the cold war. If they had sold enough cameras they may well have won but I was saved, as were many others, by the timely intervention of the Japanese. True they tortured my grandfather to death but they sort of made up for it by manufacturing reliable cameras.
Whilst the East Germans were stealing my money the Yanks were at it as well but with a glossier approach. ‘Buy our Kodak film and your images will last for ever,’ they said. Well that may be the case if processed under true laboratory conditions and not by someone called ‘Trueprint’ or ‘Max Spielman’ or dare I say ‘Boots’ As a result of believing all of the lies fed to me I am now the proud owner of a lifetimes memories on celluloid that quite frankly look as though they were developed in a mixture of sulphuric acid, shit, horsehair and snot. The only decent negatives I have are the ones I processed in college darkrooms.
And then, when I had finally acquired a camera that worked, there was the nerve racking process of trusting my priceless unprocessed film to a UK government/trade union conspiracy called the GPO or, for those too young to remember, The General Post Office. This meant that delivery to a laboratory was not guaranteed and neither was the return of the processed negatives and prints. To be fair most of what I sent off was returned but not everything and it was just an all round nerve racking process. I laboured for years with the suspicion that any success was by accident and not design.
In addition there was the belief that men with large telephoto lenses fell into the same camp as E type Jag owners and the large lens was compensation for a small penis. Being interested in photography was tough.
Things did get better when , by chance, I actually became a professional. I got to play with all of the lenses that I could not afford to buy, some of them were huge, and enjoyed being spat on by football supporters when being paid for having a more privileged viewpoint than the ones they had paid for.
But even then the world of photography was one of Wizardry and High Priests who delighted in the ownership of the nomenclature. A bit like lawyers, if you want to charge more use language no one else but the chosen can understand. Oh that would definitely include consultant surgeons.
And I feel sure that is why there are a few die- hards that want to hang on to the past, they feel they have lost the power of exclusive knowledge. Film is better than digital, vinyl is better than CD’s they don’t build cars like they used to. What planet are these people on? The next time I whip out my tiny digital camera to take an image of one of my friends (I only have three) inserting a ten year old scratched, finger marked CD, whilst stark naked, knowing full well that not only will I have a high quality instant record of the event but the sound will be faultless, I will say a little prayer of thanks to the Japanese. How can that be bettered? By the way the friend was stark naked not me.
What’s not to like?
Lightweight cameras that provide technically stunning images that can be manipulated in Photoshop minutes after they have been snapped. BRILLIANT!
The photo of the chicken and my daughters were both taken on the same afternoon and uploaded the same day. Other than changing the file size there is no Photoshop involved. Point, click and upload, job done!