Lives in Seattle, United States
Works as a Retired lawyer and businessman
Has a website at None
Joined on Mar 31, 2011
I have owned Leicas and used them for over 50 years, so have personally seen great changes in photography.
My first real job was as a camera and film salesman at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. I'd just graduated from High School and was very proud of earning $85 a week. This was a summer job before I headed off to Yale.
The principal occupation of a camera salesman in those days was to sell film (we charged an outrageous price, and I would whisper to unhappy customers that they could buy it cheaper outside the fairgrounds.) One also had to be good at changing film, which was a mystery to many people. Often the confused customer had already opened the camera and made an unsuccessful effort to remove the exposed film. I got very good at deciphering how to rewind, properly remove and insert new film in a variety of cameras.
Most of the cameras were box cameras of various sorts, mostly made by Kodak. There were still a lot of Brownie "Hawkeye" cameras in use. We'd see the occasional Rolleiflex, Argus, Kodak Retina and Contax. Maybe someone came in with a Leica, but I had one at the time and would have remembered if that had been the case.
The vast bulk of the cameras used 120, 127 or 620 film, designations which probably mean nothing to most photographers today. Photographers using 35 mm cameras invariably had slide film, an item no longer available. The big revolution was Kodak "Kodachrome II" slide film, which had the amazing speed of 25, up from 10 in the original Kodachrome.
The biggest event of the World's Fair was the visit of Elvis Presley. He was there to film a movie. One of his scenes was done in front of our store (though the store wasn't in it.) We got on the roof of the store and yelled down to Elvis to look up at us. He did and my good friend Ken (not me) got a great photo.
The change in equipment since 1962 is enormous. At that time the single lens reflex camera was replacing the rangefinder. Leica was too slow to hop on the SLR bandwagon. I owned their first effort, a Leicaflex. It was heavy as a brick, had a wonderful viewfinder, but I never thought it took very sharp pictures.
Leica was also slow to hop on the digital bandwagon, as well, but has made great strides. I think the top line Leica digital cameras are the best 35 mm full-frame cameras around. I am disappointed that Leica does not make a lighter weight model that accommodates legacy lens, though. I have an SL, love its picture quality, but its heavy weight makes me dread hauling it around.
I must say I have ambivalent feelings about digital photography. I have no idea what to do with my digital archive, and suspect it will evaporate when I'm gone. I'm in the process now of reviewing, editing and arranging my slide collection, which stretches from the 1950's through the early 1990's. At least slides are tangible. And some of the colors are fantastic.
I'm unhappy with the complexity of digital cameras. It's a relief for me to return to film photography. Set the exposure, shutter speed and focus -- that's it. What a relief one doesn't have to sift through menu after menu, or find your camera is doing something inexplicably weird.
Photography has been an important part of my life. Unfortunately, I haven't seemed to imbue my children with a similar love. They use iPhones to photograph all the time. The iPhone has an outstanding lens (mine is the 6plus, and I understand the 7 is even better.) But almost by definition iPhone photography is haphazard. One seizes the moment -- great. But one does not go out with an iPhone to take pictures, as one does with a camera.
I'm giving two of my children Leicas for Christmas. Maybe they'll find out what a rewarding experience photography can be. (I'm not ignoring my third child -- he gets a canoe!)