Peter J. Blackburn tells the classic tale of when boy meets toy, of gossamer wings, and love at first sight. It was just one of those things.
You see, it all started at the now and then camera show held in Dallas several weeks ago. I hadn’t been to one in years. Being quite satisfied with my current working assemblage, the accumulation of more stuff was not appealing. Anyway, collecting has always taken a backseat to creating. But following an irresistible cue from Frankie, it was ‘just one of those things, one of those crazy flings, one of those bells that now and then rings, just one of those things.”
POOF! And there I was—on a perfectly good Saturday morning paying admission to peruse a space jam-packed with gear by the truckload.
Oh, but what gear! What delightful, dazzling nuggets of kit sprawled in every direction!
[begin uncontrollable drooling]
What especially caught my eye at this particular show were the humble, quirky and peculiar, low-tech cameras of the twentieth century. My work in gum and casein printing has always been driven by the idea of high quality images produced by the meekest means available. And my choice of simple gear over the past thirty years has included a vintage Rolleiflex E3 and a completely manual Fujifilm GW6x7 rangefinder.
Now, thanks to that recent camera show, my work is exploring imagery captured with cameras even more basic and carefree. And my style has loosened a bit to match the playfulness of the equipment. Indeed, Mr. Alt has shaken hands with Ms. Lomo and much to my pleasant surprise have become very good friends.
The photos shown in this essay (below) pretty much capture my recent camera acquisitions and the work I have been creating using them. For starters, two 1955 Agfa Clacks (one standard and one converted to a pinhole camera), a 1964 Valiant 620 toy camera, and a 1961 Ilford Super Sporti have been pressed into service and work marvellously. Just load a roll of film, set a switch or adjust a knob, and shoot.
I cannot express enough the sheer fun I have using these simple marvels of decades gone by. They work beautifully, and the medium format film size provides all the quality I need to create the rather intimate, meant to be held photographs in process right now.