Saturday, March 11, 2006

Strange Brew


I guess it was maybe 20 years ago that my friend Leon Finklestein told me about a new lab in the neighborhood. Leon had a wedding and portrait business, but about 10 years ago packed it up and moved to Texas. Mike Rifai was the guy with the lab, but he did some shooting also. He was just a couple of blocks from Leon's studio. With Leon gone Mike moved into a larger store and added a camera room. After all, somebody had to shoot all those weddings and bar mitzvahs in the neighborhood. I'd shot for Leon when he got overbooked, occasionally worked with him on large affairs, and when he left town I started doing the same with Mike.
Then a few years later Mike bought a computer, followed by a digital Canon body to use with his Canon glass. He was in love! For a couple of years he seemed willing to scan my negatives if I shot for him, then suddenly he announced that if I was going to shoot for him I'd have to go digital. Fat chance of THAT happening. Keep in mind that this is a guy that still has a complete and operational "wet" color lab! But he'll only shoot digital weddings, and delivers digital prints. He loves to custom crop and tweak the color and contrast of every image that he shows the client. We used to go out for coffee or lunch once a week. Now he's usually hunched over his keyboard. I miss the old Mike. The top photo shows me in front of his studio, Sans Souci Photography. In the second photo he's hunched over the keyboard showing a client and his son some previews on the monitor. We rarely see one another any more. On a rare occasion I'll have him make some color prints, or for reasons I can't fathom he'll ask me to soup a few rolls of Tri-X, perhaps even make a contact sheet while I'm at it.

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