Sunday, September 03, 2006

Break On Through To The Other Side

I spent about ten years of being a freelance photographer dressing like I was going to a rock concert or a love-in at the park, tie dyed shirts and bell bottomed jeans, wide belts with huge buckles, and either sandals or boots depending on the season. I still managed to pick up enough business to get by, and I managed to shoot with Leicas and those fantastic Leitz lenses. And I had one suit, a corduroy sports jacket, and a couple of those big wide ties that were so fashionable back then.

My wife had big ambitions, medical school, and we had a child and would soon have another one. I had to start producing more income! I made a concious effort to see what my clients were wearing, not the public relations directors that were hiring me but their big bosses, the top executives in their companies. I went on a shopping spree at Brooks Brothers and Macy's over the next several months. I wanted to blend in with that level of people, and it paid off. I got more corporate and political work. I charged more money. Things were looking good.

I met Morris Wolf at Browne's Photo Center. He was just getting into photography, shooting natural light kids photos mostly outdoors at the park, and selling 16x20 black and white prints for top dollar. He worked with a Hasselblad. Soon he was shooting weddings also and wanted me to shoot for him, sometimes on my own and sometimes working with him. Nobody back then seemed to be using a second shooter or assistant, but these were large carriage trade affairs, lots of people. He was willing to pay me twice as much as the going rate at other studios. He insisted that I get a 'blad and I soon had a 500C with 50, 80 and 120mm lenses, plus a couple of extra backs, but I always carried my old Minolta Autocord as back-up "just in case".

When we worked together I often stuck a flash on a light stand with the legs folded, and used it as a boom light while he shot. I could move around and direct the light to get a top semi-back lit effect with nice high lights in the hair, and a bit of rim lighting to make the subjects stand out from a dark background or turn it around to light up a distant background. This was all done with non-automatic flashes, just a full power/half power switch. Gradually we went our seperate ways. Browne's had gone out of business as had the color lab Morris and I had both used. I never ran into him anymore. A couple of years ago I dropped by his studio just to say "hi". He was telling me how he really liked shooting with Leica M's now, he finally understood what I'd been raving about twenty or thirty years earlier. He also was having fun with the 12 and 15mm Voigtlander lenses.

I'm reasonably sure that this was shot by Morris back in the 1970's, probably for no better reason than that there were some shots left on a roll. When I came across this 5x7 print a few weeks ago I decided that I still liked the hair style, so I'm back to the 'fro look again. What the hell, I still have all my hair, why not flaunt it? Like my beard though, it's got quite a bit of grey these days. Maybe I should get Morris to shoot an updated version?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! Look at that facial hair! New nic': wild man Al. :-)

7:33 AM  

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