Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Around The World In Forty Years

Stephanie and I moved to Miami in 1967 and I got a job at a photo studio at the Algiers Hotel on Collins Avenue at about 27th St. That's sort of the north end of what today is called South Beach but back then it was a borderline run down area. The glitzy shops on Lincoln Road were mostly gone and and the new fancy hotels like the Eden Roc and the Doral were several miles to the north. Still, there was money to be made by an enterprising photographer. Sandy Silverman hired me after making sure that I could actually use a twin lens reflex camera like my Minolta Autocord and I also knew how to load his Rolleiflexes. He was even more thrilled to discover that I could load a sheet film holder and felt at home using his 4x5 view camera with its 203mm f/7.7 Kodak Ektar lens in a Flash Supermatic shutter. We used the 4x5 mostly for portraits in the studio. Everything else was shot on 120 roll film.

For the few years that I worked for Sandy I learned portrait lighting using conventional tungsten lights and how to shoot a wedding the traditional way with all the stock poses, shooting a total of 100 to 120 exposures. I got paid extra for shooting weddings and bar mitzvahs, but otherwise I had the weekends off.

A place called Fotomart, also in South Beach but located on a run down side street, sold Gevaert Gevapan in 100 roll boxes for $15.00. Actually that Gevapan was pretty decent film. It was about the same speed, ASA 100, as Kodak's least expensive film, Verichrome Pan, at one third the price. Agfa eventually merged with Gevaert becoming Agfa-Gevaert. Fotomat eventually closed its South Beach store and supposedly became World Wide Foto on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami.

I long ago lost track of Sandy, fifteen cents a roll Gevapan is just a memory now, and there's no longer any parking out front on Biscayne Blvd. You have to know where to make a right and a quick left, then drive slowly until you can spot the sign painted on the back of the building at the far end of the parking lot. The back door is now the "front" entrance. As one by one the other camera shops and photo supplies have folded up and gone away World Wide Foto has managed to hang in there. They still have cameras and enlargers for sale and a decent supply of film, paper, and chemicals. They're about the only place left.


Blogger Barb said...

I realize I'm commenting on a much older post but came across your site while searching for info on the Algiers hotel. I kinda grew up there. My mom was the chief switchboard operator there for 20 some odd years and Sandy Silverman photographed her wedding ~ lots of memories there. I still worked there up until the early 70's when it was sold and completely (terribly) remodeled.

2:29 AM  

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