Excuse me! You with the paintbrush! Camera coming through!
I was posting our wedding pics when I saw one we’d taken of our photographer Keith and his assistant. Being in 1988 there would have been a few other cameras there like the one that took a pic of him holding his large-format Hasselblad-like beauty and his first cold beer on that blistering hot day.
Nowadays you can almost guarantee every guest has a camera and a video camera in their pocket! Quite a challenge for the guy being paid:“Um, please stand aside, I’m trying to get a picture of the bride”. So are we! comes the answer from all the other guests.
Coincidentally wikipedia featured the top pic today, so I got to thinking of the poor portrait painters of yore. Used to being the main man around and very important, here he was probably asked “Won’t you paint a backdrop for me old chap? Any old thing will do. I’m taking portrait daguerrotypes, what!” But, but . .
“That’s all, we won’t be needing you after that.”
I bet the early photographers made people stand way longer than actually needed so they wouldn’t feel short-changed after being used to sit for days for their portrait.
I think paintings often outshine daguerrotypes:
Feature pic Interior with Portraits by Thomas Le Clear 1865, features siblings posing for a photograph in an artist’s studio. The painting has been read as representing the tension between its medium and the emergent medium of photography.
I hardly ever carried a camera back when I was beautiful and had just the one chin. “I’m video’ing it in my head” I would say.
Of course now I’m really grateful other people carried cameras and I could get pics from them. Even in the days when you loaded a roll of film in the dark and wound it on by hand frame-by-frame some people carried cameras. I salute them!
And I admit I would grumble when they said “Stand closer together” “Smile” “Hang on! Just one more!”. Of course some people would think they had put in the roll of film when they hadn’t and all our posing (“poeseer!” remember SanMarie the game ranger’s joke?) was in vain. Yes, I’m thinking of you Taylor. He posed us in various ways on a buffalo carcase and when we eagerly asked for the photies weeks later (they’d had to go off “for development” of course) he had to sheepishly admit he hadn’t had a roll of film in his steam-driven camera. Luckily Trish had been there and took this:
Anyway, my memory of that moment was much better than his pic would have been: I remember a bloody carcase with glistening red meat still on the bone and lion prints around the sandy scene. We were posing looking over our shoulder, worried the lions might chase us off their prey at any minute. When later we did get a pic from someone better organised than Taylor – Trish – the truth was far more mundane. The photo spoilt a good story! Here we were, not one of us looking over a shoulder:
So although I do have some slight regrets I still think I was generally more “in the moment” than many camera-occupied companions over the years – and I saw more birds. Anyway, my memories of what happened are usually far better than boring reality. Usually I play the starring role in them.
Once I met Aitch things changed of course and we had a fulltime photographer in the house. The years from 1986 are well documented. Then the kids arrived and the number of pics went through the roof. Thank goodness for digital! Even now when we drive through a game reserve Jess will say “Mom would have said ‘Stop! Go back!’ and you would have to reverse and she’d take a picture of a flower, remember?”
With cameras as ubiquitous as they now are all this smacks of days gone by. I was prompted to write this post when I read this yesterday: ‘If a millennial goes to a beautiful place but doesn’t get a photo, did they ever really go?’…
To end, some advice for Taylor:
Here’s a graph showing camera sales in 1000’s since 1933:
Finally got round to making a collage of some of the birds we saw up in Zululand a few years back. Aitch and I went for a breakaway luxury weekend. It was dry – very dry – and the lodge had a water feature running right under the sundeck. Every bird from miles around (as well as all the animals) had to come here to drink.
It was perfect! Aitch was not so strong, so we chose to skip the game drives and ensconced ourselves comfortably on the deck, binocs, camera and telescopes handy. Tea or beer or coffee or gin would arrive at regular intervals. Mealtimes we walked ten metres back into the dining room!
Photogiraffing? It’s hard to photograph giraffe in Ithala Game Reserve when you have a Jack-in-the-Box popping up in the jeep right in front of your lens every time you’re ready to depress the shutter. And then the laughter gives camera shake.