There are not many things in my life that I wish that I had done differently or that could have had a more satisfying outcome, I’m content with what I have achieved, and being able to retire a few years early is a bonus that some years ago I never dreamt would be possible. That, however, is another story, as the saying goes!
One thing I wish that I had been in a financial position to be able to do is to have taken more photographs of local subjects and scenes in the 1960s and 70s when I was first madly keen on photography. By 1974 I had a lot of serious kit, one of the better SLRs with quality 50mm, 28mm and 135mm lenses, a TLR, albeit second hand, a darkroom equipped with a Durst M606 enlarger with dual condensers and the best Schneider lenses for both 35mm and 120 negatives, along with dishwarmers, print dryers and all manner of other goodies.
All these major purchases were spread over a two-year period, the camera and lenses in 1973 and the enlarging kit in 1974. On my meagre wages at the children’s home where I worked I had to save up for months before I’d be able to afford the next item. Fortunately I did have my father’s old enlarger to tide me over for a few years until I could afford the best. As most of my cash was put aside for the next bit of kit there was very little spare for the consumables and I had to ration myself considerably. Film and paper was quite expensive and I had to plan where and what I was to use them on, usually events like carnivals and shows took priority. I quite liked recording local scenes as well and during those early years took my cameras around town recording street scenes and have many photos of places that have changed beyond recognition since then, such as this view, the majority of buildings in the lower two thirds of the image now obliterated.
My main reason for getting into photography in the first place was to record my work at the children’s home and in the late 1960s first of all borrowed my father’s Baldawerke which used 120 film, and this is a sample photograph from that camera. Dad had developing tanks so I was able to develop them myself as soon as the rolls were exposed, and as previously mentioned, printed them on his ancient enlarger. In all around 14 rolls of 35m and 10 rolls of 120 film were used taking photographs at that children’s home, along with just over 400 colour slides in the period from 1968 to 1974. I also have triple that number of films round about the same period which are of varied subjects, most of them local events and scenes.
So why do I wish there were more? Well, one can never have enough old photographs and my pictures of the 1970s are now an important historical record of a past era; I would like to have more ordinary street scenes from my own cameras particularly of the late 60s. Most of my local work is during the period 1973 to 1975 and thereafter tails off with sporadic films in the late 1970s, it really would be good if I could just wind back the clock for a few hours and dash around madly taking photographs of the things I’d like to have a record of nowadays. Ah well, ’tis not to be, I must just be grateful for the photographs I have and not yearn for the impossible.