A bit on Photograpy from my biography 1948. Perhaps of interest.

Discussion in 'Photography' started by John Bates, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. John Bates

    John Bates Guest

    I was working on the Wall for about three years when I moved to
    taking Walky Photographs. I got more money and would be finished
    when the lads were still at it.
    I had always enjoyed taking pictures with old cameras I had, to be
    able to handle a real new "Leica" together with being taught how
    to use it to best advantage was great. Tips on how to take the
    pictures fast, yet retain the quality a Leica could produce were to
    my advantage even now. If the very same camera with the same Lens
    (3-5 Elmar) was sold today it might fetch £3000.
    We all had to slow ourselves down as people could not believe we
    had taken a picture.

    The critical bit was to be in focus, aperture settings were kept right
    as the light rose or fell. Neither setting were automatic in 1950s.
    Focusing depended on the subject, a child set at two meters, two adults
    I think was four, for an adult group six, then when the frame was
    full - click, perfect everytime. There was girl in the cashbox with me
    (that was good when it rained) and it was up to her to sell as many of
    each photpgraph that she could, as we were all on commission with a
    flat wage.

    Pictures imprinted in my mind are those of large groups, mostly
    women just off their Coaches, up to 50 of them, meaning that if
    successfully taken, one negative could be worth £6 or more for each
    of us. When £10. a week was a wall of death trick riders flat wage
    you might have an idea just how frustrating it was with one woman
    discouraging the other 50 odd, with me trying hard to get the group
    together and take the picture.
    Seeing £6 walking away when one silly woman was successful. Hard.

    One of the chaps on the best site, (the entrance to the Tower ground)
    often had £90 odd in his pay packet, (this when an average basic wage
    was 4 - 5 pounds a week) but to work in packed crowds as he did
    needed very special skills.

    My pitch was on the slipway to the beach and Fort Perch Rock, a
    massive sandstone construction left over from the wars in sailing ship days.

    It was a very enjoyable way to earn ones corn with the big Liners coming
    in and going out of the river, but it was only in the Summer time.

    I was standing at the bottom of the promenade wall on a quiet day
    waiting for customers, camera at the ready, when I heard a very unusual
    noise, tap tap tap, on and on, tap tap tap faster and slower. Curiosity got the
    better of me and I walked slowly up the roadway still wet from the last
    tide, as were the huge stone blocks that could withstand the power of
    storms and hold the roadway in position. When my eyes reached the level of
    the road I saw people over the other side and some further away on my
    side but nothing that could cause the tapping sound that still persisted.
    Then it appeared from behind the side of our Kiosk, a tiny little curly haired
    lad running and stopping. Out of the bottom of one leg of his short pants
    was what I can best describe as the end of a broomstick - the other a
    normal leg with the one shoe.
    John Bates, Mar 17, 2005
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