I guess Iīm as old as anyone can be and still be interested in photography, but age is a double-edged weapon: it gives you experience but also short temper with idiots. It can be damaging to the career, if you still have one.
But on the purely photographic side, yes, I do miss the old days quite a lot. I do not have fond memories of chemicals - I used to put clear varnish on my nails to prevent myself from looking like a heavy smoker - but I do have very fond memories of real photographic paper. My favourite was Kodakīs WSG 2D although most of the commercial stuff was on single weight. I loved the gloss from a drum...
Storage was never that much of a problem for me with film, far more secure than my current collection of files is ever going to be. Lenses seemed to work perfectly well with their respective cameras - a personal fanfare for Nikon and Hass here - and I canīt remember pained discussions about CA either. In fact, I canīt much remember pained discussions about anything other than clients, to tell you the truth. We bought what we could afford and just got on with it as well as we could. Some of us were very good at some things, others fairly good at most things and others just sucked at everything but still managed to find clients.
If there was one really bad thing it was the advertising agency trick with payment: I donīt know how common this was outwith Scotland, but the agencies I worked with had this useful clause in their terms of contract, the one where they told you they would pay you three months after the date of invoice. It was so nice to think you were keeping those fat cats in their city-centre offices, subsidising their lobster lunches and probably their Martinis too. No, there was another bad thing: Friday afternoons you could catch the īphone call where one of them would order something for first thing Monday morning. Another bloody weekend effed, and you knowing The Man wouldnīt give you a thought as he passed the time away on his boat. He probably didnīt need the damn shots Monday morning anyway.
But that wasnīt really photography, it was advertising people and their power.
Much has been written on this site about todayīs commercial ethos and how so many people go on a shoot to do the simplest things. My work was seldom like that - a location shoot for half a day, or a day, was far more a matter of myself, a model, a bunch of clothes in the car and nothing else. The models knew how to do their faces, the clients respected my vision and we just did it, like Nike tells us to. Bigger shoots, mainly abroad, were a little more complex, in that when the budgets grew and I could afford it, I asked my wife to come along and assist with the clothes, the models and, importantly, to pour oil on potentially troubled waters.
In latter days, some clients started to tag along and that never did much for the work; it was my experience that the moment another mind began to interfere with the tight photographer/model rapport thing, standards would fall dramatically. That being the case, I can only conclude that I was lucky to have worked when I did, for I was clearly never going to be a corporation man. Guess we all have our era.
Somebody mentioned 60s clothes being thought cool. I was a photographer then and that was indeed pretty cool; had you a mind to, it would unbutton all manner of things. The clothes were something else too: the male peacock was in full swing in those days and I was no different with my Cecil Gee leather coat, purple cords, tight polo-necks, flowing silk scarves, Ravel boots and so on. Then it felt perfect; today youīd think yourself gay. But thatīs life, as they say, and you mustnīt let any of it slip away, not ever delay doing today what you might do tomorrow because tomorrow might never come for you.
Would I do it again? I suppose, being who I am, there wouldnīt be any other choice, regardless of the experience/life-lessons gained over all those years.