Spotlight on Group Leaders Pete Arthur
My first attempt at photography was when I was two years old and got hold of the family’s Box Brownie. Dad wasn’t quite sure how many times I’d pressed the shutter lever but I managed to take my first photograph - a triple or quadruple exposure!
When I was 10 years old I got my first camera, a Coronet that used a 12 exposure 127 roll film, which was effectively a different shaped box camera. My dad had always taken typical family photographs and holiday photos but I preferred wasting my precious (and costly) films taking photos of castles, landscapes, street scenes, etc. Then Dad gave me his under-used Voigtlander 35mm rangefinder camera, along with lessons on f stops, shutter speeds and film ASA ratings and I was up and running. However, my little brother, decided to use it in an aerial photography experiment from the bedroom window. This came to an end when the camera fell twenty feet onto a concrete path. Without my mother’s intervention my brother would have followed it!
After a short time dallying with a Kodak Instamatic, which was my first mistake, my friend John Thompson, who owned a Practika SLR (East German copy of the Pentax) , advised me to chuck the instamatic in the bin and get a ‘proper’ camera. My first SLR was an over engineered Zenith E. (Russian Copy of the Practika) and about 15 years later I gave it to my daughter who carried on using it right up to getting her first digital. John also introduced me to the secrets of the darkroom (black and white only) and I fell in love with post-production. Then I bought a Pentax Spotmatic 500 (terrible name, fantastic camera) which served me well for over 25 years. I still have that camera and really can’t bear to part with it even though I haven’t put a film through it in years.
I made my second mistake, and as far as I know my last, when someone asked me one day what I thought of digital cameras. ‘Bloody stupid gimmick! It’ll never catch on - nothing will replace film’. Boy, did I get that wrong!