A Tale Of Two Photographers

One of the disadvantages of living here is that obtaining photographic accessories either requires a shopping trip to Istanbul, or an order through a supplier in Izmir.

I get round this by ordering some items via E-Bay.

Yesterday when I was searching for a 46 mm 4 x ND filter I found one for sale in Ireland. Looking through the vendor’s other items for sale it became clear to me that he was selling a complete studio of medium format cameras and lenses for pennies on the dollar.

Looking deeper this impression was confirmed. One item stated that it was the conversation piece from a photographic shop that he had once owned. Somewhere else he noted that he was disenchanted with being unemployed and so selling off everything he owned in order to start a new business renovating furniture. This prompted me to reflect on some research I’ve been doing for a forthcoming book.

Twenty years ago I arrived back in the town where I had grown up after an absence of twenty years. I needed to make a fresh start because my family had disintegrated and my wife and children were living with another man.

I was devastated, and not in good shape at all.

It was during this period that I started taking pictures professionally as a part-timer for a local newspaper. I also wrote for it.

During this time I met a number of other professional photographers, some newspaper and some commercial. I was amazed to see many, who had seen service abroad and in Fleet Street using the most direct flash to illuminate groups. They seemed to beyond caring about the quality of the final image so long as it would print and contained the subject.

For me the challenge was always to find a new angle, or some kind of dramatic lighting. I used double exposures and other techniques to make original images to illustrate my articles.

Several commercial photographers from the period went out of business. There was a depression in the world then too. Many businesses were going down.

Yet remarkably a photographer, with no professional training, whose first break came from working for a rival journal has gone from strength to strength. Today he works with large format cameras and expensive digital backs with a computer set-up that would be the envy of most professionals.

In addition to commercial work he also specialises in pictures of England.

His practice is still in the West Country, not far from David Noton who since setting up his business at around the same time has travelled the world taking pictures and selling them.

So how is it that these two people have remained in business, and indeed grown in reputation, whilst equally capable photographers have fallen by the wayside?

Food for thought, and the subject of a forthcoming book!

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