As I was organizing photos today, I stumbled upon a few old ones and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I found myself missing the days of film, of tight deadlines, and of working for newspapers. Unfortunately, the newspaper business is dying and photographers have become a dime a dozen. Nowadays, anyone with a smartphone can take a photo that can be used for a story. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook break news before an editor can even get someone on the scene.
But what I miss most is the process of taking photos. I miss the rush of capturing an image and racing back to the darkroom to develop and print the photos to my satisfaction. Whether I had ample time or was up against the clock, every moment felt meaningful. Photographers were respected and held a certain level of prestige, and the power of the free press often opened doors for us, even if we weren't exactly welcome.
I recall a sports assignment, one of my early ones, that stands out in my memory. It involved a two-hour round-trip drive, and I barely made it back to the office with 10 minutes to spare before the deadline. As I hurriedly developed the film, I searched for the perfect shot on my still-wet film-strip. Once we'd finished developing the film, we had to dry the photo - at least when time was of the essence. That evening, the sports editor approached me and snatched the wet photo from my hand before dashing away. I learned early that you never want to anger a sport's editor.
I also miss the grainy look that came from pushing the limits of film speed. In the black and white days, the grain was not a big concern because it blended with the newspaper's own grain. We often pushed our films to their limits to avoid using a flash.
Manual cameras were my favorite tool, giving me complete control over every aspect of the process. I would carefully consider every detail before clicking the shutter. In contrast, today's cameras seem lacking. While I had several Nikons and a dozen lenses that served me well during my last four years before retirement, I never felt quite as satisfied as when I could create a photo from start to finish.
Finally, I believe that black and white photos possess a certain soul that color photos lack. There's something magical about them that draws you in, revealing the true essence of a scene. In comparison, color photos seem like mere eye-candy.
Allow me to share a few grainy photos from old assignments, as I bid farewell to this trip down memory lane.
Don't touch that photo! Copyrighted, you know?