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Saturday, 9 May 2020

A Smile, from Forty Years Ago

One of my obsessions as a young person, and into my twenties, was photography. The art of the darkroom. Getting that perfect picture. I had my camera stolen in Prague on a trip through Europe in the early nineties and only briefly went back to it when my son was little, to record his every day adventures... 

I have enjoyed having a wee camera on my phone, and sometimes still experiment with light and form (I love finding "lines," and horizons and trying to record them).

I wouldn't have a clue where to start with a good, basic, digital camera (with capabilities on par with 35mm slr's of the past) - any advice welcome... And as for photoshop and "processing" digital photographs, I really would have no clue... Again, advice welcome.

Yesterday a couple of ex-school friends and I were Facebook messaging about conflicting memories of high school (40 years in between really is going to mean we have very different recollections).

A few of us in the school were given darkroom lessons from one of the art teachers. 

I used this to take photos for my art portfolio and for my final art composition. "Snaps" were rare, as the whole process of taking a photo was expensive, from film to paper, so lots of the negatives I have are a bit rubbish and abstract. But after this discovery, perhaps going through them again would be a good lockdown activity. 

One of my friends, Roy, had in the past referred to an incident in school that at first I didn't remember... But now it has hazily come back to me. Roy and I were comic readers. One of the comics had a section in it where their target audience, pubescent boys, sent photos of their most attractive teacher, and these pics were published in a kind of beauty pageant (this is a sign of the times, one that looking back is absolutely incredible... Who in that comic's staff thought that this was acceptable?). I can't recall which comic it was. At first I thought, Krazy Comic or Cheeky Weekly. But I'm more inclined to Action or Speed now. Anyone recall?

Anyway, it was decided between us, we'd ask Miss McKee, our Geography teacher, if I could take a picture and send it. She consented. The pic of her outside her Geography room, room 16, a space that doesn't exist as it was demolished, is below. 
This picture is Miss Mckee, smiling at the nervousness, cheek and slight idiocy of young teenagers, from circa 1981. Roy found it amongst stuff he has kept from school. 

Reasons aside, this picture, for me, is remarkable. It really does bring me back to that time. And even to that room. And to my "hobby," which did at times, supplement my income (though the local newspaper would only pay me in film rolls as I wasn't part of the NUJ... Principled times!)

Advice welcome, for the questions above. And for the first time ever, this is Miss McKee (later, Mrs Hanna), published to a wider audience, though a much smaller one than comics during that golden age of printed art and weekly stories.

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