Wayback machine - your earliest street pix

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by lex_jenkins, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. What are your earliest street-ish photos? Film, digital, glass plates, cave etchings, good, bad, doesn't matter.
    I was surprised to find these negatives from around 1970 when I was a kid growing up in New York, around age 12-13. I thought they were long gone. Never printed them - I barely had enough money for film and developing. So far I've found four sets of 35mm negatives, three on Tri-X, one on Ilford HP3; and a couple on 127 Verichrome Pan from my first camera, a Baby Brownie.
    Back then a photo buddy and I would wander around our town (Mount Vernon, a 'burb just a few minutes north of NYC), snapping pix of whatever caught our eye. Sometimes we'd venture into the city, although so far I haven't been able to find any negatives for those trips. I had no real concept of "street photography" - never heard the term back then. I'd never heard of Garry Winogrand or his contemporaries. Never saw anyone in the city snapping random pix of strangers - I'm sure they were around, but not in roving packs on every corner. I only knew of Weegee, but I thought of him as a photojournalist. I remember a lady on the subway fussing at me for snapping pix of people on the train. And a Central Park horse drawn carriage driver trying to charge me money for photographing him and his horse. Most people were cool about it. Some things never change. Street photography has always had its rewards and challenges.
    These were from a pizza joint in Mount Vernon, NY. Shot using a Miranda Sensorex with 50mm f/1.8 lens, on Tri-X, which I developed either at the local Y camera club darkroom or in my friend's basement home darkroom. My technique was terrible. Some frames are buggered from misloading the reel and from under-fixing/-washing. Focusing? Pppbbbttt. Sharpness is a bourgeois concept, sez Saint HCB.
    And apparently I hadn't quite mastered the transition from the square format roll film Brownie and Yashica TLR I'd learned on. I hadn't figured out how to turn the 35mm camera sideways for verticals. Glad to see 'em again, anyway.
    Pizzeria, Mount Vernon, NY, 1970.
    Pizzeria, Mount Vernon, NY, 1970.
    Pizzeria, Mount Vernon, NY, 1970.
    Pizzeria, Mount Vernon, NY, 1970.
    And a lesson in the Male Gaze concept. Hey, I was 12 years old. So now when I see from-behind voyeuristic photos of women's butts, taken by grown men, I can legitimately say "What are you, 12?"
  2. Impressive for a 12 year-old, Lex.
    Sadly I was always too insecure to do street photography but I do sneak in the occasional snap if I can be unobtrusive. I don't know if this qualifies as street photography but this is about the distance I work from and feel comfortable with.
    Shot about 10 years ago:
  3. Politically active?
    My Cub Scout Den getting out the vote.
    I was 10. Almost certainly the family Kodak Jiffy 620
  4. March 1973 Amsterdam
  5. Canon FT with 35 fl f3.5 on mini-pod from open Victoria Hotel 2nd floor window
  6. Leica M2, 50mm Summicron, Kodachrome 25, 1973 small town in north west Mexico.
  7. Definitely not my earliest, that would be lost in the fog of time or probably just thrown out. This is circa 1972-1974 when I was 14-16. Taken on tri-x with my Dad's Leica M3. Crappy copy since I just shot it down n a light table with my phone's camera.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I became interested in Street/Documentary in my mid teens (about 1972/'73).
    I also shot a lot of that genre using Kodachrome 25.
    Here are two which I (coincidentally) dug out only a few months ago:
    "Friends” - Kings Cross, Sydney 1976
    Probably a Rokkor 135mm F/3.5
    “Stage Door” - Haymarket, Sydney 1976
    Probably a Rokkor 58mm F/1.4
  9. Unfortunately, all my negs from high school and college years are lost. I used to be constantly taking candids everywhere I went. Can't find them anywhere, other than a few prints that got saved.
    After college, I didn't shoot much for a couple of years, until the mid-eighties. This is a shot of a vender who showed up when Pope John Paul II visited the San Fernando Mission, across from where I was working at the time.
  10. I got into photography when I moved to Boston, MA, to work at Harvard in the mid 1960s and after returning to London in 1968 I continued taking pictures and have done so to this day. These are some early ones.
  11. Another
  12. This is about the oldest I can find in digital form from a scanned slide.
  13. Just before the invasion of Iraq anti-war demo in San Francisco, February 2003. I had just started taking photos a couple of years before and was then in photo school. [​IMG]
  14. 1974-75 from living in the streets to a tale of x2 cities, Minneapolis and Chicago I bought my first camera and setup a darkroom.
    [​IMG]my first print... IDScenter[​IMG]highland park[​IMG]Selby Dale[​IMG]st paul......
    [​IMG][​IMG]wisconsin /chicago
    [​IMG][​IMG]chicago/powderhorn park[​IMG][​IMG]hyde park
  15. Lex, this topic is an interesting “then and now” idea. For us older guys raised on “The Americans” I’d have to say Frank was there in all my work. Today the genre has matured and the influences are so broad. Everybody, it seems, finds urban life and cameras go together. I’ve gone over to the dark side with PS plug-ins.

    My street epiphany was when I stepped off the train in c. 1975 Chicago. Right at the beginning I favored the graphic style of Ray K. Metzker. It fit in with my panoramic passion. At some point I amended my self-description to “urban photographer” only because the popular notion of street was that it is tight, grab shots. Patience, is a requirement for panoramas. I much prefer that my pictures have people.
  16. [​IMG]
    Rural Tibet, 1987 (the oldest image I have in digi format)
  17. This is a thread I can certainly relate to Lex. Got my start in photography and street stuff using my fathers Rolleiflex way back in the fifties. Around 1965 I got into SLRs and used Canon cameras during a year long work trip to Australia. For travel and street the Canons were a bit too large, so there was a switch to Leicas, both M's and LTM.
    By 1969 I was getting more into street and carried a Leica everywhere while trying to be alert to possible decisive moments. A first trip to India and Nepal in 1970 got me started on a genre I've come to call "exotic street". Through the seventies the travel bug bit hard and any leave I could obtain from my research job got used going walkabout. India seemed to be the focus of many of my trips which included two ATW ones. On the way home from second around the world trip in 1977 I stayed for a while in French Polynesia. While at BoraBora I met some of the cruising yacht people and my life took an abrupt change. Back in Canada I resigned my position and moved to the west coast starting a new career in oceanography. Much of my time was in shore based labs but there was enough sea time to keep the travel bug satisfied. Life aboard ship and ports around the Pacific were often what my lenses got aimed at.
    After taking early retirement I finally had time to scan all those negatives and slides that a lifetime of shooting has generated. There were lots of gems that I'd never bothered wet printing because they would have needed too much darkroom work.
    At some point I found that two negatives were of the same street scene but six years different in time. There were obvious changes which got me wondering what the street would be like four decades after the first photo. Turning to Google earth I found that one of the shops in my photos was still in business. How cool would it be to go back and shoot the same street again and do it with the same camera as the first photo from 1970. Was finally able to do this in 2012 and even took along prints of the early photos to leave with the shop people. It was a fun experience giving them the photos and photographing the encounter. For the next couple months I tried to return to places visited in the seventies for a time travel series.
    Trying to re-shoot old photos does have its dangers. While trying to photograph a group of women working in a field, I had a close encounter of the cobra kind. And yes I got a photo of the snake, but not the women at work.
    After the recent "Calling Christchurch" motorcycle thread I've been tempted to post the time travel series here. Would they be out of place in this forum?
    The attached photo was from the Marrakesh bazaar during Ramadan. Food stalls were busy after sunset when fasts were broken. Ca. 1971
  18. Yes, this is really a fun thread, great idea Lex. I wish I could contribute but much of my earliest efforts are lost to time. I came into photography kind of late compared to many people and my first street shots were taken in San Diego and Tijuana sometime prior to 2005 which is when I started making the effort to organize my negatives. Maybe these early rolls may turn up someday but I'm not going to hold my breath.
  19. 2008 with canon 40d
  20. herreeee
  21. Thanks, all, for pitching in and playing along. It's been fun to see what other folks were doing early on. Since starting this thread I found a few even earlier sets of negatives, one dating back to the mid-1960s with my first camera, a Baby Brownie in 127 format. I must have been around 8 years old. Within a year I was contact printing tiny prints using a shoebox sized contact printing kit in the bathroom - much to the consternation of my family, since we had only one bathroom. ("What are you doing in there so long? Masturbating?" "Nooo, ma, I'm only 8 years old, I don't even know what that means!") So far I haven't found any of those prints, and I was surprised to find even the negatives from my first roll of film.
    Baby Brownie, 127 format, mid-1960s when I was around 8 years old. Grim looking playground, hmm?
    Dig that vignetting, soft focus and light leaks. Suck it, Holga, you poser.

    Also found a roll of 35mm Ilford HP3 Panchromatic "Hypersensitive". An overrated film, literally. Ilford was desperate to compete with Kodak Tri-X and upped the box speed to ASA 400 without changing the emulsion which was barely a true 200 speed. I seem to recall trying a couple of rolls of HP3 in a borrowed Yashica compact fixed lens rangefinder of some kind - maybe a Lynx? Disappointed, I went back to Tri-X. However HP5+ is a very good film - I have a ton of it in the closet. I still prefer old Tri-X, but the current version isn't quite the same. Faster, sure, but the sensitizing dyes and finer grain changed the flavor a bit.
    Some older teenagers playing basketball - judging from the court and neighborhood I'm guessing this was an elementary school playground near Lincoln Avenue a couple of blocks from Hartley Park in Mount Vernon, NY. Probably 1969 or so.


    This last one is more personal than street. My friends Warren and Mitchell, around 1970, when we were all around age 13. Tri-X in my Miranda Sensorex. I'm guessing we were doing the cover art from their upcoming proto-punk-polka album "Flying With the Blue Whales" by the Radon Daughters. Dig the indie vibe. We were way ahead of our time with that indifferent angst look. Reminds me, Thom Yorke was only 2 years old when I took this photo. He owes me money for stealing this look of artsy ennui. I'll settle for a backstage pass.

  22. This was a great one, Lex thanks for sharing those. I wish I could photograph some of my youth, I can visualize the photos.. now .sadly they exist only in my mind. Point to ponder.
  23. Lex -- I think I already mentioned on FB that I really like this series of old pics of yours, and I'm also enjoying looking the other ones that people have posted in this thread. Somewhere, there are some black and white photos I took with a Brownie in 1963, just before my parents moved from Morton Grove/Chicago to Los Angeles. Alas, I can't find them. Nothing like yours, though Lex. I think I have a pic of my dad in the driveway of our house, my bike in the backyard, and plane that flew overhead. Still, I wish I could find them.
    I'm attaching a pic I took in 2004 when we were visiting family in Chicago (we lived in San Diego). My daughter in a lion mask inside the Field Museum. I had an Olympus C4000. My first digital camera. When I took this, I was still in "family snaps" mode. I had not considered getting more serious about photography yet. It wasn't until somewhere around 2005 or 2006 that I got interested in photography as, yep I'm going to say it, an "art form". I went through an HDR phase in 2005 or 2006, but I started reading up and looking into the likes of Arbus, Frank, Winogrand, et al. I went back to this photo at some point in 2006 and liked the slight Arbus/Meatyard vibe, converted to B&W and square cropped. A whole lot of my early street attempts from 2005-2006 bit the dust when an external HD tipped over and the spindle sheared off. But as for real "Wayback" photos? I'm like Marie H., I can only wish that I had taken photos of LA in the 1960's and 1970's.
  24. Hmmm...bad gateway time out? Try again later...
  25. One more try...
    heck with it...
  26. Nice thread!

    What I think of as my very first street photograph involved a silhouette of a guy running through a pedestrian tunnel. Running away from me and into the light, his shape was descriptive of a dramatic gesture. When I saw the contact print it stunned me how great it seemed and woke me up to the potential of the medium. I think it was pretty good, and would hold up well now. It was one of those things that happened quickly that I was able to react to successfully. I think there were 2 or 3 shots actually and one that was clearly the best. Unfortunately I don't know where the negative is or the prints I made of it... Gotta be around somewhere!
  27. These are from the early 1990s, shot in Munich, Germany:
  28. Another from the early 1990s. Trump Tower, New York City
  29. Great idea for a thread. I just ran across it today. Here's a street shot of downtown Minneapolis in the late 60's. My dad was in advertising and he knew a lot of commercial photographers. One of them let me use his darkroom at night. I think I was walking down the street after a darkroom session and I had my camera, a Nikon Ftn with the 50mm f 1.4 lens, which I used wide open for this shot. Tri-X.
  30. I got my first camera when I was around 12 years old circa 1964. We were living in Lahore West Pakistan at the time and my father got me a 127 Kodak Brownie that was made in England. It took 8 pictures per 127 roll. As I recall I took about 4 rolls of 127 film with it.
    The camera is long lost but here's what it looked liked:
    Around 1975 I found some of my negatives from 1964 at my folks' home and I filed them away.
    A couple of shots taken with the 127 Brownie:
    Elizabeth at her son Francis' wedding Lahore Pakistan 1964
    Peter and Angle

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