My interest in photography is genetic, I think. Dad and his three brothers were all professional photographers, so I can't remember not being surrounded by cameras. One of my cousins and I found that we've been telling the same joke all our lives: he likes to say he has developer in his veins, and I've always said it was hypo.
As a combat correspondent in World War II, Dad put his Speed Graphic and Leica to good use, often illustrating his pieces for Stars and Stripes, Yank, and his hometown newspaper. The makeshift home darkroom he'd devised with his brothers awaited his return; once stateside, he switched to outdoor writing. Bass and bucks took the place of battalions on the enlarger - when he could get to it! Uncles Jack and Dick were illustrating their work with the Fish and Game Department, and Uncle Ted had his ham radio in there too. (Ted was also my parents' wedding photographer.)
I came along in 1950 and became Dad's newest subject (left, with Mom and John Smith). I had a Brownie Starmite by age 10 and a B&W Polaroid that took wallet-size shots by age 13. I whined until I was given the requisite Instamatic (with a cube flash) in my teens.
Then the Contessamat fell into my hands. I'd been allowed to use the family 35mm rangefinder, which was in Mom's custody, but it had developed some quirks and Mom passed it to me in frustration. The quirk turned out to be a recalcitrant film advance. There was no arguing with the Contessa; she'd behave for several rolls and then go on a bender of double-exposures.
I became a Nikon person after borrowing Dad's...
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