Mar 13, 2010

Generations III

The family saga continues, time to start telling you about the second generation: my father. In May of 1945, at the age of 17, he left his hometown to start as an apprentice with my mother’s father (see earlier posts). For the next five busy years, he learned the tricks of the trade, passed the necessary exams, and along the way fell madly in love with the boss’ daughter…

Ray_juli1952w July 1952: my father, with his precious Exakta camera

As early as 1949, he started a portrait photography activity  during the weekends he spent back home. Gradually, he built up what it took to run a ‘real’ business: a studio and a darkroom.

doka_marijve_juli1951 (1 of 1)wThe darkroom, July 1951. On the very left: an enlarger and a heat press to apply gloss to photos. Against the wall just left of center: a contact printing frame for glass plates and sheet films

pomp_mei1952wHard to believe from today’s perspective, but there was no tap water available in that neighborhood until 1952. You just had to be ingenious to set up a makeshift negative rinsing installation!

By the early 1950’s, graduated and fully licensed, my father started to work full-time as independent ‘master photographer’. The family house became a photo store, and a new business was born! (And soon thereafter, so would I…)

Marijve_april1953w Studio Ray’s storefront, April 1953

paspoort_file_5sept1954w Queuing for a passport shot, September 1954

During 1952-53, all Belgian citizens were obliged to renew their identity cards. As my hometown lies exactly on the virtual border between the Flemish and French speaking halves of the country, politics took its time, and it wasn’t until late 1954 that the action finally spread to that area. Meaning: all 30,000+ inhabitants were to be processed in just a couple of weeks! The sudden demand for passport pictures (shot on 6x9cm sheet film, each one hand retouched!) turned out to be a big boost for the young business.

To be continued…

Gear notes: long forgotten

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version


Sab said...

These photos are really touching, and the family history fascinating, René.

Funnily enough, I'm currently watching a match (football) between Barcelona (my girlfriend's home team) and Real Madrid (their arch enemies) on my computer screen (in Paris), which is showing an image from her computer's camera in Barcelona, which is pointing at her mother's television (in Barcelona) which is showing the game (from Madrid) live. And I reckon I'm only a couple of milleseconds behind!!!

How technology strides on!

Sab in Paris in Real Time!

Sab said...

By the way: you as a baby is instantly recognisible as you right now - how we don't really change at all!!! Live is strange...