I’m not usually one for human interaction. Part of the reason I got into photography was so that I would have something to hide behind at social gatherings. So it’s not often that I meet up with other photographers. But this past Friday night, that’s exactly what I found myself doing when fellow photobloggers Mark Faulkner and Mike Eckman invited me out for drinks.
For the uninitiated, Mark is the author of The GAS Haus – an unfathomably extensive list of Mark’s personal collection of film cameras with descriptions of each model. I know Mark, not only from his website but because I was his wedding photographer.
Mike Eckman authors another camera review site wherein he describes not only the features but also history and context around each model in textbook quality detail. You may recall that Mike lent me several Leica copies some time ago which inspired a blog mini-series.
The three of us met up at Smoketown Brewing Station in Frederick Maryland and the first round was on me.
Mark donned a plastic shopping bag of recent acquisitions from the local antique shops. I brought my Leica M6 TTL with 50mm 1.5 Summarit. Mike came empty-handed but was enthusiastic to take the Leica out from under my nose while I sipped on my Smoketown Gandy stout.
Through the din of live music and bar chatter, Mark went over his new Graphic 35 Jet, a peculiar American rangefinder from the early 60’s with the coolest focusing control I’ve ever seen. You can read about them on Mike’s page. Mark also scooped up a Mamiya Sekor TL. I thought I recognized the Mamiya because it was missing its hot shoe. I’d passed on both these cameras before picking up a Yashica A at the same antique mall a couple years back. It was good to know that even if I couldn’t do anything with these cameras, Mark would find a good home for them. And I didn’t yet realise how well this would be proven later.
As I talked to Mark, from the corner of my eye, I could see Eckman squinting behind the Leica’s viewfinder. An M3 owner, Mike seemed very comfortable with the M6 TTL and verified that my viewfinder is brighter than his. Take that M3 die-hards. 😉
Looks like Mike burned the very first shot on the roll of Kodak TMAX P3200 that was loaded.
The bartender came over and explained that her teenage daughter was interested in film photography. She asked us how to get her started with it. Mike leapt into a speech so accurately and confidently delivered that I got the impression that he visits bars all across North America to inspire new shooters. Instead of trying to paraphrase his wise words, I’ll just recommend that you follow Mike’s media as linked throughout my blog. He’s very committed and honest in all he says and posts.
After the bartender disappeared into the darkness, we started talking about the survival of film photography. Mike and Mark’s websites motivate people to give vintage cameras a try. To learn to use and appreciate what’s come before us. Mike pointed out that I’m unique because I actually shoot film professionally. It’s not the first time he’s said this and while I know that there are actually many film shooters at work, I appreciate the recognition. It’s cool that we’re all doing different things that inspire us and might, consequently, inspire others.
Mike talked about his recently launched podcast called Camerosity, wherein I apparently came up in conversation. Not really wanting to hear what terrible things might have been said about me, I interrupted to make it clear that one of the reasons I don’t listen to many podcasts is the excessive personal banter in some. And yet here I am posting a blog nearly completely comprised of just that! But be patient, there’s a cool thing about to happen and a reason that I typed this up, I swear!
And that cool thing was about to happen. I guess that an epiphany struck Mark as we were talking. He called the bartender over and pulled the Mamiya out of his bag. Mark explained that he’d like to give it to her daughter. The bartender was astounded. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment so I pulled a roll of Tri-X from my pocket to contribute some fire to the torch that Mark was passing on.
A few moments later, a very excited teenager appeared. Mark kindly showed her how to load the Mamiya and gave her a quick prepper on use. Soon her dad came over and thanked us profusely also. Photo-nerds for the win!
And guess what? I was off the hook for paying for drinks too; they were on the house as a thank-you.
So I ordered another Gandy stout. And took a photo of it.
There may be all kinds of online, in-community bickering over this camera and film or that. Mike may get angry DM’s about how irresponsible it was for him to exclude some faint bit of historical minutia in a review. I may be a shitty photographer. And Mark, well Mark may well just have a buying problem! We practice photography in different ways with different gear and different intentions and outcomes. But at the core of it all, we care deeply about film photography. And this little bar excursion reminded me of all the things that I love about film photography and our diverse and interesting community. Let’s keep it going everyone!
Thanks for reading and happy shooting!
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