võib-olla 1980 või 1981?
This post here is inspired by one blogpost in digital-photography school.
The questions they expected an answer to were following:
What was the camera?
What were you photographing?
Was it film or digital?
What lessons were you taught in the early days?
I live in a tiny independent country named Estonia. But the first time I ever held a camera in my hand was when Estonia was still occupied by the big and mighty Soviet Union.
It might have been in 1988, when I actually made my first „real“ photos. By a real photo I mean pictures that are photographed and developed in a darkroom like it was made in the „good old times“.
My mother was a photographer and thereof I got acquaintanced to photography in a really smooth effortless way, since I practically lived in a photolab.
She worked in Soviet time photostudio, which produced various document and studiopictures.
Thats why I got really curious with images. I remember that one of the first cameras I ever experimented with was a classical Smena8. Unfortunately I can’t really remember whether some picture came out of this testing or not.
But I do remember very clearly the first images that actually went right. These were made with my mothers work camera at the time. It was Zenit E.
And what did I take a picture of back then? At that time it was really difficult and complicated to get a hold of foreign literature and journals. But next to our house was a newsstand with assortment of some foreign newspapers and journals that strict Soviet regime censorship had actually allowed on market.
Prevailingly were sold journals from Soviet Union friendly socialist countrys like DDR, Czechoslovakia etc.
But the funniest thing was, that even those soviet regime friendly journals were really rare – one newsstand got maybe, when lucky, only one exemplar. It would have been especially hard to get a hold of these journals if I wouldn’t have been friends with an older lady that worked in our little kiosk.
She stored the cooler journals for me, whenever something new arrived 🙂 So I had a great chance to always take a first look, pick what I liked and buy the journals! Back then it was a real big treat and advantage! But that’s how things actually functioned back in the old soviet times. And that not only with literature, but basically with everything.
Even buying bananas was quite challenging back then. You had to know the person in charge in the food store to even have a chance in buying a banana. Because it was only five small boxes of bananas for the 20 000 people living in our small town and the queue for buying bananas was thereof more than 200 meters long. The first ones got a banana or two, but the rest of the people only got to catch a glimpse at a banana! Well at least then we got to know what a banana looked like – right?
But now getting back to the story… I photographed the pictures from the journals with my mothers camera, because there was no such thing as copying machine. And these, especially cool pictures from foreign motorcycles and cars, were really popular in my school. Not everybody could afford a journal. So they got a repro version from the posters from me. I did it for free – it was just cool to share the pictures!
I saw one of those images in some photoalbum last time I visited my mother. I think it might be the last one that’s left. The picture itself was circa 4x5cm and it had a fancy foreign bike on it – I think it was Kawasaki. Next time I visit my mother, I’ll definitely take the photo with me and add to this post right here.
Sometimes, when I was especially lucky, I got a hold of some journals from Finland. And back then Finland and all the products from capitalistic western countrys like Finland were something really rare, special and awsome for us estonians! And pictures from superstars like BonJovi were extremely popular, you could tell that by the extremely high demand!
And whether that’s good or bad, all my early experiments and experience in photography stayed in that analog time. Maybe it was all too much for me and I grew tired of it, because, as I already told before, I practically lived in a darkroom.
I got befriended again with a camera only in the beginning of 2009. First shots were made with Holga and it was merely for fun. And at the same time I was again charmed! I was rapt from the format „square“ – it’s simply beautiful!
Practically one year long I took pictures only with analog cameras. During this year I had again the good old Zenit-E, additionally Kiev-4M and the fantastic Pentacon Six.
And I’m back in shape! Today my photos are again in demand.
My pictures are now available in Istock online photo library.
At this point I’d like to thank my dear friends and colleagues, who showed me the way back to photography. Many thanks to taiko and kaaderdaja and ken and peeterv.
Let’s make the time stop with our pictures!
author: my mother