Archive for the ‘Job’ Tag

The Genius Of Photography

Roberta Lapucci, art conservator, has claimed the Italian artist Caravaggio used “techniques that are the basis of photography” 200 years before the invention of the camera. Its a startling claim as he thinks the 16th century painter may have treated the canvas with light-sensitive substances made from crushed fireflies. His paintings certainly have a photographic quality which is emphasised by the way the subject matter is illuminated. However its clear the compositions have been carefully posed and do not have the immediacy of a photograph.

The BBC series ‘The Genius Of Photography’ is a glorious journey through the development of technology and the art of photography. Invented in the 1820s it gave photographers a chance to put on record the world around them. In the late 1950s and early 1960s my father supplemented his income as a wedding photographer. I would often assist with his Saturday morning job by carrying the equipment bag and tripod, and working in the dark room (the bathroom) as he printed the proofs. I used to place a penny on each print to leave a white spot into which he would write the number of the picture that the happy couple and their family would use to order prints.

The trick was to get everything done so we could return to the wedding reception and elicit orders from as many people as possible. There was always a bit of one-up-manship between relatives, each trying to go one better than the last by ordering a few extra photographs. Using a young child to take down the orders also helped to encourage a bit of generosity. However, being a child also had its disadvantages. He once photographed a nudist wedding, I was not allowed to help and never did see the bride and groom in all their glory.

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Making A Little On The Side

My father was always looking for opportunities to earn a little extra cash as his full time job did not pay well. His wheeler dealer adventures were very varied but always remained on the right side of the law. One day he returned home with a large number of boxes bought at an auction of fire damaged stock. They contained a wide range of DIY tools. A few were damaged beyond use but most just needed a good clean to remove the smoke, dirt and water damaged packaging. After a few weekends spent polishing the tools they were taken round to the local hardware and small DIY shops and sold for a healthy profit.

Another occasion when my father added to the family income was when he helped to fit out a dental technicians workshop. He converted standard kitchen units and worktops into work benches and built large wooden bins to hold various casting powders and materials. He was not a DIY fanatic and did very little around the house so this was all a bit of a surprise, particularly as his carpentry skills proved to very good. The house and shed were full of wood, fittings and sawdust for weeks, much to the annoyance of my mother who berated him for both the mess and for not putting his skills to use around the house.

His biggest money maker, and the biggest annoyance to my mother was his scrap metal collecting. He would bring home old printing machines, copper and lead pipe, old light fittings and electrical stuff of all sorts. We would strip them down into copper, brass, aluminium, lead and steel which was then sold to a scrap merchant by the name of Steptoe. It was a very profitable enterprise but did create a lot of mess in the back garden. There were also a few complaints from the neighbours as burning the copper wire to remove the insulation created masses of thick black smoke. Its not the sort of thing you could do now with all the health and safety stuff around the place.