Author: Uncle Dick

Military colouring used to be a lot of fun - If you were English you got a red coat and if you were French you got red pants. If you were German you got a red face. It was all about looking as sharp as you could while wielding something sharp. If you were shooting people you made so much smoke doing it that concealment was impossible - so you wore feathers and gold braid and shiny hats. Then they invented smokeless gunpowder. You could hunker down behind a log and fire on people with a fair chance that they would not see from whence it came and would not kill you back. You could further improve on the odds by wearing clothing that made you blend into the log. Camouflage was born. Uniforms got dust-coloured, tree coloured, or haze-coloured. This helped against rifle fire but nothing deterred artillery from killing you. Well, things need not be as dire now for photographers. Apart from those fools who insist on going to wars and who would still be wise to wear camouflage whilst doing...

The title is a phrase I heard regularly in our camera shop. Usually a new customer and generally either a Mum, Dad*, or someone going away in holiday. If it is predictable as a statement, at least it has the advantage of being truthful - there was no pretence to it. The person really did want a camera to take good pictures. Unfortunately, this sometimes had the unspoken postscript...

I always like to say the words " Rodenstock Imagon " in a crowd of photographers to see if there are any large-format workers there. You can tell which ones have encountered this lens - all the blood leaves their faces. The Imagon was invented to do for imaging what the Iron Maiden did for the Spanish Inquisition, but in portable form. And no-one expects the Rodenstock Imagon...

Photographers have photographer friends. It's only natural - like interests and all. This can mean that the bond is shared knowledge or work, and sometimes a business connection. There can also be model friends or collaborator friends - though the latter is an awkward phrase. They also have rivals. These can be simple business competitors, club mates, or workers in the same artistic or academic field. The fiercest struggle is in the club. Murder, weak coffee, and cheap biscuits are the constant features of camera club life. The wise photographer seeks to find a special place for themselves that is free from these sorts of interferences - a secure niche in the structure of the art - or of the trade, for that matter. Something that allows them to be seen and, if possible, praised and rewarded independently of the activities of others. There have been many such in the past. HC-B was the pre-eminent street photo journalist - Atget the loner taking record shots of shopfronts. Both could have been in the same Paris street at the same time yet neither would...

" Gol Dang. You jus' get to knowin' something and they go an' change it on you! " Thanks to Walt Kelly and the Pogo gang for that one. In my case the thing I used to know was how far you could push a camera and a film to get a picture. 400 ASA and f:1.8 and hope for the best. Then they introduced digital...

I am afraid I have this picture in my mind of a Japanese monk raking a stone garden. The garden has one small altar and a very carefully placed bamboo plant. The monk's face is peaceful and composed and he is evidently deeply engrossed in the careful movement of the rake. He is wearing a GoPro Hero 9 camera on a helmet mount...

As I sat in my shed this afternoon sawing away at the 3mm MDF board it occurred to me how many famous rooms we are acquainted with that are a half a millimetre thick - roughly the thickness of the emulsion on a strip of old 35mm film. The wonderful interior of MGM's "Grand Hotel" has long since vanished into rubble or storage but we still roam it on the screen - it is a real space. Likewise the apartment of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball - long struck and knocked down for other productions...

I have taken many pictures over the last two decades of people dressed up in costumes - or undressed up in skin - and I have concluded that the very best of the models are either the professionals or the professional amateurs. The reason why I say this is that these two groups are performing for critical audiences - in the former case for paying clients, and in the latter case for their own inner acclaim. I cannot say which is the tougher crowd...

I wish I were a collector of business cards. I should be able to pursue a hobby with little expense and a maximum of examples to gather - for everyone on Earth seems to have one. They may not have the business, but they've got the card. Of course there is an extensive protocol revolving around these - and quite important in Asian contacts. If you are at all involved in business there you would do well to study the expected behaviour carefully. Here in Australia we hand them out, exchange them, leave them at restaurants hoping for a free feed, and lose them at inappropriate moments. They are part of the stock in trade of the budding professional as well as the blooming amateur. When I decided to change the name of my studio to Dick Stein's Little Studio, I tossed out all of my old business cards. They were pretty dated and had an ABN number that no longer applied, as well as a list of specialties on the reverse side that I am now avoiding like the plague. They...