Using Vintage Cameras…


Self-portrait (as Billy-Buck Chandler in “My One and Only”) with Graflex “Crown Graphic” Camera (c.1948). The Stratford Festival of Canada, 2007. © Laird Mackintosh.

As a result of my obsession with great mid-century photographers like Steichen, Beaton, Penn, Parkinson and Horst I developed an interest in shooting with vintage cameras. In fact, I’ve never owned a digital one. Strong as the temptation is to be able to shoot 68,000 photos a day – and discard an unlimited number of rejects at will – I’m a firm believer that the pressure of having to pay for every single shot results in better photographs. It does for me, anyway. I am also a complete sucker for the romance of shooting with cameras that are so undeniably full of character. I can tell you, for a fact, that the cameras themselves have an definite effect on their human subjects. Everyone I’ve ever taken a photo of with my large format ’40’s Crown Graphic, medium format 1958 Rolleiflex 2.8e or my 3D David White Stereo Realist (1960’s – yes… 3D) is completely taken with them. People are even amazed when I use my 35mm Pentax K1000 from the ’70’s (a mere baby – younger than me!) and are surprised to see me using film. The presence of those magical devices intrigues everyone.

Self-portrait (as Lieutenant Cable in “South Pacific”) with Pentax K1000, Rolleiflex 2.8E and David White Stereo “Realist”. The Stratford Festival of Canada, 2006. © Laird Mackintosh.

No doubt vintage cameras present challenges for the user, and may yield their treasures less easily than their modern counterparts: but the results, when they’re successful, are really satisfying.

…Nothing like the real thing.