Turning the Table

The day has finally arrived. The tables have been turned and now the hunter has become the hunted. Kman is angling toward that strange and beautiful world of photography, and Uncle Dan is in his crosshairs. These are the first 6×6 images for Kman and the first time he ever put his hands on the Hasselblad. I of course snapped him snapping me and my favorite princess tagged along because that is what little sisters do.

This was a short session. We braved the hundred degree temps, scorpions and chiggers to wade our way through one roll of the beloved TRI-X. As you can see he shares my fondness for all things backlit. Smart kid. This story began a few months ago when my mom told me that Kman was in the front yard with her camera and had been out there for hours. “There isn’t anything out there, so I’m not entirely sure what he is doing,” she said.

Weeks later my brother said, “You need to see these pictures.” “I’m not saying they are great but there is a purpose behind them, he is looking for something.” All of this, of course, peaked my interest. Into the mail went a box of film, a lens and a Leica point-and-shoot.


This trip I knew we would get a chance, however brief, to talk about photography and also give him a chance to get his grubby mitts on the Blad. He isn’t a “screen kid” thank God, so his interest isn’t in seeing anything right away or sitting inside on his computer.

An arrangement has been made. Shoot your film and save it up. Ship it to uncle Dan who will edit and print. I’ll then make my critique and ship everything back. A one on one if you will. At our pace. No hurry, no rush, no need for anything other than a bit of critical, 13-year-old thinking.

This kid is a thinker. He is very thoughtful, quiet until the dam bursts and then impossible to turn off. I’m not sure what goes through the head of a modern 13-year-old but I have a feeling I’m about to find out.

28 Responses to “Turning the Table”

    • Smogranch says:

      Mark,
      Me too. He is really into it. I drove 12 hours to get there so that I’d have a half day with him so we could explore photography a bit.

  1. Marc Javier says:

    I love it when today’s young ones have interest in the foundations, i.e., things analog – photography, or otherwise.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mark,
      Me too. He isn’t opposed to digital by any means, but he isn’t one to be inside at a computer, so the film idea works well for him, especially when Uncle Dan processes, edits and prints.

  2. Charlene says:

    Thumbs up Uncle Dan, and good work Kman! Time for some of us to dust our cameras off and get back to work too…

  3. LionelB says:

    I was given a box camera for my eighth birthday and shot the first roll at London Zoo. Sadly the photos were lost in some tidy up. There were eight shots on a roll but I remember two peacocks together on a wet path, an elephant raising its trunk and a hippo with its mouth open.

    In the last year a photography group for young people has been launched in Mogadishu, Somalia. Cameras not guns. Those who promote creative expression there risk their lives.

    Photography matters. It matters very much.

  4. AK FOTO says:

    black socks?!?!?

  5. Harold says:

    So Much goodness here. and… the black socks photograph better than white IMHO of course ;-)

  6. Chris Fuller says:

    This post brings me back to my photography class in middle school (in the days before California state education officials decided the arts were not important). I used my dad’s old Petri rangefinder. No concerns about anything except to focus and make sure that the needle was in the middle for exposure. We processed and printed our own black-and-white film. My parents later gave me a Canon AE-1 Program with a 50 1.8 lens because of that class. That click of the shutter. The smell of the chemicals. The tactile touch of the film. Magical.

  7. Neil Holmes says:

    That couldn’t be a better introduction to photography IMO Daniel, very refreshing the young man ‘Gets It’ at his young age. Look forward to seeing more.

    Cheers Neil

  8. Martha says:

    Great to see those photos, and great mentoring. How is Uncle Dan doing? We miss hearing from all of you. And I know I’ll never hear from Nick. Good luck to you all, Aunt Martha

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey Aunt Martha,

      I’m good, no complaints at all. BUSY. On the road much of the time, so I get limited moments with the family. I love making pictures of the kids.

  9. Awesome. Just awesome. Proper jedi 6×6 training by Uncle Dan. Use the force. And the Tri-X.

  10. Eric Labastida says:

    Great post. Hey if he drops the blad of a rock just send it to me.

  11. Paul Joyce says:

    Great promise so far. Please keep us updated with his progress.

    I guess we all wish we had an Uncle Dan as a mentor at that age, he’s a lucky guy.

    • Smogranch says:

      Paul,
      Rumor has it there is exposed film in a pile somewhere in Texas.

    • Paul Joyce says:

      Although not a ‘blade, when I next go back home to the UK I plan on bringing back my Dad’s old Canon AE-1 and firing it up again. Sadly he passed away in March at a too early 71 and I feel I need to get that camera working again to keep the spirit going, so’s to speak.

      I’ve not shot film in a long time so it may spark something in me again, we’ll see.

  12. Paul Joyce says:

    …that should of been ‘blad’ not ‘blade’!

  13. Reiner says:

    This story reminds me of my 19 yr old daughter fooling around with her first cam I gave her when she was 15, a Minolta Srt thing, completely manual operation and she managed after 3 to 5 words explaining her how to match the needle in the viewfinder. She’s an artist so she got the big metal thing in her little hands and made art with it. No fuzz. Just plain art. Artists go around the technical mic mac, I’m pretty d.mn sure now.

    • Smogranch says:

      Yes, my nephew picked up the blad like it had been in his hands for years. He is used to controllers with dozens of buttons, so ONE button was totally doable.

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