|I began to take photographs as a child, inheriting a Brownie camera from my mother. I thought it was a bit crude, for Polaroid cameras were becoming quite popular. But that was when you could not have a big print from a Polaroid – you were stuck with a relatively tiny snapshot. For me, I wanted to be able to have larger prints. So eventually I bought my first 35mm camera. And then I got an enlarger and was making black & white prints and then color. That was when you needed to be a scientist in order to master all of the steps and calibrations in order to turn out a color photograph. It was extremely time consuming.
I was losing a war against dust at the time, for I wanted to make 16 x 20 prints and even larger, and any speck of dust or dirt became what looked to me like a small bolder on my finished print. So I learned the art of spotting prints. I even learned to do spotting of color prints, and had a small arsenal of special pencils and color print spotting paints in a hundred different colors. Of course it was frustrating to try to perfectly match flesh tones with the various spotting colors.
A friend that had taught me how to develop and print in color suggested that I get away from 35mm and consider a larger camera. Soon I had a 70mm professional single lens reflex camera and a new enlarger to accommodate negatives that were four times larger than from what I had been using. Now my dust problems were greatly reduced and I was turning prints that could be up to four by six feet! I didn't make many of those but when I needed to, I could.
As I was still living in Maine back then, I kept busy doing wedding photography and portraiture work. People seemed amazed at the detail in my photographs but having the larger format camera made a huge difference in the resolution as well as the tonal range in my work.
Having a passion for ships and knowing that there were several abandoned large wooden sailing schooner hulks off the coast, I soon purchased an inflatable raft and was making trips to Wiscasset to photograph on deck the now destroyed "Hesper" and "LutherLittle." These were the very last four-masted wooden hulled sailing schooners in existence in this country and they had been left to rot.
I showed my ship photographs to many people and one spring was invited to the White House in Washington, D.C., where I met the President's photographer Ollie Atkins. Before he was the White House photographer, he was the senior photographer for Life Magazine. Having a photograph of me taken by him was such a thrill, and this photo shows one of my photographs taken on the main deck of the "Luther Little." In the background, painters that were at work on the columns of the South Front of the mansion stopped to look at us.
Lawrence Lufkin - Early 1970's - Click to Enlarge
|I now live outside of Boston and have been kept busy doing photograph work for the Shining Sea Foundation and the Musical Wonder House (located in Wiscasset, ME) as well as portraiture work and many other subjects. A photograph I took of the QE2 was on display in Cunard's NYC offices before they relocated to Miami. I have had photo shoots on a submarine as well as having the opportunity of taking video of the Manhattan skyline aboard a private plane, which fortunately included footage of the World Trade Center Twin Towers.
Photography is like a friend to me – always there waiting for my interaction. I have welcomed digital photography and find myself enjoying it even more, now that I don't have to be a chemist in order to make my own color prints to my specifications. the resolution of your camera is not as important as the lighting and the quality of the lens and the quality of your printer and the understanding of your imaging software. The advertising would make one believe that it is not possible to turn out quality 11 by 14 prints from a 3 megapixel camera (or less) but I always have enjoyed watching the reaction from people when I explained that they were looking at an image that did not come from film.
For me, the enemy of portraiture work is flash photography. I have been using photo floods and although they might not be the latest thing, sufficient and controllable lighting from my photo floods on their tripod stands is exactly what digital photography needs. Oh yes, now that cameras are so small and so light, a tripod helps to take sharp photographs.
Other articles written by Larry Lufkin:
- Wiscasset Schooners
- Parallels Between the 9-11 and Titanic Tragedies
- On Collecting Titanic Memorabilia and Ephemera