M G Whittingham

 
 
 

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M G Whittingham

M G Whittingham

World photographer: people, places, cultures. Next stops: Singapore | Hanoi | Venice

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When I was nine, I asked my father when we were on vacation if I could take a picture with his camera. Back then, our entire trip was captured on one 24-roll of Kodak film. My father looked at me, looked at the camera he was holding in his hands and then gave me a long second look. After a thoughtful pause, he said "Sure, why not?"

My father sat me down and patiently explained how exposure, aperture and focus worked. He then sent me off to take my one picture. One!

A year passes. Being a year older, my father realized that maybe I wasn't going to drop his precious camera. So he let me take a few more pictures during the family vacation. They turned out not too bad.

Another year rolls by and I turn eleven. This time my father lets me take almost half the pictures on that precious single roll of Kodak film.

Two weeks after our holidays, the pictures arrive back from the drug store. The family gathers round as my father carefully lays out the prints on the kitchen table. He looks at the images he has taken. Then he looks at the ones I had taken. My father pauses for a moment in thought, sits straight up and looks me right in the eye. He then reaches over and picks up the camera. He places the camera in my hands and says something that I will never forget: "Next year, you take the pictures."

I have never looked back.

Today, my camera of choice is a Leica S medium-format camera. There is simply no other camera that matches a Leica S.

I have grown older now and have children of my own. Sometimes I let them use my camera. I still give them the first piece of photography advice that my father gave me "Make sure the camera strap is around your neck."

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