Completing the Circle
As a young teacher and photographer I studied photography in the evenings at Maryland Institute College of Art. I had several close friends in class, and we would periodically go to meetings hosted by the Baltimore Camera Club. It was interesting being around older photographers and especially the president, Edward Bafford, who was an icon in photography in Baltimore. He and Aubrey Bodine, who was a legendary photojournalist for the Baltimore Sun, were the pillars of the club.
Edward L Bafford (1902-1981)
Bafford received his first camera in 1914, and from the very beginning was an innovator. He was one of the masters of the Bromoil process for black and white photographs. In 1932 he even began teaching a photography class over the radio, and a few years later began a series of classes called the “Bafford School of Photography” at the Baltimore Camera Club. At one meeting I even won one of Bafford’s framed prints that is still have hanging in my home in Baltimore.
A. Aubrey Bodine (1906-1970)
Aubrey Bodine was the lens through which the world witnessed the growth of Baltimore for over fifty years. His photographs were shown throughout the world, which at that time was something new in photography. He began his career for the Baltimore Sun at the age of 14 as a messenger and progressed to be a respected and renowned photojournalist.
His own formal education was limited, but this did not prevent him from setting up his own darkroom at work, and through experimentation, he began to create his own mixture of chemicals. Through his imagination, he devised unique processing techniques which enhanced his photographs in ways that photographers today manipulate with Photoshop. He received many awards for his work, and at the age of 64 suffered a stroke in his darkroom and passed away.
Coming Full Circle
For the past five years I lived in Zama, Japan, which is about 45 minutes by train west of Tokyo. While there I was a member and president of the Zama Photography Club. It was composed of a great group of serious photographers who all love photography and having adventures on the weekends with their cameras. We would often meet for breakfast on a Saturday and then proceed into Tokyo, Kamakura, Yokohama, or any place where something was happening. We always had a great day taking photos, and on our subsequent meeting nights, we would share them with the members of the club. It was both fun and rewarding. We all grew as photographers due to our mutual encouragement. Our only competition came from within.
This year I am working in Rota, Spain, and unfortunately, there is no formal photo club here. I have floated the idea about initiating one, but at present there is no facility available to host the meetings. My immediate solution was to take a step back into my past. I recently re-joined the Baltimore Camera Club after decades of absence. I realize there will not be a physical or direct connection, but it will be good to interact with fellow photographers and share photos again. They, like Zama’s club now, have periodic photo contests, so this will give me something to “shoot” for monthly. During my summer break when I return to Baltimore, it will be fun to actually meet some of the people I have been corresponding with this past week or so.
Photography has become the art of the people. More photos are taken on any given day now than in the entire 20th century. It is a great and fulfilling art form, and interacting with other photographers only makes it more rewarding. Plus, I just entered one of the Baltimore’s club’s monthly photo contest…
Some Outstanding Members and Friends of the Zama Photography Club