Speed Graphic: A convincing 1940s press photographer acts the part
On Saturday I took my new-old Leica T to the annual 1940s Revival meeting at Brooklands Museum in Surrey and got a little bit more than I bargained for. Only last month we carried a fascinating overview of vintage press cameras by an expert on the subject, Bob White. So I was more than surprised to meet a very genuine-looking 1940s press photographer with one of the cameras featured in Bob's article — the Speed Graphic. He was accompanied by a female reporter, dressed to the nines, who fed him a constant supply of plates from her voluminous handbag.
The pair were going through all the motions of recording this year's revival event for posterity and I was amazed by the apparent professionalism. "Do you develop the plates yourselves?", I ventured. I was mildly disappointed to find that it was all for show. It was the same plate that kept reappearing to create the sense of a busy photographer. Still, full marks to the duo for a convincing piece of press theatre.
This year's 1940s revival was a corker, well attended and with a high proportion of visitors who had entered into the spirit of the event with some fabulous outfits. I'll be posting more shots later when I return from Berlin where I am doing a quickie commercial photo assignment. From a photographer's point of view, these "dressing up" events provide a great opportunity for capturing some really unusual period stuff, all the more effective when there is a definite theme as in this instance.
Last year, I remember, I went along with the then-new Leica SL and 24-90 Vario-Elmarit. This year it was a bit of retro for me, too. The T, which I bought a few weeks ago, is now three years old. I carried the 23mm Summicron and the sharp 18-56mm Vario-Elmar. For an event such as this, the zoom is perfect and the 23mm spent most of the day resting in the Billingham. As is the case with the SL's 24-90, the 18-56mm-TL zoom (equivalent to 28-85mm in full-frame terms) is possibly the only lens you need. I also love the wide-angle 11-23mm TL zoom which, combined with the 18-56mm, makes a really effective travel outfit.
There will be more to come on the 1940s revival and on the Leica T system.
- Subscribe to Macfilos for free updates on articles as they are published
- Want to make a comment on this article but having problems?