Clochard Paris 1961 - Photographs of Europe by Heide Smith
Photographs of Europe
Photographs of Europe. My collection of photographs of Europe contains my earliest work. A few were taken while I was still at school, and most were taken in Germany before I left the country in 1963. The images are in the following galleries;
These images are really important to me for several reasons. There is obviously the nostalgic aspect of remembering friends and scenes from my youth, and the fascination of glimpsing once again Europe as it was over 50 years ago. It is also a reminder of how fortunate I was to receive such a thorough introduction to photography. You will see what I mean from the following story - an extract from a lecture I gave entitled;
"A photographers Tale" To be a photographer in Germany, you had to serve an apprenticeship, which included studies at TAFE, and covered all aspects of the trade – yes it was called a trade – not art! The arty bit comes later, once you have mastered the basics. At the end of the four year apprenticeship under a master photographer you had to pass an exam.
I started my apprenticeship in 1956. The only position vacant at that time was a place in the photographic department of an industrial company, producing road building machines. Not the most exciting place for someone who wanted to be a WAR PHOTOGRAPHER, nothing less! Where was I? Back to photography!
First I had to learn all about view cameras, lights, dark room, and chemicals…and even though I was shooting machines and road workers, to pass the exam I still had to produce architectural shots, portraits and other advertising images.
Then I became a photojournalist working for a Daily – Die Deister-und-Weser-Zeitung. That was fun - most of the time, and I certainly learned how to shoot in less than ideal conditions. I shot everything from current affairs, political stuff, accidents, portraits and sport. My soccer shots improved with the help and advice of some keen veteran bystanders.
In those days, I had to develop my own films at night – often push processing, resulting in very grainy images. It mattered little, since the grain would disappear in the ‘pixels’ of the Newsprint. Time was always precious, because the shots had to show up in the issue the next morning. You always, always had to come back with shots. No excuses for the editor!! Not the stuff for soft focus either.
Recently I read a comment by a budding art photographer that focus is overrated! It was absolutely essential then and did not always come easy, when you shot a road accident in the dark for instance. No autofocus then! In fact, no auto anything.
A couple of books were published of my work during my stint as a photo journalist in Hameln. My work was also represented in a number of international exhibitions in Europe and Asia, and in 1963, the year I left Germany with husband Brian, Fotokina exhibited the work of 14 young photographers, which included me.