Darol Dickinson -- I started taking photos and doing portraits of livestock before I had a drivers licenses. The first time I went to Hank Wiescamp's to do the first Skipper W painting my mother drove me over there. Once she drove me to Sarcoxie, Missouri to do research and photos for a portrait of Appaloosa "Coke Roberts" and the Wilde's National Champion "Star Mist." Early on I took a train from Colorado Springs to south Texas to do photos. I borrowed cars once I got a license from relatives to do work in the San Antonio and Dallas area. As things progressed I recall my first plane ride from San Antonio to Colorado Springs on a propeller plane, before jets.
My first camera was a Brownie Hawkeye, then a Minolta 35mm, then up to the big league to a Speed Graphic 4x5" box camera. I had one Speed Graphic with a German Ektar lens which served me well to do front views. I used a 5.25" lens for side and rear shots. Ronda, my mother made me a sturdy yellow vest (pictured in the Photographing Horses book) with pockets of all sizes. I could switch from cut film to a roll film adapter then to the Ektar and then one roll film adapter would have color film and one black and white. Most ads then were not color so most photos were not color. Color was expensive and only for magazine covers, post cards. Later on color got more economical. I used 2 Speed Graphics and 1 Super Speed Graphic. I carried all these big cameras with me, dozens of rolls of film and also a little 35mm camera with a long telephoto for head shots and rodeo stuff.
These cameras were fragile. If something got bumped or banged around on a trip, I was out of business. Therefore I refused to baggage-check any of the camera boxes. I carried them all personally.
This photo is the wonderful old slow Speed Graphic with the Ektar lens. If you did not capture the shot at the exact time it was slow to crank it back for the next shot; it could be too late. I used to buy most of my cameras at hock shops. I stopped by hock shops all over to pick up cameras that were half price of a new one. Today I have a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with a zoom lens 28 to 135 mm. It does everything the two boxes of cameras did and film is replaced with a card that holds over 800 shots. Today there is no excuse for not taking great photos. It is a piece of cake. It is a walk in the park with auto focus, virtually no cost per shot -- just blast away hundreds of shots and delete the bad ones. Things change in 60 years.
Author: Darol Dickinson