I began taking pictures in the 7th grade. I bought a used AnscoFlex camera for $3.95 from the photo counter at Osco Drugs. It was the only used camera they had. I always wondered why the camera was there. Everything else was new and too expensive for a 12 year old. My best friend’s father, Philip Drell, was a professional photographer. He was a bit of a character and only recently did I find out that he photographed and filmed the liberation of Dachau. He seemed to have so much fun working. I wanted that in my life.
My first roll of film was of my friend Brian (Drell) spinning on the merry-go-round in Emily park, across the street from where I lived. I guess I was already trying to be an artist at age 12. Mr. Drell taught us to develop the film in big open trays in total darkness. What a smelly mess! It was cool seeing my film hanging up to dry. My first roll didn’t turn out too well. I can’t find it so it probably ended up in the garbage. I realized I’d be better off taking my film to a professional and besides, the lab gave back a free roll of film with every roll developed.
Grade school in the 1960′s was a different place than the schools of today. We had a lot more freedom. We could carry pen knives to school, tell our friends we wanted to kill them (without anyone ever thinking we meant it), and I could take my camera into class to photograph the cute girl sitting next to me. Cheryl Palles became my first subject and this image is my first photograph.
Cheryl Palles photographed at Fairview South School: March, 1967
Brian Drell photographed near Emily Park: May, 1967