There’s been a lot of talk, (maybe, maybe too much talk) about how technology has leveled the playing field between amateur and professional photography, it seems, however, like this discussion predates digital by about 50 years! This video from the National Film Board’s program On The Spot is a 15 minute piece on photography and features Amateurs, Professionals, a Jazz icon and a Prime Minister, such was the pull of the NFB in 1954. Directed by Allen Stark, the very well groomed presenter Fred Davis stops in on tourists on Parliament Hill, pays a visit to Canadian Jazz legend Oscar Peterson before finishing up with Ottawa’s Yousuf Karsh as he photographs Prime Minister Louis St Laurent.
My favourite quote comes from near the beginning as Davis describes the growth of the amateur industry, “The Amateur photographer today is as familiar with camera techniques as that of many professionals”. A phrase no less true today, almost 60 years later, than it was on what looks to be an chilly morning in Ottawa 60 years ago. I will let the video tell the rest of the story but I found it fascinating, from the guy in his living room shooting portraits of his daughters with a Hasselblad and retiring to his basement darkroom to develop his film to Yousuf Karsh describing how there are no secrets in photography.