A Photo Walk in Frankfurt – Thomas Bendzko

by Thomas Bendzko

Thomas Bendzko reflects on photography after attending the SilvergrainClassics and Leica Gallery photo walk in Frankfurt.

In 1982-83, my grandfather replaced his Praktica photographic equipment with Japanese Canon equipment. He would have liked to buy apparatus from a red-dot German company which seemed exotic to me, but they were too expensive for him. (He almost never treated himself to anything). He always talked about several thousand Deutschmark for a housing and something about “M” or “R.” I only knew complete cameras. We had an Agfa with flash bulbs — a “housing” already sounded very exotic.

But Grandpa was not happy with the entry-level AV-1, and in the end splurged on a Canon A1 for more than 1000 Deutschmark. During the Easter holidays in 1983, I was allowed to hold the brand-new camera in my hands and look through the viewfinder, in which luminous digits were to be seen. That was enough, I understood, this was the future — a microprocessor in the housing! Starship Enterprise, here I come! With sweaty hands and feeling deeply impressed, I handed the A1 back to Grandpa. It needed no words; we shared a sense of pride. This was amazing, he had chosen well.

In 1987, I inherited the camera, and with its legacy came an obligation. So, I began to practice with the A1. It accompanied me until 2004, for 17 years, without autofocus, mostly at 28mm and 50mm.  Then it was carefully packed away.

On February 12, 2022, I put in a new battery and film (Fuji 400 Asa) to revive the faithful Canon on a guided walk sponsored by Leica Galerie FFM and the experts in film photography from SilvergrainClassics. The tactile experience was immediately with me again: load film, fast forward, set ISO, and select program “Auto.” Focus, release, and cock the quick release lever quickly. You feel every single photo. 

The resulting images were developed and scanned by experts in Spain, Carmencita Laboratory. They are largely unedited. And just look, you kids, what you can accomplish with a 40-year-old camera and a 50mm lens (FD 50mm 1:1.4) when the film processing is in good hands! Thank you, Leica Gallery, thank you SilvergrainClassics, and above all…

Thank you, Grandpa.

You can see more of Thomas Bendzko’s work on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thomas.bendzko.77 and on Instagram at @main_mainhattan

The next SilvergrainClassics photowalk will include practical tuition on light metering. Places can be booked by https://www.eventbrite.de/e/belichtungsmessen-wie-ein-profi-einfach-und-praktisch-erklart-tickets-218723155847. Instruction available in both German and English.


Images © Thomas Benzko 2022.

You might also be interested in this article on photowalks in London. See https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2022/03/robert-andrews-london-camera-project-photo-walks/

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