For old times’ sake

When I look back at the seventies I smile. When I dig a little deeper in my memories it wasn’t all that good. It was a decade where I lost my father, my grandmother and my grandfather.
When that era ended I was an insecure, pimply young adult.

I was a happy eleven-year-old in 1970. Then, in the summer of 1972, I became a very sad, lonely and lost kid. My father, 64, passed away. Nothing would ever be the same and even now, writing these words, I feel my eyes burn with tears.

Then there was the photography art school and I graduated in 1979. I found work immediately, in a photo lab, where I became soon specialized in manual color enlargements for professional photographers. They liked what I did but I did not like it a bit.
Soon after I would spend my 10 months in the Belgian army. With that started another decade. I would do lab work, aerial photography and tabletop photography. I did a great job because they asked if I wanted to join the army as a pro.
Sir, no thanks, Sir.

Photography Art school.
Polaroid, Cibachrome, a zillion types of photographic paper, films, developers. Camera’s I could only dream of. I became a Nikon aficionado but in the end it is only a tool.

Developed everything that could be developed.
Imagine opening your tank, getting out a wet Agfa Chrome slide-film, giving it 1 minute with a 500 Watt lamp, then trying to get it back on the spiral for further developing.
Cibachrome, holy cow, the results you could get with it!

I had this book and it was my bible. It was filled with personal notes. “Handboek zwartwit-fotografie” by Gerard de Jong. I think the title is quite obvious, even in English.

It is about black & white photography and much of it I know. There is some darkroom processing with materials that do not exist anymore. Come to think of it, the book is just a beginner’s book.

It meant a lot to me back in the seventies. It was a companion, a friend, a bible.

Then I lost it.
Gave it away, threw it away or simply lost it.

The book stayed on my mind, surfacing from time to time as a first love tends to do. I missed it, not because of its contents but for what it used to be for me.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the book on a second hand website.
Oh my god.

This evening I have held the book in my hands and it touched me more than I can say. So many memories reappeared.
As a matter of a fact it is lying on my desk, next to the keyboard I am typing on.

It is in pristine condition.
It is outdated.
It smells like old books tend to smell.

I leafed through the book and there I was, back again an insecure pimply kid living in a horrible decade.

Holding this book though makes me feel like it was the best time of my life.

I am so happy I can hold this book in my hand again.
Time machines to exist!





  1. I remember seeing my first Cibachrome prints in the late 1970’s they were really something else. I didn’t enjoy the 70’s either, glad to have gotten them out the way.


  2. I loved the sweeping emotion in this post. There are a few relics of my life that do the same to conjure up memories as vivid as living them again. So glad you can have this one to hold.


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