The San Diego Period


Snappy-San Self Portrait With OM-1Snappy-san seems to remember that around Christmas, circa 1976 he receives some Christmas money from home. It seems quite likely that he receives a check for $100.00. He combines this money with some money of his own – earned from his career as a parking lot attendant.

So it was at this time, that Snappy-san sails into a camera store in downtown San Diego, pushes a few sailors out of his way, and buys himself a 35mm single lens reflex. It’s an Olympus – OM-1. It’s a sweet freakin camera, small, lightweight and quiet and surprisingly, modeled after Leica’s M series cameras. Snappy-San is a changed man. A happy man.

Because Snappy-san is a man of books and learning, he follows up his camera purchase with books. He takes to his new passion like a shut-in with a blow-up doll, obsessed and possessive. Like many beginning photographers, Snappy-san thinks everything is worth a picture. In this, he is wrong.

Picture of a box of kodak Plux X FilmSnappy-san’s initial forays involveĀ Kodak’s Plux-X film, a fine-grained product that serves his limited purposes nicely. (Of course, Snappy-san didn’t know then that the future held a surprise for him: he would one day work for The Big Yellow.) The local camera shop develops his film and prints small 3 1/2 x 5-inch matte surface black and white pictures.

Snappy-san soon learns about depth of field, the rule of thirds, shutter speed, what a focal plane is and how damned tricky it is to shoot backlit subject matter. In fact, at this point, Snappy-san has no idea what the term “backlit” even means.

Like all beginners, Snappy-san likes sunsets, seascapes and landscapes and people. Aside from a fierce devotion to photography, and the parking garage, Snappy-san and Rick Tabit drive south to Tijuana and Rosarito for drinks and mischief. There may even be pictures.

Black and White High Contrast Photo of Sunlight on the Pacific Ocean

Snappy-san lives in San Diego for roughly one year. He returns home to his parents in Fall River, Mass and begins to regroup for another shot at the West Coast. He will take more pictures, engage in a summer dalliance with a hot, Irish, former cheerleader whose parents own a burger and beer joint on the edge of the sea and for whom he falls stupidly, inextricably and foolishly in love. Snappy-san is a bit of a romantic. Perfect for a budding photographer!

Snappy-san San Diego Snapshot

That thing we don’t mention in polite company.
Cheap wine.
Black & White photography of landscapes, seascapes still life’s with new OM-1.
Trips to Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico and a thirteen dollar bribe to the Tijuana police.
Numerous unauthorized borrowing of bank-owned cars stored at the parking garage.
Home grown hooch.

Read the next chapter>> | Massachusetts. Summer love. Snappy-san gets unceremoniously dumped.

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