One of the reasons for starting this web site was to echo how attending Braehead had affected or influenced my life. One of the things I was introduced to was photography by Mr Eric Gibson, Science Department. Our main job was to produce images for use in biology classes. These images were copies of things like the human eye, skeleton etc., The images were given out to pupils who then stuck them in their jotters and all they had to do then was to name the various parts and jot them down beside the image.
Photo in the main darkroom showing the 'dry side' with the two enlargers that did all the work of printing press, sittings, weddings and more...
One of the things I remember was that all the chemicals that we needed, developer and fix were made up from individual chemicals. (no popping into Jessops or some other photo shop and buying ready made developer/fix of the shelf). We measured out the chemicals and mixed them and then were able to use them to develop films and photo's. After we had completed the tasks for the school we could then look at developing films for friends and family. This at times proved a challenge for us... I remember one one day being given a film and trying to load it into the film developing container only to find that there appeared not to be any film there... just paper... on turning the light on we discovered the backing roll and a roll of paper inside this. On talking with Mr Gibson we discovered there was such a thing as 'paper negatives'... now this meant that we had exposed this film to light and ruined it, so we learned our lessons the hard way.
Photo looking towards the 'dry' side of the upstairs work room.
Now we could, as was the Braehead way, take time away from normal timetable lessons to complete work we were involved in. So, when we had a lot of work to do in the darkroom we could from time to time get off other lessons to complete the work.
Printing and enlarging... Colour negatives and not knowing quite what would happen... The excitement of developing film and watching the prints develop in front of your eyes... it was tremendous, exciting, wonderful... brilliant...
Photography was now in my blood and although I did not know it at the time, this encounter with photography while at Braehead was to open up a whole new chapter in my life in a few years time. I left Braehead to attend Elmwood College in Cupar and on leaving got a job at Lochend Farm, Coaltown of Wemyss. I had been working there for just over two years when I saw an advert in the local press looking for a photographer.
I was interested in applying for the job so had a chat with the Fraser's at the manse about what I was thinking of doing. I decided that I should apply and without telling my parents went of for an interview at GW Harvey's, Leven. I was nervous at the interview but at the end was offered the job. Great news, now I would have to go tell my parents that I was going to change job and also tell Mr Laird that I was leaving Lochend Farm.
Picture on the left:
Working on the D&P (Developing and Printing).
I started with GW Harvey at the very bottom. I was initially the tea boy and goffer. There was to much risk in the early days of destroying work in hand, so spent the first few months learning the ropes. I would attend weddings with other photographers and practice on the guests and at times on the Bridal Party. Again at this time GW Harvey's did a great deal of the press work for the Fife Free Press and other local papers. So, again it was possible to attend jobs and practice at the same time. In no time at all I was on my way to my first wedding to take just the guests... I was very nervous and started to learn on my own how to take guest photo's (we would at times sit with Mr Harvey and talk about what could have been improved. This first time as I said I was very nervious and shot away one, two rolls of black and white film. Rushed back to develop the film so that I could show to all the staff how clever I was and what I had learned. Hmmmm... disaster... all the negatives were only half exposed.... ******** various expletives later... discovered that I had the camera on the wrong setting... to use flash you must set the shutter on a 60th of a second... I had left the camera on 125th second... So after picking myself up, I was dully sent back to the wedding to retake the guests... the story I told was a fault on the camera.... (Photographers are taught at an early stage how to tell little 'lies'...
Richard as always looking the part for a photo shoot.
I stayed with GW Harvey for 6 years and over that time took a number of photo's of the darkrooms and collected some prints from my time there. Some prints were taken from films where we were either practicing taking studio shots, or trying out lighting effects or trying out a new film. So, for all those who ever came into GW Harvey to have their wedding, passport picture or other work done here is a look behind the scenes. Like most things in life I wished I had taken time to take more photo's, or collected more photo's of what I had taken or worked on at that time. But at least I have something that records what it was like to work in a photographers.
Jim at work on a wedding. I do not have many pictures of me at work but this one was sent in for (D&P - Developing and Printing) and I kept this copy. I am telling the Bride and Groom to swap places as the traditional place is the Bride on the Grooms left arm.
I think wedding photographers probably appear in more photographs than the bride and groom.
Well we do have a job to do. A photographers most used phrase is:
Just one more shot, please!! Hold it... Just one more shot?
On this page are a few examples of the images that are available. There are presently four pages available. I have where possible made comments that I think would be helpful.
Album one: The Darkrooms
Album two: The Studio
Album three: Chemicals and more (this page to be completed)
Album four - Special affects
The staff were always keen to have their pics taken at any time.
The annual Christmas bash brought together the Harvey family and the staff each year to share a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry and some shortbread.
Self portrait in the mirror upstairs
Ain't it funny, put a camera in someone's hands and they immediately start taking their own pics... hmmm... no one else willing to sit?