Museum of Mankind, ’79

This is what is going to be the first of an occasional series over the coming year which I’m calling ‘Photos of my Past’ in which I’m going to delve into my negative folder, dig out an image I took before the turn of the millennium, scan it, post it and say a bit about it. Hope you enjoy it..

I’m going to kick off with this one of an Aztec skull mask…

Museum of Mankind - Aztec Skull - 79

Okay, so first off it’s not a great photo, in fact it’s not even a mediocre photo. It’s not a photo its best friends could say is okay. So why have I picked this one? Well it’s because it’s from the first sheet of negatives in the file, it’s from ‘film 1’, it’s one of my very first images. I can work out that it was taken in 1978 or 79, almost certainly on a point and shoot Halina camera. I don’t have it any more, I gave to my mate Nick Harvey (who I haven’t seen in decades) once I got my first Pentax as he really enjoyed using it. Not totally sure of the model but this looks very much like I remember it. I bought it in a small camera shop in Walton-on-Thames where I grew up, Logan Cameras was the big camera shop in town but I think it was a bit intimidating to me at the age of 17 or 18 and more or less  buying a camera on a whim. I say camera shop but I remember buying a transistor radio there too….

It’s taken in the Museum of Mankind, which used to house the British Museum Ethnography collections in Burlington Gardens, it’s not there now. It never got a lot of visitors, which may be why it’s not there now, but they did really good exhibitions. They used to create rooms and streets from places in which you could walk around, as well as having great permanent collections. I used to go there loads and take lots of photographs which, frankly, weren’t any better than this one. In my defence, I knew absolutely naff all about photography then, basically I knew what the old bloke in the sort of camera shop had taught me to get things more or less sharp and correctly exposed. This of course, is neither.

It’s shot on Kodacolour II, and I must have been the master or false economy then as pretty much all of the early things in the folder are from 24 exposure rolls rather than 36s. Pretty much certain it would have been processed in Boots, and I’ve found the originally print in one of my ancient albums. It may have a date on the back but it’s one of the ones which held photos by a sort of static cling and I’m worried that if I try to remove the cover sheet it will pull the emulsion off.

Hope you enjoyed this self-indulgent wander down memory lane, if you did there will be more of them over the next year.

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