Girl With A Camera

USA Late 1950s

This young woman looks serious about her camera and to my twenty-first century eye, she looks like a professional photographer. Yet, despite its elaborate appearance, the camera is a budget, amateur model, called the Yashica-A. It was released in 1956 in various colour bodies and leatherette finishes. With its striking side flash-unit, perhaps for some, it also acted as a fashionable accessory, as much as a useful tool for a hobby?

This fresh faced girl is unremarkable in so many ways but there is something in her direct gaze at the camera and that half smile that makes me think she was quite formidable. I cannot see her aspiring to be a wife and mother, which most young ladies of the 1950s were taught to see as their life’s path. I would love to know what photos she took on the day she made this booth photo. Did she have her own darkroom? Are those photos floating about on an online auction site or being discussed in a photography forum? Perhaps they are still being loved and cared for by a family member?

Her crisp white shirt looks very smart in its simplicity and compliments her make-up free, jewellery-free and tousel-haired style. I’m almost positive she would have been wearing a neat pair of shorts with capacious pockets, perhaps to hold the light meter, some spare film and bulbs for the flash?

An interesting feature of the Yashica-A is that, like the much older box Brownie cameras, it features a waist level view finder. Many of you would know from long past family members, that you hold the camera down at tummy level to compose the shot, rather than holding it up to your eye. Both the photobooth image and the ones below, show the view finder open and ready to go.

She probably had the light meter in its leather case tucked into her pocket.

I bought this marvellous American photobooth image from Australian-American artist, writer, curator and publisher Damian Michaels. In some of his work, Damian uses vintage photographs as his canvas. In looking for images that resonate with him, he buys groups of photographs, possibly using only one or two for his pieces. I was recently the lucky recipient of a group of photobooth photos he could not use.

Showing how the camera was/is used.

The photo above is from the blog Zinc Moon.

38 comments
  1. John said:

    Great photo and thoughts Katherine! An intriguing photo. 👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gluepot said:

    Amateur, perhaps, but a big step up from the Brownie, even though Brownie Reflexes in various forms (Reflex, Starflex were still widely popular well into the 1960s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I know. 🙂 I only mentioned the Brownie as a more familiar illustration of how the view finder worked on this camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The intrepid photographer stops for a brief moment in the photobooth, then she’s off to her next photographic adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This girl is awesome! Her smile, the camera in the corner, the strap over her shoulder–everything says, “I’m on a mission!” Wish we could see what she found on her adventures.

    Oddly enough, I would have bet money that she was Australian, rather than American.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you’d probably have to be a keen enthusiast to use this camera. Hope you manage to find more clues.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Yashica-A is actually a quite capable camera. You’ll get far better results from it than from any TLR-like box Brownie! Its lens has a good reputation for sharpness and contrast. There are better Yashica TLRs — I own two, the Yashica-D and the Yashica-12, which have better lenses — but really, the -A would work just great. Check out this work I did with my Yashica-D last year:

    https://blog.jimgrey.net/2017/06/07/thanks-to-my-yashica-d-and-some-spiratone-close-up-lenses-here-are-spring-flowers-from-my-garden/

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t mention the Brownie to compare the quality of the cameras, Jim, just to illustrate that they used the same type of waist high viewfinder. The photos you took with your Yashica are superb! I loved them all. Thanks for the link.

      Like

  7. Oh! Jolly hockey sticks! Never a dull moment at St Clare’s when Patricia takes the dorm by storm with her camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😄😄😄. Yes, she definitely was a St Clare’s, St Margaret’s etc type, not a St Trinian’s type! I love the expression “jolly hockey sticks”! 😃

      Like

        • Me too! 😃❤️. I have a book that I snatched from my mum when I was little (and I mean really little), called Back to the Slaughterhouse by Ronald Searle. I thought it was fabulous and funny, even though I had no clue what half of the cartoons meant. Was St Trinians his creation?

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          • Ronald Searle, what a brilliant cartoonist. Hang onto that book. I wonder if any of the there are still available.

            Liked by 1 person

          • gluepot said:

            My dad had that book too – it was amazing, opened my eyes to Ronald Searle and what illustration could do.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. She looks to me as if she may be part of a scouting adventure–maybe a nature walk to gather photos for earning her scout badges. I agree with your thought about the shorts–also fits into my thoughts of her as a girl scout or camp counselor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking the same thing Marcelo, wow, I absolutely love Vivian Maier’s work, she had a knack for taking pictures that ‘spoke to you’, (not literally), but they somehow touched your soul when viewing them. Tremendous! Wouldn’t it be something if that was the case here too!! Another good one K – great photo, love your comments, you did your research!! 🙂 Also: Jim Grey – those are indeed great pics you took – well done, nice blog too! You’ve built a great little community here K….. everyone loves ya, then again, what’s not to love!!!? Hugz….

      Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve just spent a very lovely half hour looking at Vivian Maiers photos and reading about her life. Her self portraits are incredible. Her whole portfolio is extraordinary! Yes, my girl could be another Vivian! Thanks for the link, Marcelo. And great minds think alike, eh Vin? Thanks for compliments, too. 😊❤️

          Liked by 1 person

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