My friend Jim… Hong Kong 1979

I’ve wanted to share these images for quite some time now here on this blog. They’ve been posted to my flickr page in an album titled ‘Liberty Call Hong Kong’- so time to move some of them over and provide a bit of a backstory.

I don’t consider myself a portrait photographer, in fact I’m highly critical of most of my attempts at portraiture over the years. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m not good at it. I enjoy big vistas and wide open spaces way too much to be trapped in a studio taking pictures of people. Taking pictures of things (cameras, lenses, stuff) in the studio I do enjoy.

Other than portraits of my family, the image below not only means a lot to me but I think it’s one of my better people pics. It’s an image of my friend Jim while we were travelling north out of Hong Kong to the Chinese border by train in January 1979. It was a difficult shot – low light (and I was using Kodachrome 64), hand holding a Canon FD 80-200mm zoom lens and all while the train was moving. The sky was overcast so the light was at least uniformly dim.


North out of Hong Kong… 1979

My friend Jim was not only a US Navy Sailor like myself, he was also a very accomplished professional photographer and the most outgoing person I had ever met. Jim was a Nikon guy when shooting 35mm – Bronica and Mamiya medium format in the studio. I’m a Canon guy and that was always a source of friendly ribbing between us. Since Jim was a pro, he wasn’t the easiest to trap into having his picture taken. I remember he was saying that this shot will never turn out well because the Canon F-1 had a crummy exposure meter and used crummy (not his real word) glass in their lenses. I don’t think he ever saw this image come to think of it. He may have liked it. I still think the image has problems – shallow depth of field means I missed nailing the focus and the exterior of the train is a tad over exposed. I don’t have fancy post production software so for the most part this scan is exactly what appears on the original slide. Here again I’m being hard on myself and it’s likely the reason I don’t try more portraits.

Another photographer that I met here on WordPress is an outstanding photographer and blogger- her portraits are amazing and always so creative. She said I give her a bit of confidence with my positive comments on the quality of her portfolio, but in reality it’s me who has been given a little nudge to go out and try some portrait photography again.

This was my second port visit to Hong Kong and both times Jim and I were out shooting together from sunrise to well after sunset. Here are but a few of the many that I like the most…


Image by Jim. Me negotiating a better deal with this sweet vendor. She was funny and a pleasure to deal with. I bought a fan for my wife Carol.


Jim negotiating a good deal with some nice ladies in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. We had a great boat ride around the harbor. Canon F-1 on Kodachrome 64.


Cute little girl waiting (with grandma) for the train out of Hong Kong.


Star Ferry sailor catching up on the morning’s news. Canon F-1 on Kodachrome 64.


Busy day on the docks of Aberdeen, Hong Kong. Canon F-1 on Kodachrome 64.


Very difficult shot. Canon F-1 with FD 80-200mm f4 zoom lens on Kodachrome 64 hand held while on a moving boat! 


Hong Kong night life… 1979.


Bar hostess… Hong Kong. Canon F-1 on Kodachrome 64. Shutter set at 1 second f1.4


Not exactly Mickey. Watchful man and dog (lower left) couldn’t figure out why two photographers would be interested in his Mickey.

Jim and I were great friends – my wife Carol was great friends with his wife and children. As US Navy Sailors, Jim and I got to visit many interesting ports while stationed on our ship which was home ported in Yokosuka, Japan. He taught me a lot about photography and to be more outgoing while photographing people. Jim returned to the States before me and his professional studio really took off and was a great success through the 1980s and 1990s.


Jim doing what he liked best – making people smile and taking pictures! Late 1980s in his studio in Florida.

This is the last photo I have of Jim. It was taken by his wife who was his assistant (you can see why she was)… Jim and his lovely wife died in 2001 in a terrible plane crash. Not the ones in September of that year, but theirs were just before Christmas 2001. A horrible situation for his two grown children and all who knew them.

Every December I remember Jim and all the good times we had. I can still hear him tell me that my F-1 stinks! And I remember all the tips he shared with me on taking people pics.

Thanks Jim!