My first Portrait - 1979

Here is the first portrait I ever made - one I took of my father in about 1979…

©Kate Baker - Stan in garage, 1979

©Kate Baker - Stan in garage, 1979

I remember clearly making the photograph, the moment I saw the image ready to be immortalised. 

it was also I think the first print I ever made.  My brother had bought a tiny Durst enlarger from the local Op Shop and we set up a makeshift “darkroom” under our house - we had to climb up into an area with a bare dirt floor and just 4 feet to the roof, but nonetheless this this was a place of mystery and magic. 

I still remember my first smell of unprocessed photographic paper, the little red light, the way the blank paper went into the chemicals and then….. out of nothing emerged this image!!!  It was an extraordinary moment and even today I still love that moment, the alchemy of development.  Even now after making many many prints, the memory of the magic of that first moment is still very present. 

Making this portrait is a vivid memory.  I’d only ever seen portraits of people smiling for the camera - family snaps.  This day, with film I knew would be developed in just a few minutes, I took the camera into the garage, saw my father on the floor surrounded by car parts and immediately I saw this image in its own right.  I didn’t think, I didn’t ask him to get ready or smile for the camera, I just saw the photograph and made it.  Somehow that makes it more special to me.  Remembering these two significant moments, both in the camera and in the darkroom, such rich first experiences feels like a great blessing!