The Leica camera fit well in her hands. It was so sleek compared to her old Brownie. She was an amateur photographer studying photo journalism. She’d been told the Leica would be a good camera to start her career with. She couldn’t afford a new camera; her aunt, while touring in Europe, picked up the camera for a song. Things in Europe after the war were still tight; each country picking up the pieces the best they knew how.
Though she had no manual, Terese instinctively knew how to use the camera. “Now if I can shoot something that I can get in a newspaper – any newspaper.’ There were so many times she wished she had been a man. So far she had been sent out to shoot a modeling session, back stage when the ballet came into town, a business grand opening. She wanted to be in the ‘seedy’ parts of town when “all hell broke loose.”
As she stroked her Leica, she dreamed of getting the perfect shot that would grace the cover of Newsweek and gain her notoriety. Something she was noticing; she was getting her photography in her university’s paper weekly and the Examiner had a few of her best – not on the front page. Not yet.
“We will do this won’t we?” – She said sweetly to her Leica.
She always felt her Leica had a personality of its own; she included it in her plans.
A magazine contacted her editor and asked if they could use several of her shots from a story she had covered about demonstrations. Then it happened – she was shopping in the Haight district when there was a huge drug bust. She captured the police and the hippies in a tangle. ‘Too bad you can’t capture odors’, she thought. “The air reeked of pot.” Newsweek wanted the story; she, alone, had the full story in pictures. It wasn’t the cover of Newsweek. Not yet.
She was developing some of her pictures from a recent tour of historical houses and buildings in San Francisco. She always developed her own photos. If she messed up, no one to blame but herself. “These aren’t mine,” she fumed as she looked at pictures of people standing in a line. “They aren’t even this era. Where did these come from?” Her curiosity got the best of her as she developed the negatives.
The pictures, a dozen of them, told a story of people wearing ragged clothes and stars on their sleeves. Hundreds were lined up, along the edge of a ditch, in a forested area. Cars were on the edge, of the scene, with swastikas on the car doors. She gasped “genocide.” When she was finished, she hung up the pictures on her drying line to tell the story. One of the pictures was the face of a man as blood spurted from his head. He didn’t have a star on his sleeve but he was wearing a badge. She couldn’t read what it said. She blew up the picture. It had a name: Thomas Dewy- London Times. “Could this have been the original owner of her Leica?” she thought as a cold shiver embraced her- leaving none too soon.
This was not the last time her haunted Leica gave her pictures of the atrocities of WWII; in the end she was able to help chronicle the terrible scenes of the Holocaust with the help of her endeared friend. Teresa not only got her dream of a cover shot on Newsweek; she always seemed to have the best shots of “history in the making.”
When her husband bought her a brand new Olympus for her birthday, she smiled warmly then patted the Leica around her neck. She didn’t need a new camera – Not yet.
Little did she know, when she was starting out, that her Leica Thambar 90mm would become a rare collector’s item. Only three thousand of them in the world. Her little Leica was rarer; a one of a kind camera.
This week’s theme is camera. For more great stories go to Theme Thursday
Photo from Leica Gallery