Conversations on Olympus

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. It is also the most revered, as home of the gods. I am sure it would be safe refuge from some of the money mongers who have dug Greece into debt. Perhaps they should just let those innocent of any financial misdoing live there peacefully with the gods; the small space would be big enough for those few.

Olympus is also a brand of Japanese camera. I bet if you could analyse camera purchases by Greeks and the Greek Diaspora you would find that if they did have a camera, it was an Olympus. Greeks are funny that way, anything that can vaguely be traced back to Greek roots is accepted. For instance, did you know the original Mini was designed by a Cypriot?

I feel the tug especially with artists; I have books by Greeks who live in the States and feel connected, and listen to music by Muslims of Cypriot origin, and feel connected.

My father had many Olympus cameras. He started with a compact 35mm camera called a “µ”, a Mju. This was the greatest compact camera ever. Small and tough, with an oyster shell of plastic and the clearest optics. I had one as well. He then migrated into the digital era quite early, even before me, and after a Kodak camera ended up with the  digital Mju.

I had an OM1, a small light manual SLR first released in 1972. I bought it second hand in 1981. I still have it, half the size of my current cameras but with so much more design in its simplicity.

My father loved photography from a  young age. He had a Brownie camera when he finished school and developed his own film and printed at home in a makeshift darkroom. There is no doubt he encouraged me to make pictures as well, but never really bought me any camera equipment. He gave singular unwavering support to my studies; for instance I had a nice new Olympus microscope to study pathology specimens in case I was to become a famous pathologist. And all the latest textbooks. But I wasn’t studying photography, because that was a bit like game ranging and wasn’t a real job. So no camera. My brother, on the other hand, gave me a .375 H&H Magnum rifle for my 21st to use in the bush.

I used to borrow a camera from a friend and take pictures at school sports events. I would print and develop them in my darkroom at home and sell them. My biggest income was from A 2 prints of new houses that were for sale. Once built, I would take pictures and sell them to my father for display in the window of the estate agency downstairs from the office.

Come to think of it now, I should have studied photography in those days, even without support.

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