The summer before beginning 5th grade I spent several weeks at a camp in Pennsylvania’s Poconos where photography was offered as part of the camping program. It was through these classes that I got my first real taste of what photography is all about. We made a pin hole camera and took photos that we later developed. We also experimented with adding various lens, exposure and developing techniques. For me, perhaps the most interesting part was tearing down an old Kodak box camera to see how it worked, and then putting it back together so that it did work. I mention all of this because it was during 5th grade I met A. Aubrey Bodine. Unbeknown to me, Bodine and my father were acquainted, and with my budding interest in photography my father arranged for me to meet him at his studio. In his graciousness, Bodine presented me with an autographed print of one of his photos. Year’s later, in the ’80’s I had the opportunity to visit the Bodine gallery in Annapolis. The gallery was being run by a family member, Bodine had passed away some 15 years before. During our conversation I shared my story with her and mentioned that to my chagrin I had lost the signed photo that he had presented me with. As I was getting ready to leave, she said reached into the files and pulled out a signed print of “Oyster Dredging (1960).”
A. Aubrey Bodine is considered one of the finest pictorialists of the twentieth century. While not exclusively, his subject matter was frequently urban Baltimore. Bodine’s photographic career began in 1923 when as an office boy for the Baltimore Sun he submitted photographs of the Thomas Viaduct at Relay to the editor of the Sunday paper, which were subsequently published. Bodine was at his heart a newspaperman who covered breaking stories, “writing” about them with his camera.
Believing that photography should be a creative discipline he submitted his work to national and international exhibitions, often taking top honors. Many of his photographs were composed solely through the viewfinder, but just as many were re-created in the darkroom, working with dyes, intensifiers, pencil marking, and even scraping to produce the effect he had in mind; in some cases even adding elements such as clouds to the original. In so doing, Bodine said he saw himself as a painter; the subject was the merely the model from which the painter selected the features which best reflected the hoped for atmosphere. It has been said that Bodine did not take a photo, rather he made a picture.
Ref: Bodine: A Legend in his time (complete online transcript of the book)