Unflat doubt on Scn?
On The Bridge?
Gray Levett is one of the Scientology organisation’s Top 100 International Patrons. This essentially means he gives huge sums of money to Scientology.
Gray Levett is Back From The Front - Amateur Photographer - news
Monday 25th June 2007
I often reflect upon the odd things that shape one's life without one really knowing it. My interest in photography was ignited after I saw Michelangelo Antonioni's movie Blow-Up, in which David Hemmings plays Thomas, a successful, yet bored, English fashion photographer. The film has been described as a baffling, beautiful critique of the 'swinging London' of the 1960s. I have held Blow-Up in some affection since that time.
In my teens, my interests were broadly divided into music, photography, reading and film. I read voraciously and carried a camera wherever I went. In those bygone days I walked almost everywhere, often covering seven to ten miles per day. Walking enables you see things others speeding past in their cars do not. I took roll after roll of film, shooting rock bands in London's sweaty clubs, and then I would escape into the forests. I enjoyed myself immensely but had little idea what the future held except that somehow photography and music would, I hoped, become a part of it.
Blow-Up was released during an extraordinary period of cultural change. The music of the mid-1960s was new and exciting. One band, The Soul Agents, became local heroes, especially after introducing a new singer named Rod Stewart. Rod, himself, snuck my cousin and me into gigs in our hometown under the improbable assertion that we were roadies. I was determined to capture this atmosphere on film and reasoned that perhaps the equipment I desired might be more affordable if I worked in a camera shop.
My first job in the photographic world was at Hartle Photographic, a camera shop in Bournemouth. The proprietor was not only knowledgeable of cameras and photography but possessed an old-fashioned psyche that pursued with absolute conviction the concept of pre-Second World War methods of dealing with customers. He worked like a drill sergeant and put his staff through a similar regime, involving us in daily cleaning, dusting and presentation. He also demanded we show customers impeccable manners and unflappable professionalism at all times.
The hardest part of this apprenticeship was the daily quiz. He would walk up unannounced and say something like 'Focal plane shutter – definition?' If you lagged with your answer it was off to the nearest photographic dictionary, and you would go back and forth between study and reciting the answer until you had it right. This went on for nearly a year, and for the rebel in me it was a hard bullet to bite. Then about a year later, something unexpected happened.
I moved to London and went for an interview at a photographic store in W1. I was questioned intensively and my responses were immediate, confident and without hesitation. All my studying of photographic nomenclature and learning how to provide a professional service suddenly clicked. I realised that my much-cursed boss had given me a precious gift. He made me competent in a subject I had little prior knowledge in, and I was prepared to deal with nearly any query. Most importantly, he taught me that a full knowledge of one's trade and complete professionalism are tools that can open doors. The one thing I have noticed over the years is that the most successful shops have training programmes on these key elements as a matter of importance.
For the record my old boss's name was Mr. Hartle. He had a first name but I would never have dreamed of using it, and even today I cannot bring myself to call him by his first name. Somehow it would not be right. It might break just the spell.
Gray Levett is the co-founder of Grays of Westminster the exclusively Nikon dealer, as well as the editor of Nikon Owner magazine. He started his career as a photographer and his work has appeared on album covers, book dust jackets and in magazines all over the world. He has been involved with the Nikon brand since 1971 and is an acknowledged expert on the history of Nikon, having written extensively on the subject. He is a member of the London Press Club, the Explorers Club, the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Nikon Historical Society and the Royal Photographic Society for whom he has lectured.
Gray Levett | Grays of Westminster
The legendary award-winning Grays of Westminster is a charming period shop, specialising exclusively in Nikon. It offers what is probably the widest range of new and second-hand Nikon in the world. It is situated in a quiet location in central London and offers a fast and reliable mail-order service on any Nikon item - available to all world-wide destinations. Tax free shopping to non-European Community residents is also available.
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