Margaret Lansdale

Taken from her book, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Darkroom."

"As a dedicated teen, I worked for a wedding press-agency with seven other photographers. In the course of our work we travelled all over Scotland taking along a portable darkroom in order to have finished B&W proofs (bridal and guests) by the time everyone rose from the dinner. Each photographer used approximately forty glass plates (3 1/4'' by 4 1/4") for convenience of processing and enlarging the wet negatives to 5" by 7" proofs. That was the advantage of glass plates. B&W negatives were used until the advent of colour."

"On what must have been the 'wedding of the year', five of our photographers were assigned to give full coverage to this major social event. With so much film to process, and the urgency to get proofs back to the reception, we all gathered in the main darkroom rather than in our individual processing rooms. All were silent in the darkened room as we unloaded our film, each concentrating on the job at hand. Suddenly WHITE light flooded the room and a tiny voice rang out: 'Tea anyone?'.... We were stunned in our tracks as hours of precious work was obliterated in that instant of light. No one had remembered to lock the door, and there stood the tea-lady in all her innocence! That numbing memory haunts me to this day."

"In my early days I was prepared for all emergencies, as I carried practically everything in my kit. On one wedding the bride arrived without her flowers; there would have been a lengthy delay to retrieve them and another wedding was scheduled to follow immediately. The Minister was pleading with the bride to proceed with her wedding but she would not start without her flowers. With all at a stalemate, I skipped out to the garden next door and gathered up flowers which I decorated with ribbons from my bag. On presenting the bouquet to the bride, she was quite delighted and consented to proceed with the ceremony. But the Minister gave me a thunderous look as he recognized his cherished PRIZE-WINNING ROSES. I am sure he could have killed me on the spot or, at least, blasphemed throughout the rest of the day."

"Being a lady photographer, at times brought its own advantages for the bride. I always seemed to be loaning my shoes to them, when they realized that they had left home in their slippers. I would end up padding about in the bride's slippers, while the bridal car was dispatched for the real shoes."

"I was quite elated when assigned to cover a distant wedding on an island across from Oban, in Argyleshire. After the train journey, I boarded a small boat for the final leg to the island. My enthusiasm quickly vanished as the choppy waters made me terribly sea sick for the whole trip. As I arrived at the wedding hall, the bride's father greeted me with the words: 'I have never seen such a white faced girl in all my life' and he thrust a large whisky into my hands to settle my stomach. For a non-drinker, on a much emptied stomach, that proved to be my undoing. As far as that wedding goes, the next thing I remember with clarity, was standing on the deck of the boat... HEADING BACK HOME! I can not remember shooting anything of the wedding. I agonized to think that I had muffed the job and failed my company. To add to my pain, I was deathly sick again. I languished in my misery the whole trip back to Glasgow and headed immediately for the darkroom to process the films. Praying for a miracle, I pulled the first test negative out of the hypo and to my utter amazement, the image was sharp, centered and properly exposed. I rushed the rest of the films through and they all came out OK. To this day, I thank my sub-conscience for having guided me in taking the pictures!"

"I was sent to photograph a Scottish Highland wedding in a lovely little stone church. Everything was fine as the organ commenced the march to signal the end of the wedding. I was using a large press camera with a focal plane shutter and as I prepared to take the first aisle shot... the shutter jammed! Absolute panic swept over me and I wondered why I ever chose to become a photographer. As usual, I asked God to get me out of this situation, but help seemed not forthcoming. In desperation and anger I banged the camera against the stone wall, and to my amazement the shutter released and came down. Breathing a sigh of relief, I captured the smiling couple as they reached the doorway. I had survived yet another day. So maybe HE did hear my prayer! For all the many crises, there seemed to be a new adventure every day with many a happy memory."


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