This post originally appears on Mr. Holga’s website (www.mrholga.com).
A long time ago in at a Comic Con not so far away … I had the grand opportunity to meet and photograph Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in all the Star Wars movies. Mr. Mayhew taught me a very valuable lesson that every photographer should know: always ask before you take someone’s photograph.
I first met Mayhew at the Sci-Fi Expo at the Plano Convention Center in Plano, Texas in October 2005. I had gotten into film photography about a year earlier. My primary camera was a medium format Rolleicord V. This was before I fell head-over-heels in love with Holga cameras. I was lucky to get any good shots at the time. My Rollie required lots of measuring, setting, focusing and a steady hand, so I relied a lot on a tripod for shots.
Before I actually talked to Mayhew at the signing table, I had set up my Rolleicord on its tripod and set the aperture and shutter speed. All that was left was a little focusing and a press of a button.
Now, if you have never met Peter Mayhew, or you are not familiar with Chewbacca from Star Wars, let me say he has a grandiose presence. Mayhew stands 7 ft. 3 in. (2.21 m.) tall. He has a dark, bushy mane of hair, a strong jaw line, long arms and large hands. In one word: intimidating.
As I was about to trigger the shutter, Mayhew leans forward and says, “What … are … you … doing?” He clinched his hands, raised his arms and put a stern look on his face.
In hind sight, I would ask the very same question. Here was a stranger (me) setting up some type of camera (which had not been used in nearly 40 years) on a tripod. In short, what the heck was I doing.