Don Kandel

Don Kandel

I am the one on the left – with the camera and back then – lots of hair!

In 1973 I started to get serious about photography. Like many kids growing up I had the small commercial cameras, and my Dad had an interest in photography too. In those days, you would shoot B&W pictures, and then if you wanted, do hand coloring – which he did very well. The milestone in 1973, when I was a junior in high school – I got my first Nikon – an F2. There was no stopping me after that. I had a lot of luck over the next few years that drew me more and more into the world of photography.

In 1973, I was able to get an internship with the Philadelphia Blazers, of the now defunct WHA, and was able to practice sports photography. In 1974 I was a stringer for AP and shot the Pocono 500 – Indy car race. In 1975 I did a lot of photography for Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey as part of a work-study program. When I transferred to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster PA, I shot for the paper and yearbook. In my senior year I had some great opportunities. I was the photography editor of the yearbook – and the campus was busy with some notable visitors – President Gerald Ford, actor Gregory Peck, film director Franklin Schaffner (Patton, Planet of the Apes – and the Boys from Brazil starring Peck and Sir Laurence Olivier shot in parts of Lancaster County.)

Upon graduation, I started a photography business doing weddings and events – and worked jobs to support my habit. This was fun – but in the days of shooting film, it was always an anxious time after an event was over and the negatives were developed. I was lucky – all my pictures came out – although not always as I wanted. I did a lot of my own work back then – which I do miss. Working in a darkroom and manipulating the picture was a lot of fun. (I do not, however, miss the chemical smell that seeped into my body!)

When marriage and kids came along, the amount of jobs I took were kept at a minimum. As they got older, they dwindled to almost nothing – just taking pictures for the fun of it and spending my time coaching – and of course taking the pictures for friends at their weddings, etc. Saved me from going onto their registry and buying gifts!

I have picked things up again since the children have grown – but would like to do more. Work gets in the way. I shoot mostly for pleasure – but still have had some great opportunities. In 2006 I was invited to shot a Gala in Hartford, CT for my sister’s non-profit. At the same time there was a reception for CT Senator Lieberman. Senator Dodd attended, as well as a junior senator from Illinois. I did the VIP shots of Senator Obama and those who paid for the meet and greet. The punch line here is that after 90 minutes of shooting, and we were wrapping up, he asked me if I would like one with him. Being the professional, I thanked him but declined – choosing to stay behind the camera. The rest is history.

I enjoy shooting nature for the most part and have revamped all of my equipment from film to digital. The greatest satisfaction now is watching my younger son do his work – MAK Photography. In college the bug bit him – and he has developed over the past 5 – 7 years. He has surpassed me in his abilities and the eye he brings to the art. I still have 90-95% of all the Nikon equipment I have ever owned – shared between myself and my two sons.

Don Kandel

1 Comment

  1. MimiMimi01-24-2014

    You have a wonderful history in photography! It’s really special that your son is expanding the experience.

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