Movie Snap, Libertad Baybay. Pen and ink on 14"x17" Paris paper.
Who knew that today, my childhood friends and I would be recalling our summers at Movie Snap? The area was named after my father's photography studio which was also our home. Yes, I was born and grew up in a house with a name, but unlike the grand mansions of the rich, ours was a very humble abode made of new and old materials recycled by our father from our previous home on Smith Street which was burned during a city fire before I was born. I spent my first ten years of life in this place, the happiest childhood in memory. The home was my fortress, my refuge and playroom. In it, with my brothers and sisters, I felt loved, nurtured and protected which emboldened us to face together whatever the outside world offered. I could not think of a more idyllic and ideal childhood, yet I knew it was not easy because we had limited financial resources. My father worked long hours at his downtown studio and late nights in our home with my mother's help. I remember the dark room which was located in the middle of the house. A long dark passageway led to an even darker room which although without air-conditioning and considering we lived in the topics was very cool. The room smelled of chemical fixers. Sometimes my father let us go inside the dark room to help him. My younger sister and I did minor chores but he also taught us how to develop the negatives, use the blotter and trim the photo prints. Mostly we played with the film spools which ranged from miniature sizes to gigantic spools used in photostats. This was before the age of Xerox copiers and scanners, before computerized photo prints. This was during the time when each photo print was meticulously processed and inspected. My father had very high standards which sometimes made the chores tedious. Fifty-six years later, looking at the quality of my childhood photographs, I understand why he refused to take shortcuts.