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John S. Krill - Photographer
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Writer's Life

Who Is John Krill: editor@photoessayist.com

Born in Brooklyn, New York but grew up in Burbank, California. Roger Kahn maybe thought the Brooklyn Dodgers were The Boys Summer but the Endless Summers defined southern California in the 1950s.

I was not an athlete or a geek. Didn't have geeks in the 50s. Did have friends and we all roamed freely around Burbank, riding our bikes over Barham Blvd into Hollywood, hiking the hills above Burbank and trying to sneak into the back lots of the movie studios. And it was fun. Didn't feel the presure that today's teenagers claim to have.

School was school. There wasn't any pressure to excell until the stupid Russians launched Spudnik. From then on it was math and science. Schools weren't ready for it and we just didn't care. That endless summer thing.

Beach was 2 hours away. No Ventura Freeway to get you quickly to Zuma. So the beach was only on the weekends when someone's parents would take us. Then when dad took his vacation it was to the beach. Mother grew up on Long Island and Jones Beach was her summer hangout so here in California it was first Newport Beach and then Carpinteria. In the 50s there was no limit on how long you could stay. Every 3 weeks you just went and signed up for another 3 weeks. That ended with the reservation system.

In high school I was a marginal student. Got C's with a couple of D's and a few B's and A's. College was no different - marginal. The problem was parents wanted an engineer and I didn't. For me it was photography. Problem was I didn't have the balls to do it. So instead I just dropped out.

In '64 I said to hell with it and traveled up the coast to San Fransico. Lucked out and got a job my first day in the city. Schafer's Camera store. Rented a studio apartment on Hayes St. 3 blocks form the Opera House. Bus cost 10 cents. Didn't need a car. Had mine stolen because I never drove it.

In early '65 got a notice from the draft board to get a physical. Had to go back to L.A. for this. I knew I was going to get drafted so I moved back to Southern California. Ended up in the Marines.

As a Marine I was marginal. One of the reasons I joined the Marines was to get to Vietnam and while there carry my Nikon and photograph what was happening around me. Then use that experience to get a job that would take me back as a civilian photographer.

I didn't join the Marines on condition they make me a photographer but they did anyway. As a photographer I was very good. Loved doing it. So for 4 years I lived and breathed photography and just maintained as a Marine. Problem was it took 3 1/2 years to get to Vietnam and was in country only 5 months. Go figure.

Right here I should say that I am proud of my tour in the Marines. I have no regrets. I would do it again.

When I was discharged from the Marines in June 1969 I didn't want anything to do with Vietnam. If I had I probably could have gotten a job that would have taken me back but not wanting to see that place again made it tough to get a job in photojournalism. I wasn't a minority and I didn't know anyone in the business. After a couple of years of frustration I said the hell with it.

In 1973 I went to Control Data Instutite to become a computer hardware technican. I did. And I was very good at it. Never gave up photography but never made any money from it. So for 30 years I was repairing computers. First big iron then mini's and lastly crapy miros. Haven't done any computer repair for several years.

Now it's back to photography. What changed? The technology. As an independent photographer you no longer need outside support. You can do everything yourself except the mass printing.

Still haven't got a digital camera but I'm considering it. If I do get a digital camera it will not be a high-end reflex camera with multi lenes. Why? Because the web can't take advantage of the higher quality that those cameras produce. A high end point-and-shoot digital with do nicely.

Consider the Canon S80. It has an 8 megapixel CCD. The lens with go from 28mm to 100mm (35mm camera equilevant.) For this photographer the wider angle is more important than a long telephoto.

All those years in computers didn't go for naught. I am very much a ease with computers and I have used Windows since 1986. Version One.

Now I have to take all that knowledge of Windows software and hardware and my 50 years in photography and put it to work. We will see.

John S. Krill

Non-Fiction Books
Dispatches
Lost Over Laos
Vietnam: The Other War
Fire In The Lake
The Best and the Brightest
On Photography
Robert Capa
The Life of My Choice
Men To Match My Mountains
Gods, Graves, & Scholars
The Elements of Style
Blink
It's (Mostly) His Failt

Photo Books
I Protest!
Vietnam Inc.
Larry Burrows: Vietnam
Robert Capa Photographs
Minamata
Great Photographic Essays From Life

Fiction Books
Walking The Dog
Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and other disasters
Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil

Movies
Le Mans
Full Metal Jacket
Fried Green Tomatos
The Apartment
Point Blank
Two Lane Blacktop