Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RIP Marty Forscher, Patron Saint of Photographers

Readers who remember F-stops and finders and diodes will mourn with me Marty Forscher's passing. For over 40 years, he ran Professional Camera Repair Service in Midtown, founded in 1946 just down the street from LIFE magazine. Any photographer I worked with in my early ad days used him. Used? No. More like, he was their confessor. Generally regarded as the most sought after camera doc in the country, he was beloved by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Leibovitz and myriad others whose work he made possible. Even a strictly edited NY Times obit writer was allowed to wax eloquent:
To the supplicants who thronged his counter, and the others who placed frantic calls from obscure corners of the world at obscure hours of the night, Mr. Forscher was equal parts detective, diagnostician, conjurer and psychotherapist. Many photographers referred to him as the Savior. The more concision-minded simply called him God.
What I didn't know: Marty was also an inventor. He invented the Pro-Back, a Polaroid attachment for a 35-mm camera that gave photographers an instant proof print, allowing them finally (in 1982) to test a shot without having to develop the roll of film.

He also contributed to the 60s civil rights movement, begging cameras discarded by magazine staff, fixing them and sending them South where students used them to document images published around the world. When cameras were dashed to the ground or drenched by police fire hoses, Marty repaired them and sent them back.

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