All images by Jack Sharp. Used with permission from Dylan Scalet.
“I was told he fully embraced anything he ever took interest in,” explains Dylan Scalet to the Phoblographer in an email about his grandfather, Jack Sharp. “That meant when he took up Photography, he did all the research. Understood the mechanics of the camera, the science behind light, and the alchemy of the darkroom.” Mr. Sharp was a British engineer by trade at the famous CERN laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland, but was an avid photographer in his free time between 1950-1970. And by the looks of the archive tMr. Scalet sent us, his grandfather had a serious love of street photography akin to that of Vivian Maier and Pierre Crocquet. This isn’t too far off from what many of us do today–but the gear and how we do it is far different. Jack also came from a time where one really shot for themselves instead of Instagram likes. And that’s evident in the images.
Mr. Sharp was apparently a born engineer. As Dylan tells us, he devoted himself to whatever interested him–so much so that he wrote guides, manuals, and notes on everything he learned or discovered. This sense of curiosity is surely what lead him down the street photography path. Jack was also quite the gentleman; he sometimes even asked for permission for the images! How many street photographers do you know who do that these days?
Phoblographer: What cameras and lenses did he use?
Dylan Scalet on Behalf of Jack Sharp: I have inherited one of his cameras, which is the Asahi Pentax. As for lenses, it remains a mystery. I get clues from his photographs where I occasionally see different gear used in a reflection. It’s great to be able to shoot through a camera he once owned, definitely a prized item for me.
Phoblographer: Do you have any particular memories with your grandfather and his love of the craft? Maybe you went into the darkroom with him or something?
Dylan Scalet on Behalf of Jack Sharp: Unfortunately, I was born a year after his passing, so I never had the pleasure of getting to know him. I grew up in a household where my mum would have his photographs around the house, and I was always naturally drawn to them, this sparked conversation and hearing stories of what he was like. In a strange way, I’ve been getting to know him and building my own memories with him by scanning his work and uncovering snippets of where he has been and what he has seen. I feel like I’ve got to know him in such a truly unique and intimate way.
Phoblographer: What do you think made him want to shoot the images he did? Did he ever really interact with his subjects, or was he more of an observer? Was he introverted or extroverted?
Dylan Scalet on Behalf of Jack Sharp: Due to his natural curiosity in everything, he was always going to experiment and explore different styles. However, it seems apparent that he got the most joy from capturing moments of life itself or simply family. He definitely put himself in moments where he invaded people’s space, asking for permission (and probably sometimes not) but also took shots from a safe distance. It’s hard to decipher if it was intentional to capture moments differently or if he had a preference.