The black background at Crown College, 1968-1970

As a young, pre-college kid, I started working as a photolithographer/photographer at a small-town society newspaper. In my last year there (I had declared I’d be moving onto the UCSC campus, so no more work) I was offered a free ad for my photographic services. I’d always taken lots of candids but felt I needed to up my game a bit, and bought a huge roll of black background paper. I wonder how I got it home. I took a couple pictures of my niece and nephew for the ad, which led to some wedding assignments (boy, that experience would need its own book). That fall I did in fact move onto the campus of Crown College, and as my parents were changing their home, needed to move anything I wanted to keep onto campus. The roll of paper went into a lounge of Leonardo House.

Henry Chu, a fellow resident, was also a budding photographer, and noting that in addition to the background paper I had also deposted a couple photographic lights, he suggested we find a girl or two, and take some pictures. Sly Henry already had one in mind—Joanna Picci, a student at Stevenson, I believe. We had a good session, and I see that a couple other photographers brought their cameras, too.

My own eye was on an Asian girl I’d seen at Crown, Shira Tokuno, and she was the subject of the next session. Somehow, sometime, a couple guys also ended up posing. Although studio photography is certainly not candid photography (my favorite), there’s something satisfying about the concentration on details of posing and lighting that have less place in candid photography.

I graduated and joined the Air Force, and Shira continued taking pictures after my graduation. Off in the Air Force, I had no place to take the black background so she continued to use it the next year (1969-70). This was when she took the photos of Mary Hill, Grace Yonemoto, and Marci Laddon that appear below. The black background is probably still in some Crown lounge, fifty years later.

Some photographs of Crown classmates

Photos by Michael Broschat and Shira Tokuno

Jim Crane

Joanna Picci

Shira Tokuno

Elaine Chu

Grace Yonemoto

Marcie Laddon

Mary Hill