Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Film Preservation Project Collection
Title: Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview II
Narrator: Eiichi Edward Sakauye
Interviewer: Wendy Hanamura
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 14, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-seiichi-03-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

WH: So, let's start with your filmmaking and photography. When did you start becoming interested in taking pictures?

ES: Well, when I was a youngster going to grammar school, a lot of boys after school had fun playing in the schoolgrounds or going home and playing with the neighbors. But the way I was raised, my dad needed every help that I can give him. So one of the promises he made, that he'll get me a camera and, "You can take pictures and record whatever you may do, and that'll be in the family album as long as you live." And I became interested in pictures because there were cameramen from Japan taking pictures of the Issei, what they were doing. So I thought, "Well, I can have a camera and take pictures, too, and have a little fun." So that's what started me to doing it. But my dad was, folks didn't have enough money to buy a camera, so they had saved S&H stamp, and they turned in the S&H stamp to get a folding camera, which was a Goodwin, little Goodwin camera, and that's how I started.

WH: And what were the first things you started taking pictures of with that little fold-up Goodwin camera?

ES: Well, there was no special interest. I had no, nothing in mind that I wanted to make plate pictures in or tell the story in, I just snapped it and took it, and have it developed and that's what it turned out to be. And I felt very good about it, so it just kept on going.

WH: Now, eventually, eventually you must have learned how to develop and print your own photographs.

ES: Well, that was in my college days at San Jose Teachers College, when the class, as an elective, offered photography class. And I started taking that, but it was only one-term course, so only thing you learn is just take pictures, develop pictures, and print pictures. So that didn't complete what I wanted to do, so I started taking night course. And when I started to take night course, I took night course at University of California Berkeley, Douglas Anderson. And I enjoyed that very much, then I ran into another instructor, a World War I veteran. He had told me how to take pictures through a buttonhole, overcoat buttonhole, what he did in World War I. So that's how I became quite interested, and from there on, on and off, I took pictures with my Goodwin camera. But as I progressed, that wasn't good enough, so I saved enough money through my allowance that I bought a folding camera and I bought a Recomar cut film camera, because you can do a lot of things with a cut film camera that you can't do with a folding camera. So that's how I started, little by little, I started developing my own, I found out that I didn't know enough about chemistry, because I had to be very careful with my temperature of my solution, also about the purity of the water. So I began to use distilled water, and being careful about temperature of my developing, and gradually I improved myself. But I became visiting partner with my dad, and that delayed my photography hobby. But I enjoyed it very much because I myself can enjoy it without any help from the outside.

WH: Now, how old were you when you first got that first S&H green stamp camera?

ES: I think I was around fourteen, sixteen.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.