Thank goodness for Time-Life subscription promotions.
If it wasn’t for that Hime Romero’s photos may never have graced the pages of the Manteca Bulletin.
Romero was in the seventh grade when his father subscribed to a magazine and got the basic plastic instamatic camera that was the “big thing” in photography for the masses long before the concept of digital turned photo shooting upside down.
His dad handed him the camera and informed Hime he was about to become “the official photographer for the family vacation.”
A year later his father gave him a Minolta X70 when he graduated as an eighth grader from Lincoln School.
Hime enrolled in journalism and yearbook at East Union High to further delve into photography.
His photography teacher at East Union advised him to try something else and told him point blank he wouldn’t cut it as a photographer. Needless to say, Hime didn’t get good grades from his photography teacher.
But Hime was determined to shoot photos for a living. His dream in high school was to work one day as a Sports Illustrated photographer.
Then two things happened. First, studio photographer Glenn Kahl - who is now part of the Bulletin staff - had Hime and a Manteca High student shadow him on a jobs day event. He took him along on a photo shoot and encouraged Hime and the other student as well.
The Bulletin photographer at the time - Sue Bowling -was trying to line up someone to fill in for her so she could go on vacation. She had seen Hime shooting at East Union games.
After that we had Hime shooting assignments as a stringer. He recalled coming in and asking for me to please provide him with a roll of T-Max 3200 film so he could shoot a Lancer football game.
An opportunity came up for us to hire Hime as a weekend photographer while he was still in high school.
Hime eventually needed a full-time job and went to work for Food-4-Less as a butcher. An incident that sliced his finger got him into rethinking what he wanted to do. He ended up working for the Tracy Press for five years before coming back to the Manteca Bulletin.
Virtually all of the photos you see accompanying this column were shot using a Cannon 70 camera equipped with a zoom lens going from 16 to 35 mm with a F2.8 aperture.
In a typical day he shoots 1,500 frames and then sorts through them to present prints of various options for the editors to select from for the next day’s Bulletin.
It’s a long way from spending time in the dark room developing film, making contact sheets, and then printing photos using an 80-dot line screen to allow for reproduction.
What was his most memorable shoot? Hime didn’t hesitate when asked that question.
“It was having the honor to cover the community showing its respect to (Marine Lance Cpl. Charles) Palmer,” Hime said.
Hime had covered six such solemn funeral processions for the Tracy Press but none had the outpouring that Manteca did when an estimated 4,000 people lined the streets to show their respect and gratitude for Palmer’s sacrifice.