Warren R Roll:
Roll's photography has an unusual and remarkably narrative style; his subject matter often conveying an immediate backstory and humor, or taking to the skies for sweeping ariel views.
He even invented a camera of his own, the Focus-Press 4x5. Basing his design on a wish-list of improvements culled from decades of field experience, the prototype featured innovations like easily-interchangeable lenses and auto-focus. Just before his invention could be brought to market, however, the industry as a whole pushed towards the 35mm format, and his invention, although ahead of its time in many respects, was shelved.
Photography was a life-long calling for Warren, and when he enlisted in the US Navy during WWII, he served as Chief Photographer's Mate in the Aleutian Islands and the greater Pacific Theatre. This required the rather dangerous assignment of flying over enemy lines in an effort to snap shots of ground and naval forces with an unbelievably huge and cumbersome camera (see photo). Although he continued in this capacity for years, later serving in the Korean War as well, he never had to shoot anyone with anything but a camera.
After this career of dodging anti-aircraft fire, Warren found himself a civilian again, and moved to San Rafael, CA, where he worked at the then-fledgling Independent Journal, Marin County's only newspaper for eight years. In 1956, Landing a Job With the Honolulu Star Bulletin he moved to Hawaii.
At his new post his photography as an artform flourished. Although still acting in a photojournalistic capacity, the subject matter was certainly less ordinary, and always framed with the all-saturating, paradisiacal splendor and beauty of Hawaii. Life there could often be imbued with surreal juxtapositions of the modern and the ancient, and of the familiar and the exotic. In this environment, his distinctive style evolved, as he found ways to bend the unblinking and often clinical camera lens to convey the very human situations he was capturing.
With Warren's passing in 2008 he leaves us with a rich collection of images and a clear window in to Hawaii's past.
Star Bulletin Links
http://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/06/10/news/story11.html http://archives.starbulletin.com/2004/08/22/features/index2.html http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/05/26/features/wood.html http://archives.starbulletin.com/2000/09/11/news/story10.html