Issue #166  11/12/2009
Marty Forscher, Camera Repairman, Passes Away in Pittsfield At 87

Martin Hubert Forscher, camera repairman extraordinaire, died on September 30 in Pittsfield, MA. He was 87 and lived in Pittsfield. The cause was heart failure.

For over 40 years, Marty Forscher ran Professional Camera Repair Service in Midtown Manhattan. Founded in 1946, the shop drew every type of photographer. Reportedly, the shop's clients included photographers Richard Avedon, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Leibovitz and Mary Ellen Mark.

But Forscher never neglected you no matter who you were, as New York photographer Susan McCartney told me, "I remember going to his always crowded camera repair shop when I was young and green and shooting with an old Pentax, and he paid me just as much attention as he did to the famous guy who was trying to push in front of me with a bag full of Nikons.

His best-known invention, patented in 1982, was the Pro-Back, a Polaroid attachment for a 35-millimeter camera that gave photographers an immediate proof print, letting them test a shot without having to wait for the film to be developed. He also created an early compact motor drive for still cameras and was well known for "armoring" cameras for dangerous work, including for war photojournalists.

In World War II, Forscher worked in Washington as a repairman for the Navy photographic unit run by Edward Steichen. After the war, he opened Professional Camera Repair Service.

Beginning in 1990, the Marty Forscher Fellowship has been awarded to students and young professionals specializing in humanistic documentary photography. The fellowship is given annually by Photo District News and Parsons New School for Design.