Over the winter I have really enjoyed shooting Salisbury at night, particularly in bad weather – the combination of rain (not hard in the UK) and darkness makes for some interesting shots. I love deep blacks and strong contrast in my work, so the night seems a perfect time to shoot for me in many ways. Also, because of the lack of light, shutter speeds are much slower so the work takes on a more impressionist and loose quality. I really like this, as in my early days it was all about sharpness and tripods. Now, I much rather just shoot and see what comes out. More fun and much less restrictive!
I started photography seriously when I was 18 and shot for about 10 years before falling out of love with the medium (then, a couple of years ago, I fell back in with it again). In those days, I shot weddings and landscapes. I enjoyed the wedding work and did some of it again last year for the first time in years. It was still very enjoyable, though nowadays everyone seems to want to get in front of you to get the shot as well. Years ago, people seemed to respect photographers more – probably because everything was shot on film, which cost a fortune in comparison to snapping away with digital. When it was film I would probably take about 75 – 100 frames max, with digital – well what the hell you might as well shoot to justify the fortune that was spent on the Canon – 800 frames! Someone recently told me they shot over 3000 frames per wedding. I found scrolling through 800 shots soul destroying, I can’t imagine what would be left of your sanity after 3000 shots!
Nowadays, even though I have an pretty amazing digital camera, it mostly sits in the camera bag. I shoot mostly on film – going out with 2 rolls of film (of which I will use only about half of one roll per shoot) concentrates the mind more. Especially at £8 per roll with processing costs. The other difference is not ‘chimping’ like I have some form of OCD. You just shoot and move on, no point staring at the back of the camera as it only has a film speed dial on it.
At the moment I have about 70 rolls of film to develop, which is about 3000 frames. It’s taken me about a year to put this much work together – slightly longer than the wedding photographer’s shoot! Let’s just hope there’s something decent out of all those films!
Like most people who do photography I have tried to emulate others’ styles to learn both the technical and aesthetic parts to the medium. Overtime I have started to drop the idea of copying others and picked up the idea of just being myself. In the early days, I was driven by trying to get those beautiful and stunning images that we see all the time – you know glorious sunrises and all that. But, as time has gone on I have felt confident in dropping that stuff because it’s too much like what everyone else does. I am happy taking shots for my own satisfaction, rather than seeking ambiguous praise from others. Now my street work is becoming more free and less focused on the idea of dull technical perfection and what others’ would want to see.
In recent times I have started to make another change to my work by seeing shots as part as an overall collective or series, rather than in terms of single images. I love the idea of creating a narrative about the things that I see. This, for me, is where things are heading at the moment. But also, it’s a lot more fun tying images together to create a mood. It never ceases to amaze me just what can fit within a 36 x 24mm frame or sequence of them!
One thing that I tend to do is to over complicate things, to get ‘grand ideas’. Photography is something that I have done for years. Of course, like other aspects of my life I have tried to over complicate this too. However, I have found that things work best for me when they are just kept straight and to the point. Trying to be too clever, to cognitive, is something that I tend to have a bad habit of doing!
So, to counteract this tendency in me I am going to keep things simple. This website is an attempt to do this. I am hoping to keep my work simple in it’s focus. The most simple approach to the photography that I like doing is to just document life as it happens. So, even though the aim is simple, there will probably be a lot of complexity in it – as life tends to be complex, at least for me!