Photography! Wow its one hell of a journey. I picked up a camera as a young boy over 40 years ago and it was like magic, a simple metal box but when you opened the back whilst pressing the shutter button you could see the shutter move! When you changed the aperture, the hole changed size, what was that all about? The image above is one of my mothers; I remember this image and many others from the huge collection of black and white images that my parents had collated over the years. I had images of me from a baby and could see my life in images. I thought it was amazing and even more amazing the image came from that little bit of light flashing through that hole.
It was simple back then, I used to save up for a roll of black and white film but whilst I was saving I used to get the free Truprint films and practice with the colour cheap film! By getting to know the people in the camera shops I would get film for free and every time I sent a film to Truprint I would get a free film back. I did not have a clue what I was doing but whatever it I was doing, I was getting lots of prints back and lots of negatives. It was not long before I could not cope with the wait for the black and white film to come back so I saved up and brought my first enlarger and a few trays and started developing and printing my own work. By this time I was shooting Ektachrome Transparency for colour and every type of black and white film I could get my hands on. It was a passion with no bounds. I had a Dark Room and a Studio in my parents loft and the future was bright. As I left school I wanted to be a Photographer.
I struggled at school due to my Dyslexia but Art and Photography were a welcome release. I managed to get some jobs shooting freelance as well as a few weddings and some events but people had a habit of not paying. This was quite difficult as once you had laid out for the film; processing and printing it all became very expensive. So a job was the only answer.
I carried on with my Photography but not with the same passion. I shot the odd wedding etc but then I lost nearly all my work in a house fire. I lost more than my images; I lost 90% of everything I owned. I still have a few negatives but nothing from my early years of mass shooting. Avery sad day, hours and hours of work all gone just as quickly as it was shot!
I slowed down after that and even though I still had a camera I hardly used it, generally just family and kids stuff with the occasional landscape and a sale here and there with a few images placed in image libraries.
I have always been able to shoot anything. This was always my problem in photography as people want a Wedding Photographer or a Portrait Photographer. I could shoot just about anything but I just wanted to shoot black and white and develop my own style.
I moved to Liverpool around eight years ago and gave my Nikon film camera to my son before I left Kent. The plan was to go digital and see how I felt about it. So I bought a Nikon D200 and hated the colour images. I then almost decided that digital was not the same and was just about to go back to film but found the black and white image files from the D200 were very nice. Hard to process to get the look I wanted but I stuck at it. The camera got a lot of use so I ended up getting a D300. Great little camera but the black and white files it created were not the same. I am not a technical photographer so can’t tell you why but they just were not the same, the tones were all wrong.
I was now struggling to process the files so just went out and got another D200. At the same time I was fighting with Photoshop to get the look I wanted in the time frame I needed. I had to find some software that worked for me and Lightroom was the answer. The early Lightroom was not great but it was easy to understand and the workflow was simple. I could process an image in 6 minutes in LR and the same process would take hours in PS so LR was the answer but I was still not getting my black and white images the way I wanted them.
But then I found Silver Efex Pro. This was a dream come true. I could now get the black and white digital files to look exactly how I wanted them to look. They even printed better than the images I could create in a wet darkroom. I was at last getting to the point I was nearly happy with my images.
Whilst getting to grips with processing my event work was picking up and my style was developing (pun intended) I was starting to enjoy photography again. I was now shooting with a pair of D3s bodies and using pro glass and looking for the sharpest and best image and everyone on social media was talking about sensors, cameras and the best lens etc and I got caught up in it all. I was confused. I was happy with a film camera shooting when I was 15 but now it wasn’t the same. Everyone appeared to be obsessed with the technical side of photography and I was only interested in my style and how the image made me and the viewer feel.
It was at that point I found ‘Street Photography’ was a perfect complement to my event work. It’s taken me back to my roots as a boy with a camera that no one notices taking shots of people. This was my first love, shooting people and telling a story. It was not about the technical side, burst rates, sensor size and functions it was all about the amount of light coming through that little hole and creating an image that made me feel happy. The same feeling I get when I look at old black and white family photos. My D3s was a weight around my shoulders and for many other reasons as explained in previous posts it was time for a change.
It’s no secret I fell in love with Fuji. I have spent my life looking to make my photography work for me again and Fuji combined with Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro made my style complete! I can now go out into the street with a camera I love and shoot all day. Have fun, have a laugh and make images I love. I never have to hear “look at the size of that camera” or “look at the size of that lens” again! With 20 kilos of Nikon kit it was hard work, even when I bought a Nikon D7000 and a 35mm lens to try and shoot street it was just not working. Once I got out there with the XPro1, it was like everything had all come together at once. The XPro1 with a 35mm lens is just about all you need for Street. I have the X-T1 and its great as well for Street but it’s a different style of Street. I use the XPro1 on a strap under my coat to pull up and shoot and the X-T1 I keep in my hands ready to shoot, all the time making use of the tilting screen for some very special candid shots. So, I now have two amazing little cameras that are the closest match I have ever found to the metal box I used to have. Yes, the best camera I had ever owned was the Nikon Fm2 but that all changed with the XPro1 at first, and now the X-T1 is a modern day version of the Fm2.
I have never seen so many comparisons between Fuji cameras and the other Pro gear out there. To be fair, stacking the Fuji XPro1 up against the Nikon D3s was quite interesting considering the D3s was a 3.5k Camera body and the X-T1 is getting stacked up against the D4 and the 1DX ! These cameras are over 4k just for the body, amazing to put a little £900 camera up against top pro cameras to make comparisons! But the funny thing is the image quality is stunning from the Fuji bodies! The Fuji glass is also stunning, sharp and is also getting compared to glass twice or three times the price. Wow! Well done Fuji!
I am not a technical photographer and sometimes I cringe on social media when people spend half their lives talking about sensors, frame rates and circles of confusion etc
I just love photography. Getting out there in the open air and taking pictures, making exposures and having a go. Photography makes me happy and if you ask Jane that’s not an easy task! I think people need to take their cameras out into the open air and just use them, have fun, play about with the functions, learn to see and learn to have fun. Don’t get bogged down with all the technical information, it’s a camera and it’s designed to make images. So go out and enjoy it!
If you are not feeling the passion in the brand of camera you are using then change the brand! You never know you might fall in love again!
Yes is me on the beach, I wish I was that age again !
The image above is what its all about for me those moments when it all just comes together, shot at the Bluecoat Liverpool.