Retro-spective

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This little camera was one of my first real cameras. I think it was a gift when I was around 11 or 12.

I was obsessed with photography, you can see this from the marks aside the lens. These are the remnants of velcro strips which I attached to fix on my home made filters – plastic and coloured acetate.

Having recently started shooting film again, I thought I’d bring this one back into service. I’m planning on making the film currently inside the first I develop myself at home. Perhaps some of the results will make it online.

This camera brings mixed feelings for me.  As well as being my first proper camera, it’s also the last camera I used between the my teens and my mid thirties.

I used it for a photography project at a youth organisation. Part of this meant receiving feedback on images I’d taken. I remember taking in my little book of prints to show the class. I was especially proud of a couple of shots and waited with great anticipation for the leader’s comments.  Unfortunately for me, these comments were not altogether positive. And constructive criticism was more than my 12 year old mind could handle.

I don’t think I lifted up a camera much again, for the next 20 years.

In my thirties, I began taking photos with a phone and reveived encouragement, especially from my wife, to start shooting again.  This has developed into a fulfiling hobby accompanied by a thicker skin to critics.

Sometimes I get to speak to groups of children about photography and I take the opportunity to encourage them to keep going despite knock backs.

A superior type of auto?

I recently became the proud owner of this lovely wee camera. I’ve spent hours pouring over similar specimens online and also incredible refurbished versions such as sold by Tripman. I finally purchased this from the veritable Aladdin’s cave of secondhand cameras that is Ffordes.

Here’s the thing. It’s a fully automatic camera which chooses the exposure for you, all you have to do is choose the correct zone focus setting. When using it I’m not the least concerned by this, in fact it’s quite freeing. But then creeps over me slight uneasiness at my feelings of pride and superiority when I lend a mft camera to a family member who always requests it set to intelligent auto mode.

Shame on me for this double standard, as if replacing a digital sensor with film suddenly makes auto mode more ‘technical’.

Photography & Mental Health

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There’s an interesting article in the most recent Amatuer Photographer magazine on photography and mental health (‘Photography saved my life‘ Saturday 24th Feb 2018). It discusses the benefits of photography for those with anxiety and depression.

It has certainly been my experience that photography often helps to create calm and peace when anxious thoughts are spiralling.  As the article mentions, there are also opportunities for photographers to put too much pressure on themselves and I have occasionally found this with unfruitful attempts at street photography.

But normally, time spent walking and observing; looking for interesting shots, people or places, is therapeutic. The requisite focus, singlemindedness and awareness of your surroundings, can be a great remedy to anxiety or excessive introspection.

 

 

 

 

Film

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Since discovering digital photography well into my thirties, I’ve wondered why some luddites would still work with film.

But now I know. I get it!

There’s something magical about the feel of the shutter click and manually winding on the film. After the first few shots I looked at the back of the camera to inspect the image. But now I’m enjoying not knowing.

Things that bother me in a digital image I now welcome; I like the grain and the slight loss of crispness when shooting film.

Although, I’ve not gone completely manual. I’m using an OM10 without the manual shutter dial – essentially shooting in aperture priority. For purists, I suspect this is still cheating!

Pay per view

Interesting development, an Italian town has begun selling permits for commercial photography (Here). Apparently some locations in the USA have smaller charges.  As an amateur who occasionally sells photos I’m not sure about this. Towns have to pay bills but is commercial art so easy to police? And should it be licensed? Will they charge painters too? What about images use, taggged or linked to commercial accounts? As the article indicates, how do you identify commercial photographers? In my own town the local authority often use images of the skyline featuring buildings owned by charities and trusts that receive no recompense despite their maintenance of popular landmarks. Should the local authority pay a license for such imagery? Where will the monetising of public space end? 

Wedding

I recently had my second opportunity to take photos at a friend’s wedding. This time I was slightly less nervous and actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However it renewed my respect for those who do such work professionally.

Although it may not be warzone photography, or magnum agency reportage, the stakes are high.

Here are a couple of my favourite images.

As I think of pro wedding photographers, I must admit that I have found them incredibly encouraging. On the occasions we have been able to chat, they have been happy to share advice.