Surely it is a nasty, dirty, smelly procedure best consigned to the bucket of history? Surely digital is cheaper, easier, faster, more modern? And worst of all, film is analogue—well that’s just not right.
I photographed Kirsten as a part of the Gaia series, taken in 2009
The location was The PlashMill, in Friockheim, Scotland, where I then lived. It was August, and quite warm. I ended up standing in the lade — the stream you can see — in order to get better pictures. This seemed to amuse everyone greatly. Kirsten brought a chaperone — something I encourage strongly — who photographed me at work.
If you’re photographing the nude, there are two things you should do. The first is to obtain a signed Model Release form. This is not a legal requirement in the UK but it is in the the US and you will have no end of problems trying to sell work to that territory without one.
The second is the chaperone. You will be working with a young woman who will be in a vulnerable position since, after all, nude photography usually takes place in private. The presence of the chaperone will set the model at ease, especially if she is not a professional model (Kirsten was a student.)
The chaperone performs another, crucial role, however. She protects the photographer against accusation of improper behaviour — accusations which in the current climate could have very serious consequences. Also useful for making cups of tea and photographing the photographer!
These images were made using an MPP MK IV 5×4 technical camera with 150mm Schneider and a Bronica ETRS. Film stock was Ilford and Kodak.
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I began with this picture because it representated a departure for me, and a point when I began a long journey of investigation, which is ongoing. I had become fascinated by the effects of sunlight passing through foliage, and it gave me a completely new direction in terms of landscape photography. Instead of the broad, I began to focus on the intimate, and instead of the general, the particular.
I had walked past this scene many times and was waiting for the foliage to really wake up as it does in early summer, and before it becomes tired-looking. One day I realised that the moment had come and I went back to the car to get my gear. I used an MPP MkVIII folding 5×4 technical camera, which is a very similar beast to the German Linhof Teknica, but made by a company in London. These are really nice machines, and usually pretty cheap to acquire, much less than a Tek, anyway.
[paypal-donation] Continue reading “Early Summer at John Muir Park, Dunbar, 1990”
I grew up in a world where photography, especially monochrome photography, was synonymous with ‘truth’. That was never strictly accurate, of course, and as a photographer I knew the extent to which the truth can be manipulated. Nevertheless, as evidenced by the incredible work we saw every day in the newspapers of the 60s, which I consumed with passion while still at school, a photograph was regarded as an equivalent to reality; it was not just a representation of truth, but an affirmation of it.
“Look,’ it said, ‘This is a true thing; I stand witness to that.’ Even today, when PhotoShop has put tricks of the trade that I spent years learning at the click of an amateur’s mouse, photographs brook no argument. The leaves really were that green, the sunset that orange, the woman so perfect. Yet perfect beauty was never in the sorcery of the darkroom or the airbrush artist’s hand, nor is it in the magic of digital manipulation; real beauty is actually real. It needs no PhotoShopping or dastardly manipulation, only to be seen and known, and recorded.
The other part of my life, however, is very different from the ascetic artist whose delight is in the expression of pure form or idea. As a musician, I am by definition an entertainer. And my professional photographic career has been mainly in Photojournalism. Indeed, long before I immersed myself in Weston and Brandt I was mainlining Cartier-Bresson and Don McCullin. Continue reading “The Naked Truth”