The first proper camera I bought was a 1970s Olympus OM1n from London Camera Exchange in Southampton when I was at University in the 90’s It cost around £150 with a 50mm F1.4 lens. I had no idea what I was holding, but as an engineer, I quite liked it as a piece of mechanical engineering. I looked at the camera in my hands, but I didn’t really get what a camera was. In fact, I didn’t really get going with my second hand OM1 until about ten years later when I caught the photography bug and started really learning the art and craft of taking pictures.
After my little digital compact fell out of my pocket as I was riding my GSX-R1000 along some rather bumpy lanes outside of Chipping Ongar, Essex, I sought a replacement camera. This put me on the internet, and my eyes were opened. I had been taking pictures for quite a long time, but they were never anything more than snapshots of people, usually with a lot of visual clutter, and not really aesthetically pleasing. I have since bought several film cameras and various equipment, including medium format gear.
The decision has not been about cost. Goodness knows I have spent far more on film and processing than I would have spent on a Digital SLR. This experience has been about a relationship with film, and learning the art and craft of photography. A magical, beguiling, heartbreaking, ecstatic, relationship with film. When it all comes together, it is amazing. When it doesn’t, you want to go to a corner and cry.
Once I started actually looking at my photos, and critiquing them, my photography started to improve. As I educated myself more, read more books and started to expose and develop film, I became more discerning of what I liked in a good photo and what I didn’t. Call it composition, call it framing, call it whatever you want. The more photos you take, the more you get a feel for what it means to seize that moment of inspiration and create a great shot.
I liken photography to hunting. The photo is out there and you can make the shot, much like the wild animal that you are stalking, but your window of opportunity is slight, and you need to be prepared when you do take the shot, or you will miss completely, or you won’t get a clean kill. You need to have polished your shooting skills beforehand so that when it comes down to it, you can perform as required and nail the exposure.
I am certainly not putting myself out there as someone who thinks he is wonderful at taking pictures. I do not profess to be an expert in anything, I doubt I ever will. As Socrates said: “The more you know, the more you realise you know nothing”. My eyes are open in that regard.
That doesn’t stop me having fun exploring the contrast of light and dark, different colours and seasons that we are blessed with here in the UK. Without pain in life, we wouldn’t know pleasure, and without crappy photos, we wouldn’t be able to identify a really good one. Without a few thousand frames of film exposed, developed and assessed, my personal growth as a photographer would have gone nowhere.
I am no luddite, I embrace digital photography as much as the next iPhone bearing individual. But I am independent, and see myself as a unique individual, so I tend towards things which differentiate me from the rest. It is often hard to tell the difference between a photo taken with a £700 iPhone and the photo taken with an £700 digital camera. Where to next? I don’t know, but I do know it is going to be fun. I hope you enjoy the site.
Check out my Flickr account here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew_goodman/