I was born in an era when digital photography wasn't yet invented and cut my teeth on black and white 35mm using my first camera, a Praktica MTL 5B SLR (which still sits on my office desk in full working order to remind me where I started). I learned from the age of 12 to hand process my own films and print them in a darkroom using an enlarger, developer and fixer baths. The whole process was and still is an amazing experience. There are so many of today's photographers that have missed out on such a truly rewarding process.
With the advent of digital photography I like many others at the time switched over to the new medium. It changed everything that had previously gone before. Time to produce a completed image went from hours to seconds and as storage capacity on media cards increased so did the volume of images I took. I no longer was constrained by the maximum 36 exposure 35mm film, instead could shoot hundreds of images at once if I wanted.
I continued for many years on this path until one day after a shoot with a model, having shot hundreds of images in a very short space of time I looked at them all after and felt like something was seriously missing. It was then that I realised it was the look of the image rather than the subject matter. Because of the advances in digital photography, I felt that there was almost a sterility in appearance to the imagery which was moving away from what I was trying to achieve.
Shortly after I bought a medium format film camera and started shooting film again. I kept my film and digital photography separate as it was like they were two completely different disciplines but gradually over time I started to realise that there were more and more instances where the two mediums could be combined.
As a Nikon photographer, I have a full compliment of Nikon Pro gear and when the opportunity to buy a barely used Nikon F5 at a bargain price presented itself, I jumped at the chance. This has allowed me to effortlessly combine film and digital photography. I know that 'retro' filters can be applied to digital images to give the appearance of film but they are incapable of accurately replicating the grain, texture, contrast or colour tones of legendary films like Kodak Portra, Tri-X or Ilford FP4 to name but a few. I also shoot with medium format film on some shoots and this has really allowed me to further develop my processes. Whilst I also retain a fully digital capability for many shoots, I try as much as possible to shoot with a retro style. I'm not trying to recreate images that have gone before, that would simply be plagarism and lazy. What I want to show in this age of upcycling is that we as photographers are capable of reusing old equipment, combining it with modern technology and methods and create beautiful images which evoke emotion, thought and discussion in our modern throw away society.
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