Learning something new


I’m quite a traditional photographer. To the surprise of many who see me working, I still expose my digital images the way I shot transparency film: carefully and with a hand-held meter. In this way, I’ve always had a problem with photographers that shoot real life and then work on their files afterwards to create a different, almost hyper reality. For photojournalists I find this very difficult to deal with and, as I’ve said before, I believe it can create a serious problem of authenticity and voracity. I find myself however at a stage of my career where I want to learn new things. I also find myself increasingly shooting personal projects with an eye to more commercial markets. Recently I’ve been trying to learn how to create a look that I feel happy with and that I can manipulate for a new project (that’s under wraps for now). After some deliberation and a lot of help from my friends – I have something I’m happy with. This may not be a very big step for some – very old hat to some people – but for me it’s an enormous one.

And it’s always good to learn something new. When was the last time we can honestly say that we have?

I won’t be shooting anything serious like this (in the sense of documentary work) but I may change and evolve a new process to reinvigorate things a bit on another front. Old dog/new tricks. Here’s one I made earlier.

What do you think?




An old man working as a scribe outside a shop in a Jaipur Bazaar, Jaipur, India
India – Jaipur – An old man working as a scribe outside a shop in a Jaipur Bazaar


and after

An old man working as a scribe outside a shop in a Jaipur Bazaar, Jaipur, India
India – Jaipur – An old man working as a scribe outside a shop in a Jaipur Bazaar


The light…



India - Jaipur - A man walks through the streets of the Old City at dusk


I have just finished a lovely four day travel assignment in one of India’s most tourist-heavy cities, Jaipur. Ironically I was tasked to write and photograph about the quiet spots, the quirky and the unusual and I’m pleased to say that there were many. I stayed an extra day and a half in order to edit and write the piece and on the last afternoon, took myself out to shoot on the streets. I always used to do this kind of work on Leica’s and tranny. That process was very freeing but I find it incredibly difficult these days to shoot this kind of work on DSLR’s. Perhaps it’s just me but one looks so much like a photographer that the process becomes a cliche: two big heavy cameras with two big heavy prime lenses. A long way from the classic rangefinder. It is more than that however – purely in terms of seeing, those little cameras allowed you to examine spatial relationships through the viewfinder. You could pre-focus and just walk into the picture. I feel very removed when I try to do these kind of things with my current kit. There’s a sort of rhythm that works on the street and it’s really difficult to do with such a big, noisy machine pressed to your face. I have, over the years in India gone back to my M6 rangefinders as it’s still relatively cheap and easy to process film here.  However, then you have the laborious task of scanning – a process which, after spending the best part of two years feeding my archive (in the form of little plastic squares) through various machines, I’d rather die than attempt again. The irony is of course that I used to be sponsored by Leica (and Kodak for that matter) but who, apart from dentists (meaning rich hobbyists) as Simon Norfolk said a few years ago can afford a couple of M9’s? Or perhaps I’m just not working hard enough…