PhotoChat; The First Time

PhotoChat is a weekly conversation between Photography Pro’s and Amateurs that takes place on Thursdays at 1PM EST hosted by Prime Social Marketing. To follow the conversation or take part use #Photochat on Twitter.

This blog post covers my longer answers to the questions that are condensed then put into tweets for the Photochat.

Q1: How old were you the first time you picked up a camera? Do you remember where you were and who the camera belonged to?

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I don’t remember the first time I picked up a camera, most likely it was, my dad’s. I remember as a child there was a 16mm camera that took cartridges as well as a Lubitel. Though it may have also have been my grandfather’s camera, that I still have, a Mamiya 135 and still a great little camera.

Q2: What was the very first camera you used? Do you think it impacted the way you shoot today?

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One of the images from the Utah Beach panorama series 1999

The first camera I used was a point and shoot Pentax with a fixed lens. The Pentax was limited but made you think outside of the box. When on a school trip to France visiting Utah beach, I wanted to capture the whole beach as a panorama, I did not have a wide enough lens for where we were so I shoot a series of images that when printed at the local photo lab could be laid out to create a panorama. Really the camera made me see that although there is a limitation in equipment you need to find a creative way around the limitation. This camera was also introduced me to double exposures. I had at times forgotten that I had used a film and I would put the film through again. Although accidental some of the images were really interesting.

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Creative Double Exposure 2006

The first camera I used when I started to take photography more seriously was a Nikon F2 35mm with a 50mm lens. This camera was second hand and really impacts on me now that you don’t need the latest and greatest cameras to create good images.

Q3: What made you pick up a camera for the first time? What did you first take pictures of?

What made me pick up a camera was actually not picking up a camera but going in a darkroom. In my first year of college I dropped out and really wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. I had a few friends who were studding photography and I would spend time in the darkroom with them. The darkroom was a magic place where I found I could explain myself and my thoughts through light and chemicals.

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One of my first prints scanned

At the beginning of the new academic year I made a new application to study English Literature, Philosophy, Politics and Photography. Once I started studying and picking up a camera more seriously than the happy snaps I took previously. My first images where landscapes Cornwall, where I lived in with many subjects being beaches and the surrounding coastline as well as the rugged landscape left from the clay mining in the area. I also took portraits shot in run down areas which was more a reflection of the music that I was listening to at the time. All of my work was in black and white shooting mainly with Ilford film.

Q4: Was a particular person responsible for your introduction to photography, or was it a self-motivated curiosity?

I am not sure if it wasn’t both. Firstly as I said I had dropped out of my first year college and not having much to do and my friends still in college I would drop in on their classes and as long as I was quiet I could sit in the back of the class. Colin, the lecturer, was really good at explaining how to create an image but let you experiment and have your own ideas. In the end the final push that got me motivated was a documentary I saw, while considering reapplying to college, about the work of Ansel Adams. I wanted to create images that made people stop, look and think.

Q5: Was your first attempt with a camera successful? What frustrations were associated with your first time shooting?

First time putting a roll of film into my Nikon F2, it was part of my photography class; I had to shoot just one roll of film, of anything. The assignment was to learn the process of shooting and then developing. The all was fine shooting but the film got stuck when I tried to rewind the film back into the canister. In the end I opened the back and exposed the film.

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Two Strips of negative from my second roll of black and white film after exposing the first.

My biggest frustration at the beginning was having to wait to see the images I had taken. My second frustration was not always having what I saw or my imagination transferred to the film. I learnt from these frustrations. Part of the magic with photography is the wait and anticipation in seeing the image. I also learnt that taking a picture is only half the work. The darkroom is where the image really is transformed into what you want it to be.

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My final project at the end of my first year of studying photography at college 2003. The project was of portraits of rooms in a bedsit. Every room has its own personality, with the personality of the tenant being temporary layer. (Prints Scanned)

I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

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3 thoughts on “PhotoChat; The First Time

    • I couldn’t believe I still had a print of it. I knew I had the negatives but when i found the print I sent me back in time. They are hymn and prayer books in a church if memory serves me right.

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