When the virus came on the world, no one knew what a drastic effect Covid would have on everyone. I know some people that passed not because they had Covid, but they had no access to medical facilities they needed to treat themselves.
Covid Outing Photography - July 2020
I have been shooting, developing and printing my film in 35mm and medium format for a few years now. I have been shooting large format or 15 years. I love the technical side of photography; my interest in large-format started as a desire to learn about these new types of cameras that I had never had access to before. I spent weeks reading about camera movements, learning how to meter using the zone system, understanding large-format focal lengths, and experimenting with the limited emulsions available in 4x5, 7x11 and 8x10.
What I like most about using these three formats is the slow, methodical process you need to have to make the most of the immense resolution and control that you have with them. I have, on occasion, set up, composed, focused, metered and taken a shot in 2 minutes flat. Still, it's the images where you can step back and contemplate about how each element affects the image that makes large-format so rewarding.
I also love how a sizeable wooden camera makes people come up to you and chat; it relaxes your subject and creates a conversation topic. With a DSLR pointed at your subject's face they become intimidated and freeze up, a large format camera has the opposite effect. Walking them through what you’re doing gains you respect as a photographer, not just someone who merely pushes a button.
The majority of large-format photographs I take are of beautiful vistas, the sort of thing that you would glance at on a wall painting or calendar then forget about. I wanted to start a project that would get me out of this rut and my comfort zone as a photographer. I tried to take images which showed narrative and character. I spent some time researching different photographers.
Finding the right subject matter took a long time; I wanted to photograph people who are often overlooked or taken for granted.
I get very anxious talking to people I don’t know, so starting a portrait/documentary project was a big personal challenge for me. In documentary photography, you have less creative licence than you would with fashion photography, for example.
If you can shoot on a fully manual 35mm camera like a Nikon D5 or a manual medium format camera like a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, then you can shoot on large format. When I first started, I made the mistake of thinking every image needed some movements. When you’re just beginning, I’d suggest you ignore movements and the camera up before shooting. If you can find someone who knows how to shoot large-format already then ask them to show you in person how everything works from film loading to cocking the shutter and setting apertures. If you are around or close to London, you can contact me, and I can show you the ropes. It’s always a lot easier to understand when someone is offering you physically. Learn and have fun, and remember that large format films are expensive.