We get a lot of photography-oriented articles but this one is our recent favourite. Robbie gives a very honest outlook on photography and his journey... a lovely read! Enjoy :)
I have always enjoyed creating images, whether it is moving image or stills photography, it has been a passion of mine for close to 10 years now.
My first camera was a Canon 60D and I went about it how any new photographer would and started taking photos of anything and everything. I wasn't overly concerned with the principles of photography in the beginning; I knew how to compose an image, that seemed to come naturally,
but the technical side didn't matter to me at the time, I just went out and shot whatever I felt like and enjoyed it.
I studied Media at college and Visual Media at university, but my interest at the time was moving image and filmmaking. I actually dropped photography at college as I wasn't interested in it... seems silly now really.
I spent my first few years in photography navigating the waters, teaching myself the technical side of it and churned out some good images, but mostly just enjoying the photography.
In 2016 I made a considerable investment and upgraded to professional gear with the intention of making a living out of photography full-time. I shot a few family portraits and a handful of weddings,
sold a few images here and there but it just wasn't doing it for me. I wasn't enjoying what I was shooting and you need to have that passion otherwise it doesn't reflect in your photography. So, I continued to shoot little bits and pieces of commissioned work but inevitably I dropped the idea of being a pro and stuck to being an ametuer.
Not long after that, I became somewhat disillusioned with my photography and started to lose confidence in my ability to produce good images. I felt as if everything I put out was lacklustre
and I would always look at others work and compare my own to it, which only served to make me feel worse. Relying on 'likes' on Facebook and Instagram to value your images can be detrimental. It forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate my photography. I needed to take some time away from it, work out what I wanted to achieve, find my own style and build upon it, but I wasn't really sure what else I needed to do.
Fast forward to early 2020. We were into the first couple of months of lockdown and mostly reduced to staying at home. I had taken an interest in film photography at the end of 2019 and had bought my first 35mm camera (a Ricoh KR10 Super) and was hooked. I was curious about large format photography so took to YouTube and I stumbled across a photographer and vlogger called Steve O'Nions.
I binged watched his content, which is predominantly film photography of all formats and was absolutely blown away by his knowledge and the exceptional photography he created. I even had a go a creating my own vlogs, but as an introvert it was a challenge. Talking out loud to a camera, even when nobody else was around does not come naturally to me... it was a short lived venture.
It was with this new found love of film, being locked indoors and binge watching YouTubers that things really changed for me.
It completely re-invigorated my passion for photography. It made me slow down and take time to really think about the image, to consider all aspects of what I wanted to capture and fundamentally,
not to be lazy. I carry this principle over to my digital photography, where it can be quite easy to be lazy... I have been guilty of such practice in the past.
These days I shoot predominantly black and white film with 35mm and medium format (120) cameras. I enjoy the process of shooting film more than digital, but it's more than just a process, it's an experience shooting with film cameras. They are far more interesting and satisfying to use and I prefer the look of film over digital. Film has more character than digital. I don't believe that film is better; digital has many advantages over it's analogue counterpart, I just prefer film.
My digital camera is usually reserved for colour photography these days; colour film is expensive and I don't yet develop it myself like I do with black and white film.
I've been asked what advice I can give to new photographers in the past and I always say the same thing; "Turn the dial to 'Auto' and just go out and take photos!" The best camera is the one that you have in your hand, whether that's a mobile phone, a compact camera or a Hasselblad, find things that interest you and press the shutter button.
When I was approached to write this article I was thrilled that I had been asked to write about something I am passionate about. I am however, not very good at talking about myself, but I am hoping that I have at least written something half interesting and at best have inspired others to shoot more or to try something new!