Photography is stopping time
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When I was fourteen, I discovered this box brownie camera, and I asked my father if would it be possible to get a couple rolls of film, which he did. And he showed me how to load the camera, which he did once a year when he took family pictures. And, I actually went into Edinburgh, with my youngest sister, and I went around Edinburgh with her, she was six years old. And I took pictures of her around Edinburgh, and it was only one day in my life, and I brought the pictures back and processed them. And I actually liked them and I got another roll of film from my father, the third roll, and I took my other sister in and did a few pictures with her. And, it's strange, it was only really two days in total in my life that I did that, but I can remember it crystal clear of, you know, trying to find the shot in the camera. You can imagine how primitive a box brownie was, and the middle was slightly out of alignment in the camera, the view finder that...
you look through. But, I remember that moment really, really, really well. When I took my sister in on the bus and walked around Edinburgh and took pictures of her, and so on. And I, of course, I only had on the first day twenty four frames and on the second day twelve frames. I just, I remember there's something about holding the device, you know, and looking through it, and hitting a shutter. That moment you hit the shutter, and realizing how you could stop time, you know. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) Years later, it was, let me see another seven years later when I got into art college and suddenly got involved with graphic design, and then they started for the first time a photography course. I had the same feeling when I got a camera there, and began to look through it, and I just fell in love with the idea of a rectangle. And when you think about photography, people who are passionate about it. Everything just really, more or less, comes down to a rectangle. Every movie you've ever seen, more or less, is a rectangle. You might be shooting a square, or you might be shooting panoramic, but everything's a rectangle. And I think I analyzed that pretty early on, especially when I was involved with graphic design. And, I will be forever indebted to my graphic design teachers, for instilling in me that idea of graphics in pictures. And, also, the importance of thinking about things before you shoot. And in terms of graphic design, thinking of things before you put pencil to paper. In other words, what is the concept for what you're doing? What's your idea? Not let me just walk around and take pictures, which of course, I did. But, what was the concept? Where were you going? And, I always remember the first time that I got my hands on the school camera, which was a Pentax Spotmatic. I remember that I had spent really two weeks, because there was only one camera and I had to wait until it was my turn. And, I remember, thinking for those two weeks, what was I going to do with the camera? And a lot of the students, they just went out and took pictures. And I was thinking, thinking what I would do and I remember that I had seen in Dundee, on a Sunday morning, the Salvation Army, going into these old tenements in Dundee that are no longer there, and singing and playing music. And, I decided to do the two rolls of film that I had, basically just photographing the Salvation Army, and their instruments. And of course, I was very lucky, cause it was a cloudy day and the black uniforms with the shiny instruments, the heads, the singing. I was able to do some, which I consider even to this day, some very nice pictures. But the important thing was, I analyze things beforehand. What was I going to do? What was, on my time with this camera, which you only got for a weekend, what was I going to do with the camera? And, so therefore, as I said, I'm really indebted to how the graphic design lectures instilled in you conceptualization. And a lot of that I use to this day. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) As I became later, much more embedded with photography, I realized that I had definitely a great love of photography, but I really had a problem with a lot of the technical things. I really was not that kind of person. I really had difficulty with a lot of the technical aspects of photography. And I had friends who were photographers over the years, who loved the technical side. So, I think in the beginning, it was a slog for me. Once I really became a working photographer, it was a real slog for me to learn. But, there's actually a great analogy with learning photography and learning to drive a car. Where, the first time you get in a car, you think "I'll never manage this, I'm going to kill somebody. I'm going to hit a wall, or even worse, kill myself." And, after a week of lessons, you feel a little bit better about things. Then, let's go as far as two years later. You actually begin to drive almost automatically. You get into a car and you automatically turn it on, you automatically change gears, you automatically look in the, and there's a little bit of something about that. That once you get over that hurdle of technical things in a car, you learn to drive the car, and I kind of use that as an analogy for photography. In other words, learn to drive the camera, and learn to really know the camera inside out. To begin to really study lighting, and to understand what lighting can give you in a picture. And what natural light can give you, or a mixture of that. And, there really is a fantastic thing when you learn all of that, and I did. And I felt it open doors creatively for me. However, when you learn to drive a car, it's not the driving of the car, it's where you take it. So the same thing should be applied to a camera. Get all the technical things in your back pocket so you can use them. But don't let that be the driving force. Do not spend hours and hours and hours, days and days looking at magazines for the latest lenses, the latest cameras, the latest software programs, the latest computer connections. Try and keep that on the back burner. Learn to drive the car, it's where you're going to take it. Learn to drive the camera, it's where you're going to go with the camera. So, cause people do think of me as a technical photographer, and I can reveal that that is not the case, and it was a real slog in the beginning. So for those of you that have trouble, I know that some photographers have a very hard time with the technical, and I often commensurate with them, when I've known a lot of very, very fine, good photographers, wonderful, who, you know, I often say to them, that they have the advantage of not enjoying the technical part of photography. I said, it could be an advantage, you know, cause all of your concentration goes into the imagery. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music)