Thursday, 8 July 2010

Don't be afraid to try something old...

My shiny Spotmatic film SLR arrived the other day in the First Class post.

It is a wonderful machine, built in 1964, and entirely mechanical in operation, it almost feels alive in your hands, unlike its cold, lifeless digital counterparts.

When you wind the film and press the shutter, the feeling is akin to that of using a bolt action, "Old West" rifle... you feel... MANLY!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Luddite, I was in IT for 15 years! And I love my EOS, and it's earnt me a good wage so far, and I couldn't practically justify always shooting film, for all the portraiture and commercial work I do. People want digital images these days, not 10x8s...

But sometimes in the ever-advancing quest for speed, performance and perfection, we lose sight of things that are beautiful, meaningful and profound.

There is something very magical about shooting on a camera where you can't see straightaway if you got the shot or not, or fire off six shots a second. You start focussing less on the camera, and more on what's going on in front of it - you start to FEEL and PREDICT the shots rather than just think them...

Or as a wise man once put it:

"To take photographs means to recognize–simultaneously and within a fraction of a second–both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis."

Somehow it seems easier to achieve this with an old SLR... funny that!

This shot taken in the style of my fave 60s tog, who didn't just "try" cameras like this for fun - he didn't have any choice!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Some things are ageless...

Friday night I was given the privilage of shooting at the Hop Farm Festival 2010, near Paddock Wood in Kent.

I arrived in time to shoot the three main acts. Each act could claim a very long and prestigious career. Only one of those acts, it felt, did not rely on that fact to wow the crowd. Blondie came on the stage, second to last, and went for broke.

If I am not mistaken Blondie were formed the year I was born - 1973. And yet their music sounded fresh, very cutting edge even. They had made the effort to rework the classics (their rendition of Call Me was fantastic!) and they traversed every inch of the stage, and tried to reach every member of the audience.

Guitarist Chris Stein utterly rocked, playing an instrument that looked like it had been designed by Salvadore Dali. His riffs and solos were powerful and beautiful, and had the hairs on my neck a-bristling.

I won't mention a lady's age, as it's rude, but suffice to say Deborah has definitely still got it. Her voice is as magnificent as ever, and the performance her and her boys gave would put many "younger" bands to shame. Awesome!

For me, camped out in the press pit, and bearing in mind I really and truely fell in love with Blondie aged just six, it was six minutes (we only get 2 songs in the press area) of sheer bliss.

I think I must have spent three minutes smiling like a loon at Debbie (who smiled back AND winked, if I am not mistaken *happy sigh*) and another two singing along to "Hanging On The Telephone". Which left one minute to take photos.

So I'm quite pleased with what I got!

And as for the following "headliner"?

Well, I've read somebody say somewhere else it was unfair putting him on after the whirlwind that was Blondie.

I have to agree. I also think it was a bit mean making him dress like Boss Hogg from The Dukes Of Hazzard, and lending him a rap singer's microphone. The poor chap was clearly struggling to be heard...!

Joking aside, Blondie should have been billed as the headlining act.

Never mind Brown Eyed Girl, this Blue Eyed Tog was decidely underwhelmed with a little chap playing the piano and muttering... especially after the girl of many dreams and her band had just blown him and his camera away!