Richard got in touch with me a couple of days ago and approached me concerning a potential feature of one of his projects. I happily agreed to have him on the wasteoffilm blog. What struck me immediately about his work was the pure quality and dedication behind his craft. There are just certain qualities to darkroom prints and they even shine through these scans. I am very happy to have him on the blog today and always am more than open for any submissions to this blog. There is a vast amount of photography blogs focussing on exclusively one thing, gear. I believe that there should be more places where one can discover and consume meaningful and curated photography. In the end we are what we consume, right? If you have any submissions of a project you produced, make sure to send the most representative images as well as some short story behind the project to: email@example.com. Enough talking now! Without further ado, let's jump right into Richard Hamer's series "Everyday Italy":
"There seems to be no shortage of photographic opportunities in Italy, or at least that’s what I found this summer. But past experience of photographing in beautiful places has generally left me disappointed; nothing can match the feeling of being there. I try to make photographs that recreate this feeling. Sharply dressed men in suits, grandmas chatting on the cobbled streets, it’s all there. Street photography has taught me that you need more than good subject matter to take a good photograph. I tried to make photographs that reveal a sense of place, without being overtly obvious or representational. I tend to think that the best pictures are the ones that elicit an emotional response in the viewer. Whether I succeeded, however, is open to interpretation!
I shoot film for a number of reasons but I think only two are important. Firstly, I enjoy the process. Why would we do this otherwise? Primarily however, my photographs are better when I shoot film. I don’t mean this in a way that is quantifiable. It’s not because they are sharper, and contrary to popular opinion, I am not a believer in the fact that film has a greater dynamic range. Shooting film in an investment of money but also of time which allows me to be much more selective when shooting and editing. I find that if I can’t decide which picture I prefer, the answer comes to me when I have to decide which to spend an hour printing! This negative was actually underexposed which is the one thing to avoid when shooting film! I printed with extremely high contrast to lift the midtones and highlights as much as possible. If you underexpose film, you quickly learn that shadow detail cannot be salvaged.
I came away with many photographs of nuns in Rome. Some may be more dynamic, for some I was able to get closer, but the compassion in this scene is what attracted me to this picture. To make an image containing both an exquisite moment with graceful composition is the elusive combination for a street photographer which is seemingly impossible. I firmly believe I am yet to capture a moment in which everything comes together to work as one- composition, timing and emotion. I like this image and I am proud of it, but I have a long way to go!
Selecting this photograph was difficult as there were many similar frames, all with different strengths and weaknesses. I chose this one because I wanted the photograph to tell a story of a ringleader amongst friends which is exactly what I witnessed at the time.
Printing in the darkroom is as difficult as you want to make it. For an image like this, it would be very quick and easy to make an average print at low contrast. I used to think that with practice, printing would become quicker, but I soon learnt that it only ever becomes more detailed and complex as your expectations increase. This image, for example, needed high contrast to maximise its potential, however that served to make the shadows overly dense. Reducing the contrast would fix the issue but would kill the look of the final print, so what follows are a series of dodges, burns and split grade manipulations in an effort to bring the potential from the negative.
The gentleman in this photograph is a pianist who was performing at the time. I listened to the performance and decided to ask whether I could make a portrait. Street photography can be intimidating at times, because of the feeling that we should not take photographs of strangers for fear of offending them. The one thing I try to remember when photographing people I do not know is to smile! It’s a constant battle for me, as I find that I frown when I concentrate. I also believe that smaller lenses help put people at ease.
The last image in this series was made in Montepulciano, Tuscany. When I photograph on holiday, I usually go for a walk before breakfast to get the best of the morning light, then photograph only in the shade during the day when the sun is high. This image was made with Renato D’Agostin in mind. His use of contrast and a vertical frame are some of the best examples of abstract street photography I have seen."
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