‘288 Days’ - An Old Interview from a Few Years Ago…

Which was the first camera you have ever had?

The first cameras I ever remember using were a Pentax MX and old Olympus point and shoots in the 90s.

Why did you choose analog and not digital photography?

I like analog over digital for a number of reasons. First I like the look of film (both colour and B&W), I like the grain and the tones. I think film pictures look like they have soul and aren’t as clean, crisp or sterile-looking as digital. (However saying that digital can also look great - and at the end of the day a bad photo is a bad photo regardless of whether it is on film or digital).

I also like the process, not seeing what you have makes you work harder. I prefer the tactile nature of analog - loading the film, winding it on and then developing the photos afterwards. I like not seeing the pictures right away, letting them sit for a while and then going back to them is an important part of the process. Then when I do develop them and see them it is like Christmas! That feeling never goes away.

What made you carry out this project?

I have always liked to create things, I find I get irritable and worry that I am wasting my time if I don’t have something I can practise, learn about, get better at and create from scratch. Photography is one thing I have become fascinated with over a number of years.

I like photographic series, picture sets or books that tell a story and I firmly believe in shooting something that you are passionate about or interested in. Family for me ticks all those boxes and it was a natural decision to try and create a story out of our day-to-day lives during this interesting time. 

Which camera and film have you utilized for this work?

I shot this project with a Leica M6, Nikon FM2n and Contax T3 (all 35mm lenses). Ilford HP5+ film and developed with Ilford DD-X.

Why did you use black and white to shoot this series of photos?

I decided to shoot consistently with B&W at the end of 2013. Shooting colour is really hard, it is an extra dimension that you need to factor in and I don’t think I am anywhere good enough to do that yet. You need really nice light for the colour to be as good as possible (or use flash) - living in Northern Ireland it is overcast or dark for a lot of the time, so I think shooting B&W works here. I also like the mood and emotion you can get with B&W.

What feelings did the pregnant lady transmit to you?

Well the girl in the pictures is my wife so she let me know exactly how she was feeling! She gets annoyed if I stick a camera in her face too much so it was all about trying to strike the right balance between being a supportive husband and not being too annoying. I shot candidly without getting in the way too much. I wanted to really try and capture some emotion in the series and try and tell a story from start to finish. I hope this comes across in the photographs.

How did you feel when you first saw the newborn?

Shooting during labour was interesting! I was trying to look after everyone and still make pictures, I had been shooting the series for 9 months by this stage and had some ideas of the shots that I wanted but that all went out the window during the labour and I had to think on my feet. Seeing my baby son for the first time was an amazing experience! I will never forget it and this series of photos will definitely serve as a reminder for me and my family.

And when you showed her the whole series?

Like I said above she is my wife and saw the pictures as I was developing them and editing them, she helped me with the final edit and sequence to an extent. She doesn’t like herself in photographs but through shooting this project I hope I have started to change that.

Do you have more projects on mind?

Yeah for sure, I want to carry on making pictures of my family - this is obviously the subject matter closest to my heart. I have a few long-running ideas that I have started based on the part of Northern Ireland that I am living in. These may take a fairly long time.

I am also building a darkroom at the moment and plan to start printing pictures - another aspect of analog photography to enjoy!

Could you tell any funny anecdote related to photography?

More of a suggestion: don’t post pictures of cockroaches taken at your Auntie’s house to Instagram and expect to get away with it…

Do you have any photographer or artist in general as a model or inspiration?

Yes, I collect photo books and really like the work of Trent Parke, Sohrab Hura, Darcy Padilla, Ken Schles, Joseph Koudelka and Gary Winogrand. I recently got a book called Rasen Kaigan by Lieko Shiga, it is absolutely fantastic.

I also like to find inspiration from where I live and the people around me.


Local Collaboration

I’m pleased to say that local singer songwriter and record store owner Joe Rocks used one of my images for the cover of his song - The Road. The Glens of Antrim inspired many of my recent photographs and also inspired Joe to write his music.

Search Spotify for ‘Joe Rocks’ to listen to it.




Nowhere to Hide

Over the last week or so I have been uploading Instagram posts of my latest round of prints. Quite a lot of people have asked me how I have achieved the final results (printing the entire negative). So I thought I would use it as an excuse to write a quick blog post.

(Click the images to enlarge - no pun intended)

I am not in any way a master printer (if you’re looking for master printers I suggest Kit Young or Mikael Siirila) but, I have recently got my hands on a De Vere 504 enlarger - which is an absolute monster and lets me print my 4x5 negatives. Something you will see a lot more from me over the coming months.

I have also acquired a 4x5 glass negative holder that allows me to print the entire 4x5 negative, so I get the cool borders produced by the film holder. It’s incredibly fiddly to set up, placing the negative on the glass with no guide can take some time; it has to be straight and free of marks / dust etc. In the image below you can see the DeVere 504 Negative Holder with the glass (and 4x5 neg) inserted. Above and below it are the regular 4x5 and 35mm holders.

The glass negative holder also lets me print my 35mm negatives - all of it. So I can print the sprockets and information to get that ‘cool’ film look. I’m not sure I would print an entire series like this but it’s bit of fun and looks quite interesting. It also shows my love of Ilford Hp5+ quite nicely too.

You do have to make sure you are happy with your image in-camera as there is no cropping or image straightening available using this method (i.e. nowhere to hide!). Not that I crop anything as general rule - dodging and burning can be fun too, the 3rd image above, bottom left corner - the sprockets will show you where I attempted some dodging… 

Thanks for reading.





Figments Exhibition

If you follow me on social media you couldn’t have missed me banging on about a zine I published recently called Figments. A project that I worked on for two years which culminated in a book of 34 photographs (at the time of writing I have 5/100 copies left). Figments is a personal look at that brief second of subconscious awareness between being asleep and awake… Inspired by the work of W.B. Yeats and is really a little peep into my head (if you dare!).

The good folk at Middletown Coffee Co. in my home town of Ballymena approached me offering the coffee shop as an exhibtion space for the project, which was nice of them! (They make a mean V60 btw). 


According to my Instagram and Google Analytics stats, most of you who read this and follow me are either in London or the USA, so I thought I would let you see some pictures of the show so you too can experience it! (No coffee provided though I’m afraid)…

Anyway, I hope you get the idea and enjoy! 










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