Images taken with a Hasselblad Xpan in 2013, comp'ed together with another artist as a collaboration for the concept work in a defunct video game I was working on called Decoherence.
I’m researching a new project, and I know the camera I want to shoot it with, and I know that it’s way out of my reach. And I know for someone else in a similar project it would be a different camera, I know how I would use it and I know how my intuition and ability would suit it.
And although I can’t have that camera and of course I will use whatever comes availble that is most suitable, as should be the case, I am grateful that I know that this one camera is most faithful to my vision this time around. And it is this knowledge I owe to something half forgotten...
When I first started out in fashion, I was still an earnest camera nerd (I can’t think of a more fitting word I’d rather not use this one). I worked in every camera shop going, in both London and Norfolk. I would spend a lot of time reading their manuals and borrowing as many cameras to try as possible.
Along with my veganism this knowledge or obsession was an heirloom inherited from my ‘first love’ relationship, a train-wreck of a young and fractured relationship as is often the case. We both worked in a long-lost Jessops store and eventually moved to London Camera Exchange. And we would later move from Norwich to London ourselves, I was still very young when we met, a teenager. That relationship was fairly calamitous for both of us, I don’t know the person I was back then, but during that relationship I developed some hefty camera knowledge that I didn’t have before or didn’t think I could to learn from my father and his friends. This went on to form a solid understanding of what camera would suit what shoot with a detailed knowledge of how to realise what I wanted to achieve.
A skill I wish I had in writing, but I consider this one enough, and worthy of the heart wrenching pain it cost me and the lifelong insecurities he bred into me about men, of course he was older than me and he remains to be a photographer also working in London. Occasionally I’ll see his name crop up in fashion shoots, but this was the kind of mismatch/match that means, should we see one another, we’d cross the road to be away from each other. Which is obviously difficult when I know the people we work with cross-over at times, even still.
What he did give me though, aside from some romantic hang ups, was something more profound and I’m sure that’s much to his annoyance, as I don’t think he would have excepted the younger female counter part to that relationship to have become the better-known half. I imagine, like my other ex’s he attributes my skill to his tutelage. And although in this case I give him a little credit its expressly the skill of knowing a cameras personality I learned from him and nothing nearly so complex as skill or artistic intuition.
I remember one day ,before we were an item, hearing him talk to a customer about his pale blue Mamiya 7, I adored the way he described the dislocated viewfinder and how it felt to him to use when shooting street photography. How he discussed the way the sharpness and depth both exaggerated and flattered the passer-by. I always had this feeling that I needed to learn this skill and its only now I realised I’d confused romantic feelings for admiration of one’s ability, which is very easily done, particularly at that age. Incidentally I didn’t get on with that camera, and he knew I wouldn’t.
During the course of that relationship we went on many photoshoots together, both learning from the other, I believe or hope he was learning from me a certain way of seeing whereas from him I learned a dry but necessary pragmatism with cameras.
In one camera shop he took over the sale of second-hand cameras, this was in the early 2000’s when pro film cameras had experienced a crash and had become uncharacteristically cheap. In fact, one of my current work-horse cameras I still have was given to me by a retired Fleet Street Photographer that considered his kit barely worth selling.
I digress, during that time, he and I got to take home with us practically every camera in the second-hand professional camera cabinet. We used everything medium format and 35mm, in all brands that we could have hoped to use, these were beautiful rare technologies I still think about with a perverse fetishism.
One day he suggested I use the Hasselblad X-pan, this I would later go on to buy (and sell again) when that relationship had long passed. He knew and by this point, I also had learned too, that my hand, my photographic signature, was compatible with that camera. And that’s what I used when I was making the concept images for a video game with a later ex shown above. It’s an impractical and ‘novel’ 3 ratio panoramic camera but it was simpatico to my quirks, he the skilled camera person didn’t get on with it, but I did. It’s hard to use, effeminate, difficult to see through and unpredictable, but the model I had felt made for me. I sold it, as the next project wouldn’t require it and it’s a ridiculous item in many ways. But I do attribute some of my abilities to this knowledge, and for that fragmented and at times ill-advised relationship I’m very grateful.
I saw a review for this camera named - THE DREAM THAT DIDN’T COME TRUE, which I find amusing.