[May 20 2019]
84 photographs and 1 film
Taken in July 2018
What’s so special about the Mamiya RB67 is that it’s just a box! No batteries, no electronic mechanics, just a four sided shape, as simple as can be… beautiful. This was the first camera I was introduced to when I started studying photography in 2007. I had just dropped out of a course in forensic science and criminal investigation and within a few months fell completely in love with taking pictures.
I remember as a child, the distinctive smell of cut grass. The smell takes me back to summertime and to school holidays; that wonderful tired feeling after a full day of playing and exploring. Falling asleep exhausted and dreaming of doing it all again the next day. When I started studying photography, I felt this kind of dreaminess, this kind of excitement… It felt glorious!
Preston Bus Station was the first place where I really looked at light. The huge bus station windows literally showing me how light moved and changed throughout the day. I began to see, feel and understand its effect, I was becoming sensitive to light. Being patient in such a transitional space began to amplify every detail. Everything became significant. In the continuous motion of people’s days, light became a magnifying glass—a tool to study and appreciate life. A cold circular space became heaven.
When I first moved to London in 2009 and began working as a photographer’s assistant, I would catch a train every weekend, picking a place at whim, and travel around England, Scotland or Wales, seeing what I would come across. One of the first places I went was Hastings, where I found a beautiful bench inside a huge concrete wave-breaker that looked out to sea. Being open to chance felt like an education.
It allowed room for endless possibilities. Any kind of beauty could creep in. I could have a fleeting relationship with any stranger, any object. The constant rhythm of creative exchange gave me a sense of purpose and faith.
For a long time I only used one camera and one lens, the RB67 with a 127 mm lens. I spent countless hours trying to understand the camera, becoming familiar with its weight, its back-to-front mirrors, its restrictions and the compositions it seemed to encourage. I began to form a process, a familiar set of actions that made me feel confident and open. The limits of using this one camera and lens became almost a security blanket; it had a simplicity that felt inspiring.
Simultaneously, the other integral part of this evolving process was the interpretation of colour and the act of printing, spending hours in the consuming, glorious darkroom. Again, the simplicity, the limiting framework of just three colour dials, was extremely seductive. Without really knowing it I was developing my craft—my personal set of rules and actions that brought to life my new experiences, and made me completely connected to what I photographed. My darkroom in London became a centre for slowing life down, demanding a sense of patience that was exciting and exhilarating. It was control.
I always find myself thinking about the feeling of naivety, how everything feels so simple and confusing at that first moment of discovery, When you react from just your gut and the energy this creates. I think this has to be the most valuable and sensitive state of mind and something so important to hold onto. If that’s possible? I think learning photography is like learning to speak when your a child. You copy your parents, people you admire, then you create your own voice. It’s a language that’s constantly evolving with your experience.
The interpretation of colour has always felt like such a personal cycle of mistakes/discovery. The darkroom creates a quiet space to work through these changes, so you can stay connected to your photographs. In this sense, the most subtle shift in colour becomes extraordinarily meaningful.
I think of photographs as imagery building blocks. Every photograph one after the other, building the foundation to a visual language, the more time spent taking photographs the stronger and clearer this language becomes and creates a wonderful sense of space that’s filled with a confident eye expressing what it loves about the world. A sensibility forms and a conversation begins. In July 2018, I found myself in Floresti, Transylvania on a project following around a youth orchestra, that were performing across Romania. Once I arrived in Floresti, I settled in and began exploring without expectation, each day waking up at sunrise and walking down the road with my camera.
“A Short Pleasurable Journey, Part Two” is on view until May 27th at 1—7 Aylesbury Street, London.
Photo Saša Štucin and Jethro Turner