Michael Collins

Today I saw a documentary photographer, called Michael Collins talk about his work and career to date. From this I found out that he is one of the few photographers who still work with 5 x 4, large format negative, film camera.

He also spoke about how he works as a painter and decorator as well, due to photography being an expensive love plus being a hard option to have payoff as a career. He later went on to say how it could cost a few hundred pound just to capture and print one image. This amazed me with how much of a love the subject it is. That you’d decide to still keep using a camera and its equipment, when it’s so costly just based on the love of the subject. He also spoke about how he was introduced to his main type of equipment through visiting an old-fashioned photography shop where he saw a picture taken by the owner, that he made a copy of for a friend. This I found sweet as it showed an introduction through a sentimental reason rather than a routine educational way.

I also learnt that he does a lot of work with places that were abandoned which interested me, as this is one of the main types of photography that I have been taught. Also with what can be picked up by an emptiness or stillness of a place along with the grittiness. Another part that appealed to me was that some of the areas he showed were local to me and I frequent often. Yet I hadn’t seen in such a way for a long time that it had a nostalgic feel. I also saw the images as interesting as I had never seen the places like it before.

I was distracted through the talk though by the room being in complete darkness meaning that when sitting for so long I felt tired. I was also put off by how we didn’t know how long the talk was going on for it just seemed like there was loads of images with no end which added to the tiredness.

As for the imagery, these I really liked, as they were of typical, everyday places that people find as being unwanted yet at the same time they hold interesting aspects from what used to be.  I also liked how some images were so large that there is something new to be found happening in the images over a course of time after first viewing it.  These I feel are also more effective in colour as it adds to the tone of the atmosphere plus documents the area and context the image more than what black and white copies would.

All in all though, I did find the work and talk interesting, especially with how his interest in the subject started with visiting a shop. As not many have been influenced in such a way or people being influenced by visiting a shop any more.

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