Why analogue photography? To me it is a personality thing, I need to feel part of the process. I have always thought of photography as being more than a process of recording, or commenting on, the world or its inhabitants. Photography is an emotional reaction to a subject, and as a major part of the process, you communicate that response to the viewer. In order to communicate your response you need to be a part of the process. This starts with your judgement of the conditions and how you pre-visualise your image, so from your acquired knowledge and experience you select the film that will give the tonal response, and grain structure, that will meet your needs. You set up your chosen equipment, and light meter in hand, survey the full range of illumination values, from the rightest sky to the deepest shadow. The choice of developer and processing time now goes through your mind, will you have to compress the tonal range, or will you need to push it? Before you have even focussed the camera you have already become immersed in the creative process.

Once shot you then enter into the ceremonial activities associated with processing - the cleaning, the measuring, the mixing, the stabalising and the timing. After what can seem like an eternity you reach the point were you open the tank or turn on the lights and you see the fruits of your labour. I have been involved in photography nearly all of my life and I still have that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am about to view the newly processed film. Will it meet my expectations? Have I made a mistake and killed the film? Then dripping film in hand you hold it to the light and you now envisage what refinements you will have to make in the printing process - or will you, dare I say, scan it? Personally I do not have a problem with scanning, it is another tool available to use. I will normally defer to the negative, some will work better printed some scanned, not every image needs the extended tonal range that printing will give, but on the whole I would lean towards the darkroom.

Once dried and sleeved you then have the contact print. I did not realise until a few days ago just how important the contact print is to me. I was discussing William Klein’s ABC project with my students. The digital photographers in my class just didn’t get it - they had not experienced the intimacy of examining a contact print. Holding a sheet of images a few inches from your face while peering through a magnifier cannot be matched by looking at a screen full of images in Adobe Bridge. It is almost a bonding process.

Choices made and into the darkroom. Again you are almost worshiping at the altar of photography. You enter a specific environment, kept at an even temperature, your favorite, or appropriate music playing, the smells associated with the activity and the low light levels - sounds almost like a church? You choose the paper and developer combinations, you maybe add a second developer to enhance the tones or contrast, you endlessly wash, hypo clear and tone. Then you realise that you need to modify the tones in an area of the image so you repeat the process, usually several times. My last printing session led to me spending sixteen hours in my darkroom to produce four prints, in my view time well spent and one of the most enjoyable days I have had in months - so as I said at the start, its a personality thing.