I, like so many who photograph, do not particularly care for being in front of the camera. On the other hand, the opportunity to have a daguerreotype created of oneself in the digital age, is a rare experience that I could not pass up. As a large format photographer, I appreciate the difficulty in shooting portraits with large cumbersome equipment, and lengthy exposures. Mike Robinson made this daguerreotype of me in 2007. I quite like the image.
I have been fortunate to experience many avenues of the photographic world. My mentor took me under his wing and guided me along my chosen path. Similar to many others, I started with 35mm. Ted exposed me to the large format camera, the fine print and the Zone System. With an ever growing library, he shared with me the expanding universe of the fine art photographers and their images. With a thirst for knowledge and a 4×5 and 35mm under each arm, I studied at the Film and Photography Department at Ryerson Polytecnical Institute in Toronto.
Working photographic retail in the Toronto core in the early eighties was a great time to meet many of the stars of the business. The best were always willing to share their knowledge. The competitive climate of camera shops was at an all time high. I found myself leaning towards the large format and darkroom specialties, managing the now defunct Darkroom and Camera Store that was immediately around the corner from the Ryerson Film and Photography Dept. Later I moved to one of the finest custom colour photographic laboratories in Toronto. Colourgenics was an opportunity to concentrate and refine my print making skills.
Many people involved in this field, would be happy and find this depth of knowledge satisfying and enough. For, me, the knowledge and abilities learned to this point would simply instil in me a quest for more. Studying materials and processes in great depth has been mentally satisfying as well as opening numerous creative possibilities. Although large format is a speciality, I am just as comfortable with the Leica in my hands. Similarly I am just as comfortable working with digital technologies as analogue. The possibilities are endless.
No, I am not simply a techie. In the end, I want to see an interesting image, printed or displayed well. I like sharp images in analogue, unless I am using one of my Dianas or pinholes. I dislike digital images that are poorly sharpened or over sharpened. Yes, I read Fraser’s Real World Image Sharpening cover to cover, and I have made film based unsharp masks. I believe that those of us that are considered analogue dinosaurs, who embrace digital, have the advantage of knowing what the digital algorithms are actually meant to do.
I have been lucky to have experienced many facets of photography, and have had many generous individuals share their knowledge with me. I in due fashion have tried to share my knowledge with others. I have been privileged to teach in the Photography Departments at Humber College and Guelph Humber University. I have participated in formal and informal workshops, and helped many individuals over the years. My passion for this great art form is stronger now than when I first embraced it. To that end I hope that these pages and thoughts are of interest and help to other like minded individuals.
My thirst for knowledge has not abated…
Richard J. Kettle