How I got here

I’m a good photographer. Really. But I’m a better storyteller. And while photo sharing websites – Flickr, Instagram, Facebook – do a great job of showcasing individual images, they’re not nearly as good at telling stories. 

I started taking photos in 1983. The camera was a Zenit E. A very basic camera, not particularly aspirational, but with a lovely lens: the Helios 44 58mm f2.0. But the Helios 44 comes with a significant handicap. The field of view is very tight for a standard lens. Of course, in 1983, I didn’t know any different. It was the only lens I had ever used, so I built my style around its limitations. I fell in love with the bokeh – even before the word had been invented. I picked out details instead of wide angles. And shooting film, I tried to make every frame count. 

Thirty five years later, the photos I took with that 58mm lens are more valuable than they ever were at the time. The places have been rebuilt, redeveloped, and are sometimes unrecognisable. The people are older – in some cases, they are no longer with us – and their lives have changed immeasurably. 

The photos tell the stories. Stories of people and places. Sometimes the photos are very, very good. Mostly, they’re good enough. And sometimes they’re quite poor. But even the poor photos tell a story. 

I’ve continued shooting photos for the past 35 years. Sometimes film, sometimes digital, But always trying to tell a story. Like snapshots, but the light is better. 

4 thoughts on “How I got here

  1. Got to love the Helios 44 series, I revisited my original 44-2 and wrote a post about it very recently. One of those very few lenses I can’t see I’ll ever part with.

    Do you use it now on any digital bodies?


    1. Sadly it’s long gone. I donated it to a charity shop in the late 90s, when they were virtually worthless. If only I still had it today! I’m not a big fan of manual lenses on digicams, though I’ve been using a 7Artisans lens recently, and it’s starting to become a favourite.


      1. Interesting Alex. I’ve had a 25/1.8 7Artisans lens in micro four thirds mount in my eBay watch list for some months, to go with my Lumix GF1. It’s 50mm equivalent and would be the only native prime lens I had for the GF1.


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