It's all documented!
From the start of the show it quickly became apparent to me that film photography was a very important element to his work. Bradley Hanson is a wedding photographer that has developed a style that continues the present favoured genre of a documented wedding… It breaks the mould and the old tradition of the formal wedding set up of group photographs. We saw in a previous Live and Uncut show when Kevin Mullins demonstrated in Episode #25, of how in this manner they capture a wedding. It is a technique that Bradley has steadily developed and worked on, which the results clearly show have their roots in film photography.
Like many of my guests Bradley’s first camera he used was a film camera. A Voigtlander in his case, which his parents allowed him to use. He was captured by the design of this rangefinder camera and the results that it produced. Another film camera followed later, the Minolta x-700 a camera which many of my guests first used and his love of photography really took hold. From school he went on to study photography at college.
Film is the major influence in Bradley’s work. Whilst at college he studied the many factors using all types of film cameras, film processing and dark room printing. In some ways it was these experiences with film and their unique features that he has consistently looked to achieve in his work. With his film cameras, obviously, he could produce the work that he wanted to, using a various selection from Minolta, Nikon and Canon to medium format Hasselblad’s. With wedding photography becoming his major source of income, it was his style of producing the natural documented wedding work, that his clients wanted. Gone were the days of the formal and traditional group and session shots. A more intimate and open feel to image making was required now and Bradley was only to happy to follow this new trend.
But with the introduction of digital cameras Bradley came to realise the frustrations of this new format. Manufactures created cameras that were designed to create the 'perfect' image, with no noise or grain effects, that suddenly pitched photographer against photographer and clients into the argument of what was better Digital or Film.
Now we all know the benefits of Digital! Easier to use with auto-focus; easier to edit; no concerns of film cost; and that constant confirmation of getting the right image, all you had to do was check the back of the camera! But the benefits of film photography would still out weigh the argument for some, because of the final out-put. The feel and texture of the image from a negative and the atmosphere that film image seemed to capture. Digital was not for all, as in some cases the image was almost too perfect. I got the impression whilst talking to Bradley this was a major issue for him. Not to mention that whilst working at a wedding with two sometimes three digital camera’s, around his neck, it was becoming quite exhaustive!
It was the introduction by Fuji of their X-Pro1 that got Bradley back to where he wanted to be with his photography and that final printed output. Yes he realised the X-Pro1 didn’t, initially, focus quickly, but that wasn’t a major issue for him. Since then regular Firmware upgrades have improved these focusing issues. But, the camera was smaller and lighter than what he had been using. He found the lenses were fantastic with a great stable of lenses to follow, which has steadily been added to over time by Fuji. This all meant that Bradley could attend an event, carry out his work inconspicuously even with two or three cameras to hand and get the shots that he wanted to produce in that documentary manner that his clients wished for. Added to this the images being produced were of a film like quality!
This has been mentioned many times before by my Fuji user guests; the quality of the image and in general a very good comparison to full frame images created by Nikon, Canon and now Sony! Since buying his first X-Pro1 Bradley has bought another X-Pro1 and added the X100s with TCL-X100 and the WCL-X100 converters. He is a prime lens user only with a series of lenses to fit the X-Pro1 from 18mm through to 56mm.
For someone who learnt their skills with film photography, I think you can understand why, even though Digital cameras have many advantages, there is an almost love affair with what the film printed image is to look and feel like. To some there is nothing better. Finding Fuji for Bradley has rescued him! As you will see from his outstanding website where his portfolio covers his wedding and landscape work, you will not see any real change in style from his Film days to the present Digital images.
And to me that’s what makes a photographer today. One that can realise the changes move with the times; accept new gear and in some cases better gear, but still maintain that style that they created when all they had before was the old analogue way to photograph with a film camera.
It was fascinating talking to Bradley Hanson.
Thank you Bradley.
Until next time ‘leave your camera bag at home’!
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