Togspace catches up with Sheffield based portrait photographer Craig Fleming and talks about his analogue series.
Hi Craig, Thank you very much for your time with this interview. To start, could you tell us a little about yourself as a photographer?
Sure, I'm based in Sheffield which is where my studio is but I work a lot in Manchester and also London. I do my workshops in Sheffield too, showing people the basics of analogue and also lighting. Over the past few months I've changed tack somewhat as I'm really bored of the fashion industry in Manchester and I just want to get back to doing what I love, portraits on film.
In 1988 I did attend college in Sheffield but it wasn't for me and I already had a darkroom in my bedroom.. I'll rephrase that.. I had a bed in a darkroom. I didn't actually officially leave college I just went on an extended lunch hour with about ten rolls of FP4 and a corned beef sandwich although I'm not sure they'd welcome me back.
What is your go-to equipment for your photography?
I shoot all my analogue stuff on a Mamiya RZ67 and a Nikon F3, if I have to shoot digital I use my Fujifilm Xpro2 and XH1. Don't get me wrong I'm not anti-digital I just love the whole analogue process, loading the film, the smell of the chemistry, the feel of the film... the look of the finished result too. For me digital is too Disney. It's capacity to show you all the detail, its just not needed in an image unless you're shooting high-end commercial imagery. The fuji's though are the closest I've come to an analogue look but their still not the same as a Tri-X neg out of the Mamiya...
Why black and white?
The main reason is that I'm colour blind so that ruled me out of colour printing anyway but really I just love a silky monochrome image, always have. As a kid I loved watching old films so I think it has its roots in that somewhere but who knows".
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Currently I'm working on a project of Allotment holders in Yorkshire which is a world away from fast fashion but I love it, the people are very Zen which is a lot like me so there's always a connection. It'd be nice to see that as an exhibition as well as my regular portraits but for the minute I'm happy just shooting whomever I can.
"The image of Rob in the leather jacket is one I remember as the second the model walked into the studio he pointed at the camera and said "that's the one Bruce used on our last shoot", the last shoot he was referring to was an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial shot in California and the Bruce he was referring to was Bruce Weber... "
Do you photograph anything other than portraits?
Portraits are my first love although I do shoot nudes quite a bit and the F3 and Xpro2 are always by my side where ever I am so I'll literally shoot anything.
Do you think that you will ever get bored with photographing people and decide to photograph another genre instead?
My portrait series has been an ongoing theme for over 3 years and it'll continue until I've had enough with photography, but I'm 48 now and been doing it since I was 11 so I can't see that happening.
Thank you Craig for sharing your photography with us. Before you go, where can our readers find more of your photography?
People can see my work at my website or on Instagram. And hopefully one day in the National Portrait Gallery which is surely every portrait photographers dream.