UK-Based James Roberts was originally inspired to shoot with large format photography after watching some videos of an adventurous trip abroad. In his latest experiments with the new LomoGraflok, he chose to take a more relaxed and considered approach by testing it out in his studio with some portraits and still life pieces. We talked to James about his first attempts at using this innovative instant back.
Hello James, could you introduce yourself to the readers of our Online Magazine?
Hi all, I am an amateur photographer from Worcester, who against the grain decided to ditch my digital gear in pursuit of the magic and surprise of film photography. I’ve been focusing on a combination of medium and large format, shared mainly between a Mamiya RB67 and Intrepid 4x5. I develop all of my black and white using Rodinal semi-stand techniques but have recently been trying out Kodaks HC-110 to mix things up.
Tell us about your photographic background. What is your story? When did you start taking photos?
Unrelated to photography generally, I was checking out the Everest Base Camp Exhibition Trip content on YouTube and stumbled across the ‘Grainydays’ channel and subsequent vlog of his trip.
I was captivated by the look and feel of the images and found myself searching for more information on different films as well as the characteristics of different emulsions. I had always shot digital as a hobbyist, but this was the definite catalyst to move into the world of analogue photography, and I haven’t looked back since.
How long have you been shooting in large format & what do you like most about shooting with these cameras?
I found a deal back in early 2020 on eBay for a monorail style 4x5 with all of the kit I would need to start immediately, so I took the plunge and eagerly awaited the package to arrive. After a few months of lugging the beast around, I swapped it out for a much lighter Intrepid set up and appreciate the weight reduction this camera offers. I love the surprise and awe each time my scanner finishes a negative with the sheer amount of information and fantastic depth of field available when using this format.
How did you get on with the LomoGraflok back and what did you choose to shoot with it?
I have been enjoying using the instant back. There is something fantastic about going through the meticulous setup of a shot and then being rewarded within a minute or so with a clear, crisp image in hand. I’ve tried to have it with me on all photography-related outings but found it best during a studio shoot where you are in complete control of the lighting and set up, as the dynamic range on the Instax film is a little challenging.
What do you think you will use it for in the future?
I’m part of the local camera club (Beacon Camera Club) which hosts a portrait shoot monthly and I plan on taking it along to each of these to maximise usage. I also have a fellow film photography friend, Rob, who has his studio at home, and we have plans moving forward to emulate some classic William Coupon style portrait shots, in which I will most definitely be utilising the instant back.
To see more of James' work check out his wonderful Instagram page.