Featured Photophile, our recurring segment showcasing talented amateur photographers, is back. Today we’re spotlighting a young photophile named Gareth Buckett. His photos show a technical ability and an understanding of the craft that’s just a bit rare in the era of iPhones and Instagram.
As you’ll see from his shots and his answers to the accompanying interview, his philosophy harkens back to those noteworthy photographers of the past who recognized the critical value that light, location, and preparation bring to the shot.
And if you’re not into all that high-brow philosophical stuff, his photos are just pretty to look at. Check ’em out.
Hey Gareth – introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi. I’m Gareth Buckett, a 29 year old Aerospace Engineer from South Australia. Or at least that’s what keeps me busy Monday to Friday. Outside of that, I’ll grab any chance I can to expose some silver halide crystals to the particles of light that wave around us. Even if that means driving hundreds of kilometers for a single frame.
When did you start shooting? What’s your favourite camera, and why do you love it? What type of film do you use, and why?
Slow down cowboy, there’s a few questions in there! I first started taking pictures when I was about seven or eight years old with a red Hanimex HX-700. It saw infrequent use until I broke it somewhere between Alice Springs and Perth on a family road trip. Fortunately my photographic ambitions didn’t end there, as I was able to use my Dad’s Nikon F3 on occasion. Fast forward a few years and a number of cameras later. The Nikon F3 still holds a pretty special place for me, however, my absolute favourite is the Nikon F5. In 1996 it really was imported from the future and represented everything that Nikon had to offer and had learned since the introduction of the original F. The opening scenes of the movie Vertical Limit had me hooked.
As for film, Fujifilm Velvia 100 and Acros 100 are now my staples. I’ve used a lot of different film over the last eighteen months and these give me fantastic, dependable results. I’m yet to find a colour negative I’m equally happy with.
What are your favourite subjects, and why?
I’m drawn to the natural landscapes; mountains to be exact. There’s just something about losing yourself in the wilderness and waiting for that perfect light. It’s unbeatable. If only I could explore for a living… I’m also hooked on street photography. Wandering around cities, watching life go by, looking for moments stepping in and out of harsh shadows cast by the steel and glass canyons. Fueled by good coffee and French pastry – what’s not to love?!
Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? How would you explain the differences between film and digital?
The analogue experience for me is twofold; the adventure, and the result (or waiting for it). The tangible process of loading a camera with film and knowing that every shot on that roll counts is a fantastic way to be creative. I also find that waiting for the results divorces you from the instant gratification of a viewfinder or screen. You could argue that limits your feedback, but it also makes you concentrate on and enjoy the moment.
I do use the digital Nikon Df (technically a great camera and nice to use, but it could have been so much more if Nikon had learned from Leica’s experiences moving from the M7 to the M9). Digital is great for many subject types (friends, family, low light) and I’m happy to use it in conjunction with film, but you won’t find me shooting RAW or spending hours in Lightroom (I actually use Adobe CS2 which is still free!).
What is unique about your work?
Apart from predominately using film as a medium, I’d like to think my images are in a way distinguishable from the pack. Be it the remote landscapes, the hint of minimalism, or the use of colour, they are my view of the world and the moments around us. We all see things differently, so it’s important to develop your own style. By all means, step out of the box and try different techniques, but if you want to stand out, make that image undeniably yours. I actually think this is easier to do with film in today’s over-crowded world of digital imagery.
How do you achieve your results?
Patience. Some of my images come from an idea or concept that I turn into reality by scoping out a location, often visiting it many times over until the light is just right. Others are unexpected scenes that I make the best of, and a rare few are simply moments in which I was lucky to be holding a camera at the right place in the right time. Whatever the case, patience is the key, followed closely by persistence and a passion to refine one’s craft.
Where do you hope your photography goes from here?
Good question! 2016 was a year mostly shot in monochrome. It’s probably one of the better things I’ve done photographically (everyone should give it a go). So as an extension, I plan to use 2017 to explore the colour negative and give some alternate processes a go. You may even see some pinhole photography. Beyond that? A gallery, a National Geographic assignment… I’ll settle for a coffee table book.
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
Yes, a lot. However, photography is a journey as much as it is an art. It’s about experimentation (which includes failures) and creativity. So here’s a couple of key points so I don’t spoil the fun for you. First, light. Understand it. That means what it is, how it behaves, when to use it, when not to use it and when you need more of it. This may seem obvious, but mastering an understanding of light can take years of practice and may mean the difference between a good image and a great one.
Second, know when not to take a picture. When a great moment presents itself, you’ll know it, and your shutter finger won’t need prompting. The key is to realise when the moment isn’t working, when the light is unflattering, or you just aren’t feeling it. Walk away. Find that nice café with the pastries you like and watch the world go by with a good coffee. Who knows, a moment may just present itself.
[All images used with permission]
Many thanks to Gareth for sharing his work here. If you’d like to have your photos featured on Casual Photophile, tag your photos with #featuredphotophile on any social media post, or send a message to Contact@FStopCameras.com.