Featured Photophile, our recurring series showcasing talented photographers, is back with more photo inspiration for you. Today’s FP features some really incredible photos from a shooter named Bob St. Cyr.
His landscape shooting shows a level of technical proficiency that many of us can only dream of, a patient and keen eye, and a willingness to experiment. Take a look, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Hi there – please introduce yourself.
Hello everyone, my name is Bob St. Cyr and I live in Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA. However, I grew up on the prairies of Saskatchewan where I was first introduced to photography and the darkroom. When I’m home on the prairie I do not seem to have, any trouble going through film. I’m still pretty dedicated to film and enjoy the wholesome process from reading the light for film exposure to the final interpretation of a negative on silver-gelatin fibre paper.
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?
I started to seriously work with film in junior high school – about the same time I was introduced to the darkroom. The favourite camera is a difficult concept for me as I believe different formats are more appropriate to some types of photography than others. For example, for street work, I’ll grab my Nikon FM2n or Canon A-1, or perhaps my Mamiya C330 Pro S, for landscapes, or colour transparency work I tend toward the Mamiya 645 Pro TL because of the better variety of lenses and I get more shots per roll, which is an important cost consideration associated with colour transparency film.
I really like working with my Toyo 45 A II, once again because of the process – photography for me is about taking time to embrace and experience the overall milieu. To follow the light and hopefully bring back to the darkroom visual interpretations of that light to translate upon wonderful sheets of ILFORD fibre papers.
My favourite papers are ILFOBROM Galerie grade 03 glossy, Warmtone MG FB and ART 300. ILFORD MG IV RC is great for contact sheets, teaching and example prints. I do split-grade printing with a set of ILFORD Multigrade under-lens filters.
Films I like are ILFORD HP5 Plus, I photograph with this and when I am teaching photography I advise my students to use this film. I like the versatility of HP5 plus, the ease of processing, high-quality tonality and sharpness
I also use Delta 100, Fujifilm Acros 100, Fujichrome Velvia 100 and 50 as well as Provia 100 all in 120 and 4×5 sheets. I like ILFORD HP5 plus, FP4 and Acros 100 in small format film; and Infrared in 135, 120 and sheet film.
I am also open to experimenting with films if someone wishes for me to try something new.
What are your favourite subjects, and why?
My favourite subjects are landscapes, architecture and a little street photography. I like working in medium and large format in pinhole and with lens cameras for the most part and find these formats lend themselves to the first two types quite well. Street photography is something I try to do in such a way that does not /will not require model releases. I try to look for an interesting subject matter that does not always include people.
Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? What do you think about the differences between film and digital?
I shoot film because I love it. I grew up with it and have never considered letting go despite the strides that have been made in computer controlled picture taking. Digital is okay, and for that, I have an iPhone. Both forms of image capture have their place, one is not better than the other; I just prefer to work with film. It’s real, truly archival and not subject to magnetic fields, outdated storage devices, device crashes, battery-powered electronic screens for the majority of it, and the ephemeral nature of digital.
It seems that since the electronic image and social media have become a global attraction, the value of a photographic image has diminished. Technology – giving people more and more options and giving them things faster 24/7 and easier somehow takes away from the value of the visual image. Perhaps it is just me, but I feel that when I put a 16×20 silver-gelatin fibre print in front of someone, the way that that person interacts with the image is different than looking at a gazillion images day-after-day on a small electronic screen.
What is unique about your work?
I don’t know if it is unique. Is it because I make silver-gelatin prints?
How do you achieve your results?
I achieve results with a lot of passion for the art and hard work. It would be much easier to capitulate to a computer, but I love working with film, reading light and subject and figuring out how best to render a print in the darkroom. I also look at other people’s work and consult books from time-to-time.
Where do you hope your photography goes from here?
Of course, I would like to be a full-time photographic artist with work showing and selling in galleries around the world and teaching full-time at a post-secondary institution. My two passions; the investment of time in teaching and photography – so to secure a full-time photography teaching position would be a real blessing.
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
I think it is very, very difficult to make a living solely as a photographer. It isn’t impossible, but very hard in this digital day and age. Perhaps enjoy it fully as a past-time, enjoy photography with family and friends, but find another way (perhaps related) to make a living.
Other than that, one of the things I have told my students is to bend your knees (if you safely can). This was advice given to me by my boss when I worked at a Kodak Photo Lab in Banff.
Where can people see more of your images?
Here is where technology is advantageous, you can see my images on social media, which I use to try and build a notable photographic presence, e.g., Facebook, Instagram and my blogger Atelier.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Many thanks to Bob for sharing his work with us. If you’d like to have your photos featured on CP, tag your photos with #featuredphotophile on any social media post, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.