The beauty of Expired
Welcome to all of you who have taken the time to read this article. I’m Rick Davy, a documentative/reportage film photographer based in the southwest of this lovely land I call home, Cornwall. I shoot commercially for a living and have a passion for all things film, to include expired film…
When shooting outside of my client/commission related briefs, I shoot all that interests me. Largely documentative content if I’m honest. I’ve never really classed the work that I do as a job. If I can quote Confucius here, “choose a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”, I guess I don’t do a lot of work then…
I came into photography purely by chance. I ran and managed a streetwear brand some time back, and I employed a pro photographer on an overseas location shoot. I decided to bring a camera along too. We shot the brief, and then I handed over the images which included mine to my web guy. His response was “these are really good”. Those images were mine, not the pro photographer I’d employed. I guess you could say that was the turning point to go it on my own.
Over the years, I’ve never been inspired by other photographers, but I’ve enjoyed searching through the web and viewing all elements of photography. My reasoning behind this is simple, I wanted to build my own style and not be influenced by other people’s styles. However, meeting people, capturing them, telling their stories via the power of imaging is what has driven me to where I find myself now.
I have an ongoing list of projects that I’m currently working on. The most current, and with the most content, would be “a day in the life of a” (www.adayinthelifeofa.co.uk). A visual documented look at individuals who live and work by the Cornish coast. People from all walks of life with their own different stories. The project, in essence, will continue to evolve as long as I continue to find these individuals and capture their lives.
This project did start in its early years as a digital format platform, but as it grew, I felt there was something visually missing. It appears that the world that we now live in has programmed all to believe that pixels are best. Pin sharp in their quality and crystal clear. So, what was that missing element for me? It was film? Switching from digi to film I felt would further develop the visual element of the project by adding that organic, real, grainy and realistic feel to it. Since then, I’ve stopped shooting digi altogether, and I’ll never go back.
As my love of film has progressed, I love the idea of seeking out different film stocks to shoot to include expired stocks. Cheaper on the price front, but after reading up on them online, it seems there were risks attached. I pushed those risks aside and just shot away. I’ve now been shooting expired film stocks for about the last 6 years or so, and I’d class myself as a full-time addict. I’d say about 95% of all that I’ve shot these days are expired. Yes, there’s more grain, increasing colour shifts, more contrast and less sensitivity, but they work for me.
I have a confession to make here, I’m the world’s worst technical photographer, and I’ve never understood all that pull, push, over, under stuff. I don’t edit, have the software to do it, I’m just old school, I guess. When it comes to developing my film, I send it off to the same lab I’ve been using for years with no other instructions than “develop it please”. I think one day, I’d love to develop my own.
On the camera front, I can finally say that I have the perfect set-up for me. On medium format, I run a Pentax 67 and a Hasselblad 500 C/M. On the 35mm front, I have the cracking little Konica Hexar AF. I did run with a Leica M6 for a while but it just didn’t work for me. I also have a cheap plastic little point and shoot rig that I keep loaded and by my side all of the time, just in case. Point and shoot units often surprise me with what they can deliver for such a cheap price and build.
As to the future, well, I keep on shooting, building more projects and shooting more and more expired stock.
All of the images enclosed are shot on a mixed variety of stocks – two that stand out for me and my favourites are Provia and Velvia.
Text and Photos by Rick Davy