While visiting a relative in Brighton recently, I called into Brighton Photography Gallery at 52-53 Kings Road Arches. The Gallery was running an exhibition entitled ‘Serendipity’. The exhibition is introduced as “celebrating the uniquely atmospheric and colourful work of two of Brighton’s most creative photographers, Toby ‘Fotobes’ Mason and Steve Wrigley”.
I found the exhibition immediately engaged my interest and imagination. The images are full of colour, using a variety of warm and cool tones to express moods from tranquility to excitement, often with dynamic tension and a tendency towards the surreal. I find some of Toby Mason’s work to be reminiscent of Todd Hido’s, whose work I have enjoyed for some time.
I discovered that all the images in the exhibition were made using 35mm and 120 analogue film, with no digital manipulation whatsoever. Instead, both photographers use a variety of processing methods and in-camera multiple exposure techniques, as well as various types of film, including some that is long past it’s expiry date. I was fascinated by the variety of multiple exposure techniques employed by both photographers, including the rotation of the camera 90 or 180 degrees for the second or subsequent exposure of the same subject. One of the most interesting practices used by Toby Mason is the ‘film swap’, whereby Mason shoots a roll of film and then sends it to another photographer who loads and re-shoots the same roll of film, creating a collaboration with incredible and extremely random results. ‘Film swap’ has involved Mason sending his films as far away as Japan.
I’ve read a number of blog posts and magazine articles over the past number of years about Holga, pinhole and other plastic or toy cameras, as they are sometimes referred to. While I always liked the results that these plastic cameras produce, it wasn’t until my visit to the ‘Serendipity’ exhibition, that I felt this is an area of photography that I would like to learn more about and perhaps venture into. Since the exhibition I bought the book, Plastic Cameras – Lo-fi photography in the digital age by Chris Gatcum. The book celebrates and reviews an array of plastic and toy cameras while showcasing the images of one hundred photographers, practitioners of the plastic camera, from around the world.
Having viewed more work by Toby Mason and Steve Wrigley online and following a flick through Chris Gatcum’s book, I get a sense of excitement at the endless possibilities that this area of photography presents. I think the next step on this road should be to obtain an inexpensive plastic camera and run some film through it, and take it from there. Hopefully this will help stimulate some creativity, something I feel I’m lacking.
‘Serendipity’ will run until on the 26th July 2015 at Brighton Photography. Link Below.
All images including this post’s feature-image are the copyright of Toby ‘fotobes’ Mason and shown with his kind permission.
Brighton Photography (2015) Serendipity by Toby Mason & Steve Wrigley [online], available: http://www.brightonphotography.com/serendipity [accessed 14 Jul 2015].
Gatcum, C. (2012) Plastic Camera: Lo-fi photography in the digital age, East Sussex: Ammonite Press.
Hido, T. (2015) Todd Hido [online], available: http://www.toddhido.com/ [accessed 14 Jul 2015].
Mason, T. (2015) fotobes [online], available: http://fotobes.com/ [accessed 14 Jul 2015].
Wriglry, S. (2015) Steve captainbonobo [online], available: https://www.flickr.com/photos/captainbonobo [accessed 14 Jul 2015].