In your bag No: 1695 – Greg Turner
Greg checks back in to share the intimate journey that brought him back to the craft of shooting film
I just looked back to see when I first had a feature in this section of your site and it was 2016. A lot has changed since then and not just my cameras and the bag I keep them in! I lost a father to dementia (his last few years are documented on my website), and a wife to divorce but I regained my sense of self and purpose and have enjoyed some of the photographic recognition I’ve so desperately craved since I was a small child. I’m needy for approval but then aren’t we all?
After that first ‘What’s In My Bag’ I moved to shooting predominantly film with a Hasselblad, but then the cost of processing and scanning, and my impatience for results drew me back into shooting digital. It was a moment of weakness but I foolishly let the Hasselblad go and replaced it with a Leica S (which second hand were something of a bargain in 2017) but the niggling feeling that I should be shooting film never went away. Even when I learned how to process the files to look like film, the sense of being slightly fraudulent and impatient in my process lingered and I never felt really comfortable with it.
Back to Film
In January this year I engaged with a photographer I respect and adore and who also shoots film, for some mentoring (by far the best money you can spend on your photography btw). In our first session I asked the inevitable and clichéd question, ‘should I be shooting film?’ Her response was brilliant. With an expression of both amazement and disappointment she fired back:
‘You mean you’re not?’
Her follow up brilliantly articulated why we still love working with an analogue process: ‘Photography is a craft and if you’re as passionate about that craft as you clearly are, why would you not want to shoot film?’
I didn’t hesitate. I loaded all my expensive digital gear on to eBay, paid off the credit card with the proceeds and still had funds left to buy a Mamiya RB67 and a Pentax 67. I wasn’t sure which I would want to keep but I figured with prices for these cameras rising I could probably sell one in the future and not lose money. The RB67 was the keeper for several reasons, mainly because it’s entirely mechanical, and therefore more likely to be serviceable, but also because the workflow is slower and more methodical, which is the main reason for shooting MF. The Pentax is fabulous but it’s designed to make the workflow feel more like 35mm so its key advantage is also ironically the reason why I decided not to keep it.
I use the standard 127mm lens with the RB67 for the majority of my work, with the 90mm as an alternative when space is tight or for shooting groups. The camera came with two backs, one of which is for 220 film but it works just the same with 120. There is not mechanical difference between the 120 and 220 back except for the frame counter; you just have to remember not to shoot past frame 10!
Just recently I also rather rashly snapped up a boxed and mint condition Leica MP. I can’t even date this camera as all the serial number turns up is that its post 2010. I’m not really sure I can justify keeping this (strictly speaking I absolutely cannot afford it!) but again, my rationale is that it’s only likely to appreciate in value and I managed to get it for a good price so I know I can always sell it and not lose much, if any, money. But it’s such a beautiful thing I will find it hard to part with! I use it with a Zeiss 50mm Planar and a Voigtlander 35mm Nokton. Although I always work in colour but this camera currently has the last roll of Adox Silvermax I could find for sale in the UK and is being reserved for a very specific project. I confess I don’t really have the talent for shooting B&W (sadly I don’t think many people do), but I really wanted to photograph one particular individual in his home, in B&W, hence the yellow filter currently fitted.
The bag is a Wotancraft Trooper in size large. I have used and loved Wotancraft bags for about five years and I also have the medium size Trooper, which accommodated the Leica S very well, but it doesn’t remotely accept the RB67 so . I love the canvas material and robust construction. They aren’t the most padded bag in the world so if I’m travelling, I tend to use a well-padded backpack, but for everything else the large Trooper is perfect.
Other things I tend to keep with me include:
- Film, obviously. Like almost every other colour photographer out there I predominantly use Portra 400 for both 120 and 135, sometimes 800 if I need the extra stop.
- Sekonic light meter, an indispensable tool really. While I enjoy a good game of ‘guess the exposure’, having something that tells you how far off you were is imperative.
- Business cards – a friend of mine designed these for me and everyone comments on how much they like the square format – it’s almost a shame I don’t shoot 6×6 anymore! They live in what I think is a cigarette pack holder but works just as well for business cards.
- Fountain pen and notebook – I also love to write and keep a journal or write letters (rather than emails) whenever I have time. I just wish my handwriting was better.
- My dad’s old Omega Seamaster watch, which will obviously be on my wrist rather than in the bag. I actually bought this watch for myself in 1998 but then gifted it to my father a few years later along with a very personal note. When he died in 2018 my mother gave me the watch back, along with the note.
- Gaffer Tape – it’s amazing how bloody useful it is. In many ways gaffer tape is to photographers as a towel is to a hitchhiker ;o)
I try really hard not to be a gear head and my passion is for telling the story of the person in front of my camera. But this is an unashamedly gear focused post so if you would like to see my work, you can do so here:
Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Japancamerahunter.com
Send me a high resolution image of the bag. Optimum size is 1500px across. Please ensure there is a bag in the shot, unless you don’t use one. The more you can write about yourself the better, make it appealing and tell us a story. Snapshots of your gear with a camera phone and no words will not be featured.
Oh and don’t forget your contact details (twitter, flickr, tumbler et al). Send the bag shots here. Please understand that there is a long wait now as there is a backlog of submissions. Not all make the cut, so make sure yours is funny/interesting/quirky. And please make sure the shot is of good quality, as the ones that are not do not go up.