Get to know Matthew Davidson the photographer behind the Rasp photo that is featured in October of our 2019 calendar.
Where are you from, how old are you?
Hi, my name is Matthew Davidson, 31 years old, from Aberdeen in North East Scotland.
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself how your love for photography started out?
I grew up around photographs; my dad and grandad took family ones often and my mum used her Polaroid camera for interesting architectural and garden scenes. My grandmother would share many pictures taken by her father in the 1920s and 30s and the stories they told. I can’t remember exactly what led me to start taking pictures but I reckon I was given my first camera after borrowing the Polaroid too many times – its films were too expensive to waste. After a couple more years my grandad gave me his Olympus OM10 kit. Trying to get to know it better, I took a photography / darkroom course at school and loved it.
Do you professionally work as a photographer?
My main job is a project co-ordinator and data analyst for a laboratory services company. I have a secondary role there as the reprographics photographer: taking, editing and reporting geological sample pictures. I’ve got to use quite a few bits of cool kit for this – including a medium format digital camera and a Cambo large format camera with a digital scanning back – under studio white light and UV light assemblies. The most complicated efforts are with the 360° roller kit. Aside from samples there are staff shoots needed for work events.
I think I’d prefer to have the photography part as the main job…
Why do you like to take analog pictures? Do you shoot digital as well?
I’ll use whatever technology is around but film is preferable. I like the feel and manual controls of older film cameras and find them much easier and faster to use than digital ones with LCD touchscreens. When I got my first digital camera in my mid-teens I thought it was amazing to see the pictures immediately and I took so many of them… that eventually, there were too many saved that weren’t useful at all. I began to miss waiting to get the film back from the lab or out of the darkroom, even the accidents like light leaks or damage that made some prints more interesting, and started to realise that there was a lot that film cameras could do that digital ones couldn’t do (at the time at least). Multiple exposures. Intentionally destroyed film. Darkroom work. A 35mm film at least forces you to try to make the most of every frame. After a few all digital years I started using film again on the side and nowadays it gets used more often than the digital cameras.
Is there a certain background story behind the picture that is featured in October of our 2019 calendar? If so, would you like to share it with us?
That sandy beach is at Scarasta on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides (west of mainland Scotland). It was my first visit to Harris and my first time using Rasp film. The picture shows one of the few glimmers of drizzly brightness as most of that day was shrouded in mist and pouring rain. I had been walking up along the beach to see the standing stone at Borve which features elsewhere on this page.
Do you have a favorite subject to photograph? If so, why?
I generally feel at my happiest while walking around parts of the highlands and islands so these landscapes and seascapes form the backdrops for many pictures. Abstract pictures are another interest, whether they are of curious shapes seen in person or invented ones through multiple and long exposures.
What’s your favorite analog camera?
Not sure if I have a favourite camera in particular but the one that’s seen the most use in the past year is a medium format Bronica GS-1 using a 6×7 film back. I drove across the country to buy the kit from a professional photographer on the Isle of Skye. Unlike most of my other cameras which are in various states of disrepair, this one functions perfectly and the lenses are very sharp.
Do you have a favorite revolog film?
Seeing pictures taken with Volvox are what led me to look into Revolog’s other offerings. Volvox remains my favourite to shoot with, though I also like Rasp, Texture and Kosmos. Still have a few types yet to try out.
Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?
I have an interest in family history and would like to travel around the country to the different farms and villages my ancestors came from to take pictures at these spots. Several years ago I took pictures with a Lubitel of a fascinating farm on a coastal walk – only to discover later, by chance, that it was the same place my gran’s family had come from.
Otherwise I like to adapt cameras – for instance, having got hold of a medical Polaroid unit that uses an integral film back, I’d like to separate this from the scope mount and get another lens assembly grafted onto it. Another aim is to use a 4×5 camera more often – outside of work.
Thanks, Matthew for taking the time to answer our questions!
You can follow Matthews photography here.