I've been doing film photography for over 40 years. My fascination with photography and darkroom began when I was a senior in high school, and was drafted into a photography class. Ironically, my father had basic darkroom equipment that had never been used, so one of the rooms in our basement was immediately pressed into service. Our next door neighbor, Steve Kohut, was a serious amateur photographer with a darkroom and he readily agreed to take me under his wing. It was a great arrangement: Steve's wife was always worried about him doing day trips alone due to health problems he had, so now he wouldn't travel alone, and in exchange, he helped me with photography. I made photographs of my high school's basketball games (Steve taught me how to push film), and we would go to the games together, then retire to his darkroom to soup the film. Funny...he always developed my film first. I guess he could sense my excitement and anticipation of the images to come. Steve taught me the value of doing business at a reputable camera shop, and getting to know the people who worked there. Steve's selfless impression on me remains even today, 43 years later. He was teaching me photography, but he was also demonstrating a valuable life lesson. We who create have a responsibility to share not only our art, but to help those who endeavor to do the same. In the words of John Sexton, "if someone doesn't want to share his "secrets" with you about how he got an image, they probably aren't worth knowing anyway."
Over a span of 15 years, I began working in a camera shop, then went on to be hired as a photographer aide in a local industrial entity, and progressed through the ranks to Senior Photographer. I entered professional photo competitions and garnered several awards. Between the competitions, scientific journals, and other publications, my photographs have been used all over the free world. In 1983, Professional Photographer magazine published my article on how to photograph lasers. We didn't have digital back then!
In 2010, I was most fortunate to attend a workshop instructed by John Sexton. He was a technical assistant to Ansel Adams, and is today a world-renowned photographer. If you haven't seen his work in person, you've been deprived. John is constantly analyzing and trying new materials, but has a methodology for doing consistently beautiful work. My week with him re-affirmed Steve Kohut's lesson...share your art, and don't shirk our responsibility to help others pursue theirs. You won't find a more humble, more talented, more giving photographer than John Sexton.
Today, I have a darkroom set up in our home in Maryville, Tennessee. I shoot mostly 4x5 (my first love) but also occasionally drag out a medium format or 35mm camera as well. I have a digital camera, and use it primarily for color work, but can never resist seeing all my images in black-and-white. I love the art, the demands of black and white, and all the avenues of opportunity it provides. The peace of sitting next to a mountain stream rescues me from the stresses of today's world, and reminds me of the importance of preserving the treasures of our environment. It is for that reason that I rarely include people in my photographs, though I certainly have no determination in that direction. I love seeing the work of other photographers, both those who have passed and those who currently hold our art's future in their hands. May we all...always...keep our art alive, and at the risk of sounding flippant.....FILM FOREVER!!!
See more from film photographer David Fahey on his Tumblr.