The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby



Those muffled sounds you hear from the shed are not the sounds of a man struggling to pot plants, nor the sounds of a man searching in earnest for a saw; they are, in fact, the sounds of me making prints.  You see, while many photographers sit at their computers moving sliders and pressing buttons for hours on end, I take the alternative approach.  I lock myself in my shed with a red light on and I put paper into chemicals.

Bizarre?  To some perhaps.  In this modern age why go out with a big, heavy camera loaded with film, shoot some rolls, and then go to all the bother of developing them, setting up an enlarger and spending countless hours making prints?  Put simply - if I didn't then I would never produce an image.  I am just not the type of person who can sit at a computer for hours clicking and scrolling - I do enough of that at work.  No amount of computer editing can make me feel like what I see on the screen is something which I have made myself.  For me, darkroom printing is far more personal and permanent.  How many photos do we all take on our phones only to never look at them again?  Yet, every print I make has its own memories attached.  I can remember what it was like when I exposed the negative, how the negative looked after developing, how hard the negative was to print and how much work it took to get the image to where I wanted it to be.  I don't have anything against digital cameras of course, it's just for some reason shooting film and making prints in the darkroom just makes more sense and comes more naturally to me.

The image at the top of this page sums up my attitude towards photography, and life in general.  I never feel more at peace and more at home then when I am out in the landscape with my camera and a bag full of film.  For some reason I can walk around mountains, lakes and moors with a heavy bag and tripod all day without any pain; but as soon as I start walking around the city centre my back starts to ache and my shoulders give up.  Perhaps it is a mental thing.

I first started making photographs around four or five years ago.  My wife was a keen digital photographer at the time, and I thought that if I got a camera it would be nice to go out on trips together, cameras in hand.  I decided to buy a film camera, just a simple old plastic one which I could run a few rolls of film through.  It wasn't long before I was developing my own film and scanning the negatives.  I started expanding on my camera collection until I finally settled on my current setup, a Bronica SQ-A.  I love my Bronica.  It is wonderful being able to swap out film backs mid-shoot and change my lenses round to get the composition that I want.  There is something wonderfully satisfying about setting up a big, heavy medium format camera on a tripod.  A year or so later, after regular vows to my wife that I would never make prints, I soon enough found myself buying an enlarger and setting up a darkroom.  And that is where I find myself now, still developing negatives and printing them in my darkroom.  It is good to be able to look back and see how my printing has progressed over the last year or so.  When I look over my early prints I can see that they are very literal interpretations of what was recorded on the negative.  I see more creativity with my prints over the last year or so though, and I can see my personal shooting and printing style developing.  Granted, that style may not be unique to me, but I take great joy in making my prints and that is the most important thing isn't it, to enjoy your craft?

So what you see presented on this site are the results of all that time spent out in the wilds of the world and locked in my shed manipulating light.  I appreciate you taking the time to look around this website and I hope that what you see pleases you.

Best wishes,