Photographing people living on the edgelands demands a technique that captures this sense of stillness, living ‘in place’ and being connected to the land. The use of physical film offers a result for viewers that is more tangible and emotionally moving than a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t digital image. Rob uses a traditional ‘large format’ film camera. The camera’s functionality has remained the same since the early days of photography over a century ago. Even the measurement of the negative plates is named in inches: ‘five by four’. There is no need to pull this piece of kit into a speeded up 21st-Century perspective where one moment replaces and erases another so easily.
The plate camera is necessarily a slow tool. Each image is captured in the space of half a second.
But this is not the only significant thing about the time taken to photograph in this way. You can't do it without striking up a relationship. In the planning of a slow photograph it's a case of considering where the person is - their place of work, the environment that inspires them, or shapes them. You need to spend time with the people you photograph. Talk with them, find common ground. It may begin with a smile, or an introduction from a mutual friend. It may start with the sharing of a task. Always, there is curiosity and an encountering of hearts and minds. There is no long lens, no shooting from afar. You can’t set up a large format camera, on its tripod, and stand there with a bright red cape over your head without being noticed. And a subject can’t be photographed unless they are ready, willing, and still. Everything must slow down. Photographer and subject resonate, and the frequency is that of the land in which they stand.