Artist Feature – David Chalton

If you want to learn how David Chalton, the man behind the cover photograph of our 2019 calendar, calls or Kolor film you must read this interview!

Where are you from, how old are you?

I live in Newcastle, in the North of England, I’m 45 years old.

Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a photographer? 

My dad was a chemistry teacher and a photographer, and I can still remember in the 1970s when he used to take me in his darkroom and we’d only have the dim red light, it felt magical as well as really “sciencey.” So I was exposed to analogue cameras from a really early age. There were quite a few around the house, a Zeiss Ikon Ikonta, an Adox 300, a West German Edixa Type B he bought in 1965 and an OM-1. My dad also generated large “soot and whitewash” lithofilm high contrast prints as art for my childhood house.

My Mom and Dad let me play with their Kodak Instamatic 133, and I clearly remember as 5 or 6-year-old going to the park and asking dog owners if I could take photos of their dogs, that graduated over the next 5 years to taking (bad!) close ups of Dungeons & Dragons figures. As a teenager I took the usual 35 mm snapshots at discos (as they were called then!) and parties. 

Then all changed when I went travelling around the USA in the 1990s at the relatively young age of 25 taking an Olympus Trip AF S-2 with me. I took the usual snap shot style photos to document my trip (for me), and a few scenic ones that made me think much, much, more about light.  I had a photography lull then and did a science PhD and worked as a scientist, and photos, for a while, were more things to document data and experiments. I began to dabble with digital cameras from 2003 onwards

Then in 2010, David Ashdown of Northside Tattooz got my wife and I a wedding present of a Chris Bourke piece of art.  Chris is an artist who works almost exclusively with lino printing. Lino printing is a renowned labour intensive method of producing art as vivid and bold images…..and that got me thinking about revisiting analogue. 

So I started shooting again with my trusty Olympus Trip. My Mom and Dad then got me a 35 mm Diana as a birthday present, and a friend separately bought me a medium format camera for the same birthday and so I was all set, and here we are (I’ve acquired a few more since then too!)

All by my Lonesome - 600nm - ©David Chalton

Do you professionally work as a photographer?

No I shoot by word of mouth for friends and family.

Why do you like to take analog pictures? 

I like the feel.  Maybe it takes me back to my childhood. Maybe the images they capture are closer to my memories of the subjects, not perfect, sometimes fuzzy, but capture the feeling of the scene, and that helps bring the emotions and memories flooding back.

Chinatown - Plexus - ©David Chalton

Do you shoot digital as well? 

Yes, a Panasonic Lumix DMC LX100.

Is there a certain background story behind the picture that is featured on the cover of our 2019 calendar? If so, would you like to share it with us?

The picture is taken in the grounds of a cottage in the middle of nowhere (near Leominister, UK) that has many happy memories for my wife and her side of the family.  It’s been in their family for 4 generations, and is attached to a farm they used to work on.  My wife used to visit as a child, and formed many fond attachments to the scenery there (hills and trees essentially).  I visited there with a group of university friends (including my now-wife) in 2000, and so it has a special place for me too.

Whilst the trees will have grown and some died, and crops planted and harvested over the past four generations may have changed, the view of the stars from the orchard will have changed very little over that time.  So this view would be very similar to what my wife’s relatives could have seen in the 1800s 

It’s so dark when the sun sets, there are very few street lamps in the countryside nearby, and so it’s perfect for star trails.

Do you have a favorite subject to photograph? If so, why?

Apart from my wife, Ruth? I love the architecture of my city: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  It’s so vastly different, from the smooth, shiny lines of The Sage, through to the many bridges that span the river Tyne, the old stone buildings on Grey Street, and the cobbled footpaths.

What’s your favorite analog camera?

My heart says Olympus Trip AF S-2 as we’ve got so much shared travels, and the sound of the film winding on, for me is so emotive.

Do you have a favorite revolog film? 

Kolor.  It’s a harsh mistress.  One day I hope to understand it, and I’m going to have a lot of fun getting there.

Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?

Yes. I’m currently trying to document my children (3 and 1.5 years) growing up in the digital and social media age, whilst protecting their agency and privacy for the future, but everyone wants to see your kids, right?  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…..

For public consumption I keep their faces out of shot. Sure I could just blur their faces or digitally put a sticker over their face (to be fair sometimes I do with snap shots!).  

I love the feeling of composing the shots, choosing the right angles, and getting the light right to mess with the exposure of their face, or catching them playing with a toy that covers their face, all these intersecting at the right time is an amazing feeling.

Obviously they’re kids so, things quite often don’t go to plan. I take regular shots for printing for albums at home just so hopefully when they’re older they won’t just say “DAD!!!! How do you know it’s me?!”

Thank you for the interview, David!

Follow David on his instagram: coffeetoons

Featured products: RaspLazerTesla 1600nmKolorKosmosPlexusSnovloxStreak BWCalendar 2019

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