I mostly work with film enjoying fine printing, alt-pro techniques (such as Bromoil, Salt and Paper Negatives) and Street Photography. For me, much of the magic happens in finding an apt expression in the darkroom. I would say that I work in the ‘lyrical documentary’ style.

There’s no romance to using film. It’s about the work. Immersion in the slow process of film photography gives me what I need from photography. But this site is not a diatribe against digital. Anything that extends or records how we perceive is technological, whether that be silver chloride/bromide grains or pixels. It’s all there to be used and appreciated.

Indeed, the interweaving of the chemical and the electronic can give something other than the sum of their parts. Seeing (digitised) film photographs in a cinematographic and soundscape sequence can add power to a story when done well.

The panels below describe what’s on this site – three categories of post: ‘film and darkroom work’ (technique), ‘looking at pictures’, and ‘talking about photography’. On the ‘archive’ tab there is a drop-down menu to help you filter the posts.

Film and darkroom work

Crafting a sense of a scene is what I find so interesting about darkroom-based photography. Post-visualisation becomes as important as pre-visualisation. You only have to see the work of a master printer like Larry Bartlett to recognise what a huge impact printing skill affords. The darkroom is a place of science and alchemy. Both have a place in my darkroom.

There’s a fair amount of ‘how-to’ stuff here, largely because I initially used the site as a self-learning tool.

Writing about darkroom experiments is a good way of learning the ropes. But at the same time, it’s important not to get fixated on technical details. Technique on its own never made a good photograph.

Looking at pictures

I spend a lot of time looking at good pictures. I ask ‘what makes them good?’

It’s one of the best ways of learning how to make them.

When I come across a picture that stops me in my tracks, I

try to work out how it was made. What lens, what POV, how it was printed.

But perhaps the most important question I ask myself is:

would I have seen that’?

Talking about photography

In these pages, I offer some views, some controversial, about the state of play in photography, including interviews, analyses, reviews and commentary.

Having served as a trustee of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and the Open Eye Photography Gallery, I have put a lot of time into thinking about all matters photographic.

Each photograph sufficient to itself

Cheshire Mere, Bromoil © Tony Cearns

In terms of my own photographs, I rarely do projects, as such.

My main motivation is to record an illuminated moment, whether in the woods, in an abandoned farm or in the streets. I do not consciously search for specific things. I let the world lead me where it will.

For me, each photograph is its own moment, sufficient to itself.

The moment is illuminated through composition and the play of light, to bring a sense to the object pictured.

Of course, picture essays and panels have a long and venerable history and I enjoy looking at them.

But for my own work,

I prefer my images not to be propped up by others. Each is a separate response to the world.


It is a little pretentious to cite influences.

Perhaps it’s better to acknowledge those photographers who’s vision has helped me see – Eugène Atget, Paul Strand, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Minor White, Walker-Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Kertész, Fred Herzog, Raymond Moore, Edwin Smith, Lee Friedlander, Fay Godwin and Andrew Sanderson.

For me, it really starts with Atget and continued by Walker-Evans with his lyrical style of documentary. If I was forced to pick out two photographers it would be these two.