Next up on Xpan Photographer profiles is… me, Matthew Robert Joseph aka fotodudenz. I am sorry for the epic nature of this post but I have been working on it for weeks, a bit at a time, waiting for the right gap to post it in. You will have to excuse all of the commas.
When did you find out about the Xpan?
I found out about the Xpan not long after it released, Hasselblad had a fairly slick website dedicated to it, all black and cool, unfortunately this was probably also when I realised that my eyes don’t like looking at white text on dark backgrounds. Something made a lasting impression and it wasn’t just that eye burning text.
When did you get your Xpan?
I think it was around the 26th of May 2004. I remember the day well, I was at work and the nice UPS man brought it into work, I opened the box and unfortunately it was DOA, I cried, I pissed myself and I punched a wall. I then took the batteries out, gave them a rub, shook the camera a bit, sacrificed a chicken, put them back in and it worked. Fuck me, my heart was either completely stopped or going a million miles an hour for that whole time also.
What attracted you to the Xpan?
Well I had always liked Leicas and the idea of owning a rangefinder for their compactness. I also really liked shooting panoramas on my digital cameras but I didn’t like stitching them together. When I saw a camera that was a rangefinder that could shoot panoramas in one shot it was a no-brainer really. It’s also a sexy beast as far as cameras go. It gets a lot of attention in public, especially from the photography crowd.
What lenses do you have?
I have the 45mm and the 30mm. I sold my 90mm quite a few years ago, it helped pay for my iMac which I have used a hell of a lot more than the 90mm.
Which is your favourite lens?
The 30mm. The 45mm is literally a paper weight at the moment. I have owned the 30mm since 2005. I don’t think I had seen photos taken on the 30mm before I got mine but I remember the first day I saw one. I was at work and a customer who had one came into the shop with it, as soon as I looked through that big, ugly, beautiful viewfinder I was in love. I like it wide. 35mm feels like a 50mm to me. 24mm on the 45mm isn’t wide enough either. I like to be able to get everything in, including what’s around the corner. Not having to worry about focussing 95% of the time is also very convenient.
What do you like to take photos of with your Xpan?
Pretty much everything. But if I have to put it into words, it would be the following: The everyday, the odd and obscure, run-down and abandoned stuff, graffiti, street, people on the street and the street itself, light in a traditional sense and actual lights, my own feet, statues, skies, art, cameras, friends, people I actually like and signs, colour, new houses and estates and homes being demolished, people in aquariums, tourists and last but not least: shit on the side of the road in New Zealand.
What would you like to take photos of with your Xpan?
What a question! I’m so glad I thought of it. I think the Earth from the Moon would be a great shot to take with an Xpan. Also, what heterosexual male wouldn’t want to shoot behind the scenes photos for Playboy at the Playboy Mansion? Shooting stills for a Wes Anderson film would also be a lot of fun.
What is your favourite film to use in the Xpan?
I shoot mostly B&W in the Xpan. I like Kodak BW400CN because I am lazy. I am actually doubly lazy. First off I can’t be bothered developing my own black and white film, I can and I will when I have to but for the time being I’ll keep using it. The second lazy reason is that using the modified SP3000 at work I can only scan B&W film, colour doesn’t look too good and using the V700 is a pain in the arse.
But when I do shoot colour I like to use Kodak Ektar if it’s nice and sunny or Fuji 400H if it’s a bit ordinary weather wise. If it’s a special occasion I might crack open a roll of Agfa Ultra 50 or 100 if I’m feeling extra colourful.
What are your three favourite shots that you have taken with your Xpan?
My three favourite shots, Jesus Fucking Christ. You try picking 3 favourites out of over 1100.
Henderson St: I took this on a trip to New Zealand in 2011. Over the course of a few days I had ping ponged my way south from Christchurch and ended in Bluff, as far south as you can get in NZ without getting wet. I arrived and went for a bit of a walk around where I was staying and the sun set, words can’t describe how intense and golden the light was, unfortunately I had B&W in the Xpan but the colour version is etched into my mind’s eye.
Kyoto Platform Waiting: In March of 2006 I spent 3 weeks in Japan. On the 2nd or 3rd day I went to Kyoto and spent a few hours wandering around the train station. I really wanted to get a nice above view of people moving around and I spotted this walkway. I had to sneak into what I recall was a hotel, I wandered through a security door, when I finally got to where I took this shot I discovered it was security glass, glass with chicken wire in it. I decided to snap off a couple of shots anyway but from the corner of my eye I could see a security guard approaching me. As soon as he got within talking distance I walked towards him and left. Phew!
In the Gift Shop: Ambré and I went to New York in 2010 and visiting the Guggenheim was high on my list of priorities. Unfortunately while we were there they were between exhibitions so everything was either going into or coming out of a box and also there was some exhibition up high that they needed to block out the natural light for. I was pissed! We walked into the gift shop and I naturally looked up, the gift shop sky light was not covered and so I whipped out my camera and started clicking.
I’m doing an extra one because I can and you can’t stop me. I had been out shooting one day with a friends and we walked to the station to catch the train home. We were waiting at the station when this old Hitachi train turned up, it looked like it had just been polished on the outside but it was filthy on the inside. When I noticed the scene that was going on the other side of the train to me I slowly reached into my bag, pulled out the Xpan, put the camera up to my eye and fired off a few rounds.
You’d think there’d be one colour shot in there, eh.
What is your favourite shot that someone else took with an Xpan?
Jiminy Cricket! This is harder than picking 3 of my own shots. I am going to have to pick 3 for the same reason as above. I’m da bawss. Please note: I know a lot of people who shoot with the Xpan and a full list of my favourites would not be possible, to the people who aren’t here I’m sorry, I love your work, I really do.
First up is my friend Gary’s “musee d’orsay 1”. I have been in love with this image from the moment I saw it. The woman on the left who doesn’t give a fuck and the man on the right that’s using his umbrella or something like a phone and then in the middle there is this massive statue of a polar bear. The tone, the lighting, the composition, all brilliant. Unfortunately Gary stopped taking photos not long after this and started playing guitar.
Next up is robdeszan’s “Picture 120”. There is just something about this image that really gets to me. Is it the tone? Is it the sharpness? Is it the clean-cutness of it? Is it the pose? Is it the fact that you can’t see her mouth but you just know she’s smiling? or laughing? Is it all of the above? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it works. Quite possibly the best image ever taken on an Xpan with the 90mm, prove me wrong.
Untitled by Ben Roberts
Last but definitely not least is Ben Robert’s image, sadly it’s no longer on Flickr but Ben has allowed me to host a version of it on here. I love how complicated these crossings are and it makes me think of the fork in the road metaphor, some important life moments were made at this junction. The elevated perspective is very cool, something that I am continually thinking about and the man who doesn’t seem to know which way to look. I bet tourists have died here, Lose your horse or lose your head.
Oh fuck it I’ve got time for another, just a quick one.
A more recent Xpan favourite of mine is Theater By The Lake by Nafis Azad. I love the darkness and movement in this one.
Oh crap just one more, Rascal King by Clay Lipsky. The definition of America in one image.
Here’s something you didn’t know, at the top of each Xpan Photographer profile I put my favourite Xpan image from that photographer.
Which photographers inspire you?
A lot of photographers inspire me. There are of course the big names: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, Weegee, Martin Parr and the list goes on. The work of Jeff Bridges deserves a special mention, I bought his book Pictures back in 2004, I know he’s a Widelux user but I like to think he has an Xpan as well.
Ground zero on this streety B&W panorama thing comes from one person and you probably haven’t heard of him, his name is Aldo Sessa. Once upon a time I was in my favourite second hand book store in Christchurch, Smith’s Bookstore, and I was having a browse of the photography section and found this book called Manhattan Panorama. It was like that scene in the movie Pi, not The Life of Pi. I looked at the book and God (or in this case Aldo) downloaded something into my brain.
Kiwi photographers have a special place in my heart. Robin Morrison would have to be at the top of that list, quintessential New Zealand photography at it’s best. What I wouldn’t give to sit down and have a cup of tea and chat to that man, unfortunately he died way too young. There is also Laurence Aberhart, Ans Westra and Marti Friedlander. Just thinking about their work now makes me teary.
There is one other New Zealand photographer that I have to mention, his name is Tony Bridge and he is the man that told me that it’s ok if I want to put something in the centre of the frame. Thanks Tony! I am still “Tradition’s servant, cursed.”
Flickr has been a massive source of inspiration over the last 9 years. Ben Roberts and Clay Lipsky as I mentioned above, Jon Madison, Bob Smith, Wooter Van Der Voorte, Nafis Azad, Fabien Penso, Barbara Fischer, Ziz, Mike Stacey, Dave Carswell, Warren Kirk, Fred Stillings, Zane Yau, Robbie McIntosh, Arthur Janin, Ahmad Sabra, Derek Smith, Richard Plumridge, Tyler Bjorkman and many, many more.
As I said above, I know a lot of people on Flickr and a full list of my favourites would not be possible, to the people who aren’t here I’m sorry, I love your work, I really do.
What other cameras do you like to use?
My kit has been somewhat consistent over the last 11 years or so, cameras have come and gone, digital, 35mm, medium format and even large format. So at the moment apart from the Xpan I am shooting with a Mamiya 7 with the 43mm, did I mention I like it wide? When I shoot with it along with the Xpan I can’t help but think “It’s nice to have a foreground”. I also shoot with a Voigtlander Bessa L & 12mm, did I mention I like it really, really, fucking wide? It’s a fun little camera and I have a thing for external viewfinders. Get close and then get closer still.
Recently I acquired a Sony A7 digital camera because it looked as though everyone who had one of those was having a lot of fun, and it’s true. I know I’m a staunch film camera user but I’ve owned my share of digital cameras, there’s no point pigeon-holing yourself! And last and definitely least the last camera that I use is my phone, an HTC One X. I recently cut down on the mobile posting to Instagram, I’m not a fan of the Instagram mentality.
If Hasselblad made a digital Xpan, would you buy it?
The answer is maybe. If I could afford it. The chances of Hasselblad making it happen are pretty much zero but if someone else came along with a 6×7 digi that could take the 30mm I would definitely consider it.
Where can we see your work?
My website: http://www.fototheque.com
Caution: I am doing those annoying multi-image mosaics on Instagram, you have been warned.