Michael Collins is a landscape photographer that uses plate (large format) cameras.

Michael Collins’ talk involved a talk from him about his work, and then a question and answer section.

During the talk itself, we were told we were not aloud to have our laptops open, as this was not a note taking lecture. This meant we were completely focused of Collins during his talk. I found this a great way to absorb the information he was saying in a more meaningful manner than just noting down everything he said with no real consideration for what he meant.

Collins’ photographs are amazingly detailed, thanks to the format of camera he uses. I can understand because of this why he decides to stay with such a cumbersome and frustrating (not to mention incredibly expensive) photography method. I particularly love the colours, and was very happy to listen to how precise he is with his conditions for a photograph (no wind, otherwise the trees blur, overcast preferably).

I enjoyed Collins’ take on photography, how he believes that you should take a photograph to please yourself, and as soon as you begin worrying what other people think, you are off course. The way he discussed the locations he photographed was also incredibly interesting. He spoke about gaining access and how frustrating it can be to have someone dictating how you can and cannot photograph an area. I also thought the question and answer section at the end was very productive, especially as they let us have a break to think about questions beforehand.

For the primary part of his talk, I found myself drifting off between slides, which took a long time to set up as they were old fashion slides instead of a powerpoint. It also didn’t help that the room was incredibly dark.

One thing from his talk that I won’t forget, doesn’t just apply to large format cameras, but to manual cameras in general, in my opinion. ‘You get a terrific sense of engagement using a plate camera.’ I think this is a great example of why people still use manual photographic means. It makes each photograph that is successful feel a little more precious, because so much of your heart has gone into producing it, and you were there at every stage during the process, from film, to camera, to darkroom.

In conclusion, I found Michael Collins’ talk to be a very interesting take on photography, in both a ‘how to perceive photography as artform’ standpoint, and a ‘photographic method’ sense. It was great to be able to have such a productive question and answer session with a photographer who was so willing to answer everybody’s questions.

I feel the urge to see one of his pieces in person now, so I can really appreciate how large a highly detailed they really are.