First, a bit of background? As much or as little as you are comfortable sharing… Name, Where you are from, what you do, What else in life do you enjoy? that sort of thing?
I’m Michael Rennie, I live in Wormit, Fife, Scotland, I’m father to two awesome kids; Lana and Luke and married to my best friend Kate. I’m a mechatronics engineer by day but at heart I’m skateboarder and cyclist; in fact I enjoy all sorts of outdoor pursuits, sailing, hill walking, surfing and snowboarding whenever I get the chance.
How long have you been taking photos?
I’ve been taking photos since I was a young teenager, first with my dads compact 35mm camera, then moving onto digital compacts when I went to university. I mainly documented hill walking, skateboarding and snowboarding trips with my friends; I knew nothing about photography and was often disappointed when the photos didn’t do the trips justice. Writing this, I realise it was actually getting a dog (Molly the beagle, hence my website name: www.badbeaglephotography.com) that was the catalyst for me taking more of an interest in photography and that interest is now a full blown obsession. I still enjoy documenting all my adventures, big or small and film has become a big part of this.
What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc)?
When it comes to shooting film I enjoy action photography, documenting family life and travel photography. I also enjoy using different cameras and films to re-explore the places I’ve visited hundreds of times.
Which is/are your favourite 35mmc compact/rangefinder cameras?
My absolute favourite is my Olympus XA, it’s so capable and unobtrusive, it definitely fulfils the “C” in 35mmc! I also shoot with a Olympus Pen D3 which is good fun and being half frame gives some interesting options on composition and making diptychs. Inspired by Hamish’s Win a Leica competition I also now have a Canon AF35 Sprint/J that is currently travelling the world, see www.badbeaglephotography.com if you want to be involved.
How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact cameras/rangefinders?
They make up around half of what I shoot on film, I also use an Minolta SLR, Rolleicord VB, Ihagee Exa and a Fuji Instax Wide too. I’m interested in experimenting with different cameras, lenses and films, so this line-up is constantly changing. I’m also shooting with a Leica M4 on loan from a friend at the moment, a real treat.
What about the experience of shooting with these cameras appeals to you?
The XA and the Pen D3 are quite different beasts, the XA is easier to get good shots with due to the great metering and rangefinder focusing, the D3 does have a meter but mine is intermittent so it’s basically a fully manual camera with scale focus, I find it challenging to shoot with but love the results when the stars align and I get focus, composition and exposure correct! I mainly use the XA for documenting bike rides and mountain biking as well as street and travel.
How do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…?
Style? Not sure I have one, photography for me is about capturing the key moments and documenting my life, I find that compact cameras don’t tend to distract as much as pulling out a large ‘pro’ looking camera can and allow you to shoot without affecting peoples behaviour. When it comes to shooting action on the bike, the XA has definitely moulded my style; the combination of subject matter and the memories make them some of my favourite shots.
What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much?
These are perfect multi-purpose cameras, I enjoy the process of documenting enjoyable yet unremarkable moments in my life with them as they are unobtrusive but they can still create great images. Their small size let’s me squeeze photography opportunities into every possible crack in my schedule!
What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you?
In the last five years I’ve started taking my photography more seriously, learning more about technical,composition and digital editing techniques to improve the quality of my shots. A more ruthless approach to editing digital photos was actually what lead me to film, initially as a learning exercise and a way to reduce my ‘hit and hope’ method of digital photography: using auto mode and shutter burst mode.
I started enjoying film with a borrowed Minolta SLR; the colours, grain, DOF (compared to my Micro Four Thirds digital camera) and the process of making pictures in a more thoughtful way all appealed to me. I basically became slightly obsessed with film: I bought a Minolta Dynax 5 with 50mm F1.4, then an Olympus XA, then an Olympus Pen D3, then a Ihagee Exa, then a Rolleicord VB……then a really cheap Canon AF35 SPRINT!
I now shoot around 6-8 rolls of film a month, what’s that hashtag again? oh yeah, #shootfilmstaybroke ! although a subscription to develop and scan up to ten rolls a month at Photoghost helps keep cost under control.
I enjoy shooting film on all my cameras on a regular basis but the compact cameras are so versatile and interesting to use in their own right I keep coming back to them.
Show us your favourite/best images taken with a compact or rangefinder camera?