London Roots

Welcome to the new Daniel Silverman Photography blog!  I hope you like the new logo and all the new photos that will be popping up in the coming weeks.  I must apologize for starting my photo blog with such a text-heavy post, but I feel the need to construct a bit of a foundation before setting off.  

This, inevitably, means a story.  It begins with a quirky British university...and this camera.

As many of you may know, during college I had the chance to spend six months in London, England where I studied photography with some of the most eccentric, blunt, eclectically dressed, excessively talented instructors at the arts campus of the University of Westminster.  It was here that I experienced for the first time something that kept me constantly bouncing between delight and defeat: film.  More specifically, the Mamiya C330 - a twin-lens reflex medium format film camera that I was able to borrow from the university.  No longer did I have a little screen on the back of the camera to review photos or a computer chip inside telling me what the exposure was - those modern-day crutches were gone.  My fast-paced shooting style was completely out of sync with the slow, tedious, step-by-step process of shooting the Mamiya.  And at first, it showed.  My photos were terribly exposed, out of focus, and poorly composed.  Roll after roll of film, I saw nothing but poor results.  To make things worse, on my highly anticipated portrait shoot with an esteemed reverend at Westminster Abbey, the camera literally fell apart midway through the shoot.  My friendship with photography was seemingly in decline.

After an uplifting dose of perspective from one of my instructors, I stopped resisting the camera and let it teach me for a change.  And (I bet you guessed it..) that's precisely when things started to change for the better.  I was forced to slow down and get intimate with my understanding of lighting, composition, and subject matter in a way I never had with my digital camera.  Taking pictures with the Mamiya started to be fun and the photos began to improve.  After roaming around London until my film had run out, I'd head back to the darkroom at campus where the long process of processing and printing began.  It was in the darkroom that I spent hours (always more than planned) standing in front of the enlarger, watching the faint film projection burn an image into the photosensitive paper.

I learned patience in that darkroom and diligence while fumbling through countless careless errors operating the camera.  I learned the importance of shooting with intention as well as that of letting nature dictate the shutter release.  I learned the rush that comes with approaching strangers for a photograph and the not-so-subtle blow of getting rejected.  This camera made me want to quit photography.  Then it helped make photography one of the most fulfilling things I do.

It seemed all too appropriate to use this camera as an inspiration for my logo.

Oh, and the reverend was kind enough to reschedule once I got the Mamiya fixed.

He invited me into his home within Westminster Abbey and we spoke about living on the historical church grounds, the path he took to reach his current position as "Canon of Westminster," and the big Royal Wedding. After a cup of tea in the company of the reverend and his friendly dog, we walked a few steps into the Abbey Cloisters where I took this photograph.  It remains one of my favorites from my time in London.

My hope is that as this blog develops, my photos can express for you the stories and the significance that I have found in taking them.  Everyone has a story that's valuable and worth sharing - it's a great pleasure and privilege for me to seek these stories out, capture them to the best of my abilities, and share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them like I do.