London’s Barbican on Rollei Retro 80s

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By Matthew R Terry

I am a photography student from Buckinghamshire in the UK. I’ve been taking pictures for almost seven years now and in that time, I have learned many things about photography and myself. The images in this article were created at a very important time for me.

Over the last few years, I have been battling mental health issues which, at times, prevented me from even picking up a camera. When I did, I felt that the work was deeply flawed even when I was told otherwise by family, friends, and tutors. I couldn’t even tell you how many successful images I struck off as poor and refused to publish.

I dropped out of one university, started therapy and another course. I had an opportunity to press the reset button and take control of my art for the better.

As I progressed through the course I started to like I was taking but visiting The Barbican Estate in central London was a huge turning point. Home to both The Barbican Centre and the Museum of London, it is quite honestly a place like no other. Its brutalist architecture is not only breath-taking but on sunny days, the light and shade are beautifully dramatic.

Shooting there is almost a meditative experience. It’s a peaceful place with its own green space and an artificial pond. When I visit I feel calm and relaxed but also driven to create.

When on a shoot I am searching for patches of light and areas of deep shadow. The hard-angular architecture creates frames and strong geometric lines. I often isolate a single figure in the scene and wait for them to step into the light. A lot of the estate is raised up which allowed me to shoot from higher perspectives

I used Rollei Retro 80s which I choose because of its high contrast, wide tonality and low grain. The results I got were just astounding. Strong negatives with a surprising amount of detail especially for 35mm. Unedited, the negatives accurately replicated what I saw in the viewfinder and with very little editing I was able to get the images that I wanted.

I shot the images on two of my favourite cameras, a Nikon FM2 and a Voigtlander Bessa R. Two cameras that I know like the back of my hand and can operate with ease. Heftier cameras would have been just too cumbersome for this type of shooting.

People who are reading this who might be going through a similar challenge need to remember that you are not alone. This set of images symbolises a big turning point for me as an artist. I’ve reached the stage where not only am I taking pictures that I love but I’m at the stage where I know what I need to do to improve and grow as a photographer. If you find a place that you love to photograph then keep going back and keep shooting. Just keep shooting.

See more of Matthew’s images on his Instagram: @terry_vision 

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