On the Road With Ilford HP5 Posted On 1st November 2019 To Magazine
Making the Most of Life Around Me
I don’t really remember a period of my life when I wasn’t making photographs. My mother got me my first point and shoot camera when I was about five. It was an ‘Action Man Spy Camera’ that took small 110 roll film. I loved the idea of blending in with a camera, trying to document what was going on around me without actually disturbing anything. I still love that.
When I was a teenager, I developed a great appreciation of skateboarding. I started taking photographs of my friends skating, partially because they were for the most part much better at it than I was, but also because I loved the act of picture making and I still love documenting my life and the talented people around me.
I loved that you had to learn skateboarding by yourself. You had to make the most of what you had around you and see the world in a new way. A bench or a set of steps was something that could be used for a trick and you had to use your imagination to see what you could do with the environment around you. I kept this methodology in most aspects of my life, photography included.
The Early Days
Digital cameras were way beyond what I could afford as a 12-year-old, even though I would have liked one, I couldn’t have one. Instead I got an old Ricoh with a 50mm lens for $4 at a local market.
I was fortunate enough that my high school had a great darkroom, complete with film, chemicals for developing film, as well as all the facilities for making prints. However, the high school was unfortunate as I knew how to keep the door open, take film and sneak into the darkroom during lunch times to develop and make the prints.
The high school had Ilford films as well as Ilford chemicals and papers. As most of the film was bulk rolled HP5 Plus, this was the film I used all the time. It was diverse enough and had enough latitude to cover the plethora of mistakes I would make trying to take photographs without a light meter and I loved the way it rendered images. Colour wasn’t really an option for me as I didn’t have the money to have it developed or the chemicals to do it myself, plus I enjoyed the developing almost as much as I enjoyed making the photographs.
Touring with the Band
Skateboarding introduced me to art and music, the latter being what I would make my work. I started working in music as a guitar tech, driver, loader, anything I could do, I wanted to do it.
The majority of this was with punk bands, who like the skateboarders I knew as a teenager, were all DIY. Often, I was the only person touring with the band, that wasn’t actually in the band. I was always the one driving the van and making sure everyone was where they needed to be at the right times they needed to be there. It never really dawned on me that this was a particularly unique and special position for someone to be in until those bands started selling out some of the biggest venues in the country and flying me all over the world to work with them.
The Band Unseen
I soon realised that photographs of the band on stage, while interesting and important, could be captured by any photographer that came to the concerts. The photographs that meant more to me and I was more compelled to capture were the parts that happened in between. From stopping for diesel or snacks from the service station, to loading in on a busy street, waiting in a dressing room or an airport or sitting in a van or on a plane. These are the things no one really speaks about but the stories I want to share the most, the complete story. I am fortunate enough to have become friends with the musicians I work with. I think this makes them feel comfortable around me and allows me to capture natural and candid images.
My go to Film
I bought a Nikon F100 and a 35mm lens.
I was still using Ilford HP5 Plus because I knew how it would look, I knew I liked it and I knew how to achieve it. I’ve always been terrible at editing photographs with software so the ability to choose a film and know what the final result will look like without having to move around sliders on a computer really appeals to me.
For example, I go on tour, for five weeks in Europe. I take around 15 rolls of HP5 Plus and my camera. The venues are always dark and 400 speed film doesn’t quite cut it. On one occasion I had all this film and started to experiment with pushing the film, I found that to capture the moment I had to push two stops and absolutely loved the results. The added contrast was how I always imagined the images anyway. Since then I am always pushing HP5 Plus and rating it at 1600 and I have found that for me, Microphen is my favourite developer to use.
Developing my Memories
When I get home from tour, I find it incredibly cathartic taking out my developing tank and developing all my film. I’m still in awe every time, nearly 15 years later, when I hang my film up in the shower at home and see all my captured memories.
About The Author
David Herington is a 27 year old photographer from Bexhill, Australia. Working as a tour manager and stage tech, David’s photographs typically capture life on the road and across stages around the world. His position as a friend and touring member of a band’s crew affords him an intimate look in to daily life on tour and the opportunity to capture images with a unique perspective and innate candidacy.
You can find David’s photographs on Instagram @david_herington