Anthony Cronin

Anthony Cronin

By Kaymir Stark

With shuttercrack we try be a highly inspirational photography website for our visitors. Well, it works for us tho, everyday we plunge in and bath in the pool of good spirited creativity. We came across Anthony Cronin, an amateur photographer who started with a 3 MP Point & Shoot Samsung. After he got the hang of it, he did a darkroom course bought a cheap second hand Nikon F75 and fallen in love with analog. Mainly shoots and develop at home these days. Visit his Flickr photostream to see more of his work.

Who’s the person behind the photos?

I don’t honestly know, I just go out and shoot, I get angry sometimes at how mundane life can be. I have an interesting “day job” big deal! It doesn’t really wind my watch, so to speak. It has become pretty much a comfort zone. I lead a double life almost, the ‘suit’ at work and then when I get away and out with those I value. I am entirely different”¦ although some of those close to me will laugh and say I am a conservative at heart, I refuse to accept that, I’m just a rebel with a paycheck “¦ well it’s nice to be in the wild urban city-scapes with a camera and then retreat back to relative comfort.

What got you into photography, and what makes you keep on doing it?

It really started late in life for me, never cared for photos, I have a whole decade of memories without a single picture. Then while being bored and playing with a cheap 3mp Samsung P&S, found Flickr, saw what photography could be on others photostreams and the rest was history. I signed up for a darkroom course just over two years ago and went and got ripped off for an old Nikon F75 in a local camera shop. What hooked me was the mystery initially of not knowing what I’d captured, the waiting, the whole threading the film onto a reel in the dark and then hanging my first negs.

Now it’s different, the camera has slowly become more of an extension of my arm; I carry one at all times. I suppose with the street stuff, it’s wanting to make people wake up to what is around them, you see more than most on the street when stalking for “that shot” than most. Maybe that is why Street Photography has some currency, people want to see what they rushed by earlier that day, view the wild from the safety of their cave. Junkies and violence is everywhere but most people walk by oblivious. Recently it has become tedious to waste so much time to get a lucky shot, so now I tend to push myself and others and go places I probably shouldn’t, but I’ve had some interesting experiences. Dublin is an untouched mine of rough diamonds with interesting stories to tell, of course violence has escalated these days and life is getting cheaper. I suppose one saving grace is they think you are mostly harmless if you’re holding some film camera. Been asked too many times, what is wrong with me that I don’t have a digital camera. On the downside I apparently look like a policeman! So I get lots of suspicion initially. I enjoy it though, the rush, the adrenalin, the calculating in my head that if this gets nasty, this camera is not some plastic crap from 90’s but steel and weighty that I can probably stun them with a blow to the head and then get the hell out of this corner, I just walked into.

The newest departure is portraiture, I’ve done the landscape crap and castles while on holiday and well it frankly bores me, I like people above all. I have a couple of projects starting soon with certain sectors of society, documentary stuff. It’s just a scribble of mad ideas for set ups, probably non conformist but I don’t care will find my own route. I’ve just recently lost my fear of flash guns, so that should help with these portrait projects.. As natural light photography in Ireland is difficult when the sky is almost consistently grey, sunshine often causes local panics amongst the population!

If we’d like to trade something for a photo you made, what should the CFYE delivery man bring to your door?

Gotta be a Hasselblad system with the Zeiss lenses, held one, looked through it I want one, I am thrilled with my TLR and results I get from old folders from 50’s & 60’s but that Hasselblad is the pipe dream”¦.. I’d rather spend money on film and keep shooting.

What’s your favourite item to take on the road with you?

My camera bag an old fake leather over shoulder bag, always full, usually two formats and loads of film and filters and a meter, pen and paper for notes and that is it.

Something really fun about me:

This leaves me stumped, this is a real Oprah Winfrey question! This question is more at home in the joining pages of some internet dating site”¦ “I can’t tie a cherry stem with my tongue, I can’t sing, I dance, although no one else considers it dancing. I hate long moonlight walks on the beach. I don’t have a GSOH.!

Best shooting location we should check out?

In your own head, It has to come from there.. Doesn’t matter where you are really physically. Everyone is different forget trying to play to the audience and shoot what feels right with your gut before you brain of editorial doubt kicks in and screws everything the fuck up”¦. Trust that your ideas and view of the world through a lens is interesting. Don’t worry about being unoriginal, the last original thought was pre-packed sliced bread. Don’t imitate though, that’s a fools road from what I can see. It’s tougher to walk your own path so screw worrying about being accepted by the great and the good and try to live in the now and enjoy it. Keep it fun.

Tell us about your work as a photographer, did you just picked up a camera and educate yourself?

Entirely self educated, eventually read “the bible” parts 1 and half of part 2 (as in Ansel Adams famous trilogy, that guy knew a serious amount about photography) and then bits and pieces online but mainly self experimentation and feeling my way. I started out photographing buildings and statues, well least they didn’t move! Got bored and moved to street about same time I bought a 50mm lens and that was it, I’d found my place, the 50mm has never come off the 35mm body since and I have not looked back. I was in my mind a total novice last year when I captured that Racist Attack. Hard to believe it was a year ago, I have shot so much film since then. I love old cameras, I learnt more from using them with an old light meter than by any other way. I suppose I’d recommend film to anyone, digital it is too tempting to machine gun a scene, with film you learn patience and compose your shot.

What’s your camera setup?

I suffer from G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome!) my mainstays are a 35mm Nikon F80 with a 50 mm prime, have a wide angle somewhere but it never get’s used. A 50’s Minolta Autocord TLR with a razor sharp Rokkor lens and also a Konica Auto S3 rangefinder again razor sharp, that is why I daydream of Hasselblad’s with Carl Zeiss glass and Leicas, I love sharpness. After that I have a mixed bag of old cameras that I take for test runs and play with, still haven’t got myself a Holga but then again I’m not bothered. I need to go buy one of them shoot through umbrellas at some stage but I again divide the price of new gear by rolls of film and always find some other way.

How does your environment react on you taking your camera everywhere and shooting all the time?

Luckily my partner is very patient and an artist herself. A very talented one. She understands light and shadow, it is educational to listen to her, we are also highly competitive, and so we drive each other on in our respective areas. I have had to spend weekends away where the camera was left at home, that was tough! (laughing).

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you when you were out shooting photos?

I suppose the one that annoys most was I was shooting a huge education cuts protest march, lots of families, lot of fun pictures. I am squatted down in the middle of the road with my 50mm lens, letting the crowd flow past me. Lots of kids there, waving their banners, having fun not knowing that they were taking part in a serious protest. All very exciting for them. Great character in their faces. Most people don’t mind but some woman came up and said are you press? I said no to which she replied I must be sick to be taking photos of kids. I replied fast that I pity her that she lives in such a world of fear but her words really annoyed me for days afterwards. The media have so much to answer for with their rating driven sale of fear. The faces of children are a treasure trove of expressions and should be captured whenever possible.

Who is your favourite movie/gaming/cartoon character?

Hellboy, he just looks like Tom Waits with a gun in a raging satanic temper and I just love the character and love Tom Waits music. Movies outside of that, is difficult, it varies with my mood, I have always loved Cinema Paradiso, Betty Blue I also equally love the Korean movies Old Boy and Lady Vengance. Such class shows. Gaming passed me by, I never really got into it, I don’t own a TV gave it away years ago and don’t miss it, maybe that is why I have so much time for my passions.

Cartoon Character: my girlfriend says I am Baboon to her Weasel, This implies I am slow witted obsessive, stubborn and competitive to her sheer brilliance and intellect. Perhaps, we need a relationship therapist! I’ll go only if I can bring a camera and get shots of the half-broken apart couples sitting in reception, looking at anyone but their partner and make the guidance session into a photoshoot.

Which artist would you like to work with?

I admire many Magnum photographers, but working with them probably not, I’d like to hang out with them, see if they could still shoot with a steady hand after 6 pints of Guinness maybe. I suppose I am adamant to find my own way. On Flickr there are many I admire the list is endless, I could fill 5 pages with different reasons, I always attempt to leave a real comment on those I really admire rather than the mutual masturbatory comments that seem to inhabit Flickr.

If I really had to select one it would be Josef Koudelka, the famous Czechoslovakian photographer, I saw a recent exhibit of his, here in Dublin and was blown away at the light and shadows and the heavy contrast. I love the style. A miniature poem I heard just tonight read by Canadian poet George Murray went something like “Shadow and not light is the language of the sun”. I like that sentiment.

If you could fill a swimming pool with something, what would it be?

Red wine, preferably Nero D’Avola from Sicily. Then buy incredibly long straws and invite all my friends for a party and hope no ones fall in, because some of them would drink it dry rather than drown!

Favourite city, and coolest thing about it?

I’ve yet to find my favourite city, it probably will be in Italy although I remain open on that, it has to be large enough to have a mix of all life’s colours and if I moved there, good weather would be a plus!

What can we expect from you in the future?

Well I plan to get a little more professional a website is currently under construction and then I have projects ongoing with an exhibition already planned for next year. This will be challenging as it is a study on the TS/TG community in Ireland. These people are treated like objects of curiosity by most of society and they are such fantastic people. Some of them are incredibly beautiful when transformed and yet they all have a latent sorrow in their eyes. This is what I want to capture as well as challenge peoples perceptions of them. Of course it will all be in B&W and analog. I’m working on my printing at the moment to ensure my darkroom skills can do justice to the negatives. Viewing online is one thing but nothing beats a fine print on fibre paper for tone and texture. Outside of that, I have a few other series in my minds eye which I plan to kick off real soon. If and when I win the lottery, I’ll have plenty of time to complete these projects, till then it is as always a case of trying to squeeze as much into a week as possible.