Instanto Outdoors – Henry Iddon’s large format sports photography

21 March 2018

Region: Headquarters

Ahead of Henry Iddon’s talk with the RPS IPE 160 exhibition at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk, we’ve asked the photographer to tell us a little bit about his work.

Henry used a Victorian Underwood ‘Instanto’ camera, made in 1890 to create the image Outdoor Swimmers, Ullswater which was selected to be part of the IPE 160 exhibition.


What are the main themes behind your work?

“My self-motivated or personal projects are all about trying to find new ways or reasons to photograph the mountain and upland environment - 10 years ago I photographed the Lake District by Moonlight, which as a body of work was unique. ‘Spots of Time’ was all about the peace and tranquillity of the hills at night, shot on DSLR. I followed that by a portrait series of those who visit the Lake District for pleasure - ‘Hill People’ shot on medium format 6x7.

Since 2011 I’ve been shooting a series on 5x4 called ‘A Place to Go’ which looks at sites of misadventure (fatal accidents) in the British mountains, the title for each image is the press or mountain rescue information. The earliest incident I refer to is Charles Gough, the unfortunate tourist of Helvellyn fell to his death in 1805.

All these series involve an element of academic research in to the issues they address - be it romanticism, dress and identity or place.”


For your series Instanto Outdoors you use the Underwood ‘Instanto’ plate camera, what inspired you to work with large format photography?

“I’d worked on 5x4 previously for the ‘A Place to Go’ project and when the opportunity came a along to use an ultra-large format 10x12 camera, especially one previously owned by adventurers George and Ashley Abraham, the pioneers of outdoor sports photography, I grabbed it with both hands - literally!

It was an opportunity to get a glimpse in to the working methods and issues faced by the early photographers, to some extent it’s easier to move forward if you understand the past.”


Which photographers do you admire?

“I have a great empathy with the work of the American photographer Harry Callahan, his oeuvre is varied but always challenged norms and was consistently brilliant. I also love the work of Raymond Moore.

Paul Hill and Greg Lucas were positive influences on me when I studied for an MA in the late 1990’s, I wouldn’t be doing the work I am now if it wasn’t for them, and the course they ran at De Montford University.

One of my favourite photography books is ‘She Dances on Jackson’ by Vanessa Winship. I guess I admire anyone who works on big projects and puts a lot of time, effort and graft into their work.”


Any tips for someone who is interested in starting to work with analogue photography?

“Like anything just give it a go - analogue is what photography ‘is’ - digital just replicates it. Understanding the process can only help your general photography.

It need not be super expensive either - simple pin hole cameras can be fun and an entry in to processing etc. There’s a wonderful serendipity and element of chance to shooting pinhole images.”


Photographer’s talk: Henry Iddon in conjunction with the IPE 160

Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk, Monday 9 April 2018, 7pm, £6/£4. All welcome, concessions for RPS members. See event booking info here

The IPE 160 (International Photography Exhibition 160) is showing at Chapel Gallery from 17 March to 14 April 2018.  

The IPE 160 is supported by

Image © Henry Iddon, Outdoor Swimmers, Ullswater, Cumbria, November 2016