In 1979 Bruce Allinson followed his passion for cars and motorcycles and began his working life with an apprenticeship in a local garage. It didn’t take long before he realised that turning your hobby into a full time job isn’t necessarily a good idea. A new position at a large advertising agency in Newcastle upon Tyne was Bruce’s first introduction to commercial photography. Following a visit to Ravensworth Studios Bruce accepted a job offer, occasionally helping out in the studio but working mostly in the Lab. By looking at Bruce’s portfolio, 30 years later, you can tell he’s still got an above average interest in motorbikes and motorsport.
In those days it wasn’t unusual for a larger studio to have its own laboratory. Processing films and making prints became some of Bruce’s duties at Ravensworth. It was also the first time he had to get himself acquainted with a view camera. It’s been one of his favourite photographic tools ever since. When Kevin Radcliffe started his own studio, he asked Bruce to join him as an assistant. Those ten years of working for Kevin have resulted in a life time of cooperation and collaboration.
While Kevin’s business was focused on commercial work he would support Bruce in his efforts to subsidise his income with some Wedding Photography. This would be his first venture as “Allinson’s Photography”. Almost ten years after starting as an assistant, Bruce made Allinson’s Photography his full-time business and moved most of its services from the social to commercial photography. While a small selection of clients decided to go with Bruce, it never led to hard feelings between Kevin and Bruce and they would continue to provide resources and support for each other. In fact, in the last couple of years they’re joining forces again on a wide range of projects and commissions.
Clients now benefit from the skills of two highly experienced photographers, Bruce’s quest for technically perfect photographic solutions can blend perfectly with Kevin’s creative and imaginative photography. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example this gives Bruce access to a larger studio space – Kevin Radcliffe’s located in the historic Sallyport Tower in Newcastle Upon Tyne – while Bruce brings a wealth of technical equipment and the services of an in-house post-production specialist. While in the last 2 years Bruce has trained new staff to deliver basic post production services, he has never given up his processing skills and has continued to process and manipulate analogue and digital images throughout his career. From the very beginning Bruce has had his own in-house professional lab. Having full control over the final image has not just started in this digital era.
Bruce is a fierce advocate of the use of a view camera for commercial photography. Both inside and outside of the studio. It makes many complex creative applications – such as selective focus – more readily available. He still owns a Cambo Ultima-45 (for use with 4×5” sheet film) and has used this as a digital with an Ultima-35 conversion kit for many years, (the latter was used with a small format Nikon D800e and D810 as a digital back). Since a more compact Cambo Actus-GFX is added to the arsenal of equipment, the Ultima resides in the studio.
The Actus has quickly become the on-location camera of choice. “The precision control of all the movements within a fraction of a millimetre makes it an easy choice when using medium or small format cameras and digital backs. In addition we have found – unlike the many tilt shift solutions offered by the big brand camera manufactures, (who generally only support their own equipment) – the versatility of the Cambo is very appealing. Cambo always caters for our full array of camera sensors (digital backs, or digital cameras) and lenses of choice. A range of almost endless combinations are available to us with both our Cambo cameras. We can use just about everything we already own, or wish to purchase with these cameras.”
“Finally but perhaps most importantly there is the precise control of focus and perspective that only the skilled photographer using their experience with view cameras can deliver. All this experience, skill and specialist equipment allows the photographer and art director, or chef, to choose exactly what the viewer will focus on in a final image that can deliver a powerful and complete message telling a story in a way that no other photography discipline can.”
Bruce is a commercial photographer. Versatility is a word that comes to mind when looking at his porffolio. While he’s well aware that many photographers across the UK specialise in a category of work such as food, fashion, architecture etc. it is probably a North East England thing that there is little work and photographers can’t charge the fees big corporate clients in the city are used to. It’s a case of do everything or die and you will not get enough work to live on if you look to specialise in a smaller market. “I also think that it is the need for this broad church of photography skills, styles and ability to deliver a wide range of photography that has lead us to always owning all the kit needed for almost every type of work, (I can’t remember the last time I hired a camera or lens).”
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