I did a degree in Photography at Nottingham Trent University between 1991-94. In my final year Shane Meadows started as a third year on my course. I got to know him quite well and one day I was walking past the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham with my camera and Shane shouted over: “Chris, come and take my picture, I’m gonna be famous soon.” I remember thinking ‘what a smart-arse arrogant thing to say!’
So I went over and got him to stand against the wall and I bent down and shot upwards to capture him in a Mussolini-like pose to try and get a picture that reflected his arrogance. I think he already knew something good was happening to him back then because a few weeks later he was on the front cover of the Evening Post because Bob Hoskins was going to be in his film.
At this time I was experimenting with very slow 50 ASA unbranded cheap Jessops 35mm film and then ‘pushing’ the exposure rates and over developing it. It gave the negative the contrast you get with that process but also an unusually flat even tone with lots of grain (or as we used to say: ‘grain the size of dogs bollocks). I love the way the line of the edge of his face and head merges with the background but stands out almost like a pencil line drawing because the film grain in the background is so big.
This was all done with chemicals and lots of trial and error and you can probably just do it in photoshop now with the click of a mouse (or can you?). It ain’t the same though because with all the digital technology at hand, you wouldn’t think of pushing cheap 50 ASA film to get these results. With digital you have so much choice that it’s often a case of ‘where do you start?’. It’s the same with music and computers. Back then it was good to have those limitations. It’s good to have the computers too though.