man and woman surrounded by natural flowers at Mount Etna, Sicily

Greg Taig

Venice out of season - Oct. 2015 portrait of Greg by Peter Turnley

Instagram: @gregtaig

One of the founding members of “F11 Collective” a group that welcomes photographers with the aim of encouraging initiatives and a continuous exchange of experiences. From the group, on the proposal of the organizer Emanuele Andreozzi, the project fanzine “Contact(less) 2019 – 2021” was born with which some of the participants set out to tell the pandemic as they lived it.

Follow the group on Instagram @ f11collective

Interview by Emanuele Andreozzi with Greg Taig, 14 June 2023

1. I’m curious to know about your path to photography. As I understand it, you started taking pictures and then stopped to shoot. Can you somehow outline how this happened?

I started photography with a Kodak Instamatic, a small point & shot film camera on a 2 week bus trip around New Zealand at the age of 14, easy to load 126 film cartridges. I was hooked, on a school trip to Hong Kong in 1975,  I spent most of my saving on a Pentax KM 35mm camera with extra lens 28, 50, 200mm to photograph family, friends and skateboarders.

At senior high school, I worked Saturday’s at a local photography store and learnt a lot about hobby and commerical work from customers. Occassionly, I worked as an assistant at weddings, carrying the 2nd flash with a heavy wet battery pack, as well as reloading the medium format and 35mm cameras with film.

By chance at the store, a recently serviced Nikon F with a small motor drive came on sale, so I traded in my Pentax gear so I could photograph surfers with the 600mm Mamiya manual focus lens. I mainly shoot BW film being a student. I would only shoot colour for family events, usually Christmas, which is summer in Australia and plenty of natural light.

I kept shooting film up until my daughter turned 8 years old. It was becoming difficult and expensive to find colour film processing labs. I started capturing moments again with a point & shot Lumix digital camera that I received for my 40th birthday as a group gift from friends.

In 2013, an unexpected package arrived in the mail from a German photographer friend Benedikt Goettert. Benny gifted me his Fuji X100 to begin my “creative life photography”. That fixed lens with a 35mm frame on life has changed my personal life for the better! I still use that camera today.  

2. What do you think was the first thing that brought you to photography?

An old photo taken in 1914 of our extended family given to me by my Grandfather. It just amazed me! A family friend gifted me her old Instamatic 126 so I could capture family reunions each Christmas, I became the official family photographer from that day onwards.

3. Have you ever found a mentor?

Barry Patman and almost John Hedgecoe. As I am a self taught amateur, Barry my boss and friend at the local photography store answered a lot of my questions and suggested I should buy a copy of  The Photographer’s Handbook – John Hedgecoe, 1979. “A complete reference manual of technique, procedures, equipment and style” with sections on darkroom and lots of photography experiments, the basic facts are all here. It’s a fascinating book that really opened my eyes to photography and its possibilities as well as, a great quick reference when planning a shoot with demo photos.

Those were the days without internet or mobile camera phones. The only source available were libraries, magazines and books to look for further information or a friend photographer to ask questions.

4. Which book would you take on a desert island?

Two small, light books for a desert island:

* The Meaning in the Making – Sean Tucker, 2021 “offers a philosophy for the creative life and advice for making work that matters.”

* How I Make Photographs – Joel Meyerowitz, 2019  how Joel ” thinks, sees and shoots.”

5. Which photography exhibition has struck you lately?

* Vivian Maier – Inedita at Musei Reali, Turin 2022 with her personal effects, short videos and photos.

* Sebastiao Salgado – Amazonia at MAXXI, Rome 2022 the atmosphere and the size of the prints hanging from the ceiling as if you were there.

6. What do you usually look for in your photographs?

Something that inspires, documenting an event that I’m participating in. A connection with my subject, trying to capture a feeling, an expression of being one with life.

7. Are you working on any Project?

No, but I return to certain places like Corviale, Trullo, the centre of Rome to visit friends, artists and monuments to capture during different periods of the year.

8. I know you started your first personal blog, what prompted you to start it?

After helping design and compile two Zines for pubblication. I felt I was back on the creative path so I decided to start a blog.

9. What will you be blogging about?

Photography in general, a mixture of analogue and digital posts, and about photographers that I admire and respect.

10. Is there a project you wish you could have done?

To continue a project traditional fishing in Sicily that I started a few years ago before moving to Rome.

11. If you had to describe your photographic genre, would you call it humanist photography? Documentary photography? Personal photography or how?

I don’t necessary fit into one type/genre of photography. I would say “life photography” what happens around us as we live life. I like to experiment with BW 35mm film and use my old manual lens with an adapter on a digital camera. I have periods of using only “one lens one camera” for 6 months to several years.