Tony Stone Photo library, the early years.

Self portrait in my colour darkroom (lights on). Tony Stone Worldwide, St.Johns Wood.  I’m looking at a processed 10”x8” sheet of transparency film on a light box that contains some exposure and colour tests. Taken in 1985.

Stock Photography is a way to sell existing images to commercial clients for a fee so they dont have to have images specially shot. The fee was then split 50% to the photographer and 50% to the library. Although I started in the darkrooms it was not long before I had a photographers contract and was doing stock photography in my own time as well as the day job.

Tony purposefully employed photographers in the darkrooms at the photo library as he wanted us to sympathetically take the original transparencies as a starting point to be improved in contrast and colour when making the high quality large format dupes needed to sell the images into multiple counties.

This additive colour work onto analogue film is similar to my current colour grading for clients though film being limited to a narrow range of exposure, contrast and cast adjustments only. Improvements to dynamic range were made using traditional black and white burning and dodging techniques that also worked on colour transparency duplicating film, though extra exposure lightened the image compared to the darkening that happens with negatives.

I believe it was my large format colour prints of the Dreamscape Project from college that got me the job. I’m grateful to the training and guidance of Matt Lambert who ran the darkrooms at the time, an inspirational teacher.