Peter Degan is a self taught photographer living in Derby, England. He’s originally a native of Glasgow where he lived and worked for most of his life. After being made aware of his work and fanzine ‘Mother Glasgow’ which documents his photography of Glasgow in the 1970s and 80s, I caught up with him to find out more about his background and journey into photography.
Peter: “My earliest recollection of photography is helping my dad develop films when I was a boy, which led to me becoming interested with the whole process of photography and creating and processing my own work from around the age of 15. The first camera I started off with a was a ‘Zenit E’ it was an SLR, and using this I learned a lot about the basics of the craft.”
“I always had a darkroom at home and spent many many hours in there developing and printing my work. I was shooting in black and white and this has always been my preferred medium. In subsequent years I would go on to use a number of different SLRs and although my tastes in photography were wide and varied at that time, it was my documentary and street images that always drew attention. It’s a photographic genre that I love practicing and still do so to this day”.
“As the digital age dawned I must admit I was not an early adopter. I still preferred film and working in the darkroom was a way of satisfying my creative urges. I also suspected that digital would develop at a rapid pace and wanted to hold back until I was satisfied the transition was justified. My first digital SLR was the Nikon D80 which I loved and then upgraded to the D750 which was even better. I was completely hooked on digital now and with Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro I had found my preferred set up”.
“In 2019 I decided that it was time to open up my large B&W negative archive that I have been sitting on for over 40 years and start to share my images to a wider audience. It has been an incredible experience scanning and creating digital files of my work, and strangely I can remember taking every one of the shots.! I first decided that I would create a hard backed coffee table book using the Lightroom Book module which I had published by Blurb.”
“The publication is called ‘Mother Glasgow’ (the name comes from the song of the same title by Glasgow band Hue and Cry) and it contains some of my favourite images taken from the mid 70s through to the late 80s in Glasgow. In order to reach a wider audience I created a zine version which has been very popular and the first print run of these has almost gone. The images in Mother Glasgow record the city at a time of great change and many of the locations are no longer in existence.”
“I was walking the streets basically recording the city as I saw it and what was mundane then, is priceless now. I had the great fortune to have a discussion with the great Oscar Marzaroli at one of his exhibitions in Glasgow in the 1980s. He said “the best piece of advice I can give you is to just keep taking photographs.” This was great advice and something I still practice”.
“Another way of getting my work ‘out there’ was in setting up a photography website. It is still under construction and I have many more galleries to add to it, however the response to it so far has been great. It will eventually contain work from both my back catalogue of work and more contemporary work also.”
“Today I mainly concentrate on what is commonly known as Street Photography, although my style hasn’t changed. Sitting at a Mac isn’t as much fun as working in a darkroom but the productivity is greater and it’s more eco-friendly. Last year I traded in all my Nikon DSLR equipment and changed over to the Fujifilm mirrorless system which is great for photography in the streets. My camera of choice is the Fuji X-T3 with a 23mm f2 lens. This had proved to be a great move for me and I find the smaller and more versatile equipment great for Street Photography”.
“I am still enjoying my photography every day whether it be taking photos, post processing or publishing to the website or creating zines. Sharing my work now is giving me great satisfaction knowing that nostalgia brings pleasure to many people and recording todays world is key to letting future generations see what we could see”.
All images © Peter Degan, all rights reserved.