by Russell Youles

A passion for image making and the craft skills of photography – Tavistock photographer Russell Youles

by Russell Youles

Russell Youles lives and works in Tavistock, an ancient stannary town on the western fringes of Dartmoor. It is this quiet market town which has provided the subject matter of much of Russell’s photography, from the landscapes around the town, to the historic buildings within and the people which inhabit and visit the town.

Russell studied photography at Plymouth College of Art and Design where his passion for image making was nurtured and where he learnt the traditional craft skills of photography. Russell chooses to work with traditional black and white film as he thrives on the creative control over the whole photographic process through the picture taking process right through to the darkroom processes.

Russell says: “My grandfather was a photographer and I have an emotional attachment to the darkroom, which is one of the reasons I still use black and white photographic film. I have and do use digital equipment, but it doesn’t give me the same feeling as using analogue equipment.

“It is nothing to do with image quality, in terms of resolution, it is more that I need to feel that I have made the photograph and have not just pressed a button. It gives me a buzz, I like the not knowing whether anything has come out,  I enjoy the precision of mechanical cameras and the fact I just can’t wait until I hang the film up to dry and see if I have some great images”.

Wherever he is, Russell takes to the streets taking pictures of everyday people and events, and this can be seen in his piece of work People in Tavistock, a collaboration artist / photographer Steve Bloom.

“I had become a camera collector,” says Russell. “I had accumulated a number of cameras and associated equipment and wasn’t taking pictures, I was lacking inspiration until I started taking pictures of the world immediately around me.”

There have been three key photographers that have really inspired Russell’s work and they include the work of James Ravilious, Humphrey Spender and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

An English Eye and exhibition of the late north Devon photographer James Ravilious enthused Russell about taking photographs of the community around him and of the events and annual traditions. It is not only the subject matter but the technical aspects of his photography that Russell can relate to. This is why Russell started using vintage Leica rangefinder lenses, because of the tonal ranges available with the low contrast uncoated lenses combined with the very small size of the optics. Russell also found that the older rangefinder cameras were smaller and more discreet and actually found them easier to use in some situations.

It is the Scrapbook of Henri Cartier-Bresson that has also made a huge impression on Russell. It is this collection of photographs taken during the 1930s -1940s containing some of the most iconic photographic images as well as previously unseen photographs which has inspired Russell in terms of photographic technique, composition and style.

Russell continues to take street photographs and is continually developing his style and technique and looking for new influences to build up a substantial body of work.

He is also actively seeking commissioned work and is looking to use this style of photography from anything to  environmental portraiture to weddings and other social occasions.

To contact Russell email or call 07967 324258

Russell’s photosteam can be viewed at:

(image: Pram, Goose Fair, Tavistock 2009, Copyright All rights reserved by Russell Youles)