Finlay explains that black-and-white film offers a certain level of detail that's lost in digital. "When I'm shooting black-and-white, I'm always going to shoot film," he says. "But sometimes I can shoot digital in color, then change it to black-and-white, which gives me a versatility that film doesn't really have." Nonetheless, Finlay notes, "Digital is the direction everyone is moving in. I have to move in that direction; the choice was made for me."
When Finlay sits down to retouch his images, he looks for a soft hue saturation. "I drop the background down to maybe 70 or 80 hue saturation and keep the subject at maybe a 20, so I'm going to blend the background with the person," he explains. "I work with what's in front of me and accentuate detail. I don't make the picture into something it's not."
For more complex projects, he'll bring in digital retouchers. "For example, I might go to a museum and capture an image of an old photograph from 1900 in Antarctica, then travel to a similar place, shoot it, and integrate the two images. For this kind of project, which is much more intricate with cutting, pasting, and blending, I'll bring in outside help," he explains.
Finlay remains true to his roots as a documentary photographer, whether he's capturing indigenous cultures or shooting high-end advertising campaigns. "Who and what I've been for 17 years is a photojournalist who doesn't massage or manipulate my subjects."
For more Finlay images, visit www.colinfinlay.com.