Have you ever thought: "I have some cardboard lying around, I bet I could make that into an instant camera"? No? Then you're not Oleg Khalip and his team of cardboard camera constructors. They launched the Jollylook, a vintage-folder looking camera on Kickstarter on January 31, and it has already beaten its modest $15,000 goal by over $200,000.
Shooting portraits in large format film is extremely rewarding. There's a simplicity of the process, from the posing to the static camera position, that helps ground both the photographer and the subject in the moment. Beautiful images may be your reward for such patience, but it's not without its challenges. For me, the biggest challenge shooting portraiture is not working with the camera, but the insane amount of light you need to throw at it. For the uninitiated, here are some facts about the format and its light-eating characteristics that you may need to consider.
Lately I've cottoned to the film beat quite a bit here. I've written about Super 8 and about film stock options for analog photography, about the revival of Ektachrome, and about instant photography. I love it all, but I'm also aware of the fact that we very much live in the twenty-first century. We live on computers and we live online, and if photos don't exist in these spaces, they may as well not exist at all. So what can be done about getting photos taken on film, old or new, into a form fit for such a universe? Let's talk about film scanning.
So you've read all my articles on film and decided: "You know what? I'm going to give it a shot!" Great! You're about to embark on a rewarding, sometimes frustrating journey into the old school! However, one of the first questions you'll have to answer is: What film should I shoot with? There are so many choices out there with varying brands, speeds, grain structures, and formulations that it can be daunting to select a few to try out. I know that when I first started out, I had no clue what to try. Hopefully, this guide will serve as a broad primer on some of the most popular stocks and take some of the mystery out of picking your first film.
CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, held each January in Las Vegas, is usually a place where new technologies compete for eyes and wallets, where, in a way, the world of the future is presented to us. We can experience this future first hand on the show floor. We can turn on a TV, or click on news links and YouTube videos. We can also read the glossy, picture-laden pages of electronics magazines, and the somewhat less glossy ones of newspapers. These analog news sources are where one of this year's most talked about photography and film-related invention should feel most at home: Super 8 is back.
Even after its death, if was there ever one film stock that was the color film, it would have to be Kodak's Kodachrome The last roll was famously given to Steve McCurry, who essentially built his career with the film. To say that was a sad moment for lovers of film would be a gross misrepresentation. This was something that was lost. It would – could – never come back. Or could it? A recent conversation between The Kodakery and a number of Kodak executives including Kodak CMO Steven Overman lead to a glimmer of hope for the resurrection of everyone's favorite color film.
Style. The idea of finding your own voice and style has become an intricate part of growing as a photographer and differentiating yourself from the competition. It's not only a way to get work, but a way to be remembered in a field of talented artists. But, as a portrait photographer, I find that my need to make a signature image sometimes gets in the way of capturing the human being in front of me. I'm so concerned about making the image "cool" that it's almost as if the person in front of the camera doesn't matter. Today, that ends (I hope).
I'm a sucker for short-form documentaries and analog photography, so when I came across Filmmaker David Drill's "Master of Camera," I had to watch. It's a very well-done story of camera repairman, Gian Luigi Carminati, who's been repairing cameras for almost sixty years.
It's winter in the Northern hemisphere. Though it's only been winter for about week – at least if you go by the Old Farmer's Almanac, which I'm certain we all still read religiously – it's been cold for a while. For film photographers, summer is a happy season with enough light, with gorgeous colors, and little worry about malfunctioning equipment. If you're not hanging out in the wettest of jungles or the hottest of deserts, anyway. The cold is less kind to our equipment and our medium. Cameras are susceptible to malfunction, film becomes brittle.
Tim Heubeck, over at the Waste of Film channel on Youtube, has made a great video detailing the Film Toaster, a platform for using your DSLR to scan film. DSLR scanning has rapidly become a preferred way to capture negatives with a potentially higher quality than a traditional flatbed. The Film Toaster brings attempts to make this process easier, but with a $1699 price tag that may turn off potential investors.
Ansel Adams once said “you don’t take a photograph, you make it.” I have always thought that what he meant by this quote was the process involved in reaching the final image. It has never been about clicking a picture simply, but it involves the creativity the photographer pours into his image. And creativity and sensibility also are what transpire in the beautiful conceptual project of Finnish photograper Christoffer Relander, titled “Jarred & Displaced.”
Post-processing at the computer for hours on end often leaves me feeling nostalgic. Maybe there’s something tangible to film photography that I’m overlooking. After seeing a fellow landscape photographer working his 4x5 near a tree in the local dunes, his approach to our hobby had me contemplating my choice of hardware. There are so many analog-inspired pictures circling the web, that it’s obvious that I’m not the only one. Today, I want to share my thoughts on film photography with you.