LA Times Photographer Captures Stunning 8x10 Portraits of US Olympic Athletes

LA Times Photographer Captures Stunning 8x10 Portraits of US Olympic Athletes

In the world of newspaper photographers, you'd be hard to find someone consistently making more exciting and interesting portraits than Jay L. Clendenin. You might have seen his Land Camera Polaroid images from the Toronto International Film Festival, or his 4x5 black and white/digital color diptychs of California Olympians. For this year's Olympics, he decided to go even bigger and bring out his 8x10 Tachihara view camera to capture some amazing photos of American athletes.

Because of the immense expense of shooting, processing, and scanning 8x10 film, Clendenin loads his film holders with photo paper, develops them in his bathroom/darkroom, and scans them on a flatbed before inverting the negative image in Photoshop. You can watch a video and read about his experience shooting these portraits in an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

Zach Garrett, Olympic archer

As anyone who has shot a large-format camera knows, it's a tedious process that takes time and patience, two things that celebrity athletes might be running short of. But Clendenin is an artist, and he knows as well as the viewer does that the outcome is worth the effort.

The images range from haunting to stoic, and while there are thousands of images being made of these Olympians this summer, it's likely that Clendenin's will be those remembered most. 

All images used with permission of Jay L. Clendenin.

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Christos Dikos's picture

Now that is full frame! Beautiful images.

Jay L. Clendenin's picture

thanks! i'm really lucky to get to do what i do!

Roger Jones's picture

At last a real Photographer. Film you have to love it. Film really slows you down and makes you think.

Joseph Smith's picture

You did not read this. He did not use film because he thinks it is too expensive.

Jay L. Clendenin's picture

i don't necessarily think it makes me a "real" photog to use film, but it's safe to say i've been doing this long enough to have learned with film, as opposed to may of our L.A. Times photo interns of late, who have never shot film or been in a darkroom! ;-( shooting large format really does slow me down and allow for a little more interaction with my subjects, which i hope will yield a more fruitful collaboration! for this project, i def chose the paper negative because 8x10 film runs about $20 a shot. and i'm trying to shoot 10-12 frames on each subject. prohibitively expensive!

Darren McNeill's picture

So how is shooting on 10x8, and scanning into Photoshop and inverting, an advantage?

Jay L. Clendenin's picture

Darren, when using a large format camera, you have incredible control over your focal plane, one of the major reasons for using the camera. there is also a noticeable difference in the depth. unfortunately, many people working today do similar effects in photoshop, or, more easily, iphone filters, so it makes my use of the camera/film/expense, harder and harder to justify! luckily, working for a journalism outlet, they are very strict on integrity and follow strict ethics rules about applying "filters" and such to our images. so other than burning/dodging and minor adjustments, all my portraits are pretty close to what i was capturing.

Joseph Smith's picture

Immense expense of shooting, processing and scanning 8x10 film?
It is not that expensive and using negatives gives a much better image than straight to paper.

Jay L. Clendenin's picture

Joseph, it may have been a while since you last shot 8x10 film, i know it was for me. at BH photo, right now, a box of 10 (TEN) sheets of portra 8x10 film is $164. T-E-N sheets. THen process those for around $8-10 depending on your lab. so yes, expensive!

Joseph Smith's picture


I shoot both 8x10 and 5x7 at least every other week depending on my subuect matter and the weather. Hard to shoot in 30mph winds with a view camera much of the time.
Film gives the negative to contact print or for elnargements. More fine control for me than a paper negative. I enjoy it and love the results whether B&W silver print or Pt/Pd or Carbon.