Posts Tagged ‘35mm film’

kwphoto1

Me in 1988, working as a photojournalist for the Trenton Times, NJ.

I find that as more people abandon film, the more I love the fact that we have the tools to still use this amazing, great analog wonder.  And I feel like we are a lucky bunch who understand and embrace it.  Not to say there’s no appreciation for digital, because all my commercial work is shot digitally, but we get to play here still.  While the whole world has turned its back on film and dumped their cameras, we can pick them up, often for a song, and get to keep their tough metal gears moving forward.

I like that I am in the company of other film photographers, yourself included if you are one, too.  We have a magic box that many digital photographers have never even used.  Who have no idea how to use one.  And we get to still make magic.  A surge in demand for film has brought some back into production.

Keep on shooting.  2015 will bring a lot of photo opportunities to us. As long as we’re ready to go out and meet them.  I wish you a great photographic year.  And look forward to watching your blogs and seeing your work, too!

As photographers, especially photographers using film, we tend to save our shots for things that are worthy of the film.  Images that are special.  Like big events, activities, parties.

I wonder if we aren’t missing out on an image possibility, capturing some of the everyday parts of our lives, things that really define us as who we are.  You know you can learn more about a person from looking at their stuff, seeing the titles on their bookshelf, than by talking to them and asking them to tell you about themselves.  But we rarely photograph it.  It seems mundane.  Uninspired.   Perhaps it’s anything but.

We recently lost a good friend, and his sculpting workshop was where we had the memorial.  And everywhere I looked, I saw things that showed him better than anything he could describe.

Look for the ordinary in your own life, and photograph it.  Maybe it’s the kitchen wall with the pictures and radio that you look at every morning.  Maybe it’s your workshop area.  There’s a story to be told in these photographs.

Try it and let me know what image shows a piece of you.

DSCF9186DSCF9173DSCF9472DSCF9182   DSCF9179   DSCF9434

I keep running into people who see my old Leica IIIf over my shoulder and marvel that they still make film.  And that it is readily available.  I assure them it is.

I have a standard response to their “I have a great old camera that I never use.”  I tell them to just put one roll of Tri-x in it, shoot a frame once a week or so.  And that after several months, the roll will be done and there will be 36 memories to relive captured on film.

You will have forgotten what you shot.  You will know there’s something good waiting for you after the roll’s developed, and the camera will not be wasting away.  You can always shoot more, but certainly, shooting just one roll a year is still a treat.

You’ll probably need a new battery for the camera.  Many of those with electronic shutters won’t work without them.  Run out, get some new cells, power it up, and load the film.  It’ll all come back.  The feel of those old metal-bodied durable beasts will remind you why you loved them so much.  The heft in your hand will say quality, unlike what you see in many of today’s cameras.  The viewfinder will be big and bright.

It’s a treat.  And the folks I’ve mentioned it to say, “I think I’ll do that.”  I hope they do.  Bring some new life to those wonderful cameras of days of old, er, not that long ago.

How about you?  Have a sweet old camera that isn’t getting used?  How about getting it out and loading it up, just one roll of film.  You’ll be creating a time capsule.

lcpac1If you know you’re never going to shoot it again, donate the camera to a local photography school or art center.  I have one called the Lyons Photography Art Center in Colorado where you can send them.  Address is PO BOX 69, Lyons, CO 80540.  I use them to teach kids to shoot black and white film, to slow down and carefully compose images.  I give them the camera loaded and ready to shoot.  No excuses for lack of equipment.

If you do end up shooting some film, post the links here and let’s have a look!

Somehow, whenever I see a Canon QL17 for $10 or a Minolta A-5 for $20 or a Minox 35SE for $25, even a Leica IIIf for $100, I have to pick them up. (Those are real prices I’ve paid.)   I have Leica M bodies, and great lenses–I don’t need these.  But I feel like I’m rescuing some old friends when I do.  They are so well made and have lasted this long, I want them to have a future.  A reason to be.  I only buy them if their speeds all sound close to accurate and their glass and viewfinder are clean, and the rangefinder working.  These are beautiful works of art, even their leather cases are nicer than what’s being made today.

Leica IIIfSo, I have a little collection and I try to take them out at times and run a roll of Tri-x or HP5 through them.  I imagine how excited they are to be back in someone’s hands, documenting someone’s life.  Again.  There was a time when they were used constantly, probably.  But now shooting film is less than fashionable.   Folks think these gems are too expensive to shoot.

I think it’s rather inexpensive compared to shooting digital and buying new cameras every two years, computers, software and hard drives, but don’t get me started.   Film is my love and I am glad to be one of the photographers specializing in it, even if we are a minority.

Because when that image appears after developing the film, there’s nothing like that memory captured there forever.  That piece of film was present at our Grandpa’s last birthday or our son’s first steps.  That piece of film is a time capsule that will last generations if carefully treated.   When the hard drives are either corrupted or long misplaced and forgotten, this piece of film will hold the image of that day, that moment.

And that’s a bit of magic.  In a $10-$100 film camera with $5 film, hand-developed.

Do you rescue old beauties?

couple1Carrying a Rolleiflex around, people come up to you to talk about it.  And you can approach people with the line, “Can I take your photo, I have this old camera I’m shooting,” which is the 100% complete truth, and people will let you.  It’s a great ice breaker.  That’s how the image at right was made.

I had just left a screening at the Boulder Theater of Finding Vivian Maier, a wonderful documentary of a woman/nanny/photographer who shot thousands of rolls of film, and whose work was only discovered after she had passed on.  Vivian shot with a Rolleiflex, so naturally, after the show, I brought out mine to show folks, and shot these two sitting on the Pearl Street Mall.

8-31-2014 12-52-17 PMI think because it’s a piece of art that you’re working with–the Rolleiflex is such a unique design, and a beautiful piece of gear–it draws attention.  And conversation.

It has another quality, it can make you business.  I shoot Senior Portraits in Colorado, and the woman I bought the camera from called me a year later and asked me to shoot her son’s senior portraits, including some with the Rolleiflex.  And we did just that.

This last photo was shot with the Rolleiflex just last week at the senior portrait shoot.  It’s a joy to be able to use these cameras both for personal and professional work.

Senior PortraitThere’s something about a square image that really works for me.  Maybe because it’s a little different than what most people are creating.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the era of record covers.

In any case, the Rolleiflex, if you haven’t tried one, find one and give it a shoot.  You’ll find it’s very comfortable to work with, fits well in the hands and isn’t too heavy like many of the 6×6 SLRs, like Bronicas and RB67s are.

Yet it feels solid, like it’s quality engineering you’re shooting with.  Just like a Leica feels, if you’re familiar with them.

And one conversation leads to a portrait, and then another conversation, and another portrait, and on.

singerSo, while this blog is titled 6×6 Portraits, I have a variety of interests in different film formats, not just 6×6.  I have a love for Leica 35mm, too, and shoot regularly with an M3, M6 and IIIf.  The photo at left was the first shot made with my first Leica in 2010, an M6 with a 50mm f2 lens.

I think when you love film, you can’t not love many different formats.  Because they are all useful for different subjects.  I have a 4×5 Speed Graphic, and a 126 Kodak Instamatic 500 with a Schneider lens that I’ve loaded with 35mm to shoot sometime.

I started with film.  I was a staff photographer at a daily newspaper for 15 years starting in the late 80s.  Film is all I knew and it became very dependable.  People on assignment would ask, “Do you think they’ll turn out?”  And I’d say, “Yes, they always turn out.”  They better, it was my job to bring back a photograph for a story.  Failure was not an option.

Anyway, nowadays, I love my Rolleiflex.  I love the large negative.  I carry it everywhere I go, but I also carry 35mm cameras, so this blog will also feature photos shot 24mm x 36mm, despite being called 6×6 Portraits.  It will have a special emphasis on portraits on 6×6, but you never know when I’ll have a great 35mm or large format image I just have to share.

Thanks for following my blog, you film fans, all of you!  🙂