Posts Tagged ‘portrait’

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.

Here’s an interesting perspective about film vs digital imaging. Film looks like past tense, and digital looks like present tense. Here’s an example that everyone will instantly understand. If I switch on the TV and the movie The Natural or Angels In the Outfield, or Bull Durham or any other baseball movie is on, in a scene of game action, no one will see the players and think they are watching the sports highlights. They can tell it looks like a movie, and not video from today’s MLB broadcast of your team, whatever city you’re in. It looks like a movie, like it was recorded and saved some time ago. Past tense.

George and Co.Digital imaging looks like present tense, like surveillance footage, really. Just what you shot is exactly what you got.

Film has a dreamy, slightly soft quality, that looks like a moment stored, saved from the past. That’s what draws me to it, its slightly less real quality. Digital photography is sharper than film, I think, so if you’re out to shoot sharpness tests, go digital. But sharpness is not only what makes a great photograph.

Take this image. It’s of a friend and a dear childhood friend of his, goofing around at night with terrible light, hats creating shadows over faces, slightly blurry. Doesn’t matter a bit, this is a moment they’ll always remember. They were poking each other, after I prompted them from their standing, normal (and boring) pose. It’s two grown men being the boys they once were. It’s alive and captured beautifully on Tri-x with an Olympus OM2n with a 100mm f2.8.

I know there’s a need for digital in my work flow, for commercial work. But for personal work, I can’t help but want to pull out the film cameras and save my memories with this special silver-based medium.

When some people go to the hospital to visit a family member, they bring their phone and snap a few pics.  When I go, I use the daylight window light and create a portrait.  And use my Rolleiflex. mldad2014

This was shot with a Rolleiflex 3.5E with a Xenotar lens.  I enjoy composing with two eyes on the “photo” on the large focusing screen, instead of in a viewfinder through a tunnel to one eye.  Have you had this same experience?  There is something about looking it with both eyes that lets me see the finished work as if it’s a small contact print.  I don’t find that I get the same feeling with a digital camera’s viewing screen.  But with the Rollei–maybe because it’s analog–it takes on the feeling of the finished photograph.

I think people find looking into this old box camera not too intimidating.  It’s slow, it’s quiet, it’s kinda nice to look at!

I wonder what would be the result if you compared the portraits from the Rolleiflex to say a Canon 5DmkII, and not just the film look, but whether the expressions would be significantly different with the Rollei?  Is there a warmth and relaxation present that you don’t get with the large Cannon aimed at you?  Your thoughts?

Ah, musings on a summer day!