Posts Tagged ‘rolleiflex’

I saw an excellent documentary at the Boulder Int’l Film Festival Saturday afternoon on Life Magazine Photographer Henri Dauman, who photographed so many legends, celebrities and statesmen, including Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, JFK and Jackie Kennedy, Elvis, and countless others. It’s titled “Henri Dauman: Looking Up”, and if you can, see it, it’s good.

Of course I brought a Rolleiflex with me to the screening at the Boulder Theater since Henri started with that camera in the 1950s, and since he was scheduled to be there, I figured I’d use it to make a portrait of him. But as it turned out, at the last minute he had a conflict and couldn’t be there.

Well, after the screening, the producer, Nicole, who’s also his granddaughter, was there and she said she had noticed my Rolleiflex. I said I brought it to photograph Henri. She said, “Take my portrait and send it to him. He’ll love that.” I said ok.

So, I photographed her with the Rolleiflex outside the theater, developed the film and hand-printed the portrait of her in my darkroom, and now I’m sending her portrait to Henri, this master photographer.

I am very honored to be able to offer it to him and have it in his home gallery. And I like the connection the camera had to Henri and how it brought her to me to make the portrait.

As much as I love her portrait, it’s for her and him that I made it, so I’m sending it to them in print form and they can choose whether to share it.

Here’s a photo of Henri with Brigitte Bardot from 1962.

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My Dad in a Langhorne Pennsylvania cafe, March 2018.  I have coffee with him every workday morning–when I see him on my desk in a framed photograph.

It makes me sad when I think about how valuable fine art portraiture is, created on medium or large format film, and yet how few people even know what it is, let alone why they would want to order a portrait like this.

The photograph above is a portrait of my Dad, sitting across from me at breakfast table in a small cafe when I went to Pennsylvania for a visit.  This is him sharing time with me.  This photograph means so much to me.  It’s printed on my desk, and I keep him with me and see him everyday when I get to work.

rtI made his portrait on a 1950’s era Rolleiflex 6×6 camera. On Ilford HP5 black and white film.  I know where this photograph will be in 50 years–still in the frame that it is in now, not lost on some old hard-drive or to obsolescence.

To me, this is what photography is–capturing memories and then being able to keep those that matter most to you close to you.  A simple framed photograph does that very well.

But the ease of digital photography has made it so that most people keep all their photographs in file format.  This file of my film portrait of my Dad (from a digital scan of the negative) is stored in my computer.  It’s safe, perhaps, (unless there is a hardware failure) but I cannot experience it as a file everyday like I do a framed print.

There seems to be a need for printing our photographs so the most important people in our world are always with us.  But why print them, most people ask?

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Asking that question is like saying, “Why do we need museums, when we see the images, photographs, paintings, on our iPad or computer?”  Because mobile devices are good for making a traveling photo album, and sharing our photos at lunch with friends.  The problem is they don’t create a “place” for them.  They only create a “glimpse” of them.  But our family members are worth more than a glimpse, they’re worth a permanent place in our world.  Surrounding us.  Enveloping us.

Years ago, I remember going to my Grandpop’s and Grandmom’s house and there were photographs of relatives and family throughout the house–they filled their rooms with family photographs, and these were beautiful, high-quality photographs, both formal portraits, and family snapshots in boxes that were a treat to pick through.

Nowadays, I don’t see photographs at people’s houses.  That’s the part that makes me sad.

box2Some of our parents and grandparents are at the end of their lives, and we’re not creating beautiful, frame-able photographs that we will be able to keep by our side to remember them by, something better than a blurry phone snap.

As a portrait photographer, the only commissions I get nowadays are for business portraits–headshots for LinkedIn and corporate use.  Families aren’t ordering individual portraits.

Where are the good pictures being made?  It’s not in a phone, because a wide-angle lens (as all phones have) is not a flattering lens for portraiture. 

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We are living in a trans-formative time, with technology changing the way we do things at a rapid pace.  But just as things speed up, there is a push to slow down.

There are more people now embracing film photography than there were just a few years ago–because they want something tangible.  Something that they’ve actually created.  They want to slow down the process and create fewer, but more memorable, photographs, and they’re using film to do it.

Just like there is a slow food movement, and record sales are on the rise, there’s an anti-digital component at play.  Everything doesn’t have to be the fastest to be enjoyed.

Playing a record is more time-consuming than programming Pandora, but maybe I like the sound of my turntable, that warm analog sound, and I just want to play one full Led Zeppelin album, not have to choose from among every song ever written.  Maybe I just want to play a record, not program a computer.

A few years back, bookstores were concerned about losing out to digital e-readers and ebook sales, and the truth is they’re still going strong.  Because people like to hold a single book, not every book they own on one small device.  They say on an e-reader, there is a temptation to not read what they’re reading, but instead looking for what else they can be reading since their options are endless.

I charge just under a thousand dollars for a legacy film portrait session for a person and their parent or grandparent.  I am a very experienced artist working with real film and creating large printed and framed portraits.  I believe they are one of the most important portraits I can create, more important than any celebrity photograph.  Because our family is our family–they’re the celebrities of our world.

If you contact me, and mention this article, I will photograph you and your mom or pop, and I’ll make the session rate complimentary.  Of course you have to be within a reasonable travel distance for me, or someplace I regularly get to–Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Los Angeles or the front range of Colorado.  I just want to see if anyone will do it if cost is not part of the equation.

I’m betting not.

Here’re the photographs of my parents that I get to live with, that are a part of a physical photograph album. That are the memories of who my parents are.  My Mom is no longer with us.  But she’s right here with me in these photographs.

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Today is Father’s Day.  I wonder how many people have a wonderful portrait of their father, one that captures their personality and their light, that one image that will be passed down to great grandchildren to know who their family was, and what they looked like.

If they don’t, well, that’s the part that makes me saddest, and I hope we will see a renewed interest in quality photography and framed prints in the years to come.

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Ohmigod, is that a Saturn?  And look, remember when you had to pedal your bike!

The year is 2066.

We’re teleporting to different parts of the earth, holding meetings on virtual beaches while sitting at home, and having robots do all the chores.

And we’re using the latest camera technology, which means no camera at all–just look at something and it’s captured.

We’re lamenting not having any photos from the first quarter of the century, since we didn’t bother to print any of our pictures, and they all got lost in dead computers and outdated phones and hard drives that last booted up decades ago.  And some old program, Facehead, or something, that was supposed to save them all.  Yeah right!

Plus, we don’t have any computers that use USB anymore!   How ancient that technology!

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My Leica M2, still going strong in 2066.

As we sit looking out the window, our Leica M2s and M3s and Rolleiflexes still just as functional as they ever were, we load a roll of film and take a walk to go capture some street photos of the day.

The sky is full of PTDs–personal travel devices.  Everywhere, our brains connect with each other through telepathic waves.  Cars have long ago ceased to exist.

And we find ourselves thinking about the good old days.  Like 50 years ago, when things were simpler.  Sure there was that terrible fiasco with President Trump, but thankfully he was quickly arrested and tried for his crimes.  And then President Sanders’ brought all nations together.  War ended and America prospered, which is why we have such a great economy, plentiful jobs and USA-made robots and devices today.

But still, taking photos of present day just doesn’t seem as cool as the old days.  Back then, there were those cool Nissan Rogues, BMW sedans and those crazy Mini Coopers.  God, haven’t seen one of those in years!

What I wouldn’t do to be able to go back in time to 2016 and photograph them.  What a treat that would be.  But that’s crazy talk.

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Look at that old BMW, when they still had wheels!  And drivers!

That’s just what we did in 2016, fifty years ago, when we were enamored by photos of old cars from the 1960s and 1970s.  So busy looking at the old cars, we missed the shots of those cool 2016 cars then.

All I know is I’m glad my Leicas lasted.  And my Rolleiflex.  Because when film made its resurgence in 2022, we were the only ones who knew how to make real photographs.  The rest make memory records, but we make photographs.

Which is why we’re the wealthiest photographers because of our forethought.  Way to go!

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“Ah, look, the good old days.”  (Overheard circa 2016)

Time traveling.  That’s what people will be doing 50 years from today in 2116–looking back on life in 2066 (“Ah, the good old days,” they’ll say.).

That photo of the PTD fuel station that looks like nothing now, just a bunch of hovering vehicles powering up?  Add 50 years.  It needs time to become valuable.  Once time passes, familiar elements fade away.  Buildings change.  The cars, the shops, the cities.  Then the photos take on meaning.

I’m no math whiz, but here’s the equation: [P+T-GP!]   (Photograph + Time = Great Photograph!)  The photo needs to be good, too.  Let’s not forget that.

Ask Stephen Shore.  Or William Eggleston. They both knew the equation.

If I were back in 2016, I’d go out and shoot ordinary things, with an eye to the future.  Because maybe I’m not shooting them for me.  Maybe they’re historical photos for the Shorpy galleries of tomorrow.  (So glad that company is still going strong, with galleries around the world.)

But alas, I can’t time travel.  They say that technology will be ready in another twenty years but they’ve been saying that forever.

I better get shooting!

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Made with a Rolleiflex T twin-lens reflex camera on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado, it’s a moment captured on film that has a feeling all its own.  And very few of the digital photos being taken today will last 50 years, like this will.  Because this negative is physical–I can hold it in my hand.

She was working across the outdoor mall at a store, and saw my Rolleiflex, and came over, explaining that she’s a Rolleiflex shooter as well.

I am a proponent of legacy portraits on film, and this right here, is why.  Printed in a real darkroom on photographic paper, 12×12 framed, this is a stunning portrait for any room of the house.

An observation:

Photography hobbyists make lens analyses, compare versions of bodies, features and lenses, read DXO scores, look to get the next best thing, discuss purchases, workshops, latest tricks and techniques.  They do a lot more than make photographs.

Photographers make photographs.

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