film photographer

October 2018

I’ve had my eye on medium format film for a little over a year now. It was my first introduction to film photography itself. The whole process is pretty cumbersome, but in a cathartic way. There is a whole process to film and slowing down getting composition and exposure right, something that you do (or should be doing) in digital but the shots feel like they mean more, they hold a value. The camera’s are large(er) the film is large(er) and the resulting images are large(er) than say a 35mm. When I was studying photography in school (yes I am one of those guys) I was just enamored when we started looking at work from iconic photographers such as Daguerre, Niepce, Fox Talbot, Fredrick Scott Archer and Roger Fenton. Of course their process was different, but the impact those images had on me has not left me to this very day. First, the shear size of the images blew me away mostly 8x10 because the cameras were just large. Today most people think of images on a device a phone or a computer screen as that’s where most of our media is consumed now. I did too until this class. The depth, sharpness and the clarity of the images drove me crazy. Because they were impeccably detailed. I knew right there that was what I was after in my work. Looking at those images made me feel a certain way. Digital work is great (really, I believe that) and I am not saying one medium is better than the other, but to me film images have a depth and texture a sense of place that can not be replicated and I knew that’s what was missing from my work. I had the pleasure of being instructed by Frank Curry who is an amazing instructor and photographer and great debater. He provokes you, but in a way that makes you question why you didn’t think of it first. For our first assignment we were to shoot images in a medium we had not before to push us out of our comfort zone right off the bat. It worked. He had a Hasselblad 500 CM with a 90mm lens that caught my attention. This is where my yearning for something from my work turned into chasing it down.

Kodak Portra 400 shot at box speed on a Rolleiflex SLX w/80mm f2.8

Fast forward to a year later and wrapping up my degree I had the chance to grab a Rolleiflex SLX (not a Hasselblad but it fit my budget) from a professor and I couldn’t pass on it. The batteries were shot, after some research I found a guy on Ebay that devised a replacement for them. Soon after I purchased a roll of Kodak Portra 400 and went around my town learning how to compose images on this beast of a camera. It was like learning all over again. To me there is a cathartic experience in learning, even something that isn’t really important like shooting film in 2018, but I am hooked. The resulting images are okay, for me and my level of expectation when it comes to photography, but I am learning a new medium on a new camera with no light meter, so I was not to hard on my self you can be though!

Ilford HP5 400 shot at box speed on Rolleiflex SLX w/ 80mm f2.8