Hello! It’s been a while… Here’s some new work from a portrait shoot I did in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon with a model named Aubrey. I’ve been doing quite a few sessions lately with local models, so I thought it would be fun to try something new and do a film only shoot. Why not, right? In the past I’ve done hybrid shoots where I brought both a digital and a film camera, and it felt like I was being pulled in two separate directions. It’s like if you go to a restaurant and they serve you the main course and dessert at the same time. This is madness. I only have one fork!
Perfection = Illusion
Photography didn’t used to be so easy. We’ve all become completely dependent on the LCD screen, quite frankly. And Photoshop too. I sometimes wish to go back to a time when there was no instant feedback. I wish to go back to a time when you have to trust yourself more than the gear. I guess we still can if we choose to, right? Let’s bring a camera that has no light meter and weighs a f*ck-ton and is like driving a car with no power steering. Did I load that film correctly? Maybe. And just to sweeten the deal, let’s bring a toy camera made entirely out of plastic that has to be sealed with electrical tape as my backup camera. Perfection just went out the door.
It' doesn’t really matter what kind of camera you have though. A compelling subject is a compelling subject.
That being said, the photo above makes me want to throw my digital camera in the garbage can. I love you Hasselblad. Did you know that every time you nail a photo with a medium format film camera, an angel gets its wings?
Here’s another from the park:
Toy Camera Time
After shooting for a while at the park, it was time to move on to a different location. I also thought it would be a good time to change to my Holga toy camera. Below is one of my favorite photos taken with a Holga and some red scale film:
I spotted this patch of sunset light going through a window that was making a really cool frame on a wall (above). I had Aubrey stand in just the right spot so only certain parts of her face would be lit. I personally love how her left eye is in complete shadow. I’ve only shot red scale film twice up to this point, and it’s something I definitely need to try again.
Here’s another Holga frame in a new location:
This time it wasn’t the sunset, it was me. I rigged up a flash and held it above the camera to create a spot-light effect (I’m sure I looked like an odd one to people walking by). However, it paid off to use the flash. The other frames I took without flash didn’t really turn out at this location (a digital camera would have done fine here). Film needs plenty of light.
How many photos are on your hard drive?
I shot almost 10k photos last year alone. That’s downright silly. I mean, I did a lot of photo shoots, but seriously. How many photos did you take? What if an iPhone charged you a nickle every time you took a photo? I’m mentioning this because I only shot 41 photos total during this two hour shoot. 41. It’s kind of refreshing to have a normal amount of images to care for after a photo shoot.
But let’s be honest here. It wasn’t all hazy lo-fi awesomeness that day. One of the film backs I thought I fixed apparently has a light leak again (see below). Another camera I brought to this shoot jammed after five frames (I still haven’t seen those photos). Finally, my last shot was cut off halfway because the film ended too soon. But maybe these “mistakes” are why I go this route in the first place.
The blue color of the light leak matches the blue circles of the railing, so I will take it!
My last (half) photo of the shoot. How’s that for an ending?:
Thankfully, the lab I use added half of the previous frame in the scan, so I think it actually works pretty well together.
There is no way I could afford to only shoot film, and I don’t know if I would want to. That’s not REALLY my point of this post. My point is to highlight how messy and imperfect it is to try new things. My point is also to highlight how exciting it is to try new things. It’s a privilege to do this. It’s a privilege for a stranger to trust you to photograph her. I can’t wait to do this again.