When I first got involved with photography, like most people, I learned on a digital camera. While I love the benefits and advantages that the digital realm can offer in terms of quality, workflow and many other things, I have always had a passion for the look and feel of film. Now, when I look at old film photographs from the early century and how it has evolved as film formats have changed, the colors, contrast and depth of field has always enamored me. I’ve shot some film over the past 4 years in my career and have loved the approach and look of the images, but the workflow and technical side of taking that image from an analog source to digital has been a struggle.
Not too long ago the opportunity arose to purchase the film camera of my dreams and I jumped on it. Ever since I became acquainted with the many different medium and large format cameras, the Contax stood out to me above all others. Since the acquisition of the 645 camera, I have fallen in love with how fun photography has become! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE photographing people, families and real moments on digital. But, the approach I take for photographing on film has really different, REALLY fun, and with a look that cannot be duplicated with digital. So, like any boy with a new toy, I wanted to go out and play and have some fun with the new camera and get to know its characteristics . . . as well as the many challenges I’ve run into with bringing the analog images into digital format to create the many awesome products that I offer.
My good friends Lashley & Tania (I’ve known Lash since I was literally 4 years old) were due for some new family portraits and it was the perfect opportunity for a day with the new system. My approach was to document their family, as they are, with no real direction, so that in 10 years they could look back on these photographs and remember what it was like as a young family. A lot of most portrait photographers work (and I’ll admit that some of mine as well) is very contrived, “fake” in the sense that the photographer is trying to create something that isn’t necessarily true. Accompanied with this style is a LOT of digital manipulation (not my style!!) to tweak, alter and create something that wasn’t there before (adding textures, altering the focus, changing skies or scenery). I don’t have a problem with that, it just has never been my style. Occasionally I’ll have done some extreme edits, but 99% of all the photographs that you see on my blog have not been doctored, altered or really tweaked in any way. I have always tried to capture my portraits as raw, real and full of emotion. While I do add some oomph to contrast and colors, or correct for crooked horizons, most of the photography you see isn’t very far from what the reality was.
Enter my approach with film, reality is pushed even further. Everything is real, no doctoring, no contrived smiles or poses, just pure life as it happens. A lot of this style and influence comes from my good friend Evan Baines (who primarily is a wedding photojournalist), but it has pushed me towards a passion about photography that I have somewhat divorced for the “rockstar” type images. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve attended many national and worldwide conventions and have seen a LOT of some of the VERY BEST photography being created today, it really is quite phenomenal. Since these conventions, I walked away doing a lot of self inflection on my own style, and what I want to accomplish as a portrait photographer. Had my scans been better, I would love to include the actual border of the film, just so you can see that the composition and everything else about the photograph was straight out of the camera. Below are scans I did myself, and boy was that time consuming. But, to me, the portraits and documentation is very real, almost tangible in that you can almost feel like you were there watching. I hope this is something you’ll all enjoy, and expect to see more of it in the future!