Why These Professional Photographers Still Print Their Photos

All images used with permission. Lead image by Victoria YoreFor some photographers, printing is the ultimate way of displaying their photos. It brings the image to life, manifest, makes it tangible and ends up just making the photo a thing that you can cherish for forever. It isn’t lost amongst a giant number of other images in a gallery on your phone, but instead it’s just there. It’s a much different experience that commands someone to sit there and look at the photo. That image is the one that stands out amongst the rest.

So with that said, we talked to a number of professional photographers about why they print.

First, while I am always grateful that the world of social media provides one a chance to share images with many, many people, the photos one shares are frequently left hovering in the ones and zeroes of the cyber-ether— until, by chance, the images are seen by a person who scrolls by with an often-distracted engagement. Second, most photographers who seriously dabble in black and white photography expend a lot of effort to find the best possible tones and contrasts for their images, and those nuances are often lost in the sharpening that most social media site uploaders force on the uploaded image. Third, there are so many monitors, so many settings for those monitors, that an image will often look very different from what the creator intended. The print allows one the opportunity to control all those variables (especially if the photographer prints his or her own work), and, for me, the print represents the final stage in a photographer’s process of bringing to light whatever he or she wishes to express. A print is tangible, a memento, an artifact, a something. Of course, the print then might never find a viewer either … and, I would imagine that most photographers share my desire to have the work seen by others…

Nathan Wirth

Why do I print?

I like to be able to touch my images, move them around, hang them on my walls. It helps when I edit projects to be able to look at forty or fifty prints on the floor and move them around, change the edit, look at things in a different way. It’s something that’s nearly impossible to do on a computer screen.

Michael Rubenstein

‘Printing images brings them to life in a way seeing them on a digital screen simply cannot. When printed and hung on a wall, an image leaps off the page and grabs an onlookers attention with ease. Unlike a computer screen, onlookers cannot easily scroll past or flip to another page. They are confronted head on with a story and it is up to them to figure out how to interpret it upon first sight. Instead of a flick of a finger to scroll on, they must make the conscious decision to view a printed image or walk away. If the art is speaks loud enough, the print will captivate an onlooker in ways a screen never could.’

Victoria Yore: One Half of Follow Me Away

“I print for nuance, detail and impact. My images really sing when they are printed large so that they are experienced, not just viewed passively. Prints give you the ability to see deeper into the details, shadows and tonalities, really giving you the ability to really explore the frame.”

Lindsay Adler

A print is something that can be held, cherished, given and received. A digital file can’t be shared in the same way. With a print I can control the final result completely, color, brightness, contrast it is all what I make it. A digital file may look perfect on my color calibrated system, but can be off a little or a lot on someone else’s screen.

Tony Gale

I print my work mostly for the same reasons I sometimes “go analog” and shoot film: it forces my often-distracted mind to pause and reflect on the image, and because it’s an intimate celebration of photography with which the digital experience can’t yet compete.

Jonathan Higbee

Andreas Theologitis: “Beyond Dark”

All images and words by Andreas Theologitis. Used with permission.

Guided from my background as an architect, I try to give to my photographs a personal space. I like to go beyond definitions, revealing my inner world to other people. Through my travels I “see” the world with my personal interpretation. Resulting from my professional background I use intense geometric forms, details, textures using different ways of expressions. I like to treat studio photography as a project.

I begin photography from school. At that time a used my father’s Kodak Retina camera, in an all “manual” world. This was for me a unique experience and bring me to the B&W world of light and shadow. I started in Athens, but my adulthood in photography was during my studies of architecture in Brussels. There I have entered in the magic world of the darkroom.

From my childhood I have a strong desire to “see” what I create. Not as something abstract but as real thing. Maybe, deep inside of me that was the raison that I choose architecture as profession. Darkroom revealed to me the same feelings. When I first saw the image appear in front of me, in the darkroom, it was like “magic”.

The first visit in New York City, a city that gives to photographers everything generously. My project “Intimate Cities” was important to discovery the studio process. As an architect my mind is formed from shapes in light and shadows. I was guided in my first steps in photography from this experience. Considering that taking a photograph is a mind game, my personal view to the world around us is like a geometry game.

The world around me, my trips, inspires me to create a personal vision. I front studio photography as a project, a personal challenge. Trying to give soul in a totally artificial world. Like a journey to the essential, black and white photography goes beyond the excess, the unnecessary, deep inside our inner world. I am standing ecstatic in front of the works of other photographers and I feel grateful if a photograph of mine can evoke emotions to others. I like to say that gear doesn’t make the photographer. The sight of the photographer is important. Maturing in the world of photography I realize that the correct gear helps to create a personal vision. Actually I use a Sony a6000 with several lenses and a 50mm for this portrait project.

These photographs are from an ongoing project that I started in the first months of this year. This series of photographs was like a challenge to me. Trying to overpass my vision as an architect and leave my “natural” geometry. In a country immersed not only in a financial but also into a deep social crisis. Faces are revealed through darkness, uncanny. As a journey deep inside of me, images are blur they represent my dark mood of this period.

Common people used for this studio project were left totally free behind the curtain to express their personal feelings. They look the world into the eyes, suffocate in their everyday life, feel sensual despite all their problems, playing like a clown, fading into the anonymity.

Oliver Moosus: The Diversity of the Human Face

All images and words by Oliver Moosus. Used with permission. Be sure to follow him on Instagram too.

My name is Oliver Moosus, I have been involved with photography for 16 years and professionally at it since 2009. I refrained from doing photography professionally for a long time, because seeing fellow photographers in my home country of Estonia I did not want to share their creative struggles and make compromises for monetary gains. However at one point the fever for everything visual made me quit my day job in IT, start from zero (i moved back with my parents at age 23 to cut on expenses) and pick up photography as my only course of action. It has been a rocky road, but i have LOVED every day of it. Whether I have not known where I get money for food for the next day or getting paid a few months salary for one job; i have smiled and been real happy with my choice. I have had a saying for a long time, life is not hard, it is exciting. This is my motto to live by every day. During tougher times I sometimes forget it, but then I remember it and it all becomes a little easier again.

I started out as an assistant to an italian fashion photographer working here. I approached him out of the blue, he said that he is willing to test me, but does not have any jobs coming up in the near months. I kept knocking on his door for two weeks until he said i should appear in his studio the next morning for an editorial shoot. We ended up having a really good friendship and he was fundamental in shaping me as a photographer. I have utmost respect for his effort given, he took time regularly to go over my pictures one by one and gave good critique on each of them. I also got to see big commercial shoots and make new contacts in the world i had no knowledge of. New contacts we’re of course made each time with his explicit approval. In these situations it is most important to not act behind the back of the person supporting you. Nowadays I hear many (too many) young photographers disregarding that principle. I can not stress enough the importance of this and respect in general. I worked for him for nearly three years until he moved to London. We still catch up from time to time and even though the friendship is not as frequent because of the distance, we still get along very well and i continue to look up to him.

After he left for London, he suggested based on seeing my development some of his clients to pick me up as his successor and i am happy to say some have. I am very self-critical and because of that I have taken the course of developing myself thoroughly before taking on new challenges. I feel this has worked out well for me, I have a group of loyal customers who have contacted me themselves and we have had good working relationships for not just one project. We have a cosy small growing fashion market here and many brands have not given attention to building a brand yet, that is why i feel the long working relationship is crucial so we can develop together and build a consistent brand season by season.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

There is little reasonable explanation in my world to the importance of black and white photography per se. Every time I do a shoot i try to think in color, but I find myself finding less life, less emotion, less meaning in the color images. While I love color imagery, some of my favorite photographers are Guy Bourdin and Miles Aldridge who are known for their very color-centric imagery, I feel that medium is more appropriate in the commercial world than the look I am after in my personal work. I feel repeating every other black and white photographer by saying there is less distraction in black and white images, but it is true, I feel it and I see it and i can not deny it. There is a reason everybody who has taken serious effort in black and white has come to that conclusion.

What inspires you to create photographs?

I am continuously fascinated by the diversity available in the human face. Every time i shoot a new person i discover something new about the human appearance and condition. It even occurs when I shoot the same person over again and it happens quite a lot, because I work with model agencies and shoot the same models continuously throughout their career development. It amazes me how I find something new every time, the added years in their eyes, the look they give me containing new life experiences and of course physical appearance. But I have to emphasize that physical appearance is the least interesting of it. Capturing a person’s life and personality through a photograph is such a wonderful challenge that will always leave room for progress. I started professional photography in the fashion imagery world, but every time I shoot I let myself drift away from that a little to strip down the physical appearances and concentrate more on the insides of a person.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Photography should not be viewed upon as a representation of truth in my opinion. It is rather a representation of MY truth, different for each creator and viewer. This is ever more true in the modern digital world, but has always been a valid point. I do not feel comfortable retouching my images heavily as to change somebody’s appearance completely. I think the required visual can be achieved by good direction and your vision in-camera. Still, a photograph captures only a minuscule slice of time, that fact for me already removes it from reality by a great deal. I feel that if this perception of photography is shattered, only then can it be considered true art; if we are relieved of the notion that photography is showing us reality. One never has the option to look at a single moment as long as through a photograph. Black and white for me allows to further change people’s perception even more by removing something from the equation they are so accustomed to, color. It gives the viewer an easier platform to start deciphering the image and gives a head start into not searching for reality in the image, but rather creating or finding their own explanation as to why the image has been taken and put on display. As this is the reason art exists; for the viewer’s pleasure and possibility to give the artwork a personal meaning; black and white has a great possibility of making photography more accepted by the art world.

Tell us about your creative vision, your influences, and tell us a bit about the gear that you use.

I often look for inspiration in the work of Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Miles Aldridge, Helmut Newton, Paolo Roversi, Edward Weston, and David Bailey. Each photographer has a different aspect in their vision that draws my attention.

I have used nearly every format there is under the sun. For the first 6 years i shot exclusively on film, 35mm, 6x7cm, 5x7in. My first digital camera was Canon EOS D60, but that stayed in the closet for most of the time, as i was still attached to and more familiar with working on film. However this was the camera I still miss for the richness of tone and color response. This was also very important in converting these images to black and white. I sold my EOS D60, was without a digital camera for a while and then bought myself a brand new kit of Canon EOS 40D. However good this new camera was, the tonal response was lacking for me so I found a way to exchange it for the original 5D. I loved that camera. It gave me boatloads of detail and similar tonality as my beloved D60. I missed it for a very long time after I upgraded it for a 5D MK2. This camera was really good, detailed, had great ISO sensitivity, but the image was cold and unfriendly. Still i got used to it and used it for a few years before I sold it and bought myself an used Phase One medium format system. Gosh, I loved that CCD sensor, especially for black and white. That richness in tones was something I had never experienced. However it was too cumbersome for location work and I sold it. In 2014 i bought myself a Fuji XE-1 and was using this as a second camera, but after I sold my Canon system I used it more and more besides the Phase One. Now I am shooting Fuji only, using a XE-2 body, 35mm 1.4, 14mm 2.8 and a few vintage lenses. I love the fact that the body is so small and the viewfinder is on the edge, so it keeps my whole face free to interact with my subject through my facial expressions at all times. Also the 16 megapixels is plenty for me as I find I get better quality and similar detail out of it as I did from my 5D Mark 2. Long story short I believe light is everything in photography and as long as you can read and use light, it is of lesser importance what camera you are using.

Dominique Seefeldt: On Creating After Losing the Fear of Studio Flash

All images, text and submission by Dominique Seefeldt. Used with permission.

It was with great interest that I read about your search for fellow photographers that simply love black and white, so here I am! My Name is Dominique Seefeldt, I’m a 27 year old based People-Photographer based in Duesseldorf, Germany. After transitioning from hobbyist to full time professional about two years ago I rapidly developed my style from what was more point and shoot to actually thinking about what I’m photographing and more importantly how I’m photographing it.

For my biggest and defining moment I would probably consider losing the fear of studio-flash which greatly helped me in the work on my contrasty style, while I never fully abandoned available light because of its more personal and intimate characteristics. Career-wise my biggest moments would be considered to be shooting advertising campaigns for major fashion labels, even when one of these resulted in the label skipping out on the bill which led to major bump in the road; but in the long run helped me learn about business-behavior and how to handle a crisis.

My creative vision is to just do me, create stuff like I envision it. Even though I’m very open to input on set or during shootings I often really need to do things my way. Photography, like any visual art form is a platform where everybody can offer his own perspective on the world and the people in it, so I think it is very important to really focus on your own style.

My creative influences are widely ranged from the great photographers like Lindbergh, Avedon, Demarchelier, over literature like Paulo Coelho and Charles Bukowski right over to the cinematic world. I’m a great supporter of the claim that what we consume evidently helps to create what we are and is an undeniable influence.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

It greatly helps me to improve on what’s important in an image. Many images nowadays live only from bokeh and rich colors, without actually having any content or message in it. Even though I don’t shoot black and white exclusively I quickly learned that black and white enables me to get more personal with my subject and focus on the main element of my works.

What inspires you to create photographs?

The fact of what I create in my imagination translates to real life. Even though I paint my own backdrops and try to be very aware of lighting conditions, I often allow some factors into the image that aren’t controlled. This enables me to improvise and develop a shoot from where it started in my imagination to something I haven’t thought of before.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Because it not only helps the artist to focus on the images main elements, it also helps the viewer see what is important. Only if we can guide our viewers to what we want to tell and express we can actually gain any interest in our works.

Alexander Laurent: Comparing Good Portraiture to a Waltz

All images and words by Alexander Laurent. Used with permission.

My name is Alexander Laurent, I’m an artist with my studio located in Downtown Los Angeles. I work in a number of different mediums, but lately it’s been black and white film photography. I prefer working in black and white. It forces the viewer to let the image take the lead. Color invokes subconscious emotions before you even register what it is you’re looking at. Red summons up anger. Yellow gives comfort and familiarity. Blue is soothing. An endless number of color combinations pre-register emotions in your brain. They dictate how you see the image before it’s even been processed. With black and white photos, there is no register. The image communicates only as much as you let it.

Like a waltz, each step of the viewer needs to be smooth, accurate and done with intent. Move too quickly, you’re left with a fleeting feeling and little to take away with you. Move with it, you begin to sense the emotion, see every detail, find every flaw. These beautiful and profound moments only occur when you are fully attentive and present. It’s why I love black and white photos. I want people to have an emotional response when they see my work. I don’t really care if you like the image, so long as you feel something when you see it. There’s a connection that’s created between myself and the sitter when taking a portrait. If I do my job right, I can convey that emotional connection to the viewer and let them in to a little piece of what I got to experience with that person. So much of that is lost in other facets of our lives. We live in an image-based society now. At every corner there’s a photo of someone trying to sell you something.

Everyone has a camera and is contributing to the giant diary of the human experience that is social media. It becomes hard to focus on imagery when we’re inundated with it on a regular basis. I hope people slow down when they see a black and white image, because they have to, or they’ll mis it. Nothing will jump out at you, you have to sit still and let it guide you. I hope that’s what people experience when looking at my images.

Jeff Rojas: On Photographing In the Studio And Not Giving Into the Trends (Premium Interview)

All images by Jeff Rojas. Used with permission.

Photographer Jeff Rojas has always been a modern photographer with a whole lot of class that isn’t seen in a lot of modern photographers. He carries himself professionally, shoots, educates, etc. Oh, and he’s a fantastic portrait photographer. Jeff has some interesting thoughts and thought processes when it comes to marketing oneself as a photographer.

So he we got a chance to speak about this and his reverence of Irving Penn.

You’ve been one of the more recent photographers that believes and tries to emphasize men as portrait subjects. And in all of your images you’ve got this sense of edgy elegance to the final product. This is pretty much a trademark of yours, something that genuinely says “This is a Jeff Rojas photo.” What makes you lean towards this style of imagery?

That’s very kind of you. Thank you. Honestly? I’m not 100% certain. I wish I could give you a concrete “this is why” answer, but I can’t. It just felt like me. Funny enough, like many other photographers these days, I didn’t go to school for photography and didn’t get a chance to study the greats.

A makeup artist I work with recommended I should see a gallery at the MET because the photographer’s work reminded her of me. I didn’t listen to a name… in fact, I just decided to go on a whim one day. That photographer turned out to be Irving Penn. Walking through his gallery made me feel oddly at home. To make things weirder, I started seeing a lot of similarities in our work. Let me also be clear to say that I’m not at that level YET by any means…but I felt an odd connection to his body of work.

What do you personally think makes for a great studio portrait?

Photography like any other art is subjective, but I believe it starts by capturing the essence of your subject in a way that engages the viewer.

When you first got started in portrait photography, what were you like back then vs now? What are some major milestones that you feel you conquered?

One of the biggest hurdles that I faced was finding my own style. I worked alongside another photographer for the better part of two years and it was difficult to develop my own identity – my own voice. Second to that was feeling like my work wasn’t good enough for “everyone else.” The truth of the matter is… the only person you should be worried about liking your images is the person paying for you to take them – not other photographers and not your friends.

What deems an image to be portfolio worthy for you personally? That is, when you’re done looking at all the images from your session and you’ve culled and edited, what determines whether or not an image makes it onto your website?

I had a little bit of an epiphany a couple of months ago where I sat down with an art director and a photo agent to critique my portfolio because I started to feel like my portfolio was a mishmash of miscellaneous shoots I’ve done over the last few years. Truth be told, it was. It felt like therapy. They both sat me down and said: “show what excites you.” If that doesn’t sound traditional, don’t worry. I didn’t get it at first either. Long story short, you ABSOLUTELY want to show the work that you want to be hired for… but you should also be excited by the work you’re creating. If you’re not showing that work, then it shows on your face when you present your book to someone. Be proud of what you create.

“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world… Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe. – Irving Penn”

Lots of photographers have talked about portraiture and a connection with the subjects that they photograph. Do any really memorable quotes really stick out at you and you feel have come to help define who you are as a photographer?

No…Although this is going to sound WEIRD. I think as an image-maker you have to fall in love with your subject in that particular moment in time. Nothing pervy. Just in the moment, capture that person for who they really are.

For you, what makes a black and white portrait effective? Of course, you need good content. But you’ve obviously already got that. But what often makes an image better when rendered in black and white?

Lighting is one of the most overlooked parts of black and white photography. It’s not about “convert to black and white” and you’re done. Quite the opposite really. You should have a thorough understanding of contrast and lighting in order to translate dimension in black and white since you can’t rely on color to do that for you.

How do you think men and women differ in the studio when being portrait subjects? Do you think that age plays a part of their personalities?

“A beautiful print is a thing in itself, not just a halfway house on the way to the page. – Irving Penn”

I think personality plays a factor more than age. As the old saying goes “age is just a number.” Some people love being in front of the camera, for others, it’s like pulling teeth. Regardless of gender, our job is to make each feel comfortable and evoke the best expression we can out of our clients.

You’ve never really been one to go with trends it seems. Instead, you’ve always been a photographer that really has some edge and definition in his own work. What are your clients typically like? Who are they? How do you think they differ from others (let’s say Peter Hurley)?

It’s funny that you say that… because although I’m aware of trends, I do my absolute best to carve my own path. For instance, HSS outdoors is a really big thing right now, as is Oliphant Backdrops. Two years ago, it was feathers and parachute dresses. Before that, it was lens baby and optical distortion. I don’t want to be one of those photographers. Let me be clear. I LOVE Oliphant backdrops and I use High Speed Sync, but I’m less concerned with what other photographers are doing and more concerned with what my client’s needs are.

Peter and I have different clients. Peter has a great portrait photography business focusing on actor and professional headshots and I’m actually shooting a lot more commercial work these days (commercial advertising). As such, it’s been a lot less formulaic than his work. Each client’s needs are different and my workflow to accomplish the assignment can vary from simple to complex. It really keeps things interesting.

What do you feel is more important: being someone that a client wants to work with, marketing, or your portfolio? Why? I think that you can agree with me that there are some absolutely terrible photographers out there that kill it at marketing and there are photographers with great portfolios but abysmal people skills.

Here’s the short answer: Create a marketable portfolio that makes clients want to work with you.

Here’s the long answer: “There is art in commerce and commerce in art.” Absolutely quote me on that. Why? Because it’s true. There are great photographers who cannot afford to pay rent and there are crappy photographers who make six and seven figures. Listen, how many photography institutions have closed in the last 5 years? How many companies in the photography industry have closed their doors? How many people have gone out of business? How many agencies have closed their doors?

It’s the reality we live in. I don’t believe in focusing on what you can’t control – you either adapt to the market or get eaten alive. That’s business. As a photographer you’re providing a product or service, you’re in the business of photography. I don’t care how great your skills are – if you don’t learn how to market them effectively, that’s your own fault. No one else’s.

Here’s an example. Joe runs a mechanic shop in New York City. Joe has been working on gas powered V8s his entire life. One day, everyone has switched over to electric and other alternative energy powered vehicles, but Joe didn’t take the time to learn how to work on those. Joe goes out of business.

I don’t blame the industry for evolving. I blame Joe for not investing the time to learn. That’s the brutal honest truth.

Stop complaining about having to learn how to market your business and do it.

“The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader. – Irving Penn”

What are some things that you feel every studio photographer should always remember when they’re on set?

Have fun. Between the marketing, sales, accounting, operations, etc., it can be easy to forget why you started in the first place. You probably didn’t start for the money, you started because you had fun doing it. Don’t lose that.

Thibault Maestracci: Portraiture Inspired by Music

All images by Thibault Maestracci. Used with permission.

“I started my professional life as a sound engineer, and travel on tour with different French artists.” says photographer Thibault Maestracci. “I had free time during shows and begin to take my camera with me on tour and take pictures of all the team and artists during shows.” For Mr. Maestracci, he started to photograph and do things differently. He started to realize that photography and music and both linked via composition, editing, mixing and levels. This brought Mr. Maestracci to work on composing differently too.

If you think about it all, that’s very poetic and makes a whole lot of sense. There’s a bit of inspiration or just messing around. Then you look at and record what you’ve got. At another time, you adjust parts of the audio in the same way that you’d adjust parameters in Photoshop. Eventually, you come out with a finished product of some sort. Of course, the commodification of all this is much different now–as is the whole creation process. Anyone can take a great photo, but not everyone knows how to play power chords. Though to be fair, the music world had itself turned upside down with Hip Hop’s using recorded tracks and punk rockers not knowing what they were doing with their instruments in a garage and playing for their friends.

“That’s certainly why I take a lot of black and white pictures, for me black and white is a bit like a mono record,”Mr. Maestracci explains. “it’s simple, and your eyes focus on contrast. We can tell a story different than in color.”

Of course, Mr. Maestracci finds inspiration in music. To shoot these images, he used his Sony a7 II with an old Asahi Takumar 85mm lens. He also used one continuous light with an umbrella. Mr. Maestracci very much enjoys using vintage and modern gear together because he believes that it gives him a unique look.

Derek Prospero: Photographing the Soul of a City in Black and White

All images by Derek Prospero. Used with permission.

Born in the Bronx, lived in Florida for a while, moved back to NYC in 2015 to re-absorb the world’s greatest city! Photographer, graphic designer, writer, director. I began my career as a post-production specialist, and then transitioned into taking my own photographs (kinda backwards). Now I wander the city in search of new perspectives.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

As photographer Ted Grant once said “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” I find black and white photography strips away all but the most essential details of a story. Color and hue are often subjective, and as a commercial designer I have trained myself to consider the many people whose color perceptions are different. Presenting in B&W ensures a more universal experience, much like rhythm and music.

What inspires you to create photographs?

Living in NYC, inspiration is just as accessible as anything else. All you need is a Metrocard and a curious disposition. I am inspired by contrasts, not just in tone but in theme: natural and urban, new and old, growth and decay. I love the antique vestiges of NYC subways, the modern buildings erupting from vintage architecture, the chorus of sounds and smells on every corner.

Why is black and white photography important to our future in the art world?

I think all photographers appreciate the simplicity of black and white. However, I also feel that B&W helps up appreciate color when we see it. Instead of competing, they complement one another and help us understand the way we see and experience things. I think it’s important for all artists and photographers to explore both.

Tell us about your creative vision, and a but about the gear you use.

As a commercial artist and designer, I work in a variety of styles depending on the project. My primary architecture camera is a Canon 5Ds, a specialty version of the flagship 5D with a 50MP sensor. While lacking some of the speed of a 1D, I find the extra resolution provides greater freedom to crop and arrange the final image without sacrificing detail.

Pietro Bevilacqua: An Attraction to Forms and Their Union

All images by Pietro Bevilacqua. Used with permission.

“It was like getting reborn!” says photographer Pietro Bevilacqua about his photographic journey, where he decided to completely abandon digital photography two years ago. “The film choice, chemicals, development and printing give me the feeling of living photography completely.” Combine this with his love of black and white photography, and it starts to make a whole lot more sense.

Pietro Bevilacqua is from Macerata, a little town in center Italy. He’s a hobbyist and during the daytime, works as a cop for six hours a day and tells us that he shoots photos for the rest of the time. In fact, he even thinks about it when he sleeps.

Mr. Bevilacqua interestingly states that he was born a landscape photographer but with time and film became more attracted to forms and their union with human beings. This contributes his love of NeoRealism in photography–especially with regards to Urban Geometry.

Black and white photography forces you to spend a few more seconds to observe and think, either when you shoot or when you look at a print. Graphism, geometry and contrast are fundamental, no attraction or distraction given by strong colors forces us to find other focal points in the image.

I think I will continue to change and go back, it’s not forbidden in photography; I honestly think that in this way you can also enrich yourself as a photographer.

I do not consider myself an art expert, but I believe black and white photography plays a crucial role in contemporary art.

Usually I use at the same time 35mm and medium format film often with a Pentax K1000 (with 35mm and 50mm lenses) and with a Fujifilm GA645, a great and comfortable 6×4,5 camera. The films I use are mainly Ilford FP4, HP5, Fomapan Classic and Action; I like them especially for the grain and for the not too modern look.

 

Paul Stone: A Photographer in His Own World

All images by Paul Stone. Used with permission.

Photographer Paul Stone tells us that he draws inspiration from David Bailey, WIlliam Eggleston and Elliot Erwitt. Though when you look at his work, you’ll probably end up scratching your head wondering how and why. All three of those photographers are famous for their ability to photograph people; but Paul Stone shoots a lot of Urban Geometry–looking for shapes in the world as he goes about it. To that end, he actually even says that he finds a lot of inspiration in himself.

“I’m inspired by me actually!” Mr. Stone explains. “My thoughts, my vision, my enthusiasm for documenting in what I feel is an interesting way.” He continued by stating that he visualizes more than he thinks or listens–which essentially means that he’s always in his own world. To that end, he finds image taking therapeutic and states that he’d go insane otherwise.

Mr. Stone’s work conveys a sense of emptiness in the scenes he photographs. His use of tones and the way that he captures light works in an effective way that surely makes subjects stand out from the rest of the scenes. The work has a sense of simplicity to it, but when you think about it on a deeper, technical level, it sometimes isn’t.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“The moment I made a black and white inkjet portrait on an old Epson 1290 was a big moment for me because of it was incontrovertible proof of how beautiful and how soulfully intimate a black and white photograph could be.”

“I’m currently using an Olympus Trip and a Contax aria for their simplicity, ergonomical delights and clear, immersive viewfinders. My vision is to render something memorable by being in the right time and the right place and doing justice to the composition and honouring the subject.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joshua Cook: Urban Geometry Based on Clean, Straight Lines

All images and words by Joshua Cook. Used with permission.

My name is Josh and I live in and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I started getting quite serious with photography as a hobby a few years ago after I started working at a local camera shop. I quickly jumped into film. I found that film gave me the mindset I needed to shoot this subject of photography as well as the desired look I was going after. One of the biggest reasons I shoot urban geometry is because it feels like a meditation process. I find it to be stress relieving because I can shoot as much or as little at whatever pace I want. It will often take me a month or two to go through roll of 36 exposures. At this point, my photography continues to grow and expand with the subject matter and format that I like to shoot, but I believe that shooting urban geometry on black and white film is what I will always come back to and love.

Black and white photography is important to me because there isn’t the distraction of color. This is especially true with urban geometry. With my style I like to heavily focus on symmetry, clean straight lines and usually heavy contrast.

I’m inspired to create photographs because it keeps me going as a photographer. It pushes me to explore new areas of the city I haven’t seen yet. It forces me to look for different perspectives of a shot I’ve come across hundreds of times. It forces me to be creative and patient a lot of times.

Black and white is important to the future of art in the world because everything is always so busy and nobody can concentrate on anything for more than 5 seconds anymore. With black and white, you see the image for what it is. It almost forces you to stare at it and admire the lines, shadows and shapes within the image.

My creative vision is heavily based on straight clean lines, a symmetrical scene and usually a heavy contrast of highlights and shadows. When shooting on the street, my go to setup is usually my Canon ELAN 7N with the 50mm f/1.8 ii (plastic fantastic!). I find the 50 to be my ultimate focal length when it comes to my work. If I want something that isn’t as automatic, I’ll go with my Nikon FM with a 50mm f/1.8. If I feel like burning a hole in my wallet, I’ll use my Pentax 645 with a 55mm f/2.8 (this is a bit wider than I like). Earlier I had mentioned contrast playing a big part into my photography and the film I find get’s closest to the results I’m looking for is either Ilford FP4 or Kodak T-MAX400.

Be sure to check out Josh’s Instagram.

NYRoamer: Timeless, Classic, Seductive Black and White Photography (Premium Interview)

All images by Ashley NYRoamer. Used with permission.

“There is something so alluring and soulful to me about black and white images.” says Photographer Ashley NYRoamer, an Instagrammer and a member of the Sony Alpha Collective who shoots a whole lot in black and white. “I feel they are timeless, classic, and seductive.” Based in NYC, she sees the world in lines, light and moments. But most importantly, she isn’t techy. Instead, she’s straight up just artistic. Ashley is one of the many photographers who has found recent fame due to Instagram as have a lot of others in the Urban Geometry community.

By combining just the right tones and lighting, Ashley captures moments in cities that aren’t so much of a one trick pony as you’re probably used to seeing in the Instagram hashtags. Instead, her work varies from being minimalist, linear, and sometimes even gives us a number of angles for us to check out.

Talk to us about how you got into photography.

My dad bought me a Nikon DSLR, that I had intermittently played with over the years. I remember going to Alaska in 2010 and really taking an interest in shooting the landscape. It wasn’t until Instagram that I really began to focus on taking pictures regularly,

So what attracted you to Urban Geometry? It’s a genre you seem to shoot a whole lot of.

It was a natural process for me, living in NYC. It’s so easy to come across these lines and shapes in the city, mixed with the beautiful scenery of buildings, streets, architecture, and various subjects. I feel like NY is a photographer’s playground.

You indeed shoot color, but the majority of your work is in black and white. So why do you tend to go more for black and white than color?

I began shooting solely color, but fell in love with black and white photography about 2-3 years ago. There is something so alluring and soulful to me about black and white images. I feel they are timeless, classic, and seductive.

If you weren’t doing photography, how do you feel you’d try to creatively express yourself? Do you feel that maybe because of your predisposition to black and white that you may have gotten into charcoal drawings?

I have always appreciated art and creativity. I can’t imagine myself not taking pictures, so it almost difficult to imagine any other creative outlet. However, I did love drawing and painting as a kid, so it is quite possible that I would have explored that. I also played the violin for 15 years, so it is possible I would have explored musics.

What are some ways that you’ve continued to stay motivated and shooting? Do you think that having a day job gives you that sense of balance at all?

I feel so fortunate to live in a place like NYC, which constantly provides so much visual stimulation and countless opportunities to photograph. Again, it is a photographer’s playground, there is simply never a dull moment. I think simply living in in the city constantly feeds my passion to photograph everything. It is a passionate hobby that continues to inspire me.

I do think having a day job, one that is not creative, provides me with balance. Working in corporate America, with facts and figures, deadlines, analyses, and the need for continued solutions can sometimes leave me feeling frazzled. The opportunity to snap a few pictures after a long, stressful day is cathartic.

As you’ve gotten more and more into photography over the years, what photographers do you feel have influenced you and your work?

I was first exposed on Instagram to black and white photography, in following @mr007. His images opened a door for me, which perpetuated a fascination with black and white photography, and lead me to explore the works of the great Ansel Adams, obviously more nature based, Vivian Maier, Henri Carter Bresson, Irving Penn. I am blown away by Vivian Maier’s incredible work.

Do you feel that moving to the city has changed the way that you think about art and photography? How so?

I don’t think moving to the city has necessarily changed how I think, but I believe photography in general has done that. I am incapable of looking at beautiful scenery (no matter where I am) without wanting to immediately capture it. If I see gorgeous sunlight or light reverberations, I am immediately reaching for my camera. It has changed the way I see everything.

Where are some of your favorite places to photograph in NYC? What makes them so magical?

That is a difficult question, as there is simply never a dull moment in NY. I can be on my way to shoot Central Park, which is one of my favorite places to be, and I will see ten other things on my way that I snap. There are great areas like the Village or Chinatown, or Lower East side, great for street photography and amazing subjects, but, I don’t limit myself. No matter how many times I see it, standing on the Manhattan Bridge and shooting the Brooklyn bridge and cityscape, still amazes me. Standing in Jersey City and looking at lower Manhattan still amazes me. I think it is the view of the city that sill excites me. We are a resilient, strong, and beautiful city. Seeing the World Trade Center will still bring me chills and sends a message of hope.

What do you think is more important: shooting what you feel or feeding the Instagram algorithm machine? How do you tend to maintain a balance?

Shooting what you feel is much more important. I don’t understand the algorithm machine and I never will. I have never been a suggested user, I grew organically, and I have never been on the “fast track” algorithm that many people are, which means, they get insane likes no matter what is posted. I think it can get very old and monotonous, to continue to post solely for likes — feeding the audience the cliche shots of Empire State Building everyday. While it is beautiful to me, I sometimes find myself wondering where the creativity is. I have much more appreciation for an image that captures amazing light and the silhouette of someone,as opposed to an image which may simply “feed” the algorithm machine and uses no skill.

I try to maintain a balance by posting what I love. I learned long ago on Instagram that black and white photography was the minority. Therefore, if it was just about seeking likes, I picked the wrong choice! (ha)

Talk to us about your rise on Instagram. What do you feel have been your bigger turning points?

When I started on instagram, I posted silly pics of my personal life- food, dogs, etc. As I became more interested in photography, that changed and my feed improved. I think for me, the pivotal point was when I started posting better images, that I felt were artistic and of good quality. I had been iPhone for a long time, The absolute turning point for me was getting a Sony alpha camera. The quality of pictures did not compare to what I had previously posted.Sony Alpha for me was the absolute turning point, about 2 years ago.

What about the gear that you use? Tell us about that and the way that you process your photos?

I feel like I should be embarrassed to say that (ha!) I am still shooting with a Sony a6000. I almost feel it is antiquated at this point!
I have had my eye on the a7, which I will probably get soon. I predominantly use the kit lens which is the 16-50 mm. I also sometimes use the 55-210 mm lens.

I am also probably the only one who STILL (ha!) edits on my iPhone. I minimally edit my pictures, for better or worse. My go to edit is snapped and filterstorm. I try to really preserve the integrity of the picture and only usually sharpen and crop the picture.

What do you tend to do to keep your work fresh?

That is a difficult question, as I don’t “think” too much about what I shoot. I shoot what I love, what I see, and what I feel. It comes very naturally to me. I am drawn to light, as most of us are and it seems so easy to find in NY and there are so many opportunities. I also find my love of black and white photography draws me to moody street scenes, like a rainy day in the city that depicts a man holding an umbrella. Timeless classics appeal to me and those Vivian Maier style scenes drive me.

So what’s on the horizon for you Ashley? How do you see yourself progressing as an artist within the next year due to the ever changing industry?

I feel fortunate to have this as my passionate hobby, it is something that continues to interest and challenge me. Instagram has changed in many ways, much not for the best, but I am grateful to have met so many amazing creatives. I am grateful to be a part of the Sony Alpha Collective, as I feel shooting with Sony has changed my life and provided so many wonderful opportunities for me. I will be grateful to remain a part of Sony and strive to continue to improve my skills. Having just returned from the Sony Kando trip was just the dose of inspiration I needed. It also further solidified my devotion and appreciation of the Sony Alpha family.

Alexander Benz: Discovering Black and White Urban Geometry in NYC

All images by Alexander Benz. Used with permission.

“Geometry plays an important role in my life.” states photographer Alexander Benz. “I see angles, corners, shapes and curves everywhere. I often use those elements to frame my subjects to create a border other than the border given by the camera.” Mr. Benz could get this unique creative vision from his engineering education. Afterwards, he moved to NYC to study at the International Center of Photography then stuck around to work for various photographers and get a bit more of a taste for the industry. It’s there in NYC where he discovered his affinity for black and white photography and Urban Geometry.

“I often roamed the city at night, always having my camera, a Leica M6 loaded with high speed 3200 ASA film, with me.” explains Mr. Benz about his photographic journey. “Wherever I went I found situations that I had an urge to record. Not necessarily as a memory, but more for the purpose of processing what was going at a later moment.” There are many photographers who do this, actually. It’s how they learn to make sense of the world.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

Black and white photography is very important to me. This kind of photography emphasises shapes and light in a very different way than colour photography. Reducing an image to shapes of grey creates a different focus on the subject and leaves some room to fill in the rest, the way we usually experience our surrounding, by using our imagination.

What inspires you to create photographs?

I have been a photographer for more than 20 years and I love the idea that I can document the world around me by using my camera. It keeps me looking around, looking up, left and right. It is so easy to forget to do that, to let our surrounding fade in to the backdrop of everyday life.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

To me, black and white photography is not necessarily meant to represent reality as is. Of course it can be used in documentary photography where we are reminded what is happening around us every day, but I believe that even there it is used for a different, even if subconsciously, purpose. Black and white somehow separates my work from the everyday iPhone snap shot, from the family photos, and everything else that is meant to serve as a memory of reality. To me, the lack of colours are in a sense the same as the way we remember things. Not perfect, but it leaves room for interpretation, it encourages the viewer to fill in the gaps and draw his/her own conclusions.

Joel Tjintjelaar: Defining a Unique Creative Vision with Urban Geometry (Premium Interview)

All images by Joel Tjintjelaar. Used with permission.

Urban Geometry is a field dominated on Instagram by a lot of photographers who have only really come up in the past few years and hacked hashtags. But when you compare their work to a master like Joel Tjintjelaar, there’s a clear distinction in how he’s refined himself as an artist over time. Joel is first and foremost a black and white photographer who works very closely with Phase One. A glance at his work immediately transports you to a completely different world with a very atmospheric sense of time and place standing still. His works is clean but at the same time doesn’t look seriously tailored or like he went a bit too happy with the clarity slider in Lightroom.

But most of all, he’s a real artist.

So obviously, folks love architecture and the proliferation of cell phones have made more and more people get into street photography. Then in the past few years, Urban Geometry has really started to take off as a special blend between the two and with an evolution on Bresson’s ideas of geometric fine art shapes in a scene. So what to do you think makes people so enamored with Urban Geometry and black and white? What have you heard from clients and buyers?

Let me try to first answer why I think people are so enamored with black and white in an urban scene. In a previous interview with you I already mentioned that the perception of depth takes place in the color blind part of the brain and is therefore dictated by the difference in luminance values. Geometrical shapes in particular, benefit of the added depth in a photo. They start to come alive in black and white. The answer to the other part of the question, why Urban Geometry, is a long shot. I’m guessing cities, urban areas and its architecture, have always fascinated people. It’s surely a motif worth photographing due to its aesthetics. And when a specific group of photographers, among which yours truly was a part of, found a way to approach it in a symbolic and dramatic way in black and white, it had a certain appeal to other photographers and they started to pick it up too. Geometrical shapes are simply very aesthetic. And that’s always an advantage in fine art.

You’ve been shooting for years now, so how do you think your processing and work has evolved when it comes to Urban Geometry?

There has been a recurring theme in my work over the years. I started in a rather subtle way, in terms of processing, but in a more dramatic way, capturing it. My preference when I started was not to go the traditional way, as commercial architectural photographers would capture it, but to point the camera to the sky and create drama with the converging lines. Then I went the more technical and traditional way, with the camera pointed straight forward and always maintaining the straight horizontals and verticals through the use of tilt-shift lenses. The processing became less subtle and quite dark and dramatic, as if I wanted to compensate for the ‘conservative look’. Now I’m back to more subtle processing, still shooting in the traditional and technical way, but the difference now is that I go as close as possible, to distort the perspective as much as possible, but still maintaining the straight lines. Recurring theme throughout the years has been the distortion. Distortion is considered to be more aesthetic, as some neuroscientists have tried to point out in the field of neuro-aesthetics.

How do you feel doing this type of work with the new Apochromatic back is different from what you’ve done before? I’m sure the process is similar though, correct?

The process Is similar but now obviously, with the achromatic back you don’t need to convert the images to black and white anymore. And, perhaps funny, you feel you have the obligation to let every shot count. So my process is slowed down even more.

“Distortion is considered to be more aesthetic, as some neuroscientists have tried to point out in the field of neuro-aesthetics.”

I think that a lot of folks typically go about creating Urban Geometry by simply converting to black and white, boosting clarity, deepening blacks and pushing whites in an effort to create more contrast. But at the same time, some people just mess around, and that’s fine. With you personally, how did you go about shooting scenes and coming out with a specific creative vision that you were intent on getting? Did it involve research and hours of trial and error?

I have a thing for still life photography: you can control everything from the composition up to the way the light should hit a surface. There’s this sense of intimacy and otherworldliness that you don’t see that easily in other genres. And looking at still life paintings, objects seem to emerge out of the darkness. That was something I liked to emulate in my still life work: something emerging from the void. Since shooting a still life takes place in an environment that can be controlled, it doesn’t take much processing. What I had in mind is usually almost exactly what I get. That’s very different with Urban Geometry. You can’t control the light in the same way as in a still life. So you do what you can do in-camera and the rest, the way light and shadows should behave, will be done in processing. That was a creative vision that I had and wasn’t the result of trial and error. The processing part however, was research and trial and error. But you know how it goes: if you have something in your head, you will always find a way to achieve it. I found one that worked, but not only that, I also tried to find a structured way of approaching black and white processing that can easily be transferred to other people. A method that makes sense and that’s not just a toolbox of opportunistic, autonomous tricks that led to a specific result. This way it’s easier to teach it and also to improve on it.

Now, you’ve written about a defense of black and white photography. Obviously, there are folks out there who think it amateur, but I feel that Black and White photography surely does have its own place in today’s society, especially when it comes to prints. Do you think that today’s world of printing less has anything to do with this?

It’s a fact that printing isn’t the norm anymore in today’s digital world. The default is a jpg image on social media. But a jpg image doesn’t come close to how a good print can look like. And especially one in black and white. There’s a certain quietness and introversion to a black and white print hanging on a wall. It’s as if it doesn’t ask for attention. It’s more intimate. Perhaps people in general don’t understand why someone should work in black and white when there’s something more real and more in line with our technological era, with working in color. But I don’t think it has anything to do with printing less.

How do you feel artistic photography is going to evolve within the next 5 years?

I think technology will keep evolving and we will have more megapixels, obviously. But I don’t think that will change artistic photography, perhaps we’ll get to see better artistic prints in larger sizes. How it’s going to evolve in terms of visual styles, genres or artistic intention? I feel we will continue to see black and white, perhaps even more, and I believe that the quality across all genres will improve. Why do I think that? I’ve seen myself in the past 5 years how much the quality and quantity of online articles and tutorials and real life workshops have increased. And I see more people doing something that just 5 years ago only a small group of people could create. Technically there’s a visible progress, and that will only increase in the next 5 years. And that also means that we might see more artistic progress.

What do you feel is more important: networking or having a damned good portfolio? Why?

A damned good portfolio is paramount! And you need to be able to connect with people too. I’ve seen too many fantastic photographers that no one ever heard of. Simply because they prefer to do their thing and don’t care about networking. Which is fine with me. But if you want to make a name and a living with photography then you first need a good portfolio and then use social networks in a smart way.

What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned as a photographer in the past five years?

Never be complacent, no matter how much success you’ve had with your work. The danger is that you’re creating clichés of your own work and style. Another important lesson is that emotion and meaning are very important in photography but without aesthetics it doesn’t have any impact.

Where do you see yourself in one year as a photographer? How are you as an artist evolving?

Shooting more portraits, more street and still life. Putting more meaning and emotion in a photo. Specifically more street, but that’s the most demanding genre in photography. But I’m also trying to make still life more interesting for the viewer. It’s always considered a less spectacular genre: it’s the depiction of something trivial and unimportant, without any story, that is negated by a world that prefers to glorify the exceptional, the extraordinary and the beautiful. Not the non-exceptional. It’s an underrated genre. I’ll try doing that by educational articles on my website that will hopefully entice the reader to try more still life. And of course by creating beautiful still life photos myself. But overall I think sharing knowledge, supported with good photography, is more important to me than trying to be a more accomplished artist in a forced way. I believe that if you do that, you’re educating yourself and you’re evolving as an artist in an organic way, at the same time.

 

The Puna: The Desert in Kodak TMax 400

All images by Christophe Thillier. Used with permission.

“You know Robert Delpire a french photograph said one day that, ‘What I like in a photograph is the silence and black and white is silence.'” says Photographer Christophe Thillier, who states that he’s a big user of Kodak TMax 400 film in an email to us. Mr. Thillier is a geologist who works in remote places. He shares with us that he’s generally in deserts and that that’s where silence prevails. Deserts, where the light is extremely sharp and hard, also does well with Kodak TMax 400.

Mr. Thillier is French and lives in Argentina. Where he works is called The Puna–and he says that it is cold with “naked” landscapes. “The sky is often empty and deeply blue.” he continues. “People live in adverse conditions. To transcribe this ambiance, black and white is by far the most appropriate way. It restitutes the hardness but also the authenticity of the moment.”Mr. Thillier continues to express that black and white doesn’t distract. You go to the essentials, whatever the subject may be.

With either his XPan II, Leica M6, or Nikon F6 in hand, the self described aficionado states that photography is a second tool only after a hammer. Mr. Thillier describes himself as contemplative when he shoots.

What inspires you to create photographs?

The scale between man and nature, the survivance of man in his environment through his work, his beliefs, his pairs. The duty to show, to make understand is also guiding me when I create a photograph.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world ?

Do you know how important the standard meter is as reference for science, geography and civilization? Well, black and white photography is a standard, a reference in art. It is ageless, resists time and fashion because it is noble. As I said above, with black and white you go straight to the essentials and people need to get back to the essential in different moment of their life. So it is for Art.

Ignacio Gonzalez: Photographing Cyclists With Kodak T-Max

All images by Ignacio Gonzalez. Used with Creative commons permission.

More and more, the idea of photographing lifestyle imagery with film is becoming popular. Heck, even disposable cameras are moving more into the fore. It’s a slap in the face to the very highly curated and almost perfect imagery that’s often put across on Instagram and other platforms these days. So when Ignacio Gonzalez decided to photography cyclers in Spain with a Voigtlander Bessa R2 and Kodak T-Max, one can easily imagine all the potential for great photos.

Bikes in and of themselves involve lots of geometry, which lends itself to the nature of how Kodak T-Max works with tones at both ends of the histogram. But then you combine it with people, architecture that a city offers, routes, etc and what you end up having is a series of photos that are absolutely begging to be printed.

Part of what makes these photos so special is the lighting. These images have very soft lighting due to the cloudy coverage. In fact, there are pretty much no shadows. And so to that end, Ignacio is more or less simply relying on tones in the scene to create and capture better scenes. Then in the development phase, he most likely worked with the film in a way to bring more contrast out of it. His embrace of the quickly moving scenes, blur, and the sharpness of details all within one subject help to really illustrate cycling life in Northern Spain.

Alexander Gavrilov: Moscow’s Architecture in Kodak T-Max

All images by Alexander Gavrilov. Used with creative commons permission.

Admittedly, when you think about big, sprawling buildings and architecture you don’t often think about Moscow in the way that you would a place like Chicago, Toronto or NYC. But Photographer Alexander Gavrilov has work that is bound to make you think different. To create these low contrast images, Alex used Kodak T-Max and a Kiev 88 SLR camera. The sharpness that you see comes from what Kodak T-Max was designed to do: give a lot of attention to details though with not a whole lot from the midtones.

Alex’s images use many of the fundamentals of urban geometry involving the use of lines, shapes, etc. His images give an almost Twilight Zone look to the city while adding a bit of modern flair. This is all accented by Alex’s use of shadows and light to sometimes make it look like some parts of the scenes are blending into one another. Combined with the fairly contrasty light of an afternoon, what you tend to get are these scenes with buildings against an almost stagnant and plain background that is the sky.

Alex Galmeanu’s Pinhole Fashion Photography on Kodak T-Max 400

All images by Alex Galmeanu. Used with Creative Commons Permission.

When photographer Alex Galmeanu loaded up a pinhole camera with Kodak T-Max 400, he…wait. Yes. Kodak T-Max 400 is a film that is designed to helped render as much detail as possible and it was paired with a type of photography that isn’t exactly known for its detail rendition. But in turn, T-Max 400 loans itself to pinhole photography well simply because of the way that it works.

According to Alex:

A Pinhole Camera is a simple camera without a lens and with a single small aperture, effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Exposures can typically range from few seconds up to as much as several hours. The effect was noted in the 5th century BC in China and has been refined over the centuries.

This fashion story was shot on a home-made designed 6x7cm format pinhole camera and every picture was exposed several seconds on an Kodak T-max 400 ASA 120 roll film.

The camera itself was made from several machine-cut Forex layers installed on a Mamiya 120 Roll Film Magazine. The focal lens distance was set at 52mm (similar angle to a 26mm lens on a full-frame DSLR camera) with an aperture close to f173.

The images are also fantastic in terms of composition and technicalities. T-Max loans itself to being able to work with a fair amount of details in either the shadows or highlights while not working so much with the midtones. And if you’ve looked at a low of pinhole photography, that’s perfect. While Kodak Tri-X also does a pretty good job, the nature of T-Max lends itself to the more ethereal look that pinhole photography is known for.

Duncan Hopewell: Fujifilm Acros in Nature

All images and words by Duncan Hopewell. Used with permission.

Black and White photography to me lessens distraction so a subject can be more clearly understood and felt. By removing color, an image has a layer of abstraction from the real world that allows me to work toward something more meaningful and simple. It also forces me to think more clearly about the structure of a photo, or the expression contained within, which can often be lost or overshadowed in color images. This is doubly true when I add in shooting black and white film. There is a very real, calculable, “cost” to creating an image that makes me think more deeply about what I am attempting to convey in each frame. The combo of both has forced me to become a more present, thoughtful photographer.

I’m enamored with the natural beauty that is around me, particularly details and textures and the way light falls on objects. I’ve been an avid hiker for a couple decades, which allows me a chance to delight in those. I get to bring some of that feeling home with me through my photos. Additionally, though, photography is often about the process and problem-solving for me. I like working on a crossword or a puzzle, and photography satisfies the same urge. I have a set of constraints (I only have a 50mm, the sun is in the wrong spot, it is dark out and I’m loaded with ISO 100 film, etc) and I have to work my way through them to produce an image I like. Overcoming those kinds of obstacles is deeply satisfying, and the failures make the successes that much sweeter.

I believe that black and white will continue to be a place that Photographers can differentiate themselves from the faux-cross-process/Instagram-famous crowd. Not everyone is working in monochrome, but the barrier to entry is still low. You are far less worried about things like chromatic aberration or color noise in a black and white image, so the technology you are working with matters less. It is also a lower barrier to entry on the analog side, you can set yourself up to develop at home with little more than $100 investment and a decent film body is $200-400. It is an artist friendly medium that creates impactful images that have a unique look from what we are saturated with. I think in that environment we will start to see more and more new talent emerging. At least that is my hope for myself and my fellow black and white shooters.

Manuel Pombo: Street Photography on Fujifilm Acros

All images and words by Manuel Pombo. Used with permission.

I discovered black and white photography relatively late in my photography. Living in Ireland it is hard not to be in love with the colours of this island so I initially did a lot of colour landscape photography. As I progressed as a photographer, I got interested in street and travel photography which lead me to start playing around with black and white. The more I used black and white and the more I studied the classics (Winogrand and HCB are huge inspirations for me) the more I fell in love with the simplicity and complexity of the medium.

I feel that black and white allows me to focus on the essence of an image. Often colour distracts from the lines and shapes of an image and draws the eye away from the focal points of the photograph. I find that the role of photography is to convey a message and generate an experience for the viewer. Black and white allows me to better direct the eye of the viewer and allows them to better see all the details and feelings I want to convey.

Photography for me is a form of meditation that also allows me to produce art. It allows me to be extremely present in the world while also having a zen-like detachment to my current situation. Through it I can place my focus fully on the world around me and become a seamless component of the complicated machinery of everyday life.

Creating photographs also allows me to bring my viewer into the world I experience. It allows me to share my stories and the places I travel to and show where my mind went when I was in that moment. Photography is not a passive art, it is highly active and creative. Every time I take a photograph I feel what I want to convey.

It is hard to explain why I take any given photo but it is a mixture of gut and intellect, conscious and subconscious, spontaneity and technique. Some photos are taken in the spur of the moment, others require long waiting times until you get what you had in your mind’s eye but at the end of the day they all come from the same place.

A well taken black and white photo has the capacity to strip away the unnecessary and leave behind only the essence. In our modern world I feel that flash and bling have overloaded our senses and people get easily distracted by the next shiny thing. Black and white is an opportunity to stop and take a minute to enjoy something beautiful and simple.

For me it is like the difference between a cocktail and a glass of wine. Both have their places in our lives. Cocktails are great and necessary for socialising and partying but when you want to slow down and enjoy the moment, a simple wine is the best way to go.

As I mentioned, photography for me is a sort of meditation, it allows me to go into a state of heightened awareness and zen-like detachment. Nowhere do I enjoy this more than when I am shooting on the street. I find it priceless to be able to look around at your everyday surroundings with new eyes and experience a city you’ve seen hundreds of times before as something new.

I enjoy street photography the most when I travel as it breaks down my barriers and allows me to dive head-first into my new surroundings. I also find it helps me interact more with people around me and create a connection with total strangers I never would have met otherwise. That’s also another reason why I love Fujifilm’s rangefinder style of cameras. As they only cover a small part of my face when shooting, I feel people are less intimidated as they can see me smiling and not being a sneaky photographer.

Street and documentary photography allows me to convey the moment better than any other type of photography and I think that’s why it also goes so well with black and white photography.

Fábio Picarelli: Learning with an Olympus OM-1 and Kodak Tri-X

All images by Fábio Picarelli. Used with permission. 

What makes black and white photography so important to you?

Black and white is unique, when you take out the colors you focus on the basics of what you’re shooting, what’s happening, the people or the place that are in frame. The aesthetics of it is of photography itself, how it begins and how it can always be.

What inspires you to create photographs?

The chance to capture something unique, a moment frozen in time, a moment that will live for ever. It combines a bunch of discipline, art, sociology, politics, anthropology and more.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Black and white has a history on the world of photography and art. When you think of your favorites photos, most of them are black and white. They are photos that survived the test of time, that are truly art, universal that we can respond to it. Black and white, and film, as parts of our history has this historical context.

Tell us about your images and why you love Kodak Tri-X

Kodak Tri-X is the most famous film of all time, it has a look in it that is easily recognizable. Lots of great shots were shot on Tri-X. I learned to photograph with a Olympus OM-1 and Kodak Tri-X and although I use a lot of different films I always return to it for its quality and its look.

This shoots I shot on the last two years, with a Leica R3 and the Olympus OM-1, in the city that I live, São Paulo, Brazil and one trip to Cuba. All street photography.

Be sure to follow Fábio Picarelli on Instagram too: @picarellifabio