Today I bring you another Native American photo I took at Red Earth a couple of years ago. The 2015 Red Earth festival is coming up soon and I am planning to do some more work at this years event. Hopefully my technique is a bit better than with this version.
Today I was thinking about why I enjoy shooting film and large format images in particular. What drove me to start this 4x5x365 project? I still very much enjoy shooting digital and color images, but I felt something was missing. Not from my portfolio, because I feel I have a pretty strong portfolio as it is, but from my life. I wanted to brush up my film shooting skills and make sure I still knew how to work with the older techniques and technology. Why? Humm.
I think it boils down to authenticity. For the past two years I have strived to show more authentic imagery in the commercial and editorial photography I do. I think as an industry we moved too far into what I call “hyper-realistic” imagery and away from what is real. Now I think the hyper-realistic images are cool and I have shot my fair share of those, but you gotta remember, I am 55 years old as of this writing and my generation’s time is passing. Today’s younger generation is really interested in the past. They can spot a fake a mile away. Look at the “hipster” movement. We might think it kind of funny since the younger folks are going all “retro” but to them, they are doing it with their own style and twist. Authenticity is very important to younger people. They like the old ways, craftsmanship, hand crafted beers, old bicycles, beards. Polo shirts are out, plaid pearl snap shirts are in.
As I see this movement, I felt a couple of years ago I needed to move my imagery more to an authentic, realist look. I cut WAY back on my photoshop work and try to get things right in camera. I moved away from hyper-realistic lighting and try to make my lighting look much more natural yet still good. I seldom use HDR for anything, but when I find the need (sometimes it is the only way) I try to make sure the images I capture don’t look anything like the typical HDR image.
Hence my move to film and older cameras. What better way to capture authentic, realistic imagery than with the medium and tools that were used back in the day? Sure, I can turn a digitally captured image into black and white, and even add filters that can make it look very close to an old film image, but in my opinion it is impossible to make digital look like film. Sure, I can get close, but why not just shoot it with film to begin with and make it REAL? No fake, no photoshop, no tomfoolery required.
So, I bring you a real image. I have this image in my portfolio where I cleaned up the background and clipped it down to only white. But I think I like this image a bit better. I didn’t have great technique back then, I was still working on ways to use view camera. Hopefully this year will be even better.