The more I shoot, develop, and print large format portraits the more I enjoy doing them. I still have requested portraits to schedule, which I am pretty much ready to do now. My experience of photographing strangers in Dolores Park has also fueled my desire to do this more. The idea is further compounded to be “that guy.”
For example, “that guy doing all the 8×10 work in SF.”
It is similar to and inspired by the idea behind Mike Johnston’s very inspiring “Leica Year” proposal. You take your hobby and/or passion and distill it down into something very simple and limiting, and then you do it all the time for an entire year. Mike proposed one Leica camera with one lens, one black and white film, and every day use. The simplicity of the camera helps you focus on the image, it’s subtlety brings you closer to your subjects . The single focal length will help you on framing, composure, adapting to different scenarios. The single film will teach you how to control it, how to take advantage of its exposure curve. It’s quite a genius idea and Mike purports this way of shooting will teach you more in a one year than taking classes for three.
Thinking about the Leica Year makes me look at my own work and how few cameras and lenses I am touching these days. As much as I love exploring film cameras of varying formats and functions, I do find my range of active equipment narrowing down over time. Most of the film I’ve been shooting lately has been in the Rolleicord (on the street, general walking around) and the Burke & James (portraits). I am about to finish building another Graflex hand held camera (intended for street fairs).
To me, consolidation in the face of increased work is a great sign. It makes me feel like I am more focused in my work, spending more of my time on actual image creation.. spending more time in the darkroom, which I completely love.
So I intend to focus more on Large Format going forward. When the weather worsens I will continue my vacuum tube series work. I want to publish more images and have my work shown again. And hopefully, one day in the future someone will see me and say something like, “hey, it’s that guy.”
(photo credit: Yve Fontilea)