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Thread: Is there money in LF portrait work?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Currently New York

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Even as someone sympathetic to large format, I'd be much more interested in the photographer's style, ascertained by seeing examples of it, than in what format he uses. There are large format photographers who do work that is technically sound and aesthetically to some tastes, but whose work doesn't interest me at all; and there are photographers using 35mm, film or digital, for whom I would offer myself up as a photographic victim- err, subject - in a heartbeat

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern Virginia

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Elsa Dorfman seems to have done okay.

    Rick "thinking one needs the right hook to make a specialized service unique and valuable" Denney

  3. #13
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Is there money in LF portrait work? Of course there is. There's always money in selling shovels to the miners. You being one of the miners in this case.

    Bruce Watson

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Do you have the ability to create something truly unique with great apparent value and do you have the ability to market it and yourself effectively? Are you comfortable relating to the people of power that have the money? Therein lies your answer. Most people have a "compete" mindset and it is not surprising to me that they are the naysayers. You don't need to compete you need to create!!!

    Donald Miller

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Listen to some of the Inside Analog Photography podcasts. Several of them are photographers who appear to making a living, some quite a good living, shooting film as a brand, and even some LF. What strikes me about them is they are good business and market people, who work hard, and they could have probably branded themselves with anything - their key is being different in a way that can be sold to upper middle class folks, the one who will spend money. Sounds too much like a job for me, but it seems to work.:-)

  6. #16
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    hi wayne

    if it is something "on the side" and is for fun and by word of mouth
    there sure is a market for large format portraits. it is a great niche.
    many of the portrait photographers near me do more than just portraits,
    a lot of them do weddings, events and sports ( school ) contracts,
    and no one uses film.

    the woman i worked for years ago, was in the heart of downtown providence
    and all the banks and insurance companies were still in town and she made her living
    doing "executive portraits" for the sunday paper's promotion-pages and collateral. she was still shooting
    5x7 and split when the rest of the world had their hasselblads in hand.
    the reason why they kept coming back was 3 fold - she was a master,
    she retouched the film ( and paper ) and she was dirt cheep.
    nowdays, with PS anyone can do an OK job retouching portraits,
    and pretty much anyone with a camera can take portraits ( or say they are a portrait photographer )

    what would set you apart from the pack is that you are making something a bit
    different, even if you scan the film into PS and output it at a lab for 2$/8x10,
    it still will start with film.

    good luck!

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    You also have to look at the nature of the business. Portrait photographers who are well-known for their creative work, from the late Arnold Newman to Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, do not have the subject of their portraits as their client. The work that you remember is editorially assigned by a magazine or corporation. The vast majority of professional portrait photography in this country is sold directly to the sitter; an enormous market that thrives on assembly-line product. And it has to; the competition is so great and the margins so razor-thin that you'd better have something that looks just like your competitors', but a bit cheaper, if you want to survive. (I know, I've been there.) In that market, LF would be a real liability from a production cost standpoint; to thrive you'd best find a place to set up with an affluent, discerning clientele. Not suburban America, I'm afraid; Nantucket or West Palm Beach might do.

  8. #18
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Vancouver Washington

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    I am going to be a bit of a smartass and say yes, there is money in LF portraiture...but with the possibility of it flowing the wrong direction.

    Sorry, but I blame it on a wet bicycle commute this morning and having "Jumping' Jack Flash" playing in the background. I really do not know what I am talking about.

    So, Vaughn you are saying that some big lips in a mud puddle made you see that there was money in LF portraiture? What a bitch, and I don't know what I'm talking about either but it is fun!!


  9. #19

    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    Annie Liebowitz .
    Leibovitz ...

  10. #20

    Re: Is there money in LF portrait work?

    Well I'm not really surprised by the answers as I can recall reading then over and over again over the years in different forms and concerning different photographic systems.
    I think I'm going to take a different tack on the idea. What is happening is that a small group of us are opening a new rehearsal/recording studio, so there are lots of musicians around. The business exist now. I think I'll just ask some of them to sit for me and have fun at recording the groups in both LF and digital. Maybe a couple of posters on the walls or pictures sprinkled around will garner some business. I have been approached for my video work for these people, but I am looking to get some still work, and I thought it would be unique to use a large camera which always seems to elicit some interesting remarks. I couldn't make less then what I'm making on my landscapes; Which is nothing and the expense is still there.

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