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AlexHanson Photos
24-Jan-2018, 23:22
6 months ago I moved from corporate America to following my passion of becoming a professional photographer (maternity and newborn). Fortunately my husband is very supporting and I'm able to leave my salary position. I upgraded my Nikon D700 to a Nikon D810 but quickly realized here in Orange County, CA, competition within the maternity photography market is tough cookies! There are some seriously good photographers. Now I might be wrong about this, but I figured the best way to build my way to the top, is experience. And the only way to get that is I need to dive in full time.

Now like anything, finding an angle that you can market yourself against what others are doing is key. So I have been looking at different ways to separate myself, I've been reading tons and tons of blogs about maternity photography tips (https://www.photographytalk.com/maternity-photography) and there are a couple YouTube channels (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obd0q8gwA1A) that I've been watching over and over as well. And so far, a ton of ideas of what to do with poses and locations and props. But still nothing ground breaking that would separate myself from others.

Now my father used to collect antiques. He would drive all over California to all the swap meets for the search of strange or just unique old antiques. I remember for the longest time, he had this boxy looking old school camera that I thought was so interesting. After some recent research, I realized this camera was a large format camera. So this is the angle I'm wondering about doing. I would take maternity photos using one of these cameras! I don't know (and I've researched) a single photographer playing these cards. I started researching different large format cameras and end up looking at a Chamonix 45N-1, but then I realized the newer model was the 45N-2.

The thing I'm hoping someone here can help me out with is:

1. Learning curve using a large format camera?
2. Any restrictions that might make it tough to use for maternity photography?
3. In terms of large format cameras, how is the Chamonix 45N-2?

OK, that is all my questions I have for now. I would really appreciate any help you can offer!

And thank you for reading my long post here!

Alex

j.e.simmons
25-Jan-2018, 04:09
Large format photography does have a learning curve. It will take practice. Will you process your own film? If not, you’ll need to investigate a lab. Large format is not mobile in the way a 35mm or digital camera is. That said, if you pick the place for the shot, you can set up ahead of time and prefocus. Some people do children’s photos with a Speed Graphic press camera. It’s made to be used for action shots. There are 4x5 versions. My sister in law used one for wedding photography and found it did set her apart from the competition. Good luck.

Steven Tribe
25-Jan-2018, 05:06
In the good old days, the Mamiya Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras were by far the most popular system for "events" photography. The view that the photographer had of the subject was much more precise that the digital screen image of to-day. A TLR camera would be suitable for both studio arrangements as well as location (hand held or tripod). Working with Large Format would only be practical (except for the Speed Graflex) for Studio or Outside tripod work. You would be very restricted with using sheet film as it takes valuable time to change film holders. The multi sheet systems for Graflex do not have the reliability (Age problems!) that you need with this sort of work. Rolls of film will give you 12 or 24 shots.

Additionally, most people who used Mamiya TLRS had back-up cameras - often with black/white films for the more cultured customers. These camera are exceptional reasonable in price these days with a good range of long focal lengths so you don't intrude!

With all sorts of film you will have to check that commercial (and good) development is available in your area.

jose angel
25-Jan-2018, 06:10
I think we usually tend to accept that cameras or formats or even media makes a difference, but the only difference really is on the look or personality or whatever the photographer is capable to make on the image.
Large format is a very good media to work on the images, but on the other side it doesn`t have a different look (art or whatever) compared to other formats, and it has big drawbacks like slowness, cost, size and weight, etc.
So don`t think that shooting large format will make you different or more competitive... quite the opposite. You`ll have just bigger images, better for higher enlargements.
I enjoy my life shooting large format, it`s my main passion, but I hardly can do anything much different compared to other formats or media.

Two23
25-Jan-2018, 06:50
I take family photos and weddings on a part time basis. I sometimes use my Chamonix 045n-1 for this. Really, any field camera design is going to work fine. I don't see any advantage of the 045n-2 over the 045n-1 for this so I just kept it. It's fine. I do use older lenses, generally from 1910 to 1930. These are uncoated and have a much softer look, which is what I'm after. My two favorites are a Heliar and an Velostigmat. I sometimes use lenses from 1845 to 1860 for a really historic look. There is a learning curve but because the process is so straight forward it's mainly an exercise in maintaining a discipline in doing things in correct order. This kind of photography is not good for doing shots of small children.


Kent in SD

brucetaylor
25-Jan-2018, 07:24
AlexHanson, congratulations on following your passion! Even if a large format portrait niche doesn't work out commercially you'll be a better photographer for it-- it requires a different pace and way of thinking. So why not give it a try? From a marketing angle it would differentiate you from the pack, and only time will tell if there are enough people who like the permanence and beauty of a fine print (esp B&W). I also think the Speed Graphic idea might be a good one if you are thinking you might like to work handheld, with practice you can work pretty fast and you get that nice big negative. If you go with something like the Chamonix you have all the wonderful soft lens options if that's a look you want (I think it's unique and a great differentiator). If your going to be sending your lab work out you are fortunate to be so close to LA as I believe there are still some fine labs operating.
Best of luck, it sounds like it will be a fun and interesting project!

Jim Jones
25-Jan-2018, 07:24
I'm with Jose. Large format photography does have an advantage in image quality. The photographer with the insight and experience to make the most of this quality might attract customers with photographs of any subjects. However, in maternity and newborn photography, it is that special subject that is dear to the client. The modest technical advantage of large format photographs would be significant to only a few potential clients without a strong and unique advertising campaign. A photographers' ability to make the most of whatever equipment they are proficient in using is important. A familiar type of camera frees the photographer from struggling with the more difficult large format. More important is their understanding of the subject. An appropriate studio with props, and the ability to shoot on location, are assets.

Digital photography provides instant feedback, best done on a large monitor screen. This enables the client to become more involved in the shoot. A high quality large printer enables the photographer to produce the prints at the end of the shoot, another niche service. If you use modern technology in photography, make the most of it. If you must have the retro look in equipment, many hundred year old cameras with a modern shutter perform as well as the Chamonix, and provide a cachet that new cameras lack.

AlexHanson Photos
25-Jan-2018, 07:44
OMG you all are so great! I'm just getting ready to head off for a long day, and just scanned all the responses. Thank you all!! I'll be reading these in much greater detail later. Thank you!!!

Hugo Zhang
25-Jan-2018, 08:14
Alex,

I don't know which part of OC you live, but there is a darkroom in Irvine Fine Arts center where you can process your film and do printing. It opens three times a week and hours starts at 10 am to 7-9pm. A pass of 10 will cost you $115 if you are a resident. Many film photographers work there with roll film to large format. I use that darkroom at least once a week and I shoot quite bit of people. Of course I can tell you something about Chamonix view cameras and different lenses.

Hugo

Pfsor
25-Jan-2018, 08:14
Well, people are not being stupid for a long time. There is probably enough of good reasons why photographers don't do this kind of photography with LF cameras. Being different is not always giving an advantage.

Bob Salomon
25-Jan-2018, 08:25
1 if you will be using camera movements; tilts/swings, then yes there is a learning curve. But for what you want to do there isnít much reason to use them.
2 you are looking at a ground glass camera with no external rangefinder or viewfinder. You will have to learn how to control your subject so that once you have focused and composed the image they donít change position or distance. This requires lots of practice and a string with knots.
3 it is a folding field camera. Like all folding field cameras.
You should also consider monorail cameras, generally they will allow you to use larger and longer focal length lenses for portraiture.
You should also consider press and technical cameras like Linhof Technika, Wista RF, Graflex, etc. they have rangefinders and viewfinders.

brouwerkent
25-Jan-2018, 09:26
I have to seriously question your motivation here....a 4x5 is not going to bring commercial success in portraiture. For a professional who has to balance income with quality, a full frame DSLR will do everything you need. Take Arnold Newman...arguably one of the finest portrait artists who used a 4x5 for many of his best known images. For the the last 20 years of his life...he relied on 35 mm because it was more fluid. His 4x5 images are brilliantly done...but keep in mind he worked very slow and deliberately with adult subjects who were willing to cooperate in the process. But even Arnold Newman found that his 35 mm work was generally more dynamic. It allowed him the freedom to rapidly make variations with the result exciting compositions. Large Format is at odds with the world of bread and butter portraits...particularly infants. While I can appreciate that you want to set your work apart from others, the finished work must please the customer.

The 4x5 by nature is a slow process and I do not believe the majority of your prospective clients will appreciate the difference. Frankly, I believe you will find your results to be clunky and awkward...not what a mother is looking for. Professional portrait photography is all about emotion and subtlety...and service. You need to be quick and skilled...and a dslr will be an ideal camera.

I believe you will be better served by concentrating your efforts on learning lighting and dynamic composition. The portrait business is a service business, and I doubt your potential clients and their infants will want to participate in an by nature slow process.

Phil

Peter Collins
25-Jan-2018, 10:31
as a 4x5 Chamonix N2 user, I think large format and babies don't go together.

Randy Moe
25-Jan-2018, 10:52
A warning. Don't combine LF and safety shots with DSLR. It gets too confusing real fast. Neither works well then.

If it must be film, use a Nikon F5 which works with all Nikon VR and great glass like DC 135 2.0. That lens has an adjustable 'look'. And the F5 can blast off a roll just like a DSLR. F5's were the best Pro 35mm ever made and cost $2500 back in the day. They are very heavy abd very reliable. The Auto Focus is amazingly strong and fast.

Here are 2 links F5 and the 135 2.0 DC lens.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/f5.htm

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/135mm-f2-dc.htm

mathieu Bauwens
25-Jan-2018, 12:02
Well, as a user of chamonix 4x5 and 8x10 user, I can tell that babies and large format can match... But not for all of your clients. If you do a good and strong marketing, explaining it will be a quiet session and you will not shoot thousands of pictures, it could be a good idea. but don't think you will do only LF session, a lot of parents don't care about the camera and just want pictures quickly.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8769/17390106211_33fd400889_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/suGQHr)Juny (https://flic.kr/p/suGQHr) by Mathieu Bauwens (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieubauwens/), sur Flickr

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2875/34024136892_2d0c6caeb0_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/TQAAvS)famille-E.D.1 (https://flic.kr/p/TQAAvS) by Mathieu Bauwens (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieubauwens/), sur Flickr

(8x10, here is the gallery ; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieubauwens/albums/72157651990872598/with/34024136892/)

with the chamonix 4x5 ;
https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2873/34357576815_294bfdf454_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Um4yA4)Pauline_mur_commune (https://flic.kr/p/Um4yA4) by Mathieu Bauwens (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieubauwens/), sur Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4188/34226783171_a006b848e1_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/U9vdce)Tristan&victor1 (https://flic.kr/p/U9vdce) by Mathieu Bauwens (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieubauwens/), sur Flickr

My thoughts are you can give it a try !

michael_los_angeles_photo
25-Jan-2018, 14:56
Wow, that is an interesting as well as tough issue. I would say, following on some of the other thoughts, that it might be difficult to get (most) people to care that much about the fact that you are using a particular camera, or film, etc. Your images would probably have to have a very distinct look to them that could only be achieved that way in order to convince people. That could be achievable, but to be honest it might take quite a bit of experimenting with different cameras and particularly lenses to get to that point, not to mention becoming familiar with the technique, various films, processing, scanning, etc.

But then there is the idea of using a 4x5 camera, and that particular one. Again to echo some others here, if(?) you (mainly) wanted to use film, you have other options that might be more manageable, from medium format down to a good 35mm camera with a great lens (or lenses; also easily and quickly changeable with that format). Medium format images in particular can be very beautiful. But even if you really wanted to go 4x5, I would consider somehow trying to borrow or at least use a few different cameras before investing in one. If I were going to use a 4x5 in that context, for example, I might consider a Graflex slr ó the antique-looking things with the big chimney hood; they are basically like a big 35mm camera, with a mirror that allows you to see your subject right-side up and focus until the least second (as you can have your film holder inserted and the dark slide pulled out as you compose and then shoot) ó but that begins to be a whole new ball of wax. I have used a few and itís not always easy focusing (under pressure) down the hood, the shutters are archaic, etc. Depending on the back, you can also use them with a medium format roll film, which could be a nice option.

But thinking about it more, I would hesitate to recommend embarking down that road unless you were sure that it would make a difference. If you wanted to test the waters, I might start with a nice 35mm camera and/or medium format camera (they are expensive, but as for just one option, a lot of wedding photographers seem to have gone to the Contax system....there are tons of images you can see online. There are also many cheaper options). But that also is not going to give you an ďantiqueĒ vibe if that is partly what you are going for. In the end Iím not quite sure what you are ultimately trying to achieve. It might be enough of a selling point to say you use film and that it gives a different, slightly softer and more classic look. If you specifically want more of an antique-appearing camera and perhaps to offer a different experience, then maybe just using film in a smaller format wouldnít do it. But if that is the case, and you had the space in an extra room or garage, say, I might even go whole hog and get an old studio camera like a Century, on a stand, and give people a sort of vintage portrait studio experience. Those cameras are usually 8x10, but you can an get smaller backs for them, and you could start with a 4x5 back. Youíd have the advantage of a consistent evnvironment, light you were used to, etc. as well.

Also, I can speak from experience in saying that it is not very difficult to end up with a rather mundane photo even from a 4x5 camera. It still comes down to your photography - composition, light, capturing the right moment, etc.

If my response has seemed a little all over the place, I think that it is partly due to the fact that it is such a complex question, compounded by the fact that (it appears, anyway) you donít really have experience shooting large format or perhaps even film, which in my mind makes it a little bit harder, although maybe it doesnít necessarily have to be a huge factor in the end. I would never want to discourage anyone from trying, but it strikes me as quite a challenge to arrive at the right recipe. I wonder if you could begin by continuing to offer your digital shots but add in a roll of 35mm or a roll or two of medium format, or even several sheets of large format, and see how that starts to strike people? Kind of the best of the two worlds, where you can advertise this other dimension (and see whether people are responding at all to it) but not rely on it?

Two23
25-Jan-2018, 16:15
I will go on to say that while I think maternity photos can be done with 4x5 (I have done family portraits with one,) I don't see weddings being shot with one. Weddings are go-go-go and the workflow with 4x5 is way too slow. Modern customers are expecting more than what 4x5 can give. Also, you never know for SURE if you got the shot with film, but with digital you do. Remember that you can't go back and reshoot a wedding. I use 4x5 as a sort of bonus format, but really can't rely on it to do most of the work, unless I'm shooting Civil War reenactors or something. I will add that I don't bother shooting portraits with a modern lens as none of my customers would see any difference between that and using my Nikon D800E.

Below shot, my grandparents' wedding photo from 1921. Back then couples went to a studio and had a photo taken. The actual wedding was generally not photo'd.


Kent in SD

Denny
25-Jan-2018, 22:04
I tend to agree with many of the other comments, 4x5 isn't the answer. I think the best way to "separate" yourself from other photographers is with a unique final product, the image/print. And a typical customer won't appreciate the difference between a 4x5 image and a 35mm image. In addition, 4x5 isn't the easiest hardware to manage shooting kids. I would concentrate on two possible ways to separate yourself: See with a unique vision, your own distinctive style. This isn't easy and it may take a long time to evolve. Another way to separate yourself from the other photographers is with the final print. for example, learn how to print in platinum or gum bichromate and you're able to show a distinctly different kind of print as an option to customers (possibly a different price point as well) and have some great selling points. Learning the printing processes isn't too hard, but getting good can take time. Just my $.02.

Denny

Hugo Zhang
25-Jan-2018, 23:18
There is a photographer using Chamonix 57Fs2 camera shooting wet plate portraits, many of his subjects are children. It must be very hard. http://www.kauaiainaart.com/new-gallery/

Alan Gales
25-Jan-2018, 23:45
I keep thinking of Anne Geddes. She used unique clothes and props.


https://www.google.com/search?q=anne+geddes+baby+pictures&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJwe2rg_XYAhWOq1MKHQ_cC4YQsAQIJg&biw=1359&bih=939

Corran
26-Jan-2018, 00:39
Sure, there's lots of arguments against doing such a thing. But why not? Personally I would gravitate instead towards a Speed Graphic and standard 135mm lens, with the rangefinder working and calibrated being a necessity. Your market will need to be educated and shown WHY your results are different, and therefore you will probably have to do some work pro bono to build up a few portfolio shots on LF. You might dip your toes into it first with a decent medium format camera like a Rolleicord. This all assumes your technique is spot-on and you have some decent personal photographic skill/vision.

But, especially in a crowded market, the quickest way to make a million with photography is to start with two million. I hope your salary job allowed for a nice padded bank account for if you don't make any money for a while.

To save on costs you'll want to learn about developing your own, probably stick to b&w only for a while, etc. Learning curve overall, if you've never shot film, will be immense. If so I would stick with digital while you learn and then when you are ready, start working on switching over.

Randy Moe
26-Jan-2018, 02:44
There is a photographer using Chamonix 57Fs2 camera shooting wet plate portraits, many of his subjects are children. It must be very hard. http://www.kauaiainaart.com/new-gallery/

Thatís an amazing portfolio! I love the one page long scroll presentation which works very well on a phone. In a couple hours I will look at it again on a desktop OS and monitor.

Wow!

Pere Casals
26-Jan-2018, 05:20
Sure! And while she will be honing here skills in the darkroom for days to come her fellow photographers will show their clients the results of their photo sessions and negotiate their fees. There are probably no reasons while home photographers prefer the digital photography so overwhelmingly.

Today near all Pros are digital because convenience, costs, and digital performance strengths.

but... this 2018 there are amazing Pro photographers working with film with great success, and converting film footprint in a basic ingredient of their product.

Josť Villa it is easy to mention http://josevilla.com/ , absolutely making wonders with his Contax 645 and Fuji 160 , and also making great money.

but we have more Top Pros enjoying film with great commercial success:

Josť Villa http://josevilla.com/
John Dolan http://johndolan.com/portfolios/marriage/
Greg Finck http://www.gregfinck.com/
Noa Azoulay http://www.featherlove.com/
Erich Mcvey http://www.erichmcvey.com/
Braedon Flynn https://braedonphotography.com/portfolio/Weddings/
Liz Banfield https://www.lizbanfield.com/weddings
Judy Pak http://judypak.com/the-details
Sylvie Gil http://www.sylviegilphotography.com/
Ryan Ray http://www.ryanrayphoto.com/
Tec Petaja http://www.tecpetajaphoto.com/
Elizabeth Messina http://www.elizabethmessina.com/#!/images/love/gallery/1
Corbin Gurkin https://corbingurkin.com/
Aaron Delesie http://www.delesieblog.com/
Eric Kelley http://erickelley.com/portfolio
Allan Zepeda https://allanzepeda.com/
Heather Waraksa http://heatherwaraksa.com/
Charlotte Jenks Lewis http://charlottejenkslewis.com/
Leo Patrone http://www.leopatronephotography.com/
KT Merry https://www.ktmerry.com/

This is a list of top wedding photographers I follow, shooting 100% film or using film a lot.

What is true is that, amazingly, in the top crop of wedding photographers a lot are using film.

Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2 ?

Nothing wrong, it can be a great opportunity if one learns how to take advantage of film signature and LF aesthetics, and how to translate that differentiation to dollars.

BrianShaw
26-Jan-2018, 05:35
Interesting discussion. I’ve done it twice, with each of my children. Once each. It’s tough. If your thinking formal portrait style then it’s more likely.

Suggest re-reading two posts that have thoughts that seem a bit fleeting in the discussion:

Bob Solomon regarding a monorail and movements. For closeup you'll need it. Cropping might work but then your not getting advantage of LF.

Pfsor regarding turnaround time vs marketing time vs customer satisfaction. You need to read between the lines. But please do...
EDIT: The post I was referring to was deleted by Moderator. It implied that time spent in the darkroom may take away from time spent marketing/shooting for new clients. It also seems to have implied that customer expectation these days is more immediate than in the olden days of film-based event photography.

I suppose anything is possible in the OC but you may need to work on the marketing as much as the gear selection and development/refinement of a unique vision. An appearance on The Houseives of Orange Couny or the Kardashian’s reality shows is just what might launch your new career!

Bob Salomon
26-Jan-2018, 06:41
Interesting discussion. Iíve done it twice, with each of my children. Once each. Itís tough. If your thinking formal portrait style then itís more likely.

Suggest re-reading two posts that have thoughts that seem a bit fleeting in the discussion:

Bob Solomon regarding a monorail and movements. For closeup you'll need it. Cropping might work but then your not getting advantage of LF.

Pfsor regarding turnaround time vs marketing time vs customer satisfaction. You need to read between the lines. But please do...

I suppose anything is possible in the OC but you may need to work on the marketing as much as the gear selection and development/refinement of a unique vision. An appearance on The Houseives of Orange Couny or the Kardashianís reality shows is just what might launch your new career!
Brian, I mentioned monorails because most use large lensboards and have longer bellows extension which make it very easy to use old brass lenses on them.

jp
26-Jan-2018, 07:15
If you have experience dealing with roll film, metering, processing, LF itself is not a big jump. You may want to do some workshops with alt process if you're after the handmade look. I'd guess turning out some digital photos for people's facebook is the low end of the job market and high end might be handmade timeless art to hang on the wall.

My style is soft focus. I'd probably shoot some things like Gertrude Kasabier's Madonna with 4x5 speed graphic and soft focus lens, then make a coffee or tea toned cyanotype print. Kids by themselves don't sit still for strangers to photograph, but a seated family member holding a child can hold the thin field of focus inherent to LF.

You could do something close with your nikon and a Velvet56 lens and make digital negatives for alt process. I mention this from first hand experience displaying David Aimone's prints, some of which are made with Velvet56+DigitalNegative+Altprocess.
https://aimonephoto.shop/collections/service-portraiture
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ioglass/

Jim Jones
26-Jan-2018, 08:11
It's true that film photographers have created their own distinctly recognizable styles before the digital age, such as Yousuf Karsh and Margaret Cameron. Karsh eventually had the advantage of technical skills, an ability to research and understand his subjects, and a portfolio of prominent subjects. Margaret Cameron also had connections with the right people, which in part compensated to the obstacle of wet plate photography. Such people were exceptions. Most prospective clients today may have never seen a state-of-the-art print from a large format negative. Too many are satisfied with a cell phone image. Modern digital cameras produce close to film image quality except for gallery size prints. Few people in my area would appreciate such work. In an affluent and sophisticated city, someone with the business ability, photographic expertise, money, and time might establish a niche for large format baby and maternity photography. I defer to those with experience in such markets.

bloodhoundbob
26-Jan-2018, 08:17
Sure, there's lots of arguments against doing such a thing. But why not? Personally I would gravitate instead towards a Speed Graphic and standard 135mm lens, with the rangefinder working and calibrated being a necessity. Your market will need to be educated and shown WHY your results are different, and therefore you will probably have to do some work pro bono to build up a few portfolio shots on LF. You might dip your toes into it first with a decent medium format camera like a Rolleicord. This all assumes your technique is spot-on and you have some decent personal photographic skill/vision.

But, especially in a crowded market, the quickest way to make a million with photography is to start with two million. I hope your salary job allowed for a nice padded bank account for if you don't make any money for a while.

To save on costs you'll want to learn about developing your own, probably stick to b&w only for a while, etc. Learning curve overall, if you've never shot film, will be immense. If so I would stick with digital while you learn and then when you are ready, start working on switching over.

Bryan, I could not agree more with you when it comes to a SG. With a little practice, the OP would come to rapidly learn its versatility. At the age of 15, I became the HS yearbook photographer, shooting everything from school dances to the four major sports to informal portraits. Many of us are past or present studio owners who were or are looking for a gimmick to attract more customers. Since much business is due to word of mouth, I think the SG is an entirely viable money maker. A refurbished Stroboflash IV is easy to obtain and would complement the SG beautifully.

BrianShaw
26-Jan-2018, 08:31
Brian, I mentioned monorails because most use large lensboards and have longer bellows extension which make it very easy to use old brass lenses on them.

That too, Bob. :)

Pere Casals
26-Jan-2018, 08:51
Karsh eventually had the advantage of technical skills, an ability to research and understand his subjects, and a portfolio of prominent subjects.

Yeah, he aggressively pulled Churchill's cigar from his mouth :) just before shooting, to obtain "the" shot that explained to the britons under the blitz what it has to be explained...

(this is understanding subjects, and adding to a portfolio)




Too many are satisfied with a cell phone image. Modern digital cameras produce close to film image quality except for gallery size prints. Few people in my area would appreciate such work. In an affluent and sophisticated city, someone with the business ability, photographic expertise, money, and time might establish a niche for large format baby and maternity photography. I defer to those with experience in such markets.

I agree... most customers may value more the later photoshop work than the photographers effort. Not many people is to value a true artistic work in protraiture, and digital has has devaluated Pros' work.


...but there are film based Pros specialized in maternity:

"Nancy Ray Photography is a film photography studio based in Raleigh, North Carolina."

http://nancyrayphotography.com/?s=maternity


IMHO LF + film has a differentiation advantage for maternity film, another thing is being able to deliver a solid product and converting that in commercial goodwill.

scathontiphat
1-Feb-2018, 22:30
This does not seem like a path to success. I certainly would advocate exploring other formats as part of your growth and path as a photographer, but not as a marketing gimmick. A good picture is a good picture whether its taken on a phone, a $30k medium format digital camera, or a large format film camera. Ultimately your clients will be drawn to you because of the quality and style of your work, not what camera you shoot it on. I'd much rather have a huge grainy wall print from an enlarged 35mm neg of a great photo, than a tack sharp grainless enlargement from a boring 8x10 neg.

And even if there is a market for those looking for maternity photographs who are looking for that large format quality, lets say for every active member on this board, there are 100 other people in the US who appreciate the quality of large format (either technical or aesthetic either of which I would say is very nuanced/unnoticeable to the not photo-obsessive), so that's 3500*100= 35,000 which is 0.1% of the population. So assuming the market for maternity photos is roughly representative of the general population, you're looking at 1 in 1000 clients who might even notice the difference in the image when produced on large format. And the non-image novelty factor of working with someone who uses a view camera will quickly vanish when the reality of that process is revealed to them.

don't get me wrong. i love film. and i really like large format (albeit i'm still quite new to it). But I think this is neither a smart marketable aspect, nor a particularly smart choice of format for working in maternity/newborn photography professionally (the odd job here and there on large format is way different than working day in and day out). And as much as i like film, i wouldn't chose a photographer because they worked in film, i would chose them because i think they are good photographer!

That being said... I do think that if you shot wet-plate, with a great big ol' wooden camera and brass lens, and made the whole thing an experience which resulted in a one-off collodion image that maybe got housed in something like they would put old Daguerreotypes, I think there's a market for that. The logistics of that on newborn sound like a nightmare, but I personally would pay for that if you were good enough to get the baby to go consistently to sleep to allow for a long exposure image (or got clever with artificial lighting that wouldn't practically explode the baby's retinas).

Pere Casals
2-Feb-2018, 07:53
This does not seem like a path to success. I certainly would advocate exploring other formats as part of your growth and path as a photographer, but not as a marketing gimmick...

Well, some are able to earn a living making maternity photography with an smartophone, while others may fail with a Hassy HD6...

But there is nothing wrong in making a bet with LF, also the risk is low because presently LF gear can be cheap. For sure LF has a unique look for portraiture that today is uncommon.

The question is about the phtographer's ability to make great portraits, and if he can take commercial advantage from LF unique look.

I repeat, the risk is relatively low, making a try with a CAMBO SC and a Symmar 150 has less cost than a Nikon flash.

BrianShaw
2-Feb-2018, 08:21
Like Pere said... except I had better success with my infants using a Cambo with a longer lens - 210.

Pere Casals
2-Feb-2018, 08:47
You are right, a newborn is too small for the 150, but it is convertible to 265/12 :)

John Earley
3-Feb-2018, 14:36
If I were to start a business doing child/maternity photography on film I would start with something like a 500 series Hasselblad or a medium format range finder. Once I had a good understanding of what worked I might then move to a large format camera, most likely starting with a 4x5 technical or press camera.

parisphotographer
15-Mar-2018, 17:30
Thank you very much for sharing this list of photographers using film cameras.
Actually I think it would be a good idea in order to distinguish yourself (I don't really know precisely about the maternity market). A lot of people say that gear doesn't really matter. In a sens I do agree that light, composition, attention to details and connection (if you are into people photography) are the most important. Nevertheless...gear definitely has a part of importance to me. Just have a look at some website like "the wedding sparrow" who only accepts submissions of images shot on film. Or just have a look at all these top notch wedding photographers...most of them use film as it was said in this conversation and I think we can even go deeper and say that most of them use a Contax 645 with a Zeiss 80mm f2 lens (it's all about the lens actually) that gives a unique and impossible to mimic final result.

I also agree with the comment saying that it would be a good idea to first start on a medium format before jumping into the Large one (and getting involved with such an investment). I started playing with 35mm camera before I was ready to jump a level higher and get into the medium format world...who knows what's next :).


Tim
http://www.tim-moore.com

Pere Casals
16-Mar-2018, 05:08
Or just have a look at all these top notch wedding photographers...most of them use film as it was said in this conversation and I think we can even go deeper and say that most of them use a Contax 645 with a Zeiss 80mm f2 lens (it's all about the lens actually) that gives a unique and impossible to mimic final result.
http://www.tim-moore.com

Hello Tim,

While the digital vs film debate is over since 10 years ago, and connection can be all, film can hook a fashion photographer in a number of ways.

Josť Villa skyrocketed the price of the C 645 with the Z f/2 :), but IMHO there is more than the 80 f/2...

First is format, a Phase One has an small 53.7 ◊ 40.4 mm MF digital sensor, while a Pentax 67II has twice the surface, same difference than DX vs FX, then we have the Takumar 105mm f/2.4, that glass was not made in the earth, but by god himself. Even the small 645 overuns the Phase surface by 30%. If we talk about "Full Format" DSLRs, then we are in 2nd division portraiture aganist a 6x7, twice the DX vs FX impact.

Format is not all and a lot of times it's simply irrelevant, but sometimes the DOF/OOF grading nature of a bigger format makes an atonishing difference in portraiture, fashion photographers reject DX in favor of FX, and this is (mostly) not because image quality, but because focus nature...

Then we have spectral response. Some may prefer Canon over Nikon DSLRs for portraits, and Nikon for the rest. Photoshop won't match completely the result with RGB adjustments because the difference in the spectral to tri-color conversion.

Film photographers have some powerful tools, Portra 160 and Fuji 160 for example. These are well sharpened bullets that today have no digital equivalent, we could talk a week long about why. I don't say one thing is better than the other, but certain look it's natural with film and IMHO a botched job if emulated in Ps from a digital capture, perhaps customer won't feel it, but Villa doesn't take that risk.

Then we have BW... let me point a fashion shot taken in Paris: http://100photos.time.com/photos/richard-avedon-dovima-with-elephants

Regards

epines
20-Mar-2018, 10:23
Wow -- I just realized this is an extensive thread. I haven't read through it. Here's the reply I wrote before realizing that many others had replied:

Alex -- I'm a longtime professional photographer up in L.A., and I don't think 4x5 / large format is the way to go for you, if you want to separate yourself from the competition. (And I love using film when possible.) Here's why:

- You may or may not know, but it is slow, cumbersome and expensive. And it will feel slow and cumbersome to your clients as well. The great images you see in large format are probably shot by photographers who have been doing this a long time. Honestly, with large format, even if you manage to get good images on film, your images probably aren't going to look much different from anyone else's. See next point.

- For the most part, it's not the camera that makes the shot. It's you. The things that will distinguish you are your lighting, your composition, your eye, your ideas, the content of your images, your locations, your taste level, your styling (wardrobe, makeup, hair). These having nothing to do with camera. Large format has many advantages -- very large prints without graininess, better tonality in the image, endless ways to manipulate the image and plane of focus -- but the drawbacks are too many to make it practicable for you. If you want to use film, medium format also enables very large prints and great tonality, while also allowing you to see through the camera while shooting (you can't with large format), 12 or so shots per roll (large format = one sheet at a time), and handhold-ability.

- What will also distinguish you is your final deliverable, most likely prints. If you really want to separate yourself from the competition, I think this is where you can stand out: your retouching and printing. If you shoot B&W, perhaps you can print in the darkroom using an alternative process, to deliver a look like no one else's? You can also choose to work with a great retoucher, which will also enable you to deliver unique final images. Both of these options would make your pricing higher but would separate you from others.

I could go on more, but suffice it to say, I think large format for maternity work is a bad idea, at least at the start of your photographic career. Hope this helps.

best,
ethan