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Thread: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

  1. #1

    Question Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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 and there are a couple YouTube channels 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!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    St. Simons Island, Georgia

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 1999

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails KarynHeliarS.jpg  
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Los Angeles

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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!

  7. #7
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

  8. #8

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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!!!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2


    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.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2016

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

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