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Thread: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 1998

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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 isn’t 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 don’t 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.

  2. #12

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.


  3. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    La Luz del Oeste, Albuquerque NM

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    as a 4x5 Chamonix N2 user, I think large format and babies don't go together.
    Peter Collins

    On the intent of the First Amendment: The press was to serve the governed, not the governors --Opinion, Hugo Black, Judge, Supreme Court, 1971 re the "Pentagon Papers."

  4. #14
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.

    Juny by Mathieu Bauwens, sur Flickr

    famille-E.D.1 by Mathieu Bauwens, sur Flickr

    (8x10, here is the gallery ;

    with the chamonix 4x5 ;
    Pauline_mur_commune by Mathieu Bauwens, sur Flickr

    Tristan&victor1 by Mathieu Bauwens, sur Flickr

    My thoughts are you can give it a try !

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Los Angeles

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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 — 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) — but that begins to be a whole new ball of wax. I have used a few and it’s 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 “antique” vibe if that is partly what you are going for. In the end I’m 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 wouldn’t 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. You’d 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 don’t really have experience shooting large format or perhaps even film, which in my mind makes it a little bit harder, although maybe it doesn’t 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?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

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

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    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.


  9. #19

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    There is a photographer using Chamonix 57Fs2 camera shooting wet plate portraits, many of his subjects are children. It must be very hard.

  10. #20

    Join Date
    May 2010
    St. Louis, Mo.

    Re: Maternity photography using Chamonix 45N-2

    I keep thinking of Anne Geddes. She used unique clothes and props.

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