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Thread: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo taken

  1. #11
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Used to do this with instant prints. Also have helped a friend do tintype portraits.

    The cool factor will be quickly forgotten once you tell them "I'll send you a print in a few days." Sorry but I think you'll get exactly 0 customers with that approach. Most folks don't give strangers money and hope to get the product later.

    Besides which, for 95% of people there, they want a cell phone pic to post on social media. Not a print to put on the wall. A small instant print of decent size was attractive back a few years ago (I was using 3x4 Fuji 100C and 3000B instant films), but these days with Fuji having sold millions and millions of Instax cameras, many of your potential customers will have their own way of doing it if they want small scrapbook photos.

    And don't forget the regulatory stuff as mentioned earlier.

    I could be wrong but I think the idea as presented will be a really tough sell.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  2. #12

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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    I had the same inclination a few years ago. Beginning in 2016, I set up my 8x10 Ansco Studio No. 5 at various events with a sign offering portrait sittings for free and prints for purchase after the fact.

    I learned that maybe 1 in 30 people notice the camera. Like the OP, I thought that many more people would be intrigued by it since it is a beautiful studio camera with a 40" double bellows. That turned out to be fine, though, since I can only make so many portraits. That interest (or lack thereof) acts as a natural filtering mechanism; only people who are interested stop to talk, and these are the people who are most likely willing to have the patience to sit for a good portrait.

    I had my expectations confirmed that this is not a money-making activity. The print sales after the fact generally covered my costs, but nothing more. That was fine. This is a hobby. My goal was not to make money, but to get new faces beyond my friends and family in front of the camera. I had people sign their agreement that I am the sole copyright owner of the images and reserve all of my publishing rights.

    I lost interest in setting up out in the world randomly like that. Unless it happened to be cloudy-bright and not rainy, I often struggled to find good light for portraiture. Bright sunshine, which we have in Washington State for most of the summer, is terrible for portraits in my opinion. People squint and have dark shadows all over their faces. When it was cloudy, as often as not, it would start sprinkling and I'd have to pack everything up and call it a day.

    My solution was to pick one, multi-day event that occurs every year and set up a temporary, north-light portrait studio. My goal is to make good portraits and lighting is so crucial. This way, I am in control of the light. I'll be at it again this coming August for the fourth year in a row. You can read about the set-up here: https://www.largeformatphotography.i...udio+portraits

    I am changing the way I approach the business aspect of it. I am no longer going to charge for a sitting OR a print. I am shifting away from the business model and now calling it a portrait project with the goal of showing the work in 2030. Everyone whose portrait is included will receive a fine print for free. However, if a sitting does not result in an image that I want to print as part of this body of work, the image will never see the light of day (that is, no proofs and no prints available for purchase). Since it was never really a business anyway, I am only out the cost of my materials, which I can afford. I only used the business model as a justification for getting people to sit, but I am established enough at this festival now that I feel confident that people will want to participate in hopes that their portrait will be included in the final body of work. Since they aren't paying, there's no real downside to having a portrait made and the potential upside of a free print. The big benefit for me is that now I get to print only the work I love instead of grinding through proofs and orders (often for images I don't care for) before getting to the good stuff. I am going to offer the prints and negatives to the photo archive at the local museum when the project is finished since this music festival is a big part of the thriving local music culture, and these portraits might be of interest to future local historians.

    My advice: ask yourself why you want to do it. If making money is your objective, I’d recommend that you do something else. If you are looking to meet people and make portraits and enjoy the process of using your equipment, go for it!

    Good luck!

    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    www.analogportraiture.com
    www.instagram.com/papacornell

  3. #13

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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Don't really know what to say yet except thanks to everyone who has replied until now! Your replies are incredible useful.

  4. #14
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Thank you for coming back.

    We sometimes see a new person post one question and never show up again.

    Thank you!


    Quote Originally Posted by Magne G. View Post
    Don't really know what to say yet except thanks to everyone who has replied until now! Your replies are incredible useful.
    sin eater

  5. #15
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    From 1985 to 2001 I saw an old guy with a good Polaroid outfit with flash hit every major Rock nightclub 2 or 3 times a night.

    Big clubs with lots of weirdos, me included.

    He usually approached couples dancing or smooching but was ready for anything.

    He was quick, in and out if nothing 'developed' but back again in 2 hours.

    But i watched him shoot lots of folk, $5 per instant print. He could make $50 in 1/2 an hour.

    He had to make 2 to 4 yards a night, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

    Looked like WeeGee without a hat.

    He worked 9pm to 4am.
    sin eater

  6. #16
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Moe View Post
    Thank you for coming back.
    We sometimes see a new person post one question and never show up again.
    Thank you!
    Excellent point! Thanks from me, too.

  7. #17
    B&W LF
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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    I will admit that I too share this desire to make great LF portraits for others, even portable and on the street near a famous tourist attraction. Finding a good economical way to do it though is a challenge. Fortunately, there are some great examples mentioned here in the thread and others I have encountered that serve as a good reference:

    - Cameron Cornell, Analog Portraiture, www.analogportraiture.com / www.instagram.com/papacornell
    -- Concentrating at a large gathering event is a great idea especially since you can set up a "portable studio" and have better control of lighting, staging, and managing the whole process.

    - Similarly, there are many tintype studios set up at Civil War reenactments and historical events or festivals.

    - FP-100C / Fujiroids / Polaroids on the street
    -- This is quite popular in NYC it seems. I wish I was able to get my own portrait taken here, but didn't research when/where to go. The large instant "polaroids" are very unique and I would consider carry much more value vs business-card-size instax prints. Since this film is all expired now, there is little time left for this option.
    -- Louis Mendez - www.instagram.com/explore/tags/louismendez/
    https://petapixel.com/2018/03/31/thi...-for-50-years/
    -- Jean Andre Antoine www.instagram.com/jaaphotos/ - shoots near Dean & DeLuca gourmet grocery store in Manhattan, with prints taped to the wall for advertising (presumably he has something worked out with the store). Looks like he will have his first solo exhibition later this month: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/one-sho...on-61522953811

    - 8x10 portrait paper negatives / contact prints
    -- I recall Marco making 8x10 portraits of people in front of the Detroit Public Library, thought I thought he made paper negative prints as well. www.instagram.com/p/Bb92ZnaDXka/ His work is more for an exhibit and social documentary though rather than commercial portraits.
    -- Marco Lorenzetti, www.instagram.com/marcolorenzetti/ / www.instagram.com/detroitinfilm/

    - Exhibition of prints in the street
    -- This one is a bit different, but after walking into the historic ___ neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea... I encountered dozens of near life size portrait prints on the walls of each shop - portraits of each shop's owner ( www.instagram.com/p/BpXDeAPBbgd/ ). It was a really moving and sentimental experience for me. Seeing studio / coffee shop later and how the photos were made (i.e. similar to Cameron Cornell above www.instagram.com/p/Bjjj8EVAyDd/ )
    -- Mulnamoo, high end large format prints www.instagram.com/mulnamoo/

  8. #18

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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    As a way of reducing the 'awkward' gap between getting the sitter interested and them getting a print, how about shooting paper-negs? They can then be developed and contacted by an assistant in a darkroom-tent, or the back of a van. It would also be possible to use Direct-Positive material as well, though the cost would go up slightly. The slowness of the materials would introduce factors which would perhaps be unusual and therefore interesting to the potential clients, and the orthochromatic nature would also be unusual.

  9. #19

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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Same idea using an adapted camera to make a LF paper neg which is rephotographed, yielding a (rather contrasty) positive print. Chemicals are inside camera back, bucket of rinse water below tripod. This operator was in Barcelona in 2018.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_1585.jpg  

  10. #20

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    Re: (Talk me out of) offering people at scenic tourist site to have their LF photo ta

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Hudson View Post
    Same idea using an adapted camera to make a LF paper neg which is rephotographed, yielding a (rather contrasty) positive print. Chemicals are inside camera back, bucket of rinse water below tripod. This operator was in Barcelona in 2018.
    Way, way, back when my mother was taking me for a haircut in Glenbrook, CT, around 1947 or 48 there was a little old, to me at 7 or 8, fellow with a donkey cart, a monkey and a camera on the side of the street. For some amount, that I paid no attention to, he would take your picture with the monkey, who was on a leash wearing a vest and a hat.
    He took my picture, and within a few minutes handed my mother the print. He had a box on the back of the wagon where he did the processing, the print was reddish so it was some type of POP paper.

    This preceded the introduction of Polaroid!

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