I love faces and I love photography. Happily these are two great traits to have if you want to be a Portrait Photographer. It didn't always seem such an inevitability though. Despite growing up playing in my father's darkroom there was an itch to scratch as an engineer in open cut mines in Northern Australia before the photo obsession eventually won out.
Small digital cameras were my gateway drug but an insatiable appetite for the medium and years of play led me finally to analogue film and large format cameras - specifically 8x10 cameras, and more specifically to 'Norma'! Norma is my father's 1972 Sinar brand Studio View Camera. She was enjoying a long retirement in a garden shed until I enticed her back into dutiful service with a little oil and a lot of patience. For her troubles she now sports the most revered lens in portrait history, the 360mm Rodenstock Sironar-S!
About 8x10 Film Photography
Still photos are a magical thing: part science, part history, part dream, part reality. And still, after 170 years of photographic advancement, absolutely nothing expresses these attributes more beautifully than an 8x10 view camera with analogue film and an exquisite german lens. With this team you have the ability to create photos of a richness, detail and character unmatched by modern cameras.
The 8x10 View Camera
8x10 cameras are very simple; they consist of a lens at the front, extendable bellows in the middle and a plate at the back to focus and hold a sheet of film (you can see Norma in the picture lower down). They are however very large, huge even - and this is why they're so good. Principles of physics and optics mean that as you increase the size of a sensor or film sheet you get more resolution and a much nicer out-of-focus transition. So what?! So this results in wonderfully romantic and dreamy feeling photos. You get this a little when you move from a phone camera to a full-frame DSLR. But what if I tell you that an 8x10 film sheet is 60 times larger than a full-frame sensor! Or 1,600 times larger than an iPhone 7 sensor! Now you start to see the power of 8x10.
Filters for digital photos are all the rage now because digital sensors produce photos that are too clinical. Filters look good because they actually add in some of the traits of film that are missing in digital capture:
- grain that's more organic,
- contrast that's more natural,
- colours so rich and creamy, and
- at the end of it a physical negative
Years after, it's amazing to hold the physical negative that was there when the image was taken.
The German Lens
Rodenstock lenses evoke lust in any photographer. German engineering refined over 140 years has produced optic materials and designs that produce photos with industry leading sharpness, contrast and clarity. The Rodenstock Sironar-S portrait lens I use weighs over 1.5kg and has no equal on an 8x10 camera. Dammit, now i've gone and got goose-bumps.
Both Analogue & Digital
By combining this vintage capture process with modern scanning techniques I can take advantage of the best of both worlds. You get a massive digital file of the photo for sharing on social media while also being able to create textured prints for a gift or to hang in a special place at home.
About My Portrait Sessions
A Unique Experience
Being photographed on an 8x10 film camera is a very calming experience. Many elements have not changed in over 140 years. Thankfully you won't have to stay still for 15 minutes like they did in the days of bushrangers, but most people do find it a very calming and contemplative experience.
Got You Covered
Whether a selfie master or allergic to cameras, a Portrait Session with me is all about comfort and fun. Here are the deets:
- your place or mine
- professional hair and make-up
- start with some digital shots to get into the swing of it
- once you're comfortable we'll switch to my Norma the 8x10 😊
- that's the session over and we'll meet up a week later to decide on prints
- a week after that you'll have your prints and all the digital files!
Is It For Me?
There are many reasons to have a Portrait Session. It might be for yourself or it could be a unique gift. Often people need an event to remind them to stop and capture the moment in time in a special way - like a newborn baby, and engagement or milestone birthday. Some people make it a point to have a session every 10 years. You don't have to do anything with the photos right now but it's such a good feeling to know you have them.
What's your reason?
A Final Note
Where Did They Go?
So where are all the 8x10 photographers today? Once the hallmark of the great landscape and portraitists, this is a camera that fell out of favour in a world that prized speed and convenience over quality. It's easier to take a million photos with a digital camera but how many of them are truly moving? Still, magazines and newspapers moved to digital for the speed and film got rarer and more expensive and we forgot about 8x10.
Why do I shoot 8x10? Why now? Because it has so much to offer that I can't not. And because I built something to make it easier!
Like Nothing Else
I love digital and shoot a lot of it but no-one has ever made a digital sensor anywhere near the size of 8x10. There's no way to get the 8x10 magic without one. Not even with photoshop!
Hand Crafted from Start to Finish
Today there's no-where to get 8x10 film developed. The volume of customers dropped and labs stopped offering it as it's a specialised service. Not one to let a bit of engineering stop me, I teamed up with my Dad and we designed a system to develop a lot of 8x10 negatives quickly and consistently. So now I spend more time with my clients shooting to ensure we get the perfect photos.