I’m starting a new video series, where I’ll answer viewer-submitted questions about photography. The videos will be made available on my YouTube channel. If you have a photography-related question, send it to email@example.com. I’ll let you know when the answer is posted!
Here are the results of my test shoot today with the Minolta XG-7. This is a 35mm film camera introduced in 1977. It was the first camera I used for serious photography. More about that here.
This was from a series of shots around my neighborhood on the Upper West Side (Manhattan), taken on Kodak ProFoto XL 100, a film I’ve never used before. I have to say that the film has outstanding color and my prints look and feel like little pieces of art to me. The scans provided by the lab turned out much bolder and brighter than the prints themselves, so, using my MacBook Pro Retina screen and Lightroom, I brought the screen versions down to somewhat resemble what the prints look like. Of course, these might look completely different on your screen, but I think you’ll get the idea.
One thing that is absolutely clear to me at this point is that these screen representations don’t even come close to how impressive the prints are. I had them printed with borders on matte paper (Kodak Royal Digital Paper).
We become photographers for one reason or another. I’d always enjoyed taking snapshots as a child, and when the announcement was made one day at middle-school that they were going to be in need of a photographer, I jumped at the chance. Not as a way to express myself creatively, or contribute something to the efforts of the yearbook staff. Nope, I simply saw it as an opportunity to do something that might help me stand out in the crowd. I was shy kid, and “photographer” sounded like a quick and easy way to gain an identity. A camera and any kind of credentials will also gain you access to places other kids can’t get into. Win.
But, I found myself starting to take the whole thing very seriously. I read books and interviews about White House and war photographers, and photojournalists who risked everything to get the shot. I learned to develop my own film and prints. A big day for me was when my mom purchased a starter dark room set. I was 13.
A few months later, I was really into it. So much so, that when Hurricane Allen (1980) plowed through the Gulf of Mexico, straight for our area I couldn’t wait to capture some of the action. I got my first front page credit in one of the local papers for a shot of a burning building taken just as the hurricane had past through.
Shot with a Minolta XG-7 on Tri-X (the film photojournalists shot almost exclusively with), I made it home, developed and printed the image myself.
After that, I became a busy sports stringer. Shooting high-school and college games. The older shooters on the sidelines looked at me like I was just in the way and didn’t deserve to be there, on their turf. Who does this little kid think he is. And they’re PAYING him? He moves around too much along the sidelines, he uses a flash in weird ways.
And, my shots were always impressive. And I kept getting hired.
So, when I hear older photographers now — really, my generation — talk about how they don’t like the new kids and their ways of doing things, I have to laugh. Those new kids are going to rule the day soon. I’m happy for them. And I want to be along for the ride, instead of just another old guy left on the sidelines.
According to several in the About Photography FB group, I’m not the only one who experiences this. Models will often select, as their favorite shots, something I wouldn’t have picked myself. This does happen with clients, too. Once in awhile, a subject and I will share an aesthetic sense and she’ll surprise me. A kindred artist spirit perhaps. But, more often than not, it goes the other way. I’m OK with that. Not everyone’s going to like the same things.
Sometimes, I can see exactly why someone chooses what they do, even if it wouldn’t be my choice. One member of the group, Bruce Bates, had another reason this may happen, “I suppose as a model, you’ve had a bunch of photogs shoot typical stuff and here you have an atypical pose and she’s like “yeah this one!!”