what kind fo camera is that?

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It never fails when I'm using the 4x5 in a public place (which I try to avoid), someone comes up and asks, "What kind of a camera is that?" Then if I don't want be rude, I have to give them a lenghty explanation, which sometimes has turned into a mini-workshop. So to quell the curious, I was thinking of printing up leaflets I could carry with me and hand out when I get questioned. They would explain a view camera and compare/contrast it with 35mm medium format. I'd even include a bibliography in case they wanted more info.

Has anyone ever done this? How do y'all handle the questions?

Just wondering.


-- todd tiffan (newhope@4dv.net), February 20, 2000


I spend a couple of minutes explaining. If I don't have any more time, I say something like "excuse me, I have to get back to work before the light changes."

I'm never rude, because a curious onlooker sometimes turns into a client.

The most fun was in India, where I had to allow a good ten minutes after taking the camera out of the rucksack for the crowd to disperse.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan@snibgo.com), February 20, 2000.

If I haven't closed the shutter yet I invite them to look through the view finder. If i have time I'll show the how the picture changes bya simple rise and fall or tilt movement. If I have made Polaroids, I show those. And I hand out a business card if it seems appropriate. I actually got 4 years of annual report work once from a company by doing just that!

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), February 21, 2000.

That's one of the most fun parts of using the big boxes for me. People love to put their heads under the cloth when I have the 8x10 set up. I have made a few clients that way also; make sure you have some business cards handy. If I have time and have the Polaroid back with me it is no trouble to make one for them, especially if they have a couple of kids with them. It also tends to get you invited back to that spot in the future.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), February 21, 2000.

I normally just fire a couple of warning shots into the air. This usually will cause the crowd to disperse rather quickly.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), February 21, 2000.

Todd: I agree with the others that part of the fun of using large format is the looks and questions you get from others. I also think you have a good idea for a handout/bio. Why not a photograph of you with the camera and contact info on the front side and a bit about large format photography and cameras on the back plus a short artist's statement about what you are trying to do with your photography? Also, the curious onlookers are a good source of locations to shoot if the people are local residents. I usually let them take a look under the darkcloth and can chat with them while I set up the shot. Just explain you need to work before the light and conditions change and you have to get busy. Doug

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), February 21, 2000.

I usually shrug my shoulders, hold my hands palms upwards and say something like "Oh it's not mine, I just came along and found it sitting here."

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), February 21, 2000.

I usually fold the legs up on my bogen and commence tah swangin it like a drunk with a pool cue....but that's my large format "style" don't you go a-stealin' it frum me.

-- Trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), February 21, 2000.

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