Weddings with LF : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Recently, a LF photographer I work with mentioned to me that I could possibly use my Crown Graphic for weddings. I read once where in Europe and Asia, LF is still used for weddings. Is wedding photography possible with a Crown/Speed Graphic? Can it be done with LF period? What cameras/lenses would help? It would be great if so, and an excellent alternative to 35mm & MF. Thank you.

-- Vic Reynolds (, August 23, 2000


As fun/hobby or as the main photographer?? To each his own, but no way would I try LF at a wedding as the main photog. You could get great images, but who's gonna want to wait around and pose while you're handling film holders and such? And what about the action/movement shots?

-- sheldon hambrick (, August 23, 2000.

How soon we forget! A mere 30 years ago many LF wedding photgraphers flourished. In college I used a crown Graphic and later a Linhof II. Strobe, negative color film, holders and/or grafmatics, and your are on your way. As long as the rangefinder works, and you have a good strobe-- metz potato masher style-- and fast neg film, you can do okay. You need to have a clear idea of what style of images you want to create, and as in any weding you need understanding bride/groom and clergy. I would shoot as I would any wedding where I used a slighty slow medium format( which IMHO is all medium formats). Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, August 23, 2000.

Is it possible? My goodness! Many thousands of weddings have been shot with LF, and probably most of them with Graphics. I have certainly done my share. I did many with flash bulbs and many with electronic flash. It was pure hell. We used to think it was a big wedding if we made 25 or 30 shots. If you would like to know what it is like, tie a concrete block around your neck, take camera in hand, fill a room with people and run back and forth through the crowd. I would rather spend the time beating my head against the asphault. The reason you don't see anyone doing it today is that photographers changed to roll film just as fast as possible after good films and cameras became available. In all seriousness, it can be done but it ain't fun. You don't really gain anything by using LF in this manner, you actually lose by slowing down the wedding and making fewer shots. We used to use the 135 or 127 mm lenses for weddings. A 90mm was considered a bit too wide by most photographers. You will need a couple of dozen film holders or several Grafmatics, which takes a while to load and unload. I love LF, but not for weddings.

Regards, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, August 23, 2000.

A lot of wedding photography is sold sorta by the pound, or iow a point of competition is often how many prints customers get for the price.

As ridiculous as that is, you may be at some disadvantage with LF.

-- John Hicks (, August 23, 2000.

The Crown/Speed Graphic was my first wedding camera and like Doug, I am still suffering from the memory of the weight--also suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome which I am sure is linked to carrying around the bulky gear, not to mention arthritic vertebrae from the monster strobe battery pack. If Graphics and like cameras are still used for weddings, I would bet they have rollfilm backs and ministrobes but I can't see any benefit unless it's your only camera. This is tough work and bulky, slow equipment is way out of date with the modern demand for elaborate picture stories. Film & processing will be quite costly with little if any quality gain (you might appreciate it, but they won't!). If you do it, check that the focal plane curtain is open if you are using a set & release shutter--I shot half a wedding with it closed before finding the error but we restaged the poses involved. May be best to let Uncle Fred do the job with his Nikon--wedding photographers don't grow old gracefully!!

C. W. Dean, Practicing Professional Photography since 1972 Photography Samples:

-- C. W. Dean (, August 23, 2000.

As you might have gathered, the answer is yes, I was looking at my mother in laws wedding album just a few months ago and it was stunning. The studio portraits were 8x10 contacts and the shots of her wedding were shot 4x5 and enlarged. She had a total of 30 shots in her album. Some were hand colored and some were not. In this day and age, yes you still can shoot 4x5 but you had better have a ton of holders. People want ALOT of pictures to choose from. I really think you'd do fine with a 150 or a 135mm lens. Just remember, if you shoot color or have a lab do the work... custom prints are going have to be made. Adjust your pricing accordingly. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, August 24, 2000.

Yes it is possible to do weddings with LF, however, it will be more expensive - you will have to target the luxury price-range end of the market. As for the number of holders say, easily fifty plus (if you have an assistant who can refreash the holders on site, and fire the negs off to the lab, and you may also need a few graphmatics for the less formal group shots - e.g. cutting of the cake, bride throwing the bouquet and so on. As with a previous poster, I'd go for a slightly wide angle lens say 135mm and bring a wider one for larger groupshots. i would also get a 6x9 rolfilm back and (after a bit of practice), use it for a large part of the photos. One other thing which could reduce long-term costs, is a 6x12 back for use on group shots on larger weddings. Oh yes, an assistant is probably a good investment for you as they can do most of the donkey work.

-- David Kirk (, August 25, 2000.

I own several Graphics, and nearly all my photography (for fee) is wedding work. My Graphics come along on the job, but *only* as a life support system for my 4x5 Polaroid back.

In short, I would *never* consider using a Graphic for wedding work today.

For me, the only real choice of a wedding camera is the Mamiya TLR series. I shoot with two F bodies, prisms, eyepiece correction lenses, and all the lenses. My strobes are Norman 200B units for portable, and a pair of 2000D whoppers for the backdrop and stationary work.

After trading away my TLRs for Hasselblads, Pentax 6x7, Graflex XL, various 35mm, I came back to the TLR. Frankly, I think 6x6 sucks, but it is the price I pay for the benefits the TLR offers.

The TLR never has to be turned on its side for a vertical shot. I use mine with a Jones bracket that mounts the strobe directly over the lens, so I always have mini-paramount lighting for my portable work. Side mounted (Graphic) strobes and bulbs put a black shadow on the side of the subject. My TLR is parallax corrected, albeit the Graphic does a darn fine job of this with the sports finder.

Compared to the others, the TLR is cemetary quiet, has zero shutter trip latency, no mirror blackout, no-brainer double exposures, and inexpensive. Sounds about the same as the Graphic, except the TLR film handling is easier.

One could argue using the Graphic for the formal work. For me, I use my Pentax 6x7 and 200mm lens for the formal work. I get dead- accurate focusing and composition at tight portrait distances that are iffy with the Graphic. The resulting 6x7 negs produce images that rival 4x5 up to 11x14.

If weddings are your thing, get a TLR and take along the Graphic for Polaroid tests of your lighting setup.

-- Bruce Gavin (, August 27, 2000.

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