Going for Large Format

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I 've got a large format question, that I would be like to ask of all large format shooters out there in a seeming smaller LF world. Do you think this is a crazy idea or do I need to go straight to the nut house. What I'm thinking is shooting all, or as much as possible in 8x10 and when I have to use 4x5, like it was done years ago. I think that with the world wide web and some good smart marketing, aiming for the market that wants something different, something maybe even old fashioned, there might be enought to make a living. (not great, but enought to live, pay bills, you know live on) Doing it like it was done before in a darkroom, with a camera and using your head. Your ideas and comments are most welcome.

-- John Miller (vwbus1967@earthlink.net), December 26, 2000


Response to Large Format Question

What gives you the idea that many of us don't do this? Too much reading of the digital ads or whatever give one the wrong impression. Shoot with whatever you are comfortable with. As to 'doing it like it was done before'... it is still done this way.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), December 26, 2000.

Response to Large Format Question

I agree with Dan! Your reading to much "digital" crud. I shoot 4x5 for work everyday. On a personal note, I want to get an 8x10 but that is only because I want a large negative (original) for platinum printing. There isn't to much call for 8x10 product shooting these days but I wouldn't put the 8x10 away just yet. Also bear in mind, labs are few and far between handling 8x10. If you are doing B/W fine, do your own. Good luck. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), December 27, 2000.

Response to Large Format Question

Dear John, it is not the format that matters. It is called subject matter for a reason. Its the subject that matters. It does not matter what size the negative is, marketing your work on the world wide web will only work if your images are good. Make that great. All the hype in the world about how you went about making the image will not sell it. No one cares if it was made in a 'real' darkroom or with a computer. Consumers of photographic art buy what they like. Or they buy a name. ie Weston,Adams, Cunningham,etc. Large Format photography is not for the faint of heart or for the quick buck. It takes a lifetime of study, patience and growth. I have been shooting LF for over 20 years and I do it for fun and profit, however I am still learning the importance of image. You might want to think about opening an old tyme portrait studio, then you can live in the past with today's materials, and make a quick buck. Large format photography is the journey not the destination.

-- jacque staskon (jacque@cybertrails.com), December 27, 2000.

Response to Large Format Question

There is very little relationship between the film format and the ability to make money (a living) with it -- the magic does not come with the gear. Purchasers of photography are attracted by the impact of the image and little else. Images with marketable impact can be made with any format--and, sadly, large format is the slowest, least convenient, and most expensive way to make them!

-- C. W. Dean (cwdean@erols.com), December 27, 2000.

Response to Large Format Question

I agree with the last comment. I shoot only commissioned commercial work and normally use either 6x7cm or 5"x4", as appropriate. But sometimes I have no choice other than to use 35mm, simply because of a) portability and access b) availability of superwide or very long lenses. Cost never comes into it. i Always end up apologising to the client for using 35mm in these situations but the response is always the same. The don't care what format I use, or why, they just want pictures that work for them.

I'm not sure whether there is any point in using anything larger than 5"x4", this is the largest format I have used for many years and so I do not claim to be an expert, but I can tell you that: a. Image quality on 5"x4" is always ample for the work I do b. Top-end digital will produce sharpness every bit as good as 10"x8", and with much better gamma.

Hope this helps.

-- Garry Edwards (bestsnapper@freenetname.co.uk), December 27, 2000.

Response to Large Format Question

John: Large format was the thing in studios until about 1970 or so, as was black and white film. The film was developed and prints were made for the most part by the studio owner in the case of small studios. Almost overnight, the change was made to 6x7 and 6x6 with color film. There was some Hasselblad work being done, but when Mimaya came out with the 6x7 RB, things really exploded. The quality was about the same as split 5x7 and there was that wonderful 10 shots on a roll without going into the darkroom to load film holders. You can certainly use an 8x10 or 4x5 with sheet film for portraits, but you will learn to hate it. As the other posters said, it's the image and not what it was made with. I use 4x5 and some 8x10 for scenic and nature stuff, but I grab the roll film back when it comes to shooting people. You can make some money taking black and white portraits, but you need to know lighting very well. Black and white portraits are not the absence of color...it is a whole 'nother world. The flat lighting that one sees so often in color looks like crap with black and white. However, if you want to have fun and make a little money with the sheet film, go for it.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), December 27, 2000.

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