I get it. I finally see what all the fuss is about. I got the film back from my first shoot and I love the quality of the Mamiya files. I say files because despite me shooting film I’m paying for the lab to develop and provide large Hi Res scans. The scans have a beautiful soft quality. Because of the softness, skin looks milky and soft; so much so that skin looks good without retouching.
The following images were shot during a shoot with Claire Dellamar. Since it was my first time out with the Mamiya I used the 5D to get me to a place where I was confident that I had a shot worthy of film. When it’s all said and done each shot on the Mamiya costs me ~$3.50. In the grand scheme a couple bucks isn’t much money but at $35 a roll the figures start to grow pretty quickly. Each roll of 120mm film on;y gives me ten shots.
With Claire on the stairs I knew I had something special. The light was great, Claire looked great and I had found a rhythm and knew it was worth shooting film. The downfall is that because of my inexperience with the Mamiya coupled with the manual features of the camera my rhythm came to a screeching halt. I have to stop, take a meter reading, take out the dark slide, bend over and look down instead of at Claire, focus manually, cock the shutter, compose the shot, double check focus and then take the shot. That’s a lot of steps for one shot. In that same amount of time I could have taken a handful of shots with my 5D.
I’m feel like I’m cheating by using the 5D. When I look at all ten shots I feel that the roll was a success. Had I gone out with a roll of film and only had ten opportunities to get great shots I wonder if the proof sheet would have looked so great. (my feeling is no). Then again had I started shooting medium format years ago I would be burning through $10/pack polaroid instead of the 120 film. Digital has provided me with so many opportunities to learn and make incredible photos. In the eleven years I have been shooting on a DSLR I’ve shot hundreds of thousands of frames. In addition to shooting that much I’ve also sat in front of a computer and reviewed each and every image and leaned from my experience. If I were paying $35 for each roll of film I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today.
I’m enjoying the Mamiya. It’s giving me a fresh outlook on photography and it’s motivating to create.
*Processing and scanning by Richard Photo Lab.
The first three shots were taken in the studio before we left for the location. I wanted to try using the Mamiya with my strobes and for the first shot the flash didn’t fire. Boom, I just threw $3.50 in the trash.
These images show the huge difference in quality when you zoom in.
It’s been about ten years since I’ve shot film. The last time was during a surf trip to Costa Rica where I used an underwater 35mm camera. I have to admit I was anxious. I wanted to see the difference between my 5D Mark III files and the Mamiya. Since I’d never used the Mamiya I wasn’t sure what I would see as a result. Up to this point I had burned through a pack of polaroid film with horrible results. I was afraid the film would look the same.
My first outings with the camera were not productive. I only shot one frame on two different occasions which were forced and didn’t turn out well. When I started encountering the issues with the polaroid back I began to wonder if the camera had issues so I made an effort to shoot through the roll and have it processed to make sure the camera worked.
When I got the email that the film was ready and the scans were available to download I couldn’t resist accessing the ftp via my iPhone. I was pleasantly surprised to see great exposures and solid results. I love the tones and the creamy, rich feeling of the images. I’m still not sure if this is the result of the camera or shooting a roll of film that expired in 2006 (I got a bunch of unused film when I bought the camera).
Even though it’s typically hard to get them to sit still I managed to rope my kids into sitting for eight frames. The following were shot on Ilford optima 400 using my Mamiya RZ67.
I recently purchased a Mamiya RZ67, a five pound, 30 year old camera that shoots a 6×7 negative on 120 film. A few weeks ago I had my first venture out with the camera and it was an entirely different experience. And that new experience is why I bought an overly heavy, 30 year old camera that shoots film.
I booked a shoot with one of my favorite models knowing she could bring what I needed. The experience was completely foreign. Besides having a waste level view finder with the image reversed ,the big catch is that each roll of 120 film only has ten exposures. I had to make them count. I bought the Mamiya to change the pace of my photography. I wanted to slow down and my wish was granted. Going from shooting hundreds of frames to 10 exposures is an entirely different speed.
I have to be honest; I also brought my DSLR to the shoot and used it as my main camera. I still shot hundreds of frames but when I felt like I was on to something special, be it a location or light or a mood I’d pull out the Mamiya. Despite knowing that the shoot was a success I’m anxiously awaiting word that the film has been processed to find out if the Mamiya was as successful. The following is a photo I made with my 5D and one of the reason’s I called Claire to be my first model using the Mamiya.
Since I started working with models in ~2003 I’ve used a number of methods and sites to look for new talent. I’ve used sites like OneModelPlace, Modelmayhem, LACasting, Craigslist and even Instagram. Each time I post a casting there is alway someone that stands out because of how wrong they are for the submission. As the casting process progresses I see more faux pas; and I see them over and over. So if you are a model or an actor this is to help you in the casting process.
1. Read the casting. This seems so simple it’s stupid. I know that booking acting and modeling jobs is often based on the law of averages. The more times you submit, the more auditions you get, the more castings you respond to the more likely a job will materialize. This is true, but if the casting is for a brunette that’s between 5’8″ and 5’11 and you don’t fit in the category then don’t submit. Yes I know you are 5’8″ in heels and that for the right amount of money you would be glad to dye your hair but what your submission says to me is I DIDN’T READ THE CASTING.
2. Don’t lie. A production designer recently recounted story of how an actor lied and it backfired. The role was a window washer to be sitting on a window-washing scaffold 40 feet in the air eating a burger. It was a national commercial so naturally the actor lied about his ability and comfort level being high in the air on a scaffold that was moving and shaking. As the scaffold with the talent, cinematographer and camera assist began to rise, the actor freaked at about 12 feet and couldn’t get past his fear. Thanks for playing please fill out your time card and go home. In addition to wasting people’s time he cost the production company thousands of dollars in wasted production costs. Time IS money.
3. Act professionally. Another suggestion that seems to without saying. I encounter this so frequently that it makes me want to scream. A lot of actors and models don’t consider themselves a business or a product. But you are. You are a business and should conduct yourself professionally. And just like your desk-jockey friends that act professional when they send cover letters with their resumes, come prepared to job interviews and communicate in a professional way with prospective employers you should do the same.
- Make sure your email reply information is correct and accurate. If your email is SuperProModel@aol.com and your name information is not included with your email how will I know who you are.
- Be professional when talking on the phone and sending emails. At this point I’m not your friend nor are we friendly yet. So treat me with the same professional respect you would when you apply for any other job.
- Come prepared. Clothes pressed, makeup ready, lines memorized, portfolio in hand. A few weeks ago a model showed up 30 minutes early, had all her wardrobe balled up in a bag, then asked to do her makeup and hair in the studio. Instructions were to come hair and makeup ready with her clothes pressed.
5 . Use your photos wisely. On the main website I use for castings my view is 24 thumbnail images per a page. Each person’s photo is about 1.5″ wide x 2″ tall. At that size Grace’s head is 1/3 of an inch in the dance photo. Make sure that main image is great. If you don’t look amazing I won’t even bother to look at other images. I know that it costs more money to host additional images on LACasting and other similar sites, but if your job depends on a photo don’t you think it’s a good investment to have multiple images? (see #4)
- Use the size and space wisely.
- Use only professional photos
- Pay for and use multiple photos in your portfolio/site
6. The Internet is forever. Another great feature on the large casting sites is my ability to make notes that stick with your profile. I noticed that a handful of models would submit to every casting I posted but then when I responded or asked for more information they wouldn’t respond. Eventually I started noting who those models were and ignored them on future castings. When you don’t follow the above mentioned suggestions we remember.
It’s simple, if you are an actor, model or any related freelance creative you are a business, now go act like one.
It seems that more and more I hear the beat of the drum that film is not dead. Although I agree that it’s not dead, it’s definitely on it’s last legs. Unlike a lot of photographers I don’t have the same love and passion for film. I started shooting film on a manual Pentax camera when I was 13. At that age, film was just the medium; all I cared about was getting the shot. What drew me back into photography in 1999 wasn’t a love for film, it was a love for photography and the ease and accessibility of digital. Without digital photography I wouldn’t be the photographer that I am today. When I think about the knowledge I have gained by being able to shoot anything I want without the financial and timely burden of shooting film I can only profess a love for digital. Digital is what I know and what made me the photographer that I am today.
So why the hell am I going out and buying a camera that was made in the 1980s, only shoots film, is no longer supported by the industry and weighs six pounds? Because I want to try something new.
Now that I have the photography experience I feel that I am better equipped to handle the responsibility of film. I want to use the RZ to slow things down. In the coming months I’ll have new work to show. Until then here’s my new toy.
The great thing about being a photographer in Los Angeles is that there is no shortage of attractive people willing to model. I came across Kyle’s photo on a friend’s Instagram feed. I asked for an introduction and it turned out Kyle was just starting to get involved with acting and modeling. This was his second photo shoot.