My portraits are all shot with black and white film. I use a Hasselblad, a medium format camera. The larger negative size, 2.25 x 2.25, allows for more detail and the ability to enlarge photos and keep them nice and sharp.
My reasons for staying with film rather than going to digital are many. It started with the fact that I love my camera and have been working in professional photographers’, and now my own darkroom, for over 25 years. I was taught, and now know, that the only way to be a good black and white photographer is to be a good printer in the darkroom. Without the knowledge of “good blacks and whites” when printing, you can’t get a perfect print. The darkroom forces me to see the world as black and white. Too many of the digital prints I see are gray and drab.
The darkroom is quiet place for me to really get to know my subjects after I’ve spent time photographing them. I see their eyes develop before me and can see into their soul whether it be a quiet or laughing moment.
I’m a big fan of old portraits. Hand-painting my black and white prints comes from the days before color. I love recreating that feeling as well as adding louder and modern colors to take photographs to a new level of art. While I know that not everyone likes the same amount of color on their portraits, I enjoy making the portrait to match the client’s taste.
While digital photography has come a long way, I love the time it takes to create a hand crafted photograph. I love the surprise of seeing film after the subject has left. I’m not a big fan of reviewing poses seconds after they’re shot. For me this takes away from the sponteneity of the shoot. Instead of worrying about how we look, we’re living in the moment with film, and getting excited about seeing the results in the future.