Tag Archives: darkroom

Old School Photography

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Each year, these prints are my little labor of love. This year’s holiday card began almost one year ago, at the beginning of 2015. While shooting a project for Tiffany & Co., we had the opportunity to rent a private helicopter to get aerial shots of Manhattan. I learned two things from that early winter morning ride: 1. I am deathly afraid of helicopters and 2. I wanted this year’s holiday card to be a print of my great love, New York City. Looking down on her from this birds eye view gave me a new visual sense of the layers of history in this city from which we build our own futures. I understood her in a new way and that’s what I wanted to capture.

Considering there is not enough Xanax in the world to get me in a helicopter again, I had to find a new strategy for shooting at this high but intimate angle. Though I love the views from the obvious choices—Empire State Building and Top of the Rock—they didn’t give me the towering sense I was seeking. From the tops of those iconic buildings, the city is dwarfed and dense, slightly out of reach. As luck would have it, our friends from The New Potato were hosting a party with Riviera Events on the 68th floor of the newly completed Four World Trade Center. It’s one of those moments in life where everything falls into place, as if designed by destiny. Here we are in the Financial District, where we work, standing in a building that is part of the present, looking down on the past. It was just what I wanted.

It was an incredibly difficult shot to take. Using a Linhof 4×5 film field camera, the cityscape was not bright enough to register on the ground glass where you do your framing and focus check. Only a few faint street lights were visible for me to use as a rough guide but for the most part I was shooting blind. This also applies to metering: I had no way of knowing if I would be right on the money or not, so I just applied what I knew about the sensitivity of film to light and my experience with it the past 19 years. The image that ultimately made the final print was a 5 minute exposure on Ilford Delta 400ISO film.

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After the image was captured, we packed up and headed to my favorite darkroom in Boston for printing (which made for a great 24 hour Snapchat story!)

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Penumbra Foundation

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a weekend workshop for the 2nd time at Penumbra Foundation, the center for alternative photography. The subject this time around was on the platinum palladium printing process, something which I had been wanting to learn for years. I am absolutely obsessed with what they are doing here and keeping alive the history of photography in a hands on approach. Actually, the reason THIS nude shoot finally happened though we had been talking about it for months, was because I wanted to take these classic female form shots into the darkroom specifically to be printed this way.

In addition to workshops, they also have a studio you can rent, darkrooms, a tintype studio, and lecture series.

Here are a few snapshots taken by new friends I made that weekend I asked if I could share with you all to see into the magic of Penumbra.

{above image by Carl Weese || below images by Tom Grill}

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Old School Photography

Holiday_Card_2014_02 Much about being a creative is really understanding your voice and your vision, which isomething I have struggled with in the past while trying to find myself as an artist. With the passage of time and constant study, you start to see who you are, what you love and then… how the world truly looks to you. I will never be able to escape my tendency toward romance, beauty, simplicity, emotion and the classics.

So, I embrace it.

I can never ignore the soul fulfilling satisfaction of taking a photograph from concept, to composition, and then captured at just the right moment on film. That one shot, the quarter of a second pulled from time and eternalized into a physical object of study. This was the birth of photography for me, this was how you would take a picture and then agonize through your fear of mistakes in the waiting of development; a torturous process that I’m insanely in love with. In 2012 I decided that our studio holiday cards would be created in this fashion every year as a way for me to count the passage of time, to make something of an artifact for the people in my life, and to slow down from our crazy digitized lives back to where it all began for me as a photographer. I get to give the best I’ve got in this old school process; my vision, my thoughts, my mind, my passions, my skill and most of all, my time.

For this year’s studio holiday card I thought about the recurring visuals from 2014 and let my mind’s eye wash away in the strong currents of pictorial memories. What stood out to me? What did I learn about myself? What did I realize I loved? We traveled around and around the world to Bali, Brazil, Australia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Provence, Germany, England, the American South, and Peru (more on that next week!) and you’ve been with me each step of the way these 12 months.

As I reflected on the year the place I loved most was Paris. It keeps coming back to me, as if a part of my soul is there waiting. I love the classic nature of her perfectly white architecture. The endless amounts of art and inspiration. And of course, the light. I love the way the french look at beauty and the physical form. As an adult now in charge of my own body, destiny and confidence, I’ve found that I am now enamored with the beauty of the body, it’s evolution and ever changing shapes, the softness of skin and functionality that make us human. I thought about the beautiful sculptures of Paris that dot my endless walks, the thing I love to do most there. I thought about that day I spent in the Louvre with my father and all those breathtaking halls of beauty celebrating the female form. Then that was it. I wanted to bring all of those things into my world, in front of my lens, on an early winter evening at Ann Street Studio…

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Using a dark changing bag I loaded Ilford Delta 400 black and white film into my 4×5 sheet film holders. Below our intern Sarah Rocco captured behind the scenes shots photographing model Mitzi who I previously worked with at our studio and who I knew had the type of body I was going for.  Holiday_Card_2014_07 Holiday_Card_2014_11

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Old School Photography

I do a lot of personal projects throughout the year to satisfy my curiosity in photography and art, my need to create and continue to explore as a photographer. My personal work makes my professional photos better and my professional work pushes my personal; they are like opposite ends of a magnet always reacting to each other. Our Ann Street Studio holiday card is one of the personal projects I most look forward to every year. I like that it takes place over a multitude of cities (New York, Boston and Savannah), I like that it takes a really long time to create, I like that the entire thing is done by hand, by my hands, I like that there is nothing digital about the process and I like that in the end, we send it out as a true artifact you can hold and that will be there for years to come.

This year’s print starting unknowingly on the beaches of Montauk, during an autumn walk that presented our little artifacts, moon shells washed up on the shore: all of them different sizes, colors, tonality, some with nicks and scratches. It reminded me of how we are all different but beautiful…and though this year has had so many ups, we all face the downs and the scars left on our shells from the beating currents of time should be celebrated – for without them, we must not truly be living.

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We brought them back to the house we share with our friends in Amagansett to be photographed on Ilford Delta 100 black and white film.

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