Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: "Available Light" is a phrase used in photography to describe the use of natural or available light to take photos by as oppose to the use of a flash or other off-camera lighting. Available light photography requires the photographer to study how light falls on subjects & how best to render them in it. This requires careful but fast study of the particular environment as well as more specialized types of lenses & film. The advantages are that more naturalistic photos result as well as that people are not distracted & interrupted by artificial lights firing intermittently.
35mm is a type of film. It is a smaller size film format that allows for the use of compact, unobtrusive cameras. 35mm film does not make images of as high resolution as other film & digital formats yet it is still very competitive. And because of its size, film grain can be quite noticeable & add an organic quality to the images.
Photojournalism is a genre of photography that is defined by the honest depiction of events & subjects. It got its start in unbiased & ethical news coverage but today is also considered an art form as a result of the keen observation & rapid responsiveness with compositional & storytelling ability that is required. Photojournalists take no or minimal direction & they avoid manipulating the subject as much as possible. Instead they quietly observe & document events somewhat improvisational as they unfold.
Below are some other explanations of what I do:
Answer: Yes, for various technical and aesthetic reasons, starting 2014 I stopped shooting colour film for paid work all together (aside from Fuji Instax) but I still quite enjoy my previous colour images so please pardon me for keeping them up on my site!
If you want color photography, I recommend hiring my partner Stephanie Lee to shoot digital alongside me or, if you are really passionate about the use of color film for your shoot, I can do it by special request. Hopefully you will see my 100% b&w film style as a specialization more so than a limitation!
Answer: It's not a silly question at all, it's one of the first things many clients ask. While I love traditional 35mm film, I am not a purist. After processing your film, I do what is called "scanning" or "digitizing"; essentially this is a method of taking digital photos of each frame of film so that the film images can then be edited digitally, delivered digitally & printed from a file or shared online just as one would with an image that started life in a digital camera. Film has been being scanned into electronic formats since the 1960's & Photoshop was actually first developed to edit film images, not digital ones! So this method is nothing new but it is to many consumers. Scanning my film allows us to enjoy all the benefits of working in a file-based world while also enjoying the benefits of beautiful 35mm film!
Answer: For various types of portrait sessions, my turnaround is anywhere from 2-4 weeks. For full day wedding shoots, I can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, or even longer.
If requested, & potentially for an additional fee depending on my current workload & your project, I can process, scan & edit your film within just a few hours of a shoot; delivering the images nearly as fast as a digital shooter. This, however, is not how I typically work & I prefer to take my time doing the best job that I can with your photos. So please, if you have expectations for delivery, discuss them with me prior to the shoot & we will work it out!
Answer: I certainly do not! I take photographs because I love the art & craft of photography, not to get rich or famous at the expense of the integrity of my images. While I take intellectual property theft very seriously, I do not believe that the solution should be adding distracting graphics to my images while injecting an element of advertisement to the scene depicted. To me, this is completely tasteless & lacking class. If you hire me, your images will never be watermarked in order to charge your friends & family to purchase un-watermarked copies as most photographers do.
Question: "Why are the borders on some of your photos uneven? Do I have to have these borders on my photos?"
Answer: A classic technique in photojournalism & documentary photography is to print ones images such that the very edges of the frame & part of the sprocket area of the film are showing. The idea behind this tradition was to show the audience that the image was not cropped but rather is a true representation of what the photographer saw through his/her lens & how they chose to render the scene in the moment. This concept goes along with the truth & integrity a photojournalist vows to uphold in each photograph, not to deceive the audience. Today, because I digitize my photos, I have the choice of scanning some of this sprocket area & not cropping it out as would typically be done. The border is unique to each photo and is a result of exactly how that particular frame of film was scanned. So not only do my borders represent the long standing photojournalists' tradition of providing evidence that their shots were not cropped, my borders also represent that I am shooting real film & not simply adding pre-fabricated fake film borders to my photos as so many digital photographers do in order to fake the sought-after Film Look.
If you do not wish to use these borders in your photos, the best thing to do is to crop them out when printing. If you print on gallery style canvas for example, the border can be used for extra material to wrap around the sides of the canvas frame, making a very attractive & natural border. I can certainly crop the borders out upon request but feel that the client is not receiving that signature photojournalistic film image for which they are paying by doing so!
Answer: Well, like all professional photographers, I own & carry more than one camera & lens with me to every shoot! To larger shoots, I'll bring up to 4 different cameras & an array of lenses! While I mostly bring multiple pieces of equipment as part of my shooting method, I also do so to provide back-up's in the event of equipment failure, damage, loss or theft. The vintage cameras & lenses that I do paid work on may look beat-up & abused from heavy use & age but all of them are professionally serviced as necessary & function as if they were new. I promise that camera failure will be the last thing you'll have to worry about for your shoot!
Answer: This can be a somewhat complicated question to answer but basically, all RAW digital files & film negatives require some amount of editing in order to finalize or even just to see them, due to technical & physical limits of the act of taking a picture.
The most editing that I do is adjusting levels (how much black, how much white & how much grey is in the photo) & cloning out dust, fibers & any chemistry residue. I DO NOT add people to a photo who were not there, open closed eyes, fix misplaced hair, smooth supposedly imperfect skin, etc. To me, photography is an art rooted in realism whereas painting is an art rooted in idealism. When one begins to depict reality differently than how the photographer rendered it in-camera, one begins to venture more into painting with a photograph rather than pure photography. I also believe that people & moments are at their most beautiful when they are the most truthful and real. Photography, for me, is a tool for truth, not the deception of conventional cosmetics.
Answer: I bring three types of film with me to every shoot. I don't use cheap/off-brand film so as to ensure predictable, high quality results. Each film is b&w 35mm. They are a 100 ISO, Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford Delta 3200. I am still not settled on a single 100 speed film. I rotate between Kodak Tmax 100, Fuji Acros 100 and Ilford Delta 100. I shoot these low grain films outside for portraits and ceremonies. For dimmer situations such as pre-candids of the bridal party getting ready for the wedding, indoor ceremony and some reception work I use Kodak Tri-X 400. I rate this film either at 400 or 1600 ISO as necessary. This film is much grainier than the 100 speed films and has been manufactured for over half a century and has captured innumerable historic images. It is deeply rooted in the history of photojournalism. Here is an article about the importance of Tri-X. Finally, I use Ilford Delta 3200 which I rate from 1600 to as high as 6400 ISO. This is a very high speed grainy film that can capture images in extremely low light. I use it very sparingly for pre-bridal but mostly it is the key to my night time reception photos. This is the fastest still print film that any manufacturer currently makes and the technology has only been around since the late 1980's. Prior to then, photographers had to do some fairly experimental film processing in order to shoot in darkness without a flash.
I bring 10-15 rolls of each film to a typical shoot so that I never run out of film and can always choose the best one for a particular lighting situation.
By hiring me, you are keeping these films alive and carrying on their rich history by making our comparatively small contribution.
Answer: The deposit on your shoot covers my time spent working with you up to the point of signing a contract as well as the cost to cover reservations for the date & hours of your event since I cannot accept other jobs during that day within those hours. Also, the deposit goes towards materials purchase (film, chemicals) &/or any equipment maintenance that may be required for your shoot. While cancelation of an important event can be quite upsetting, I cannot afford to operate without a non-refundable deposit but will happily credit this to your next shoot if possible.