35mm for fashion photography
I recently spoke to a class at Parsons, invited by the wonderful fine-art photographer and super sweet gal to boot, Amy Stein. Seeing what interested this next generation of photographers and the fashion work they were doing was enlightening for me and took me completely out of my usual box of viewing the landscape of photography. I had a feeling I left the talk more inspired than the students!
We of course touched on technique and equipment, and it was nice to see most of the students embracing 35mm for fashion work and their surprise and positive reaction to much of my work being on 35mm. It’s obvious from this blog that I’m far far far from an equipment junky or even from being interested in equipment beyond its working and not breaking. I will use about any camera within reach or that I happen to have film for, but with that I’ve always been fond of 35mm b/c it’s a format, like all, that if given a certain kind of love can give unique results other formats can’t. The smaller negative if well shot has a bite and crunch to it that can’t be mimicked by other formats, and well shot is the key word here, b/c you really need to be a technically superior photographer to shoot well on 35mm: any errors are magnified many fold when repro sizes get big: try printing a soft 6×7 neg to 11×14 and it’s pretty; try it with a 35mm neg and it looks, well, soft…that is if sharp is your cup of tea, which it may not be, like H.C. Bresson you might facetiously humor focus as conceit of the bourgeoisie. Also, a lot of people pick up 35mm and default to candid on all production fronts including the very basic use of light, while a seasoned 35mm photographer (hey, Peter Lindbergh) never forgets that good light is good light, no matter what size the film is. You know? Anyway, this is an ode to those guys who don’t shelve the Nikons on shoot day and to those up and coming kids I met burning up all 36 of them frames. 36 chances at fame! Keep doing it.