For my first end of semester photography assignment at sfai, I decided to shoot portraits. Though, not in a studio with lighting equipment or even with models. I wanted this to be more about the person, and maybe just a little bit about the photographs. After all, part of the class was to make sure we learned how to use the camera, the film and make the prints. But really, we were there to make art.
I shot the series on Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film and printed the final shots on Kodak Polymax FD fiber based paper. I decided on this paper due to its amazing grey scale reproduction and silver-like look. The prints came out looking like they had a billion shades of grey. For showing them on the site, I scanned the prints and not the negatives to try and capture my end results from that specific time. I’m quite happy with the scans, however the actual prints themselves, I feel, look much richer. But such is the digital age. I can’t control your screen resolutions and brightness settings, but since you all seem to have LCD monitors these days, I think I have a good idea of how you see my photos.
The above is a good example of the amount of detail that can be extracted off of a black and white negative on the gelatin silver print. I even used a filed down film carrier on the enlarger to show the black edges of the negative itself. This was to teach myself to not rely on cropping and instead focused on composing the shots in-camera.
I had a classmate, Christina, who also was working on her final assignment. I asked if it was okay to shoot her for my assignment and she agreed. I let her know that I would just follow her around, get to know her and how she worked, while capturing it with my camera. It was quite the experience. Following and getting to know another photographer, another person. Observing them, and capturing tiny moments that show who they really were and what they enjoyed. No make up or lighting equipment, no guidance or staging, just capturing the reality of their existence. Every nuance, gesture, face, imperfection, feature that makes them who they are when they are just doing their thing.
Christina was working on her own project; photographing the polar bear club swimmers in San Francisco near Ghirardelli Square.
I had a follow up session, this time without her being a photographer, just herself. Same location but different types of images. More playful. You’ll see those later.
But for now, if you’d like to see the first set of portraits I shot during this project, click here to enter the full gallery.
Later that year, after submitting them, both sets ended up being featured in the Still Lights Gallery.