Why do I shoot with large format?
This may sound a little silly, but because of one photographer. I had the chance to visit the gallery of Peter Lik. I was fascinated by the quality of his works and the accuracy of the realization. Several years ago, I watched his TV show on the Weather Channel where he described in detail his incredibly fascinating photographic process. As stunning as it was, I was left with one question: what was that camera, out of any scale, that he was carrying on his shoulder?
Here is the Linhof Technorama 617s III.
The fact that some camera other than reflex existed for landscape pictures blew my mind! Yes, I am part of the generation who only knows compact, bridge, and reflex cameras: the same cameras presented in magazines. The same magazines with recurring articles about the legendary battles between four or five brands, and all of the “expert opinions” trying to convince us that the very last camera we have bought is already out of date.
I feel as if I have discovered a whole new world of photography: medium and large format. However, after taking a quick look at the price I understood that my wallet was not quite big enough to buy this kind of camera. Very disappointed, I gave up that idea for a couple of years, and continued my photography with my reflex.Don’t get me wrong; I love my Sony A77. I still thoroughly enjoy shooting with it!
Towards the end of 2013, a few members of a forum exposed their silver pictures and at the same time, a friend of mine showed me a “Rolleiflex” her father gave to her. The camera was really beautiful and told myself it could be a lot of fun to get one of those very old camera to try something different than digital. A French internet show was released the exact same week about Jérémie Mazenq, a young French photographer who shoots with a silver camera. The universe was obviously trying to tell me something.
I began looking at some websites site specialized in used stuff, and in an incredible coincidence I found a silver large format camera in my price range!!! My heart skipped a few beats as I battled between the crazy desire to buy it and the fear to not be able to use it. A little bit panic set in, I admit, so I wrote some emails to some photographers I know to ask them for help. I finally followed their advice and bought the camera and go on the adventure.
From that point on, though, the stress only grew. I continually thought:
-Did I make the right choice?
-How am I going to develop the films?
-Will the camera work at all?
-Sh**, how can I develop those f****** films?
-We really can make tilted shit with this camera!?
-My tripod, I forgot my tripod! Will it be strong enough to hold 12lbs?
-So, what kind of lenses can I put on it?
A week later, an interminable week honestly, I had a phone call from the reception in my agency: A very large box had arrived for me, so I asked to take it myself. A brown box, 2x2x2ft was waiting for me. I ripped off the tape and removed the bubblewrap to finally bring out my new 12lb “baby”. It was perfect.
I went back to my place, put the camera on the tripod, held my breath for a couple of seconds…. and it seemed to manage to weight!
It was time to take care of the paper. I decided to use a Fujifilm 100 Direct and E-6 Chemistry for the development of the photos. I built a dark room in a cupboard, and I’m now ready to shoot whenever and wherever.