Friday, February 24, 2017

Photo Idea: 8x10 Large Format Vertical Portraits In Thailand

Walking my rounds tonight I thought back to the beauty of working and making portraits with a large view camera. In available light I have taken pics with 4x5 and 5x7 cameras in Thailand, this next 6 month trip I plan to take my 8x10 camera with me. It is going to be so beautiful to make portraits with it. I am spending lots of time with all this film making stuff but my first love and true joy is still still film photography and I plan on doing lots of that next trip as well!

When dad was 81 I made the picture below of him. We were visiting the areas he grew up in as a boy. The picture was made in a cemetary where he went to see his fathers grave. Little did we know at the time but dad was less than 2 years away from dying himself. I would like to do similar images in Thailand.

Dad at 81, 250mm Fuji Lens, HP5 (200) at 1/15 and F 11.5
The idea will be to do standing vertical portraits of people in the dump, children, workers, the elderly. I could also photograph people I meet and know in Bangkok, and in the Muay Thai boxing gym, Monks, Workers, Police, Migrant Workers, Security Guards, Street Vendors, Ladyboys Sex Workers etc. Years ago I wanted to do a projected called "Khon Thai" (the Thai People). I always liked that idea but never went through with it because I did not think that limiting myself to only photographing Thais was right. Thailand is a mixed country, filled with Laotians, Burmese, Cambodians, Africans, world Tourists etc. Why just limit yourself to Thais? What if I called the project "Khon Nigh Thai" คนในไทย (People In Thailand). That way I could photograph all people, demonstrate not only nationalism but internationalism, express our shared humanity.

I will shoot the camera dad bought me, our 8x10 wooden Deardorff. His gift to me should be shot and used to create important work. His love for me allowed me to buy it, my love for him allows met o use it to remember my father through the use of his gift.
 The Story Of The Deardorff 8x10 Camera Dad Bought Me

I already have all the very expensive 8x10 Tri-x film I need in my freezers and will use only 1 lens (following Jock Sturges advice here), the Fujinon W-250mm F6.7. I would need to shoot it with a very shallow depth of field, F6.7 if possible in available difused light. I will need to very selective in who I choose to shoot and probably only 2-4 exposures per subject.

For years these 2 8x10 vertical portraits by Richard Avedon have inspired me. I want to try to emulate the same feel in the "People In Thailand" portrait project. I might have to think of a better name for the project, something simpler.

Update* Composition wise and technically I might follow Avedons lead on shooting this type of portrait. Less depth of field (better bokeh) helps isolate them and composing the subjects feet closer to the bottom of the frame. Sort of like they are standing on the bottom edge of the negative. People-portraits look better that way I think.

Lew Alcindor, (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) by Richard Avedon
Bob Dylan in Central Park by Richard Avedon