Just yesterday I was a guest speaker for a local Photography club, the Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Club; and I covered a basic intro to Large Format Photography. It was an interesting and enjoyable experience, I met some very nice folks, excellent photographers and hopefully found another way to meet new people and find some interesting locations to pursue my interest in landscape photography.
It’s intriguing what a simple seminar can can teach you about yourself. I had been thinking about this presentation for some time now, having been approached by Wade Aiken a few months ago, so I knew fairly well what I was going to do. So I prepared a small handout with some basic information about large format cameras, resource links and like information. In doing so, I really began to become overwhelmed by the fact that I really haven’t done a damn thing (photographically) for 3 years now – and it started to gnaw at me. It doesn’t really change the fact, however, that I still have little to no idea where anything is – so any trips I do make are quite hit or miss.
The presentation went quite well, it seemed to be a good mix of me yammering on about how I work with the large format, what I like about, what sucks about it and why it really is the most freakin’ rewarding thing you can photographically. I would blah blah blah, and then someone would ask a few questions, and I would blah blah blah some more, and it went on like that for an hour or so – before we broke for the night. I realized on the way home, that whole thing was really weird. I felt like folks were looking at me like I was some kind of an authority on Large Format cameras and photography! What!? Me? Hell, I’ve only ever made 2 or 3 prints in a darkroom from a 4×5 negative – that’s to say enlarged prints. I’ve made quite a few contact prints from my Leonardo Pinhole (also 4×5) – but very few from the Linhof.
Dooo, doo, doo , doo, doooooo… dis is da dial tonnnneee………
So I left feeling a bit awkward – and suffice it say, bewildered. I really don’t think of myself in that way. I am an amateur at best. I have a degree in it sure. So what. So do a lot of other folks. What makes me stand out? My work in the Columbia River Gorge was just starting to get interesting and focused when I moved out here. Now I’m lost again. I don’t have the insight and guidance of my friends in the community that I became reliant on. Opposing views and probing questions by friends and colleagues makes a world of difference. I feel a bit like a stinkin’ head out on Easter Island. It’s like living and working in a creative vacuum here. I’m out in the middle of nowhere – and sometimes the only thing coming out of left side of my brain – is the dial tone.
So what am I going to do about it?
I’m not sure yet. I want to start attending more functions with the club, for starters. I am going to switch back to medium format for a while too. I just bought a Kowa 66 off of eBay, and a couple lenses – so I could do just that. This whole experience has made me realize as well – as much as I love working with 4×5, I do better work while searching with medium format. The Gorge was easy for me. I knew how it lived – I could go almost anywhere I wanted and get results – maybe not Carleton Watkins results – but I lived there. I spent years of accumulated time in the gorge. Wandering around, camera in tow. I need to find that here. The problem is… as always…
Where to begin?