Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Steve Abbott. Read on to learn more about the production of his photos.
I began my photographic journey when my son, Simon was born in 2002. We were given a 2 megapixel digital point and shoot by his grandfather and I took to it immediately. I had taken a photography class in 8th grade, but it never stuck with me, as my free time back then was taken up with music for the most part. As Simon grew older, I found my needs changed from a gear perspective, because I was growing as a photographer. I began to shoot some friends’ weddings and family portraits and soon found myself shooting quite a lot.
Simon in 2018, age 16, Citrus Heights, CA. He is always down to help me test new cameras or lenses, new photographic techniques or just to let me make a new portrait of him. This was a test shot for a newly acquired Graflex RB Series D 4x5 camera from 1943.
I went from shooting Canon DSLRs and the corresponding pro lenses to Fuji X cameras as my style shifted to a more documentary and street photography focus. During this time I was fortunate to have received a few film cameras as gifts. I was fascinated at how these mechanical wonders still worked so well after so long. I began to shoot 35mm, medium format, and eventually dipped a toe, or ten, into the large format pool.
Travis and Rhyan, Auburn, CA. I love making portraits of friends when I get together to hang out. Travis (@killindreams on Instagram) is a good friend who has been a supportive resource in my film journey. We make time to regularly get together for bagels, coffee, and lots of camera talk. Taken on my Graflex RB Series D 4x5.
Today I am very much into capturing the people in my life with portraits that convey the emotion of that particular moment or the place they are in their lives. I find it so important to capture these times, because when it’s all said and done, the photographs are all that remain.
Dad, Portsmouth, NH. This was a recent event for our family when my dad suffered a stroke. I gave myself a project of documenting the process of healing to focus on and help me get through some of the tough moments. This was shot on a Rolleiflex MX EVS from 1956.
A couple years back I sold the last of my digital gear and committed to shooting film full time. Film has taught me so much about light and shadow and I feel I’ve grown leaps and bounds since giving up on megapixels. Film has also taught me to be patient and forgiving…mostly to myself for when I make mistakes. I see each mistake as a learning event and move on. I process all my film, both black and white and color and even recently decided to learn the wet plate collodion process. I work in a hybrid workflow….develop my film and scan using an Epson V700 flatbed scanner for 120 to 8x10 sheets and a Pakon F135 for my rolls of 35mm. Once scanned, I will clean up dust and scratches, if necessary, and make very minor tweaks to contrast and exposure.
Geary, Roseville, CA. I had a few sheets left in my film magazine on the Graflex and wanted to make a few portraits of a friend and fellow photographer so we met for coffee and used the back deck of the coffeehouse as a natural light studio. The afternoon light provided a beautiful mix of light and shadow to capture Geary just the way I had hoped. Graflex RB Series D 4x5.
My current kit includes a few cameras I’ve dreamt of for a long time: Leica M3, Rolleiflex MX EVS, Nikon F100, Koni-Omega Rapid, Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic, Graflex RB Series B 3x4 (converted to shoot 4x4 images on 4x5 film by 20th Century Camera), Graflex RB Series D 4x5, and a Kodak 2D 8x10 field camera.
Thanks to KEH for this opportunity to share my story and a few images. If you’re interested in following along I can be found on Instagram (@safotos1).