Fine Art Black and White Film Photography

Are you searching for a classic portrait for your portrait or boudoir photography? Does your style reflect the great photographers of the 1920s to 1960s ? Many clients have told me how tired they are of the typical portraits they get from most portrait studios.  They want creative, beautiful and unique images to display on their walls and show to their friends. Real quality, something they could not create themselves with a cell phone.

Many photographers get into the business to create beautiful images, but many quit trying due to how difficult the portrait photography business has become.  

Why is it so hard to find a talented photographer to create fabulous pictures? The main reason is that most photographers are technicians, not artists. It is like hiring an artist to create a painting, but then you discover he/she is using a paint by number set. It will create the same painting, no matter who uses it.

I sometimes give photography and Photoshop lessons to other photographers. Most of the people I give lessons to ask about cameras, even memory cards and adding effects with filters, on their phone or in some software program. Many do not want to talk about lighting, ideas, using film or an unique approach. Almost nobody asks me about capturing real emotion and the soul of the subject. Or how to create classic images that will be treasured for years.

It is amazing how many people do not seen to have imagination.  I will ask, what are your dreams?  They look at me funny. What dreams they say?  I say, here is an example, let’s say you want to photograph a model wearing a pair of jeans. What would you do?  I get answers like photograph the model by a tree.  

Calvin Klein made jeans famous, along with model Kate Moss. Guess Jeans had super models Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith.  They created something unique and used it to sell fashion.

I once suggested that a photographer spend a few minutes to find better locations for his photos.  He said it was too time consuming and probably would not add to a greater income for him. He rejected the idea completely.

Many photographers are caught up in the “high volume” style of photography.  They think that the only way to create pictures is fast and cheap.  I have actually had photographers call me crazy for even buying film for a few dollars. Not to mention the time spent developing the film, scanning it, printing it, retouching, etc. I was told that is profit you are throwing away.

What else is required for great portrait photography.  The photographer must be willing to be different.  I know it’s an Apple expression from an ad.  But it’s true.

Every person is an individual and they should be trying to express their unique talents. Not just fitting in and creating the same photos as everyone else. It is shocking to me that so many people’s pictures look like copies of other people’s pictures, who copied other people.

I recently talked to one photographer who was planning to buy a certain camera. I asked why he decided on this particular model. Would it help him create unique images or fulfill his creative vision? No, all his friends had the same camera. Maybe he wanted his pictures to look the same as all the other pictures out there and have his pictures look like the photos his friends took.

Part of why I started to use film again, after years of working with digital cameras was so I could create the pictures that were in my mind.  To create unique photos that expressed the vision I wanted to show my clients. Something more classic, artistic and different.

A few years ago, I had a rather difficult photo session. A prestigious law firm had hired me to create photos for an ad they were planned for a magazine. It involved taking a group photo of about 40 lawyers. Many were older and a few used a cane, walker or wheelchair. 

They also hired a young man to “art direct” the pictures and be in charge.  When I met him and asked him about his ideas, he told me it didn’t matter much. He would apply a “filter” to the pictures.  That’s what he did for his own pictures. Luckily the law firm decided not to use a low end filter on an expensive ad. 

I really think many people actually want great photography. I have them contact me and tell me how important the photos, they display in their homes, are to them. That they want something wonderful. Something special that will reflect a high level of taste and sophistication. And no one here in Denver seems to offer that. I have had clients tell me, that before hiring me, they were planning to fly to LA or New York to get the photos taken.

How can you find out if a photographer has a vision and if they can create a fine art portrait for you?  Please call and ask some questions. Also please come in to see the photographer in person, if possible. Discuss your ideas, tell the photographer the goal of the pictures, what you will use the photos for and tell them your artistic preferences. Is there an unique trademark to the photographer’s style? Or are the photos like everyone else?

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