Contd… Nothing has changed, I’m still shooting 120, which makes sense since I usually shoot in a fairly panoramic crop, so more rectangular formats tend to give me film area I don’t need, and it’s Tmax100 for the day and Fuji Acros for night.
I will choose the camera system depending on how I’m getting to the location, driving affords me greater capacity for gear versus flying, and the subject matter.
I am mostly shooting film out of 3 systems today, a Linhof Technika MT3000, utilizing Sinar Zoom I and II backs, since I shoot 6x12cm most often, or the Fotoman 612 pano cameras. The Linhof gives me the most flexibility, but it has some disadvantages for the night work. The bellows can catch the wind, and the film can pop out of focus in the Zoom backs during a long exposure due to temperature or humidity changes. So for the night work I usually use the Fotoman, as it holds film extremely flat, it has no bellows and it’s very rigid. It also is a very simple and robust camera with very few moving parts, plus the film is advanced using simple knobs on top and you can snug the film tighter by twisting both knobs in opposite directions.
I always carry a Mamiya 7II system as a back up camera. It’s just a great camera with phenomenal lenses. The work in my catalog also incudes images captured with a specially modified Sinar F2, Rolleiflex 6008i, Fuji GX617, Fuji GX680III and Canham DLC45.
Q. You are represented by seven galleries in the US. Can you describe typical buyers of your photographs (if there is such a thing) and where your images hang (homes, commercial premises etc)?
I think it’s a mix between homes and commercial premises. I think that’s true for most people selling work in galleries today. Galleries are having a pretty tough time nowadays, I’m not sure how well suited that business model is for the future unless you’re in a tourist location.
The galleries don’t usually tell me who has bought my work, maybe I should care more about that, I know many artists who state that their work is in the collection of so and so, but I don’t really care. I’m shooting photos for myself, images that I want to see, and if someone else likes it enough to want to buy it, then I’m glad and honored. It is a big deal for someone to want to live with the art you produced. I never lose sight of that.
To be clear though, this is my intended livelihood, and my prints are priced on the basis of what it costs me to produce the work, in time and resources, but I didn’t leave a lucrative career shooting ads in order to produce images that are specified by a market, (been there, done that) I don’t think about the marketability of an image when I press the shutter.
Q. What relationship do you have with digital photography? What opinions do you have with regard to digital B&W?
I have no issues with digital, it’s just another tool. I first started using digital capture and computer imaging for my commercial work in 1991. I used to do a lot of special effects. They would require very complicated and precise set ups, they were very time consuming and very difficult. When the Mac and Photoshop came along it was a game changer.
Some of my B&W images I actually prefer as a digital print. I still prefer film for B&W capture, but it is very unlikely that I’ll ever shoot color film again. And for printing color there really is no viable option than digital output. The irony is that an inkjet print can be far more archival than the traditional color printing methods.
For the galleries I’ll print silver gelatin up to 24”, and I’ll print archival pigment from 24 to 60”. The beauty of the archival pigment is that I can print that on client demand, ship it in a tube and they deal with mounting and matting. Conversely if I were shipping a 40” silver print it would be mounted/matted, requires huge box, is extremely vulnerable and very expensive to ship.
Digital is still a very young technology, and in spite of that the resolution of the sensors is surpassing the resolution of the lenses. Very few lenses today will give you a true 36 MP out of a Nikon D800e, so lens technology is going to have to step up, and it is, but at a cost. Zeiss has the Otus lenses, of which a 50mm lens costs $4000!
Q. What photographs do you have hanging on the walls at home?
Very few of my own, in fact only one. Hanging in my home are prints by Stephen Schaub, Peter Liepke, Fan Ho, Susan Burnstine, Dan Burkholder, Koichiro Kurita, Stu Levy, John Chervinsky, Angela Bacon-Kidwell, and others. That’s just what’s hanging , I have a whole bunch of prints from other photographers I admire that I’m waiting to hang after my new studio construction is done.
Q. What is next?
Good question, been wondering about that myself.
To see more of Brian’s work, as well as his gallery representation, please visit his website here.