Minimalist Large Format Photography Guide
I get a lot of questions from analog photographers from around the world and one that I have been getting a lot lately is around getting started in large format photography.
All of these questions got me thinking more deeply about providing some practical advice for those that want to explore large format photography on a budget and keep it simple and fun.
Large format can be intimidating if you have never done it before, but I can assure you that it is photography at its most basic level. In fact, it is the simplicity of it that I really love and appreciate so much. There are no high-tech gadgets to deal with, no screens to look at, and no distractions. Just a very simple camera that produces amazing high-quality images.
After first publishing this article that was aimed at helping photographers get started with large format photography, I realized this information could also apply to very experienced large format photographers that want to simplify and invest the majority of their energy in areas other than photo gear.
Here are my thoughts about different approaches to getting started in large format photography based on your style.
B&W LARGE FORMAT MINIMALIST SETUP
I think black and white large format is probably the easiest and also most hands-on option in my opinion. It can be very simple or fairly involved, but I am going to outline an approach to help you explore black and white large format photography with the fewest items required.
This setup is about as simple as it gets. By using paper as your negative and your final print, you eliminate the need for expensive film and developers and you get the benefit of making analog prints by hand using very basic lighting. If you already own a scanner, then you could also scan the paper negatives, just like film.
I have a comprehensive set of video workshops on large format that can walk you through everything you need to become a confident and productive large format photographer.
COLOR LARGE FORMAT MINIMALIST SETUP
If you want to work with color instead of black and white, I have some suggestions that will help.
This setup is simple, but it will require you to either send your film off for development or get a rotary processor with temperature control to develop your film. I don't recommend developing slide film when you are just starting out because it is expensive to get the equipment and adds a lot of unneeded complexity. It is easier to just have your films developed by a lab and see if you want to pursue this path more seriously. The beauty of this approach is the film is your final product. You can lay your large format slides on a light table or hold them up to window light and enjoy them. Lay your large format slides on a light box and snap a photo with your phone to share with your family and friends. If you happen to own a scanner, you could scan your film too.
There are no right or wrong approaches, just the one that you are exploring at this time. Have fun with it and decide if you want to go deeper. I personally think the B&W path is a great place to start and the skills that you master with this approach serve you well in anything else you want to do in large format.
Let me know if I missed anything or if you want to add something to the list.
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Keywords: analog photography, black and white, black and white photography, darkroom, film, fine art, large format, large format photography, metering, photography
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