The Rewarding Burden of Large Format Photography

Modern imaging formats like medium and especially 35mm have made the actual task of photography less labor intensive, but there’s still something to be said for the romanticism of large format photography. Cinematographer Taylor Hawkins and Nick Bolton have created a beautiful and honest short film about the original format. The vignette, Through the Ground Glass, provides a wonderful look into the work of photographer Joseph Allen Freeman, who speaks candidly about the large format process:

Freeman talks about the hard work that goes into large format photography—the actual physical burden and the insecurities that come with it. He says there’s a fine line between being totally confident and totally insecure and when he’s out on a shoot, he basically just lives in a state of tension, not knowing what awaits him in development.

But, when he gets to a location that is just perfect, magical, full of good energy, it’s worth the mental and physical exhaustion.

camera ground glass

Freeman also talks about his love for contact prints and we get to see him at work in his home darkroom that will make any photographer envious. Hawkins really captures the beauty behind the large format photographing and developing processes.

photography darkroom

“Just the state of mind that sort of kicks in when you’re in that condition—the blankness of mind. You catch yourself with absolutely no thoughts going through it, it’s sort of like sleeping.”

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