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Magazine photography - what do the Pros use?

Doug Foster , May 17, 2001; 05:36 p.m.

Periodically, I scan magazines to see what the Pros are up to in people and fashion photography. What camera formats are primarily used? I suspect it varies all over the lot - depending on the particular situation. But could it be assumed that 6x7 is used extensively for various reasons including magazine page proportions? And how much is hand held camera work? Recently saw two different situations where RB's or RZ's were hand held and it looked like a load! At the other extreme, I saw an article where the fashion photographer, Ellen Von Unwerth, was shown doing some party shots with a point and shoot! And the Magazine enlargements looked good - probably not tack sharp but didn't need to be for the situation.

Responses

Brian Yarvin , May 17, 2001; 06:58 p.m.

Doug:

The equipment used by fashion photographers is often dertimined by...um...well...fashion. When the blurred, hand-held look was fashionable, Pentax 67's were big, and there was a time when 35MM was what everybody shot with.

Well everything that goes around comes around in the fashion world and many of the big fashion magazines are currently publishing images that appear to be either shot from low angles (indicating a waist-level camera) or with large format.

A year ago, everything looked like it was shot on 4x5 dupe film, but now colors are becoming much brighter.

The looks of the hottest designers, models, and photographers are tightly intertwined and often difficult to seperate.

As for Ellen using the point and shoot for a party; that's just a fun favor - not the work she's built her career on.

Andrew Booth , May 17, 2001; 07:05 p.m.

Anything and everything. The right tool for the job, whatever they have to hand, or something totally unsuitable to create a different atmosphere and differentiate themselves.

Rankin uses a couple of handheld RZs to do his stuff. I read that he uses a setup with prism, motor and grip (about 5kg/9lb) and then throws it to his assistant when he's through with the film. His assistant throws a loaded one back.

It really depends what sort of magazine you're talking about. I'm sure the real glossy's do stick to MF (for a magazine page 645 is fine with slower film though). Style magazines (Face, i-D, Dazed etc.) vary more - 35mm is OK if the picture is good - and a lot of these magazines cultivate a 'grungy' look anyway. For a magazine such as this, too many perfect 6x7 studio shots would be extremely dull.

A couple of things that may suprise you (at least if you're read a lot of accepted wisdom on photo.net): 6x6 is often disliked by picture editors since it makes their job more difficult (check with the client if you're using this) and negative film is welcomed - since often the delivered product is a professionally printed 8x10 which is then scanned.

I know a photographer who shoots for these magazines and uses a Canon with Reala or a Bronica ETRSi with a range of films (no reversal). These are always hand held. The Bronica is used in preference, since it feels more solid and is more user friendly, and offers some quality advantage if the light is low and faster film is necessary. Overall the choice of Medium Format seems to have a lot to do with workflow, and less to do with quality - since it's necessary to use polaroids, and deliver a contact sheet which is easily viewable without a loupe.

gene crumpler , May 17, 2001; 08:52 p.m.

I understand that Sports Illustrated Staff us motorized hasselblads for major sports events. They set up about 6-8 cameras and lights and operate the cameras remotely. Probably use 70mm backs and film.

Murray Twelves , May 17, 2001; 09:24 p.m.

Hi Doug -

I don't know about fashion photography, but I can give you another example of photography for publication, to show some of the variation involved.

Nolan Woodbury, who frequents this forum, shoots motorcycle photos for publication - now primarily "Moto-Euro". He submits 6x6 glass-mounted Ektachromes and 35mm Ektachromes. For personal work, he shoots color negative film.

For his main layout shots, usually covering 2 pages, Nolan shoots 6x6 on older TLRs (Minolta Autocords, a Rollei Automat MX, or a Kalloflex; sometimes a Yashica TLR). He shoots 35mm for smaller inset photos and for backup. For action shots, he uses both TLRs and 35mm SLRs. Like his TLRs, his 35mm cameras consist of older manual equipment, though he does have a winder on one 35mm SLR body.

As far as I know, all of the motorcycle publications that he has submitted images to have required 'chromes, and specifically that the 6x6 'chromes be glass-mounted.

Anthony Harrison , May 20, 2001; 05:27 p.m.

Specific to home-interest photography of house interiors (I know nothing of fashion photography) people seem to use 6x6 and 6x7 in about equal numbers, primarily Hasselblad and Mamiya respectively - I use the latter. 35mm is used quite often for pics that are going to be used small, detail shots and such like - I use a Nikon F90X with the 105 Micro for this. I've only heard tell of one photographer, a keen semi-pro who shoots occasional features, who uses 35mm for interiors pics, and she uses Kodachrome quite successfully. It's a bit marginal though, and of course the film is rather contrasty, which makes your lighting balance very critical for contrast control.

Nolan Woodbury , May 22, 2001; 04:04 p.m.

It all depends Doug. On the work that I do, if I'm asked to submit slides that will be used for the magazine cover I'm certainly going to use medium format, but many photo-journalists do -in fact- use 35mm exclusively. I see (as you mentioned) many pro's using Mamiya RB's and RZ's quite successfully, and I'd say the Mamiya shooters out number the Hassey shooters 5-to-1. For 35mm, Nikon is the weapon of choice. I use Minolta 35mm (with Rokkor or Minolta lenses) and have in the past used Pentax or even Exakta 35mm! Not much difference could be seen, if any. Nikon, Hasselblad and Mamiya are popular because they are supported by the camera chains and that is important to publishers who like to rent, say, a 1000mm lens instead of buying it. I freelance, so I'm free to use any sort of weird gear I want to...its always a hoot to see other "pro's" do a double take at my Autocord or Kalloflex set-up, and wonder what I've been smoking. Another factor is cost; many magazines will discourage use of MF/LF because of the cost of film and developing The bottom line is; results. You can get equal or sometimes better results with vintage gear or manual gear if your careful, and not restricted by a higher-up. Right now I'm in the process of getting my 4x5 view camera into the "picture" after realizing there is no such thing as "good enough". You should always try to improve and get better.

Chris N/A , May 11, 2002; 09:56 p.m.

I hope this doesn't become a double post (i tried posting before, but it didn't show up)

Helmut Newton: I shoot with a 35mm Canon. Ninety-percent of the time it’s on automatic. I even use the flash that’s on the camera. It’s really an amateur’s equipment....Did you see the last series I did for American Vogue, the bathing suits? They were done in a very big studio in Hollywood. They set up all these sophisticated, very professional lights. But I said, “Get rid of them.” I used my 35mm camera and flash. I generally use very, very little lighting.

the interview is here: http://www.indexmagazine.com/interviews/helmut_newton.shtml

Marc Kuhn , Nov 23, 2002; 11:24 a.m.

yeah, well. hi-tec, lo-tec, who cares? if you have some good pics, then they`re good. what`s wrong with fucking 35 mm? i mean, you don`t want to scare the model with a phallic gigantic camera, do you? snap them away and party all night. have fun shooting!

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