The language of large format
By Gabrielle Arduini
If there were ever such a thing as beautiful as a European sunset, or as calming as rain after a stressful day, large format photography would be it. It is not just the blinding quality of the negative nor the weight of carrying it around (I mean, talk about a photographer’s daily workout), but it is the sense of immense accomplishment a photographer feels during and afterwards. When looking at the masters before us such as, Edward Steichen, Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget, Lee Miller (check out her pictures in Adolf Hitler’s apartment), Jacques Henri Lartigue and Garry Winogrand, the passion behind these images speaks for itself.
Photographing with large format becomes embedded in who you are. At least it has become for me. I started large format in 2016, so it has not been that long. The first major shoot I did with large format was panoramic nudes at Stone Mountain. Film in general can be very tricky and if you forget to load your film correctly (the first two weeks all of my film was loaded in backwards), your images may or may not be there and they will not have that lovely crisp image. It is all about the details. Your way of working will come in time and soon it will be second nature. There will be a rhythmic pattern to loading, shooting, developing and printing. There will also be a sense of pride that your hand was in it all to get to the final image. It may seem too complicated at first, but if you give yourself just a little time to adjust, you could be flowing in a master’s footsteps.
It has become my solace in times of hurt and provides a lot of time for self-analyzation. So, if you are afraid of yourself maybe you want to rethink this … sometimes I do. I think people tend to stray from the idea of large format because of the work that goes into it, and sometimes it is not for everyone. Some people, myself included, like to put themselves in a situation of discomfort or almost pain. If I am not striving enough to get an image or put in the work then I feel like I have not accomplished anything at all. Large format photography will tire you, frustrate you and lie to you. It is all on you to decide if you can put up with the mysteriousness of it, and I promise you, you will be surprised.
To see more of Arduini’s work, click here.