It was a while since I shot black and white film. The last time was about two years ago, and although I was content with the way the images came out, I wasn’t impressed, and for whatever reason, I held out on shooting it again.

Until last week.

This time Im more than content, Im actually pretty happy, and I cant wait to insert another BW film in the camera.


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2013-09-07_000103830012 03830016 03830017 03830020 2013-09-07_000203830024 03830029Nikon FM2 (Kodak BW 400)

Mamiya mia | Personal

Because change is good.

Because I fall in love so easily.

Because I enjoy pushing my limits.

Because apparently Im never satisfied.

Because growth comes from trying new things.

Because I know how to take an idea and run with it …

All this, and I went and bought myself a new toy. A medium format camera, a Mamiya 645 to be precise.

Now y’all know this obsession I got with film right? Well, I’ve been having a blast recently with my 35mm, but I wanted more. I wanted bigger negatives, I wanted to experiment with different tonal range. And I just wanted a little challenge, a new one. I’ve learned so much about photography in the last few weeks, with the help of my 35mm, that I could only imagine how much Im going to learn with my new Mamiya.

The day after I received it, I inserted a film and off I went. Right away I noticed how much bigger and heavier it is compared to what I’ve been used to these last few years. The buttons are in different places, and even the viewfinder is awkward, but to say that I didn’t love it immediately, would be a lie.

Once I looked into the viewfinder, I realized that I had NO.IDEA how to use the in-camera meter. I googled, I read, I asked, and no one had a clear answer, other than ‘get yourself a handheld meter’. I don’t have one, and Im not sure when I’ll get one. But I still took my pictures, even if it was just to take them. I used the knowledge I have about the settings I’d use for this particular environment I was in, and hoped I’d get something. Anything.

And I did. I got some shots!

Maybe not great, but Im happy enough. The camera works, I loaded the film right, and I realized that I understand lighting more than I ever gave myself credit for. My first roll on a medium format came out O.K.

2013-09-05_0001047100092013-09-05_0002047100132013-09-05_0003(Portra 800, scanned at a local lab)

And now to load another film up in that Mamiya. Stay tuned.

Thanks for looking!

NDuran

The Break | Personal

About two years ago, I took a ‘break’. I took a break from the sessions, from blogs, from research, and sadly from my cameras. I stepped aside quietly, but eventually I came out, and spoke about it a little bit. This is something I’ve dealt with for a few years now- I lot of thinking, evaluating, and general back and forth. But one thing has been for certain- I’ve been very low-key for a while, ever since I took my break.

At the time, its something I felt I had to do, and looking back, I don’t regret having done it. Did I miss my photography? I think I did, but didn’t realize it. Not until now at least.

While I had a bunch of wonderful sessions in my portfolio, and so many great images that I personally loved and took pride in, there were a handful of sessions that I wasn’t particularly proud of. These few ‘bad’ experiences pushed me into this little corner, where I felt the defeat was greater than my urge to ever get up and keep trying.

As time passed, I remember thinking that I was just bored; that I wasn’t cut out for photography; that I wasn’t good enough for any of this… Really, what was the point? So I put away my cameras (except for the cell phone), I rarely turned on my computer, and stopped reading books. I felt ok, but I felt I was missing something all along.

‘Cause you know what? I wasn’t bored. I didn’t dislike photography. I don’t think my work was horrible. This hobby had become such a part of me, that it hurt to see it fail sometimes. In retrospect, I can now recognize that I was merely burned out. I was one of those burned out photographers you read about when you’re just learning the basics of the photography business.

Being a caseworker, I KNOW what burn out is. I KNOW how it aches, how it can rip you up, and kill your strength. But photography burn out? I didn’t get it. Now I do, but back then? No. Again, I just thought I had gotten tired of this whole thing.

In these two years, I’ve managed to step back, and see what I had done wrong, and where I made careless decisions.

Here’s the thing. I was doing so many sessions, but for cheap. Meaning, I was putting so much work, time, effort, and love into my sessions, but wasn’t adequately compensated. Bottom line. As with any job, I was away from my family- during sessions, during post session. I was commuting, I was providing a service, and product, basically all for free. Back then though, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. I loved what I was doing, so it didn’t bother me to get ‘little’ in return. Also, I was ‘learning’ so I wanted to take it easy. But each time, Id go to edit a session, my energy went flat. I loved what I was seeing on the screen, but I wasn’t connecting, and I think it was because I wasn’t valuing my work. Love and value are two different things.

Yea, I loved my clients, but meeting with them for two hours, hoping Id get some smiles, and pretty looks, heading home to edit, to then send them a cd with their pictures, then most likely never hearing from them again, was so impersonal. And that’s not the foundation I wanted to build my work on.

Then there was thing about my ‘vision’. When you’re starting out, you hear all about it, from other photographers who speak about their visions, ideas, and styles, and you keep wondering when life is gonna smack you in the head with your own vision. For years, I knew I liked photography. A lot. And early on, I knew I had a knack for pulling emotions out with my camera. And for a long time, I had a list of favorite things I liked to photograph. Still, my vision took sometime, like a couple of years, to emerge. But it finally did. And I eventually realized that I wasn’t always photographing how, and what I loved, but despite knowing this, I kept shooting what other people wanted of me, and not what I preferred. I kept doing this, and I’d feel my creative spark diminish each time. I was constantly reminded that I needed to take a step back. And I eventually did.

While on my break, I thought a lot. I knew what I missed, I recognized what I wanted, where I saw myself going, and I finally acknowledged the worth of my work. I have a very long way to go, and so much to overcome, in regards to my confidence, and to photography in general, but I now have a different approach, and new plans in place.

In the last year, I’ve picked up my cameras a zillion times. Among some of the wonderful pictures I’ve gotten, and sessions I’ve had, I’ve taken some crummy pictures, but that’s fine. Im learning as I go, and I don’t necessarily mean photography-wise, but rather in regards to the emotional side of this business. The same way I embrace the images that make my heart skip a beat, Im also learning to weed out what I don’t want, nor need, for me or my clients.

So here’s my reminder to you- take your breaks. If you feel you need a break from a hobby, from the kids, from your job, from family, from a project, whatever it may be, then you need a break. Don’t apologize for it, and don’t feel guilty. And don’t condemn anyone for choosing to take a step back. Sometimes its just what a person needs.

Breaks are good for breathing, for reflection, for prioritizing, and for planning. If we were to sit and sulk in the midst of our stresses, we’d never grow. We would be so consumed with the agony from ‘burning out’ that our thoughts would be clouded, and taking further steps to be better, would be nearly impossible. Just keep that in mind.

Beach

 
NDuran

Gia’s 6! | Birthday Portraits

A month ago, she turned 6.

In the last 6 years, she’s developed to become the sweetest, most passionate, moody, and funniest little person I know (little person, literally).

Oh, and she’s probably one of the most photogenic.

As it’s become a habit with all my children, I planned a birthday photo session with her. I immediately knew that I wanted to approach this particular session, in a way that would reflect who she is becoming- again, moody, passionate, dramatic, and photogenic, you know, kinda Anthropologie🙂

Can I just say, I think we nailed it!

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Thanks so much for looking!
NDuran

And a second roll, in just two weeks | Personal

And I did it again. I shot another roll of film, and again, I’m in love.

No, not all images came out right- under/over exposure, and bad composition took precedence in some of the pictures. And I’m actually not as happy with this roll, as I was with my last set, but content I am!

To look at these prints, and see how far I’ve come, is just so gratifying.

When I first picked up a film camera (after so many years), about two years ago, I had no idea I’d struggle, the way I’ve struggled. For some reason, I thought it would be second nature, since I was an avid digital photographer, and my dad shot film for so many years. But no, it wasn’t as easy. However, I did anticipate learning a lot more about photography in general, and that did happen. It’s still happening.

I find it impressive that I have such a better understanding of light compared to a few months back, and that my framing has gotten so much more interesting. And although I have a long way to go, I’m finally grasping the technical aspects of capturing a picture!  And all this without a lcd preview screen? It is mind boggling to me.

With each load, with each experiment, with each print, even the bad ones, Im understanding more, and I’m becoming more interested. Its becoming an obsession to want to take pictures all.the.time. The fact that I’m making my mistakes, learning from them, and even finding beauty in those mistakes is what has me so intrigued.

Like I wrote before, I’m just so in love with this format.

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Fuji Xtra 400

Thanks for looking!
NDuran

Dylan’s 1! | Brooklyn, NYC Portrait Photographer

First week of August, and it was chilly. Oh, and it was raining. A lot. It was that type of rain that you just think  will mess things up- your adventurous side (cant climb onto any big ol’ rocks in the rain;  maybe the camera messes up (‘don’t get wet, don’t get wet…’); the clients’ moods ; your hair, oh, um yea.

But if you’re lucky, you get to photograph really nice people. All at once.

When you’re with this family, and one of the most adorable toddlers in the world, Dylan, a soon-to-be one year old, none of that ‘complicated’ stuff matters. He’s one of the sweetest little boys, has a spunky big brother, Aiden, and wonderful parents, and photographing them all, makes this ‘job’ way too easy and pleasurable.

Sometimes those unprecedented situations give way to great shots- the rain gave us great puddles to jump in;  the overcast skies gave us great light; and the wet streets provided us with some nice reflections. Oh! and the humidity gave me some nice curls😀

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Thanks for looking!

 

Something keeps pulling me back in… | Personal

For whatever reason, I get bored. I retreat. I walk away. And I take breaks, long breaks. And during each single break I think, ‘ I don’t believe this is meant to be; I don’t think I have it in me to continue, to make this work; Im just not good enough’.

Failure, failure, success, failure, mediocre success. And failure once again. It’s a cycle.

But still, something always pulls back in. It’s like my heart mysteriously becomes enlightened, and all over again, I fall back into the thoughts that lured me in, in the first place- The tones. The light. The grain. The control. That essence of  ‘you don’t ever know what you’re going to get’. The mystique that differentiates you from all the rest. The often, beautiful mistakes. It’s actually such a simple, complicated story.

See, ’cause I don’t think Im bored. No, actually Im not. I think I just lack that confidence that pushes me to try harder. And its that lack of confidence that drags me into this dark place, where I sit and wilt. There’s so much I want to achieve, so much greatness I think I’m capable of, but then a setback, could be minor, could be big, that humbles me, and I get scared. I then end up frustrated, upset, and bored. That’s when I get bored. When I feel Im not capable of giving more, and in turn, not getting anything back.

Its as if I want things to work out, immediately. I’ve wanted that from day one.

I don’t want to deal with mistakes- artistically, monetary, or emotionally. I just want things to be great, from NOW. And funny, Im normally, not so desperate with goals, but I just expected this to be so much easier. The impatience grounds me.

But then each time I do take the chance to try again, Im reminded that each mistake has made me better. I stand back, see where I am now, and compare it to the past, and realize how much I’ve grown. If it weren’t for the mistakes, I wouldn’t have known how to approach things differently. I wouldn’t have known to change my perspective, and look at things differently. And I wouldn’t have bothered to change my focus, when focus was the only thing I needed. I wouldn’t have known to change my stance on some occasions just to let a different light in. And I can go on, and on.

So no, frustrations aren’t great, and yes, they can be paralyzing, causing you to stop dead in your tracks. But why do we insist on evaluating our journey based how much we have left to go, as opposed to seeing how far we’ve gotten?

At the end, Im still enamored with film. More today than yesterday, but likely not as much as tomorrow.

Its that love, that prevents me from ever really giving up on it.17880002178800042013-08-09_0001178800031788000817880005

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This is where I am now. Quite far from where I was some time ago, and to think, this relationship is just in the beginning stages. The thoughts of what awaits me, makes me so giddy.

Fuji Xtra 400

Thanks for looking!
NDuran