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Aint’ Nothing Like It

March 6, 2010

Tiny humans are magical. I don’t mean that in a unicorn way, but rather in a fresh, new way. I really, really enjoy tiny humans. You can see in their eyes the new world gleaming. It always makes me wonder what they must be thinking. I learn from them. I get really close and study them like a new species. They reach out, grab my hair or try to put their tiny fingers in my eye. I learn from them about seeing the world for the first time.

You might be thinking, “Okay wait, you are shooting a nine-month-old human with a Hasselblad?” Yes. I know, this is NOT the easy road. While wonderful, the 503CW film Hasselblad is not my fastest option. The easy road would have been 5D Mark II, autofocus and zoom lens. Me no likey.
For me this is the ultimate challenge and is in part what keeps me interested. I can’t talk to this little one. I mean I did, but it just bounced off. I sang to her which had slightly more impact, but she was on tiny human autopilot and you just have to roll with it. I’m not looking for 300 images, just looking for a few that count.

Throw in the tiny dog and you are lowering the capture rate even further. A bad thing you say? No. More challenging. Me likey. You know at some point you will have to wipe the lens, both from dog slobber and tiny human slobber, but hey, that is the rough and tumble world of the kid photographer. I can take it. And dog slobber has magic healing powers. Not sure if you knew that.

At one point, I shot 12 straight frames as fast as I could focus and wind. They were all in focus, and all displayed this tiny human in varying moods and facial features. I practice with this camera and am committed to using it, which is easy to do when you bring little else. Again, I like doing this to challenge myself, and force myself to not fall back upon what is easiest. You don’t have to change cameras or shoot film to challenge yourself. You can do it with anything. It is more mental than physical.

If you shoot kids or weddings you are in the repeat world of photography. As a magazine photographer I rarely found myself in the same situation twice. As a newspaper photographer I found myself in the same position a fair amount, or doing the same assignment two years in a row. It’s EASY to fall back into the routine world, far more challenging to look upon a situation with new, fresh eyes like the tiny human in front of your lens.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. eric labastida permalink
    March 6, 2010 9:10 pm

    One thing I’ve wanted to try that you could; well maybe not with a nine month old. Thy giving them a disposible point n shoot. Give it to a 4 or 5 year old and you could get a gem. Remember the closing credits of rainman? I’m not saying the kid should be autistic, just try it.

    • March 6, 2010 9:17 pm

      Okay, now you’re scaring me. I”ll give them your camera, no problem.

  2. suzannerevy permalink
    March 7, 2010 3:37 am

    Harder to do with the Hassy (or in my case an RZ), but when you nail it…. beats the pants off of anything that Canon whatever you mentioned!! lol

  3. David Wissinger permalink
    March 7, 2010 4:38 am

    Even though I shot nothing but film for decades (ah, there was nothing else), I feel like I’m learning all over again having picked up some previously unaffordable film cameras. The kind you’re always talking about. Sadly, frustratingly, my best images still come from my 5Dm2. I got way too dependent on auto this and that. I’m in awe of your tiny human photos having put a half dozen rolls through the Blad. What you did is not easy to do.

    Technical Interlude: was that Portra 160NC? All natural light (looks like it)?

  4. March 7, 2010 4:43 am


    My wife works for Canon so I have to be diplomatic. I love the Canon for certain things, digital for certain things, but if given the choice for my own work…..always film. It’s odd how the analog workflow, for me, is the best of both worlds.

  5. March 7, 2010 4:44 am


    Practice, practice, practice. You’ll get the Blad if you commit to it. Same with Leica. Need to really devote yourself to learning it. Portra was 400NC. I use 400 so when I meter it is the same as the Leica. No time to change settings on the meter. I need one reading and then shoot.

    • Eric Labastida permalink
      March 7, 2010 6:08 am

      Dan’s right, I can only speak about the Leica, for I don’t know anything about the Blad. But once you get it down, and this ONLY comes with long experience, making great pictures with a Leica is quicker that any AF cam made. But you must adopt a “shooting life” Something I think we have all done in our own way. I assure you, it’s worth the time investment.

  6. David Wissinger permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:48 pm

    A “shooting life”. Now that’s something I can get behind. I like the sound of it. It’s a new phrase that’s causing me to think differently, which is always a fun experience. Thanks!

    • March 8, 2010 7:04 pm

      Well, it can be a curse. Feeling uneasy when you don’t have a camera. Getting crazy when the light is great and you can’t shoot. Feeling like you are framing everything you see. Asking people to move into better light, just because. You’ll know it when it hits.

  7. Missy Callero permalink
    March 11, 2010 1:11 am

    Just had to say

    That is the most beautiful baby in the whole world!

    (and the pup is so cute, too)

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