Mark Sperry & Emma McDonald: Inspired by the Classics

IP035We are huge fans of Impossible Project PQ film here at Snap It See It. Back in October, Mark Sperry and I shot some rooftop portraits in Brooklyn using the beautiful B&W, 8×10 film. Recently, I was talking to Mark  about a shoot he had coming up. He mentioned in the conversation that he was doing the entire styled shoot on instant film. Ok, no biggie, sounds cool. When he told me he was going to shoot an entire pack of 8×10 PQ film on the shoot, I knew right then we would want to feature it on the blog.

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About the Shoot:

8×10 has been an off and on format of some of my favorite photographers, including Alec Soth, Stephen Shore, and Richard Avedon. The process is so laborious and and slow that it is akin to document making. The images themselves have a unique matter-of-fact quality that comes from both the resolution, and by nature of what the world looks like when a 300mm is your ‘normal.’ When you look at photographs made my 19th century portrait artists, many of them were using what we now call large format, I think that the austerity of the poses brings a certain seriousness and timeless quality, despite their period clothing. You can’t help but look at those images and wonder who they were, what lives they led. This is in direct opposition to the bubbly smiling pictures we’re so inundated with today, which have a chicken-or-the-egg relationship to advertising photos. My experimentation with these expensive and impractical analog mediums, like 8×10 instant films (20 dollars an exposure!) come from the simple enjoyment of making photographs with your hands instead of a computer, and the idea that future generations should have more than corrupted JPEGS to look back on and wonder about the lives we led.

These 8×10 images were made in collaboration with Emma Mcdonald. The film used was from The Impossible Project, which I understand are from the last batch of the current formula. The film in a controlled setting can be remarkably beautiful, and easy to work with. We rated it at 640 and compensated for bellows factor as with any normal film. You have to be extremely precise with the exposure as the latitude is not great, but when you nail it it’s surprising how sharp and detailed the images can be. – Mark




























Tech Specs:

8×10 Wood Field Camera of Deardorff design, but unknown manufacture.
300mm Sinaron (Rodenstock) ƒ5.6
One continuous light source in a medium sized octabank.

Photographers: Emma McDonald & Mark Sperry

Make up: Christine Hooghuis

Models: Emily Laurel and Callie Goese

Alongside the 8×10 film, Mark used his SLR680 and some of the new Impossible Project B&W film for 600 Cameras, to capture even more classic portraiture. The new B&W formulation is quickly becoming one of our favorite films!

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