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Featured Analog Photographer: Rachmael

Posted on August 14th, 2015


Where are you from?
It’s complicated. I grew up in Iran, but my mother was American.I came to America when I was 16 and lived in the SF Bay Area. I moved to NYC in 76, when I was 21. I returned to SF in 89 and now I’ve been back to NY since 2006. I currently live Greenpoint.

How and when did you start doing photography?

I never thought I’d get in to photography. I mostly painted and wrote poetry. It was during a dry spell in my poetry, that I took up photography. That was about 4 years ago. I started out digital, but i move up the scale to medium and large format film. I am currently experimenting with 5X7 photography.

What inspires your photography?

There are so many things to photograph, but I quickly found my niche photographing people. I started out doing candid street photography, but when I moved into medium and large format, I zeroed in on environmental portraiture.

Why do you still shoot film?

I love look and feel of film, the subtle tonality and velvety texture of Tri-X and the porcelain smoothness of T-Max. Of course, I love the hyper-resolution of large format film and the depth and range of skin tones.

Who are your favourite photographers?

Cartier Bresson, Vivian Maier, Diane Arbus, Bruce Gilden, Richard Avedon, Weegee and the list goes on.

What are your favourite camera’s to shoot with?

I use a Plaubel Makina 670, with a fast Nikkor 80/2.8 lens, for medium format.

I started using a Crown Graphic 4X5 camera for large format, but I now have two custom Polaroid 4X5 conversion cameras, one with a Xenotar 135/3.5 lens and I just received another Polaroid 4X5 camera for my Sironar S 150 lens. These Polaroid 4X5 conversions cameras are at least 2.5lbs lighter than a Crown Graphic and are probably the lightest lightest option for 4X5 rangefinder photography.

I also have two 5X7 camera, a Speed Graphic and a K.B. Canham Wood. I use a Sironar S 210 on my 5X7 cameras.

What is your favourite film to work with?

Basically, Tri-X and T-Max. I have also used Efke 120 film until they expired. I mostly shoot Black and White.


Do you think film photography has a future?
With the exception of the Leica Monochrome, digital cameras are useless for B&W photography. Digital images that have been flipped to B&W look lame and anemic, unless one is willing to perform several steps of overlays in Photoshop, or is willing to purchase dedicated software, to render lively B&W digital images. I do not doubt that in the near future, digital cameras will be able to mimic large film. There has been much progress with digital “medium format” cameras, however most of them are exceedingly expensive. Unless someone wants to give me a Lieca S2, or an IQ-80 camera, I’ll stick with film!