Black and White Portrait Session | T-Max 400 | Dallas Portraits

One of my creative goals for the year was to try out new film stocks and to test out pushing film stocks, so that I could have a better understanding of how different film works in different lighting situations. My first successful attempt (you won’t see any of my attempt at shooting HP5 pushed because there was a light leak and a lot of missed focus) was shooting medium format Kodak T-Max 400.

I really didn’t know what to expect out of this film because I shot this in my bedroom in front of a black velour backdrop, which I’ve never done before, not even on digital. I metered at 800 and planned on pushing it one stop, but when I sent the film in I forgot to tell the lab! So, I was very pleasantly surprised that these came back this way. In hindsight, I think my metering should have been for the light falling on her face, not the light directly in front of me, since there was a lot of side light going on. The bright Dallas sun was pouring into the window and bouncing off the floor and my white bed, so I think that all that sunlight must have made my metering inaccurate.

I had so much fun working with only a model on a simple backdrop and I'm so pleased with how these turned out! I can’t wait to shoot this film again in different lighting to find out how it reacts!

Learning to Love Film | Film Photographer Dallas

I have a very specific memory of holding my mother’s camera as a child. I remember the awe and the respect I had for it. I remember how cool the metal was and how heavy the camera was in my hands. I remember struggling to hold it up to my eye and attempting to focus it. Now that I hold a camera nearly everyday, this is such a powerful memory for me. That was my first experience with the medium into which I choose to pour my creativity.

Guess you never forget your first love, because once I started falling in love with photography, I remembered this camera frequently. I knew that it was sitting in a closet collecting dust. My mom loved that camera, she was really proud of it, but the cost of film and the convenience of digital meant that it wasn’t getting used. A few months ago, she gave me that camera. It’s not fancy by film camera standards, but the nostalgia of it is priceless to me. And I’m so honored to be able to use it myself.

The lens needed an upgrade, so I just picked up a 50mm manual focus on eBay and shot my first test roll with the new lens. I can’t even express how in love I am. Shooting film is such a different experience. There is a big element of anticipation and unknown, while digital is instant and completely controlled. You are limited to how much you can shoot (at least in terms of cost) and limited to the speed of the film in the camera. You can’t be guaranteed that you nailed focus and then, you have to wait a couple weeks before you can even see the results of that roll. Those little things add up to something so magical when you get the scans back!  

Now that I’ve seen the results, I’m so excited to be incorporating a little film into my shoots. The tones are so soft and buttery, and I love the discipline and patience that it requires. After 30 years, I’m so happy to be giving this little camera a new life. And it’s so crazy to think that in just a couple years Louis will be able to hold it. The same camera I first held as a kid.  

West Texas Road Trip Part 2 | Marfa Photographer

This is the second part of a blog post about my trip to West Texas, back in November. If you missed the first part, you can check it out here

Since we were down in West Texas, we wanted to explore more than just Big Bend so we planned a day to stay in Marfa. I stumbled across El Cosmico a few months ago and as soon as I saw photos, I knew that I had to stay at this spot. It’s a bit of a hippie hotel experience and the option to stay in a teepee is my idea of camping!  

On the way from Alpine to Marfa we decided to check out Fort Davis Mountains State Park. I’d heard that there was some nice hiking here as well and since it was on the way, we gave ourselves a few hours to hike here. The terrain was steeper and rougher than the trail we hiked in Big Bend and as someone really afraid of heights it was nerve wracking, but we did it! And though the views were not as majestic as those in Big Bend, they were very impressive. The terrian is so different, just an hour away from the park. It felt more like the Texas desert. From the peak you can see into Mexico and the mountain ranges further south, which is pretty cool! The Indian Lodge that serves as lodging in the park is just beautiful, it would be so fun to come back and stay there and to go to the McDonald Observatory as well.

After the hike, we drove the scenic loop through the mountains and it was impressive. I really could have stopped every 10 minutes to take photos. The mountains were giant rocks jutting out of the earth and below them cattle grazed in brush and trees. The landscape varied from flat desert, to trees with fall colors, to towering rocky mountains. During that one hour drive I think we saw maybe 3 other cars on the road. Safe to say the only people living out here are cattle ranchers and true Texas cowboys. Unfortunately, our pleasant drive was interrupted by a car sick Louis (no photos of that, fortunately). But, by the time we made it to Marfa he seemed to be feeling much much better and after some intensive cleaning we checked into our little teepee.

I absolutely loved staying at El Cosmico and I can’t wait to do it again! I will say fall/winter is not the best time to stay if you hate the cold. It was pretty cold and the bathrooms (and showers) are all outdoors, so, yeah - I froze. Fortunately, the teepee is heated with a propane fire, so we were cozy while we slept! We sat outside the teepee, while Louis slept and enjoyed some wine & the beautiful night sky. Even with the town of Marfa close by, there were so many stars to see!  

On our way out of Marfa we made a pitstop to see the Prada store. If you aren't familiar with this, its a real sized Prada store front out in the middle of nowhere. Literally, NOWHERE. But, we were all the way in West Texas, so we figured, we had to. It was quiet something to see a store sitting on the side of this empty road, just a few miles from the Mexican border! Teresa and I had to have a little photo-op, of course! 

The drive back to Dallas was a long trip, but totally worth it! I am just enamored with West Texas and I can’t wait to go back! As a photographer, its just a dream location to shoot, so I’ve been fantasizing about styled shoots out in the desert or maybe even shooting a Marfa wedding!

Check out my favorite shots below. I shot a little film while I was there as well! Can you tell which ones are film?