Portraits of Pete

Recently I talked about rebranding my company with a new logo, new website etc. Peter Edwards was my graphic designer and he was gracious enough to not only let me use our early drafts and notes in a blog post, but he also let me take a portrait of him. I wanted to capture his image on film, so I hauled out my Mamiya RZ67, a medium format 6x7 camera that shoots 120mm film. A few of my favorites are below as well as a little video I put together about the shoot.

Camera Collection

I like many photographers have a fascination with the tools that we use to make our living, specifically the tools that were used by the masters and those we look up to. I have a small collection of vintage and novelty cameras, some of which I actually use in my professional work. 

Mamiya RZ67

Easily my favorite camera to work this, the RZ67 is a medium format “studio camera” that has a lot of versatility; Interchangeable film backs, viewing screens and a plethora of amazing lenses are all at my disposal here. 
It’s heavy, weighing in at 5 pounds with a lens, viewfinder and back attached. Still, this doesn’t deter me from taking this along on portrait shoots. It’s all about planning the shot, both for lugging this beast around and for capturing an image “in-camera.”

Nikon F2

While the RZ67 requires a lot of forethought to take out on a shoot, the Nikon F2 has been everywhere with me, from back home in Wisconsin making family portraits to New Zealand and Greece shooting travel stories.
This camera was a favorite among photojournalists in the 1980s due it’s durable metal body and fully mechanical shutter which could be used for any length of time in nearly any sort of weather conditions. It does have a built in light meter that requires a watch battery, but you can always make due with a hand held meter. 
As you can see I have 2 of these, one given to me by a friend’s father and another from a family member. These can still use many modern lenses, and there’s no feeling quite like the thumb-actioned-lever that manually advances your film.

Polaroid Model 95 Land Camera

The Model 95 was the first commercially available “Land Camera” model was first sold to the public in November, 1948. It produced Polaroid’s famous instant prints in about 1 minute. Both the camera and the self-developing film was named after the inventor, Edwin Land and They were manufactured by Polaroid between the years of 1947 and 1983. 
Mechanically this camera works fine, and it appears to have maintained it’s light-tightness. However, it is nearly impossible to find film for this camera, which is disappointing. I have heard tales of people converting their land cameras to shoot 4x5 sheet film, but this is a project I have not looked much in to undertaking. Still, it’s got a beautiful bellows extension and a folding/collapsable body that make it a handsome addition to any collection.

Argus C3

The Argus was a low-priced rangefinder camera mass-produced from 1939 to 1966. Due to its shape, size, and weight, it is commonly referred to as “The Brick” by photographers(or “The Lunchbox” in Japan). It has a unique method of loading film, in that after you insert the cassette you have to close the back and wind the camera until it essentially unloads the entire roll on to a separate spool. I have not run a roll through this one yet, but mechanically it seems to function just fine, if a little stiff in places.

Brownie Starflex

The Starflex was introduced in 1957 and was designed for amateur photographers. It has a wonderful little waist-level viewfinder and a “flashgun” that would take a screw-and-pin flashbulb. 
I adore this camera, it’s so small and light, and it just has that vintage camera look with a comically large flashgun and 2 big lenses on the front. Unfortunately this particular one is missing the base-plate which means it is not light-tight. It also doesn’t help that the 127mm film it took was discontinued in 1995 and only small boutique manufacturers produce it today. 

Super-8 Cameras

I don’t shoot film when I produce videos - it’s digital all the way for me. But I love the look and feel of the old super-8 cameras, particularly the models with pistol-grips. The metal one is a Yashica, known for it’s TLR cameras, and the black plastic one is a Chinon. Both of these work and, while I have not produced anything myself on these, I love having them around. There’s just a joy to play with, the zoom lenses are so fun and the cameras themselves are so intuitive to use. You put the camera up to your eye and pull the trigger.

I’m always looking out for new cameras to add to my collection. As any collector knows, no collection is ever “complete.”

Re-branding and new website

Out with the old, in with the new they say. After nearly 8 years with my classically-styled logo that I designed myself at the end of college I decided it was time to hire an expert. A graphic designer that would take the time to to get know me, my business and my artistic tastes. I had never hired a designer to work on something for ME specifically, I was always very much a DIY-er. I was nervous that I would waste my money, my time and my energy through dramatic artistic clashes with this imaginary designer I made up in my head. 

I could not have been more wrong.

This new logo was modern, clean, hip even. It has a sense of movement to it that my old logo sorely lacked. I was moving in a new direction artistically and I needed a logo to reflect that.

I had been long considering a rebranding, but the time and effort that goes into such a thing is monumental. And since I was/am such a stubborn DIY-er, the thought of taking on such a task on my own was daunting.
I met Peter Edwards at my climbing gym. We mostly talked about climbing, but occasionally discussed art and this is when I discovered he was a graphic designer. At that point I had put a few call outs to my friends and peers saying I had been looking for a designer, but a lot of what I had seen didn’t excite me at all. I cautiously asked Pete for his website, knowing full well that if I didn’t like his work I would have to see him every week at the gym and that it could get awkward. 
His work was exactly what I had been looking for. It had a focus on typography, it was bold and it had an adventurous feel to it. I hired him the following week and after I developed a crude “design brief” for him that consisted of example logos and ramblings on what I felt represented my brand, we got to work.

Logos belonging to some of my favorite photographers

Through many meetings, phone calls and frantic emails that I wrote at 2 in the morning we ended up with what you see today. Take a look at his “sketches” for my initial viewing and how we narrowed it down to what was eventually my final design:

In the end it was very satisfying to work with someone who was looking at my brand from the outside. I was too close to the subject matter, in too deep to look at things objectively. Pete worked with me to get to the design that I wanted, he listened to me rant about what I didn’t like about other logos and made choices that surprised and enlightened me. It was truly a much needed collaboration. 

Check out Pete’s work at PeteGetsCreative.com

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