A couple months ago, a friend of ours booked my wife and I to photograph her wedding in Terrell, Texas. She mentioned that it was going to be a small ceremony on May 26th, at a friend of a friend’s house, who happened to also own a few classic cars. I’ve known Amy for a while and I was happy to hear that she wanted to use us for the wedding. When I met up with her to talk things over, she mentioned that she loved our photography and was looking to have a classic, vintage look for her wedding photos. She also told me that she had been holding onto her great-grandmother’s camera and was trying to find the right home for it. It seemed fate was potentially going to have a hand in the outcome of these images …
Within a week or so, she contacted me and I swung up the road to pick up the camera. I had no idea what to expect, but was intrigued when she handed me a Pho-Tak Traveler 120 box camera. When I got back into the car, I examined the camera and knew that the “120” was probably an indication of what film it used. I opened it up and found a metal Kodak spool which was indeed for that size film. 120 is still made … how cool would it be to shoot some of her wedding photographs on her great-grandmothers’s camera? VERY COOL. I called her up and she was thrilled with the idea.
I took it over to my friend’s camera shop to clean it up and to determine what the shutter speed & aperture might be. This is a point-and-shoot camera in the most literal sense. It has one shutter speed & aperture, using a singlet lens, that produces a 6x9cm negative. We thought that it was probably sitting at about a 20th-30th of a second and possibly f/5.6. I tried a roll of Ilford 3200 indoors and it was extremely underexposed (3-4 stops). It’s not f/5.6. I talked it over with another friend and he mentioned, that since this camera was made in the 1950’s, it was probably meant to use ASA 100 speed film or slower. I had a ‘duh moment’. Having a shutter speed of only about 1/30th, using the sunny-16 rule, I figured it was probably sitting at about f/32. I tested out a roll of Fuji Acros 100 developed in Rodinal and had decent results. From the test roll I noticed a couple of things; it focuses about 5-10 feet away & you really have to make sure the camera is stable when exposing. The best way to trip this shutter is to slowly put consistent pressure on the shutter release until it clicks. The rollers in the camera did scratch the crap out of the negative but what are you gonna do? It’s an old box camera. The aged look it produced was perfect!
I packed a variety of film cameras to use on the day of the wedding; a Leica M2 (15mm + 50mm), a Polaroid SX-70, a Polaroid 100 Land Camera & the Pho-Tak Traveler 120. I figured with Amy’s request for vintage, classic images & the automobiles, bringing cameras relevant to the era would be a good idea. For film, I packed some Tri-X, Ektar 100, Impossible Project PX-70 COOL & some Fuji FP-100C. My wife was armed with our trusty Nikon D700, F100 and a Nikon FE. Our bases were covered …
I like having a plethora of cameras to choose from at our photo shoots. The beauty of having a variety of film cameras at your disposal, is that each camera is different and produces unique results. Forget trying to edit a digital image to match the results you get with film. 1) It can’t be replicated 2 ) it’s boooooooring and SO overdone. If you’re trying to emulate film it’s just a whole lot easier to shoot film. It takes less time in the long run to get really cool, unique, vintage images.
Anyhow, off the bat, the place looked to be really cool. The owner had pulled out a few of his classic cars and they were parked on the lot by the garage. We scouted out some locations around the area that would be good to shoot at during the wedding. I met up with the groom, Adam, and I pulled him aside to snap a pic of him on some of the Impossible Project PX-70 COOL I brought with me.
After a little bit I went over to where Amy was getting ready. I brought Hannah, the flower girl, outside for a snapshot on the front porch with the SX-70 and then one with the Pho-Tak box camera.
At this point, Amy was almost ready and we grabbed a few photos before the ceremony …
The ceremony was short & sweet! I did have enough time to knock out some pics on the M2, the FE, the Pho-Tak, the SX-70 and a few on the Polaroid 100.
All in all, I’m pleased with the images from the Pho-Tak Traveler box camera. Granted it uses a singlet lens and it’s not uber-sharp but who cares? It has that insta-vintage look without all the editing fuss. Also, it goes without saying, BUT the Impossible PX-70 COOL yielded some really neat analog results as well. I’ll definitely keep this stuff stocked for my future gigs and personal shoots. Their film deserves to be shot .. a lot.