portra 400

A Portrait of Colombian Coffee Farmers

I recently had a chance to visit various coffee farms in Colombia with Pagpropina, a social impact company that’s creating a pension fund for Colombian farmers and coffee pickers. Because of extremely low coffee prices on the international markets, many Colombian farmers are struggling to make a living. Compared to the large-scale mechanized farms in Brazil and Vietnam, most Colombian farms are small-scale and family owned. Additionally, most of Colombian coffee is hand-picked, which leads to its high-quality specialty status. We met many farmers that were trapped in a debt cycle as they relied on bank loans to keep their farms running. Savings are non-existent.

Pagpropina wanted to create images and a video to tell the story of these farmers to end-consumers of coffee in developed countries like the USA. The idea was to encourage people to leave a tip after watching the video (and viewing the images). The tip would then be aggregated into a pension fund for the coffee farmers and pickers, and eventually be disbursed through the public pension fund of Colombia, Colpensiones.

For this project, I shot on a combination of the Sony A7R III for video and digital photos, as well as the Pentax67 for some film portraits. For video, I mounted my Sony A7R III with a 24-70mm GM on a smallrig, with a Rode NTG4 (and a deadcat) and most footage was shot handheld. All footage was shot in S-Log 2. I would toggle from video to photo for digital photos if there was time for shots. On top of that, I had my Pentax67 (loaded with Portra 400) slung around my neck so that I could grab film photos whenever a good chance presented itself. Needless to say it was a lot of work but it ended up being a setup that worked!

The areas we ended up visiting were Pereira, Santa Rosa, Manizales, Chinchina, Neiva, San Agustin and Gigante. View the full set here.

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YOSEMITE ON FILM

I had heard so much about Yosemite that I had such high expectations going into the trip. I'd seen photos of Half Dome and El Capitan everywhere on the internet and wondered how just a slab of rock could look that good. Well, it can. Not just good, but awe-inspiring and sublime. On the many occasions when I went to the edge of the various cliffs of the surrounding mountains, I would feel my lets shaking and breath quivering. People talk about the grandeur of mountains and I experienced that firsthand. 

My photography at Yosemite was split 50/50 digital and film. I'd initially planned to use film only on portraits of friends that I was traveling with. But over time, switching between my Canon 5DM4 and my film camera proved too much so I decided to focus on film for the majority of my later shoots. Digital images of nature are all too pervasive so I decided to mix it up and shoot more on my film. Here are the results:

Melody @ Taft Point (Portra 400)

Melody @ Taft Point (Portra 400)

A girl, her camera, and a tree (Portra 400)

A girl, her camera, and a tree (Portra 400)

A girl and her red cape (Portra 400)

A girl and her red cape (Portra 400)

Stop & Stare (& Pose) (Ektar 100)

Stop & Stare (& Pose) (Ektar 100)

I love the cool tones of Ektar 100 (Ektar 100)

I love the cool tones of Ektar 100 (Ektar 100)

Intermittent Sun (Ektar 100)

Intermittent Sun (Ektar 100)

Melody @ Tunnel View (Ektar 100)

Melody @ Tunnel View (Ektar 100)

(Portra 400)

(Portra 400)

Glacier Point at Blue Hour (Ektar 100)

Glacier Point at Blue Hour (Ektar 100)

David  (Portra 400)

David (Portra 400)

"Yosemite Falls" (Portra 400)

"Yosemite Falls" (Portra 400)

(Portra 400)

(Portra 400)

Half Dome (Ektar 100)

Half Dome (Ektar 100)

#visitcalifornia (Portra 400)

#visitcalifornia (Portra 400)

Upper Yosemite Falls (Ektar 100)

Upper Yosemite Falls (Ektar 100)

Tunnel View (Ektar 100)

Tunnel View (Ektar 100)

(Portra 400)

(Portra 400)

Half Dome @ Glacier Point (Portra 400)

Half Dome @ Glacier Point (Portra 400)

Self (Portra 400)

Self (Portra 400)

LAYSON GOTTFRIED (NYMM) TEST SHOOT AT EGG STUDIOS

Had an awesome time shooting with Layson!

One thing I realized was just how much I love shooting on film. Shooting on film is so much more enjoyable, not just because of the aesthetic of the end product but because the shooting process feels more relaxed and less like work. Shooting digital feels like work - mechanized, high-pressure, moving quickly to the sound of shutter clicks, the machine-gun barrage of go, go, go. I think the implication of shooting digital is that the relationship between photographer and subject feels more professional and clinical, like there's a clear boundary.

On the other hand, shooting on film feels more intimate, like getting to know someone and not feeling rushed. You're more in tune with the slight movements of the subject because you have to focus and make sure the subject is posing in the most appropriate way. The collaboration feels less hurried and more natural. Knowing that you have a limited number of exposures forces you to slow down and frame each shot with purpose. I believe this slowing down puts the subject at ease and allows them to be more unforced in their poses and expressions.

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FILM (KODAK PORTRA 400)

KAMOLA AKILOVA ON FILM IN BROOKLYN

I wanted to use film more actively on portrait shoots. Last week, I had Kamola sit for me in my makeshift studio at home and took photos with a mixture of digital + film. For film, I used the Canon A-1 with Kodak Portra 400 and Ektar 100. I absolutely loved how the cool tones of Ektar complemented the dark blue background I selected. I styled Kamola in colors that complemented the aquamarine background - mustard yellow, grey and white. 

Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio
Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio Moon
Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio Window
Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio Blue
Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio Moody
Kamola Akilova Uzbekistan Ektar 100 Canon a1 Portrait Brooklyn Studio Window