Ilford HP5 / One Roll | 5 Stories

Sometimes You Have to Pull It In

I’ve spent a lot of time pushing Ilford HP5 to 800 / 1600 but decided to slow down for this roll. Couldn’t be happier with the results developed in Ilfotec HC. Moral of the story… HP5 is the most versatile BW film I’ve ever used.

I hope you enjoy these five simple stories all captured on one roll of Ilford HP5 400 pulled to 200.


THE BLOND

Ms. Chloe

I’ve worked with Chloe for the last year and have really enjoyed her style and presence in front of the lens. She’s fearless and brings a lot of energy to any environment.


FRANKY VANDAM HALEM HOPKINS

This is Franky.

I was driving into work early one day and decided to stop and get a bagel and coffee. I roll up to one of my favorite local coffee shops and question if it’s worth grabbing my camera for this quick in and out coffee grab. Normally I never ponder the question but it was early and I didn’t think the five minutes I would be in the street would add up to an image. With that said, I’m sitting quietly staring at my bag then say out loud “you never know”, then nab the M7.

As I walk up I see this seemingly well put together man in front of the shop. “You wanna take my picture” he says as I’m getting closer. I respond “well yes I do”. At this point I knew something was off but welcomed the easy street portrait win.

Turns out, Mr. Franky is “wanted by the CIA, FBI, Russian Mafia, KGB, and President Trump. They framed me and my friends and family are trying to kill me for my money. I’m a world famous songwriter and producer, can’t you tell by the way I’m dressed”. Franky went on to ask if I was going to put this in the paper. I informed him that I’m not with the paper but I’ll do my best to pass the message along. After Franky went on about the same subject for the next ten minutes while I waited for the coffee shop to open, he pinged me about 4 more times asking if I was with the paper and was I going to put this into the paper. Eventually I just told him I would put this in the paper. Then we fist bumped, the doors to the coffee shop open, and I go about my day.


THE BRUNETTE

Ms. Lauren

I’ve worked with Lauren for the past 3 years and have always been able to capture her in a way that brings out her depth. Not sure why this is the general tone we create together but I always know we’re going to get something good when our schedules align.


THE HOOP

I love beat down basketball hoops in places they shouldn’t be. This is one of those examples.


THE MOTO

There are days where it just makes sense to roll around and see what timeless scenes I can find. Pairing an old vehicle with old architecture will always demand a photograph. I also had a really good time exercising my metering skills in the sun to ensure a couple of the shots didn’t’ turn to silhouettes.


Matt Pittman / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5 / Huntsville, AL

Global Reanimation || Short Story: Part 1

Everlasting life… at a cost too high.

In 1995 a global outbreak of a flesh eating virus broke out. No one was able to pinpoint what or who was responsible but the rumor is that when the CDC hosted a summit with humanities brightest scientific minds to create the next step in human evolution they created what was thought to be the solution to life’s biggest issue… death.

In this scientific R&D the CDC ended up creating a serum that would be the beginning of the end of the world. They did solve the problem to ultimate death, but the cost was not worth the “reward”. In exchange for everlasting life you had to die and then be reanimated by this serum which would take effect within seconds. Once reanimated you were you, but your body did not work biologically the same as it had in your first life; the mind and CNS stayed in tact while the body continued to decay without pain or suffering.

At the time the world’s society celebrated! We were all aligned politically, world hunger was no longer an issue, healthcare was not needed anymore, there was no more deforestation do to no demand for animal byproducts, and many more globally positive actions took place. There were no nations any-longer, just a one world economy that took life on earth to a beautiful place for years until…..

In 1995 it was reported a small village in South Africa cannibalized each other to the point where the CDC found people slowly eating themselves when all else was gone. They found many people with only shoulders and head still animated grinding their teeth for other human flesh to naw on, no matter if it was even their own.

This was kept quiet for about 6 months until another outbreak hit in Morocco. More public now, the news picked up on this and engaged with the Prime Minister of the United World, Prime Minister Murray. PM Murray immediately responded publicly, being he had been aware of the first outbreak, and made a public statement. “We are aware of this tragedy and giving it our most immediate attention. What has happened in Morocco is horrifically tragic. We have eternal life and through the power of the United World. We will prevail!”

No one could truly explain what was happening. We had lived without illness or death for 10 year. A sense of panic was slow creeping around the globe. For the first time in a decade the world community had fear of death in the most horrible way.

To be continued…

P.S. Depicted here is one of the factories used by the CDC in the 1980’s to develop their life reanimation serum. I don’t know how I’ve resisted “the turn” but I know I have to document as long as I can before it takes me as well.

Don't Get Taken Advantage Of

Stand Your Ground. It’s More Valuable In the Long Run.

Photograph by  Kent Meister

Photograph by Kent Meister

Whelp… I thought I had this bid negotiation thing down and only had experience, to this point, working with people that were ignorant to the value of photography so I let things go; in the hope there would be educational value with potential clients on what quality photography costs to set me up for larger future projects. Turns out I either know nothing about bids & negotiation or I just haven’t met the right project yet or I’m not a good enough photographer. I believe a little bit of all three have a sense of truth behind them but let’s stick to the facts and not dwell on the “what if’s”.

Fact 1: I’m a bad ass photographer and I take bad ass photographs. In that I’m more grounded than in any other element of this creative game. I’m not what I say I am because of how you perceive me, I am because of what I know about myself. There’s long lived intrinsic value in that which pierces even the biggest let downs. IF you don’t have that… search to find it and don’t stop until you do.

Fact 2: I have a good idea on the value of my photography. I find that fair value then push it a bit to leave room for negotiation. Turns out… no one knows how to negotiate from local mom & pop shops to top end PR firms in Beverly Hills. So, be prepared to demand negotiation when a potential client respond with “thanks but we’re going to move a different direction.” Every time this has happened I respond with, “Ok, what is more inline with your budget?” Low and behold… they give a number they can work with!! So odd, but know that going into it.

Fact 3: I have met the right project for me, but not the right project for the potential client. Don’t let this get you down. Be sound in your foundation (via Fact 1) and know it’s just not the right time. Keep pushing and eventually the right relationship will form for both you and the client.

Story Time:

Back in January I pursued a personal project to shoot 35mm headshots of Nate Bargatze. It turned out great! So much so that he’s used the shots on all of his social channels AND his PR firm (based in Beverly Hills, CA) reached out to license them for his upcoming tour that could last up to two years. The photographs would be used for digital / social marketing, possible press use, and event posters; essentially editorial use. I’m totally good with that and give a quote of $2,000 with and exclusive license for 2 years. Keep in mind this quote was given after a phone conversation expressing this number and left the call with a negotiable green light. The conversation went like this from there:

PR: Unfortunately that is out of our budget. We are going to move in another direction.

Me: I completely understand. What number is more inline with your budget? I’m flexible. 

PR: To be transparent - Our budget is $550 to be able to use it in perpetuity. This is in line with the usual costs.

Me: Thank you for your transparency. If that’s your top end, let's go with it. Like I said, I’d love to build a longer relationship with you and I’d be happy to be a small part of his tour’s success. 

PR: Great thank you. We will draft up paperwork.

Alright… definitely got low balled but my Kodak Ektachrome portrait of Nate captured with my Leica M7 would be used for his tour poster… pretty freaking rad (big personal win) AND I have a fun connection that could actually lead to more work that is inline with my goals.

A day passes

Lawyers sent paperwork over:

Assignment of All Rights. Assignor hereby irrevocably grants, sells and assigns to Assignee all right, title and interest (including, without limitation, all worldwide copyrights and all other incidental, subsidiary, allied and ancillary rights) in and to the Property throughout the universe in perpetuity, including, without limitation, any works based upon, derived from, or incorporating the Property or any element thereof, and in and to all income, royalties, and payments now or hereafter due or payable with respect thereto, without reservation. The Property may be exploited, or withheld or withdrawn from exploitation, as Assignee may determine, and may be exhibited in such manner, by such means and in such media as Assignee may determine.

Ok… incase you weren’t aware or understand everything above… this is what is called a “Buy Out” where you do not own the property (i.e. photograph) any longer and in order to use said property I would have to request permission and give reference to my own work. None of this is alarming if this was the intended use of the property, but it wasn’t. AND… no where in the contract was it stated on the intended use of the image. According to this contract my photograph, once this contract is signed, could be used for ANYTHING his PR Firm or Nate wanted. For example: book, dvd, merchandise sales, etc. I was ok with the firm using the image forever, but only under the stated means they intended to use it as long as I retained my creative rights.

My response to the lawyers:

The conversation I had with NAME was for the photograph to have an exclusive license for up to two years and I would retain copyright, not a transfer of rights. Once that has been changed I’ll be happy to sign and return. 

PR Firm Response to me:

Our legal team mentioned some confusion on the terms - 

We need to be able to use the artwork in perpetuity otherwise we cannot use it for the short period. If we only are granted rights for two years we won’t be able to remove all the times we’ve used the artwork in the past online and be liable. (Editors Note: Pretty weak argument, but ok.)

Let me know if you’re able to sign the paperwork as is.

Me:

Understood, exclusive rights in perpetuity is fine, but we didn’t discuss releasing the assignment of all rights. 

Also, nowhere in the contract does it state the intended use of the photograph. We discussed digital / social marketing, possible press use, and event posters.

If we can change the contract to reflect exclusive rights vs. assignment of all rights and state the photographs intended use I’d be fine with it. 

PR:

Radio silence even after a second ping.

Now… how would you think I feel at this point? I got low balled on the photo. The contract didn’t reflect what was discussed. The PR firm is giving me the cold shoulder…

I feel proud! This wasn’t a loss, this was me exercising my knowledge and value to a very large PR firm. I approached this fairly and received a very unfair response. Now… I can’t blame them at all. It’s their business to get the most for the least… I get that, but I’m not one to roll over on my values and who I am. Would it have been absolutely amazing for my photograph to be used for Nate’s tour… yes. Would that be worth selling out for a very small paycheck to do so? NO.

All in all I love exercises like this. As I grow and projects come and go, I need experiences like this to know where to give and take. $2,000 for exclusive rights FOREVER is one hundred percent fair for a Comedian/PR firm of this size. If I’m wrong in that then I know nothing about my value.

I hope this story helps you in some way. Thanks for reading along.

More Honest Portraits Please

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I shoot a lot of photos. Some digital (primarily for content marketing purposes), but more so on film. Some think of film photography and development as complicated or even defunct, but I would argue it most definitely is neither. If you compare the time it takes to purchase a digital camera, learn how to manage RAW files, then find your editing style; I could argue that that is more complicated and costly. More importantly, film photography is still extremely relevant as a personal and professional medium to tell your story.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, why film?

Film is real and transparent. It’s honest in a world of skin smoothing, digital makeup and body modification to make a person into something they think they need to be vs. the beautiful self that they are. In a world that is constantly promoting the unreal, I find film to be the best medium to tell the truth about a person. Please don’t misunderstand me, honest portraits happen everyday with digital photography, I just like when people view my portraits they know immediately this is real, and that fills my create need.

Some of the portraits below were directed and some were at random in the streets, ice cream parlors, record shops and coffee spots throughout the Southeast. I hope you enjoy.

Matt Pittman / Portrait Photography / Ilford HP5 / Kodak Portra 400 / Street Photography / Leica M7

Crunkleton Associates Document of 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton | Part 2

Progress

Matt Pittman / Huntsville, AL / Crunkleton Associates / 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5

There it is. It’s flat. Nothing but rubble and foundation to be prepped for rebuild.

I feel personally connected to this downtown renovation. It’s odd really. Maybe because I grew up wishing Huntsville would take action to reshape itself into the respectable city it could be outside of rocket science. I did nothing to help create such a change in the city landscape. Maybe I feel obligated to give this the attention it deserves to show respect for those that have the means to bring new life into Huntsville. Regardless, this is the next layer in the process. All is pretty much cleaned up now and I should be able to start photographing the build in the next 30 days or so. Time to invest in a hardhat.

For more on this project and history behind why this is so great, head over to Part One of this Crunkleton Associates document of 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton. This entire project will be shot with a Leica M7 on Ilford HP5 with a few rolls of Kodak Portra 400 thrown in. All developed by myself to own the entire process of this creative document. I hope my passion translates well.

Matt Pittman / Huntsville, AL / Crunkleton Associates / 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5 / Kodak Portra 400

Offbeat Coffee Studio / Huntsville, Alabama

New Places & Faces

 EPSON scanner image

I had the pleasure of visiting Offbeat Coffee Studio last week to show my support for the new coffee spot in town. I was in there for about 2 hours and don’t think I stopped talking once. In between the good conversations and great Onyx coffee, I was able to snap a few photos of the place.

If you’re in the North Alabama area… Offbeat Coffee Studio is a must stop spot.

Matt Pittman / Offbeat Coffee Studio / Huntsville, Alabama / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5

Portraits: Stay Flexible

Stay Flexible and Use What You’ve Got.

L82A1028.jpeg

I haven’t shared a digital photo session in a while and what better way to reintroduce that than with a fun story / photoshoot that I never intended to have.

Staying flexible and able to adjust with either poor planning, life roadblocks, or any perceived limitation is a must as a creative. I’ve found that when I’m backed into a corner I create the best, so when a challenge arises that presents itself as a day ender I find myself slightly smirking ready to bring it on.

I had planned on creating a Spring active-ware/activity ad for a brand I support, nabbed a model, got everything buttoned up to go shoot and… no charge in my Paul C. Buff Vagabond battery to power my lights. I totally forgot to charge it. Ok… I have a couple speed lights… lets use that… no batteries for those in site. Second wammy. Ok eff it… lets go 6’ reflector status. Haven’t done that in a while. It should be fun.

Me, model, stands, reflector, camera… check. We head out to the only tennis court in this small country town to find the courts completely packed. “GREAT!”. We park and I go up to see if there just so happened to be a small space I can set up my gear for a quick shoot only to find that Ms. Chloe Buckner is decked out in tennis gear walking to the court. “Oh hey Chloe!! What are you doing here?”… “I play tennis!” she said in a playful excited voice. I laugh and ask what’s going on. Apparently there are matches that afternoon so they’re warming up. I ask Chloe if she thought there would be a small corner on the court I could shoot… she responded with yes, and away we went.

Now… I had no intentions of shooting Chloe this day and booked a model to come out and play the tennis player roll for the shoot. The model did amazing but after a few photos of her, Chloe started warming up on the court we were set up on. I asked Chloe if she’d like to jump in for a few shots as she most definitely fit the part and she was amped to do so. More importantly her tennis coach was amped she was in an impromptu shoot and didn’t mind me interrupting her warm up. Pretty positive and supportive group all around that provided me the flexibility to capture some really solid portraits that I’m proud to share with you today.

I used:

  • Canon 5D Mark IV

  • Canon 70-200mm Lens

  • 6’ Reflector

  • 2 C-Stands

I hope you enjoy!

Oh… and fun fact… this impromptu shoot might have led me to shoot the entire team’s headshots… You never know what’s around the corner. Stay positive and flexible.

Crunkleton Associates Document of 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton | Huntsville, AL

Documenting Huntsville, AL Growth.

Matt Pittman / Huntsville, AL / Crunkleton Associates / 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5

Matt Pittman / Huntsville, AL / Crunkleton Associates / 106 Jefferson Curio Collection by Hilton / Leica M7 / Ilford HP5

Crunkleton Associates real estate does it differently. They find gaps in local communities and fill them with great community minded businesses that I and many Huntsville, AL locals love.

One of their newest and most interesting projects is the demolition and rebuild of an original Huntsville landmark dating back to 1868. This location was originally a hotel 160 years ago! That’s amazing and has demanded my attention to document it’s demolition and rebuild into this beautiful establishment.

I’ll be updating my site with new sets from this document from now until it’s completion in 2020. I’ll primarily be focused on capturing this on Ilford HP5 film with a little Portra 400 thrown in.

I hope you and enjoy! OH!! and go check out detailed information on the history of this site written by Haley Clemons, Marketing Coordinator for Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group.

Matt Pittman & Leica in the Southeast: Part 2

Exploring the Great Southeast. Leica at the Ready.

 EPSON scanner image

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about this adventurous trip Kent Meister and I took on between Alabama and Georgia. You can read more on this wonderful trip HERE and HERE.

I would encourage you to find a friend and pick a part of your state you’ve yet to explore and just go. No real agenda, just pick some small or large towns and go. I promise it will give you something you’ll be proud of.

The set below was captured between two rolls of Ilford HP5 and Kodak Portra 400 using a Leica M7 then developed/scanned in house. If you’ve never developed your own fill I highly encourage you to do so. It’s so satisfying and had brought another level of control to my process.

I hope you enjoy!

Kent Meister & Leica in the Southeast: Part 1

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours.” - Richard Bach

Kent Meister shot on Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 with Leica M7 using a Profoto B10 to light in Piedmond, AL.

Kent Meister shot on Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 with Leica M7 using a Profoto B10 to light in Piedmond, AL.

INTRO: As photographers, we’re charged to capture the real in the fading reality of life. With media telling us what is real and what is not, who’s to believe one over the other? Who are we in humanity if we can’t just say “fu*k it all” and explore America with unbiased eyes and appreciate the existence of a community as successful and beautiful as it sits?

STORY: Kent Meister and I explored several towns throughout Alabama and Georgia (little intro on that here). We originally meet during a John Keatly workshop in Seattle last year and have stayed in touch ever since. Both being fans of Leica rangefinders we instantly connected and chatted about street & portrait photography. My exploration of the southeast took off the tail end of ‘18 and into ‘19 as you can tell from my Instagram portfolio. Kent got in-touch with me a few weeks into the new year letting me know he would be in Atlanta for a show that he is in and would love to take a day to explore some rural Alabama / Georgia towns with me. I responded with an instant yes and a few weeks later, here we are!

There aren’t a lot of people in this world that I don’t have to work at engaging with. Kent’s demeanor is very similar to mine and an easy win to explore with. We build off of each others creative energy and was very refreshing.

Each one of these photos has a larger story to tell, especially the set of Kyler and his Vape below captured on Kodak Portra 400 in Centre, AL. Kyler is a bus boy in a Mexican restaurant. Kent and I got hungry late afternoon and saw this place. Questioning if we should eat Mexican in rural Alabama, we look at each other then evaluate how many cars are in the parking lot. It’s pretty full so we take the chance. More on that story below.

Here is Kent’s photo set from the exploration session. All photos in this set were captured on Leica M6 using Kodak Trix 400 & Kodak Portra 400 in, around, and between Rome, GA and Piedmont, AL.

The Story of Kyler

We just placed our order and Kyler comes up to us and asks if we’re photographers. We both respond “yes” and Kyler begins to get very interested and excited about that. He asks “Is there money in that? What’s the best way to make money at that? Portraits or landscapes?”. Kent and I look at each other thinking how to answer this. We answer with “Yes. It really depends on what you want to create.” But really in the back of our minds we’re thinking… we’re still figuring that out ourselves kid.

Kyler goes on to asking a few more questions and then Kent says “Well, when do you get off? If you’re free I’ll take a picture of you.” Kyler’s eyes light up!! He get’s pumped and says he goes on break in 10 minutes then goes back to work excited. I look at Kent and say “good call man. I never would have thought to ask for a portrait in this type scenario.” Kent responds with “well if he’s going to pick my brain and eat up my time I might as well get something out of it too.” Pure genius! And led to some amazing shots of Kyler smoking his vape in the back of the restaurant. “Whatcha got in their Kyler” Kent asks. “A little cookies and cream, dez nuts, and vanilla” Kyler responded. I’m literally holding back from busting out laughing. Kyler stated this vape concoction with so much confidence without a care in the world. I loved every minute of it.

Make sure to go check out Kent’s work on his site as well as Instagram. He has two grams I recommend you follow for a different perspective on both sides of his professional and personal work.


Kent Meister

Intagram

Website

When The Moment Presents Itself

Always at the Ready

It’s not everyday I get the chance to explore smaller corners of the Southeast, especially with pal Kent Meister.

Kent reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if I would be down to explore some small town’s in Alabama / Georgia while he was in town for a show in Atlanta… Um… yes please! Sometimes is a fun time exploring on your own, meditative and relaxing, but sometimes I want to experience these random occurrences with a pal. Pretty normal I believe and we did just that. Spent upwards of 12 hours traveling and shooting. More on that in future blog posts.

Onto this shot.

Kent and I were slow walking through Piedmont, AL. Nothing at the time was standing out, but we kept turning a few corners in the hope the photo of day would happen.

Wait… let me back up… Kent and I are both Leica fans and although Kent has both a baller M6 and M10 while I only have and M7 (I say “only” with pride ;) we shot primarily all film on this trip. It was great talking to Kent about my passion for film and how it’s made me into the photographer I am; as well as hearing his stories and life up in Brooklyn, NY.

Ok… onto the story. So we’re in Piedmont and this older man is following after what appears to be his grandson. They were pretty close but I really wanted the boy to hurry up ahead so I could capture this older gentlemen dressed in a style I couldn’t get enough of. I knew it when I saw him, this had to be captured.

Kent and I stand out pretty easily in the smaller town… two guys with cameras and suspiciously eyeballing the corners of sleeper town populace. This guy gave us no notice at all even though we were about 15 feet from him. His “grandson” takes off, Kent is talking to me about something that I can barely hold onto. I’m trying to anticipate if I can speed up just enough without making it obvious and get a frame. I speed up, so does Kent “hold up a sec” I whisper, frame the shot… “click” and walk away smiling. I felt it. This was going to be the shot of the day. And it is a favorite for sure, but when two photographers get together with the purpose of making every shot the shot of the day… each roll tends to present some great work.

Thanks for reading along. More to come on this days several adventures and I process them myself.

Portraits With Comedian Nate Bargatze

Sink or Swim

My two goals in 2018 were to be nationally recognized for a fine art photograph and to take a portrait of someone that’s nationally recognized. Kodak reached out last year and promoted this photograph to their community… checked that box. But I couldn’t close the deal on a portrait session with a celebrity or public figure.

Nate Bargatze has been a favorite comedian of mine for a few years now. I approached him last year during one of his trips to Huntsville, AL for a show at Stand Up Live. All seemed like it would work out for a quick portrait session in ‘18 but busy people stay busy and it fell through.

This year Nate just so happen to be rolling back through Stand Up Live around my wife’s birthday. Easy win to see Nate and nab a solid date night. I wasn’t even going to bring it up but I have people in my life that want me to be successful. My wife and her best friend set up a 4 way communication between me and Nate and before I knew it Nate and I were meeting for a quick photo session.

I have less than 24 hours to figure out how to pull this off that would be respectful of Nate’s time and give me the shots I wanted. I have Kodak Ektachrome loaded in the Leica but did not want to shoot portraits with that. I wasn’t use to it yet and had only developed one roll prior. I wasn’t confident using that film stock for a portrait, yet. So instead of winding the roll early, I would just use the Canon ELAN for the portraits and load it up with Ilford HP5. I call my pal Kyle on the drive to the shoot and tell him my struggle and not wanting to waste the Ektachrome. Kyle immediately said “NO, you have a Leica. Shoot with the DAMN Leica”! So, I did just that! I shot a few portraits with the Ektachrome (which I love) and then loaded the HP5.

Behind the scenes captured by  Morgan Knight .

Behind the scenes captured by Morgan Knight.

I couldn’t be more amped on the results with the short amount of planning. The morning started out so freaking cold and I had no indoor location to shoot. I called the Hotel Nate was staying at to see if I could use a small section of a downstairs room for less than an hour… zero response, which wasn’t shocking but I had to try. So… next best option… the parking garage outside of the complex. Not creepy at all right… LOL! I accepted the challenge and since this was a completely personal shoot I went with it.

I get to the location about 45 minute early to set up and ask my pal Morgan Knight if she could make it out to assist. I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off is she wasn’t there. BIG round of applause for her being randomly available.

We get the light set then I walk over to the hotel to meet Nate. He’s super chill and understanding of the location situation. We walk back to the second level of the parking deck and start the session.

Checked my light settings for the iso100 Ektachrome and click away. I pull off about 4 frames then decide that was enough… time for HP5. Wind up the Ektachrome, hand that roll off to Morgan, she hands me the HP5. I load it quickly then change my light setting to match the iso400 change. All is set, I get Nate back into position, frame and CLICK… nothing coming out of the lights. I change my transmitter, reset the lights, then get Nate back into position… CLICK… NOTHING AGAIN! Nate’s now awkwardly silent and I’m going through my mental check list on what could be happening. Fortunately Morgan picks up on this and starts some simple dialog that helps break the tension (life saver!!). All appears to be working perfectly on the transmitter, my battery is fine on the Leica… then I look down at my shutter dial… it’s at 1/500, not the 1/50 it needs to be at…

Ok… back to shooting. I only click a total of 28 frames and do my best to make this experience as fun and quick as possible. I finish up and let Nate know he killed it; “That’s it? Wow, thanks for making that easy”, which made me feel proud that I accomplished what I set out to do.

All in all it was a great experience and made me exercise all my knowledge to date on portrait photography. I’m in love with the results but also feel like there’s more I could have captured. But I guess that’s the drive that keeps me going.

Thanks for following along. Make sure to check out Nate Bargatze’s new Netflix Special. Guaranteed laughs will happen.

Malibu SS on Ilford HP5

Roadside Attraction

I’m driving early in the morning. Sipping my coffee and on a backroad to Scottsboro, AL. It’s a bit foggy, my brain is a bit foggy, I look to my right and see this beautiful vehicle calling for me to stop and take photographs of it. My brain isn’t quite on yet and I pass shaking my head. I think to myself, this will be my afternoon snack.

I start my drive back to Huntsville, AL fingers crossed that this beauty is still stranded calling my name like a Siren to a Sailor. IT IS!!!

I pull off about a 100 yards down the road and slowly approach. Here is what I saw.

Malibu SS / Matt Pittman / Ilford HP5 / Leica M7 / North Alabama

Stephens Gap with Jeff Rose on Kodak Portra 400

Capturing the depths of Alabama on Kodak Portra 400

My pal Brenton Little introduced me to his long time friend Jeff Rose on Thursday Nov. 29th, three days before he would be passing through Woodville, AL and exploring Stephens Gap Cave. The cave is pretty treacherous and requires a waver to be signed and requests that no one visits alone. As you can see from the photos, the cave is absolutely stunning, but is wet and has a very deep hole that invites anyone to become a permanent member.

Jeff is an amazing landscape photographer and embarked on a road trip from Arkansas to Florida. He’d heard a bunch about what Alabama had to offer for landscapes and hit up quite a few amazing places, such as: Fall Creek Falls / Natural Bridge / Bankhead National Forest / Stephens Gap / Cloudland Canyon (GA) / High Falls / and more I don’t recall at the moment.

Fortunately for me, I got to tag along on the Stephens Gap section. I’ve only been there once before and shot it all digital. It was an amazing experience but when I heard Jeff needed a wingman I was all over it with my Canon ELAN 7 / 17mm-40mm lens / Kodak Portra 400 / Feisol Tournament Tripod.

It had rained for several days before the hike and I was super pumped to see the cave with a heavy waterfall. I was not disappointed. The waterfall created a fine mist that glistened like snow. It wasn’t enough to get use wet but enough to create an amazing scene to capture.

Matt Pittman / Jeff Rose / Stephens Gap Cave / Kodak Portra 400

Knights Inn / Kodak Ektachrome

Kodak Ektachrome and Home E6 Development

E100011.jpeg

I’m heading down to Seaside, FL for a few days at the beach to relax. It’s time to get some gas around Prattville, AL so I pull off at the next convenient pit stop. I’m pumping my gas when I look up and see a Knights Inn sign above the trees, then I catch a corner of the motel and see it looks like it’s been blow up. Normally a place like this would have a fence around it with no trespassing signs highly visible. This wasn’t the case at all.

I finish pumping my gas and drive over to find the Knights Inn open to walk right in.

I had my son with me and couldn’t really explore this destructed facility with him nor could I leave him in the car. Solution, drive around and pop out where I can to get a shot. Not ideal but a solid compromise to retain my good dad card.

The black and white shots are Ilford HP5 and captured in about a 5 minute window. Knowing I didn’t have much time, I set a location beacon on my phone to revisit this spot on the way back north.

The family vacation is finished and all three of us head back to Alabama. I preface the start of the trip with my wife, letting her know this spot is a must stop for me AND I have a fresh roll of Kodak Ektachrome to capture the scene with. She’s more than happy to give me 10 minutes. I laugh and prepare myself to shoot curiously and effectively. Well, my little pregame metal pep talk didn’t work. I slow walk the property in awe of it’s destructive state and wonder what the heck happened. I click less frames then when I had even less time the first round but soaked it in nonetheless.

Side Note: This is only the 3rd roll of slide film I’ve ever shot and I couldn’t be more pleased. It is, on the other hand, the first time I’ve home developed E6, and guess what… IT’S CAKE! Why on earth labs charge an exorbitant amount of money to develop E6 is beyond me. Film Photography Project hooked me up with the E6 chemistry, I mixed it, and started developing shortly after. It was magical, as all home developing is.

E100017B.jpeg
HP5033.jpeg
E100018B.jpeg
E100027B.jpeg
E100026B.jpeg
E100031B.jpeg
E100028B.jpeg
HP5022.jpeg
HP5024.jpeg
HP5023.jpeg
HP5025.jpeg
HP5031.jpeg
HP5028.jpeg
HP5026.jpeg
HP5027.jpeg
HP5032.jpeg
HP5029.jpeg
HP5034.jpeg
E100034.jpeg

Matt Pittman / Prattville, AL / Kodak Ektachrome / Ilford HP5 / Leica M7 / Zeiss ZM 35mm

Mexican Sunrise

Hot Bath in The Desert

Trix123.jpeg

It was the last day on the trip and we were all exhausted from the long days in the hot desert heat and miles upon miles hiked. Kyle mentioned going to a hot springs in Big Bend and to be honest, I wasn’t interested in soaking in hot desert water; but fun fact about the success of our 20+ year relationship, it’s not all about me, fortunately.

Kyle, Brent and I get up early, yet again, and head out to the far corner of Big Bend. We stayed in Terlingua, TX which created about an hour or so drive to get anywhere in Big Bend. I believe this was the longest drive in which made the idea even less appetizing.

We’re up and on the road. The sun is starting to crest the vast landscape and beautiful morning light hits our face. Windows down and the dry desert air blowing through the car. The sense of nothingness is always present in the desert. It’s beautiful. Little to no cell service, only 35mm film to capture memories by, and great friends.

Soaking in the the landscape halfway in a meditative state we approach the hot springs. We grab our bags and hike in about a quarter of a mile. It was as if we went back in time. There’s little to no structure to the bath but it was built up at one time, like in 1909 by J.O. Langford. It really was like the original infinity pool/hot tub combo. Right outside of the hot bath is the Rio Grande and Mexico. The Rio Grande was shallow enough were we could’ve just walked right over and Brent and I actually tried, until we realized our feet were already beat up from our Santa Elena Canyon hike so we turned around pretty quick to soak in the VERY relaxing hot spring.

After soaking for a while all my exhausted attitude drifted away. It was refreshing and the perfect end to the trip. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything and it made me think… what else am I missing by giving into bad attitude? Just a little question I asked myself. I don’t know the answer but I do know that there are a lot of things in life I can not control, but I can control who I am in mind, body, and spirit. I should hold onto that fact more.

Can I Take Your Portrait?

Take & Give

There are a lot of amazing cameras out there to explore the streets with, but nothing comes close to shooting with a Leica rangefinder. Ever since I picked up my Leica M7 I’ve felt empowered to do what I’ve wanted to do for many years, take better street portraits. I’ve done this in the past with other cameras, but nothing as bold as I have since shooting with the M7.

As I was developing this batch of Kodak Portra 400, I was thinking about what’s changed in me; and the only thing I can come up with is using the right tool for the job. I believe that I am a better photographer because of the M7.

Now, before you judge me and label me as a fanboy, let’s break this down for a minute. What’s stealthier with the functional range of a Leica M7 for street? Nothing. I believe that fact paired with the general knowledge from the public of the brand and it’s value, along with the long history of amazing photographers that have used this tool has opened me up to be the photographer I want to be and capture the photos I want to capture instead of going home empty handed wishing I would have taken the shot.

I saw this very pale tattooed person in the alley behind the hustle of sidewalk traffic on Broadway in Nashville, TN. I passed him twice as I was going up and down the sidewalk looking for subjects. On my second pass I stopped after I passed him and said to myself “quit being a chump”. I turned around through the crowd and the conversation went like this:

Me: I like your work (pulling my hand across my face). Can I take your portrait?

Tattoo: Nodding gesture as he puffed out smoke from his cigarette.

Me: ‘Click’… (repositioned) One more ‘click’ (I smile) Thank you.

Looking back at it, I felt bad. The entire impromptu relationship was one sided. I approached him for approval and offered absolutely nothing in return whereas he offered everything. Is this how it is? I just take and give nothing back? This person will never see these portraits to enjoy or hate. I feel bad about that. I approached him, he deserves something in return.

“Matt, you take photos of people all the time without asking.”

Very true, and in that I feel like we are even in value, the unknowing know nothing and I take from a scene, not a person. For that I don’t feel bad, but for asking someone to specifically be open to me interrupting their day and be vulnerable is something completely different.

“Why are you telling us this?”

Great questions. I believe in balance and when things are unbalanced I’m thrown off. I’m probably not unique in that and want to share my story with you so you can be better prepared if/when similar scenarios come up in your life.

This is my story. I hope you enjoyed following along.

Matt Pittman / Leica M7 / Zeiss ZM 35mm 2.8 / Kodak Portra 400 / Nashville, TN