Designer Carl W. Heindl’s DIY studio lighting coupled with medium format film illustrates how far a little ingenuity and inspiration can go. POSI+TIVE speaks with him about the processes of these stunning portraits.
What is the inspiration for your series?
I don’t have a studio to work from so most winters I will create a new setup and lighting rig for some more intimate portraits and for practice; its far too dark and cold here in the winter for any casual shoots after work. I actually built this huge ring light for this series out of 8 light sockets and using wood from my old futon frame I had around while the first model was putting her makeup on. I finished wiring it up and she hid when I plugged it in. Worked great throughout the series.
Are the subjects friends of yours? Why did you choose to photograph them?
They were mostly friends and people I have shot before. I wanted to highlight interesting personalities and the eyes are everything in these.
What medium are you using?
Film. I sold my digital years ago as I wasn’t really using it. These portraits were all shot on a Bronica RF645 medium format rangefinder with Kodak Portra NEW 400 film, except for the odd few. I used old expired Fuji when I couldn’t afford new Kodak stock.
Shooting with film is a popular novelty but still not widespread. What made you decide to shoot these portraits analog?
I’ve shot film my entire life. I since my father gave me his old Minolta SLR when I was young. It’s a medium I’ve always felt comfortable using. Most digital these days (Instagram and the like included) are simply emulating film and all the things that could go wrong with it: expiry, light leaks, scratches, developing error and all the “happy accidents” film is so fun for.
What is your opinion regarding film vs digital?
Digital is convenient for sure and I will still go that route when I’m shooting some commercial work. But when it comes to detail (I read once that medium format film is about 50 mega pixels, a number still unrivaled in digital SLRs), plus an added layer of warmth and the unexpected, film feels more rewarding for sure. In the end, photography is still just light entering a box through a hole and being recorded in some way. I think what counts more is your own eye. Good timing and composition is the art of photography. You can take amazing photos with a cardboard instant camera, or just a pin hole in a shoebox.
Carl W. Heindl is a designer living and working in Toronto, Canada. He has an affinity for nature and portraiture.