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Hasselblad 500c

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TOOLS OF THE TRADE//FINE ART DOG PHOTOGRAPHER JESSE FREIDIN

Every artist has their favorite tools, and it takes years to find them. Whether it's the perfect paint brush, the perfect piece of charcoal, the perfect chisel or guitar strings or armchair to write in. As an artist- when you find these items, you hang on to them. They become part of you, and part of your creative process. In my mind, my tools are like my team mates- we work seamlessly together, think for each other, challenge each other, and create the kind of art that we love. My tools allow me to express my creativity in a very magical way, and then turn that magic into something very technical. So, let me introduce you to my team:

Film: Ilford HP5 Plus/ 120 format

This is an even-keeled black and white film known for it's dependability, versatility, and great grain structure. I use medium format (120) film, which means each negative is 2.25 inches square- that's huge! A larger negative means incredible enlargements with gorgeous tone and unbeatable detail.

Each roll of film is loaded by hand into a film back. Once loaded, the film back is attached to my camera. Each roll holds 12 exposures.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C

The Hasselblad is known as one of the most revered portrait cameras ever made. It was taken on the first Apollo space mission, and a favorite of photographers such as Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz. Its unique square format and incredibly crisp, warm images give the Hasselblad its famous signature feel. This is an unmistakably professional, old fashioned film camera, and after years of photographing together it feels like a true extension of my eye. Because every single piece of this camera is completely manual, it forces me to constantly think on my feet and make accurate decisions about exposure, composition, and timing with every frame.

Making contact sheets is how I proof the images from each Photography Session, and is a very important step in my process. It allows me to preview each exposure, compare frames, and decide which images are the most perfect. Here are a few contact sheets from a recent session:

Paper: Ilford Fiber based Glossy Warmtone

Photographic fiber based papers have an appearance, weight and quality that give them a truly 'hand crafted' feel, and are the only true option for skilled printers and discriminating collectors. The warm tone of this paper gives each print a soft, inviting, silky feel that develops while in the darkroom. Working with such emotional subject such as dogs, this paper is a great way to add yet another layer of beauty to each print. Fiber based paper is also incredibly durable, and after it has been washed in my archival trays, sets the image so that it will last for generations.

And, last but not least.....

Treats: Zuke's Peanut Butter and Blueberry (wheat free/chicken free)

My dog is allergic to wheat and chicken, and he goes bonkers for these treats. Because I understand the plight of a sensitive dog stomach, I always carry  allergen-free treats.

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TOP-SECRET POLAROID PROJECT IN THE WORKS

Though traditional printing and medium format black and white film compliments my Fine Art dog portraits perfectly, there is another love in my life. It's Polaroid.

And we're serious.

I fell in love with my Hasselblad about 5 years ago- I was immediately taken by it's weight, the crispness of it's images, and it's unique handling. You really need to become one with the Hasselblad in order to make it work for you. That kind of challenge (both mental and physical), is what drew me to it, along with the seductive square format that complimented my way of seeing. We had a slightly rocky start, me and my Hasselblad 500c, but once we grew to understand and respect each other, the camera became like an extension of my eye. It was effortless.

Before falling in love with my Hassy, my heart belonged exclusively to Polaroid. At the point in my life when I finally came across my 1970s Hasselblad, I was deep in a never-ending search for a camera that could replace my very first love: my Polaroid Land Camera (ok, I've got like 15 of them). I'd been collecting Polaroid cameras for almost 10 years, and we just fit. My extensive relationship with Polaroid cameras, film,  and gadgets was what truly brought me into the world of photography. I taught myself how to see, how to photograph, and how to interact with the world through the dusty, imperfect view finder of my Land Camera. But, after years of collecting and photographing with Polaroids, I was ready to move on, to take the next step. I wanted to begin having more control over my images, and wanted to be able to reproduce my images as well. My Polaroid work wasn't taken very seriously because it had the stigma of 'instant photography.' Thus began my search for the perfect film camera, which ended me up here.

Are you getting all this?

The point is, my Polaroid dog portraits have finally caught the eye of someone at the Impossible Project (the life-force keeping the Polaroid company alive). They have sent me film, a personalized note, and I'll soon be embarking on a don't-try-it-at-home, one-of-a-kind, completely amazing dog portrait series using some of the highly sought after last run of film the Polaroid company ever made. It's so exciting that it makes writing in a linear fashion really hard.  Keep your eyes peeled- details will follow.

In celebration, here is a quick smattering of some of my favorite Polaroid images from the past 10 years. And if you're really interested in my personal Polaroid work, you can see and/or purchase my book 'Life in Boxes: An Instant Collection' on blurb.com by clicking here: www.blurb.com/books/575402.

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