May 29, 2008

Reader Question: Contact Sheets

I think I'm going to make the reader question thing a regular feature so here's another one by a reader named Daniel, a NY transplant from Wisconsin, who I met at the recent photo festival in DUMBO: "One thing still bothers me about our conversation. You said you make contact sheets. Were you talking about old fashioned contact sheets or digital ones? Isn't it easer to just do view them on the computer?"

I do scan most of my 35mm film and I manage the files in Aperture but for project related photography I always make physical contact sheets (sometimes I now print them from the digital files because having them made traditionally is so darned expensive).

Why waste the paper when we can see everything bigger and better on screen? Mainly because I like to see the boundaries of the roll of film contained on sheet of paper. I rarely shoot more than one or two rolls of film in a day so a contact sheet represents a definable moment. Those edges of those days get lost on screen and make editing more difficult. I edit all my medium format film as contact sheets out of necessity as I don't own a decent medium format film scanner.

amdocontactsheet%2323small.jpga large version of the contact sheet

Above is a contact sheet from Amdo. Most of my film had been ruined by being frozen so I was shooting parsimoniously. In the first couple of frames you can see I wandered off the road to check out a house-raising. I ended up staying in this village for a few days. The roll of film covers a day and a half.

You can download a large version of the contact sheet here if you want to check it out in more detail.

These are some of the resulting images: Number 10, Number 16, Number 18, Number 19, Number 25.

Got a question? Feel free to ask just email my first name at

May 2, 2008

Father and Son, Litang


A blog reader named Stella wrote in asking about the story behind the picture above. I always like hearing the stories behind other people's images so I don't mind telling the stories behind mine. If you have a question about a particular picture, just email and I'll answer when I have a chance.

This photo was taken two years ago durning a Tibetan festival where herdsmen gather to celebrate and do business—literally to horse trade. The white horse was up for sale and it was initially the horse that drew me (I have a thing for pictures of white horses). So I was walked over and was enjoying the the back and forth discussion when the owner of the horse came over to check me out. We traded hellos and he obviously found me amusing. He asked if i was married or single. I said married. He asked me if I had children. I said I had one. He asked if it was a boy or a girl. I said a boy. He smiled and putting his fingers to his mouth, whistled loudly. "My son" he gestured. His son came over and gave him a big hug and I took this shot. Then I took a polaroid and gave it to them as thanks. The polaroids drew a crowd and I only had a few pieces of polaroid film left so I quickly exited. For the rest of the week I would be wandering around when I would hear the distinctive whistle, then I would look around and see the man in the distance. He would tip his hat to me and I would tip my hat back to him.

That's the story.

The print is available through my gallery in several editions as both as a traditional print and a platinum print.

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