Children's Portrait

Portraits with an 8x10 camera. by Ron Cowie

Before I went to photo school, the only thing I knew I wanted to do for sure was "Make 8x10 portraits of people and print them in platinum."

The reason had a lot to do with my tendency to be a bit grandiose but, it also came from a real interest in making something beautiful. The large format camera and platinum printing give a depth and dimension to a portrait that cannot be duplicated any other way. This was how the masters did it and it was the normal way to do it not too long ago. Just about any and all of the glamour shots made in the first half of the 20th century were made using large format cameras. I fell in love with them and that is that. 

I still haven't fallen out of love with this process. Lord knows it has cost me a great deal but everything a negative comes up in the fixer, I can see a little into the eternal. If twenty somethings can go on about the latest toy camera app for their phones, I can talk about my love of the classic portraits. 

Who are the people I look to for inspiration?

  • Dorothea Lange,
  • Irving Penn,
  • Richard Avedon,
  • Yosuf Karsh, 
  • Margaret Bourke White
  • Edward Steichen

Something happens when I use a bigger camera, time slows down because I have to slow down. It isn't about "capture" but more about "creating". My subjects have to trust me a little bit more than usual. The successful portraits show this.