© Martin Ventura
I am enthralled by portraiture, if not simply for the fact that it is an invitation to collaborate. Obviously, I was thrilled when my friend and vintage stylist, Gabrielle Darling, asked to me to help her realize her vision of a late 19th century style portrait shoot. After researching some period photographs, we chose Annie Oakley as our signpost to guide us through this project because of her outsized persona and bold fashion.
Gabby was able to provide a sombrero, poncho, jodhpurs, and boots for the first look. I took her inspiration and used my technical knowledge to arrive at using a roll of Ilford Pan F for the first portion of the shoot. My thoughts were the slow film speed, combined with some toning would approximate the wet plate look, particulary when using the shallow depth of field that a Hassleblad 500C can provide. The setting for our shoot was an easement behind my backyard, which has a gradual dirt slope and many cacti.
Gabby donned a beautiful Gunne Sax dress for our studio shoot. The studio is merely my laundry room where I have several old Smith Victor tungsten lights and colored paper backgrounds. Naturally, I arrived at the idea of using some Cinestill 800T for this shoot. The color balance of the film would be agreeable with the lighting and cross-processing motion picture film in C41 chemistry yields a color pallete similar to old hand painted photographs, at least in my opinion.
Ultimately, I am overjoyed with the outcome of the photographs, not because they came out exactly the way we wanted, but because we had fun and they brought us together to create something for others.