The Fashion Statement

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The Fashion Statement ~ Los Angeles, CA 1972

From Peephole: Peering into the World of 1970’s Hollywood and L.A. artists’ book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

He had worked in the fashion industry in NYC before becoming homeless. He said his pants were made from old drapes. He folded up the jacket he is leaning on to keep the outside clean to give a “good appearance” to the world. He was homeless, but he still had dignity.

It was shot with a Toyo View 4 x 5 with Super Angulon 65mm (or was it a 75mm?) In any case, the Super Angulon lenses were beautiful little gems. I loved the wide angles back then and still do today…they are so all encompassing!

My view camera work eventually evolved to a pop-up focusing hood to replace the black focus cloth. I was just too vulnerable getting under the cloth in the areas I would shoot in. While the pop-up hood made a big difference, it still did not make the view camera a viable option for my style of shooting.

I call that period in my photography my ‘Edward Weston’ period. I wanted everything to be razor sharp. I was all about sharpness – that was where I put my pride. As I look back on the 4 x 5 images I produced…many of them were pretty boring.

After a year or so of shooting 4 X 5, I started thinking about giving up on the view camera and began testing the waters with 6 x 6. And as it turned out, I was much happier shooting medium format instead of trying to walk down the streets and alleys with the 4 x 5, extra lenses, film holders and a heavy tripod. It was just too crazy.

The day I stopped ‘forcing’ things, by being hell-bent on using a large format camera that did not fit my needs, was a day of enlightenment for me. But as the saying goes…sometimes you don’t know you have gone too far until you do. I’m just glad I didn’t need to take my delusion to a 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 view camera and hand-coated wet plates to figure that out!

I won’t argue that large format can give you beautiful results. But, one must also take into account all the missed opportunities by using a camera that is not appropriate for the type of shooting one does. And if nothing else, when you’re in an alley on skid row, focusing the view camera under the black cloth…it is just plain dangerous!