“Through the Ground Glass” Shortfilm About the Highs and Lows of Large Format Photography
A beautiful and interesting short film about photographer Joseph Allen Freeman
Shooting with a large format camera is very different than just about every other type of photography. It’s slow, bulky, and doing anything with the photos requires even more of a process than getting out there to shoot them. There are still some shooters, though, that are committed to the big cameras. Joseph Allen Freeman is one of those photographers and this beautiful short film allows him to explain why he still does it.
[NOTE: There is some swearing in the video, so it may not be appropriate for all ages. But, if you’ve ever shot large format, you probably understand why he’s swearing.]
The film itself is very beautifully shot and the narration does a good job explaining the appeal of the slow process. I was lucky enough to learn to shoot large format in college and his love-hate sentiments sum the whole thing up rather perfectly.
Seeing things like this always make me want to go trolling Craigslist for a 4×5 camera that I can throw over my shoulder before heading out into the world. Then, I remember how expensive the film is and the sad state of my darkroom gear and I’m reminded why I do so love my DSLR.
As a final note, if you’re not familiar with large format photography, the title of the film may not make sense. But, large format cameras don’t have a typical viewfinder, rather they have a large piece of ground glass on the back that’s used to compose and focus. The image is upside down and often not terribly bright, which is why you have to throw a dark cloth over your head to compose your shot.