Toward the Within

Claudia shot by Bryon Paul McCartney at a Paris hotel.

Someone really famous or smart said that great photographers do not take pictures, they make pictures. When I first heard this, I understood the words, but I did not know their importance. It’s so true. Even if I work with the best model and all other elements are perfectly planned and organized, I still have to stand behind the camera and direct what’s happening before me. Sometimes it can be a struggle (we all have bad days). Sometimes it takes only the smallest of suggestions or a simple glance or smirk. Sometimes I have to raise my voice. Sometimes I have to gently beg. But in every case, I have to make the picture happen in front of my camera. It surprises me to no end to hear a model or even another photographer complement me on how I work with models. It’s what comes most naturally to me.

This image of Claudia is a simple reaction to a suggestion. I don’t remember the precise details, but I do remember asking her to imagine she was laying in bed next to her boyfriend. I was asking her to draw some emotion from her memories, from deep inside. To show me how she would look at someone she wanted and needed to be close to. I don’t know if the expression is honest, it’s not a requirement, all that is required is the result, the viewer can place his/her own interpretation to what they say. That is the true beauty of photography.

Test shoot with Hasselblad 503CW and 39 MP Digital Back


Recently, I decided to take the giant leap* into the world of medium format photography. I had been contemplating this for about a year, ever since I had noticed that prices for medium format equipment were starting to come down to reasonable levels.

Back when I was working as a graphic designer in Chicago, most of the photographers I worked with shot medium format. I was always fascinated with the Hasselblads. They are amazing cameras both in their simplicity and complexity and the images they produce are stunning. It was always my dream to own a Hasselblad and when I recently started looking around, I found nice deal and made the plunge. 

The day after I picked up my new gear, I headed over to Light & Byte in Zürich to rent a medium format digital back. I opted for the Hasselblad CFV 39 Megapixel back. The people at Light & Byte gave practically gave me a one-on-one training to get me familiar with the gear and supporting software, they were extremely thorough and I really have to tip my hat for taking the time to get me sorted.

My good friend Dave Kai Piper did the retouching and digital finishing, Alina Zbinden was the model and Simone Zbinden from b•perfect did the makeup.

It’s difficult to explain in words how impressed I was with this system. It took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I was hooked. It’s not only the quality but also the mechanical and precision feeling of the camera. It’s manual focus, not push button auto-focus. It’s a camera that demands your respect and attention to detail. It feels special in your hands, it sounds amazing, and once you see those images in full resolution on the screen, wow, you don’t want to go back to anything less.

I’ll be shooting more medium format throughout this year, and I hope to bring the kit and a digital back to my Tuscany workshops this Summer. Thanks to everyone involved in making this test shoot a resounding success.

* Did you know that Hasselblad was the camera system used by NASA during the missions to the moon. Twelve Hasselblad bodies remain on the moon’s surface to this day. I wonder what they would fetch at auction?