Lovely and Light by Hayley Lawrence » Charlotte NC Contemporary Portrait & Headshot Photographer

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Film Is Not Dead Workshop Review

As I write this, it has been three weeks since the Film is Not Dead workshop started. It was just as amazing as everyone told me it would be. I think the film shooting community is so warm and helpful, at least with the FINDers. I love them!

tin type wet plate film is not dead charlotte

Above image on 11×14 wet plate, shot on a 1910 Kodak Eastman camera using over 14,000 watts of light.

Night 1: It was like the beginning of a Real World series when I finally met the people I’d “talked to” in our little Facebook group. We enjoyed a big family dinner outdoors at Cowfish and then went back to the F.I.N.D. headquarters in historic Myers Park to chat. A few people said they didn’t sleep from excitement on the first night.

Day 1: First thing, three of us had a portfolio critique and then we continued into our lecture – everything about film stocks, cameras, metering and flash. It was a ton of information and I took copious notes. After lunch, we had three very attractive couples (one even had a dog!!) come model for us. We each had only ten minutes to photograph a couple how we wanted. Jon shot first, but let us have most of the time for ourselves and was there to answer any and all questions. He assisted with posing and even helped me load my 35mm film. It wasn’t like other workshops where the instructor set up a styled shoot for his own portfolio. There was no styling, no props – it was all about the people and their connections. I loved that.

Day 2: We started off with portfolio critiques, including my own. I had never done this before and it was good for my growth. We talked about how Jon shoots and his tips/tricks. After lunch, we met three families (all past FINDers!) for their photo sessions.  One family even drove from Florida for Jon to photograph them! Again, Jon started us off and then let us photograph the families how we wanted. At the same time, some of us were doing an activity called “Touching Strangers,” inspired by Richard Renaldi. Although we didn’t get as intimate as Renaldi’s subjects, we did photograph each other touching complete strangers!

After dinner, we had a nerdy photographer ball of fun at Flaming Chicken Studio! We indulged in tin type group and individual photos, complete with costumes from Troy’s closet of fun! If you don’t know what tin type is, check it out here. It’s pretty freakin’ rad. I had mine taken in a really trendy bridal gown and quickly changed so I could have my first ever darkroom experience and see my wet plate develop! That night, we also shot 8×10 Impossible instant film (holy cow – I didn’t know the 10-pack was that expensive!), instant film on medium format cameras and went wild in front of the Fuji GF670 a la Terry Richardson. It was a 12+ hour day and worth every minute of lost sleep!

Day 3: We were all dragging. Day 3’s lecture was all about business and how to succeed. Then, we ate lunch and shot personal work around town. I am still gathering ideas for personal work… Day 3 concluded with headshots by Jon, group photos on instant film, long exposure night shots of the Charlotte skyline and treats at Amelie’s just before midnight. I hugged Jon and Belinda tight when I said goodbye. I miss them already.

Conclusion: The F.I.N.D. workshop was so worth it. I made new friends, ate way too much junk food, Amy got a F.I.N.D. tattoo and we all learned a ton! If you have the chance to go, GO!

Photos by Scott Stallings, Rob Laurnoff and myself


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