Jen Golay: Rockin’ the Strobes!

Last Thursday I wrote about the agonizing wait we film photographers endure after we’ve shot our film and sent it into the lab.  It can be maddening!

I expect this now when I shoot for myself, but I didn’t expect to feel it so intensely for others.

The Missing Link has been on the market now for two weeks.  And in that time, I know many who have bought the guide have been waiting for their scans to come in.  Well, I’ve been waiting too.  I’ve wanted to see their results.  And, as I’m not a patient person by nature, it has been hard!

So yesterday when I was notified that Jen Golay had tagged me in a post about scans on Facebook, I stopped what I was doing and ran to the computer to see.

And holy moly, did Jen rock it!


Pentax 645, HP5, FIND lab, Einstein strobe


Contax 645, Fuji 400h, FIND lab, Eistein strobe

“I used strobes before, but not with confidence or intention, more like a wing and a prayer.  But because I had experience with strobes, it was very hard to decide whether to spend the money on something that I wasn’t sure would teach me anything new. I ultimately decided to take the plunge and buy the guide because I loved the idea of having a community of other film & strobe shooters in the Facebook group.”, said Jen.

“The Missing Link really was my missing link.  For me, the most valuable part of the guide was learning to meter strobes correctly.  I have always metered color film and black and white film the same way. It was very revolutionary for me to try metering differently for different films. What I love about this knowledge is that it makes sense and is repeatable. I can now shoot with intention and know what I’m going to get instead of shooting and hoping it will come out as I imagine.


Contax 645, Fuji 400h, FIND lab, Eistein strobe

The other cool thing about The Missing Link is that it works with natural light. I used the metering technique with Tri-X and window light and finally achieved a look I’ve been trying to master for the last four months!


Contax 645, Tri-x 400, FIND lab, window light

Yeah!!!  Stunning!! Way to go Jen!

And don’t forget today is your last day to get your copy of The Missing Link: A Film Photographer’s Guide to Studio Strobes with the added bonus videos and film guide!  Click here to pick up your copy today!!!!


See more of Jen’s work: website | facebook | instagram |twitter

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Announcing New Dates for LBworkshop: Film for the Studio Photographer!

0001_sandracoanYou love film. You shoot it every chance you get. You’re in love with the vibrance and authenticity of it. And, if only it could handle indoor light, you’d shoot it all the time.

Sadly, the photos you shoot indoors are hit-or-miss. Some are gorgeous, but most are hoe-hum, muddy, or the color is just not quite right. And film is expensive! It’s just not worth the risk to shoot film indoors. So, you always bring your digital camera…just in case.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! It is possible to get beautiful, perfectly-lit images when shooting indoors.

After all, digital SLR cameras have only been ubiquitous for less than 2 decades, yet indoor, film-based studio work has been around for over a century.

This is why we’re excited to announce LBworkshop. Also known as Film for the Studio Photographer, LBworkshop offers two full days of learning the challenges of shooting film indoors and how to overcome them.

Taught by Sandra Coan and Cat Thrasher, co-founders of Little Bellows, LBworkshop is a logical next step for film lovers who don’t want to limit their work to the outdoors.

jessdecember-1On day 1, we’ll help you master natural light indoors, from metering, to choosing the right film stock, to posing for window light.

On day 2, we’ll teach you how to set up your first studio strobe and get everything working with your film camera so that you can add certainty to every shoot.

We’re including a few extras as well, including one-on-one support for a full year following the workshop, and a super sweet bonus for booking by April 30th.

Want in? Learn more here!


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Christina Mallet – Film Photographer Spotlight March 2015

Headshot 2015Hi friends, I am back!!

I am sorry for the delay in this month’s Film Photographer Spotlight Feature.  February got away from me a little too fast.  Before I knew what was happening, it was already March!

Can you believe we are already 3 months into the new year?  Crazy right?

Today, I am turning the spotlight on one of Little Bellows’ team members, Christina Mallet.  Oh yes, the one that brings us weekly Wednesday Instagram Feature that you all love so much.  It is one of the features on Little Bellows I look forward to read each week.  Let’s get to know more about Christina:

Joyce: So first, tell us how you started your photography journey. How did you get into photography? What do you love about being a photographer?

Christina:  I’m not really certain but I think my love of photography started at an early age by way of the book The Family of Man, which was a MOMA exhibition curated by Steichen. This collection of 503 photos from 68 countries and by 273 different photographers still amazes me. I grew up as the only kid at home, in rural setting and so it was me, my imagination, and my chickens.The Family of Man was a source of endless interest and I believe it was the beginning of my photographer path.
I drifted from that path after college and instead became a middle school teacher and then an ESL teacher to refugee adults. We moved to Boston in 2004 and I became an MIT professor’s assistant, which meant proofreading NIH proposals and Nanotechnology lectures, which nearly killed me. Thankfully I was able to go to photography school, which I did for almost a year before dropping out–I was bored. All of what I know about photography is the result of many years of trial and error. So, I suppose that makes me a hybrid of schooled, not schooled and unschooled. Before I started shooting portraits in 2006, I was shooting rights managed stock photography for an agency in Spain, which felt like soulless work.
What I’ve discovered about photography and me is that while making photographs is a very social endeavor, my favorite part is the time I spend alone with the images, long after the shoot. This quiet time seems like a really deep and thoughtful conversation with the face I captured. So many times I felt like I knew the human behind that face so well because of that time spent looking at them post shoot. I think the hours upon hours of doing this has made me more compassionate and a better listener. I guess because of this imagined conversation I’m having with the person in the image. I want to understand the world and people and I feel like photography affords me that and that is really beautiful.


Joyce: I am not sure if our fans know this but you are currently living in South Africa. That’s a huge move! Tell us about what it’s like living there, and are there any similarities or differences between living in South Africa and the US?

Christina: South Africa is the most beautiful place in the world but it’s a complicated place with a very turbulent and complicated history. Photographically it’s been a tough transition for me and can be summed up by the cliché ‘trouble in paradise’. Basically it’s too pretty here. I thrive in a place that has a lot of aesthetic juxtaposition–here it’s very orderly and polished and I’m finding myself with a bout of photo block. I’m looking for a way to be a photographer here that allows me to make some good of my short time here. I haven’t found it yet but when I do I will feel calm. We’ve lived here almost a year and have one more and then it’s off to somewhere else. Hopefully to a place that has more grit and is less pretty, maybe Berlin.

Joyce: I truly enjoy your point of view each week on our Instagram feature. I am looking forward to read “what does Christina think about…”. What inspires you? What makes your heart sing? Who is Christina Mallet?

Christina:  Thanks:) I’m finding exploring other art forms really cathartic, especially while I work through my bought of photographer’s block. I’ve delved into drawing, painting, embroidery, and sewing.

I find inspiration in collecting antique portraits, developing and scanning my own bw film, reworking thrift-ed clothes into something better or worse. I love street art.

I love the challenge of working on location. I thrive in an atmosphere that requires me to bring out my inner MacGyver and work with what’s in front of me. I like spontaneity and mixing things up. I also like eccentric people.


Joyce:  I was browsing through your website and LOVED your beautiful portrait of women. I admire photographers who are able to photograph women in such a beautiful, tasteful and powerful way. We all know this is a genre that can go pretty bad quickly. What draws you into this genre of photography, and why?

Chrisitna:  Thanks. I worked for 5 years almost exclusively as a boudoir photographer. I’m a feminist at heart and although a lot of my clients used the photographs I made of them as gifts to their male partners, I never ever wanted to create images that viewed women from a place of male desire. I sought to make images of these women that were sensual, sophisticated and strong.

Now that I’m here in South Africa, I haven’t taken up that sort of work again, and I likely won’t. I feel like I’ve run the course with boudoir. I need to be doing something that makes sense of this world and does good on a larger scale. I think about how short our time is on this planet and I want my photographic legacy to be about more than capturing beauty for beauty’s sake. This tension has always been a struggle for me–it’s just in the past year that I’ve given into it.

Joyce:  What are some of your favorite photographers? What/Where/Who do you look to for inspirations and ideas?

Christina:  My favorite photographer is Tim Walker. His fantastical and surreal images are just the most beautiful and imaginative I have ever seen. I am really drawn to photography that uses humor and irreverence.

Dorthea Lange’s Great Depression era labor camp portraits because they reach in and poke my beating heart.  Jill Greenberg for her amazing studio work with animals and crying children.  Loretta Lux for her surreal and haunting portraits of children.


Joyce: If you can give one advice you wish you had known when you first started out shooting film, what would it be and why?

Christina: Make Christmas happen frequently–Send in your film regularly, don’t hoard it like me and then send it 35 rolls.
If you happen to hoard film, tape each end of your rolls so that you don’t get light leaking in (thank you for that advice Sarah Rose Robertson)

If something looks like junk in real life it will most certainly look like junk on film so don’t waste your film. I went on safari and the light was ugly, the animals were pretty but it was just dumb to photograph them. Of course I ripped through film like I was on assignment for National Geographic, but I wasn’t and so I had a really crappy Christmas when those scans came in.

Piggybacking on my stupid mistake above: Restrain yourself. Ask yourself, when I see this image developed will I ask myself why I took this? If you have time to even think of this question when you happen upon a scene, you should probably just keep on walking.

Joyce: I am curious, and I am sure our fans are too:

  1. What is your favorite film camera for client work and for personal work, and why?
  2. What is your favorite film stock and why?
  3. What is one gear you can’t live without when you go on a shoot?
  4. If you can give one advice to any photographer who wants dip his/her toes in the realm of film photography, what would it be?


  1. My Rollei 2.8 is my favorite camera for everything. I love the square format and I love how the Rollei renders life. Its sharp and its soft are so so good.
  2. My favorite films are Fuji Acros Neopan. It’s a strong film and I like how it doesn’t mess around with subtle. My favorite color film is Kodak Ektar. I also love it for it’s extremes. It’s not subtle, it’s bright and saturated.
  3. Is this a trick question? my light meter, of course. And my iPhone charger.
  4. Stick with one camera and one lens and work that combo until you’ve rocked it. Also, stick with one film stock. Mastery is a beautiful thing.


Fun Facts about Christina:

who are your favorite artists on your playlist right now?
Banks, Jessie Ware, Billie Holiday, Chopin, Amadou & Mariam, 2Pac

“I wish my kids would hurry up and go to bed so I can watch….”
SNL, Silicon Valley, Embarassing Bodies

A quote you live by:
“You should never be proud of doing the right thing, you should just do the right thing!” Coach Dean Smith

What is the most exotic place you have ever been?
Djerba in Tunisia or Varanasi in India

Your favorite hobby other than photography:
Ripping apart thrift store clothes and making something new from them.

Airplane, Train or Automobile?
Either, I don’t care as long as it gets me to where I want to be.

Wine, Champagne or Beer?

Two truths and a lie in any order, go!
I can hynotize chickens, my husband won’t let me load the dishwasher because he says it looks like Curious George did it, Hearing me sing is like hearing an angel.


You can see more of Christina’s work or connect with her at:

Website  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

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Digital, Film and Strobes…

Well, The Missing Link: A Film Photographer’s Guide to Studio Strobes has been out for a week as of today!

I know so many of you who have the guide have been trying out your new skills.

Now the waiting starts!

The lag-time between shooting and seeing results that we film photographers endure is so hard!!
When I first started with strobes I would practice with my digital camera to see if I was getting it right.  I wanted the feedback right away!

If you are also using your digital camera to practice with, great!  But there are a few things you should know…

Digital and film react to light very differently.

When shooting strobes with your digital camera you will want to meter for the highlights.

If you meter for your shadows (like you would for color film) your digital image will look totally blown out.

Don’t be alarmed…. that’s what you want.

I always know my color film will look great when my digital images are completely blown!

digital vs film comparrison with strobe exposure

If your digital image looks like this…                                    your film image will look like this!

Hope that helps, and happy shooting!

And you can get your copy of  The Missing Link here!

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Jen Golay: Rockin’ the Strobes! » Little Bellows - […] Last Thursday I wrote about the agonizing wait we film photographers endure after we’ve shot our film and sent it into the lab.  It can be maddening! […]

Christina’s Trash Cam Challenge, part deux

It’s Trash Cam Campaign Part II !

So let me just say that this was a hard undertaking, not in the since of shooting a trash cam, more the results.

To be really honest my images really were quite pitiful. I shot 3 trashcams (one was an underwater disposable) and I had about 5 images that I would consider in any way interesting.

All that said, I have a lot of respect for the people who went through with this assignment and posted–there weren’t many but they deserve a serious shout out, and that’s what today’s post is about.

I contacted a couple of the participants to ask them about their experience, which I’ll post along with their images.

Should we do do this again? If yes, let me know in the comments section.

Below are a few of my passable trashcam images.












Carolyn kinda knocked it out of the park! Seriously, check out the #littlebellows_trashcam pool or her Instagram page, linked below and you’ll get what I mean.

She shot a lot and her images all have a similar style, which I think is really cool. She couldn’t find a trashcam so she bought someone elses trash at a garage sale. Read about cuelifephoto’s experience, below.

My approach was just to take the plunge and just see what happens.

I’ve realized through my photography journey that if I’m not willing to make mistakes, I won’t learn and grow. And the bonus would be that, if they turned out, I would get some awesome photos of my family’s story.

I couldn’t find an actual disposable camera but I had recently purchased an old camera for $5 at a garage sale and some soon-to-be expired film from the drugstore and decided to use those.

The first time I looked through the scans, I thought they might only be for me because of the blurriness and the imperfectness.

I wasn’t sure if anyone else would be in love with them like I was.  My husband looked through them and he fell in love with them, too!

Because of his encouragement and the fact that he could tell what the photos were, I knew I had something good.

Shooting with this “disposable” camera, I was able to just fly by the seat of my pants and not worry about settings or if I was doing it “right”.

And there is a really excitement/nervousness while waiting for the scans to come back from the lab!  I’m so excited to try out more film!






Lovemesimply’s trashcam photos were beyond cool.

They have this tone that is sort of dark but also mysteriously saturated. I would hang these in my house.

About the photo you see below, she said on her Instagram feed:

This #disposablecamera shot came out so bizarre, but I also really love it.

Maybe it’s because I know that giant tattoo down my husband’s arm says “Maximilian.”

Or because that #Fender he’s playing is the once Billy Joe game him right after he finished rocking out on stage with Green Day over a decade ago.

Or Maybe it’s just the muddy grain and the crappy light leaks.

I just love it.

All of it.



I love this plane photo. The colors are really beautiful. I like how that red thing bottom left points up at the plane.




This is me impressed. Nlmonaco is really on to something here.

If she can do this with a junkie disposable, what might she do with a Rolleiflex?

I also got a chance to ask some questions to nlmonaco, read on below.


What was your approach?

Our approach was to first look for the light.  Same as I would approach taking any photograph digital or film.

 What worked?

Shooting in the brightest natural light possible worked the best for us.  Either by a window, in hard sunlight, or outdoors.

What didn’t work?

Using the on camera flash.  I’m just not a fan.  Sure, we captured a few “usable” images with the flash, but they look…flashy!

How did it challenge you?

Giving up complete exposure control to the “camera.”

That was HARD for me!

I love my meter and I may or may not have tried to find out the approximate aperture and shutter speed of that Ilford HP5 camera so I could make an educated guess about exposure!

But it was a bit freeing and it allowed my son to help and get in on the fun… my kids love shooting with disposable cameras!

Do you have any tips for shooting disposable?

As I mentioned before, definitely look for bright natural light.

(Try) for creative compositions since you will not be able to use your creativity with exposure choices or depth of field.

Get the kids involved! Seriously they LOVE it!  Mine take shooting the film so seriously and love counting their frames.

Have fun with it!  You never know what you might capture.

I saw some incredibly cool captures with the #littlebellows_trashcam tag and from the last post!



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Kel Ward - These are great! Yes, do it again! The images shared in this post, as well as part I, have inspired me. I now have a disposable camera in my possession, ready to be used!