Melody Idol: Portraits of Children in Medium Format Film

When I first saw these photos by Salem photographer Melody Idol I was so impressed.  They are without a doubt beautiful and moving.  The textures and highlights are out of this world and showcase everything I love about film.  Then I learned that she shot them all using a twin lens reflex camera and I went from being impressed to being in awe.  Those kinds of cameras are not easy to use!  Especially when working with kids!   And she processed all the film herselfWhat fun!! I truly love these images.  And now I want to go out and buy myself a Mamiya c330! So very well done Melody!  Amazing work!  You've inspired me!  And if I end up converting my laundry room into a darkroom I'll tell my husband he has you to blame.  :)

-Sandra Coan

From Melody:

"I've been on a black and white film project the past few months.  I bought the chemicals and equipment to develop my own film after a friend inspired me.  The camera I'm using is very big and clunky with manual focus and a waist level finder.  It's a slow process to take a picture with it!  It's quite a magical feeling to pull a wet roll of film off a reel and run the squeegee down, watching the last drops of water run off.  Then holding it up in front of the window catching the first glimpse of your "creation."  I somehow feel like I'm connecting with history when I partake in this process!  These are all just photos of my life as it's happening.  I find my inspiration from my children.  They naturally just "do" beautiful!"

About Melody: based in Salem, OR / website / contact /facebook

Scroll down for Cat's take!

From Cat:

Melody Idol shot all of these photographs using a Mamiya c330 camera: a twin lens, medium-format film camera. It's not easy to shoot with, as the viewfinder that you're looking through is not lined up with the lens that actually helps capture the image, which can sometimes lead to misalignment of your image frame.

Further, Melody developed all of this film by herself, in her own house. Who does that anymore? Almost no one. She is creating some incredible pieces, 100% analog, in her own house, with her own hands, using chemicals and old equipment that is hard to find these days. The process is romantic and rare. Even photographers who shoot film right now are rarely developing it themselves.

Shooting children with film is especially challenging, which makes these portraits by Melody such a serendipitous success. Some are goofy, some are serious, some are magical.

The second image is a beautiful documentation of a little boy's body and hands. The faint shadow is perfectly framed in the shot. The fourth photograph is serious but perfect, the boy's eyes and freckles perfectly outlined, and we can see how curly his eyelashes sit on his big, round eyes. These are all details that historically important to document in a child's growing years. They're the kind of details that, in just a year or two, this family will look back and swoon at. Gorgeous, gorgeous photograph.

The last two pictures are both cloudy and mysterious in their own way. The first one, full of what looks like smoke or mist, and the second, a boy standing behind a pane of glass, obscured by the reflection. Both of these shots would have been harder to nail in digital, due to the extreme blowout caused by the digital interpretation of bright light. But here, we sell the full range of tones, and the depth of black & white film. The photographs are moody and mysterious and most un-childlike.

Beautiful work, Melody. Can't wait to see more!

- Cat Thrasher