Family Session in Hawaii by KC Lostetter Photography

Now that it's gotten so cold outside, who's ready for a trip to Hawaii?!  KC Lostetter is a mother of two and wife of a pilot and is based out of Colorado, but she also shoots family sessions on film in Hawaii and Montana.  (Um, dream job!!)  I love how she captures this family together using the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii and gives the color a nice pop by pushing the film +1.  Beautiful work, KC!

(We are currently seeking submissions for winter newborn, maternity, and family sessions on film.  You can also tag your IG images #littlebellows and #lbfilm so we can find them!)

From KC:

This particular family session I really loved because of the love and connection that the family had. They were so genuine and loving with each other that it made my job so easy. They were so fun to photograph and I was excited when they said they wanted to play in the water at the end. I really love to photograph adventurous, fun, playful families.

Camera: Pentax 645n with the 75mm lens

Film: Portra 160 rated at 320, pushed 1

Lab: The FIND Lab. 


See more of KC's work here:

Website : Facebook : Instagram

Outdoor Motherhood Session by Erin Scabuzzo of Hello Pinecone

I find Erin's work is always inspiring. I love the location, light, color palette, and beautiful moments she captured of this gorgeous mom and her kids!  

We are currently accepting submisssions for fall sessions.  You can also tag your images #littlebellows or #lbfilm so we can find you on Instagram!

From Erin:

It's always an honor (and a little nerve wracking if I am being honest!) to photograph a fellow photographer. Especially someone as awesome as Bjorna.  Seeing her surrounded by her four most gorgeous babies, made my heart glow. It also made me realize that being a mother of 4 (including twins!) is no easy task! I very rarely shoot Fuji 400h but decided to incorporate it into this session and am pretty in love with the pastel color palette. 

Pentax 645n // 75mm // Fuji 400h

Canon Eos3 // 24-70 2.8ii lens // Portra400

FIND lab



See more of Erin's work here:

website : Facebook : Instagram

Taylor Catherine Photography | Mommy and Me

I'm always interested in hearing how other photographers conduct their sessions.  I loved hearing what Taylor Jones had to say about this beautiful "Mommy and Me" session!  


From Taylor:

To celebrate her daughter's first birthday and to commemorate one year of being a Mama, Amanda and I planned a girly spring Motherhood session around the bloom of the cherry blossom trees.

Taylor Jones Little Bellows Feature

Although her daughter was the star of the show, I also wanted to highlight the relationship the they shared and focus on the emotion behind Amanda's role as a Mother. Throughout the session I prompted her to remember or act out things that may be memorable to her. Those prompts that evoked authentic emotion gave this session such a magically joyful feeling, almost even awe-inspiring! After all, what is more awe-inspiring than a love so great that you would easily give your whole self over to that person? That is what Motherhood is; an all encompassing love that gives and takes well beyond the extent of a lifetime.

I asked Amanda as she was holding her daughter to remember the moment that they first met. I immediately saw such joy in her expression and she began to cling to her little one even tighter. She held in her arms her innocent child that she has hopes and dreams for, and plans for happy memories for years to come. Her daughter doesn't realize it yet, but she will carry her Mother's love with her throughout every challenge and every triumph she encounters. Mother will be the one she runs to for comfort when she scrapes her knee, who she'll trust for advice about challenging decisions as she grows older, and who she will call a thousand times a day when she anxiously brings her own child home from the hospital.

Taylor Jones Little Bellows Feature

Generations through generations remember and pass on the words full of love that their Mothers taught them. I hope that Amanda never doubts the impact her role has on her child's can extend further than we might even imagine.

Taylor Jones Little Bellows Feature
Taylor Jones Little Bellows Feature
Taylor Jones Little Bellows Feature

All images were taken with a Canon EOS3 on Fuji 400 and a 50mm f/1.2 lens

See more of Taylor's work
website | facebook | instagram

Seaside Maternity Session by Esther Louise Photography

So excited to be sharing this gorgeous maternity session by Ester Louise Photographer.  Shot on the beach using a Mamiya 645 and Fuji 400h film, they are perfection!  Film was made for this kind of session, don't you agree?!

From Esther:

"My favorite place to shoot maternity sessions is at the beach. I think it is such a perfect setting to capture the beauty and excitement of what is happening and I was thrilled when they were willing to splash around together at the end of the session as the sun set."

Ester Louise Photography on Little Bellows.  Maternity photography photographed on film.
Ester Louise Photography on Little Bellows.  Maternity photography photographed on film.
Ester Louise Photography on Little Bellows.  Maternity photography photographed on film.

 Images processed and scanned by The FIND Lab.

See more of Esther's work:
Instagram | Website | Facebook

Taura Horn's Simple Studio Session

It's no secret that I LOVE film shot in studio.  The simplicity is just so beautiful to me.  So when I saw these images by Nebraska photographer Taura Horn, I know I had to share them.  

Read below as Taura share a bit about the session and her lighting set up.

-Sandra Coan

Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio

About the Session

For Amalia's session with her children Bastian and Poppy, I had a specific vision of how I wanted to style and shoot it, from the color palette and lighting, but I really wanted to give her some of her own time in front of the camera. 

I feel like a lot of moms come to shoots and don't really want their photos taken and just want me to focus on their children because they think they don't look good enough, or they feel guilty for taking time up for themselves.  So you have to give them some space, literally, to just be women and not moms for a little bit.  Make Dad or Grandma or a babysitter take the kids for the morning while she gets her hair and makeup done, and we get to make some beautiful photos of her by herself.  She deserves to see proof of herself as a beautiful woman, and her kids deserve to look back when they're older and be able to see her as someone who has a life and energy while still being their caretaker.  So this first half of the session is really important! 

By the time the kids get there, mom is relaxed, I'm warmed up, and we're ready for the controlled chaos of working with kids in the studio!  I was really pleased that Amalia trusted me with every aspect of her session, from how she would be styled, to how I'd dress Bastian and Poppy.  These two share a birthday, and their photos were taken about at Poppy's first birthday and Bastian's fourth birthday to celebrate! 

Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio

About The Set Up

I used a Mamiya 645afd with 80 2.8 lens, and generally shoot Kodak Portra 400 between 2.8-4f. 

My lighting set up varies between simple and "how did I do that again??", using a 5' Bowens Octobox with white seamless. 

Most of the times (and for a few of these) I position it facing the subject, simple and beautiful. 

For some of these (you can tell which ones) and when I want super soft light I bounce it off one of the white walls of my studio and use the natural light from the sliding door behind me to soften it even more, and the window up behind the subject with the light that is bounced off the white house next door gives some hair light.  I used a black v-flat camera right to the subject. 

I love to play with lighting, you can get such subtly different looks with small changes.  (It actually took me a while to figure out how to shoot in the crazy space, though it seems obvious now! ) 

Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio
Taura Horn | Little Bellow | Film Photography in Studio

Film was developed and scanned by Richard Film Lab.  

See more of Taura's work
website | facebook | instagram

4 Reasons I Love Ilford Hp5 Film

We thought we'd start highlighting all the amazing types of film that we use in both our professional and personal work and I wanted to start with one of my favorites - lovely Ilford Hp5 film.

35mm rated at 1600, +2. Image by Kim Hildebrand

35mm rated at 1600, +2. Image by Kim Hildebrand

1.  Versatility: This film is always in my camera bag because I can use it anywhere.  Hp5 is noted for its excellent overall performance in a wide variety of lighting conditions.  You can rate this film from 320 all the way up to 3200 and it will look amazing!

120 film rated at 320, +0.  Image by Kim Hildebrand

120 film rated at 320, +0.  Image by Kim Hildebrand

35mm rated at 400, +0. Image by Kim Hildebrand

35mm rated at 400, +0. Image by Kim Hildebrand

Rated at 800, +1.  Image by Jackie Fox

Rated at 800, +1.  Image by Jackie Fox

Rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Heidi Alhadeff Leonard

Rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Heidi Alhadeff Leonard

Rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Megan Dill

Rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Megan Dill

2.  Contrast:   It's contrast, while high, is less pronounced than that of Tri-X, which appeals to shooters that prefer a more even tonal scale.  Because it is less pronounced than Tri-X, the highlights and shadows respond really (well if exposed correctly) when using it in a low-light situation where you intend to push the film.

Rated at 400, +0.  Image by Alpana Aras

Rated at 400, +0.  Image by Alpana Aras

Rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Kristin Wahls

Rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Kristin Wahls

120 film rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Lea Ciceraro

120 film rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Lea Ciceraro

3.  Grain:  I found an informative article in the Adorama Learning Center comparing Hp5 to Tri-X, which is considered the gold standard among street and documentary photographers.  Hp5 is noted for its fine grain, high-edge detail, and excellent overall performance in a wide variety of lighting conditions.  Usually, grain on a pushed 35mm b/w film is too much for me, but I love it on Hp5 film!  Last, the grain is still absolutely beautiful on medium format when pushed 3 stops (see example below)!

35mm rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Kim Hildebrand

35mm rated at 1600, +2.  Image by Kim Hildebrand

Image by Amanda McKinley

Image by Amanda McKinley

Rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Tamara Aptekar

Rated at 3200, +3.  Image by Tamara Aptekar

4.  Cost:  Ilford Hp5 currently costs $4.39 per roll of 35mm or $4.69 per roll of 120, not bad!  Note that Tri-X isn't much more ;)

So if you haven't tried out Ilford Hp5 film, I encourage you to give it a try!  It's quite an amazing and extremely versatile film.

A Creative's Journey : Week 4

Between no school for a teacher in-service day, a sick child, the weekend, and a snow day I didn't get ANYTHING done this week.  It's so frustrating.  I bet I spent 2-3 hours total this week on my business.  It's amazing how as an entrepreneur, I can feel totally caught up and super proactive one minute, then totally behind and floundering the next.  When I stop working, the business stops, too.

That's why I love outsourcing and scheduling as much as I can so it doesn't ALL stop.  So today I wanted to share my top 4 vendors I use every week:

1.  Richard Photo Lab - Film development and proofing.  I shoot a session.  I mail the film to the lab.  I get on with the rest of my work.  I get an email that my photos are ready and boom, I download them, cull, then deliver to my client.  It has freed up so much of my time it is WELL worth the price of shooting film (plus, hello beautiful skin tones!).


2. - Instagram scheduling.  I freaking love this site!  I finish up a session, export my favorite images, and import them into Later.  I can schedule out an entire week (or even the entire month) in one sitting.  I can add captions and hashtags right from my computer.  I can preview what my grid will look like and move things around some more without losing any information.  And another best part: I don't have to always email or Dropbox my images to get them on my phone to add to Instagram.  I love that!

3.  Wordpress blog - scheduling blog posts.  Yep, you read that right.  I still use Wordpress and am super happy with it!  I can bang out 3 blog posts in a morning, use the bulk image uploader, cut and paste my alt tag info, keyword, and add links, then schedule them out for the week.  It's so convenient and pretty easy once you have a process down that you like.

4.  Bookkeeper - no more time spent double-checking transaction details, coding, and reconciling.  I've saved at least 8 hours every quarter around tax time now that I have a bookkeeper.  That's almost two days worth of time for me!

Now for this weeks' scoreboard:

  1. How was I brave this week:  I had to speak publicly to a group of 40 prospective incoming parents at our school tours, and I do not like public speaking.  My heart starts racing and my palms get sweaty.  But I pushed into the fear and did it anyway (baby steps).  If I'm ever going to get over it, I have to lean into it.
  2. How was I kind this week: I did not strangle one of my kids.  #kidding but seriously, having a child home with me for the past eight days took its toll.
  3. How did I fail this week:  By hardly getting any work done.  My head is swimming.

How did you do this week?  What did you cross off your list or what challenges did you face?  I'd love to hear so tag your stories and photos #acreativesjourney !



A Creative's Journey : Week 3

Mired in the Minutiae

This week I've been furiously trying to get through tedious work.  Non-paying work.  I've been purging backlogged stuff that's been sitting on my desktop, post-it reminders I've had up for 6+ months, papers that are stacked on my desk.  As a creative, its great to get all these awesome ideas in my head and make plans to put to action BUT at some point it's too much.  It's crippling.  I mean, look at this picture.  Seriously.  The clutter is distracting me from getting my real work done.  It's paralyzing me.  There are so many ideas, so much to do, that I look at my desk and don't know where to start.  Do any of you feel this way?


So I'm spending a few days reviewing my notes and deciding if they're actionable and worth looking into.  Do they fit into the goals I have set this year?  If not, I'm either purging them or jotting the ideas down on my Trello To-Do list for a future look down the road.

Along these same lines, I'm purging a lot of stuff from my Desktop.  Look at this.  It's embarrassing!  How can I get anything done?  And guess how many browser windows I have open?  Any guesses?  I have 13 open.  About half are personal things - parenting articles, vacation references and ticket outlets.  The other half are work pages - tutorials, reference articles, SEO, retail, my blog, this blog, and not one but TWO online courses.  It's too much.  So anything that isn't related to my to-do list for the week or the near future or not related to my 2017 goals, I am closing or bookmarking for later.


This goes for everything on my Desktop, too, including emails.  I have 329 unread emails, bookmarked to read later.  I'm stuck in the minutiae.  Too much distracting me from getting my work done.  I have vowed not to buy another online course until I've gotten through the three I bought last year.

So join me in clearing out your work space!  Set yourself free so you can get your paying work done and stick to a schedule that will propel you forward, not paralyze you!  I'd love to hear your de-cluttering story so feel free to tag #acreativesjourney.

Now for this weeks' scoreboard:

  1. How was I brave this week:  I set up a meeting with a podcaster who wants to collaborate with me.  ME?!  I automatically think, what the hell do I have to contribute or say?  But then I stopped those voices because I knew it was mostly fear talking, and I set up the appointment.
  2. How was I kind this week: We are helping take care of a friend's daughter who's Uncle passed away.  The struggle is real when having to skip out of down to meet with family and attend a funeral when your spouse works long hours or is traveling.  Believe me, I've been there.
  3. How did I fail this week:  How did I fail?  Hmmm, I don't think I was brave enough or honestly worked enough this week to fail.  The kids had no school Wednesday so we went skiing, then Isaac was sick Thursday and today.  So I guess my fail was not setting aside enough hours to actually work.  This week was a crapshoot for me.

What about you?

A Creative's Journey : Week 2

Here it is, late January and I'm just now solidifying my 2017 goals.  I vowed last year that I would get on top of this earlier this year, like in late fall, to get a jump on 2017 yet here I am again.  Anyone else with me?  Do you set goals for yourself and your business?

Portra 800

Portra 800

I'm kinda embarrassed to tell you that last year was the first year I was really intentional with setting goals.  LAST YEAR.  And I've been in business for 8 years.  Ouch.  I learned a few things about myself in the process.

1.  Writing a goal down and telling someone about it had me 100% invested in reaching it.  It became real.  It became believable.
2.  I learned that goals have to be specific and measureable.  The goals I had that weren't, took too long to reach, or didn't get met at all.
3.  Concentrate on quality, not quantity.  Having 20 big goals became overwhelming vs. having 3 well-thought-out goals.
4.  Review your goals throughout the year!  I put my goals in my work journal and referred to them often last year.  This helped me so much.  It helped me stay focused instead of distracted (most of the time).
5.  It's okay to tweak your goals!  Maybe something is really working and maybe your experiencing more road blocks with another goal.  What is setting you back?  Lack of time?  Finding the right contact?  Fear?  Procrastination?  Overwhelmed?  Maybe this goal needs to be broken down into baby goals spread out through the year.  A few of my goals that didn't get much attention I am revising and breaking down for this year.  I am also eliminating some because it's not a priority for me.

So how do you get started if you're a procrastinator like me?

Jack Canfield, author of "The Success Principles" says on page 79 that that goal setting has to be SMART, otherwise it's just a want, a wish, a good idea.  A goal has to be:


Wait, what? Do you feel like I'm kinda backing you into a corner? I know the feeling!  But by making your goal all these things, you spend time to REALLY think about it and you become invested in it, and you KNOW you can achieve it. Try it out!

If you want to do some extra credit, think about where you want to be in your business in 3-5 years.  Dream big!  What would you be on cloud 9 about?  Think it, see it, smell it, and feel it then write down all the specifics.  Then put it up on your mirror or somewhere you'll see it every day.  I'm in the process of doing a more intense version of this for 2020 with my mastermind group and it's been a really fun excercise!

And now onto my progress this week:

Scoreboard Week 2:

  1. How was I brave this week:  I submitted a proposal to teach some photography classes at a conference - eek!
  2. How was I kind this week:  I teamed up with a room parent in Isaac's class to pull together their class art piece for the school's auction when another mom was unable to help.  We both feel pulled in about 50 directions but teaming up together and getting it done feels great.
  3. How did I fail this week: I did not work out ONCE.  Not once.  I tweaked my back last Friday and it was sore all weekend so I didn't go skiing, but the rest of the week was a crapshoot.  Now I feel like a big lazy slob.  I rely on running for mental health as much as physical health!

If this post has helped you come up with some SMART goals I'd love to hear them!  Tag your images and stories #acreativesjourney so I can share your story.



A Creative's Journey : Week 1

Currently I've been thinking a lot about where I am in my business and in life.  I've had many successes and some disappointments, who hasn't?  I feel I fit into the mold of "a struggling artist" who is torn between spending most of my time on family and life, or diving head-first into building a business that is highly successful (and I admit "well-known" would stroke the ego).

But the thing is, through last Fall (and continually) I keep playing the comparison game.  Comparing my work and my business with those I look up to and am surrounded by.  And while sometimes it's motivating, many times it leaves me feeling like crap.  And I play the guessing game - "Is my work not good enough?", "Don't people like me?", "What am I doing wrong?", "Am I too expensive?", "Maybe this isn't my thing."  I'm thinking the very things Brené Brown tells us to dismiss.  Who has been here?  It's TERRIBLE.  My friend Sandra Coan once told me, "If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will."  Good point. 

So then I read Simon Sinek's quotes or pick up Brené's books again (and get off IG and FB) to reset my psyche and get going.  And I've recently realized that all this reading and massaging my ego doesn't do shit for my business.  So am I gonna get off my duff with the mindset that I am as worthy of success as anyone else out there and take action?  Yes, I am.

"You are 100% responsible for yourself." - The Success Pinciples by Harvey Karp

This Fall I attended the Click Away conference here in Seattle.  Did you go?  If you haven't bought tickets for this conference, I highly suggest you do.  (The next Click Away will be in Amelia Island, FL in 2018!)  It's chalk full of great speakers, workshops, on-hands training, and my favorite thing, networking.  At the conference I listened to Yan Palmer and many other amazing photographers (including Sandra) speak.  Yan talked about some of the same things above and also things that hold you back, like guilt.  She set a goal for us about living our lives and running our businesses with intention and courage, and doing it guilt-free.  Don't apologize.  You are worthy.  It kinda blew my mind because I always feel some kind of guilt.  Guilt for being away from family if I'm trying to run the business, or guilt walking that I put off that blog post AGAIN and walked an extra 2 miles playing Pokémon Go with Isaac.  Seriously, feeling guilty has me ALWAYS questioning myself.  And it's paralyzing.  So I'm going to try and take Yan's advice this year.

Do you feel the same way?  If so, I encourage you to fumble along #acreativesjourney with me as we navigate this thing called running a business SUCCESSFULLY (#thestruggleisreal ).  I am going to write weekly blog posts here on Little Bellows holding myself accountable, in hopes that it'll help you too.

After all, Simon Sinek says, "Success always takes help.  Failure is done alone."

I was so inspired by an article I read on the Huffington Post a while back.  It's geared towards parenting but I think it carries over to our creative/business journey just as much.  If you haven't read Megan Conley's post, "We Ask Our Kids The Same 3 Questions Every Night," I highly recommend you do.  I'm going to ask myself (and you) these same three questions every week:

  1. How were you brave this week? Courage (in life and business) is often made up of many small acts.
  2. How were you kind this week? Kindness is leading with understanding and becoming stronger for others.  Are you building other photographers up that could use a lift, or offering up some advice they are fumbling through but that you are an expert at?  Or do you have a personal act of kindness that you'd like to share?
  3. How did you fail this week? This is straight from the Huff article - "Life is full of defeat — self-inflicted and otherwise — but that doesn’t mean we are defeated! It just means that we are trying and there is something beautiful in that, isn’t there?"  This personally is a big one for me.  I'm afraid to fail.  But this year, I'm breaking the cycle.

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

So here goes.  Here are my answers for the week.

Scoreboard Week 1:

  1. How was I brave this week: I put this post out into the world!  I kid you not, this is scary for me, talking about my struggles with you. 
  2. How was I kind this week: My niece, who is pregnant, found out that her unborn baby has a heart condition.  They had to fly to Boston for an experimental surgery to try and help the baby.  We are watching her dog and I started a Go Fund Me page to help them.
  3. How did I fail this week: I keep putting other things off such as looking at my 2016 numbers and setting new sales goals and I count that as a fail.  I also did not get accepted to Stocksy and although that's a fail, I'll try applying again!

So here's to all of us fantastic, amazing, talented, fearful, guilty creatives that are going to make a difference in our lives and/or businesses this year!  I hope you are with me!  Be sure to tag your images and stories relating to your journey by using the hashtag #acreativesjourney or commenting below so I can find you.  I'll be featuring your stories/struggles/and wins along with mine.


Collodion Wet Plate Photography by Andrew Welsh

Wet plate photography has long fascinated me, so when I saw Andrew talking about his foray into the field of wet plate photography on Facebook, I wanted him to share it with you.  Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your journey and your gorgeous photos!

In 2011, the renewed excitement of developing my first roll of film since the 90’s, along with being accustomed to instant results, led me to try instant peel apart film (FP100c and FP3000b). Amazed by the quality, yet unsatisfied with the cropping that most medium-format film cameras foist upon those glorious prints, I soon moved to large format photography (4x5), partly because 4x5 shooting was different, exciting and new to me, and partly because I could fill the frame on those instant prints. The fact that practically no wedding and high school senior portrait photographers were shooting 4x5 was also appealing.

Simultaneously, I began to see modern tintype wet plate portraiture in various large format photography forums, and was very intrigued. It was the intersection of “instant” photography (since wet plates must be poured, shot, and developed within 15 minutes), large format photography, and photographic history that captured my imagination. I had vowed to learn wet plate photography “when I grow up.” 

To date, all of my photography except for the basics in high school photo class, was self-taught. And while I was absolutely confident I could learn collodion wet plate photography on my own, I knew I’d also end up wasting a lot of time and money working through all the mistakes. It is a process loaded with opportunity for things to go wrong, and without guidance, I’d fumble through most of it. I soon concluded that taking a workshop instead would be most efficient. The opportunity for me came this year (2016) when I had a peculiar wedding schedule with only one wedding in June. 

I learned that within the collodion wet plate community, two workshops worldwide were considered the absolute best- John Coffer and Scully & Osterman. And how fortuitous that both of these workshops were right here in Rochester NY. I chose John Coffer’s June 2016 “all-inclusive” workshop, as it represented the best value for what I wanted to learn (the complete process through to print, and shooting in the field versus a studio). I later learned that Scully and Osterman themselves learned the craft from John Coffer. After a weekend of intensive training, I was on the path to attaining my goal of creating collodion wet plate images almost anywhere, and incorporate it into my primary photography business.

Determined to meet this goal, I quickly gathered all the needed components and built a crude dark box. I practiced making plates on my dogs, my children, friends and family. I practiced carrying my portable darkroom around, setting it up, shooting, then tearing it down. I learned how long it would take (about 15 minutes setup and 10 to take down) and to simulate what it would be like in a compressed time frame like a wedding or portrait session. All this practice was leading up to bringing this “live” to client sessions.

By late September, I had the ideal senior portrait client—a family I’d worked with twice before for senior portraits, whose favorite family photo on their wall was of them dressed in old west clothing in a sepia-toned print. I arrived to the session early and set up my portable darkroom, minimizing the time impact on the client, and kicking off the portrait session with a tintype:

Later that week, I had an opportunity to try one at a wedding as 2nd shooter. The primary photographer approved of the plan and while she did the family portraits, I set up my darkroom and only imposed on the bride and groom for the 1-2 minutes to setup and take the photo, with the expectation that this was an experiment. While I did not have any major flaws in the wet plate process itself, I had done poorly at an important part—posing them in an interesting way. The novelty of the process did intrigue them, but they were not my clients. This was about the safest wedding for me to fall short.

Two weeks later, the stars aligned to try a wet plate with my own clients. I kept bringing my kit along “just in case” the opportunity arose. I had a wedding with 2 hours to shoot portraits, and a groom who had fallen out of a deer hunting tree stand a few weeks prior, and was wearing a back brace, and not overly mobile to do a lot of portraits. What better way to have a subject who wanted to and practically had to sit still! 

The very next week, my next bride & groom had 3 hours for portraits! I knew from our engagement session they had a willingness and patience to try new things, so while they relaxed on the party bus, I set up my kit once more, this time at a park, and pulled off my best wet plate to date:

The excitement from them as I fixed the plate made it worth all the effort. And these clients now have a unique piece of archival artwork that will outlast their lives, is rarely performed at a wedding, and a fun experience in creating it and witnessing it coming to fruition. This was only possible with the determination to attain this goal, and the willingness to repeatedly practice all the steps on the path to mastering the technique. If you gain anything from this article, may you go and try that new thing you’ve always wanted to, and know that sticking to it through the challenges, will you attain your goal.

See more of Andrew's work here:

website | facebook 

Top 5 Film 365

How are we here already at the end of another tumultuous yet fantastic year that brought heartache, surprises and many other emotions our way?  We had the craziest election in history, we lost David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, George Michael, and most recently Carrie Fischer who was my hero as Princess Leá in the 70s, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm personally ready for 2016 to be over and am looking forward to a fresh new year of possibilities!  

So who completed the entire 365?  I got close but didn't quite make it.  Looking through the #lbfilm365 hashtag, I've enjoyed seeing so many images that brought me daily inspiration from many artists.  Thank you for sharing your work!  

Who is planning to continue their 365 into 2017?  Who is starting a new personal project?  I'm a firm believer in them and although I can tell you with assurance I will not be attempting a 365 next year, I'm brainstorming on some new personal project ideas.  I'd love to follow yours, too.  So I'll think of a new hashtag where you can share one or all of your personal project photos so we can find them and feature them here on Little Bellows.  Sound good?

Little Bellows thanks you for your continued support and inspiration, and we hope you have a Happy New Year with loved ones!  Stick around for more inspiration in 2017!

laurennygard  on Portra 400

laurennygard on Portra 400

mikeylivingston   Portra 400


Portra 400

kimhilde  on Portra 400

kimhilde on Portra 400

Freelensing with Film by Kaitlyn Zigrang

When I first saw Kaitlyn's FB post featuring her freelensed black and white horse images, I was floored by their beauty, their mystery, and how simple, unique and raw they were.  I've experimented with freelensing a bit with film but have never produced anything like this.  I wanted to know more, and Kaitlyn agreed to tell us more about freelensing with film.  Thank you, Kaitlyn!

I recently fell in love with film photography. I had been drawn to it for months, gasping every time I saw a film image on Instagram. Something about it grabbed me, pulled me in. It felt more ‘real’. So after months of gawking, I took the plunge and bought my Contax 645, and signed up for Sandra Coan’s Getting Started with Film class at Click Photo School to learn how to use it. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, because I am not a very patient or precise person. But someone how me and film just fit, and from the first scans I got back I was in love. After I had a few weeks of scans under my belt, I felt confident enough to try one of my favorite techniques from digital photography— freelensing. I love the dreamy artistic feel that freelensing gives, how it can transform an image, so I was super excited when I got to marry it with my love of film. I’m sure many of you are familiar, but for those who aren’t, freelensing refers to shooting with your lens detached from the camera, and tilted slightly in any direction to create a shift in the field of focus. The focal plane tilts along with your lens, and you end up with things very close and far in focus along a diagonal focal plane, and the rest very blurred. There are many tutorials out there on this technique and I am no expert, but I do loooooove it, and decided to take the risk to try it with film. So when I was asked to share a little with you all about free-lensing with film, and the basics of how to try it yourself, I jumped on the chance. 

1.  Start by metering. Pull out that light meter, and find your settings. Keep in mind that your aperture will need to be close to wide open to achieve the desired effect. I usually have mine between 2.0 and 4.0 when freelensing. I meter normally when I free-lens, though there is a possibility of light leaks. I know that film can handle a little overexposure, so I meter as I was taught by incident metering for the shadows with color film, and I normally meter for the mid tones or highlights with black and white film. That being said, I try not to overexpose when free-lensing since you do tend to let in a little extra light, so I am mindful of that and if it is a very bright day or I am shooting more directly into the sun, I may speed up my shutter speed a stop. Basically get your settings right for how you normally shoot, and then go from there. You may have to feel it out a little based on what kind of light you are working with.

2.  Choose a lens, and set your lens’ focus ring to infinity. I normally use my 80mm on my Contax (comparable to a 50mm on a 35mm body), I find that I can catch focus better with that one, but I have also used my 45. There is no autofocus with freelensing, but you will also not be moving that ring. You change the focal plane by how much (or how little) you tilt your lens. 

3.  Detach your lens. You will be holding your lens in your left hand and camera in the right at this point, so be mindful that it is a bit of a juggling act, and takes a bit of getting used to. Don’t move your lens far away from your camera body, you want to keep it pretty close, with the end of the lens not far from the mirror even though it is detached. You can move it in and out a bit while looking through the viewfinder to see the effect and find the spot you are comfortable with. I normally try to have it where I can see the focus like I would if the lens was still attached.

4.  Tilt your lens. Start out tilting it very slightly, and watch the focal plane change. Then tilt it more, and see what that does. If you lose focus completely and can’t get it back, just reattach your lens and start over by disconnecting it again. when I do that I normally check the settings and make sure the focus is still at infinity, because you can hit it with your hand and change it by accident sometimes. With film you will want to play around with this a bit until you are comfortable finding focus before you take any shots. In fact, if you have a digital camera and can practice with that first, it may be helpful and save you from wasting film, unless you are like me and ok with the more crazy shots. But beware that most digital cameras do not have lenses with aperture rings, so you will have to find one that does or jimmy rig your lens to get the aperture to stay open. 

5.  Not every camera is the same with free-lensing. I have tried free-lensing on both of my film cameras, my Nikon fm-10 35mm, and my Contax 645 medium format. By far the Contax is easier to freelens with. I believe the larger diameter and surface area of the lens plays in, as well as the clarity of the viewfinder. I have a much harder time getting anything in focus with my fm-10, and if I do it is at the extreme edge of the frame. Like I said, you will need to experiment a little and see what you can get in focus through the viewfinder, before ever taking a shot.

6.  Have fun! Freelensing can be frustrating at first, but when you do get the hang of it, it is addicting! So be ok with the process, and at some point being willing to take the risk and take some shots and see what happens. Sometimes, if you are like me, the shots that some would call mistakes and trash, may become your favorites. Freelensing reminds me of memories, and sometimes that is what it looks like to me, maybe not perfect but captures the moment perfectly. 

I hope this helps, and that you have some fun experimenting and seeing what freelensing can do for your images. It really can add a wow factor to an image, take it from good to great, and add a dreamy, otherworldly feel that mimics what our memories often actually look like. It can make you feel things, that maybe a perfect photo wouldn’t. It makes you look at things you may be used to seeing with new eyes, and shows how much a change in perspective affects things. I would recommend checking out Erin Hensley’s tutorial on free-lensing at if you have some questions and want to learn more, as she is a master of the subject and it is pretty comprehensive and helped me take my first leaps into free- lensing. 

See more of Kaitlyn's work here:

website | instagram

Top 5 Film 365

My sincere apologies for not posting for a while!  Fall definitely got away from me.  Do you feel the same?  When I checked out the #lbfilm365 feed this morning I wasted a good hour soaking in all the amazing images I hadn't seen.  You are a truly talented bunch!!  It was a tough choice, but here are my Top 5.  If you're still doing your 365 keep tagging your images and I'll find you.  The next Top 5 will be next week so keep 'em coming.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with those you love.

tracamiller   Portra 160


Portra 160

angelicachang_   Ilford Hp5


Ilford Hp5

laurennygard  Portra 400

laurennygard Portra 400

Feel the Fear, and do it Anyway

I just got home from the Click Away conference where (for the first time ever) I got up on a stage and spoke to a ballroom full of people.  

My speech was about the Three Things You Need to Know to Build a Six Figure Business - know what you do, know who your people are, and know how to communicate what you do to your people.  All really good stuff that I believe in with all my heart! 

I’m happy to say that the talk was well received.  And I’ve since heard from people that were moved and inspired by it.  

But in the days following the conference I realized that I left something out, something I didn’t even know I was leaving out until I got home.  

And that is what I want to share it with you now.

For some reason my husband and I own two copies of a book called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”.  The funny thing is, neither one of us have ever actually read it.  Despite that fact, “feel the fear and do it anyway” has become sort of a mantra in our house.  When things are hard.  When a choice feels risky.  When we are at a crossroads, we look at each other and say those words.

When I started my business -way back in 2000- I remember being terrified.  Could I really do it?  What if I failed?  What if people hated my photos?  And the worst… who the hell do I think I am?

The fear and the self doubt were overwhelming sometimes.  But you know what?  I felt the fear and did it anyway!  

I’ve since learned that the fear that comes with doing something new is a good thing.  It keeps us on our toes.  Makes us work harder, push ourselves a little bit more.

I think being in business is a lot like being in therapy… for it to work, you need to be vulnerable.  You need to take risks.  You need to be willing to put yourself out there.  You need to allow yourself to be scared.

Those are all things I’ve felt in my journey as a photographer.  But if I’m being honest, I haven’t felt them for a very long time.  Until last Saturday that is.  Getting up on that stage at Click Away brought them all back.

There I was again….

Can I really do this?

What if I fail?

Who the hell do I think I am?

But you know what?  I did it.  It scared me, but I did it.  I felt the fear and did it anyway.  And it was amazing!

So that is what I want to share… 

If you are going to build a business that you love.  One that is both emotionally and financially fulfilling, yes, you need to know what you do, you need to know who your people are, and you need to know how to communicate what you do to your people. All of those things are important.


But you also need to let yourself be scared.  It’s okay.  Feel the fear, and then push past it.  Feel the fear, and do it anyway.  It will be worth it in the end.  I promise. 

Sandra Coan, film photography, Little Bellows

Fall is in the air with Jackie Tobman Photography

The paint!  The fall colors!  The orange blanket!  I just love all the pops of color mixed in with the natural setting.  Using headlights as backlight is fantastic!  It's the perfect capture to close the scene.  Thank you for sharing, Jackie!

In Jacqueline's words:

"We wanted to capture the girls doing what they loved (painting!) which also meant something to the grown ups, as he is a tattoo artist and she is a photographer.  We went to a field near their home and the girls just had fun.  For the last shot, we were running out of light and they drove their truck down into the field and we used their headlights for some fun backlighting!"

All images on film, with Canon EOS3 or Pentax 645N.  Stock was a mix of Portra400 and HP5, and all scanned and developed by the Find Lab. 

See more of Jackie's work here:

website | facebook | instagram



An Eggspedition with Po Chi Fung Photography

That misty morning forest, the kids' curiosity, and those farm fresh eggs look so good on Acros!  I feel like I'm transported there with them.  And those black and white tones are so rich and beautiful!

In Po Chi's words:

"We got married four years ago at the Confluence Resort in West Virginia and were ecstatic to come back for vacation four years later with friends and our two crazy kids in tow, so this place is so so special to me. One morning, we took the two girls to gather eggs from the chicken coop. It was such a treat to capture their excitement and this experience because they asked about the hens and their eggs every time we walked by. I love this series because it is a slice of childhood and life that I hope they'll treasure forever - simple joys, thankfulness for the eggs that the hens are sharing with us, and being with our beloved friends."

Camera: Pentax645N
Lens: 45mm FA
Film stock: Acros 100
Location: Confluence Resort, West Virginia
Lab: the FIND Lab

See more of Po Chi's work here:


A Riverside Maternity Session with Leanne Haskins Photography

The beautiful backdrop, formal feel, and the green accents really come together in this maternity session!  What a beautiful couple, and what a gorgeous dress.  Thank you for sharing, Leanne!

In Leanne's words:

"I LOVE LOVE LOVE maternity sessions.  I especially love them when the husband wants to be involved.  I was excited just to hear the excitement in their voices as they talked to me about their plans for the nursery, their anticipation of finding out the gender at birth, and the names they had chosen for a boy or a girl.  I love the way he would look at her, not timid to touch her beautiful belly, and so incredibly encouraging and complimentary.  Generally at 32-36, pregnant women aren't feeling as beautiful as we know they really are.  To help boost my clients confidence I gift them a professional blowout and makeup from a local salon in Wilmington.  It is amazing what professional hair and makeup will do to a woman's confidence.  I know it puts a strut in my walk for sure!  Pampered, feeling beautiful, and donning this gorgeous shimmering white dress from PinkBlush maternity, this expecting mother was all smiles.  I hope you enjoy this downtown, riverside session as much as I do!"

This maternity session was photographed on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina in May 2016.  I used my Canon Elan 7E SLR, Kodak Portra800 35mm film, and my Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens.  Richard Photo Lab is the incredible lab I always trust with my film.

See more of Leanne's work here:

website | facebook | instagram

A Country Session with Posy Quarterman Photography

This entire session makes me want to hop in the car and get out to the big sky country of Montana.  I yearn for some open fields and dirt roads, which make a beautiful backdrop that pairs well with Posy's beautiful friends.  

In Posy's words:

"I normally shoot digital but every now and then I do one on film for fun. I shot this with a Mamiya 7 and Nikon f100.

What's special about these is the people. My dear friends moved to Montana last year and we made a road trip to them as our family vacation this summer. It was wonderful to see them in their new home and spend some time capturing their little family in their new environment. So I love the way these came out, probably because I'm partial to the people, and, film..."


Mamiya 7 and Nikon f100

Portra 400 and 800; Tri-x

Richard Photo Lab

See more of Posy's work here:

website | facebook | instagram