The XL portfolio comprises ten photographs made with large-format film cameras. The 4x5- or 8x10-inch negatives used in such cameras allow the photographer to capture more detail at a higher resolution than with smaller-format equipment. Nevertheless, large-format cameras are somewhat cumbersome, often requiring a tripod to accommodate the size of the apparatus and the relatively slow speed of the film, which is expensive to buy and process (compared to smaller formats). These factors encourage a careful and deliberate photographic pace, quite unlike the rapid and repeated snapshooting familiar to many of us.
As opposed to those made with a handheld 35mm or digital camera, large-format camera images are not composed by looking through a viewfinder or referencing a digital screen. Instead, the photographer stands beneath a dark focusing cloth to view the scene in front of the lens as an image on a piece of ground glass. This image makes the subject appear upside-down and backwards, which emphasizes the abstract formal properties of the composition and encourages close attention to subject matter during the conception of the image.
Historic photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were particularly dedicated to large-format photography, and the contemporary artists represented here have found the medium uniquely suited to their creative process. As photographic practice changes rapidly in the face of digital technology, this portfolio celebrates the vitality of a traditional format that many contemporary photographers still favor. Because no one knows exactly how long large-format film will continue to be manufactured, it is a good time to mark the variety of creative achievement this technology continues to inspire.