In The Frame: Michael Neal
My name is Michael Neal, and I'm from a small town in Ohio. I began shooting concert photography which I am still very passionate about, however after taking classes through the New York Institute Of Photography, I've discovered a real passion for shooting 35mm film. Being from Ohio, I didn't have much exposure (get it?) to film work, however after spending time in Seattle and Portland, their community really grew my fascination and love for analog work.
One of the things that I love most about shooting with film is the connection I feel between the artist and the camera. I love that I really have to "earn" my shots. There's a certain look with film that sets it apart from digital work, and though I can't really describe it, I think a lot of photographers know when they see it. A lot more thought goes into the shots for me when I know the cost between each frame advance. Additionally, I like that more of the process is on the front end of the shoot since there isn't as much you can do in post to alter the image. What you see is what you get. There's an immense amount of responsibility and pride behind each shot in such a permanent and manual process. Also the fact that it isn't quite as saturated as the digital photography scene is nice. I still shoot quite a lot of digital work for various jobs, but film has a special place for me. As I travel, being able to document specific instances, moments, people, and places I see in a tangible format is a really rewarding process.
Film has caused me to focus more on portraits, street, and landscape photography. I originally started shooting film with a Nikon F100 due to the ability to use my professional glass that I already owned for that system. However since then, I've branched out even more into rangefinders, and I am currently using a Leica M6 primarily. For the F100, I love my sigma 20mm ART f/1.4, my nikon af-s g 50mm f/1.8, and my nikon f/2.8 macro. With the Leica, my kit includes the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 nokton, the Zeiss 50mm f/2 planar, and the Leica 90mm Elmarit - M. I find this setup is ideal for covering a wide range (get it?) of subjects. The Voigtlander has a really classic rendering which is great as I travel, and want a really classic, artistic look. The Zeiss is just so sharp. It's amazing for resolving high detail. The Leica is one of the best portrait lenses ever made in my opinion, and I love it. As far as film, I primarily used to shoot Fujifilm 160 and 400, however now my favored black and white film is the Kodak Tmax 400, and I lean on the Kodak Portra 160 most for color portraits. I love experimenting with different films, so I also find Ektar, HP5, Portra 400, Cinestill 50, Tmax 100, and a few others in my locker.
I primarily do concert work through UnderAir Media, and I freelance on the side doing portraits primarily. Right now, I'm focusing on submitting work to coffee shops, camera stores, and galleries to hang prints in addition to hosting tons of film images on my website.
All Photos © Michael Neal