6×6 Magic

August 26, 2010

I’ve noticed a trend with a lot of photography here in Argentina:

© Guillermo Ueno

© Nacho Coló

© Ignacio Iasparra

© Florencia Blanco

Verano Porteño by Eduardo Carrera

Bride by Gaby Messina from the series Lima, KM 100

Esquina by Norberto Salerno, photograph taken with Walzflex TLR with slide film expired in 2000

© Alina Schwarcz, from series Tigre

From Olaguer 3006 © Vivi Abelson

© Emma Livingston

© Alessandra Sanguinetti

© Soledad Manrique

© Guadalupe Miles

© María José D'amico

Let me be upfront and state that I’m not a fan of the square format. There is a preciousness and nostalgia about it that turns me off.

Why all the 6×6 photos in Argentina? Given the high cost of film and cameras here, using medium format seems to convey a level of seriousness that 35mm or digital don’t. Using the 6×6 format is an easy way of calling attention to one’s seriousness, be it with a Hasselblad or a Holga.

I like all of the photos and photographers that I’m posting here. I don’t mean to criticize their work or their choice of using the 6×6 format. There are legitimate artistic reasons for choosing to shoot square format. I should also state that in declaring my general dislike of the square I’m being completely hypocritical, having made any number of square photographs myself.

This trend isn’t limited to Argentina. There’s a group on flickr called 6×6 magic with almost 200,000 photos posted to it. There are enough film borders, soft corners, dreamy black & white landscapes, and desaturated colors to last a lifetime. Need I mention that there’s no “6×7 magic” group?

7 Responses to “6×6 Magic”

  1. Flaneur Says:

    Hi, 6×6 isn’t that expensive. You can get a TLR for some bucks here, and the roll lasts 12 shots. I did it in my film days.
    Yes, it gives a sense of self-conciousness and seriousness.
    I guess it’s potentially more the case for 4×5 format. In that case the price for film is 12x of 120 or 36x of 35mm, and there are no usable cheap large format cameras. Only for people reaaally serious about their work (or with green bucks in their pockets). You know what I mean 😉

  2. Flaneur – I realize I’m being deeply hypocritical in this post not only because I occasionally shoot 6×6 but more so because I’m criticizing the fetishization of a format while my own work, especially the portraits, are very much about the fetishism of the large contact print.

    Still, I felt like pointing out a trend. In talking to people, it seems like there’s people like yourself who use inexpensive TLRs and then there are those enthralled with the cult of the Hasselblad.

    I’m constantly advocating amongst my friends here for shooting 4×5. The film is expensive but I tend to shoot many fewer pictures, taking a long time to set-up everything. Plus, the photos aren’t square [unless you crop them like Stefano Cento].

    Often when I’m shooting with my 4×5 inch camera [a beat-up old press camera from the 1950s] people will ask me if its a Hasselblad. That, or a Leica.

  3. Hi, another reason to choice square format: square has movement as a circle.
    Btw, I really like 4×5 too.
    Very interesting blog!

  4. andres delia Says:

    I shot too much in digital 35mm for work, but enjoy a lot to take a MF camera and feel again the sense of basic photography. I’ts like fresh water in my face

  5. thomashobbs Says:

    Andres – a guy in one of my classes said that he works in cinema where 1:2.35 is the standard aspect ratio. For him, like yourself, working in a square format is a refreshing change.

    If, on the other hand, you just like medium format, I can recommend a long list of 6×7 and 6×4.5 cameras for you 😉

  6. […] series Campo. I’m not generally a fan of Holga photos and I’ve written before about my ambivalence concerning the 6×6 format. Still, I think the format and tool really works here for the subject matter; the plants, grasses […]

  7. Antonio Says:

    Ah, aquí está! El famoso post de “6×6 magic”. Yo mismo he caído en el enamoramiento por el formato cuadrado, así que no puedo hacer ningún comentario sarcástico. 🙂

    En estos momentos estoy disfrutando de una Yashica Mat 124 (eficaz y quirky en partes iguales), pero una Mamiya 6 ronda por mi cabeza desde que me la recomendaste cuando charlamos en el MAMBA

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