Archive for the ‘black and white film’ Category

If you’re a film photographer who shoots documentary photographs in the U.S, I want you.

Roy Stryker created the FSA photography collection to document real life in America during the Depression Era.

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Photography by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA

 

He was brilliant. He created a resource with a goal of ‘Showing America to Americans’. And the photographs changed the way people perceived folks in the rural areas, suffering in the dust bowl, living in poverty, etc.

I want to do the same, only show the life of American people today. I want to use only film documentary photographers, so that I can be assured that the photographs in the collection are authentic, and not photoshopped. And also to avoid the glut of submissions from phone snappers.

The goal would be for film photographers to contribute to the collection, build it out to represent American life–the most ordinary and extraordinary parts of life here in the U.S.–in all 50 states.

We live in a time where we label people liberal or conservative, 1% or 99%er. What are we really? Do we even know? Is the Facebook picture our best side forward only and not even true? Perhaps we’re not seeing the real America?

Certainly what’s on the national news isn’t who we are.

One commenter on the project said: I live in Germany and hardly can give any contribution though I would like to.  But you’re completely right with the “stereotypes”. We in Germany now have a “special” picture of the Americans – created by media of any kind. When I was in the US, it’s a complete different view and people are people, struggling with everyday life. Vice versa, some became very surprised when I told them I am German. They didn’t think one could talk “normal” with me.

If we had an accurate look of what our family or neighbors with opioid addiction looks like (maybe they look like us), or back from war with PTSD, or with a successful new business, or how they are training for the Olympics, or how they get by with three jobs so they don’t go to bed hungry–all kinds of real stories, positive and negative–could we impact Americans?

‘Showing America to Americans’!

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Photography by Dorothea Lange for the FSA

The news and the political climate make it seem like liberals and conservatives are worlds apart. But do we even know each other? Or are we just going off the stereotypes in our heads?

Please take a look at the site I built with more information, and I’m certainly still in the ‘seeing if it’s viable’ stage of the project and it may have elements to address I haven’t thought of yet. It’s at RoyStryker.com – Yes, I named it after him as a tribute. There’s a lot of information on there, and I tried to answer the most pressing questions.

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Roy Stryker, at right, with FSA photographers.

There would be a curation of the images–not just all images would be accepted.

There would be invites based on the photographer’s ability and quality of work to become part of the collective of photographers contributing to the collection.

The form for submission requires a high-res photo as well as a low-res image of the neg/slide for authenticity purposes. And it suggests an optional donation–see if that seems reasonable.

I would like to ultimately make the photographs:

1) on display on the Web site.

2) available for sale to publications–the photographer maintains all rights to their images at all times and would negotiate directly with the publications.

3) for a book project if the photographers would allow their photographs used.

4) eventually, if the photographers are willing, to offer the collection to the Library of Congress if we have created something exceptional.

Perhaps documenting life today could have an impact like the FSA project had on people’s perceptions of the folks during the depression.

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More people are experiencing the glut of photography. It’s everywhere, it’s instant, it’s disposable, and that’s exactly where it goes–away.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
I remember when I was a kid, we had professional portraits made every year, and our family would make family portraits that would line the wall alongside the staircase.

And all my friends, too, there were portraits of each of them and their family members up on the walls. What happened that we don’t value family portraits like that anymore?

SAD TALES OF LOSS
I’ve personally heard several examples in the last few months of people telling me they wished they had photographs that were better than the phone snaps they have of their kid when they were two. Or five or seven. Or in one case, of their grandma when she was 95.

At a recent conference, a manager for a major corporation told me that he didn’t know why they stopped doing family photos, they just haven’t for years.

A couple I was chatting with at a pub told me that in hindsight, they should have printed some of the better photos that they can’t find anymore.

And one person I met while documenting life out on the street said they wished they hadn’t thrown away all their parents slides after they digitized them, because now the disc won’t load and they’re taking it to a computer tech to try to retrieve the images.

The wonderful thing about the phone is you can shoot a million photos.
The terrible thing about the phone is you can shoot a million photos.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC DARK AGE
And those photos are disappearing. Far away.   Into some distant folder buried on some hard drive that people think they are saving them, but have no idea where they go.   Unedited photos that no one wants to go through. There are just too many!

Find me a photo of your grandparent or kid from just five years ago. Good luck.

I find this to be a sad time for photography, because many families are overindulging in low-quality snapshots, and only that. They are being led into a false sense that they’ve got their memories saved, and well-preserved, and that they have quality images.

They really don’t, and they’re not.

I PREFER MY FAMILY DARK AND BLURRY
I see lots of photos that get ‘likes’ on social media. Often they’re poor, blurry, dark, not a keeper in any sense of the word. But there are the likes. Lots of them.  And always the comment, “Great picture of you.” Really, you like to see them dark and out of focus?

It’s like the difference between cheap junk furniture from Wal-Mart versus fine furniture from an artisan woodworker–the photographs we’re choosing are cheap and not very good.   Functional, but low quality.

Many people who saved their photos to CDs or tapes over the last 20 years have had some amount of loss–either some discs won’t load anymore or the tapes don’t play, or they play with degradation through the images.  It’s threatening to become a real digital dark age.

PUTTING IT OFF
I know people who talk about wanting to get portraits made of their kids at every year, then figure they can wait a little bit, then the kid turns four, seven, ten, and then they realize they haven’t made any good portraits of them. I’m seeing this in my business, as people put off scheduling the sessions they used to book. Or if they do, they don’t even want prints, just the digital files.

I’ve actually had clients who’ve scheduled a portrait session, with prints included in the session fee, and they’ve never ordered them. They don’t see the point of a real photograph. I’ve sent them reminders that a print order comes with their photo session. But there’s no response. Nothing. Zero interest.

They see no value in the actual real, physical photographs.

And in five or ten or twenty years–some time in the very near future–those photos, even though they were made by me, a professional, will cease to exist as they get lost in the tidal wave of images. And buried in the sand by the digital undertow with all the rest.

I don’t see how they are ever going to make up for them. In fact, I know the answer. They’re not.

GIMME ALL THE FILES, JUST THE FILES
There are plenty of people who’ve picked up a digital SLR in the past few years and call themselves a photographer, who will shoot your family by a tree for very little money, and give you all the files.  They have no interest in photography as an art medium with a final product–an actual photograph–but only to shoot their camera and get paid for pushing the button.  You could print their photo dark with lines across the faces with an inkjet printer and they couldn’t care less.

The more I discuss this situation, the more I get people nodding in agreement. They concur too many photos is a problem. They say they know the quality is lower than they’d like.  And they admit to having lost a phone and thousands of pictures or knowing someone who has. But do they do anything and book a session?

No, they don’t. Because that I-have-a-phone-I-can-do-it-myself mentality persists.

AMERICA THE (LOOK) RICH
America looks rich, but isn’t. It just looks it. We think we have the best, but we buy the worst as long as it looks okay. That patio set in our backyard from Target, that’ll last a year or two then we’ll throw it away. Everything is disposable. Nothing is built to last. But it’s nice and cheap, and looks good for a little while.

There was a recent article in the Boston Globe where someone asked regarding school photographs, “Why does Picture Day still exist?”   That’s the mentality–that we have our phones and our snaps and they’re good enough.

Maybe I’m nostalgic, but I thought there was something to my folks ordering and framing photographs of us as we were growing up. I liked the way we each had something to remind us we were all vital parts of this family.

WHAT, ME DRESS UP?  ARE YOU KIDDING?
Now, to get people together for a family photograph, to suggest they come in for a formal studio portrait, I’ve had people tell me they can’t be bothered to dress up. They have some from the park they made themselves, and don’t really care about getting them done formally anymore.

I’m a film photographer who shoots legacy photographs on real film and I print photographs on real paper for framing and displaying in a home or other physical space.

I don’t understand the unwillingness to spend to photograph our families well.   Future generations are counting on it, and they will be surely disappointed by the lost pictures and bad snapshots.

Someone must still value the best in quality.  Someone who isn’t put off by the idea of dressing up.

YOUR FAMILY ARE ROCK STARS
If you’re a rock star or movie actor, and you’re being photographed by a professional photographer for a magazine spread, you don’t complain that you can’t wear your sneakers and t-shirt. You want to look your best.  You go to be your best. You dress up and feel your best. You’re a rock star, after all. Everyone knows the performer’s creed: “Look better than the rest of them!”

That’s my goal, to find those that see their families as worth the extra expense for a high-end studio, formal portrait that they will hang in their home, because they see their family as worth it. And that see me as the one photographer, an truly experienced professional, working in a special, unique way–not just another guy with a digital spray and pray camera, but with real film and quality lighting in an actual studio–that will actually preserve that memory and will truly capture them as they are.

With artistry.  And quality as the determining factor, not the cheapest price point as the basis for their decision.

The rest will have to hope to salvage that phone snap for a very long time.

 

If you like a daily affirmative talks about photography, take a look at my Inspiring Photo Talks.com Web Page with just that, photo talks.  Short, positive, fun talks about all things (mostly analog) photography.

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Not everyone demands top quality from a photographer. But as a professional with 30-years of experience as an award-winning published photojournalist, that’s all I offer. It certainly costs more, but you get the best quality and service.

If you don’t want that, please don’t call me.

I don’t hand over image files because I care that they are finished professionally and look their absolute best–after all, it’s my work. Yet there are many people with cameras who will give you all the images after the shoot, saying, “Do what you want, print them at home, I don’t care. I just like to shoot and walk away.” If that’s what you want, I ain’t your guy.

If you would prefer cheap and quick over professional quality, please don’t contact me. If you don’t see the difference between professional photography and amateurs with a camera and some software presets, I can’t show you.

Just like if you can’t feel the difference between driving a Mercedes and a Kia, I can’t help you. And if you think Denny’s tastes as good as a chef-prepared meal, I’ve probably got nothing for you.

But if you can, expect to get something more delicious than you even imagined! Portfolio: KennethWajda.com – Studio phone: 720.982.9237

I have a project titled, The Wise Photo Project, where I photograph elderly people on film, because they often have very few photographs taken of them.  Here are my parents, my Dad giving my Mom a kiss as she lies in a hospital bed in the living room of his house.  This is why I photograph the wise!  They won’t be here forever, and they are beautiful in their old age.

I can photograph your elderly relatives too, I work throughout the U.S., and create legacy prints for your family, photographs your grandkids will cherish as they get to know their grandparents from way back in 2016.
 
TheWisePhotoProject.com – 720.982.9237

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Photography and journalism share a similarity.  Both used to be respected and valued for their quality and integrity, and just this week, the New York Times said that on Facebook, they are treated as being equal to fake news sites, because they are both given the same credibility by the public.

20sun1-master768That is the same with photographers and the public when they hire photographers.

Photographers used to be very well respected. You’d hire a photographer for his/her knowledge on how to capture your family’s personality, your company’s specialty, or document a special event with the ability to tell that event’s story. It was not about gear, and so much more than pointing a camera. Or getting focus nailed. Photographers didn’t spray (shoot like crazy) and pray (hope they get something).  They worked with proficiency and efficiency.

Professional photographers are never about gear. Great photographers know their cameras and then get them out of the way to create meaningful images of the subjects they are hired to photograph.

Nowadays, there’s a perception that everyone’s a photographer. I disagree. Everyone has a camera. That doesn’t qualify everyone as a photographer. Everyone has a stove–that doesn’t make everyone a chef.

As a professional, often my competition is the person who got a camera for their last birthday, plays with their cameras on weekends, and the work that they do, no matter how mediocre it is, has become the accepted norm.

And it’s the desired product, since it’s cheap.

All their photos look alike–shot wide-open, toned via a computer preset with the popular look of the day. That’s the look that they’re all buying from the post-processing software gurus selling them all the same effect. That’s why they all look alike.  Have you seen wedding photographs lately?  Talk about cookie cutter.

Professional photographers know and see the difference. We know why it’s important to professionally print photos. We know that a professional photographer is much more than just a person with a camera.

We know lighting. We know how to pose to bring out your best features, to make you feel your best, so that we can best capture that personality on film.  We even know where and when to shoot, how to coordinate colors in clothing with backgrounds.  Photography is as much a psychological game as it is an mechanical one using a camera.

jkingTrue professional have never competed with the Sears and JCPenney portrait studios, who sold cheap, but were never in the photography business but rather the sales business.  I worked for them.  They gave me sales quotas I was expected to meet for print packages.  I quit within a week, and went to work for a daily newspaper.

Professionals were hired for their vision, their unique ability to use a camera to create in ways that go far beyond Photography 101.

But Photography 101 photographers are cheap. More and more of them hanging their shingle out every day, because they got a camera, and they are competing for the work that the seasoned pro used to get, and families and businesses are choosing the mediocre (and cheap) work.

That’s photography today! High quality and mediocre are both available, and people buy poor quality photos all day long.  It’s made mediocrity the norm.  I know people who say they work professionally with a phone camera.  It’s incredible.

If you are looking for quality photography locally, you have two choices:

  1. You can hire a pro, like myself, a commercial studio photographer, an award-winning, 30-year-professional photographer and experienced photojournalist who has photographed everyone from U.S. presidents and authors to rock stars and movie stars. Who has photographed for the U.S. Air National Guard, Whole Foods, WhiteWave/Silk, National Beer Wholesaler Association, American Cable Association, among others, and covered events from groundbreakings and grand openings to presidential campaigns and funerals of state officials and had his work published around the world in magazines and newspapers via the Associated Press. One who will photograph you with efficiency and give you the right number of quality photos for your needs.
  2. Or you can get a person with an automatic camera and the latest presets and will give you 1000 image files to do with as you will.

There is a difference.

twoshotbw812Who will you use for the most important subject, your family’s photographs? I am not just photographing for you, but for your children’s children. I’m creating historical documents, visual memories for future generations, legacy photographs professionally printed at a custom pro lab that will last for generations.

I don’t hand over the image files because I care that they are finished professionally and look their best.  After all, it’s my work.  Yet there are many people with cameras who will give you all the images after the shoot, saying, “Do what you want, print them at home, I don’t care.  I just like to shoot and walk away.”

bizports3Who will you hire for your business portraits and product shots?  Your customers see the difference when they see quality, even if they’re not sure why it’s better.  Quality is perceived through professional work, that’s why top companies use advertising agencies and art directors, because it ultimately affects the company’s bottom line

If you don’t see the difference between professional photography and amateurs with a camera, I can’t show you.  If you can’t feel the difference between driving a Mercedes and a Suzuki, I can’t help you.  If you think Denny’s tastes as good as a chef-prepared meal, I’ve got nothing for you.

But don’t believe you’re getting the best if you don’t hire a professional.  And likewise, don’t believe what you read on Facebook, because it really might not be real news at all, and those New York Times reporters are a lot more trustworthy, if only they could get readers to turn to them and stand out from the glut of mediocre ‘news’ sites.

The quality of photography and journalism has certainly been lowered by substandard photographers and fake journalists.  That’s the state of photography and journalism, circa 2016 A.D.

A friend and I go out every Wednesday when we’re both in town, and we call it culture night.  We look at what’s happening and try to do something we have never done before, or rarely do.

In the past, we’ve been to jazz clubs, comedy shows, we’ve played at open mics, we buskered in downtown Boulder with our accordion/ukelele duo, we’ve gone to auctions and we’re always up for new adventures.

We went to an arcade pub recently.  Hey, it something we don’t often do, so it counts.  I invited another friend along, too.  And brought my Leica M3 with 50mm Summcron DR.

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It’s a treat to have a regularly schedule night to find new things to do.  If you have a night and a friend, give it a try.  Bring your camera, too!