Archive for the ‘photo’ Category

The year is 2087.  Your Great Grandchildren of the Future have a message for you:

“WTF?  Really? 

“Thanks a lot for not taking any photos that we can have. With all that new-fangled technology you had back in the early 2000s and 20-teens and your millions of photos a day, we get nothing?  No idea of what you looked like or what your life was like.   Are you going to use that lame “but the computer died” excuse, or “I lost my phone,” or “It’s not my fault that cloud service shut down?”

“Boo-effin-hoo. That was our family history you placed in the hands of some digital storage tech company you had no idea how and where they were putting it or some outdated technology, with no plan for us.   No strategy for your family.

Here’s a crazy idea: Phones are for talking on.  Copying a receipt maybe.  But not family photography!

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“Look, there’s Grandpa’s pic!”

“Why didn’t you print anything? We’d at least have them. Oh, no, you never thought to do that. That would’ve make them permanent, god forbid.  And would’ve cost you a buck, when for free, you could get a stupid ‘Like’.

“Not that many of them were any good, anyway, if that’s any consolation to us now.  Snapping away with a wide-angle lens at arm’s length ain’t exactly the greatest technique for quality photographs.  And wide-angle sucks for portraits–I bet you didn’t know.

“What happened to the professional studio photos? You know, the ones every other generation had, except yours, because you were too damn cheap to hire a photographer. That blurry photo of you and the family with your arm extended–we’re kinda glad that didn’t make it–it hurt to look at anyway, despite how many ‘great pic’ comments you got online from people who looked at it for a fraction of a second in all its blurry splendor. People who wouldn’t know a good photo if it fell from the sky and bit them on the ass, because all they were making were shitty ones themselves.

“In a sense, all your phone snaps were worthless, a waste of time, and now gone. You thought you were doing something, making photographs, and you weren’t.  You accomplished nothing.  You were just wasting your life on fleeting glances into your world that we’d never see.

And you missed Grandma’s and Mom’s weddings because instead of letting the professional photographer shoot it, you had to have your phone up the whole time.  The one time they had a pro, and you still had to keep shooting your stupid, lame crappy photos.

Did you bring snacks to help out the caterer, too?  And flowers for the tables?  No, why, because there was a pro there?  Then why’d you insist on snapping bad pics the whole damn time?

“You missed most of the things in your life by putting that stupid phone up everywhere you went–concerts, your children’s plays, fireworks on the 4th of July–“Hey, let’s get together and watch the video of last year’s fireworks display, said no one ever!”

“We know better now, and we have cameras for photographs.  Actual cameras–can you believe it?  And we print photographs.  Because that’s what a photograph is!  Too bad you never found that out.  Too bad for us.

“All said and done, you shot too many photos, you printed none, and now, thanks to your short-shortsightedness, that whole part of our family history is lost in the glut of shitty frames that are dead in old tech.

Thanks a whole lot!  Way to go!”  [Slow clap]

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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.

 

Sold to Howard Zaremba. “Sweet Potato #1 (2016)”, $1.1 million | 162cm x 162cm

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(Or maybe it was dinner, $39.75.)  But I made him pay for the sweet potato!

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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

Not only do I enjoy walking this antique flea market when I visit my folks in PA, but I love photographing some of the people and getting into conversations about photography because of my Leica IIIf that I’m shooting with.

I carry that camera everywhere I go, because it’s small enough to fit in my front jeans pocket with the lens collapsed into the body.  (I take the case off.)
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And these are the wonderful photos it makes.  The camera is from the 1950s.  The lens from the 1930s! (Click the photograph to enlarge it.)

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As a photographer, there’s nothing else that matters, no one else who gets to decide what is important, other than that which is important to you.  Photography is a creative expression, and when we stop looking to create images that will please others, and actually create images that please ourselves, that reveal a little something about how we see the world, only then is the art realized, and we give the viewer a glimpse into our soul.

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I can tell you, as a filmmaker, how many Tarantino wannabees I see out there.  We don’t need another one of him–we have him.  (And one of him is too much for me–I think he’s ultra-violent and sits on that one note too long.)

But as photographers, what we need is to show a side of ourselves that reveals our truth.  Then, we have created art.  Dare to show something that reveals you.

It’s easy to say what you don’t like.

I hate this, I hate that.  You didn’t tell us anything about you.

I like that. 

You like that–what are you a freak, liking that?  Saying what you like tells us a bit about you.

So does what you photograph.

So, photograph your passion.  Stand by what are your favorite images, because they define you, and after we are all long gone, they will be what survive to tell the story of who we were.

Mine is the story of connections in families.  That’s my passion–to document the small stories that make up great lives.

See http://ElderlyPhotoVisits.com and http://TheWisePhotoProject.com for more.

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…then a comedic one is worth a million as well.  Because there are things in our world that are genuinely funny.  And capturing them is its own special joy.

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You can see more at ColoradoFaces.com