Archive for the ‘photo’ Category

I realize I shoot film a lot, but I have multiple bodies with film loaded, and I tend to shoot conservatively, just a frame or two on a person or a subject.

I want to change that.  I just added motor drives to two of my Nikons, an F3, and an FM2, the cameras I used as a photojournalist throughout the 80’s and 90s.

I want to shoot more content.  And not hold back.  I think I do that–hold back.   I want to fire up the cameras and move film through them more quickly.

The motor drive will let me do that.  It’s license to burn!

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I have this project I’ve been working on the last six months called The Wise Photo Project.  I photograph older folks who often don’t have anyone taking their photo.  Most of the attention is on the kids, and as one older man once told me, “The older you get the more invisible you become.”  So my goal is to photograph them and print and frame their images big so that they can be shared on their family’s walls.

Here’s a series I shot today.  It was so much fun, and he was such a character.  If you want to find out more and get a portrait done, contact me.

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The photos we create today are the nostalgia of the future. So take some good ones! (And print them so they will last). We will need to easily find them in 2065 to look back on today. Here’s to a great, photographic, 2015. Happy New Year!  Here are some more looks back in time: http://imgur.com/r/TheWayWeWere

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As photographers, especially photographers using film, we tend to save our shots for things that are worthy of the film.  Images that are special.  Like big events, activities, parties.

I wonder if we aren’t missing out on an image possibility, capturing some of the everyday parts of our lives, things that really define us as who we are.  You know you can learn more about a person from looking at their stuff, seeing the titles on their bookshelf, than by talking to them and asking them to tell you about themselves.  But we rarely photograph it.  It seems mundane.  Uninspired.   Perhaps it’s anything but.

We recently lost a good friend, and his sculpting workshop was where we had the memorial.  And everywhere I looked, I saw things that showed him better than anything he could describe.

Look for the ordinary in your own life, and photograph it.  Maybe it’s the kitchen wall with the pictures and radio that you look at every morning.  Maybe it’s your workshop area.  There’s a story to be told in these photographs.

Try it and let me know what image shows a piece of you.

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Somehow, whenever I see a Canon QL17 for $10 or a Minolta A-5 for $20 or a Minox 35SE for $25, even a Leica IIIf for $100, I have to pick them up. (Those are real prices I’ve paid.)   I have Leica M bodies, and great lenses–I don’t need these.  But I feel like I’m rescuing some old friends when I do.  They are so well made and have lasted this long, I want them to have a future.  A reason to be.  I only buy them if their speeds all sound close to accurate and their glass and viewfinder are clean, and the rangefinder working.  These are beautiful works of art, even their leather cases are nicer than what’s being made today.

Leica IIIfSo, I have a little collection and I try to take them out at times and run a roll of Tri-x or HP5 through them.  I imagine how excited they are to be back in someone’s hands, documenting someone’s life.  Again.  There was a time when they were used constantly, probably.  But now shooting film is less than fashionable.   Folks think these gems are too expensive to shoot.

I think it’s rather inexpensive compared to shooting digital and buying new cameras every two years, computers, software and hard drives, but don’t get me started.   Film is my love and I am glad to be one of the photographers specializing in it, even if we are a minority.

Because when that image appears after developing the film, there’s nothing like that memory captured there forever.  That piece of film was present at our Grandpa’s last birthday or our son’s first steps.  That piece of film is a time capsule that will last generations if carefully treated.   When the hard drives are either corrupted or long misplaced and forgotten, this piece of film will hold the image of that day, that moment.

And that’s a bit of magic.  In a $10-$100 film camera with $5 film, hand-developed.

Do you rescue old beauties?

michaelaDigital is nothing magical.  It’s perfectly good at recording, but the magic is gone compared to the days of film.

There’s something about the waiting that made film photography more special.  The time created anticipation which allowed us to forget the details of the moment, and relive it when we finally saw the film and prints.

I was just talking to someone recently about this, as I was carrying a Leica IIIf around my neck, that in the analog days, film was magical, the photographer the magician, and getting a photo meant hiring a photographer to make that image.

Untitled-26_1Nowadays, shoot it any way with any camera, even a phone, drop a few filters on the shot, and it’s good enough.  There is no magic.  The art director can fine tune the shot in camera and see the finished image before the photographer even leaves the shoot.

Even when I shoot digital, if I shoot your portrait, I will never show you the photo right there.  Because, it’s not about seeing it yet, but waiting until it’s finished.  And digital photographs need finishing.

Right now, there is film with latent images in my Leica that I don’t remember, and I will be transported back to where they were taken once the roll is finished and developed.  And I’ll have that experience all over again.

I love film for that reason.  It’s not spray and pray.  It’s not ones and zeroes buried on a card, a phone, a hard-drive.  It’s a photograph.  Time captured in silver.  Light burnt from that unique moment onto that actual piece of film.

You realize that film was present at the event.  That frame saw your Grandpa in that long-lost roll of film, with the latent image still intact, awaiting processing all these years.

The magic is gone with digital.  The photographers lost out.  And we all did when “good enough” with a few filters replaced the masterful technique of recording light.

Exercise in and of itself doesn’t excite me.  But I like riding my bike or going for a walk, but just don’t call it exercise.  I like to get active with a camera around my neck, walking up and down the Pearl St. Mall in Boulder, or the alleys behind it, or the 16th St. Mall in Denver or some of the other urban neighborhoods.

Some street photographers stand and wait for subjects to align with backgrounds.  I find that doesn’t work for me.  I need to be on the move.  And when I am, things are coming toward me, and I’m approaching other things, there’s a lot to watch for.  And life presents itself.  Little moments.  Ready to capture.

This one sort of tells a story I’m glad I caught.  I was following the guy with his arms around the two girls, and that was a fine capture, but the look on the face of they guy looking at them, walking alone, made it for me.

Must keep walking.  Must keep going.  The more I look, the more I see and find and create.  Anytime I’m out, there’s a chance for an image to present itself.  It never happens when I stay inside.  I know this.  And I get some exercise!

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It’s those special storytelling one-of-a-kind moments that I capture and then they exist that give me photographic thrills.  Better than any roller coaster. When I’m hanging the film to dry and see some of the images, or importing them from a card to Lightroom, it’s sheer joy to know that I created these images, which didn’t exist before and wouldn’t exist now but for my passion to get out and document my world.

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And the more I go out, the more I get.  No wonder Winogrand was so passionate about shooting everyday.  And shot so much film.  Because life is happening and if you’re not getting it, you’re missing it.

If I’m walking with a friend, I don’t see anything.  If I’m walking with my camera zone-focused, finger on the shutter release, I see images all the time.  They appear when you look for them. When you’re available to see.

That’s the most difficult part–making time to get out and look.  Because it’s life, as unique as anything Henri Cartier-Bresson or Robert Frank captured.  It’s alive.

And so am I, a working photojournalist and street photographer.  What a great time to be alive!

I went to an auction last night and I thought about how I always carry a camera with me everywhere I go.  Actually at least one film camera (Leica M3 and/or Rolleiflex 3.5F) and a Fuji X100.  Tucked neatly in a Domke F-804 Reporter bag or Billingham Hadley Small bag.  And I go lots of places but I find I rarely open up the bag and shoot.  Because it takes an effort to pull the camera out and that draws a lot of attention to it.

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So, last night, I just put the Fuji X100 (yes, I went digital) around my neck.  I always have it on silent mode and from my street shooting experience, I know how to shoot with it at mid-chest level, instead of needing to lift it to my eye.  It made all the difference in the world having it there, not in my bag.  Because I can’t shoot with it in the bag.  And I don’t.

wp3I am going to make a point of wearing it around my neck–not even my shoulder is good enough, because it’s still not in a place I can shoot.  And I’m going to see how much more I photograph as a result of its immediate accessibility.

These photos came from that experience last night, shot from the chest.

The one of the two girls playing a clapping game I even asked if I could photograph them, which didn’t seem like a big deal since my camera was already out.

Camera around your neck.  Not your shoulder.  Not your bag.  Not your car.  Notes to self!

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