Archive for the ‘portraits’ Category

Some things you do for money
To make a living, to eat, to keep the lights on.
Some things you do for the art of it.
Not everything has to be monetized.
That’s why I make portraits of folks 70+ on Mondays
In my Longmont photo studio at no cost.
Because I can.
Because it’s important.
Because I believe if I share what I’m doing
And why I’m doing it,
Perhaps you also will see the importance.
Maybe you’ll hit the like button.
Even better, maybe you’ll actually contact me.
You might even get some other photographer
To make the portrait.
That’s fine.
Just so long as it gets made.
Either way, wonderful faces live on,
In beautiful portraits.
Printed photos that matter.
Because they matter.
And great-grandchildren will be glad I made them.
The Wise Photo Project is what I call it.
Because preserving family history,
That is the wise thing to do.
 
The photographs that we look back at from the 1960s, 1970s and other past decades, most people didn’t think much of those photos when they were being made. When present day is right in front of us, it’s difficult to see the reason to document it. It’s almost like we’re BLIND to it. “Nothing to see here,” because we see it all day long. But then it’s gone, and we can’t go back and photograph it or the people that matter, because that time and those people are gone, too.
 
So, what are we doing? Photography used to be a way to preserve family history in photographs and albums. It served a long-term purpose.
 
Now it’s a way to share a glimpse for a split-second. It’s up to us to make those split-seconds last longer than that if we expect to be able to go back to the early 2000s, the 2010s and 2020s and relive our history. To travel back to those memories.
 
Print a photo or two. Because no one is going to fire up the hard drive in fifty years to see our work.
 
Make a photograph for your great-great-granddaughter or great grandson.
 
I repeat this often because people tell me that they’re printing after being reminded. So, this is another reminder.
 
Photograph the people and things that you love and print those photographs. Cost is low, value is tremendous.

Photography used to be time travel. We took photographs, and then forgot them. That magic roll of film held the memory safe, tucked away in the dark to be revealed and relived at another time.

A trip to the Fotomat was highly anticipated–the roll finished and developed, it offered wonderful surprises, time travel, remembering and reliving moments, the essence of photography.

File:This is a typical drive-up Fotomat booth..jpg

In this instant digital world, that magic is missing, the distance between creating the photograph and reliving it is non-existent, perhaps why photography feels less fulfilling than it once did. I make a photo, I show it to you, you’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, it’s all done. Nothing left to do but the chore to get it to you, which I may never do, because who cares, you already saw it.

I made a portrait of a woman yesterday for The Wise Photo Project and I made it on a Hasselblad film camera on black and white film. Someone asked me why shoot film, and I said, “If I don’t shoot film, I have nothing to print in my darkroom. I need a negative to create a print by hand, a one-of-a-kind hand-printed silver portrait.”

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If her family wants to share it, they’ll have to visit her to see the print–that’s the product of these portrait shoots, a photograph. Framed. For real. Not a swipe left or right. Not an email or a scan. A real photograph to place in her house and have for future generations to keep and always know her face.

She’s looking forward to her portrait. She’ll be very happy when she sees the wonderful image of herself. I’m proud of it and that I had the opportunity to make it.

But she’ll have to wait for it.

Therein lies the magic.

And if you want to see it, well, you won’t find it here. You’ll have to stop over and visit her to see her portrait.

Maybe have a coffee and some conversation, too. Another bonus to creating an actual photograph–time spent together.

11Keith Richards wanted to be in the best blues band in London. He ended up being in the best band in the world!

I want to be the best photographer in Denver with gallery and museum exhibitions of my work, to be an influential teacher and

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inspiring speaker on photography, and similarly known around the world!

Dream big, then go to work!

Set your intention. Make goals. Work to deadlines. And you can do anything!

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5Everywhere I go, no matter what the event, the scene, the purpose, as soon as anything happens, it can be a marching band or a person opening a gift, everyone pulls out a phone and starts recording.

Everyone.

Why the instant reflex, the need to capture everything?

Everything.

Is it a natural reflex to get it all? Take it all back with us?

8Who is ever going to watch those fireworks from last year’s Fourth of July on their phone again? Or that marching band? Or that person opening those socks?

It happens at weddings to the point where people don’t even experience the event without a device–camera or phone–in front of them. And then there’s the mad rush to post their blurry wedding photos before anyone else. Why?

There’s even a trend to post signs at weddings about it being an unplugged wedding ceremony, asking guests to put away their phones and camera and enjoy the event.

My niece was getting married–I would have welcomed the wait to see the hired photographer’s quality work rather than the multitude of bad photos everyone posted in real time. It’s not like there’s no one there hired to photograph it. Why do we do this?

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I think it’s a habit, now it’s a reflex. Something happening=Shoot photos, record!

But at what expense? Do we lose anything by not attending the moment in-person fully.

There’s a beautiful movie called Before Sunrise with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and after they meet and spend a night walking around Vienna together, they wake up the next morning, in love, and have to part.

Watch this scene. He wants to take her photo, but doesn’t take her picture – it happens at the 1:20 minute mark. “I’m going to take your picture, so I never forget you, or all this.”

There’s something to be said for letting the image sear in our mind and heart, the result of fully experiencing it.

Isn’t there?

Or should we schedule some time to get together to watch these videos and see these photos? Because it hasn’t happened once for me, so far.

I’ve met more people in my life as a result of my camera than any other way.  Of course, I talk to strangers all the time.  In fact, I don’t think of them as strangers, but just people sharing life with me, and we are all a part of this something, whatever is is, together,  We are in effect friends that haven’t yet met.

Dr Laurie Santos, a Yale professor whose podcast is The Happiness Lab has a podcast episode, Mistakenly Seeking Solitude about just that.  I so relate to it–we need human connection and social interaction.  It’s vital to life.

And the camera is the greatest way to create that introduction.  It’s countless the number of times that a Rolleiflex or 4×5 camera has led me to conversations with people.  Or their portrait.  People are really not as scary as we’ve made them out to be.  Strangers are just strange because we haven’t said hello yet.  Once we do, they’re no longer strangers.

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Dave, from Old Central City, Huntinton WV, isn’t a stranger but a new friend!

It’s a simple thing, to carry a camera (preferably a gorgeous Leica or something that shoots film and looks like a piece of art) and then to approach people to photograph their portrait. I suspect a photographer who did nothing but go out into public and ask to photograph people ‘because they look amazing’, that photographer would make a lot of days.  People would leave the encounter with a smile on their face, and a bit of joy in their heart, for being selected and the honor of being photographed.

There are no strangers.  Let’s go out and meet our neighbors, the ones we know and the ones we will soon know.  And say hello to those who cross our path.  Their interaction with us makes our day better too, adds a bit of joy to our day.

We are at a crossroads, now more than ever.  At first it was just digital technology as a new way to capture light and make a picture. We all embraced it because it was no cost, no worry, shoot shoot shoot and delete later, or don’t. (Because let’s face it, we don’t delete, we just get more hard drives or up our iCloud plan.) There, done!

Then we filled computers with images like there was no tomorrow.  Thousands of photos downloaded from our digital cameras.  DSLRs.  Point and shoots.  All kinds of cameras shooting more and more megapixels.  Win!

More is more.  More is good.

Then phones got really good at shooting and sending a pic, and even if the form factor wasn’t very good, and the photo wasn’t as good as a camera, ah well, so what, it was good enough, and it had the added perk that it fit in our pocket and we could be sent now.  No need to download to our computers. Score!

Sure, the phone manufacturers charged quite a bit for these, not to mention that computer or laptop upgrade, hard drive purchases and Photoshop software licenses, but we still felt like it was free. Yay!

And we became video producers at concerts, shooting and posting whole songs to whole shows so our friends could hear Elton sing, too. Because we can.  And look where we are. Too bad for the people behind us–we’re working here. Impressive!

More is more. More is good.

And then we got computers to compute.  Computational photography, we can make everything work, and everything perfect.  We can fake blur the background in ‘portrait’ mode, no need for a real photographer. It’s not like they do anything more than our phones–good thing Avedon isn’t working today, that chump would be out of a job.  Loser!

We can even fake videos and make it look like people saying things they never said.  We have technology.  We win again!

It used to be the news was a good source if information, but then we got the internet and things got a bit cloudy, lines were blurred.  News outlets and not-so-trustworthy news outlets  We have fake truths, alternative facts.  No one knows what to believe anymore.  Sucks!

So, this crossroads we’re at. Which way do we go, now?  Keep heading down the same road we’ve been on since we stopped shooting film and making actual photographs? You know, those paper representations of the pictures on our phones.

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The ones of grandma and grandpa that don’t need a computer to enjoy? The ones that are authentic, storytelling.  That aren’t digitally altered and perfected, but just…  Real!

We used to have fewer pics and we enjoyed them more.  Now we have more and, oh no…

More isn’t more.  More isn’t better.

We have become inundated with images that they don’t even matter.  They don’t matter! Who cares? It’s not like we look at them for more than a half-second anyway. Instagram double tap–scroll, scroll, scroll, double tap, scroll, scroll.  That’s what photography is now.  Lame!

Phones are note-takers, and notes don’t need to be saved.  Photographs used to be historical family documents, not anymore.  Now, it’s where we ate, where we parked, what we drank and never see them again.  Sucks!

Professionals don’t make our portraits anymore. We shoot everything ourselves, even for our businesses, since we’ve adopted a mentality that good enough is good enough.  Even if it’s not, it is.  Because it doesn’t cost us anything.  Cheap!

What will it take to hire a pro to photograph our family?  Maybe they do have something to offer that we can’t do ourselves.  But the lure of free is so strong.  Why pay for anything? We can put that money into more cloud storage and new phones.  Score!

We’re standing at the crossroads.  Which way we go will very seriously impact what photography is, what value it holds and purpose it serves.  It may be the biggest challenge in its history, what it will be for. Decisions!

I know which way I’m headed–I’m photographing my family and friends on film, printing their photographs and living with them on the shelves of my home.  Call me old school, I know where my photographs are and I get to see them for more than a swipe-second.  Dinorsaur!

Maybe, but maybe it’s the digital photos that that will go extinct.  Gone!

True story happened yesterday.

I met a young couple, mid-20s, and we were talking about film photography. I told them how they could get one roll of black and white film from Mike’s Camera and shoot one photo a month in an old Minolta SLR they had, and after three years they’d have a wonderful surprise waiting for them–all the photographs they forgot but the moments they got to relive.

ml-mom-car1That’s the power of film and removing the immediacy of the results. You have a chance to step away and come back to the moment later, it’s not all complete right now.

(To me, that’s what makes photography special, and why I still shoot film for portraits of family and friends, and what’s missing in today’s phone-snappy world.)

So, they said they wanted to do that, shoot some black and whites and print the photographs.

The couple said they were recently married, and they have exactly three photographs from the wedding, and a hard drive of all the photos, which they said has several hundred pics–too many and that they never look at. They wish they just had a photo album like their parents do.

How many wedding couples want “all the photos”? Why? What are you ever going to do with them? Get some prints, put them in an album, lay it on your coffee table. Done!

More is not better. Printed photographs can be shared without screens, and are more fun as real photographs, just like holding a book still has appeal in the days of e-readers.

Print your memories. Share your stories.

If you need help, have a hard drive of useless images and want some prints, let me know: FamilyPhotoAlbums.net

Here’s what one North Carolina photojournalist created by going back to one roll of black and white film.

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