Archive for the ‘rolleiflex’ Category

I am both a Nikon and Leica shooter.  I shoot film and digital with both brands and the other day I sat down at my Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter–that’s where I do my best thinking on paper–and I wrote out what each camera type is good for.

For shooting street photography, Leica may be classic, but my Nikon with a 20mm, auto-focus and aperture priority beats it every time.

Every. Single. Time.

Because there’s no fuss, I have the Nikons–F100 for film, D610 for digital–set for back-button focus and -0.7 dialed for exposure compensation on the digital, so I make sure I don’t blow any highlights, or +0.7 set for film, to make sure I get a dense negative, and I can shoot out my car window and guarantee a shot.

I can’t do that with my Leicas.  I’m using an M9 for digital, which does have aperture-priority, and an M2 for film. They need attention, finessing.  It’s great for contemplative work.  But not for lightning quick.  At least not for me.

Yes, I use hyperfocal/zone focusing with the Leicas.

These three photographs were all made out my car window with the Nikon as I was passing these scenes at some rate of speed.  I can’t get these with the Leica.

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Businessmen waiting on a corner in Rochester NY.

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A vintage car driving at dusk on I-70W.

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The real people of Las Vegas on a street corner just off the strip on a Sunday morning.

The first two were shot with a 20mm f2.8, the first AF 20mm Nikon made.   The last with a 50mm f1.2 AIS manual focus lens.  They show what I saw, real life, captured in split second.

Even this one, while I was attending an Italian festival in Denver, I stopped to talk to another photographer after I noticed his Sony camera and some behemoth of a lens.  But while I was talking to him, the sausage man appeared and with the Nikon and 20mm, I could turn, focus and shoot in one fluid motion, nail the shot, then it was back to my conversation.

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A man carries his sausage, his winnings, at an Italian festival in Denver.

At the end of the day, story comes first, and it’s all about the photo.  I do love the way the Leica looks and feels, and its small size, it’s just not a street shooter for me.  That’s the conclusion I came to when I was typing out my thoughts.

As a further test, I went out to downtown Denver this past weekend to shoot street photographs with another photographer.  The shoot went so well, I came back with several photos that I’ve included in my updated street photography gallery, ColoradoFaces.com.   Photos #4-13 all came from that Saturday afternoon, all shot with the Nikon and the 20mm.

So enthralled with the results, I went back down the next day with the Leica M9 and M2 and a 21mm Elmarit.  I thought, wow, if I could do that with a Leica and a 21mm, it’s so small and light, it would make a great kit for daily use.  Guess I hadn’t used the M9 recently enough, as I ended up putting battery after battery in it, four in total, and they all quit within a few shots.  I still had the film Leica, so I could keep shooting, but I certainly shoot more conservatively with film.

I wished I had brought the Nikon.

By the way, my Nikon has five bars on its battery readout, and it can be down to two bars, and I can still get a whole afternoon of shooting with it.  Nikon batteries rock for lasting and not petering out.

So, what’s my point.  For me, it’s Nikon film and digital for shooting documentary photographs, they’re quicker and I feel more confident I’ll get the shot with them.  And I do.

Leica is a great camera for portraits and documentary coverage where you’re going to be working the scene.  The build quality is incredible, as you know.  I love documenting my friends with it.  Posing them and creating photographs.  And it’s a treat to use.

But just like a Rolleiflex and a Hasselblad are both portrait cameras in my hands, a Leica is a special camera for portraits or a day of deliberate shooting.  Not grabbing life on the street.

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A portrait with the Leica, HP5, a beautiful negative and the magic of film.

When it’s speed I need, I go with the Nikon with the 20mm.  Or the 50mm.   The viewer feels like they’re in the shot.

And I get it every time.   That’s my story.   And story is king.

I have a dilemma. I love to create photographs, lasting memories, beautiful portraits of people of all ages.

But people don’t commission portraits anymore. 

An occasional high school senior portrait, because those are due.  But the rest of the time, the rest of the family, nah!

We’re living in a time when our phone camera seems to be able to do everything. But as good as it is, it’s not a portrait camera.  A quality portrait can’t be made with its wide angle lens–it’s not flattering for faces.

So, I want to photograph your family.  I do. There’s something so special about documenting the people in your family, and making beautiful portraits of them.

Problem is, I’m an artist, not a salesman.  I don’t know how to persuade people to commission photographs of their family.  Their children at play.  Their teens leaving for college.  Their family over for Sunday dinner.  Portraits of their grandparents or their visits together with them.

I don’t.

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I know how to make photographs. But we live in a time when there are so many photos that we all see everyday, that it seems impossible to get people to even think about bringing me over, camera in hand, to document their family.

They don’t even consider it.  (When was the last time YOU thought of it?)

It’s certainly not like people used to think, to go to photographers for family photographs.  Our families grow up so fast, we blink and we’ve missed it, but we still don’t think to bother getting “real photographs”.  

But it’s so important. I, along with many futurists, believe that many of the digital snaps we’re making today won’t last 20 years, due to failed computers, phones and hard drives.  (Can you even find a photo of your grandma from five years ago that you took on that old phone that’s long been replaced?)

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But the images I shoot will.  (Your great grandchildren would say, “Yes, please get some photos, we want to see you.”)

But I still don’t get those calls. And the kids grow up. The college kids move out.  Family moves too far away for Sunday dinners.  Grandparents pass away. And then it’s too late—the moments have passed. There’s no going back.

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I am not an inexpensive photographer. In fact, I may be the most expensive photographer working locally–my base rate for a portrait session is several hundred dollars. That’s what 30+ years of experience gets you, but really only my commercial clients are paying my rate.

Truth be told, regular people aren’t even calling.  As I said, I don’t think they even think about it like families used to.

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So, I was thinking about how making portraits are so important to me.  If there were a way I could work to make some every day, even if I’m not getting my rate, how fulfilling that would be.

I saw a poet working on the street with a typewriter with a sign that read, “Name a subject, name a price, get a poem.”

So, I got to thinking, maybe it would take working like this for people to bring me in to take some photos.  Maybe the price is prohibitive.  Or at least easily dismissed, considering we all have a camera in our pocket.

“Name a time, name a price, get a photograph.” 

I’ll bring a camera.  You pay what you can.  I get to create.

I get to make that portrait of your grandpa that would not otherwise be made.  It can even be at his senior home–I’ll go to him.

And it can be anywhere in the Front Range of Colorado, Los Angeles or Philadelphia, because I frequently work in all three areas.

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That photograph of your kid and his friends running around the backyard playing ball,  you’ll cherish it because they grow up so fast.

Your family on a local fishing trip.

Your teen with their first car.

You get photographs–both digital images you can share online and real prints that you can frame and live with in your home, because prints matter.  Those are actual photographs.  They are the ones that will last generations, the printed ones.

Then I wondered, would anyone call me?  I have a commercial shoot tomorrow.  But not the next day.  What a great day that would be to shoot some amazing photographs of a family or loved ones.  On an ordinary day, that isn’t really ordinary because everyday is an extraordinary one, to be together, to be alive.

So, I put this to you.  Name a time.  Name a price.  Get a photograph. 

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I’ll bring a camera and shoot a roll of film.  Or maybe 12 frames.  Whatever I decide. (Yes, I’ll shoot film, because that’s what will last, and its look is magical, the images have soul–all the photos on this page were made on film.)

I’ll shoot with my own creativity.  My own ideas, since I’m the artist and you’re not exactly hiring me.

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You can even pay nothing after all is done.  You only pay what you think it’s worth to you.

I will still have gotten to make the photographs, and document the most important people in your life.  And that matters.  (If you don’t want them, I can sell them to your great grandchildren!)

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And it’s not happening now, so why not?  If I make this available, let’s see what happens.  The only thing that can–beautiful family portraits made that will be cherished for generations to come.

Will anyone call?  We’ll find out.

720.982.9237 is my number.   Now it’s up to you to make the call.

I look forward to capturing the light of your family!

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I can’t make photographs like everyone else.  I really can’t!

I’m not taking the typical photograph everyone else is taking: soft background, pastel feel shallow depth, high-key background. You know the look. It’s the same look every wedding and portrait photographer is doing. And it’s why every photo looks the same.

Have you seen wedding galleries lately?  Same mason jars with soft focus on one tiny edge with the name tag inside, tilted frame, background blown out.  Same farm-to-table wedding with rustic barn wood and fresh wildflowers as the next one.

It’s like they are all created with the same exact art director.  High-key,  over-processed, almost like a commercial for a wedding.  A set up, created event.

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It’s why all portraits look like that.  Same look.

The photographs are all interchangeable because their presets are the same. The photographers’ Lightroom (post-processing software) settings are copied and shared among them.  Their photographs all look like “they’re supposed to look” as fits the current trends, so people will want them.  They’ve adopted the look that sells.

And so, people do want them, and sell they do.  Kind of like the Disney princess wedding, that look that young girls are sold on, the one that says fancy and special.  Glamorized and stylized.  Overpriced and debt-creating.  Fake, but so what?

Unique, not at all.

I don’t want every wedding photograph to look like a catalog shoot.  I don’t want every image to be oozing style–yes you have a great lens, and great editing toning presets–what about content?  Where are the moments, the bits of serendipity, the unexpected shots, like the flower girl fighting with the ring bearer under the church pew?  I don’t see those photographs.

elena-ferrer-199566-unsplashBut the flower arrangements, shot with another jaunty dutch angle, perfectly created with just the tip of the petal in focus with the latest Canon or Nikon behemoth of a camera: “Guess how many megapixels I have?”  They’ve got that photo!

It’s not that I don’t care about sharpness.  I don’t care only about sharpness.  Or that you can print it the size of a billboard.  Where’s the story of the day?  Where are those photographs, the ones with  the emotional punch?

Because cameras are very good now at taking sharp photos.  But making photographs, photographing moments that are fleeting but must be caught, those take photographers.

The best compliment I ever received was from a client who said, “Yours don’t look like that. Yours look like… yours.”

It’s because I don’t use presets–my photographs can’t look like everyone else.  I create an original photograph based on what I see while in the session.  Each one is a unique shoot.  I have no preconceived ideas of what I’ll do, no matter how much I think about it ahead of time.

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Daughter and Mom Portrait on Kodak Tri-X Film

Plus I shoot on film.  Real film.  Which has a look I call “soul”.  It’s a bit removed from reality.

It’s not as sharp as digital, perhaps, or it exhibits some grain, but it has that quality, that feeling of a dream–past tense.  Like a moment captured in time.  And it truly is–the light that was reflecting on that person is what created the negative, that’s what made the image, which will now last for generations.  Something that was there with them–the light–is now stored on the film.

I really have no idea what look I’ll create when I start a shoot–I leave it up to the session and see what works for me for a photograph.  I’m creating as I go, looking for interesting light and good places for setups.

Because for real photographs, just like real life, there are no presets.

Create your own style.  Forget trends.  Make your art.  Create photographs as you see them.

It matters–we all have our own vision, our own view. And it’s important to share our way of seeing.  It’s a view no one else can deliver.  No one else has what we have.

Then it will be a unique view, a special photograph.

I’ll take a slightly soft emotional moment to the razor-sharp technically perfect but vapid photograph every time.

I don’t create photographs for likes. I make photographs that will still exist in 50 years, long after the swipe is through, through gallery and book projects.

That’s why I shoot on film, and make gallery-quality prints. These aren’t for likes.

I’m looking for two kinds of photographs to make, one for my Roy Stryker Documentary Project (RoyStryker.com) of your family, and the other for my Wise Photo Project photographing our incredible seniors.

ROY STRYKER DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

Last year, I documented a family’s Thanksgiving and was able to create a book of those photographs for them, in addition to adding the photographs to the Roy Stryker Documentary Project.tgiving

I also photographed a group of high-school kids at home for lunch for the project. The purpose is to document real life today, not the stylized Instagram-filtered life posing for the camera, but real life.

I will be contacting some of you directly, but I want to photograph an ordinary day in the life of many families, and if yours is interested, you can contact me.

I want:

● A dad playing catch with his son.

● A person at work, especially in a job that has strong visuals or a place most people never get to see.

● A mom driving the kids to school.

● A couple staying home and hanging on the porch on a Friday night.

● A teenager hanging posters in their room.

● Real people doing real things.

Not extraordinary things. Not graduating. A Sunday dinner, not just a holiday dinner.

Bill Owens did a similar project with a classified ad request to local families in the 1970s, and there’s a wonderful book of images from it called, ‘Suburbia‘, with photographs that wouldn’t exist without his effort to document ordinary life at that time.

THE WISE PHOTO PROJECT

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The second project, I am creating large-format environmental portraits of seniors, doing something that they love. Like the fisherman. There’s something to a portrait that goes beyond the picture, and becomes a slice or moment of a life. That’s what the Wise Photo Project is all about.

I want:

● A senior playing golf or other activity

● A senior working on a car

● A senior at home reading the newspaper

● A senior engaged in any aspect of their life that defines them.

There’s no cost to you for either project. You’ll receive a copy of the photograph. Both projects are being created for gallery exhibits, and hopefully book projects and museum shows.

This fall, I’ll be traveling across the U.S. and scheduling shoots for both photo projects, so if you are located between Colorado and Pennsylvania, let me know, perhaps I can make a shoot work in your town. And then later into winter, I’ll be working from Colorado to California, so let me know where you’re located.

Photographers make photographs.Please help me if you’re interested in participating by calling 720.982.9237 or emailing info@kennethwajda.com.

 

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Ohmigod, is that a Saturn?  And look, remember when you had to pedal your bike!

The year is 2066.

We’re teleporting to different parts of the earth, holding meetings on virtual beaches while sitting at home, and having robots do all the chores.

And we’re using the latest camera technology, which means no camera at all–just look at something and it’s captured.

We’re lamenting not having any photos from the first quarter of the century, since we didn’t bother to print any of our pictures, and they all got lost in dead computers and outdated phones and hard drives that last booted up decades ago.  And some old program, Facehead, or something, that was supposed to save them all.  Yeah right!

Plus, we don’t have any computers that use USB anymore!   How ancient that technology!

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My Leica M2, still going strong in 2066.

As we sit looking out the window, our Leica M2s and M3s and Rolleiflexes still just as functional as they ever were, we load a roll of film and take a walk to go capture some street photos of the day.

The sky is full of PTDs–personal travel devices.  Everywhere, our brains connect with each other through telepathic waves.  Cars have long ago ceased to exist.

And we find ourselves thinking about the good old days.  Like 50 years ago, when things were simpler.  Sure there was that terrible fiasco with President Trump, but thankfully he was quickly arrested and tried for his crimes.  And then President Sanders’ brought all nations together.  War ended and America prospered, which is why we have such a great economy, plentiful jobs and USA-made robots and devices today.

But still, taking photos of present day just doesn’t seem as cool as the old days.  Back then, there were those cool Nissan Rogues, BMW sedans and those crazy Mini Coopers.  God, haven’t seen one of those in years!

What I wouldn’t do to be able to go back in time to 2016 and photograph them.  What a treat that would be.  But that’s crazy talk.

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Look at that old BMW, when they still had wheels!  And drivers!

That’s just what we did in 2016, fifty years ago, when we were enamored by photos of old cars from the 1960s and 1970s.  So busy looking at the old cars, we missed the shots of those cool 2016 cars then.

All I know is I’m glad my Leicas lasted.  And my Rolleiflex.  Because when film made its resurgence in 2022, we were the only ones who knew how to make real photographs.  The rest make memory records, but we make photographs.

Which is why we’re the wealthiest photographers because of our forethought.  Way to go!

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“Ah, look, the good old days.”  (Overheard circa 2016)

Time traveling.  That’s what people will be doing 50 years from today in 2116–looking back on life in 2066 (“Ah, the good old days,” they’ll say.).

That photo of the PTD fuel station that looks like nothing now, just a bunch of hovering vehicles powering up?  Add 50 years.  It needs time to become valuable.  Once time passes, familiar elements fade away.  Buildings change.  The cars, the shops, the cities.  Then the photos take on meaning.

I’m no math whiz, but here’s the equation: [P+T-GP!]   (Photograph + Time = Great Photograph!)  The photo needs to be good, too.  Let’s not forget that.

Ask Stephen Shore.  Or William Eggleston. They both knew the equation.

If I were back in 2016, I’d go out and shoot ordinary things, with an eye to the future.  Because maybe I’m not shooting them for me.  Maybe they’re historical photos for the Shorpy galleries of tomorrow.  (So glad that company is still going strong, with galleries around the world.)

But alas, I can’t time travel.  They say that technology will be ready in another twenty years but they’ve been saying that forever.

I better get shooting!

I am a working commercial photographer, who shoots in both film and digital.  Often, digital is required because the client needs the images in a very short turnaround.  And they need a great quantity of images.  Digital is good for that.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that PROJECTS are not going to get you anywhere but closer to paying this month’s bills.  To make a name for yourself, to get successful, you need PRODUCT.

The difference, I see, is like this.  A book is a product.  It can sell for years to come.  A gallery show is a product–it’s an event featuring you and your work.  A film, a record, a book, a short story, these are all products, and you can create a career with them.

But photographing a freelance job that gets images for one purpose, even if you can shoot ten of them a week, is still a project.  The project ends, and there is no lasting value, except perhaps to photograph it another time.  Many clients in this business end up being one and outs.  Those shoots pay the bills, and that’s all they do.

Products aren’t about creating for someone else’s needs.  Products are the result of creating for your own needs.  Putting your name on the cover and calling it your love.  And risking they may not buy it, like it.  They may even call it worthless and ridicule you.  But if it’s your vision, that’s what is valuable.  Your willingness to say something.  That’s the basis of product.

So, my focus is on my products, not projects.  It’s how I can go farther in my career and create lasting value in my work.  It’s how I can create legacy–my products are all that will be remembered.  Names are forgotten.  People disappear.  But we know the work.

That work is the product.  And that is what we must work for.

I AM LYONS COLORADO is a book I published in 2013.  It’s a product.  It exists in people’s homes and in the local library.

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