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And to all my photographer friends: Here’s to Good Light!

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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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A short while ago, I published this post:

Publishing Four Very Important Photo Books in 2019

Since then, I’ve completed three of the books (one person couldn’t get it together) and they’re on their way. In the process, here’s what I learned.

1. People don’t know where their photos are.
2. They don’t know how to find them when they try searching.
3. They feel overwhelmed with too many to choose from to pick 50.
4. The photo quality is variable, from low-resolution to print-resolution.
5. They’re confused with how to save and export photos.
6. Everything about it is difficult.

 

 

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This all fascinates me. We live in a technologically-advanced age and we think more is more, and we have it better than anyone ever did with so many things, photography included, and yet people can’t find their photos when they need to print them.

We really are in an age where photography is enjoyed for a second on a phone–that’s where they’re made for and consumed–and then dismissed.

You would think things would be easier now, with all the photos we’re taking, that they would automatically be instantly available. But that’s the problem with too much of anything, it just accumulates and confuses–“Where do I find the one I want among this glut of images? Those old hard drives? Laptop computers I used to use?”

Does photography as a book or a print on a wall, is that an idea from a bygone era, like the tintype, cabinet cards and daguerreotypes?

I was looking at a young friend’s Facebook page trying to find a photo I had made at  their party, and while I was scrolling through, not finding it, I found dozens of photos like these.  Posed and selfie group shots.

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I looked further and found more posed and selfie group shots.  Decently composed, but all the same.

Is that all we are making these days? Has the phone become ubiquitous with selfies and nothing else? I see no photos of their cars, them doing anything, playing a game, talking at a coffee shop, working on a puzzle, nothing.

Just posed selfie group shots or single shots.

I was genuinely surprised, not that there’s anything wrong with selfies, but I was shocked not to find anything else, and wondered if people are shooting them and i just missed it, or is this all there is?

I used to joke with my oldest brother when he had kids, “Do they like to do anything besides standing and smiling in front of things?” Now, I’m thinking that that may be all people are shooting, and the candid photographs have gone by the wayside.

A friend of mine even said she misses all the closed eye photos and other “outs” that are deleted before they’re ever seen.

I sure hope that’s not the case, and there are some unposed photos still being made. To me, the candids are the true storytelling photographs. The ones I most enjoy looking through.

It started with a social media post. And it was an idea that would change the world.

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See, these four books for four friends are the most significant photo books I’ll publish this year. And they’re not even my photos.

Because those folks weren’t going to make photo books. They weren’t going to print any photos. And it’s true, the world will be changed by my making these photo books, because their grandchildren and great grandchildren will know who their grandparents and great grandparents are as a result.  Because of me.

By saving these 200 photos, 50 pictures per family, I’m preserving their family history–photos that would probably not have been printed and would have been lost to the digital glut, a product of the Digital Dark Age with no photos (since no one is printing) and millions of photos lost every day with broken phones, dead hard drives and any number of lost files.

“Where is that photo of grandma from 2008? Hmm…”

But these four books are more than four books. They got people talking. The ones who aren’t getting free books are also talking about the idea of photo books. And asking about how to go about making up one.

These four books are the conduit to a conversation that wasn’t happening before I posted the free offer. Sure, it’ll cost me a few bucks to create and print, but the return is well worth it if we create legacy books of family history, snapshots that tell their family’s story.

While it may even lead to some other paid orders, the truth is I’d rather show people how they can do it themselves and empower them to make their own. It’s not difficult, it’s just not in their wheelhouse, yet, but can be with just a little know-how. Something I can teach them.

So, these four books will change the world. And more than any other books I put out this year–I do have one that’s a guide to street photography, a 20-page chapbook I am offering for the holidays–these are the ones I know will make a difference in keeping family memories in photos alive.

For that, I’m grateful! What a gift to give to future generations.

Do you know someone you can offer to print a photo book? This idea grows if more people create more work as a result. Which is why I am writing about it.  It’s starting conversation, and it can continue.

Happy Holidays!

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.

I was reading quotes from famous artists, and one of them said something to the effect: “When I go to the canvas with a preconceived idea, those are usually not as good as the ones where I go with no idea what I will paint, and just paint.”

Effectively, going to the sandbox to play.  Because creativity is play.  Creative activity.  The ability to make something out of nothing.

I’ve been taking that to heart and using it for a photography project.  The idea is I have a model, I have outfits, and I have a camera, but I don’t have a subject in mind to shoot.  I can create anything I want.  And so far, what I’ve created isn’t at all what I would have thought to create.  It’s in the creation that they came to be.

I’m working on the photographs for a book project, so won’t post any here, but there is certainly a way to work, as this old photojournalist has to break his thought process and just get in the sand.  And play.

And play.

Sometimes the first photo doesn’t seem so inspired.  Shoot it anyway.  It may lead to another photo.  And that one may be the inspired one.  The inspiration may come when you stop thinking, stop looking for it.

It’s crazy magical that way, the way it works, the way it manifests.

There’s something to it, when the muse is allowed to play.  Pick up the camera, look through the viewfinder, and shoot something you’ve never shot before.

Create a scene.  Play with light and your subject.  See what you come up with.

I’m using a vintage Mamiya C330S twin-lens reflex medium format film camera, just to add to the process, on a tripod, carefully framing and exposing the negative.

Oh, let the muse play!