Posts Tagged ‘colorado’

I have a difficult time making photographs sometimes. It’s because I know what I want a photograph to do, how I want it to look composition-ally, or story-wise, or just the right light. And when those don’t come together in some combination, I don’t fire the shutter.

It just sits, idle, waiting.

I’m reading a book about the beauty of everything, and I believe what it is saying–that there is inherent beauty in everything. Not just the things we’ve been told are beautiful. Things that have been drilled into us–“This here is beautiful.”

But how do you un-see and how do you un-know what you do see and do know?

If I look at a Walker Evans photograph, like this one, Negroes’ Church, South Carolina, 1936″, he didn’t wait for the light to be early in the day or late in the evening. Or people to be entering or exiting.  He was documenting the church when he was passing it. The very act of him photographing it creates the picture’s importance, and why we’re still looking at it 80+ years later.

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Negroes’ Church, South Carolina, 1936

There’s beauty in the act of framing the photograph.  And there’s beauty in the ordinary, the mundane, the regular stuff.

I went on a photo walk recently with a photographer friend to a rural town heading east called Platteville, and we each brought old film cameras.  I was shooting a Mamiya C330S with a wide-angle 55mm lens and Kodak Ektar film (expired 2011, shot at box speed).  The very act of shooting it made me look for subjects to shoot, and so I was able to find them.

There is something to putting the frame up and seeking a photograph.  There is something to being on a time frame–the photo walk starts now and goes til dusk when we’ll stop and then get a beer.

Structure, deadlines, they make things happen.  If I weren’t on the lookout for these images, I wouldn’t have seen them and wouldn’t have stopped to make them.

It’s an incredibly important part of the creative process–to show up.  To schedule time for the muse to join us and work to create.

And in a world where technology seems to value the quick and instant ability to share phone snaps, there was a real specialness to shooting these 12 frames, and then sending the film off to be processed and waiting for the results.  Having the thrill of seeing the photographs once they were finished and I had stepped away from them.

To see them with fresh eyes.

To have had time to play with color. To seek out compositions. As a photographer who often gets asked what’s the best way to learn to make photographs, I say, go out and make photographs.  Work to create pictures in a set time frame and you and the muse, play.

Photography is a wonderful art. It allows us to stop time so we can revisit it later.  To go back to that Negros’ church in 1936.  To visit Platteville in 2019.  And to document our lives and the lives of our families and friends so that we will always be able to go back and savor those times.

But we’re not limited to these images.  We can photograph small details.  Little things that we think of when we think of someone.  The way they hang their coat on a chair.  The indentation on their pillow after they get up in the morning.

We just have to see that there’s beauty surrounding us.  And not to wait for the only moments we’ve been conditioned to see.

I live in Colorado, and while nature is pretty and mountains are beautiful, I’m not drawn to photographing trees, lakes and landscapes.

I like people.  It’s because I’ve been a photojournalist my whole life, and for me it’s much more exciting to photograph a spirited interaction between a couple, a kiss, a funny face, a human storytelling moment, than it is to catch an eagle in flight.  Both take lightning quick reflexes, but for me, the street offers one-of-a-kind photographs that can’t be planned or predicted.

It’s wild life, not wildlife.

And it’s full of so many expressions and stories,  For me, life in the street is where I like to go.  Plus, I get exercise while trekking down the sidewalks, working the street (which is why good shoes are one of a street photographer’s greatest piece of gear).  Sure, you get exercise hiking into a location, but to me, the ever-changing scene, the unknown around the next corner, the human story that might be unfolding, that is what fuels me to keep going out.

Not to the summit.  But the next block.

Like a barefoot woman running across 10th Street in Boulder.

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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One of the greatest things about living in Colorado is the beer.  But the next best thing is the scenery!  Wow!

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With that in mind, and the holidays upon us, please consider a purchase of a NATURE PHOTOGRAPH for someone for a gift.   Or for yourself.

Colorado Nature Photography Gallery

Thank you!

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I’ve been a fan of the New York Times LENS blog and the Boston Globe’s THE BIG PICTURE blog, so I started one in Boulder, CO.  Looking for contributors–photographers and writers.  Take a look.  It should be a fun ride.  BOULDER VIEWFINDER.

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