Posts Tagged ‘pennsylvania’

I was talking with another photographer recently and he brought up that he misses hanging out at camera shops.

I knew exactly what he meant. In the days of film, that was the place to meet, to see gear, talk and hang out with other photographers.

There was still a little bit at risk when making a photograph.  And skill needed.  It could be that the photos wouldn’t turn out, the exposure was off.  Or the subject moved. We talked about techniques. We talked about photographic subjects. We talked photography.

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I worked at The Camera Shop Inc. in the Oxford Valley Mall as a teenager, upstairs by Bamberger’s, if I recall correctly.  It was such a good job, and we got to meet all the local photographers and shutterbugs who’d come in.

That’s all gone, in this age of digital phone snaps.  There’s no more photography, with all the skills and tricks, there’s just the phone.

Snap, swipe, never look at it again.

When they added electronics, the big box stores like Best Buy and Circuit City took over the camera sales, and put the small camera shops out of business.  Not all, but many.  And many of the shops lived on film processing profits, and digital photography knocked that out, too.

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This is Central Camera in Chicago, a favorite place of Vivian Maier, if you know her story.  If not, look her up.  You’re in for a treat.  She’d hang out there.

Back when we hung out as photographers.

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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