Posts Tagged ‘photo’

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.

How could that possibly be a good thing, having your work rejected, you ask.  Well, let me tell you about myself.  I’ve both won awards as a photojournalist and haven’t won awards as a photographer.

Why is that?  Timing.  Placement.  What the curators want.

I have my brand of photography–documentary photography, photojournalistic storytelling, street life photography.  I believe in myself and know I have my own view.  It’s not copying anyone.  It’s uniquely me.

Knowing that, I pursue it and keep working at it.

And I get rejected all the time in contests and competitions.

So.  [Shrugs]

It means that my work isn’t what they’re looking for.  What are they looking for?  Maybe what they envision the art to look like.  Like it’s always looked like.  The regular kind.

Not straight, perhaps.  Little weird, maybe.  “That’d be cool for the show,” they might think.  “Like a cow wearing roller skates.  That’s way rad!”  If that’s what they want, I have nothing to offer them.

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It doesn’t matter the reason.  Maybe they just didn’t like it.  What is their experience with photography, and what do they like?   Where is their history, what defines them?  What is their agenda for what they want their show to look like?

What is it about them liking it or not liking it that makes me okay with it?  To me, it’s not about the acceptance.  It’s about the placement.  I guess if my work isn’t accepted, it’s not right for them in this show.  My work wouldn’t have fit so it’s better to not be included.  And misfit.

They must have a different kind of work in mind.  Okay.  Do I stop doing what I do and change up to try and please them?  No, of course not.  That’s impossible.  We can only create our vision.  Our view.  And we must be true to it.   (Mine doesn’t include cows and roller skates!)

No one can create what we can the way we can.  That’s our vision, our brand.  We must work at building it.  And one day, when they are looking for something different, something unlike what they thought they wanted to find, but instead discovered something else, something you make, your work will be incredible to them.  And you’ll be included in their show.  And they’ll love it.

And they’ll wonder why you didn’t submit sooner.

But that’s not every show.  Every competition.  Every contest.

Every show isn’t ready for our vision.  But we don’t dare stray from our truth.  Our art.

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If you’re an actor and you go into a casting session for a role, and you’re 5’6″ tall and they want someone 5’9″, they have a preconceived notion of what they want and you will never get the part.  You can nail the audition, you can bring the casting director to tears, you still won’t get it, you never had a chance.  Because you don’t fit the size they want.

Same if you have red hair and they want a brunette.  You can’t play where you never had a chance to play.  But you can only be you, all 5’6″ and redheaded as you are.

What’s your work?  What do you believe in?  Make that.  Make only that.  Create your truth, your point of view.  You have something uniquely to say.

I see my work as a constant creation.  I add photo stories to the RoyStryker.com documentary photo project three times a week (sometimes with other photographers, and you can contribute, too.)  I create portraits on film.  I shoot street life photographs–these will be a huge hit in 30 years, because time makes them valuable!

Someday, my work will be featured.  My work will be chosen.  But not every time, not every contest.  Not today, as I just got a “We regret to inform you…” email.

Even when I won press awards back at the newspaper I worked at, I often said, “Change the judges and you get all different results.”  It’s true.  Plus, there were photographers who weren’t very good photojournalists who were often the award-winners.  It doesn’t always mean an award-winning photographer is necessarily a great photographer.  It even makes me question the value of my win–“Yeah, but you also like THAT?”

Competitions are about what fits what they want.  Where does your work fit?  Keep making it and they’ll find you.  Your work will get discovered, when they’re ready for it.

So, maybe we don’t fit today.  Maybe this show isn’t for us.  Ok, good to know.  Move on.  Keep working.

We’re making our vision.  They’ll come to see it one day.

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.

01.01.2019 – All those ones!  Beginnings!

It’s a new year, 365 possibilities lie ahead.  What will we do with them?  What will we create?

For me creation is the source, the inspiration, that gives me so much that is my reason for being.  I live to create photographs, stories, and even time spent with family and friends, that’s creative too, as we share stories.

In the new year, I plan to create even more photographs and stories, plus continue to teach others what I know about making photographs.  I believe we can never have too much to offer, we can never give away too much that it threatens what we are.  No one is going to ever replace us–we each have a unique vision and sharing what we know is important, so that others have the tools to create their own works.

So, share what you know with everyone who asks.  Put it to others how you do what you do, fearlessly.  Because people are eager to learn, and there are no secrets.

There’s only creation, including getting others the inspiration and tools to create their own.

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A study in contrasts, Lyric Theater, Fort Collins, CO.

If you are making photographs, find a gallery or office lobby or coffeeshop that hangs local art and have a show.  Get your work in front of others and showcase your vision.  You have something to say that I can never say.  Because you are you, and see in your unique way.

If you are thinking about gear, either get it, or forget it.  And get shooting.  Photographers make photographs.  Most cameras these days are quite capable. Put them in the hands of a pro, and you’ll see it’s not the camera.  So, you be the pro.  Get out there and shoot.  Learn from your successes and don’t show the photographs that don’t work.  That don’t tell a unique story.

Great editors make great photographers.  Edit your work tightly.  The less you show, the better the collection is.  Don’t show two of the same thing–you’re the storyteller, why are you repeating yourself?  You’re the artist, which one do you like–show that one.  It’s not the viewer’s job to make the choice.

That way, the viewer knows they’re in good hands, of a competent storyteller.

You can shoot by pounding the pavement–it’s great exercise, bring comfortable shoes–or on your way to work out the car window.  Whatever works.

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Photograph made out the car window, Rochester NY.

But make art.  Be the visionary.  Give the world your view.  Because we need it and no one can give it your way but you!

Happy New Year, 2019!  Here’s to great light!

This is why I shoot Elderly Photo Visits.  It gives me the chance to preserve memories that will last long after our parents and grandparents are gone.  And will be cherished by generations to come.

I printed this photo and gave it to several family members in frames I picked up at Goodwill (50% off sale today, yay), because without printing our photos, they really don’t exist.  So, print your photos.  Frame them and live with the memories in your home.

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When will it happen to your photos?  (Because it eventually will!)

Today someone asked me if I knew how to restore photos from their phone that they accidentally erased.

No one erases the photos on the wall! Print your photos!

It’s just a matter of time when your photos will be unable to be found due to the sheer quantity of images made, buried on a hard drive of an old computer, accidentally deleted, or just plain lost in the phone that goes missing.

http://YourFamilyPhotoAlbums.com – I offer a full-service professional lab with photo preparation, toning and sizing for output.

Imagine looking through a real photo album this holiday season and every holiday season. That’s what I do!

I serve clients throughout the U.S. and a gift of an album next holiday season would make a great holiday gift this season. Gift cards are available!

You can call me with any questions: 720.982.9237

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Made with a Rolleiflex T twin-lens reflex camera on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado, it’s a moment captured on film that has a feeling all its own.  And very few of the digital photos being taken today will last 50 years, like this will.  Because this negative is physical–I can hold it in my hand.

She was working across the outdoor mall at a store, and saw my Rolleiflex, and came over, explaining that she’s a Rolleiflex shooter as well.

I am a proponent of legacy portraits on film, and this right here, is why.  Printed in a real darkroom on photographic paper, 12×12 framed, this is a stunning portrait for any room of the house.