Posts Tagged ‘photography’

I’m a journalist with a camera.  Or a storyteller with a camera.  I’ve come to realize photojournalism defines me.  My photography.  My approach to seeing the world.

I was listening to a podcast with a street photographer and she said she documents what makes her think of her childhood.  Another photographer said they are drawn to light and shadow.  Not me–I’m a story guy.  I want to capture the story of people wherever I find them.

I am the founder of the RoyStryker.com documentary photo project, and it’s all about capturing human stories in the U.S.  Because that’s who we are and that’ s what I see and seek out.

Interesting light is nice, but without a story leaves me feeling nothing.  Creamy bokeh and amazing technique are both worthless to me without content.  Because story is what I need, what I think most of us seek in a photograph.

Other street photographers look to juxtapose interesting elements–an advertisement and a person, a color pattern, or something that makes for a geometric image.  They’ll wait until the elements line up perfectly to get their shot.  Those are fun to look at, but I need story, too.  Otherwise, those are just people plucked and placed into the composition, but they may have no connection to it other than the photographer’s sense of humor.

I can’t stay put that long, a story may be around the next corner.

I’m teaching a street photography workshop this week, and the only thing I can possibly teach is to see people and look for stories.  Because that’s all I see, so it’s all I can help others see.  Like a photojournalist, find the story and document it with images.  Tell the story.

Two people walking with inner tubes is not that interesting, but the chivalry of this guy is what makes this photo a keeper. If you have to get your tube to the river, get a guy like this!  It’s serendipity that I would see them the moment they were crossing the river.  And that there’s another tuber in the river below.

Story.  It’s who we are.  It’s what we were.  It’s even in the word HiSTORY.

There’s no telling where it will appear next.  We just have to go out and look for it.  Wear comfortable shoes!

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You’re not going to take less pictures.
You’re not going to backup your pictures.
You’re not going to print your pictures.
So, you’re not really making photographs.
(Just snaps/notes for a quick look/like.)

In the future,
you’re not going to have any photographs,
Since there are no photographs.
They don’t exist.
(You can’t save what you didn’t make.)

American CoolFebruary 7, 2014 through September 7, 2014

Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.  (By photographers!)

The state of photography is at a low point.
Someone said, “Of course all photos are crap now.”
Everyone thinks they’re a “photographer”,
How can that be, since no one makes photographs?

Obviously, there are very few photographers.
Since photographers make photographs.
And they’re not making photographs.
They’re making notes, glances and likes.

Call them phone recordists. Digital capturers.
Social media snappers. Like gatherers.
Just don’t call them photographers,
When they don’t make photographs.

You’re not a fireman because you have a hose.
You’re not a lion tamer because you have a chair.
You’re not a photographer because you have a camera.
You’re not a photographer, period, if you don’t make photographs.

So, stop saying you are!

 

 

I wanted to gather all U.S. photographers who shoot street photographs, to collect their information into one place.  So, I have at StreetPhotoDB.com.


spdb

It’s divided up by state, so add your work with the submit button in the menu.  And check out the other photographers.  It’s brand new, so not a lot on there yet, but we’re building.  With your help…

I’ve added my site and a photo on the Colorado page.  And I added John Free from California, who I know is a street photographer there.

No telling what this will become, but you have to start somewhere and work to build great new things.  Here’s to great light.  Happy shooting!

The words in the title were spoken to me by a very experienced, award-winning professional photographer and the photo editor at the newspaper where I worked for many years.

He went on to say that photography is insignificant now.  The sheer quantity that is made and made available to see makes it less fun to create, less fun to look at.  There’s a huge swath of mediocrity, and it’s in front of us at all times.

We can’t avoid it.

I responded that there were always poor photographs made by snapshooters. He said, when he was young, his father would load a roll of film into a camera and it would last four years.  He has only a half-dozen photographs of himself as a youngster for that reason.

And he cherishes those photographs!

But now, people are shooting thousands of photographs a week.  They’re going on vacations and experiencing it from behind a screen.  They’re filling up cards, hard drives, and distributing them in real- time–“Look at me and what I’m doing right this second!”

Here was a guy traveling to Colorado to go skiing and taking time out to meet with me, and he didn’t even bring a camera, just his Samsung phone.  “Because who cares?”

blur, camera, capture

He said when he went on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, he shot maybe 10 photographs.  And then he hasn’t looked at them since, and hasn’t shown them to anyone.  His wife doesn’t care.  His daughter doesn’t want to see them.

And really, what would they look at them on, their phone?  Talk about insignificant!

He’s a great cataloger of his photographs. All his images are tagged with keywords, so they can be located, because as he said, “A photo you can’t find is like not having a photo at all.”  But what good is it?  He says when he’s gone, no one is going to want them–his files and hard drives of photographs.

But those half-dozen when he was a kid–those photographs…now those…<He lights up!>

Because things that are scarce, we value more.  Things that are too available, who cares?  Like photography today.  Everyone thinks they’re a photographer.  Everywhere you go photos are being snapped.  It makes it less than exciting to look at.

Silhouette of a Man Playing Saxophone during SunsetIt’d be like taking up the saxophone, and going outside and finding everyone’s playing a saxophone.  Everyone is posting themselves playing the saxophone.   It would get old.  Quick.

I suggested even all those cataloged photographs are worthless unless they’re printed.  Without making them into physical prints, they won’t survive for 50 years. He countered with, “Who’s going to carry around this heavy box of prints?”  He knows his daughter doesn’t want to move them.  So, they’re as good as done, once the hard drives fail or new technology supersedes them.

We seem to think that whatever is easy is the best way to go, but perhaps we’ve been cursed by the glut of images, our depictions of commonness in all the photographic forums in real time, which exist to feed our egos–someone likes us–while really the reason is to market blenders and wrenches to us–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

So, are we at the end of an era?  Photography used to be creative.  It use to resonate.  A great photo would be printed, hung in a frame on a wall.  There were gallery shows. There were clubs.  People made photographs.  Real well thought-out photographs.

Now, photos have a shelf life of a quarter-second, long enough to hit LIKE and swipe to something else.

And anyway, who cares?

 

The year is 2087.  Your Great Grandchildren of the Future have a message for you:

“WTF?  Really? 

“Thanks a lot for not taking any photos that we can have. With all that new-fangled technology you had back in the early 2000s and 20-teens and your millions of photos a day, we get nothing?  No idea of what you looked like or what your life was like.   Are you going to use that lame “but the computer died” excuse, or “I lost my phone,” or “It’s not my fault that cloud service shut down?”

“Boo-effin-hoo. That was our family history you placed in the hands of some digital storage tech company you had no idea how and where they were putting it or some outdated technology, with no plan for us.   No strategy for your family.

Here’s a crazy idea: Phones are for talking on.  Copying a receipt maybe.  But not family photography!

computer

“Look, there’s Grandpa’s pic!”

“Why didn’t you print anything? We’d at least have them. Oh, no, you never thought to do that. That would’ve make them permanent, god forbid.  And would’ve cost you a buck, when for free, you could get a stupid ‘Like’.

“Not that many of them were any good, anyway, if that’s any consolation to us now.  Snapping away with a wide-angle lens at arm’s length ain’t exactly the greatest technique for quality photographs.  And wide-angle sucks for portraits–I bet you didn’t know.

“What happened to the professional studio photos? You know, the ones every other generation had, except yours, because you were too damn cheap to hire a photographer. That blurry photo of you and the family with your arm extended–we’re kinda glad that didn’t make it–it hurt to look at anyway, despite how many ‘great pic’ comments you got online from people who looked at it for a fraction of a second in all its blurry splendor. People who wouldn’t know a good photo if it fell from the sky and bit them on the ass, because all they were making were shitty ones themselves.

“In a sense, all your phone snaps were worthless, a waste of time, and now gone. You thought you were doing something, making photographs, and you weren’t.  You accomplished nothing.  You were just wasting your life on fleeting glances into your world that we’d never see.

And you missed Grandma’s and Mom’s weddings because instead of letting the professional photographer shoot it, you had to have your phone up the whole time.  The one time they had a pro, and you still had to keep shooting your stupid, lame crappy photos.

Did you bring snacks to help out the caterer, too?  And flowers for the tables?  No, why, because there was a pro there?  Then why’d you insist on snapping bad pics the whole damn time?

“You missed most of the things in your life by putting that stupid phone up everywhere you went–concerts, your children’s plays, fireworks on the 4th of July–“Hey, let’s get together and watch the video of last year’s fireworks display, said no one ever!”

“We know better now, and we have cameras for photographs.  Actual cameras–can you believe it?  And we print photographs.  Because that’s what a photograph is!  Too bad you never found that out.  Too bad for us.

“All said and done, you shot too many photos, you printed none, and now, thanks to your short-shortsightedness, that whole part of our family history is lost in the glut of shitty frames that are dead in old tech.

Thanks a whole lot!  Way to go!”  [Slow clap]

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

nature1-13
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!

d2

Not everyone demands top quality from a photographer. But as a professional with 30-years of experience as an award-winning published photojournalist, that’s all I offer. It certainly costs more, but you get the best quality and service.

If you don’t want that, please don’t call me.

I don’t hand over image files because I care that they are finished professionally and look their absolute best–after all, it’s my work. Yet there are many people with cameras who will give you all the images after the shoot, saying, “Do what you want, print them at home, I don’t care. I just like to shoot and walk away.” If that’s what you want, I ain’t your guy.

If you would prefer cheap and quick over professional quality, please don’t contact me. If you don’t see the difference between professional photography and amateurs with a camera and some software presets, I can’t show you.

Just like if you can’t feel the difference between driving a Mercedes and a Kia, I can’t help you. And if you think Denny’s tastes as good as a chef-prepared meal, I’ve probably got nothing for you.

But if you can, expect to get something more delicious than you even imagined! Portfolio: KennethWajda.com – Studio phone: 720.982.9237