Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Photography used to be time travel. We took photographs, and then forgot them. That magic roll of film held the memory safe, tucked away in the dark to be revealed and relived at another time.

A trip to the Fotomat was highly anticipated–the roll finished and developed, it offered wonderful surprises, time travel, remembering and reliving moments, the essence of photography.

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In this instant digital world, that magic is missing, the distance between creating the photograph and reliving it is non-existent, perhaps why photography feels less fulfilling than it once did. I make a photo, I show it to you, you’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, it’s all done. Nothing left to do but the chore to get it to you, which I may never do, because who cares, you already saw it.

I made a portrait of a woman yesterday for The Wise Photo Project and I made it on a Hasselblad film camera on black and white film. Someone asked me why shoot film, and I said, “If I don’t shoot film, I have nothing to print in my darkroom. I need a negative to create a print by hand, a one-of-a-kind hand-printed silver portrait.”

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If her family wants to share it, they’ll have to visit her to see the print–that’s the product of these portrait shoots, a photograph. Framed. For real. Not a swipe left or right. Not an email or a scan. A real photograph to place in her house and have for future generations to keep and always know her face.

She’s looking forward to her portrait. She’ll be very happy when she sees the wonderful image of herself. I’m proud of it and that I had the opportunity to make it.

But she’ll have to wait for it.

Therein lies the magic.

And if you want to see it, well, you won’t find it here. You’ll have to stop over and visit her to see her portrait.

Maybe have a coffee and some conversation, too. Another bonus to creating an actual photograph–time spent together.

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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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5Everywhere I go, no matter what the event, the scene, the purpose, as soon as anything happens, it can be a marching band or a person opening a gift, everyone pulls out a phone and starts recording.

Everyone.

Why the instant reflex, the need to capture everything?

Everything.

Is it a natural reflex to get it all? Take it all back with us?

8Who is ever going to watch those fireworks from last year’s Fourth of July on their phone again? Or that marching band? Or that person opening those socks?

It happens at weddings to the point where people don’t even experience the event without a device–camera or phone–in front of them. And then there’s the mad rush to post their blurry wedding photos before anyone else. Why?

There’s even a trend to post signs at weddings about it being an unplugged wedding ceremony, asking guests to put away their phones and camera and enjoy the event.

My niece was getting married–I would have welcomed the wait to see the hired photographer’s quality work rather than the multitude of bad photos everyone posted in real time. It’s not like there’s no one there hired to photograph it. Why do we do this?

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I think it’s a habit, now it’s a reflex. Something happening=Shoot photos, record!

But at what expense? Do we lose anything by not attending the moment in-person fully.

There’s a beautiful movie called Before Sunrise with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and after they meet and spend a night walking around Vienna together, they wake up the next morning, in love, and have to part.

Watch this scene. He wants to take her photo, but doesn’t take her picture – it happens at the 1:20 minute mark. “I’m going to take your picture, so I never forget you, or all this.”

There’s something to be said for letting the image sear in our mind and heart, the result of fully experiencing it.

Isn’t there?

Or should we schedule some time to get together to watch these videos and see these photos? Because it hasn’t happened once for me, so far.

To me, all wedding photos look alike right now. It feels like advertising for the art director.

Whenever I see wedding photos in magazines or people’s posts, it seems like a lot of the same photographs of the decor and flowers and table settings like still life/product shots, like the bride and groom are more interested in the “look” of the wedding (especially with lotsa bokeh) than the emotional connections, the documenting of them and the people and the special moments shared.

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Yes, there’s the bride and groom kissing photo, but I mean the difficult photos, the other unplanned moments, the joy and expressions that aren’t scheduled, is anyone documenting them?

Unposed? A little messy? (‘Cause they’re real.)

Or is this the trend, pretty pictures of table settings and invitation cards and dresses on display?

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Does anyone care about, you know, real photos, the human stuff? Telling their unique family story?

Has digital photography made wedding photography homogenized? Does anyone else see this?

The greatest record album photo of all time is the Clash’s London Calling cover, and it’s a photo by British photographer Pennie Smith that she didn’t like because it’s a little out of focus, and there’s an overexposed man in the upper right corner of the frame, but it’s perfect because it captures a moment. It’s not technically great, it has a great subject.

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Any wedding photographers getting the bass-smashing photos?

Does it not matter if they’re not–it’s just the current culture?

I have a few different blogs that I post to, one regularly, RoyStryker.com, and one more occasionally, this one, 6x6portraits.com.

I also have a YouTube Channel, easy to remember its web address because I use HeresToGoodLight.com as an easy link to remember–I put out a video weekly.

Screen Shot 2019-12-09 at 9.09.56 PMAnd there’s a podcast I started up, daily. Yep, everyday, aptly named, Kenneth Wajda’s Daily Photography Blog.

And while I have over 4k subscribers to my YouTube channel, most of my other blogs only get 20-40 hits a day, That might seem insignificant to some, but I do it because I think of it as 20-40 people are coming to my theater and seeing my work, my writing or my photography each day.

And they come from around the world.  Literally, every corner of the world has viewers and readers. And while some people might think if you don’t have big numbers, it’s not a success, so why bother, I see it as quality delivery–if I make an impression on someone who takes the information to heart, who comes away empowered or inspired, that’s a superpower I have.

And not to tout my own horn, but that’s a gift, to be able to affect someone else around the globe, to make an impression that says, “Yep, you’ve got this,” or “Nope, that doesn’t work for me, and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s okay, maybe it’s not for everyone.”

My goal is to show everyone, photographer and non-photographer alike, that they can accomplish anything they set out to do. They just need to show up. We all need to show up, and make something. And show up again tomorrow. Despite the obstacles. There will always be things in the way. We have to keep at it.

A good book that inspired me, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  We have to build, and build, and go forward.

Everyone quits. We don’t quit. It’s why I’m writing this at a pub right now instead of watching TV. Because TV doesn’t do anything for me, I’m just watching a screen and seeing fictional stories of other peoples’ lives or actual stories of sports figures. I can’t give them my time, to watch them live–I have my life to live.

Photographs to make.

Words to write. (I also write screenplays and novels and I am seeking representation if you know someone to contact.)

Because words matter. Pictures matter. Connections matter.

And I create to connect, to build up, to empower and inspire. I hope you know you can do anything you set out to do. You just can’t quit. (Virtually everyone quits–they don’t really want to do it.) Something you really want to do, nobody has to talk you into doing. Nobody is forcing me to create words and photos.

It’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s not something I will someday retire from.

Because it’s me.

And as this Journey song is playing on the radio, Open Arms, as only Steve Perry could sing it, and my photographs documenting the street are ones only I could make, and portraits of family, and on and on, you have work that only you can make.

But we have to show up. Every day. And go to work.

We are at a crossroads, now more than ever.  At first it was just digital technology as a new way to capture light and make a picture. We all embraced it because it was no cost, no worry, shoot shoot shoot and delete later, or don’t. (Because let’s face it, we don’t delete, we just get more hard drives or up our iCloud plan.) There, done!

Then we filled computers with images like there was no tomorrow.  Thousands of photos downloaded from our digital cameras.  DSLRs.  Point and shoots.  All kinds of cameras shooting more and more megapixels.  Win!

More is more.  More is good.

Then phones got really good at shooting and sending a pic, and even if the form factor wasn’t very good, and the photo wasn’t as good as a camera, ah well, so what, it was good enough, and it had the added perk that it fit in our pocket and we could be sent now.  No need to download to our computers. Score!

Sure, the phone manufacturers charged quite a bit for these, not to mention that computer or laptop upgrade, hard drive purchases and Photoshop software licenses, but we still felt like it was free. Yay!

And we became video producers at concerts, shooting and posting whole songs to whole shows so our friends could hear Elton sing, too. Because we can.  And look where we are. Too bad for the people behind us–we’re working here. Impressive!

More is more. More is good.

And then we got computers to compute.  Computational photography, we can make everything work, and everything perfect.  We can fake blur the background in ‘portrait’ mode, no need for a real photographer. It’s not like they do anything more than our phones–good thing Avedon isn’t working today, that chump would be out of a job.  Loser!

We can even fake videos and make it look like people saying things they never said.  We have technology.  We win again!

It used to be the news was a good source if information, but then we got the internet and things got a bit cloudy, lines were blurred.  News outlets and not-so-trustworthy news outlets  We have fake truths, alternative facts.  No one knows what to believe anymore.  Sucks!

So, this crossroads we’re at. Which way do we go, now?  Keep heading down the same road we’ve been on since we stopped shooting film and making actual photographs? You know, those paper representations of the pictures on our phones.

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The ones of grandma and grandpa that don’t need a computer to enjoy? The ones that are authentic, storytelling.  That aren’t digitally altered and perfected, but just…  Real!

We used to have fewer pics and we enjoyed them more.  Now we have more and, oh no…

More isn’t more.  More isn’t better.

We have become inundated with images that they don’t even matter.  They don’t matter! Who cares? It’s not like we look at them for more than a half-second anyway. Instagram double tap–scroll, scroll, scroll, double tap, scroll, scroll.  That’s what photography is now.  Lame!

Phones are note-takers, and notes don’t need to be saved.  Photographs used to be historical family documents, not anymore.  Now, it’s where we ate, where we parked, what we drank and never see them again.  Sucks!

Professionals don’t make our portraits anymore. We shoot everything ourselves, even for our businesses, since we’ve adopted a mentality that good enough is good enough.  Even if it’s not, it is.  Because it doesn’t cost us anything.  Cheap!

What will it take to hire a pro to photograph our family?  Maybe they do have something to offer that we can’t do ourselves.  But the lure of free is so strong.  Why pay for anything? We can put that money into more cloud storage and new phones.  Score!

We’re standing at the crossroads.  Which way we go will very seriously impact what photography is, what value it holds and purpose it serves.  It may be the biggest challenge in its history, what it will be for. Decisions!

I know which way I’m headed–I’m photographing my family and friends on film, printing their photographs and living with them on the shelves of my home.  Call me old school, I know where my photographs are and I get to see them for more than a swipe-second.  Dinorsaur!

Maybe, but maybe it’s the digital photos that that will go extinct.  Gone!