Posts Tagged ‘photography’

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!

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’ve started a podcast, Kenneth Wajda’s Daily Photography Blog Podcast.  You can subscribe to it at DailyPhotographyBlog.com and find it on your favorite podcast app–just search for Kenneth Wajda Daily Photography Blog.

I put out a new episode every morning, so tune in.  They’re short, to a point and feature techniques, photographers, current topics and more.  It’s fun and inspiring for photographers!

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True story happened yesterday.

I met a young couple, mid-20s, and we were talking about film photography. I told them how they could get one roll of black and white film from Mike’s Camera and shoot one photo a month in an old Minolta SLR they had, and after three years they’d have a wonderful surprise waiting for them–all the photographs they forgot but the moments they got to relive.

ml-mom-car1That’s the power of film and removing the immediacy of the results. You have a chance to step away and come back to the moment later, it’s not all complete right now.

(To me, that’s what makes photography special, and why I still shoot film for portraits of family and friends, and what’s missing in today’s phone-snappy world.)

So, they said they wanted to do that, shoot some black and whites and print the photographs.

The couple said they were recently married, and they have exactly three photographs from the wedding, and a hard drive of all the photos, which they said has several hundred pics–too many and that they never look at. They wish they just had a photo album like their parents do.

How many wedding couples want “all the photos”? Why? What are you ever going to do with them? Get some prints, put them in an album, lay it on your coffee table. Done!

More is not better. Printed photographs can be shared without screens, and are more fun as real photographs, just like holding a book still has appeal in the days of e-readers.

Print your memories. Share your stories.

If you need help, have a hard drive of useless images and want some prints, let me know: FamilyPhotoAlbums.net

Here’s what one North Carolina photojournalist created by going back to one roll of black and white film.

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The photographers of days gone past, they used view cameras, those lovely wood 4×5 and 8×10 cameras, which gave them the ability to keep their verticals straight.  Not tilted.  Not leaning.

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Basically, if the film plane is parallel to the building, the vertical will stand straight.  But if you tilt the film up, like when you tilt up a 35mm film camera, or a digital SLR or phone, the film plane/sensor isn’t parallel to the buildings, so the tops of the buildings will converge.

That’s why there is that angled brass piece on the back of the camera above–you can tilt the camera up, then reset the back to parallel.

Look at these photos.  See how all the verticals are, well, vertical?  These were made for the FSA–Farm Security Administration, and they often used large view cameras.

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Same with this one.  (This is from the wonderful Shorpy.com web site that I highly recommend.  Click the photos on the Shorpy site to make them load large so you can zoom in on details.)

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You don’t see straight verticals in photographs by cameras without perspective control.  But these were made with view cameras that you could control perspective.

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Those are a far cry from photos made today, with their tilted verticals.

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It’s a look we’re used to seeing, but it’s not accurate to the way they are really, and to me, it’s a sloppy representation of the town/building. It’s a record shot, but not much of a photograph.

There’s a time and place for quick and easy and convenient.  But speed and easy aren’t always the best way to document a location well.  And until you see the difference, you might not even know what you’re missing.

If you want to get straight verticals in your photographs, make sure you keep the back of the camera parallel to the subject, even if you have to lower it down or up to make that happen.