Posts Tagged ‘portraits’

Photography is at a low point in its history. And it makes me sad. But first a little photography history lesson to see how we got here. (And hope for how we change it for the better.)

We’ve been at this photography thing for just about 193 years–the first photograph was made in 1826.  And while it had a slow start, it grew rapidly when Kodak introduced the pocket camera and the Brownie 75 years in around 1900.

And then it had tremendous growth in the first part of the 20th century.  Films got more sensitive to light, cameras got more portable and we were happily shooting holidays and vacations, often on the same roll of film.

You can see some of these photographs gathered.  They get published regularly on Old School Cool and The Way We Were.  Photos like this.

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Time marched on.  We got through the 1950s with the great rangefinder cameras like the Leicas and Yashicas. The 60s with the 126 Instamatics and 110 pocket cameras.

Then came the SLR, with the big Nikons and Canons among other interchangeable film cameras taking the family photos.  The amazing Canon AE-1 in the 1970s, advertised as the simplest camera you can own.  You or your parents may have had one.  They sold in the millions.

All along photographs were printed, dropped into photo albums or left in the envelope they came to us from the processor.  Stored in shoe boxes,  some hung on the walls of our homes along the staircase, each of our siblings taking a place in frames in a diagonal orientation.

Then the 80s and the point and shoots, the disc camera, the APS cameras and finally around 2000 the advent of digital cameras.

And then digital was in full swing, with the small point and shoots, 1.3 megapixel to start.  Gradually, they’ve grown to 50mp as DSLRS and APS-C bodies, then mirrorless and there’s nothing we can’t shoot with them. Some of the latest bodies even shoot over 60 photo frames per second.

And that’s precisely the problem.  We can do too much.  We can shoot too much.  And we do.  Then there’s the phone where we snap away at everything in front of us all day long because we can.

The quantity is the problem.  The quantity of photographs is the problem.  We’ve never been inundated with so many pictures like we are today.  It’s constant, it’s everywhere we go, at all times–concerts, theater shows, parties, dinners.  We can’t put the phone down.  The pictures just keep coming.

And then what?  Nothing.  No one goes back to them to look at them.  Sure, maybe we show one photo to someone, but what about the 60 per second, the dozens we shot today on the phone?  No one sees them

No one will ever see them.  Because no one cares.  Even we don’t care.  We shoot them because we can.  Because we think that’s what we do now.  We’ve been told that’s the way it is.

And that photo of our family like the one above from 70 years ago?  Never gets made, because who goes to a photographer anymore for a family photograph?  No one.  We have our phones.  We can shoot selfies.

That photo above doesn’t get made, period.  We will have made millions and billions of pictures, and none of that quality will last.  Because no one cares.

The young generation, they don’t care.  They don’t have photo albums.  They don’t care about photos for the future.

They have their phone now.  That’s it.

When it gets replaced, the photos are gone.  So what.

When it gets lost, the photos are gone.  So what.

When we take them, we don’t even care about them.  Nowhere is there a family sitting around their phones or computers looking at photos of Grandma.  There’s no one doing that.

Photographs don’t exist in present day.  Pictures depicting people and things exist temporarily until we forget and can’t be bothered to offload them and edit them down.  “What?  10,000 photos–I’ll just save them all.  Who has time to look through them all?”

We are in a dark time photographically.  We don’t value photography.  We don’t hire portrait photographers to document our families.  We don’t have photographs of our families and friends in our home.  We don’t live with photographs.

We live with our phone. The phone with thousands of photos we have no interest in sorting through, or looking at.

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How did we get here?  We were doing so well.

We got here because quantity is a good thing and a curse.  The fact that you can make thousands of photos a week doesn’t mean it’s best to make them.

We are in a photographic dark age.  The photos we are making now mean less than ever.  We will never see them, our children and grandchildren will never see them.

We may as well stop making them–it’s all pointless.  Unless we print a book of photos or make up an album of snaps at the end of the year, the photos are like vapor–here now and good for nothing tomorrow.  Because they’re gone.

No one cares. Too busy snapping.

Wouldn’t that time be better spent experiencing the thing we act like we’re photographing, since really we are doing nothing? While we are always on the phone and making the constant snaps, how much do we miss out on?

Technology has advanced so quickly, that we are at a low point in history photographically. And we need to change our culture and get to a place where we value photography again. And document who we are. And photograph our families and have professional photographs made. Value what we once had and now is lost.

We do it by printing one photo. Or having one professional family portrait made and putting it in a frame in our house.

We do it by putting a picture of grandma in a frame on our dresser. Portraits of the kids back in frames on the wall.

Print anything you want to last. It’s the only reason we can see those marvelous faces in the old photos–because they exist as photographs.

Not as digital files. Not buried in heaps of data and information, but a real photograph that we see as we cross the room–they’re here with us.

It’s what a photograph is. A printed picture.

If I get just one person to print a photograph by discussing this, that’s one great-grandchild that will get to see a photo from today that wouldn’t otherwise exist for them.

That’s why I press this issue. That’s who I’m writing this for, on their behalf.

I want us to change the culture to value photographs again. To preserve our family history in pictures. Real pictures. Real photographs.

As Seth Godin says, “People like us do things like this.” We value photography and family portraits as an important part of our history.

If you’re a person like me who values family history, join me and print a photograph. Print ten this year. Print a photo book of favorite snapshots. Just make something that will last for generations.

The great-grandchildren will be glad we did.

[As always, if you need help printing photographs, I am a professional who can help with prints and books. And I make family portraits–it’s the most important work I do. ~Kenneth]

You can share this post with this link: FamilyPhotoAlbums.net

 

 

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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I don’t create photographs for likes. I make photographs that will still exist in 50 years, long after the swipe is through, through gallery and book projects.

That’s why I shoot on film, and make gallery-quality prints. These aren’t for likes.

I’m looking for two kinds of photographs to make, one for my Roy Stryker Documentary Project (RoyStryker.com) of your family, and the other for my Wise Photo Project photographing our incredible seniors.

ROY STRYKER DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

Last year, I documented a family’s Thanksgiving and was able to create a book of those photographs for them, in addition to adding the photographs to the Roy Stryker Documentary Project.tgiving

I also photographed a group of high-school kids at home for lunch for the project. The purpose is to document real life today, not the stylized Instagram-filtered life posing for the camera, but real life.

I will be contacting some of you directly, but I want to photograph an ordinary day in the life of many families, and if yours is interested, you can contact me.

I want:

● A dad playing catch with his son.

● A person at work, especially in a job that has strong visuals or a place most people never get to see.

● A mom driving the kids to school.

● A couple staying home and hanging on the porch on a Friday night.

● A teenager hanging posters in their room.

● Real people doing real things.

Not extraordinary things. Not graduating. A Sunday dinner, not just a holiday dinner.

Bill Owens did a similar project with a classified ad request to local families in the 1970s, and there’s a wonderful book of images from it called, ‘Suburbia‘, with photographs that wouldn’t exist without his effort to document ordinary life at that time.

THE WISE PHOTO PROJECT

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The second project, I am creating large-format environmental portraits of seniors, doing something that they love. Like the fisherman. There’s something to a portrait that goes beyond the picture, and becomes a slice or moment of a life. That’s what the Wise Photo Project is all about.

I want:

● A senior playing golf or other activity

● A senior working on a car

● A senior at home reading the newspaper

● A senior engaged in any aspect of their life that defines them.

There’s no cost to you for either project. You’ll receive a copy of the photograph. Both projects are being created for gallery exhibits, and hopefully book projects and museum shows.

This fall, I’ll be traveling across the U.S. and scheduling shoots for both photo projects, so if you are located between Colorado and Pennsylvania, let me know, perhaps I can make a shoot work in your town. And then later into winter, I’ll be working from Colorado to California, so let me know where you’re located.

Photographers make photographs.Please help me if you’re interested in participating by calling 720.982.9237 or emailing info@kennethwajda.com.

 

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My Dad in a Langhorne Pennsylvania cafe, March 2018.  I have coffee with him every workday morning–when I see him on my desk in a framed photograph.

It makes me sad when I think about how valuable fine art portraiture is, created on medium or large format film, and yet how few people even know what it is, let alone why they would want to order a portrait like this.

The photograph above is a portrait of my Dad, sitting across from me at breakfast table in a small cafe when I went to Pennsylvania for a visit.  This is him sharing time with me.  This photograph means so much to me.  It’s printed on my desk, and I keep him with me and see him everyday when I get to work.

rtI made his portrait on a 1950’s era Rolleiflex 6×6 camera. On Ilford HP5 black and white film.  I know where this photograph will be in 50 years–still in the frame that it is in now, not lost on some old hard-drive or to obsolescence.

To me, this is what photography is–capturing memories and then being able to keep those that matter most to you close to you.  A simple framed photograph does that very well.

But the ease of digital photography has made it so that most people keep all their photographs in file format.  This file of my film portrait of my Dad (from a digital scan of the negative) is stored in my computer.  It’s safe, perhaps, (unless there is a hardware failure) but I cannot experience it as a file everyday like I do a framed print.

There seems to be a need for printing our photographs so the most important people in our world are always with us.  But why print them, most people ask?

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Asking that question is like saying, “Why do we need museums, when we see the images, photographs, paintings, on our iPad or computer?”  Because mobile devices are good for making a traveling photo album, and sharing our photos at lunch with friends.  The problem is they don’t create a “place” for them.  They only create a “glimpse” of them.  But our family members are worth more than a glimpse, they’re worth a permanent place in our world.  Surrounding us.  Enveloping us.

Years ago, I remember going to my Grandpop’s and Grandmom’s house and there were photographs of relatives and family throughout the house–they filled their rooms with family photographs, and these were beautiful, high-quality photographs, both formal portraits, and family snapshots in boxes that were a treat to pick through.

Nowadays, I don’t see photographs at people’s houses.  That’s the part that makes me sad.

box2Some of our parents and grandparents are at the end of their lives, and we’re not creating beautiful, frame-able photographs that we will be able to keep by our side to remember them by, something better than a blurry phone snap.

As a portrait photographer, the only commissions I get nowadays are for business portraits–headshots for LinkedIn and corporate use.  Families aren’t ordering individual portraits.

Where are the good pictures being made?  It’s not in a phone, because a wide-angle lens (as all phones have) is not a flattering lens for portraiture. 

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We are living in a trans-formative time, with technology changing the way we do things at a rapid pace.  But just as things speed up, there is a push to slow down.

There are more people now embracing film photography than there were just a few years ago–because they want something tangible.  Something that they’ve actually created.  They want to slow down the process and create fewer, but more memorable, photographs, and they’re using film to do it.

Just like there is a slow food movement, and record sales are on the rise, there’s an anti-digital component at play.  Everything doesn’t have to be the fastest to be enjoyed.

Playing a record is more time-consuming than programming Pandora, but maybe I like the sound of my turntable, that warm analog sound, and I just want to play one full Led Zeppelin album, not have to choose from among every song ever written.  Maybe I just want to play a record, not program a computer.

A few years back, bookstores were concerned about losing out to digital e-readers and ebook sales, and the truth is they’re still going strong.  Because people like to hold a single book, not every book they own on one small device.  They say on an e-reader, there is a temptation to not read what they’re reading, but instead looking for what else they can be reading since their options are endless.

I charge just under a thousand dollars for a legacy film portrait session for a person and their parent or grandparent.  I am a very experienced artist working with real film and creating large printed and framed portraits.  I believe they are one of the most important portraits I can create, more important than any celebrity photograph.  Because our family is our family–they’re the celebrities of our world.

If you contact me, and mention this article, I will photograph you and your mom or pop, and I’ll make the session rate complimentary.  Of course you have to be within a reasonable travel distance for me, or someplace I regularly get to–Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Los Angeles or the front range of Colorado.  I just want to see if anyone will do it if cost is not part of the equation.

I’m betting not.

Here’re the photographs of my parents that I get to live with, that are a part of a physical photograph album. That are the memories of who my parents are.  My Mom is no longer with us.  But she’s right here with me in these photographs.

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Today is Father’s Day.  I wonder how many people have a wonderful portrait of their father, one that captures their personality and their light, that one image that will be passed down to great grandchildren to know who their family was, and what they looked like.

If they don’t, well, that’s the part that makes me saddest, and I hope we will see a renewed interest in quality photography and framed prints in the years to come.

I have a project titled, The Wise Photo Project, where I photograph elderly people on film, because they often have very few photographs taken of them.  Here are my parents, my Dad giving my Mom a kiss as she lies in a hospital bed in the living room of his house.  This is why I photograph the wise!  They won’t be here forever, and they are beautiful in their old age.

I can photograph your elderly relatives too, I work throughout the U.S., and create legacy prints for your family, photographs your grandkids will cherish as they get to know their grandparents from way back in 2016.
 
TheWisePhotoProject.com – 720.982.9237

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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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