Posts Tagged ‘wajda’

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 ( of your family, and the other for my Wise Photo Project photographing our incredible seniors.


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 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


(This is a follow-up to my last post, Film, Huh, Good God, What is it Good For?)

The bricklayer takes bricks and cement and builds a wall.  It’s an expression of function, and the result is useful as structure.

The artist who uses bricks as his medium (if perhaps there is one that does) takes the same building blocks as the bricklayer and creates something out of their imagination.  It could be anything, a tree, a bed, a figure, a structure, but it’s not functional. It’s an expression of themselves.

The sculptor takes a solid rock and chips away at it and reveals a figure inside.   Or an animal or a tree or anything he or she can dream of.  It’s an expression of themselves.

The photographer takes a photo of a man on a street and presents it.  It’s an expression of what he sees, what he puts value on, what he finds interesting. (Or perhaps what he’s seen done before, and he’s happy having made a good emulation.) But it’s not a vision–he didn’t create it, it was in front of him, it resonated with him and so he took the shot. Or it could be a landscape, or an old car.  By photographing it, it does reveal something–we know what this person likes, what captures their eye and attention of their camera.  But we don’t see a vision–a work of art created in the artist’s mind/heart and then realized with the tools of photography.

I use this same analogy with musicians playing open mic night.  If you go up and play three cover songs, I may enjoy the tunes, but I won’t know anything about you.  It’s almost a cheat–I didn’t get to hear something you created, where you put your words to your music.  Yes, you entertained, but it was without anything new, your own art.  You didn’t risk anything.  You played safe.

The artist who uses photography to create art has but one goal–to speak to the viewer with the tools of the medium and create a piece of art that communicates something, that tells us a bit about the artist, not the scene.  The fine art photographer doesn’t present that which is literal, but that which is their interpretation of their world using images.


“Snout” 12×18″

This was photographed at dusk at a farm off a road near where I live, but this isn’t what it looked like.  It’s what I saw when I pictured it in my mind–a view of just their white snouts poking out of the darkness at the onset of the impending, perhaps foreboding, night.  So, I processed the photograph to reflect that vision.  (It would have really been an art photo if I had brought those cows there, or somewhere else, perhaps the median of an interstate!)  See how  a choice like that changes photography from a finished medium to a starting medium?  You want to photograph a female nude out in a field wearing nothing but a gas mask, that’s your art.  (I’ve seen that photo–galleries and competitions love it.  It’s an expression, you certainly didn’t stumble on that and take a snap.)

The reason I had to make this photo into an interpretation is because I’m not a nature guy.  I’m much more comfortable in an urban environment, so to make this, it’s a bit of my way of saying I’m not about the pretty farm scene. This way, it has an almost dystopian feeling, something out of a David Lynch-ian world, which I much more connect with than the natural world.  It feels somewhat dark and foreboding when you see them the way I do.   There’s something possibly dangerous about them, you wouldn’t want to be standing near them.

That’s how I see nature and animals in natural settings.  That’s my perception of my world, and this photograph perfectly depicts it, saying “Stay out!”  And I do.

Having been a photojournalist for many years of my career, transitioning to telling a bit about myself in a photograph instead of presenting literal truth has been a challenge.  But one that has me excited at the possibilities of what I can create.

My name is Kenneth Wajda.  That’s my literal name. That’s how I sell myself as a commercial photographer. Hire me, here’s my work at

My fine art site is K. Andrzej Wajda, which uses my middle name and pronounces my middle and last name in my native Polish: (Ahn’-dray Vy’-duh).  That’s an abstraction right there.  When I introduce myselfit’s a different perception.  It’s my artist speaking.  (I feel like Sting must have when he first introduced himself–a bit awkward at first.)  And I listen as the person I’m introducing myself responds.  There’s a different perception of me as an artist from the pronunciation of the name, it’s fascinating.

(I’m currently seeking gallery representation, which is why I’m introducing myself to gallery owners, so if you are someone or know someone who would find my work fitting in your/their gallery, please let’s be in contact.)

That’s the thing about art, you can be anyone and make anything you want.   You just have to be willing to reveal a bit about yourself.  When you do, you create something that speaks of you.  You create art.

You reveal yourself.  And once revealed, it’s something that can be judged.  It’s a daring thing to do.

A person who tells you what they hate tells you nothing about themselves.  “I hate this beer.  I hate this city.  I hate this weather.”  So?  But tell us what you like, reveal something about yourself, and now I have the ability to judge your taste.  “You like this beer/city/weather, ha, you know nothing about good beer/cities/weather!”

What do we dare reveal about ourselves with our art?  What speaks of us, not of the scene in front of our lens, but of us?  What do we dare show of our perception?


“Death” 12×18″

This isn’t a photograph that I would normally take, but seeing this bird lying there, on the side of the road, seemingly asleep though I knew it wasn’t, there was something peaceful about it.  It wasn’t run over by a car and damaged.  It looked quite perfect, and that peacefulness is what I wanted to speak of, create, show.  That’s what makes this quite beautiful in a world where most would say there is nothing attractive about death.

This says something about me, too.  I am the optimist, yet I can make this photo.  It’s like saying even at the worst of times, I can find something positive.  I can give its last resting place a place of lasting honor.

I think the positiveness in this photograph is why I’ve included it in my gallery.  (That and ‘weird’ sells the artist, doesn’t it?  My work is a step away from the daily snapshooters.)

Art.  The perception that art is something specific is a part of being an artist, and also a cloud–how much are we able to really create anything original versus making what we’ve seen or been taught to see as art?  I know for me, I carry a camera all the time, but only make photographs when something connects to me, draws me, makes me want to photograph.

I think it comes down to truth.  If it’s our truth, then it’s our art.  And that’s the one thing that as artists we all strive to create and reveal.  Not the one we want people to perceive of us, but our real truth.

If we dare.


I’m working on a photography project where I put a question to people on the street. “What are you famous for?” Their answers can be current, or post-dated. – (Follow here, the photographs are much better displayed than on Facebook.)

The question has made people consider what do they want to be known for. And what is fame? And when will they achieve their goal, if pressed for a date.

So far, I’ve met an NFL Tight End for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a Canadian National Cycling Champion, and a Theater Lighting Designer, a Pulitzer-winning Investigative Journalist and a National Geographic Photographer, among others.

Follow along if you want to get updates with the next famous people who I meet. Maybe I’ll get you and your “fame” into the project. is the FB group link for updates.

6-11-2018 12-55-59 PM

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


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!


Ohmigod, is that a Saturn?  And look, remember when you had to pedal your bike!

The year is 2066.

We’re teleporting to different parts of the earth, holding meetings on virtual beaches while sitting at home, and having robots do all the chores.

And we’re using the latest camera technology, which means no camera at all–just look at something and it’s captured.

We’re lamenting not having any photos from the first quarter of the century, since we didn’t bother to print any of our pictures, and they all got lost in dead computers and outdated phones and hard drives that last booted up decades ago.  And some old program, Facehead, or something, that was supposed to save them all.  Yeah right!

Plus, we don’t have any computers that use USB anymore!   How ancient that technology!


My Leica M2, still going strong in 2066.

As we sit looking out the window, our Leica M2s and M3s and Rolleiflexes still just as functional as they ever were, we load a roll of film and take a walk to go capture some street photos of the day.

The sky is full of PTDs–personal travel devices.  Everywhere, our brains connect with each other through telepathic waves.  Cars have long ago ceased to exist.

And we find ourselves thinking about the good old days.  Like 50 years ago, when things were simpler.  Sure there was that terrible fiasco with President Trump, but thankfully he was quickly arrested and tried for his crimes.  And then President Sanders’ brought all nations together.  War ended and America prospered, which is why we have such a great economy, plentiful jobs and USA-made robots and devices today.

But still, taking photos of present day just doesn’t seem as cool as the old days.  Back then, there were those cool Nissan Rogues, BMW sedans and those crazy Mini Coopers.  God, haven’t seen one of those in years!

What I wouldn’t do to be able to go back in time to 2016 and photograph them.  What a treat that would be.  But that’s crazy talk.


Look at that old BMW, when they still had wheels!  And drivers!

That’s just what we did in 2016, fifty years ago, when we were enamored by photos of old cars from the 1960s and 1970s.  So busy looking at the old cars, we missed the shots of those cool 2016 cars then.

All I know is I’m glad my Leicas lasted.  And my Rolleiflex.  Because when film made its resurgence in 2022, we were the only ones who knew how to make real photographs.  The rest make memory records, but we make photographs.

Which is why we’re the wealthiest photographers because of our forethought.  Way to go!


“Ah, look, the good old days.”  (Overheard circa 2016)

Time traveling.  That’s what people will be doing 50 years from today in 2116–looking back on life in 2066 (“Ah, the good old days,” they’ll say.).

That photo of the PTD fuel station that looks like nothing now, just a bunch of hovering vehicles powering up?  Add 50 years.  It needs time to become valuable.  Once time passes, familiar elements fade away.  Buildings change.  The cars, the shops, the cities.  Then the photos take on meaning.

I’m no math whiz, but here’s the equation: [P+T-GP!]   (Photograph + Time = Great Photograph!)  The photo needs to be good, too.  Let’s not forget that.

Ask Stephen Shore.  Or William Eggleston. They both knew the equation.

If I were back in 2016, I’d go out and shoot ordinary things, with an eye to the future.  Because maybe I’m not shooting them for me.  Maybe they’re historical photos for the Shorpy galleries of tomorrow.  (So glad that company is still going strong, with galleries around the world.)

But alas, I can’t time travel.  They say that technology will be ready in another twenty years but they’ve been saying that forever.

I better get shooting!

We don’t shoot photographs.  We preserve history.

I am keenly aware of this as I visit my family and photograph brothers and sisters, parents and children over the holidays.  We really are the family documentary photographers.

georgeAs a photojournalist, capturing the story of a family in the everyday moments, whether shooting a formal dinner, playing in the yard or just watching football on TV, it’s all part of the story of who we are as a family right now.
In 2015.  And as it was in 1999.  And how it will be in 2027.

We are documenting much more than family snapshots, which is why I like to shoot more than just posed photos of people looking at the camera.  I like to capture each of my family members engaged in something they like to do.

kw5-8As important as it is to shoot photographs for publications, there really is no more important work than when we are capturing our family.

We are historians with cameras.  Our work will live on for generations to come.

In fact, some of the viewers of our work haven’t even been born yet.  We are creating future galleries.  And the people we are photographing, that holiday photo we’re taking this year, will be the only way they know their ancestor.   They’re grandpa or uncle.

We are doing amazing work.  Let’s make sure we print our photos, too, so that they will last 100+ years despite technology’s evolution

It is seriously important work!

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.