A photograph is worth a hell of a lot more than a thousand words…

Posts tagged “film photography

On Huron

The daughter of my close friends Brian & Kenda plays softball, and found her way onto the All Star team. Unfortunately they did not win, but they had a damned good run. The team to which they finally lost didn’t really have a team, just a ringer of a pitcher. Their games were played in Rogers City on Lake Huron. This shot was taken about 100yds east of the ball fields. Perfect weather day for landscapes I think….

As always, click the image for a larger view.



A friend of mine from high school is visiting Northern Michigan during the Independence Day holiday. She lives in Atlanta and doesn’t find her way up here very often, and this was to be her two year old son’s first venture this far north. Ami (my high school friend) hired me to more or less document the trip. I’m not quite done shooting yet, but this photograph is the creme of crop thus far…at least to my mind.

Ami & her husband Eric asked me to join them in Harbor Springs and shoot some photographs along the waterfront. This one was taken on one of the piers directly behind the Pointer Room (hoighty toighty fine dinning. Well worth the bucks, just make sure you bring enough of them). They walked up and down the pier enjoying the scenery whilst I created photographs. Bennett, being just two years of age, has yet to grasp the notion of private property, and was pretty insistent that he be permitted to board each vessel moored. Much to his chagrin, no acts of piracy took place.

An Accident.

This photograph is from about 2 1/2 years ago. I held the process for this photograph close to the vest for a long time, but I did share it eventually.

I dicovered this effect quite by accident. I was taking an alternative process class, and I had a stack of work prints that I was experimenting with in the darkroom. I was getting ready to begin work on the final project for the class. All of my film had been developed and I was ready to get started on the prints.

I had a several baths of various chemical laying about and was running prints through different processes splashing here and splashing there and just seing what does what when mixed with this and that. This print as originally created was woefully under developed. The negative was fine, but I printed it the developer had been exhausted and came out a flat gray. The darkest tone in the print looked like an 18% gray card.

Normally I would have tossed it in the trash, mixed up fresh developer and started again, but I kept it because I am a packrat. I dropped the print into a copper toner bath. I left it there for about 20 minutes but it just wouldn’t get dark enough to look like anything worthwhile. It was friggin pink. It looked like a pepto-bismol/easter egg nightmare. I figured it was a loss, so I pulled it out and was going to toss it in the trash. But before I did, I decided to drop it in a bath of exhausted lith developer just for shits and grins and to see what it would do. The image disappeared almost immediately. I chuckedled to myself and said, “so thats what it does.”

I walked away and moved on to something else, forgetting about the print (well, blank sheet of paper) in the lith developer. about 15 minutes later I walked by the lith bath again and noticed that the image was slowly returning. Lith printing is slow and infectious anyway, so I should have put two and two together.

I dropped what I was working on and tended to the now reemerging image. 40 minutes later, this was the result. Because I left the print to sit unattended, the paper floated in the lith bath and redeveloped unevenly and created a pleasing effect.

These tones are beautiful. I love these little accidents and am quite happy that I fell backward into it. This is still one of my favorite prints. It also helps that Beth is a knock out.

I’m not a sellout, dammit.

No photograph with this post, just me running my soup cooler. I was thinking about my post a few days ago when I was lamenting not being able to photograph my own vision, and the more I think about it, the more I think that simply isn’t true. My vision goes into every photograph I create. It doesn’t matter is someone else asked me to create the photograph for them. People come to me to create their photographs because of my vision.

I remember my college professor once saying that professional photographers, those who create photographs as a means of putting food on the table have to be willing to compromise from time to time and be willing to “sell their soul just a little.” I suppose there is some truth in that, but as in everything, black and white are not critical absolutes in life. A certainty in one situation is not a guarantee of a direct translation or application to another situation no matter how similar.

My studio has been open for six months now, and if I honestly believed I was a sell out, I would close shop, get a job at a gas station and take pictures on the weekends for free. But, I just spent the last four hours sorting through the photographs that I have taken since I opened up in January (because my website is in dire need of an update), and I am finding myself having a good measure of trouble picking which photographs to include in the update.

Between January 4th and June 6th, I have taken over thirteen thousand photographs with my digital camera alone.  Granted, not all of them are winners, and about half of them are culled from the herd before I even show them to the client. But, after my sort this afternoon, I still have close to 300 of what I would call “winners,” photographs that I am happy to show to anyone. Perhaps 100 or more of them I would cheerfully enter into an exhibition…5 of them I already have plans to do exactly that.

So, I may very well be a portrait photographer for hire, squeezing friends and strangers for their hard earned dollars, but I am still quite satisfied that I am just as much an artist as when I was in college. My vision is in every photograph I create because it takes my vision to create it. My subject matter may have changed between then and now, but I still treat every subject with the same eye.

I still like photographing women sans clothes, but weddings, children, and puppies present the same opportunities for the exploration of light, line, and beauty.

Lost & Found

I like this image mostly because of the heavy shadow on her face conceals her identity. She could be any woman…or all of them. I enjoy the mystery of the image, even though I know full well who it is (I was there, after all).

I was deleting old files this afternoon when I came across this one. I can’t say that I forgot I had shot it, If I see a photograph of mine, I immediately recall most of the particulars of the set, but I had not given much though to these images in more than a year and a half. I didn’t do much with them at the time I created them as I had become distracted with other projects and classwork.

My point of view…

oin-meg1loresThe title of this post does not refer to my point of view as in what I think on a particular subject, but rather what I actually see when I look into a camera, my perspective.

A single lens reflect camera has a prism with two mirrors that “right” the image in the view finder. When viewing what the lens actually sees as you would with a view camera, the image is inverted both vertically and horizontally (upside down and flipped over). With the waist level view finder on this RZ67 there is a single mirror that inverts the image upright, but it is still flipped on the horizon…left is right, right is left.  The right brain fights with the left if you’re not used to it.

But I love these medium format cameras. The lenses are so crisp, and the negative so large (granted not as large as the view cameras) you can pull so much detail out of everything. There is just something cathartic about turning a lens and bringing something beautiful into sharp relief.

Michael & Alex

mikealexI was speaking recently, with an old classmate. I had been browsing photos of her children. She remarked that her son was very photogenic, but that her daughter didn’t like having her picture taken. But the truth is that both of her children are very photogenic…one of them just happens to be a ham and makes it easy for the photographer.

Photographing children can be difficult sometimes. I’ve found that the best kid photographs are the ones where you didn’t try to pose the child, but rather the ones where you just let the kids be kids and create their own moments for you to capture.

This is especially true when photographing children you don’t know.  Kids have been drilled and drilled about “stranger danger” as well they should, but it does make a photographer’s task tricky.  As I’ve mentioned before, child portraits aren’t my favorite thing, but if the money is green, it still puts food on my table just the same…so ya do what you do and you do it the best you can. The first trick is to try to establish a connection with the kids. This can be hard to do when you only have a brief period with the kids to photograph them, but you do what you can. An outwardly friendly relationship with mom and dad in the children’s presence helps. I tend to be pretty rough around the edges and children to do not naturally take a liking to me. So if you’re like me, then you gotta ham it up a bit. It might feel phony and ridiculous, but the younger the child, the more likely they are to buy it. Just don’t do anything lame like rub their heads or call them “slugger”  They are people…just smaller. Treat them accordingly.

An uncooperative child does not mean you will not get good photographs. Just look at the work of Jill Greenberg and you will see what I mean. She intentionally made children cry for her work called “End Times.”

Let the child do what the child wants to do, and don’t try to compete for their attention too much. If you can get the child to look at the camera from time to time, great, if not, great.

The biggest thing to remember is that you have to work fast. Think like a sports photographer. Those moments are fleeting, so shoot shoot shoot. You’ll probably dump about 80% of what you capture, but you should be able to pull out some real gold.

Also, kids have short attention spans. Don’t keep the kid in the studio or in front of the camera all friggin afternoon. Even the biggest little ham will tire of it on short order. 30-40 minutes is probably pushing it with most kids.