Tell your kids to get into photography as a hobby— it will insure that they will never have enough money to get into a drug habit...
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Sunday, September 22, 2019
It’s easy to get carried away— you’re bitten by the photography bug and before you know it you’re shooting every day. Problem is, you’re shooting the same subjects in the same places and making lots of virtually identical images. We’ve all seen it. The Flickr accounts full of flowers, sunsets, food, the girlfriend... if you find yourself stagnating as a photographer or if you feel a sense of dread when you leave the house holding a camera, leave the camera behind. Forget the fear of missing a photo. You won’t. And if you do, it’s not the end of the world. Spend some time with your family and friends (or alone, if you’re an introvert like me). Recharge, refocus, and you’ll be a better photographer with fresh eyes when you’re ready to shoot again.
Saturday, September 7, 2019
Retouching is not a lie, nor is it cheating– it's been an inherent part of photography since the beginning. Can it be taken too far? Of course. Is it deception if it's done well enough that the viewer can't tell? No. Not disclosing your methods is as old as art itself, and is common to every art form. I've seen arguments against retouching since I started working with film thirty years ago, and the arguments against it got more vitriolic with the advent of digital. I don't feel the need to write about or defend the practice anymore that I just have, as I think it's a moot point.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
In the now nearly 200-year-old history of photography, there have been many different movements and genres, and while each successive one tended to try to invalidate previous ones, in the end, all of them are completely valid and still hold interest. They all figure into the history for good reason. Even the lowly selfie amateur snapshots (whether from a Kodak Brownie or an iPhone) have and/or will get their own scholarly books to anoint their place in history. The lesson to be learned? If anyone tries too self-righteously tell you that whatever genre you're doing is rubbish, you can tell them where to stick it...
I love photographic prints; I love viewing them; I love making them and I love sharing them. There are certain qualities to a great print that simply cannot be accomplished when the image is viewed on an electronic display (and sometimes vice versa, I should add— color images can greatly benefit from the glow of a screen). It’s well known that photographers have been printing less and less over the years. Part of it is because they don’t need to, and instead, simply distribute images online through communities. This is inherently built into the current crop of younger photographers coming up these days. They understand Polaroids, but they don’t understand labor-intensive prints. They don't understand the point. Of course, not all are of this mentality— but I have definitely noticed that many are. It used to be that prints were the ultimate end process for a photographer. It seems odd that, in an age when the technology to make superb prints in one’s own home or studio is within reach of almost any photographer, so many choose not to. It's so weird to me. Objective qualities aside, it should also be mentioned that the satisfaction of seeing your own print materialize in a development tray or rolling off a printer exactly as you intended it to look, is among the most satisfying experiences that a creative photographer may have. Here is a tangible thing made by you, encapsulating your vision, emotion, and skill; something to present to others with pride and with the knowledge that it is unique and touchable... to keep for the rest of your life, and even (perhaps most importantly) pass on to a future generation.
I always get great images in bathtubs. The warm water is a natural relaxer— Calgon, take me away. When the water turns colder, the goosebumps turn on. The details that I look for, despite that I'm being a bit cruel...some more warm water and the cold is quickly forgotten. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Saturday, August 31, 2019
I shot this the week of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, but I just finished working on it today. I've always been a huge fan of the hippie chick look, but honestly, I rarely find a model that has that perfect vibe & look going on. I guess that I just live in the wrong city— I definitely would find more models like this in Portland. C'est La Vie. Ajaye had really long dreads, but she had to cut them off because they were giving her back problems... then she had a short pixie cut for a while, but now she has long care-free hair. The hair and the peace tattoo, plus that she has the right expressions— she makes for a perfect hippie chick. I have to do more of these before she changes again...
I've shot the "hair in the face shot" so many times that I wouldn't want anybody to count. They usually look too "not quite right", if that makes any sense. That might be just me, for someone else might say that it's nice to see me loosening up... anyway, here's a few that I like.
With the exception of suspensions, I regret spending as much time as I have in the past shooting with a white backdrop. With the suspensions, I feel that it gets rid of the unnecessary distractions, therefore keeping things elegant. With some of these, I actually tried black backdrops first, but too much information disappeared into them— the white gives everything a nice pop and a sense of depth that black was missing. Otherwise, in retrospect, the white backgrounds feel kind of soulless. They also feel fake, like a fashion shoot— which is what I originally got those types of backgrounds for. They still represent, for better or for worse, my past work.
A (very) small window into a cutters world. I've photographed quite a few that have engaged in self-harm. Although I tend to be rather interested in the personal psychology of those that I work with and often ask questions, cutting is something that really bothers me (I can't relate) and I don't typically go there. Just like that my subjects typically look introspective but not depressed— that's not a coincidence. My genuine interest here is aesthetics... I like marks that are thoughtfully carried out while having a rhythm & order. I've seen so many scars that are as chaotic as perhaps the thoughts that made them. I've tried shooting those, but I never pick them in an edit— probably (definitely) because they really bother me. Everybody has different limits as to what they can look at, and while images like this please me, I can understand that it might bother someone else.
The Delights of Familiarity. When you use the same few lenses, you get used to them focusing the same way, and the aperture ring moving in the same direction, not to mention knowing what kind of image you can create with them before you even attach them to your camera. It’s the same with the camera. Put another way, more familiarity leads to fewer obstacles, and there’s far greater fluidity in the whole experience— something I greatly value in making photography an immersive and rewarding pursuit. I’m definitely guilty of going through phases where I'm in camera tester mode, rather than true photographer mode... where I'm doing a shoot that is probably compromised because I'm testing a different camera out, only to find that I'm not really comfortable using a said camera. What I mean by that is that I use a particular camera because I'm at least slightly (if not completely) making it a fetish object, rather than using my tried-and-true equipment. My confirmed and proven equipment isn't hip & cool, but instead completely reliable for getting the job done. I find that using equipment that you’re so familiar with it almost becomes invisible is the best equipment to get the best images. Knowing how your camera and lens will perform in any scenario— where shooting becomes a meditative, almost zen-like experience of seeing and capturing each image. While I typically appreciate the experience of trying some really cool new or vintage camera out, I tend to ultimately treasure the comfort (and the results) of the tried-and-true.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
A photographer can make an infinite number of prints from the same negative— but while this is true in theory, it is in reality, typically false. It is paradox that in a medium that is capable of producing quality prints in large numbers, the yield of prints per negative is often just one or even zero. Very often a print from a negative is the only one in existence, which would make it no less unique than a painting. Photographic prints, unlike etchings and lithographs, seldom have numbers. The photographic negative does not wear out, so the only reason for numbering would be to purposely create scarcity and market value. This may be desired by some dealers and collectors, but not so much by the creative artist...
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Friday, August 16, 2019
A Short History of Photography: First it was monochrome, then there was color. First, it was to document, and then it was a fine art as well— although in retrospect it was always a form of fine art, as the very first print is in an art museum. First, there was film, then there was digital as well. The End. Seriously— it can really be summed up this simply, without a hint of a smirk. Also, it feels to me as if its history is mostly wrapped up just as music and painting is. Well, at least there is most likely much more history in cinema and television to look forward to...
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Every once in awhile I create an image that sets a personal bar for myself as far as what I want to achieve. This image sets a bar for being messy and gritty— while still genuinely flattering the model, and even being quite sensual. I usually keep about a dozen of these images floating in my head, constantly thinking about what I need to do in order to rise above that bar that I set...
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Now, this is what I was talking about— a level of abstraction that is just enough to confound viewers enough, but they can still sort of know what they are looking at. It's a macro shot of skin texture, about a square inch worth of an undisclosed body part. For me to know, and everybody else not too! To be honest, both the model and I probably forget exactly where on the body this is... and it doesn't really matter.
Monday, August 12, 2019
Saturday, July 20, 2019
In the beginning, and for years after, I often thought about how I was going to impress viewers with my photography. Eventually, I decided that I only needed to impress myself because that is all that really matters in the end— and if I achieved that, then everything will fall into place.