Thursday, December 11, 2014

Keep selfies to a minimum...

A selfie, defined by Google is " a photograph that one has taken of oneself." Then in quotes adds, " occasionally selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn't necessary."

I've found it funny before cell phones, seeing Japanese tourists in America busy standing in front of their camera (maybe even on a tripod they had brought) getting a "selfie." It didn't make sense to me. One knew what you looked like, why not take pictures of where you are, what's interesting, different, etc. Not pictures of yourself, you can look in a mirror. You think people doubt you are where they think you are.

It's easier that writing, but it can come back and hurt you.

Today with cell phones and social media flourishing, it is becoming a problem. The freelance info website Talent Zoo recently posted a blog by career coach, Hallie Crawford, warning job seekers to "limit selfies...keep ones that show you travelling or show unique interest and help you stand out from the crowd."

But it is human nature, seeing the street photography of Vivian Maier who took thousands of photos on her day-off from being a nanny for families in Chicago. She kept hundreds of boxes, filling client families basements. But not sharing the photos. Never published! Why take photos and never show them to anyone?

Maier is critiqued for taking too many photos of herself. Critics site other street photographers as more important. Photos taken by professionals. Better composition, better lighting, maybe showing something very eye-catching like Gary Winograd's photo of a pet monkey riding in a car on Fifth Avenue in NYC, or graphic shot of  clouds contrasting building's patterns.

The problem for the photographer has always been that they aren't in the picture. They're behind the lens. Cell phones seem to solve this problem. It's great to have family photos taken on Christmas day or at family picnics, but often there is a person missing in the picture.

Some like this problem, saying they don't like getting their own picture taken. So being the photographer gives them an excuse for not being photographed?

President Reagan's White House photographer Michael Evans refused to take photos of his own family, telling me how he felt it took him out of the event. He wanted to be a participant, enjoy the moment. He felt taking photos distanced him from his family. True, to solve this problem devices like the Narrative Clip camera system will automatically takes photos every few minutes, letting the family be a family.

Capturing the event, but not great photography.

S.F. Examiner's Jim Wood, with Jimmy Breslin promoting World Without End, Amen., leads to a selfie
Looking at a box of old prints I discovered a selfie of me, not just me. But people I was with, at work as a staff photographer (guess we were taking a break) with: the San Francisco Examiner reporter, Jim Wood, who had finished interviewing Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Jimmy Breslin in 1973. The interview wasn't in a bookstore, but rather happened the Palace Hotel so being newspapermen, we decided to go to the hotel's bar after the interview.

Where journalists like going to get the facts. Every newspaper usually had bars to hang after a deadline and before the next one.

It's a selfie of me with Jimmy Breslin reflected in the mirror behind the bar. I treasure the photo, brings back a lot of memories. Thankfully it's not just a picture of me looking into the camera, showing nobody else.

One picture, which I made for me to keep, not for publication. (The paper simply published a tight portrait of Breslin to go along with the story.)

This selfie tells a lot, records how we all wore ties, to look professional. Do you need to see my face? It captures a moment. And I'm in it, shows how I held the camera, manual focus! No motor-drive.

It's a selfie.

Preserves the moment and brings back memories. Selfies are good, especially for special moments.

# # #

Monday, October 13, 2014

Michael Crichton's view of photography

He says it in The Lost World, Michael Crichton wrote in 1995 how "the fossil record is like a series of photographs."

A fossil is a photograph?
Fossil of Domke brothers 1890's

He observes how a fossil is like a photo because they are both "frozen moments."

He sees, "looking at the fossil record is like thumbing through a family photo album. You know the album isn't complete You know life happens between the pictures. But you don't have any record of what happens in between..."

Well that's what words do, they fill in the gaps. But unless they are written down "you begin to think of the album, not as a series of moments, but as reality itself . . .you forget the underlying reality."

Fortunately the Domke brothers names were written below on the border of the photo, but like a fossil, we wonder what was their life like? They are in suits, were they loaned by the photo studio? But I know my great-grandfather was a minister, however, none of his kids picked up the cloth. My grandfather is on the far-right. Hated school, was an entrepreneur who had kids shinning shoes around Chicago. Bought a business and moved to Greeley, Colorado, I can only guess he thought it was a safe a secure business. Like shining shoes, he sold tombstones. Everyone dies, right. This is what I have to read into the fossils and family legend.

Did Crichton mean that by only seeing the birthday party, or yearbook photo it documents being six years old, it's only for the birthday party. Makes you think that being six years old was a party? Seeing the other people in the picture hopefully brings back memories, I'm in the picture. I remember adventures, playing with blocks in school, and games we played. But it isn't written down and what will others see when they look at the birthday photo.

What do my grandfathers brothers tell me? I have to know they were my relatives,  just looking at the photo doesn't say who they are. I then start fitting rumors and speculation together. I inherited grandfathers's like finding bones.

But like the challenge to match the fossils together, it was a long time ago and nobody is around to fill in the gaps. So what does that old studio photo taken of grandpa when he was a teenager standing with all his brothers tell me today. Over a 100 years later.

I have another family photo, taken in the early thirties in Kruner, Colorado. A farming community northeast of Greeley, Colorado, that didn't survive the depression.

But my mother grew up there, where her father was the school principal and mother was a teacher. It looks like it was a growing community. How far did the kids go to get to the school house? I have a photo of the entire student body and faculty. Located near the South Platte River they didn't know that it didn't rain much, only 12 inches per year and the river went dry in the summer.

Fossil of Kruner Colorado

Not a studio shot a lot more information. Tells a lot more of the times, the everyday dress. Who were the teachers. Solid brick school house out in the desert!

It tells me a lot about my mother growing up. Friends she may have had at 11-years old, etc.

This is a good fossil.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Capturing the moment results in preserving the memory

Newspaper reporters always complain how the newspaper, and their story, was read today, but was only good to wrap fish the next day. Nobody saved their story, nobody reread their stories, or talked about it. It was quickly forgotten. Readers forgot the story, threw the paper out at the end of the day and waited for next day's paper to come.

We all thought we were recording and preserving history. Bringing awareness of issues that would motivate people to work toward building a better community.

As a photographer, I worked hard to learn what was going to happen, then try be in the right place at the right time to capture the moment. Get the who, what, where, when in the picture. Feeling I was saving for archeologists the decisive moment as it quickly passed by. Stopping time, so viewers could see what happened, then understand and appreciate it.

Time passes by so quickly, so fast the still photo is a useful tool, capturing all the details that fly by and often missed. Video images show reality, but you still miss it. You remember the sound, not the images in video. Photos, still and video, need to be rewatched to help us remember the moment. Remember what happened.

I thought photography would help motivate people into action to stop the war, help the needy, appreciate the local cultural events and make it a better community.  That's how I saw newspaper photography. And I thought we needed to preserve all the successes and challenges of today, to be reviewed and shared tomorrow.

Photography did it better than words.
Group selfie before going on a trip.

That's how I saw things, that's what drove me to become a newspaper photographer.

But wait, I then realize that to know the whole story, you need SOME words to fill in blanks. Tell who is in the photo, what was the event, where was it, and why saw everyone there.  Yeah, the picture captured the moment, but it doesn't tell all the facts.

Back when I started in the 60's, family photos were taken with a Kodak Instamatic. With Tri-X and the faster 400 ASA film the pros were moving to take advantage of 35mm. Still it was heavy equipment, you didn't know what you had till the roll of film was developed and then prints made. Time consuming and expensive.

Things have changed. Now you carry a SMART phone that is a movie camera still camera, a radio, internet connection, picture album, and a phone. Instantly, we see what photo/video was captured by the phone, and can share it with others around the world. Instantly, but do they take the time to open it, then delete it?

Sure is simple these days, but we are overwhelmed with pictures. It is changing the way we treasure them?

I wonder if the photo is losing meaning, is it becoming like the daily newspaper that a day later is, "simply something to wrap the fish."

Friday, October 3, 2014

How many memories should we save?

Do you care about your baby pictures? Not those of your kids, they bring back memories.

But what does that photo taken of you when YOU were 1 year old say? You’re a lot older now. Why save it? Seems like it should be valuable. TO WHO?

Do I want to see a picture of Abe Lincoln when he was one year old? No.

This is what’s hard about saving memories. You have so many, what’s worth saving, who cares?  It is interesting if it shows other things, the surroundings. Sitting on a tricycle, in front of the old Ford says something. But a studio shot when you were one year old. What does it say?

Should we throw it out?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Remembering Tony Auth and the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1972

Even though I worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, looked forward to seeing his cartoon in the paper each day, the editorial department and the newsroom were on different floors. As a photographer and then photo editor I attended the news meetings, but didn't never saw Tony Auth at one of those meetings. But when I was featured in one of his cartoons, I searched him out.

He drew a picture of me!

March 1972 editorial cartoon by Tony Auth.

That's me lying on the ground, the Philadelphia Inquirer was being picketed by the unions protesting coverage and it was more than just picketing. They blocked the entrances. ALL THE ENTRANCES. . . but I didn't know that, i just thought it was the rear entrance and loading docks.

On that day in March 1976, I was inside the photo department. My normal schedule was working Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 7. Strange schedule? Photo director, Gary Haynes, saw how most assignments were sent a day in advance, reporters had interviews or there was an event planned well in advance, plenty of assignments, but nobody knew for sure what the front page story was till the 11 a.m. news meeting. A short meeting that put everything into perspective and told all the editors where to focus their attention. What was the most important story?

The lead story could be just be a big headline and run across the top of the page, but there needed to be a some photo on the front page. Haynes wanted to make sure it was a good photo and I was assigned to run out and get it. Unfortunately, many days the mail story was a national story or maybe a series they had already planned. I was the safety net.

We were in competition with the Philadelphia Bulletin.

Back in 1976 there wasn't the Internet, along with the evening paper we were competing with the 10 o'clock TV news, and the Inquirer's executive editor Gene Roberts felt the paper would lose readers if we just covered what the Bulletin and nightly news has already reported. H felt the paper needed the latest news, investigative reporting, information on what was going to happen.

That's why I got assigned the 11 to 7 shift, get the latest picture.

But in March 1976 the AFL-CIO started blocking the newspaper's doors. and Haynes told me to go stand in the Inquirer's parking lot across the street and they can't do anything. You'll be safe. This was before all those video remotes, that tape everything 24/7, only way to see what was happening was to look out the window.

So I go out there, it was my assignment. I'd covered other pickets and thought this pretty lame. Most groups wanted publicity, that's why the had they picketted and demonstrated. When covering anti-war protests I could move around and try to get different angles. Nobody was breaking the law. They didn't even have any signs or banners. Yawn, boring.

I took a couple of photos of the group at the rear entrance, and then waited, standing in the parking lot with a couple of cameras hanging around my neck, watching and wondering why I was there.

But then a couple of really big guys came across the street, walked right up to me and told me to leave. I said I was on the company property and doing what my boss told me to do.

Next thing I knew I was pushed down. This wasn't safe, I wasn't going to argue with them. I was getting out of there. They were blocking the back employee entrance, no body to help me, I better go around to the front entrance.

They wouldn't block the front door, it was a demonstration.

The front door on Broad Street was in the public view.

Unfortunately no TV crews were there, nor the competing Bullitin or wire services. But if it was just "demonstrators" I thought all I needed was determination and not be scared or intimidated and they'd let me walk into the building.

To my surprise, they blocked my way. They didn't part to let me enter!

I got knocked down AGAIN, this was not like any of the other demonstrations I'd covered in the past. They wanted to get their picture in the paper. These big guys obviously didn't want publicity.

I managed managed to go to the Triangle Printing building next to the paper that was still owned by Walter Annenberg (who sold the Inquirer to Knight-Ridder in 1971), it just happened they still had a door connecting to the Inquirer/Daily News and were happy to unlock it for me.

I went to the nurse, and they took my photo. Images later used in court. Tony Auth drew a cartoon.

And they didn't shut down the paper!

# # #

Friday, June 13, 2014

Can a slide show be the new picture story?

Remember is the old newspaper days the challenge to get a picture page. I remember coming up with ideas at the San Francisco Examiner for multiple photos that were bunched together in a 1/4-page or 1/3 page layout. I covered city workers in the middle of the night, returning Vietnam vets, weekend festivals, etc. Better than just one photo it told a better story.
Picture Story by Jim Domke, Vietnam vets 

Now with the Internet we have the "slide show." Where we get to show more than one image, but you can only see one at a time. Or, turn it into a video. Which I experimented with for a client to show all the things they did preparing a drilling site in Texas. Using Photoshop I merged numerous photos together to make a Quicktime "movie." (Interpreting a lesson on how to post a panorama image.) I need to develop this more and add audio.

Is this the picture page of the future?

Slide shows that you see on the web often link to 20 or 60 images, many similar views (once is enough) of the same thing and it takes so long nobody ever looks at all of them. Waste of time, it doesn't tell a story. Just looks like a rough edit. Waiting for someone to go through and find the best photo.

It is also common to have a slide show of the 10 best this or the 10 worst of something. Combining a picture of a thing or place with a caption. Better than simply listing them. But it doesn't take advantage of all the "slide show" potential. Images, words and sound.

It should be a picture story. Every picture adds information to the story. Helps tell the story.

It's not the old amateur "slide show" of the family vacation, where you saw something "interesting" in every photo, and put everyone asleep. The goal in photojournalism is to tell the story in as few pictures as possible. Take advantage of words and audio to tell the whole story. Something just writing about it can't do. The still picture captures the moment and lets to study the scene, video flies by and you remember the words and get a general idea of what was happening. But the photo story can tell the whole story.

There needs to be an opener, a general view to show who, what, where, when, then some other shots taken before and after the key event, maybe details, some telling portraits, etc. Not multiple images of the same person, but the best shot. Tell the story.

Make the slide show tell the story like the old-fashion picture page.

# # #

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Content marketing takes over the web

The May issue of Fast Company caught my eye with a cover shot of Chelsea Clinton staring out. The magazine covering trends and entrepreneurs is a business magazine. The sub-head says, " She's got power, influence and a plan to change the World. Any questions?"

Cover and inside spread pulls the reader. . .
Sure, I got questions. I turn to the story inside and immediately see how designers have played/manipulated the photos. They need a photo editor, I think, someone who can get the best photographer and get access to bring back meaningful photos that help tell the story. Pictures of Chelsea working with people, using technology, leading the way . . .

Instead, there is a awful shot looking down and holding a microphone? What's this tells us about the leader? And the designer makes the photo look like the frame had been fogged accidentally when the photographer opened the back of the camera while the film was being rewound into the cassette.

That's what it looked like to an old-timer like me. But nobody shoots film anymore, it was taken with a digital camera!? No fogging, it just looks that way on purpose!

It took away from the information in the photo. I don't get it.

Reading the story I start getting other ideas. She joined her parents foundation, but isn't the leader. They have eight CEOs already! The article tells how "slowly, she is turning the Clinton Foundation into a more entrepreneurial enterprise." She apparently hired someone to be the "initiative liaison," whose job was to report on what all nine "divisions" were doing, to "avoid potential overlap and suggests possible connections."

Thanks Chelsea, good idea.

"Data geek like Chelsea" becomes "Chelsea will function as a glorified Vanna White." What? Cover story for cutting edge Fast Company. It goes on to tell how "Chelsea's handlers are likely auditioning for White House gigs, should Hillary become president."

It tells how "one urges Chelsea not to change expressions during the cover shoot . . .it's a miracle the staffer's mug isn't on the cover alongside Chelsea's."

It dawns on me that this isn't a journalistic story, but an advertorial or native advertising. I find on how content marketing has changed the Internet and journalism. I can't believe they'd give in to doing a cover story.

Corporations (and foundations) are posting stories and trying to reach beyond their audience and with the cutbacks in newsrooms publications are looking for deals. "inform, engage and convert" says Miranda Miller on the TopRankblog.

So now I can't blame the art director for taking up space with graphic design, or blame the photo editor for not getting meaningful photos. The "sponsors" didn't want to lose control, they wanted a story and could sit in on the interview, but to let the photographer be a "fly on the wall." And not control when he/she pushed the shutter button was too risky. No pictures allowed.

It shows.

by Jim Domke
Texas based multi-media journalist

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What was it like before the internet? Remember the Lou Grant Show

Forget what it was like before the Internet. The Lou Grant Show focused on reporters/photographers/editors on the Los Angeles Tribune and shows what it was like. No computers, no cellphones and the competition was the 10 o'clock evening news.

I happened to find MTV's You Tube channel and discovered three years of Lou Grant. I was always thankful that the photographer "Animal" used a Domke Bag. Good advertising, but I only watched a couple of episodes and am now catching up. Brings back a lot of memories.

Memories of how departments competed against each other, reminded me of when I heard about the "diversity" training at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram I wanted to talk about how the Sports department needed to talk with the Photo Department and then team up with the Engraving department to get the best coverage. But that wasn't what they wanted to talk about.

I find it interesting how Ed Asner's Lou Grant was hired by an old friend who had worked with him before and how he had worked at numerous papers across the country. He had been working at the San Francisco Call-Bulletin and when it folded he went into television. I like how he wanted to return to newspapers. As the new city editor he was excited about really getting back to journalism as their new city editor. (He was going to be the third city editor they'd hired in one year!?) He was hired because his old friend was the managing editor.

But they had to get the publisher's approval. The managing editor didn't want to stick his neck out, Always wanting the publish to give the final ok, and take the blame if it didn't work out. It's interesting how the series rotates around the publisher, and fortunate how the publisher sticks her neck out and supports the city editor. Watching the series brings back memories.

It's interesting how news is covered in the newspaper before the Internet. They found a 75 year old judge affected by "senior moments." Napping during the trials, handing down maximum sentence and never calling for a retrial. The program shows how the team worked to get evidence and verify the facts. The judge went to the publisher and threatened to sue. Court employees protected the judge, they couldn't get any real proof. But in the research they managed to convince the judge that he needed to retire. The store ran inside, not on the front page, how for the first time this judge had granted a retrial. End of story.

But it was interesting seeing how the publisher who was friends with the judge had supported the newsroom. Risk being sued, but favoring getting to the truth.

It is interesting seeing these shows today, my how news has changed. No longer waiting to get all the facts and talking to all sides of the story. A team of reporters worked to get various parts and put the whole story together. A story that never gets published.

I watched a couple of episodes focusing on veteran reporters. One where the police reporter was covering up a story, an was also an alcoholics (aren't all newspaper persons). Ends up motivating the reporter to write a personal story on how he covers the police, a story Grant wants to run on the front page, but the publisher thinks is too soft. Not news and should run inside.

Story about NCAA investigating winning Los Angeles university football program is blocked by the sports department and their nationally syndicated columnist because they feared losing readers. But they made it a news story and what they feared happened. Bomb scares, canceled subscriptions and advertisers protesting. The show ends with the celebrity columnist realizing that some of his best know columns had been about losers, unfortunate events, missed shots, etc. The shows never get to the story they work on during the show. Ending only with how the staff member has been affected.

But the Lou Grant Shows do capture the time in journalism when it was daily newspaper and television. No cable. Newspapers were the only way to get the local news, sports, grocery ads and the front page was where editors picked what they felt was the most important.

I also liked the intro to the series. The first year they show a tree being chopped down, turned into paper, then printed and ending up used in the bird cage for the parakeet to poop on. Later episodes focused on stars, but show the newspaper being tossed in the morning and landing in a puddle or on the roof.

Those were the days. . .

- 30 - 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What do I call myself? Everyone is a photographer

With Domke Bag in refugee camp in Thailand
It strikes me with the 30th anniversary of the MacIntosh computer they post a video shot with an iPhone. It looks great on the web. Good quality, color, very professional!

It wasn't a contest on Facebook, but an advertising agency who planned it and hired photographer. . .no! A cameraman. No, a videographer. Uhh, or was it a multi-media imager?

What do we call photographers in the digital social online 21st century? Visual artists? Or, story teller? One person now can do a variety of things from recording audio, motion and still images that are combined into short picture stories. Visual media consultant?

Freelancer now sounds like someone who posts images for free on Flickr. Not part of a staff, hired for an assignment translates in saying one is a "consultant."  Or, contract photographer?

I remember going to the National Press Photographers digital imaging workshop in 1991, where Adobe showed off Photoshop, everyone shot film and scanned in the pictures. We argued about what to call these digital images. They weren't photos!

As everything blends together it seems like the professional photographer is more like a graphic artist. They both rely on Adobe Photoshop, but the designer uses programs like Illustrator and In-Design the photog often gets everything done using Lightroom, Photoshop and Premier. So the photographer has to be a visual artist in still and motion?  Don't leave out audio!

Bob Sacha made the evolution to motion from being a National Geographic contract photographer. He was a photo editor for Brian Storm and MediaStorm helping non-profits turn still photos into video programs. He recommended I buy a professional ZOOM audio recorder. I did.

But have not put it to and use, it's easier sync the audio from the camera. I've worked on perfecting editing motion with Premier. However, as someone who loved doing a picture page in a newspaper I didn't want to become a television cameraman because they never had any say in the final version. Not to mention how the images fly by. With the picture page you have time to see the various pictures and tie everything together to get a feel for the story. Words help and it's too bad that most picture pages Didn't have room for a long story and if it was a good story the photos were sprinkled around and had to stand on their own.

What do I call myself?

Jim Wood, SF Examiner, Jimmy Breslin, Newsday and JGDomke

The idea came to me that what use to be called a commercial photographer could be seen as a photographic marketing consultant, or visual marketing consultant.

I feel classified as an artist implies paint, museums, illustration. Not capturing reality, photography stands out as a way to capture the moment and record what happened, to share others who were not there. Visual artist? No

Visual communications specialist sounds like someone who hooks up television with game consoles and cable. Who am I?

D.J. Clark a Brit based in China working in TV is a photojournalist coming from stills to motion and sees the Internet as bringing everything together. Frozen image when clicked on becomes a video and below is text adding more information, outlining the story or simply making for a quick read. Then there are links to follow-up stories to get more information, videos, etc. What is this? Multi-media.

Multi-media story teller? If you tell someone that is who you are do, will they look at you funny?

If you say simply that you're a photographer, do they think, I have a smart phone and share on Facebook?

Imaging consultant? Gets away from when you took photos with film. But, "imaging" now is a fashion term. What use to be called a hairdresser is now an imaging consultant.

Multi-media use to mean that you provided projectors and directed presentations for meetings and events. The half-time presentation at the Super Bowl was a multi-media event.

If I say I'm a journalist, that means I'm a writer. But, if I say photojournalist (rather than photo-reporter), it is used both for still and video. Telling the story, capturing the event,  Maybe that's the best.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Preserve Your life - chronicle families, groups, businesses

When I started in photojournalism we were passionate about the new fast lens and faster film, we no longer needed to use flash to get a good photo. We wanted to capture the truth, be the fly on the wall and show what was happening. It was unethical to pose a picture. Using black & white film we didn't have to worry about skin tone and or white walls looking green. We wanted good composition, great expressions and tell the story.

Girls love horses when they are in grade school - JGDomke 

Rick Smolan was taken with LIFE magazine's idea to get photos taken withing 24 hours in America for the Bicentennial celebration, showing how Americans looked in 1976. He thought picking one day held all the images together, he finally got a chance in Australia. Publishing A Day in the Life of Australia in 1981. A 100 photographers who were only got compensation for expenses took photos on Friday, March 8th, 1981. 

Opening photo taken at sunrise, 5:45 a.m. by a pro from Japan! It's of a couple posing standing in their wheat field (dark, have to trust the caption) as the morning lights up the sky behind them and a flash lights them up.

Smolan took the idea on to great a business that specialized in executing global projects, from Day in the Life of California, Spain, China, Soviet Union, and more. By sticking to one day he recorded the place and time the photos were taken and it told a story.

Taken in one evening for California Living magazine of the DeBolt family.
My old colleague, Paul Glines at the San Francisco Examiner was asked by the publisher to take his wedding pictures. Glines knew they had been living together and had finally decided to get married. He didn't want to photograph the wedding, he made a wedding album that covered the entire day.
We've spent a lot of money hiring photographers to cover a special day like weddings. It is an important moment worth preserving. One of the few times the entire family is together and all dressed up looking their best. It offers a chance to get photos of all the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, grooms and bridesmaids. But everyone is dressed for the party and usually captured posing in a group. They don't look real.

What in college we critiqued newspapers as running photos that looked like "dead people in a vertical position."

I got this idea!

Why not pick a day and have a photographer follow you around and capture events, people, and places you go during a typical day. Capture the memoirs of an average day or weekend. NOT A SPECIAL EVENT. Get photos of kids dressing for school, driving to school, walking the dog, off at work, school activities, sports, taking a break, working with colleagues, reading at home, putting the kids to bed, etc. Today we can quickly change the exposure to capture the moments, really be a "fly on the wall."

The digital camera can take still/motion and record sound. It all comes together as a movie. Really showing what a day in the life was like when all the kids were little, or what a weekend was like going to games and visiting grandparents, or the day of an entrepreneur getting to work and meeting with various employees, going to conferences, checking on products, etc. 

I'm a photojournalist and rather than be a wedding photographer I want to document your day.

This is my specialty and have a variety of rates. That give you photos for display at home or office, a scrapbook, use in company brochures, and create a video with sound showing how you were on that day. 

Capture the kids when they are young and have something to share when everyone is older. I remember doing things when I was ten years old, but mostly of me, what about the rest of the family. The house, my toys, the dog? 

This is also a good idea for a business, capture a day at work! Show all the employees working, the products, and events during a day. Images with sound and words show the business for both employees and customers.

Capture the memory.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Newsphotographers are like the kicker on a football team.

Getting into making Domke bags brought me in touch with a wide range of photographers, who used camera bags. I had previously thought of myself as just a photographer, but I discovered how a newsphotographer is really different from the fashion photographer, the nature photographer, portrait photogs, medical photography, product photographers, etc.  Not only did they carry different equipment, they saw things differently.

As a newspaper photographer, I had to make daily deadlines, I had to be ready for the unexpected. Always come back with a photo. This meant keeping a camera loaded, within easy reach, ready to grab a photo that you spot while driving from one assignment to another, it meant having to take a photo to go with the story (I liked the challenge of getting something different from the wire services), you had a few minutes to find the photo and then get back to the paper to develop  film, edit, print and caption the photo. (Only enough time to cover the first 3-innings of the game then start processing, to make the 11 o'clock deadline.)

Philadelphia Police

Graphics Art Director Gary Haynes at the Philadelphia Inquirer scheduled me to start work each day at 11am, because he wanted me around in case of breaking news, he trusted me to make the 7pm deadline. What a specialty!

So I was assigned to cover the urban commune that had occupied an abandon home and was resisting eviction. The city was going to force them out and since I lived the closest I was called first, a staff photographer jumps when the editor says jump. We figured it would be in the middle of the night and I'd be lucky to get a photo with strobe of them being led into paddy wagon. Instead, the police sealed off the area and started moving spectators off the street. Other photographers had arrived with longer lenses, so they covered the front and I got into the apartment house next door to shoot out the manager's apartment window.

So it was interesting reading Mark Loundy's blog on newspapers laying off photographers because the word people felt the staff photographer was like a kicker on the football team. An interesting analogy, which I can relate to. Writers pitch the story to the editor, get the assignment and then maybe or maybe not write a request for a photographer. No input from the photographer, he/she simply gets an assignment telling them where to go and what to photograph.

Before coming to the Inquirer in 1975, I had been a freelancer in Paris, France. Working for photo agencies like Sygma and Gamma, I was also an Associated Press stringer. Shooting some news for the A.P. I noticed how newspapers in France didn't have any staff photographer, they used only freelancers. In the United States where ever pub had to have a staff the photographer, they worked with each others, to a fault. Ofter everyone simply took the same photo to insure that editors wouldn't fire them when the competition had something better.

But in France, if the freelancer was going to sell his/her photo to the newspaper it helped if there was less competition. They wanted to shoot up close and block anyone else from getting a picture.

Sort of like being a paparazzi shooting celebrities. I was use to covering a press conference and taking over-all with a wide-angle then closeups with the 85mm, but in France there was a someone with a 21mm right in front blocking my view. One assignment was a bank robbery with hostages, we were moved back and I didn't have a problem shooting over the head of another photog who was leaning on the barricade, but when the robbers emerged the photographer in the front row stood up to block as many other photographers as possible.

However, I was taken with the photo agency trend, it seemed better than being a staff photographer.

This was back in 1975 and I wondered why there couldn't be regional photo agency that covered the news like Sygma, Gamma, and Sipa, selling not just to newspapers, but magazines, trade pubs, companies, advertising etc.?  Cover an event and then contact all the publications. I liked the idea because it gave the photographer more authority in picking the assignment and get more photos published. More freedom. Stay longer at events, better coverage and come up with ideas. We need mini Magnums, so photojournalists are free to do what they do best.

So don't see the loss of a photo staff as a problem, but where is the mini agency?

I've done some work for Demotix in London which was purchased by Corbis. Using technology they get the local photographer's photos out to the world. (Especially in war and natural disasters) Based in UK with selling price for mass market publications willing to pay for exclusive photos. The local newspaper will only pay $10. They might like a weather picture or coverage of a regional event in the weekly paper or website, There are still lots of weeklies and the small price multiplied adds up. But there needs to be a central cooperative to make sure they pay.

I wonder if a local agency could help former newspaper photographers get photos published? Thanks to the web it should be possible. This is where a group of photographers need to group together and start a cooperative, where everyone pitches in to pay for an office staff which would get assignments and sell the photos. Rather than everyone working independently, team up.

Photographers can find the story. I remember when electrical power to New York City was cut from the grid. Gary Haynes saw it as the main story for the day, but we couldn't get any photos. Phones service was intermittent, no train service, if a freelancer took photos how would they get them to Philly? He didn't want the story to run without a photo, it was a big story, so he decided on getting a helicopter. Imagining that he'd have a photo of a deserted Times Square, no electricity, no glowing signs. I was picked to come back with a photo.

Unfortunately, he thought up the idea around noon and wanted to make the 7 o'clock deadline. I was picked and rushed to the airport. Had to have a big helicopter to make the flight to NYC and back, so it was going to cost the paper a lot of money. But it was a big story.

Getting to NYC we headed to Times Square and it was quiet, and the light was terrible. Buildings cast shadows over half the square but it was a bright sunny on the other side. It looked simply like a Sunday morning, and from the air looking down you didn't see billboards on the sides. I couldn't find a good angle.

We hovered around looking for a moment . . . nothing said blackout and the pilot kept worrying about having enough fuel to get back to Philly. We didn't have much time. But I saw smoke rising over in Brooklyn. The pilot thought he'd be able to get there, but then we had to leave.

When we got there it wasn't a fire, we saw looters. Lots of looters. Now this was news!

I used my telephoto lens and shot down the street, I only had 30 seconds. We had to get back to Philly.

We didn't run out of fuel. I felt good and on the way back with the summer heat I fell asleep, landing I rushed to the paper with only a couple of hours till the deadline, I told them that we found something different. They were skeptical. Some crazy photographer, how did he know he was guessing. Nobody had reported looting, but they started trying to contact a reporter in NYC. The news editor waited to layout the front page.

But the reporter hadn't heard about any looting, old land line phones weren't working, no cell phones.

We made a print and showed the editors, still they didn't want to run the photo till a reporter could check and confirm it. But because of the photo they pushed the reporter to keep trying, she finally got through to a police precinct and confirmed it! We had an exclusive!

Unfortunately, the power came back on around 10 p.m. and television started broadcasting numerous scenes of looting in NYC. It was old news by the time the paper came out the next morning.

Today we can do it all with our cell phone and post it immediately onto Face book. Craig Mod in The New Yorker observes how photography has evolved from film to digital to the smart phone. "smartphones further squish the full spectrum of photographic storytelling: capture, edit, collate, share, and respond."

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