Looking back, I’d say my journey as a photographer began during my early days in Hell’s Kitchen. Though I had been fascinated with taking pictures since my teens. It wasn’t until I was occupying a one-bedroom in the heart of the west midtown area of Manhattan that my then boss gave me his old Nikon EM SLR along with some film and a couple of photo books that my hobby turned into an obsession. I quickly began documenting my surroundings while graduating from one-hour photo chains to professional printing services such as Duggal and B&H. Within a short time, the towels and sheets that fit neatly in my apartment linen closet were displaced by boxes of photos and trays of slides. My trips to places like Duggal and B&H quickly quadrupled. From my eight years in Hell’s Kitchen to my married life in New Jersey and Washington state. My passion and obsession for photography never waned. My need for living space grew, and the number of photo boxes, enlargements, and ane studio gear morphed. Quickly realizing less is more, I used the premise of moving to digitize all those negatives, slides, photo boxes, and albums before tossing them in the garbage.
As I begin to get the digitized photos back, I can see the vast progress I’ve made over the years. Kicking myself, in a sense, for holding on to the past for so long. Undoubtedly, many photos accurately documented the time and people. Most of it, unfortunately, was junk. Luckily though, there were a few that jogged some serious memories. Photo’s that still show a measure of intent and purpose.
Taken on 48th street and 10th avenue shortly after a snow storm. You can hopefully see the emphasis on the reflections the puddles give. You should also get a rare view of a traffic-free New York City street. Not bad for a photo I took more than twenty-five years ago.
Understanding full well that my obsession with running out on the balcony or up to the roof to watch/photograph the sunset each night will eventually fade. I’ve taken to abandoning my camera’s priority mode while switching to manual focus on my lenses. Though manual mode is, by far, the best way to learn. With limited time and a plate of homemade tacos waiting for me on the inside, I switched to TV mode, changing my shutter speed with each image. Those unfamiliar with TV mode allow you to change your camera’s shutter speed and let you play around with the amount of time. Giving you the power to create a sense of motion in your images. Below are a couple of pictures and their settings. As you can see, their taken from very different ends of the spectrum, yet the results are similar.
As I began to head back down from the roof deck and enjoy the tacos my wife had been preparing. I was greeted by a really kind couple by the bar. After a short chat, I was asked if and where they could see some, if any of the pictures I had just taken. I gave one of them my card in hopes of sharing before I headed downstairs. While there are probably countless people living here, my hopes are to run into them again and possibly lear more from natives of the city I’ve come to call my home. In the meantime, this post and these pictures are for them.
Thanks to the to the advice and guidance of a friend and gifted artist, I’ve decided to embark on selling prints of some of the many images I’ve shot over the years. Though still very much in the idea stage. I’ve begun to reach back to some old favorites, look into possible places to print and the right website to host my images. I hope to start small with just a few images, ones picked with the customer in mind. (Not necessarily my favorites, but ones that might appeal to a broader audience, while still reflecting my overall style. Below is an image taken back in the early nineties with a Nikon EM film camera and 50 mm lens. Special thanks to Jenn for the inspiration. You can buy her prints here. It Does Art
After seeing several of my images used without permission, notification or credit on separate platforms in recent weeks, I’m seriously considering watermarking anything I share or post in the future. For quite some time now, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that individuals see no fault in taking and using someone’s work or personal property without at the very least, asking. For whatever reason, this has always been a music related issue for me. Bands, record labels, magazines and the what not perhaps thinking that someone else’s work is public domain. While it was a personal friend and professional photographer who, years ago, convinced me to stop watermarking my work, it was another who upon relaying my frustrations, asked me, why on earth I wasn’t.
Upon sharing some new watermarks with a friend and my ideas with my wife, I was told that someone might crop out my watermark if it was perhaps placed incorrectly, or that I might consider sharing small, grainy ones instead. Needless to say, it’s frustrating. While this could take some time, I feel that with some time and patient research, I’ll be using more watermarks to both protect my work and piss off the mother fuckers who take without asking. Below are some links to my recent discoveries.
When we arrived at the beach, I was amazed to see a stable of horses assembled on the sands just steps away from the ocean. It was my first trip to the Pacific Ocean since my last trip to Japan in 2012 and my first ever glance from the United States. The horse were bused from a local stable and were close to ending their work day by the time we arrived. While I was eager to capture some images before they began their sojuorn home. I couldn’t help but think how cool this image would look without the rope that kept them from rushing forward. Upon arriving home, I inspected the photos I took before reaching out to my old friend and neighbor. (The one who basically taught me everything I know.) and asked him to magically remove those barriers that hold us back. While we’re here, I’d feel remiss if I were not to include a link to his work. I’ve attached before and after images below as a link to Kevin’s photography, Here
When leaving the house this morning. I left with no intentions of checking my camera’s battery or making sure the card inside had been cleared, or for a better word, “formatted” the last time I uploaded a session to my laptop. As of late, my newer camera bag. The one I bought to house a rather large 70-200 lens. Seems to be getting heavier and heavier.
Truth be told, I’ve gotten lazy and though not seeing nearly as many as many photographers and more phones being used to capture the moment makes me cranky. I can’t help think that maybe I should be changing with the times. However, with my stumbling, fumbling, shutting off and often having to remove my thumb from the picture i’m trying to compose. Chances are I’ll be holding on to my film and DSLR’s for years to come. And while there’s no doubting my regret of not taking my camera long with me for such a picturesque trip. I was pretty satisfied with some of the images I managed to capture with my phone.
For years now I’ve been aware of Instagram, but had no idea as to what it offered or what I’d find. In all honesty, I thought it was an app. where people uploaded their selfies and pictures of meals from their mobile devices. Thankfully, through conversations with my brother and a close friend who’s been mentoring me. Not only was I open to investigation. I was flat out prepared to dive in to the deep end of the pool. Since opening an account, I’ve been posting regularly and building a small, but steady following. More importantly, I’ve found inspiration and ideas by following my favorite photographers, magazines and modeling agencies. And just as I’ve built a following with Photogeek over the years. I hope to grow and share with Instagram. Below is a link to my account. I’ll be posting work from my sessions regularly.
In a recent conversation with friend, fellow photographer and mentor Kevin. I was questioned about my use of watermarks. I explained that I had so many of my music related photos used without permission, notice or credit over the years and how using a watermark gave me a sense of assurance that such branding would cut down on, if not eliminate the practice of taking without asking. As ridiculous as it might seem, it pisses me off when I have to ask for a photo credit after it’s already been used without notification. In the days of film, this never seemed to be an issue, due to the fact that you, the photographer, owned the negative. In a time of social media’s immediacy and a digital age where a file / image replaces the negative. Problems certainly have more of a chance to arise.
Still, his question and critique really made me think. Is it really worth it? Does it reduce the emotion or intended message within the image. If so, does that tiny assurance relieve any of the anxiety or paranoia of having one of your shots appear uncredited on someone’s band page? Probably not. But still, it’s an idea I’m still not ready to completely embrace. So, what do you think? Bands, Photographers? I’d love to hear from you.