Tag Archives: “photoworks san francisco”

Where Art Shows Go To Die

So, you got yourself a show, congratulations. Maybe it’s just a coffee shop, or a bar, or a small boutique in an alley. Better yet, you are in an actual gallery. The big time! Wherever the show is, it is an important acknowledgement of you as a photographer and artist.

Let’s begin getting everything ready. Most people submit low res digital images to the “curator” or barista ( in my case ). Then you need to make prints. Better find a photo lab that will throw you some love, because this gets expensive, and benefactors are hard to come by these days. Wait a minute, you shoot film, and unless you can spend hours and hours in a darkroom, you are going to need to some fancy scans made $$$$$$$.  Next, how to display?? Custom framing? Mounting? DYI, ouch I just cut off my thumb with a glass cutter. Ikea frame department here I come.

Here’s an idea, do a kickstarter and lean on your friends and family to fund your show. This might work, but will  take months and you will be buying beers for everyone the rest of your life.  Okay, let’s assume you have made it through all of the hurdles, and the Opening Reception is upon us. It’s hang time people. Ever try this maneuver on your own? Better have a ruler, tape measure, pencil, one hell of an eye for presentation, and a damn good friend to hold the ladder.

Next step: Time to make postcards, or homemade paper flyers done on your $60.00 printer. Then you need to spread them around town where they become a needle in a haystack of band flyers and random announcements. No worries, when no one is looking just throw the other shit away, so your postcard is the most visible.  Now,the big day is getting closer. Facebook Posts and tweets in the can and now WHAT THE FUCK DO I WEAR?? If you are a slacker dude, you go with the bad ball cap look and jeans too low even though you are over 30 and look ridiculous. If you are woman, well I can only assume you make more of an effort which means God Knows What?  Almost there Baby,just gotta grab some Pabst and Two Buck Chuck and we are home free!  Wait a minute…pricing??  Well, you spent say $200.00 a piece so you need to recover your investment and then some. How’s $500.00 sound for a framed and matted limited edition ( one of one )? Sounds fair, but jeez the economy sucks everywhere but Valencia St, so these may be hard to sell…..

Exhausted? I am,but the turnout was solid, and you had a blurb in say The Daily Candy.  Your show will run for the next three weeks, and in case anyone missed it, the hair salon is open 6 days a week until nine. That’s my photo over the hair washing station.

Ahhhh, it’s over now, better get down there and take the work down before the shop owner chucks your work into a broom closet.  Now what? Well, if you are lucky you can re purpose your gems, show them again somewhere in another town.  For me, the whole sad irony is, after all the effort,my show is hanging in the most prestigious of galleries….my garage. It’s part of the permanent rafters collection, where viewings are open to spiders. No appointment is necessary.

My Babies

Gallery De Garage

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Film And Burning Man…A Match Made In Heaven

If you look at the history or say the arc of Burning Man you will find some similarity to the arc of Photography and my business in particular. In and around 1990 I began to have employees asking for extended time off around the Labor Day weekend.  These were not mere requests, they were DEMANDS.  Like, “I’m going to Burning Man Dave, if my job is here when I get back that would be great, if not so be it.”   At this point I am already 30 years old and really not interested in what I saw as rolling around in the dirt on Ecstasy. I’ve never been a naked outdoor dude as I prefer to get naked in private.  I also hate hot weather.  However, as a person who attended hundreds of Grateful Dead concerts in my early twenties, I felt some empathy ( however ignorant!) for the event.  Time off granted. Go nuts.

The amazing thing about the early years of Burning Man is that it yielded thousands of rolls of film for me to develop and print. The event quickly became our biggest photo processing time of the year.  Bags upon bags of dusty rolls of film to process and print.  All the same photos really, almost like you could give the same set of pictures out and no one would really know the difference.

As the event grew to the epic scale it is today, photography began to change over to digital and we began to get a bit nervous.  Each year more people came to the desert, but we processed less film.  I remember going to a dinner party and some guy said to me that I should sell my business because everything was now “digies.”  I sort of took this as a wake up call, and we slowly made the plunge in to the new world, upgrading our equipment to deal with these freaking “digies”  I still hate that word and the whole vernacular associated with the event, but that’s my problem.

We always kept the the film thing going because it’s just who we are at heart.  Ironically, people soon realized that digital camera sensors do not take kindly to sandstorms.  Fast forward ten years if I may, and we are in an age of retro photography where film is once again cool. The phrase “film is not dead” can be seen on t shirts, and all the hipsters use toy cameras. And it’s not just the hipsters shooting film, it’s everywhere.  I’m selling Polaroid/Impossible Project film to a new generation of Burning Man Photographers.

Lomography is the corporate arm of toy film photography, and some have said that Burning Man has on some level developed a corporate structure. I have no facts here, I can only say that it costs money to attend so there must be someone fiscally responsible.   I say it’s a perfect match (sorry)…Alternative lifestyle if you will, meets alternative photography.   I know I will see plenty of Instagrams of you Burners doin’ your thing, but hope I see plenty of dusty film canisters too, and it goes without saying that if you work at Photoworks and want to attend the festival….time off is granted.

Hope there is some film down there. microlesia.com

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I need a Parklet, Artwalk, a Food Truck, and a Meetup Stat!

Tomorrow night from 7-10 we are having an art opening at Photoworks.  We will be featuring work as seen in our latest Zine Photoworks 6.  Most of the photographers will be present.  There will be the usual red and white beverages served along with some simple Trader Joe’s snack fare, and maybe a homemade dish or two as well.  And That’s All Folks!  I am hoping that some of the 169 people I invited on Facebook will make it.  Currently the number stands at 33, but I am confident that the event will be a success despite the fact that we sit on an undefined stretch of Market St. that no one perceives as a destination.  If I named the area at Market and Church ( called it Murch maybe) would that make us cool?  Maybe a DJ blaring electronica would entice people to come and see these photos.  I guess there are many options on a Friday night in this town,

by Paige Campbell Linden

and we do not have a Ritual Coffee Roaster embedded in the lobby.  Actually, we don’t really even have a lobby.  How do I get one of those outdoor bike rack cafe thingies with a dumpster full of succulents?  Then when the crowd swells people can spill over to the photoworks promenade.

Lastly, how does one spread the word?  Of my 2000 Twitter followers, I think 1500 live in Alaska.  Someone tell my story in The Fecal Italic, or tumble me, foursquare my shit G.  I want to be in the Best Of The Best Of The Best.   Alas, we will proceed with humility and sans fanfare, and just say COME TO THE SHOW THE PHOTOS ARE GREAT.

PHOTOWORKS SIX OPENING RECEPTION FRIDAY AUGUST 3RD 7-10

2077a Market St at Church  (murch)    PS, I just found out we are going to have mood lighting…

DH

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Like A Kid In A Camera Store

I grew up in the sixties and seventies in Southern California and my father, an avid photographer used to take me to many camera stores.  He bought me my first Kodak Instamatic when I was nine, and though it is long gone, it has been replaced by an exact replica, as  I now collect cameras.  These old camera stores were cool with all the iconography and signage of the era, the  Kodak displays, and the faint smell of stop bath from the back room.  My dad could spend an hour chatting f-stops and fixer dilution with the guy behind the counter.  Maybe he’d pickup a new wide angle lens, or a yellow filter, or maybe just some lens cleaning tissue.  There are few such places left, but most have gone from darkrooms to self serve kiosks, and from negatives to pixels. The only cameras marketed to kids today are based on lame cartoon characters, though back in the day there were of plenty Barbie cameras too. ( we can argue Barbie v Dora The Explorer later)

Along with the recent resurgence of film has come a new generation of analog camera lovers.  When you combine that with return of “Polaroid” style instant films and Polaroid camera users you get kind of a Father and Son meeting all over again.  At Photoworks, I thought it would be fun to sell a few used cameras.  I started out with some Polaroids, and now have all sorts of used film cameras.  I can’t keep the stuff on the shelves, and the whole vibe of the shop has picked up with the new camera offerings.

Now I’m searching eBay for SX-70 cameras, and old signs to decorate the shop.  Everyday some new camera comes in the mail.  I clean them up, put them on display, and then they are gone.  For the first time in 23 years, I have people asking me for a ” 28mm nikkor” as if I’m an actual camera store.  I say, “let me check in the back for you,” even though there is no “back.”  So, I am clearly enjoying all of this camera business, and something about it has rekindled some nostalgia in me.   Maybe we’ll have to bring back the old darkroom, now that would make my Dad proud.

Come to Papa

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Root Root Root For The Film Team

“And if they don’t win it’s a shame.”  Well it seems like the film team is going to win after all.  Much like the SF Giants, the film shooters are a band of over achieving misfits coming together at just the right time.  And like our World Series Champs, the film team was born out of  disenfranchisement .  In this case a frustration with digital photography as an art form.  I’m certain that The SFAI teaches plenty on digital photography, but isn’t it ironic that many people I meet prefer to explore the boundaries of film and alternative processes.  The toy camera, holga, and lomo are the low fidelity player’s choice around here.

This Friday we will hold a reception here at Photoworks to prove the point.  Hope you can join us, and meet the members of the San Francisco Toy Camera Club, or as I call them, The Film Team.  ( certainly not misfits)

"doubles" not really about baseball

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What Happens In The Darkroom Stays In The Darkroom

I miss the darkroom.  Some great images were made by some talented photo printers.  In the heyday of Photoworks we had as many as eight darkrooms, color and black and white.  The smell of fixer permeated the building as contact sheets and hand printed enlargements were produced behind closed doors.  This was a fruitful time in the lab, and there was more in the air aside from chemicals .  That’s right, romance was alive and well in the analog world.   So here’s another reason to like film….the darkroom illuminated by only a red safety light is conducive to lovin’, whereas your Mac is well, why do you think they call it a laptop?

People always seem to hookup at work, and this company has spawned many relationships.   One day I got a wedding invitation in the mail from two of my staff, both darkroom printers.  I didn’t even know they were a couple.  I asked them where they met, and smiling coyly they said, “in the darkroom.”  I designed the darkrooms so that as many as three printers could occupy one room, but I did not envision the other “possibilities.”  In the movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen trying to create the perfect mood, adds a red light bulb to his bedside lamp telling Annie, “now we can go about our business and develop photographs at the same time.”  On the other side of the coin we’ve had our fair share of dramas play out in the darkroom as well.  I almost had to break down the door once to break up a fight as the sound of broken beakers could be heard from the street.

Then we have the home darkroom, which is intended for a completely different purpose, a place where my Dad would hide out from my Mother.  He had a little mini bar and shot glass on the shelf by the photoflow.  So, as usual I am nostalgic for the old days….. developer, fixer, photoflow, and perfume.  We still have one darkroom left at Photoworks which we use to process film.  The walls are painted black like some old rock and roll nightclub, and the graffiti on the wall says, “I’ll dodge if you burn.”

Need I say more.

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Burning Man Fire Sale

It’s a tradition here at Photoworks, trying to make a few bucks off the mayhem that is Burning Man.  In the early years of the festival, we’d process thousands of rolls of film after the event.  It was glorious to see all the dust covered film canisters.  Sadly, those days are long gone.  Now it’s all digital, or as they say on the playa, “digies.”  I think that’s what they say..Anyway, I often wonder about how many fancy camera sensors get wrecked in all that dust?  Which brings me to my pitch:  Shoot film in a Holga camera.  It’s the perfect Burner camera.  Plastic, weird focus, inherently psychedelic.  Have a Red Bull, jump on your bike, and shoot the moon with a holga.

Photoworks SF Burning Man Fire Sale:  10% off any Holga Camera and a free roll of expired film (looks better)

torched

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Aloha Holga

I’m going on vacation next week to Maui.  First vacation from the Photoworks Empire in a few years.  I’ll be packin’ the Wife and Kids, and a camera bag full of film.  How many sunsets cross processed can one man take in 8 days?  Well, we’re going to find out.  Lie down on the sand and look up to the sky,  snap that palm tree gently blowing in the trade winds.

Will I find arty Islanders to accompany me on a picture taking walk?  I doubt it.  So should I leave all the crappy toy cameras at home, or do I revel the poolside crowd with my cool plastic photo taking contraptions? Man I can’t wait to get in the pool up to my waist, holga in one hand, pina colada in the other! I realize that’s a tough visual, but just think how nice and relaxed I’ll be when I get home. As they say in Hawaii,  Aloha holga means “hello and goodbye.”

you got my back while I"m gone?

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That’s Not My Film

“That’s not my film.”  For a photo lab, this is the most dreaded statement that a customer can make.

I’ve been in this business for 22 years.  I can safely say that I have overseen the developing of some 800,000 rolls of film.  Of those almost one million rolls, I’d say we’ve had maybe 50-75 or so rolls get damaged and sometimes ruined by machine malfunction.  We try and treat film processing like we are flying an airplane because the consequences of failure can be pretty grim.  Now and then we’ll have an operator error, or shall I say pilot error, where the technician makes a mistake.  This may cause some film to get switched to the wrong customer.  So Mr. Smith winds up with Miss Johnson’s pictures.  Ooops!  That can be embarrassing, especially if one of the parties is say “adventurous.”

There is another scenario in which we follow all of our lab protocols, but the customer insists that they have been given “someone else’s film.”  Now it can happen, but it is rare.  This is sticky because as they say, the customer is always right.  But, is it possible that the customer could be mistaken?  What if that roll of film is from a friend, or maybe you just forgot what you shot?  Could there be tequila involved?   Then you have people who take a look at their photos and realize that they are crap, and suddenly insist that, “these are not mine.”

I’m dealing with a situation now where someone went to a far away place and shot some special photos.  They insist that what they have back from me are not images from this far away place.  The problem is that I think that they are.  I sure can’t come out and say that.

The other day I went to my dry cleaner and to my surprize one of my hipster vintage shirts was missing.  In it’s place was a tuxedo shirt that I most certainly do not own.  When I questioned the proprietor, he responded by saying that, “the tags all match up Sir, are you sure this is not your shirt?”  Then I got to thinking, I was in Las Vegas for a wedding recently, and there was most defintely tequila involved……….

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Working Artists Apply Here

Are you a photographer/artist?  Do you have big ideas, but a small budget?  Photoworks would like to help you realize your printing dreams by offering you 20% off all fine art printing.  Fine art as in giclee/inket.  As in Canvas, or Hahnemule Photo Rag, or any of the eight or so papers we offer.  We call this program the “working artist’s discount.”  How does this discount work?  Send me an email to dave@photoworkssf.com.  Tell me about yourself and your project.  Whether you need one print or twenty prints, I’d still like to hear about it.  My criteria for the discount is that you be someone I can work with, and be someone that could benefit from the financial help.

I don’t usually use this space for store offers, but thought it was worthwhile in this case.

dh

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