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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James Gandofini ( Tony Soprano) died yesterday, and the big news today on Twitter is that Instagram has video. The Instagram news is breaking stronger than a hurricane. Well, I don’t like dorky storm chasers, and I don’t much care for video.  Yes, I know what Vine is. It’s in Napa Valley.  Alright, let me begin again. The length of a Vine platform video is about the same as well, it takes Tony to….say, bada-bing.   To be fair and not a complete ignoramus, I realize there is lots of creativity packed into those 6-8 seconds. new meaning to the term “quickie” indeed.

For me, if you tied all the vines made in one day into one big video, it could never compare to even the worst Sopranos episode. So, all the chatter today is getting in the way of me saying, “aririviderci” to an old friend.  Maybe someone will use Vine to make a tribute to Tony.  A bullet to the head, some baked ziti, kiss the wife goodnight.  Cut, the End.

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Terminal Terms of Service

There has been lots of bad news lately, a bummer of a week to say the least.  Of all the planetary dysfunction, the hot topic in photo land is the shocking new “terms of service” from the folks at Instagram, or whomever is at the helm over there at the moment.  It’s more than a social network scandal, it’s a downright invasion of our rights as photographers, an assault on our images.  And so there has been a great uprising, my twitter feed has many a disdainful departure notice. #deletemyaccount and the obligatory black screen shot ,not to mention the  “terms of service’ screenshot. BTW, I’m starting to hate screen shots, even my own.  Yes, I’ve read the small print and the big print and call me unprincipled, but I don’t really care. To me Instagram is a novelty, and I still love it for it’s social component, and for the motivation it provides me to use my REAL CAMERA.  I don’t think anyone anticipated that some actual photographers could make something special from a phone, so really it’s you guys who have made the problem by being talented.

If Big Brother wants my photos that’s fine by me, if there was a way I could know about, that would be nice, do I deserve compensation?  Am I taking away from the livelihood of real photographers? Is Chevron really going to use my Golden Gate Bridge photo?  Lots of questions.  Folks you have signed up for a image sharing site that includes the likes of Jamie Oliver and Shaq, so I am a bit surprised that so many people are bailing out so quickly.

God Bless Flickr for the most brilliant launch timing in history, a great new app filled with all kinds of protections against the evils of corporate piracy.  Flickr, remember those guys?  So, I get the reason behind all the fuss, and it appears the voices are being heard, but I think we need to take a #chillpill before deleting all the fun.  I would miss the fun, and these days it’s about all we got left.


baby please don't go

baby please don’t go

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Protection Film

“I’ll stand in front of you, I’ll take the force of the blow. Protection”

I wonder if Dave Bias and the chemists at The Impossible Project had this Massive Attack lyric in their heads all these years? For those of you immersed in the Polaroid subculture the announcement of a new stable, easy to use film is a big deal, if you do not care you should still read this, because you might get interested.  You see, since the death of Polaroid as we know, the company known as Impossible has been hard at work resurrecting the old factory, but they have fallen just short of solving the problem of light sensitivity. In short, using the film is a science project of sorts. Some of us are up for it, but many are not. Impossible has used some brilliant marketing skills to convince the desperate loyalists that this partially defective product is valid because the flaws make unpredictable photo art. They do have a point, and they have been able to ride this horse all around the world. I have been on that horse the whole time.  Now comes the big news…….THEY HAVE FIXED THE PROBLEM!  Now, you push the button and the photo pops out. Instant photography….what a concept.  Here is the official geek version lowdown:

“Thanks to an innovative color protection formula that greatly improves the opacification process – Color Protection Film finally allows for easy shooting without the need for immediate shielding of the photos. It also delivers a never-before-seen color saturation, a completely new level of detail and sharpness and overall stunning image quality. It’s finally bringing back the unique iconic performance and look of the most successful classic Polaroid films”

You mean I don’t need to carry around a lead bag and sunglasses to take pictures?  Seriously, wow, no more having to give my customers a twenty minute briefing on why Granny’s SX-70 camera ain’t what it used to be?  The flea market vendors are back in business because we can sell you film for your vintage cameras again, and this time around we can sell it with authority.  I applaud the folks at Impossible, especially the genius that cracked the chemical code. So one more time:

“This girl I know needs some shelter, she don’t believe anyone can help her, she’s doing so much harm, doing so much damage. But you don’t want to get involved, you tell her she can manage. And you can’t change the way she feels, but you can put your arms around her.”


With the new Protection Film this will actually be a barn.

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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.


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


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Mobile Phoney

Much to the dismay of instant gratification seekers (myself included), Instagram went offline last night around 7pm or so. I heard it had something to do with horrible weather back East. That makes sense since the server is in the clouds..ha ha As a result of this calamity, you were all deprived off a rare glimpse of yet another nice sunset from my balcony overlooking the ocean. You are currently missing an aerial view of my pristine cup of morning joe in a vintage Eames coffee cup. Later on you may miss my $6.00 one ounce food truck taco. And God Forbid, if this outage continues, you will not bear witness to me grinning, wearing a panda hat at the Giants v Reds baseball game.

I recently met someone who is a member of AMPt. Don’t know why the “t” is a small letter, but these are some “advanced” mobile phone shooters using lots of cool apps to make some pretty interesting images. I almost bought a piece in an art show from this person. I think this is fine as long as we all understand that the lines of photography have been blurred. You still need some skill to take a good mobile image. Framing, composition and the way we see the world still count, but that is really where the praise should end. Filters and digital masks or whatever they are called is really cheating. I use them all the time, and I feel kind of silly doing it. Slippery slope indeed as there are some impressive artificially created beauties that I “like” on a regular basis.

Is it sad that Facebook bought Instagram, or is it a message to mobile photographers to use a real camera? I used my Rolleiflex the other day, and it was one of the worst rolls of film I ever shot. I threw out the negatives and proudly posted my mobile shots instead. A wake up call for me for sure, especially when I see 12 year old kids posting HDR pouty lip pictures. We’re all in the same soup now, and it’s hard to control the taste.

If I’m being honest I have to say that I do really enjoy Instagram. It’s up to me to carry my Nikon in the same way I carry my phone regardless of convenience or lighting. I’ll never get used to mobile images of cats,or the obligatory “here’s my toes in the waters of some island beach.” Maybe the outage was a good thing as it reminded me that I am way too attached to my camera phone. Gotta go, we’re back online and my lunch is waiting….


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Hello Tarek



So Tarek has come to work with us here at the shop. His presence is most welcome, as he brings with him a certain charm and wit that meshes quite well with the rest of the oddballs here.

Our boss asked him to write a little tidbit about himself to introduce him to the internet world, and he came up with this fantastic itemized list of facts, which you all may find as great as I do…

“I started at Photoworks in February and immediately knew how to pronounce “giclée” from my upbringing in my native (bilingual) land of Canada.  Off-duty I enjoy shooting candid photos of strangers and listening to records and the radio.  I am a very cheap person — and therefore I like to develop my own film, spend weekends at flea markets and eat 1/2 sandwiches from M & L (editor’s note: M & L is around the corner from PW, everyone should go there at least once, free cookies!)

I like it when you drop off lots of film — it motivates the young Canuck!


• I have lived in six different cities but this is my first stay in the U.S.A..  I am trying to fit in by not using Canadian words like washroom, double-double (coffee talk for 2 creams/2 sugars) and tuque (winter hat).

• I helped run a community/college radio station for the last 2.5 years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I managed 65+ shows and over 150 volunteers — definitely a good training for meeting all the different customer styles at PW.

• I own a goat sweater. (Editor’s note: This is a great sweater, he’s never worn it to work… Why?)

• My favorite films are Kodak Tri-X and Fuji 800Z.

• I once fainted in my home darkroom — no ventilation and a fast-approaching deadline for a bunch of 16 x 20″ prints are a bad combo.

• I prefer street photography.  Unstaged, candid moments are my favorite.  Trying to capture a strong image from something you can’t control is addictive…a good way to explore the city too.

• I once spent a lot of time in laundry mats and documented what I saw. (Editor’s note: This is actually very interesting and the artistic statement is worth a read!)

• A customer called me Tarmac on the phone and repeated this creative interpretation when meeting me at the store.  It was beautiful.


He meant to write:

“Lots of love,


Welcome to the shop buddy.


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Photoworks 6

Our newest edition of the PHOTOWORKS zine will be coming out later this week. This issue is a tad different than the previous prints- we’ve included some bios and interviews with each featured photographer. Here is an excerpt from photographer Matt Sawyer’s bio:

“I think that experiencing an image frozen in time is not simply one less dimension, but fundamentally a different kind of thing than experiencing the sensation of sight or watching a video or movie. As we look into the world around us, we are being flooded with sensory information from almost 180 degrees in front of us. This information is correlated also to what we’re hearing, smelling and touching. By carving out a small fraction of that information into a photograph, freezing it in time, and detaching it from other sensory experiences, I think that it allows a strong sense of memory to be invoked as our minds attempt to grasp it and make sense of it. It’s almost as if your mind is tracking forward in time until the photograph is viewed; it is then arrested and sometimes reels backwards into memory or nostalgia as the photograph is taken in.”

You can find the rest of his lovely thoughts and photographs in Issue 6, which will be sold in store for $8.

Hope your week is going swimmingly everyone!


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Honey Have You Seen My Polaroid Camera?

“Honey, Have you seen my old Polaroid camera?”

“Yeah, I gave it to Goodwill along with your vinyl records because I heard they stopped making the film.”

“You did what????”

If you don’t own a Polaroid camera, you probably know someone who does.  Most likely a parent, or grandparent, or cousin. Where are these cameras now?  Probably in a closet, or trunk, or buried in a heap up in the attic. Or, you might find one for $4.00 at a flea market.   No respect, considering what Popular Photography Magazine said many years ago, ” Like television, Polaroid photography is one of those processes that permits technically unsophisticated mortals to perform technological miracles.”  And so this is how these instant cameras were marketed, sold at Kmart and at the drugstore as an easy way around complicated photography.  They were sold door to door, and on TV, and everyone had at least one.  When my Father passed away, I found a Land Camera and two pristine SX 70’s up on a shelf next to a shoe box containing a Colt 45 pistol…

Then we had the era of Warhol and Mapplethorpe, and suddenly things changed as the artists discovered the inherent beauty of this once thought of utilitarian device.  Fast forward to the digital era and all those “unsophisticated mortals” now have a new way to capture an image instantly, and so Polaroid dies an ugly death, leaving the old school artist’s in the dust.  ( sorry for the drama)

Enter the Impossible Project, a group of visionaries on a quest to resurrect Polaroid film.  Well, they have done it, but apparently not to perfection.  You see there are a few secrets of science that lay buried in the ruble, thus we have to wrestle a bit it with these new films.  Which brings me to the point of this post. PHOTOWORKS IS HAVING A CLASS ON HOW TO USE THE NEW IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT FILMS!  Here are a few photos that show why a class and some simple tutoring will make using the new films more enjoyable.

oops, I didn’t know that you had to shield this from light, looks cool, but I might try again.

okay, that’s getting the hang of it.

by James de Leon ( what you will learn how to do in this class)

So all of you Polaroid shooters dig out that old camera, and come on down to photoworks on April 22nd to see first hand what all the fuss is about surrounding the new era of Polaroid. http://www.facebook.com/events/320455021347683/

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