Category Archives: camera

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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Bada-Bing

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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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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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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The Holga Walkers

Scene 1:  Camera pans down to see a group of blood thirsty zombies taking pictures of anything they can find.  Graffiti, spider webs,  telephone wires, and pigeons are no match for this crazed bunch.   Close up shot reveals not actual zombies, but mere mortal toy camera enthusiasts.  It’s not the Walking Dead, it’s the Photoworks Holga Workshop and Walkabout.  These are not scary monsters, just scary talented photographers trying to push the envelope from every angle.  When the locals in a small town see us lurking toward their small houses and rusty trucks, they tend to run and hide.  The site of the plastic holga camera can instill fear in some, but in the right hands it’s not a blood sucker at all, it’s a new means of expression, and it cannot be stopped.

Happy Halloween, and if you should be out and about and see one of the holga walkers, don’t be scared.  You are safe as long as you don’t look in to the flash.

                                                                                                                           lock and load

  • spooky holga persoT

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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If You Love Her, Get Her A Camera

Been looking at the new Nikon 7000/ million, some camera huh?  Looks like you can shoot in deep space with that thing.  Despite my passion for film, you’d have to be nuts not to want a camera like this.  My birthday is in May.

Need to get my betrothed something for V Day, and would like to avoid a Hallmark moment.  I found this amazing camera here.

The Lady Carefree, which I believe used to be available on makeup counters in your finer department stores.  An unfortunate name for a camera especially if you’re a dude or a feminist…  So I will present this little gift today and see what happens.  She will probably ask for the iphone 4, but this is better because it comes with a rose.

above from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32214524@N00/1806297604

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Holga Hot Tub Time Machine

I wanted to remind everyone that there is still time to sign up for the big holga workshop on Sat Aug 21st.

get your camera wet

You can find the details in our flickr group.http://www.flickr.com/groups/photoworkssf/  We’ll teach you a bit about the holga camera, we’ll go down the coast and shoot some pictures, and then we’ll drink beer and get naked n the photoworks SF hot tub. Sound fun? How about everything before the getting naked part?

As a bonus we’ll be printing a magazine to commemorate the event.  The images will be pulled from what we shoot that day.  I am also thinking about some holga related activities for the workshop.  Holga relay race, holga toss, musical holgas, holga truth or dare, and of course, the holga dance contest.  So, if haven’t yet  signed up, get a hold of me here at photoworks.  Space in the hot tub is limited.

dh

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Ain’t No Sunshine

I’ve lived in the SF/Bay Area for 30 years, most of my adult life.  I love it, but I will never get used to the dreary summers.  I’m glad I don’t live in the heat and humidity of the East Coast, that would suck, but man the fog is bringing me down.  I feel like a need a vitamin D shot or a tanning booth.  I have no circulation, the plants are not growing, and there ain’t no lovin’. My dog is refusing to be walked.  Anyone else in a foul mood?  I shot a roll of black and white film over the weekend.  I used a yellow filter to help with the grey day, but my photos still look bleak.  I also shot a roll of color and my photos came out black and white.  This summer is especially foggy, even more so down on the coast where I live.  I feel like Khan from Star Trek having been banished to a dead planet.

Yes, fog can be nice, keeps everybody cool, there is less crime, but drinking tea huddled next to the heater in August is not normal.  I saw where this is the coldest summer since 1972.  I check the forecast and it’s “fog and low clouds, fog and low clouds.”   It’s concerning because I’m putting on a picture taking class this month.  The supply list goes something like, bring camera, tripod, and film.  I guess I’ll need to add, blankets, parka, and a thermos of hot cocoa.

Bundle up, it’s summertime.

socked in

dh

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Camera Heaven

No, my camera is not malfunctioning. This image is by design, but if it wasn’t, I’d be looking for a repair shop. Camera Heaven is a camera geek paradise stock full of Nikons, Leicas, Hasselblads, box cameras, and all things photographic. It’s main function is to repair your prized pieces, or just make your point and shoot digital work again. I know this is a good place because there is stuff piled up up everywhere. Every good repair shop is a mess, right?

People ask me all the time: Where can I repair my camera, and until now, I’ve never really had a good answer. So if your camera needs a little help, or maybe just a good cleaning (film and digital), bring it down to Photoworks and I’ll get it over to “my guy” at Camera Heaven.

untitled_3.jpg

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