Category Archives: digital photography

Classy Class Photos

It was class photo day recently for my son’s kindergarten class.   We sort of dressed him up a bit for the occasion knowing that we probably won’t buy any of the obligatory packages offered by the “photographers.”   Almost all of us still have at least one hilarious class photo from the fourth grade or thereabouts.  We laugh at how funny we look, but in the end we treasure these pictures for the nostalgia and even the historical fashions of the period.

Yours Truly, the handsome devil top right.

I for one, am happy to validate my pre pubescent  memory of Miss Born who was indeed a stone cold fox.   So here is how this works now.  There are no class photos.  Instead, each child is photographed individually and then a composite is made of the class.  Why??  Are the kids so wound up on sugar that they cannot stand still for five minutes?  This is wrong on about a million levels.  Part of the greatness of the class photo is to see the one kid who is looking the wrong way because chances are that kid is still looking the wrong way even today.  The new class photos are contrived, impersonal, and lacking in any photographic aesthetic.  Not to mention that the final product is a crap ass electronic image printed on some flimsy costco paper, totally killing any hope of tactile pleasure.  The company in charge also shoots some additional poses of your kid, ala shopping mall style with a cheezy background.  The photos are sent home in an envelope that says, “look, love, buy.”  Really, I looked and puked.

what have they done to my baby!

If you look closely at the above you will see that the face is out of focus, and the pose is  just bizarre.  That ain’t how my kid smiles.  And sorry, but is that a hand drawn sun in the background?  I know we all think we can do better these days, and people need to make a living, but sorry this will not do.

I’m adding one more image here, my father’s class photo of which I have the actual 16×20 hand made print.  These are young men who were probably hit with a stick if they didn’t sit up straight, but the final product is a work of art, shot on a large format camera, meticulously crafted.  Not exactly realistic for today’s working school photographer, and therein lies the problem.  There are no longer any actual photographers, only button pushers, trained on a computer, not a camera.  Boohoo.

Pops, first row middle.

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Cell Phone Photojournalist

I was driving past the Dolores Park( unemployment office)  a few Saturdays ago, when I witnessed an interesting non-event.  An SUV making a left turn south on to Dolores hit a cyclist going through the crosswalk.  The cyclist was flying through the intersection,and the driver did a pretty good job of not killing the guy.  The driver, a well dressed woman clearly not from “the mission” was mortified and did her best to aid the cyclist who it appeared was unhurt.  It was a mere accident, most likely caused by the driver being blinded by all the pasty white skin on display in the park that day.  Suddenly, from out of the crowded park appeared Pony Tail Guy with his cell phone.  I believe he had a laminate around his neck saying,”Cell Phone Photojournalist looking to create tension.”  So the guy starts snapping photos with his phone and getting in everyone’s face.  So now we have tension as the driver starts getting uneasy when the guy starts taking photos of her license plate.  Sure enough a small crowd begins to gather, and being a hot day, a few big losers start to taunt the woman because she drives an SUV.  Yeah, that’s a crime.

Now I understand the need for civilians to help monitor each other, but this was not an Oscar Grant type of event.  And as far as I know you do not win a Pulitzer for a cell phone photo.  If you want to be a photographer, then at least carry a proper camera.  If somehing bad had happened on this day, the thought of looking at low res video and photos over and over again makes me sick.

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Point And Shit

Remember the snapshot? I do. I’ve got a bunch of little square photos taken 40 years ago of me as kid. I have photos taken 20 years ago of me in college. They are not fancy photos, but the images share a common “snapshot” quality to them. Now along comes digital and people are snapping photos a mile a minute, capturing pointless minutia, and too many buttcracks. If I’m going to take a picture of my ass, I’m going to at least put the camera on timer, set in on a rock, take a step or two back, and hope for the best. I really don’t think you should be able to take a picture of yourself without letting go of the camera. I really hate those shots of someone’s entire head in the frame because their arm extends only so far! What ever happened to asking a stranger to “take my picture.”?

If I designed a digital camera, I’d make it smart enough to stop all the dumb ass photos people take. Even if it’s a snapshot, it should be taken with care and with respect for photography. Even when we had disposable cameras, it didn’t mean that we had disposable images.

So yeah, I’m a bit of a snob about this, and I’m not sayin’ that I don’t take lousy photos, bit I do think about what I’m doing, and I do care about every snap.

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Meet Your Photoworks Staff

Thought I’d introduce some of the people who make it all happen at Photoworks. Starting with our youngest employee who frankly is lucky to be getting paid. I tried to sucker him into an intern program, but he demanded to be compensated monetarily. Normally I have little respect for anyone born in The Eighties, but Alex is a solid citizen with a “big” future, despite the fact that he fabricated his resume. The only truth below is that he was born in Simi Valley in 1985. The rest is bullshit, he’s actually a runaway who I found sleeping in the alley behind Photoworks. Meet Alex….

Name: Alex Martinez
Born: Feb 1st, 1985
Birthplace: Simi Valley, CA
Worked At Photoworks Since: July, 2007
Before that? Getting my BA in Anthropology at San Francisco State
University, with a focus on visual anthropology and documentary
Film or digital? Film, 35mm mostly, but just got a medium format
camera and have been enjoying 120.
Gear: Nikon F100, Fuji GA645, Yashica T4. For film I shoot Kodak
Portra NC, and Ilford HP5+.
When Not At Photoworks: Interning at Hamburger Eyes Photo Epicenter,
exploring the Bay Area, spending too much time on the internet.
Most important question, matte or glossy? Any borders? Matte, clean
white borders. Always.


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Anything Photo Related

Judging by my last pathetic post, it seems I’ve hit the wall in terms of fresh blog stuff. So I’ve enlisted the aid of my wordsmith buddy Donald Ord. He has lots to say about a variety of topics. I’ve asked for “anything photo related.” Here is some of what’s in Donald’s head:



For Christmas about four years back my girlfriend, now my wife, bought me my first digital camera in an attempt to bring me into this century. I had worked for about a dozen years in film editing, but that came to an end at about the same time folks stopped using film in the process of making them.


I didn’t really make it into this century, but I do love the camera. I was told that I could make these mp4 movie images, which I have, or that I could use it to play songs, which I have not, but what I mainly do with it is take pictures. There were a number of weddings the following year, 2004, which took us to places such as Denver, Portland, Montreal, then down through Vermont to Cape Cod. We enjoyed these trips, though in New England we couldn’t help but encounter Red Sox fans. One thing people forget about Winslow Homer was how he started to paint more and more out of New England once Red Sox fans started appearing on the landscape.


What I liked about the camera was that it was tiny, and could easily be stuck in a pocket. Apparently it was the kind used in the movie “Tomb Raider”, which I never saw. Never was really into Angelina Jolie, even before she started using the same accent for ancient or medieval roles. Something about the big lips. Folks make a big deal out of Anna Kournikova and Scarlett Johansson, but again, there’s that big lip thing. It’s not as if Ms. Johansson would be out of options without them, and as for Ms. Jolie, did she never watch “Deliverance” and the trouble her pop almost got into with the hillbilly that didn’t rape Ned Beatty on account of the “pretty mouth” thing?


Back to the camera. The problem with it is the amount of pictures I can take. The card that came with the camera was 64 mb, which took me to about the end of June 2004, through the last wedding, including a stop in Plymouth on the way to Logan. By deleting a photo or two, I was able to make room for a couple of shots of Plymouth Rock. One would think that if the Pilgrims were going to travel so far in a boat in order to inflict Puritanism on countless generations they would at least have landed on something more substantial than Plymouth Rock. You go somewhere like Copenhagen, where there are very few Red Sox fans, when they have something really little to photograph like the Little Mermaid, they let you know it’s really little). Anyway, Rock plus Christmas, four weddings, a party or two and a handful of mp4s gave me room to stuff 313 pictures on the original card, which having been born on 3/13 was pretty perfect.


Then girlfriend, yet to be wife, goes and buys me this Magilla card, way more powerful than the original. Since then we’ve been to Yosemite, Germany, Buenos Aires, Sea Ranch and attended more parties and weddings. Don’t think I’m anywhere close to filling this card, and for a while there, when I wanted to show somebody a photo of say, the ’76 Olympic pool, I’d have to press a button a few hundred times before remembering, Montreal…that’s on the 313 card.


Finally we got married, and my wife took first one card, and then the other, and shoved them in to this thing she calls a device, and shoved the device into one of the computers, so now all I have to do is reach behind the computers and press this button on another device, the one that lets me switch from the stubby, Ned Beatty shaped PC over to the taller, more elegant Mac, which I use to peruse photos in a better way to locate that Olympic pool, but really, not any easier than going up to the attic and opening a suitcase and pulling out envelopes containing just 36 photos thank you, from say 1978, and reminiscing about how folks like Ron Guidry and Bucky Dent fought the good fight.


Anybody notice how it wasn’t until everybody, including me, started taking digital photos that the Red Sox or Patriots got any good? Or that Tom Brady was raised on the edge of Silicon Valley? “Capricorn Two”, shot with real film, will expose all of this.



Digital Black and White, Who cares?


Black and White Photography, where have you gone? You’re like a colorized version of Casablanca. A classic, ruined by digital technology. Hey folks, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a purist, well you still shoot black and white film, and I’m not talking to you. But, if you’re of the many who shoot digitally, you can still have black and white without dusting off the film camera. Excuse the sales pitch but, we can make black and whites from your digital camera files. And, we print on the good stuff, Ilford Multi Contrast Paper.

It doesn’t matter how we do it. It looks great. So if you miss silver based prints, contrast, blacks, and whites and all the good stuff in between, give this service a try. Ask for True Black and White from your digital camera files.

So who the hell cares??? It seems very few of you. We’ve had this product out there for a year now, and while we have a growing clientele for digital black and white, most shooters either don’t get the concept, or just live in a splashy colorized universe. There is more to photography than just documenting images, that’s what video is for. How ’bout trying to make some art, or just something old school and interesting. Am I bitter? No, I just miss traditional photography which for me means black and white.

My message here is that it’s still available and easy to have even with a digital camera. So, think black and white. You can still have your flowers and trees, your faces, your landscapes and farmhouses, even sunsets. You’ll be surprized how much you can see without the “distraction” of all that color.

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