Category Archives: employees

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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Hello Tarek

Image

flickr

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!

RANDOM FACTS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST

• 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.

Tarek”

He meant to write:

“Lots of love,

Tarmac”

Welcome to the shop buddy.

-H

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Holiday Greetings From Hannah

Hey everybody, this is Hannah, that clerk from the counter-

I’m doing a guest blog post as dh has been drowning in pesky responsibilities.

I’m not as witty as he is, but I’ll do my best here.

 

Of course the theme of this particular post is the holidays, though I myself don’t feel like they’re really here again. I’m remembering last December- sitting at the crappy end of a huge table in a garage behind my grandparent’s house with 30 drunk and boisterous family members, I believe I ended up taking my dessert to go and falling asleep early in my old bedroom. It was a very low point of my 20th year (yes, I’m really young).

 

In any case, it is with the most grateful of spirits that I have thrown myself into the holiday season at Photoworks. As much as the twentieth customer in ten minutes asking me to rush their prints makes me want to chuck the computer over the counter, I love it here. I realize that there are many people that have worked at photo labs before, and some people are completely over it, sick of it, whatever, but I’m the happiest I’ve been in two years.

dh was suspicious when he first hired me this summer; he gave me a quiz on film types and I probably scraped a C- at best. He went on the word of our dear clerk J, the cheerful-beyond-belief type, who I’ve been a friend of for some time, and by some miracle I landed a great job.

I showed up on my first day of work with a tiny alphabetized notebook of film types and their different merits, and proceeded to nerd my way to a nice comfortable position at the shop, and I still learn something new most days. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly thank dh for taking a chance on me, but hey, maybe I can at least inspire a little holiday cheer with the notion of a very happy employee. Who ever heard of that?

 

As far as the rest of the staff goes, who can say how they feel (though I could sing my praises for our other brown-haired girl at the counter, who is a genuine lady of ladies). All I know is I’m happy as a clam, and compared to last Christmas, working overtime to fill online orders is no bother for me at all. Not to mention the fun new merchandising I’m working on with the Impossible films (we are a partner store now!) and our hero Kile Brekke who has been refurbishing the Polaroid Land Cameras dh finds here and there- which we are actually selling! It’s so inspiring to see something I’m sure most of us thought was a goner become a Christmas present again.

I hope my positivity isn’t making anyone sick; I can just imagine the majority of our staff reading this and thinking I’m crazy, or an ass-kisser, but I’m just genuinely pleased to finally be happy to go to work.

The Intrepid Photo Clerk. photo by Jim Safka

 

Happy Holidays,

h

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The Sweet Bird Of Youth

This post has little to do with the Tennessee Williams play or the Paul Newman film based on the title.  I just like the phrase, and since I’ve turned fifty I’ve become horribly nostalgic.  I have a new employee at Photoworks.  He is in his early twenties, and I hate him because he has such a bright future.  Just kidding.  I can say he has a bright future because he is so genuinely enthusiastic about his job, and has such an upbeat outlook on life and the pursuit of photography.  When I go to a chain store I get a false “have a nice day” greeting even though it might be 11:00 at night.  “J” as I will refer to him greets every customer with sincerity and when he says, “how is your day going?”  He actually really wants to know.  I’ve had some other staff here in the past that would not bother to make eye contact, and the typical camera store worker is pretty detached and at best a snob.  Why is J smiling all the time, why don’t I smile more?  Shit, I own the joint.  Now the kid is not perfect, half the crap on his ipod is annoying and I’m not even sure I like his photos, oh and he’s running a bit of tab on his own work, but who cares?

I can’t just pigeonhole J’s attitude as youthful exuberance, because there are plenty of mean 23 year old’s walking around town scowling.  I can only say that this “kid” gets it, and that he actually loves film photography so much that he can’t wait to tell every customer about the fine grain of Ektar 100.  So at 50 years old, and after standing in the same spot for 23 years, I am getting some new energy for my job in the form of J’s positive attitude.

Customer service, what a concept.

                                                                                             Just Happy To Be Here

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