Category Archives: prints

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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Costco v Photoworks Redux

Recently I posted a note about a college course that had an assignment to sample various labs’ printing methods and results.  I got all bent out of shape over being mentioned in the same breath as  Costco, which was one of the “service providers” to be sampled by the students.   I was pretty nasty in the post, but most of what I said was in jest.    Well, I must have touched a nerve, as the response was pretty damming.  People felt I was mean spirited and downright rude.  I later apologized to those hurt by my comments, and in all fairness removed the post because at the end of the day I’d rather not be thought of as a creep. I felt I had gone way over the top this time, and even had a sleepless night worrying about the backlash.

What a Pussy!!   Even if I’m talking out of my ass why should I cower and hide.  I should stand behind what I write, and take my lumps if need be.  So the post is back, and I will let the chips fall where they may.

As far as what I said, I have no actual quarrel with students or faculty of City College.  I just don’t like Costco, and calling them a “service provider” is silly. To me a massage parlor is a service provider…. but as usual I digress.  Costco is  a toilet paper provider and only if you are stocking an earthquake kit.  They are death to small business, and while I realize the curriculum did not intend to pit one business v another, I don’t want to hear the word “costco” in my store.  I wish they could have been left off the list. So maybe I’ll wind up as the Larry David of blogging .  Bring on the comments, right or wrong I’ll live with it.

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“How About Two of Each Today Sir”

Here’s another post about the good old days of photo processing……..Believe it or not I actually took a course in how to develop film and operate a One Hour Photo establishment.  Circa 1987, though our store was to be here in San Francisco, the course was offered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the actual One Hour Photo capital of the world.  So when I say I’m an expert, I can back it up.   One of the things we learned in the course was to up sell customers.  The script went like this, “matte or glossy, 3 1/2 x 5 or 4×6 prints, would you like a second set?”  I’d say at least half the people went for the double prints.

Nowadays it’s a struggle to get anyone to print at all.  Just for kicks I broke out with the old “how about a second set today” line the other day.  The customer responded by saying that it was a “waste of paper and bad for the environment.”   Seems like a weird place to take a stand if you ask me.  I once lived in an old house that was wallpapered with photos.  Now I live a less cluttered life, and like many of you my “mess” is confined to my computer’s hard drive and my phone.

Speaking of prints, there is a new show up for viewing at Photoworks.  We are proud to display the work of Aeschleah DeMartino. These pieces are striking to say the least.  Moody, joyously morbid, posed yet voyeristic.

I asked our artist for a bio, but she was humble and did not send much.  I’ll use the old cliche and say that these images speak volumes.  Perhaps some of you will be inspired to print some of your own work, and remember to ask for, “two of each.”


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Photoworks v Costco Print Throwdown

Thanks to a certain SF City College Photoshop course there appears to be a printer comparison going on between the labs in town and Costco.  I have little idea of the point of this exercise.  If it’s a learning experience for the students then I apologize for what I’m about to say.  ‘I’M NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR  EXPERIMENT”  I’d prefer not to spend an hour discussing the minutia of colorspace only to have it thrown back at me in a costco taste test.  Does Costco photo developer clerk come out of his cage and chat about “assigned color profiles.?”  Maybe..

Hey professor, do know how much money in discounts I give every year to students?  How many SF City college brochures I’ve had on my counter, and the countless times that I suggest, “take a class a City College, they’re terrific.”  I really would have been fine with all of this had I had say, a heads up.  Maybe I’ll teach a cooking class and ask the students to by ingredients at the corporate giant Safeway, and then by the same items from the Bi Rite locally owned market.  Let’s ask the grocer at Bi Rite a hundred questions and then go on over to Safeway and get them to grow veggies the same way.   Sorry Kids, I’ll sit this one out.

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Ever go to Kinkos?  Fun huh.  It’s fine for photo copies, but if you need anything other than using their bathroom, well things can get pretty tough. Actually, the bathroom was “out of order” last week in the Daly City branch.  They are nice enough people, but to me the problem is that they are now a shipping company (fed x) trying to be a print shop.  I tried to get a quote on some brochures a while back, and I’m still waiting for an answer.  Sure, I could go an online company for my printing needs, but I prefer to speak with someone.

The big thing in my business now is the digital press.  This is a mini version of what the Blurbs and’s of the world use to make their cool cards, books, and postcards.  It’s a marriage of photo and print, and it’s what everyone wants now.  You can create these products at kinko’s or the aformentioned online retailers, or you can come to me.  Guess which I prefer?  I’d suggest coming to me because WE ARE A PHOTO LAB, and we are still working with photo based imagery.

I do not usually use this blog space to bore you with self serving promotion, but I need to get this new baby off the ground.  I want everyone to know that photoworks SF is now in the printing business.  PHOTO BOOKS, PHOTO ZINES, BUSINESS CARDS, GREETING CARDS, you name it…..and I’ll try and make it for you.  I’ll use the same expertise that I always have in making your photos, and….you can use the bathroom.


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Abandoned Photos

You take a dream vacation, take lots of photos, bring them to a photolab, and never pick them up. Seems odd, but it happens all the time. About 10% of film and digital images ordered never get picked up. There are lots of reasons: people forget, don’t have money, lose interest in the subject matter, leave town, die………. Sometimes these photos are market “urgent” or “rush” because at the time it’s a freakin’ big deal. I have photos of babies being born, kids parties, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, naked people, dog portraits, burning man crap, actor headshots, artwork, and everything under the sun.

I can see losing interest in a digital order since it’s on someone’s computer. But negatives and prints??? This is not dry cleaning! And by the way, we make every effort to contact the owners of the photos, and some people do eventually collect their property, but I have pictures here from The Eighties.

So, here’s my idea: I’m thinking of putting together a photoshow of a bunch of the ‘left behind and abandoned” photos. A random collection of the stuff people decided was once important enough to photograph, but not important enough to pay the proprietor of the photolab for his developing services. Is this an invasion of privacy?? Hell yes, but obviously someone doesn’t care enough to protect themselves.

Maybe you will see someone you know on the walls of my shop and let them know that they have film waiting to be picked up. Maybe it’s a picture of you on the beach, or in Paris, or getting stoned in the park, or maybe it’s a shot of an ex-girlfriend from a happy time in your life, or maybe it’s a photo of your old cat, or your old Mustang convertible, or even your Mom and Dad……….

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Remember prints?

I don’t want to sound like a winy photolab owner, but I am a winy photolab owner, and I’m sore about this subject. Why don’t we make prints like we used to? Now, I get the whole idea with digital photography is that it encourages self-reliance, but I’ll agrue that printing at home does not do good images justice. I’ve got the greatest printing technology in the world, right here on Market St, and yet there are billions of images out there stuck on hard drives. I’m worried without a physical record that these important images will be deleted not just from computers, but from memory (brain). Hey, this is why we keep shoeboxes! To me, unearthing an old photo from the closet beats finding something on a subfolder, within a subfolder. Do we only want to leave a digital record behind?? There is nothing like the tactile sensation of holding, and touching a photographic image. I don’t want my son rubbing his fingers on an image of me on a laptop 50 years from now. Besides electronic images don’t fade, and where’s the fun in that?

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