Tag Archives: photography

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.

dh

baby please don't go

baby please don’t go

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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!

Hannah

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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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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 Impossible Photo Lab

By now all of you photographers and most of you non photographers are aware of the demise of Polaroid.  It’s over but like all great things analog, you cannot kill the spirit.  Enter The Impossible Project, a small group of people who claimed the remains of the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands, and without much of a recipe have invented a new line of instant films.  The word “impossible” is no understatement, as the technical hurdles rival sending people into space.  By some miracle we now have a full line of new instant films to play with, but they are tricky to work with, kind of like a soup that must be cooked in exactly the right way.  The folks at IP have come up with a few accessories and tricks of the trade that must be applied in order to make the new films work.  So it’s  like a science project of sorts but the results are gratifying and I am willing to work to make some instant film magic.  Photoworks has been offered the new line of films to sell in our store and we are thrilled to be a part of the instant film resurrection.

I feel some kinship with the Impossible folks because for years I struggled to maintain old film printing equipment.  Our lab used to be all Agfa analog printing machines, the look of the prints from those machines helped put our shop on the map.  One day without warning, Agfa went under, and we were stuck with a bunch of old printers and no support.  I hired technicians to keep the machines going, but over the years parts vanished and eventually I gave up. Like every other photo lab, we bought new equipment.  We still print from negatives but not before they are scanned first.  You still see film grain, but it’s just not quite the same thing.  Over the years we have struggled to maintain our analog identity, but it is not easy, and on some days it feels “impossible.”

It’s amazing that something so commonplace as Polaroid would be such advanced science, and that once extinct would be so hard to replicate.  The Impossible Project has not only brought instant films back, they have expanded the line into all kinds of fun directions.  This week Photoworks will be receiving our first shipment of Impossible Project instant films.  We’ll be the only place in town to carry PX 600 Silver Shade with the Black Frame.  Very cool, very analog, suddenly everything seems possible again.

In stock and ready to rock

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Analog Debauchery

I received an email from someone asking if I would process some film that he had found in his desk.  The rolls of film he said were very old, from his “college days”  back in the eighties.  As a member of the Class of ’84, I was intrigued and it made me remember how back in the early days of one hour photo printing, subject matter was always a concern.  Remember the days of “caught on film?”  There even used to be a company called Discreet Photo Services.  You could  mail order film to this so called safe haven, and get your pot plant photos back without any risk of some Walmart employee calling the cops.

When I printed photos here at the lab, I have to admit I did look twice at the sexy photos every now and then, but we never considered making copies of things, it was just a perk  (sorry) of the job, and of course you lose interest after you’ve worked here a bit.  Nowadays the workers here don’t even blink at what comes through as there is so much free crap like Girls Gone Wild, that we have become immune to any tantalizing photos that we see.  I want to make it clear that we conduct ourselves professionally. We look at every photo to insure quality of color, etc, and believe me some stuff we’d rather not see.   And we don’t run down the hallway saying , “ooh I just saw a boob photo.”  Okay, there was this one sordid moment that happened many years ago, and the worker was quickly sacked.  The lab tech in question had printed a roll of film and decided to show another customer some “super hot photos.”  The customer has a look at the photos  and says, “that’s my girlfriend.”   Small town I guess.

It’s amazing how little discretion the amateur photographer has today.  Much like people volunteer personal information on Facebook, people also seem cavalier about photos, and what they are willing to show.   Has digital made us lower our guard?  Racy photos used to be better too.  I think that’s why they invented grain because some things are better kept in low light or low fi, or even arty.

So now that you are confident in our discretion here at Photoworks, go ahead and send in those rolls of film that you find in an old camera or sock drawer.  I promise you, I WON’T LOOK…….

nothing to hide?

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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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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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I Shoot Film Because It Doesn’t Shoot Back

I was browsing through Flickr and I came across this cool photographer, http://www.rhettredelings.com   In his bio he writes, “I shoot film because it doesn’t shoot back.”   I don’t know if the phrase inspired me or if I’m pleased to see another bald guy with a film camera.  Nonetheless, I wish to expand on Rhetts’ notion.  I will try and avoid quoting from the ” I hate digital handbook.”  I’m a photographer who doesn’t want to know.  I’d rather find out later if what I shoot is worth a damn.  The immediacy of digital is of little interest to me.  It’s like an unwrapped Christmas gift.  Seeing my results right away would influence the process for me, make me adjust my thinking instead of working with instinct and some basic knowledge.  It would almost be like having someone looking over my shoulder with critique or unworthy praise.

Please do not write me and say that I am an old school dork.  I get the obvious merits of digital photography, and the amazing images that are being shot every second around the world speak volumes.  I just prefer to meander about, taking one shot an hour, maybe it takes a week to go through a roll of film.  I’d rather not be confronted with hundreds of sunset photos hoping for one good image.  I usually get at least one winner for every twelve exposures.  I am also a pacifist, and I like the non threatening nature of analog photography.   Ooops, I think I just implied that digital scares me.

How silly is that?

one out of twelve ain't bad

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The World Series of Photo Printing

The World Series is back in San Francisco and suddenly EVERYONE is a Giants fan.  All of my staff is dressed in orange and black.  I think the game starts at 4:30 and I bet everyone will find a way to finish their work for the day and get out of here.  It’s amazing how 8 hours of work can be finished in 4 hours given the proper motivation.  They say this game is good for the local economy, but I’d wager there will be more cell phone cameras then DSLR’s at the game tonight.   Maybe I could setup a photo printing kiosk inside of MoMo’s bar  across from the ballpark.

The ticket prices this year are astronomical, so that only the corporate rich and famous can attend.  If you are a season ticket holder and can resist the temptation to sell your coveted laminate then you will attend the game as well.  In 2002 I was one of those rich guys who overpaid and went to a game.  I brought my Nikon FM2 and 300mm lens and photographed all of the action as The Anaheim Angels spoiled the party.  I sat next to a guy who laughed at me when he heard the sound of my shutter.  He said film was “dead” and that I had better change my business plan in a hurry.  I said that digital was a fad that would soon pass.  Turned out he was a corporate executive for O Photo.  He wore a three piece suit and looked like a colossal schmuck with his Angles hat and commemorative 40 ounce Budweiser plastic cup.  He also said that in 10 years time, people will no longer print photos.  Prophetic indeed.   Well digital photography is more then a fad, but people still print, especially when I offer an online sale!   Hey, I figured out a way to make a buck on the Series.

So stay tuned to Photoworks for the big World Series sale, and tip your cap and raise your glass of Anchor Steam beer to the San Francisco Giants.

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