Tag Archives: san francisco

Hello Tarek

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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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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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Artist Reception Featuring Saroyan Humphrey

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Photoworks is proud to host a new series of photographs by Saroyan Humphrey.

Saroyan Humphrey is a San Francisco based photographer, designer & art director. In 2008 he opened his photography studio for clients & personal projects.

He shoots portraits, forgotten places and landscapes using a variety of medium format and 35mm film cameras.

Saroyan’s photographs have been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. He has spoken and participated in Bay Area panels on Lomo Photography. Two of his portraits of California musicians were included in the 2011 book Unlimited Grain which was edited by the International Analogue Photographic Society.

Saroyan’s interests also include music, racing & various forms of creative expression.

——————–
Reception starts at 7pm tonight
at the shop, 2077A Market St @ Church

Free Pizza if you bring it!!!
J.C.

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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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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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Making Out With Yelp

Yelp, a four letter word indeed.  Scares me like the smoke monster from Lost.   Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.  It’s the gospel and total bullshit.  People will write reviews of car washes and pay toilets.  Personally, I have used it only once when I had food poisoning from an Indian restaurant down the coast where I live.  It seemed warranted to note that, “I almost died from the curry in this joint.”  Looking back on the incident, it is possible that maybe I was sick before I had the lunch special, and maybe one star was unfair??

I realize the service that yelp provides, giving us clueless people a heads up so we don’t step on glass when we try a business.  As a business owner, feedback is important, I want to know if I “suck at processing film.”  I want to know if an employee has treated you poorly, or that you feel ripped off.  I get that it is your civic duty to monitor local businesses, give reviews, commentary, love and hate.  And, I clearly understand that the savvy yelper takes reviews in context, and that it is clear when the reviewer is a nut job, or just a vindictive asshole.    Having said all of this……………I still hate a bad review, even if the comments are just.  I am an onsite owner who you can talk to and complain to my face.  Whatever happened to, “can I speak with the owner.?  Can’t we resolve our differences the old fashioned way?  I’d rather “take it outside” then have you go home and blindside me with your keyboard. Wake up Dave, it’s the internet!

Hey I have 4 stars, so what’s my problem?  I guess I take everything personally, and it hurts when someone gives you one star, and honestly the few bad reviews I have are pretty off base, not all but some are just plain wrong.  I look at this as a loss of income, food off my kid’s table.  Should I take the “input” and make the necessary changes?  Sure, but has the damage been done?  I wish I was as cool as the God Head Produce Market in The Mission, but I’m not that kind of business.  We provide many different services to many different types of customers, which does open the door for scrutiny.  All I am asking is that if you are going to be negative, ask yourself this question:  “Is it possible I had a stomach ache before I ordered?”  And please remember that small businesses are run by small people with small families, and that what you say really matters.  This is coming from a guy who mouths off at everything, but at least I try and fire my shots at the Chevron’s of the world.

In closing, let me say that this is a bit of a pathetic blog post on my part, borderline sensitive…I’ll go back to sarcasm next time.

FOOTNOTE HERE:  I just did a Yelp Deal Of The Day, basically giving away money.  I’m hoping for new business, but also hoping to offer something nice to the loyal regulars.  So, I’m in bed with yelp now, playing both sides of the fence.

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Root Root Root For The Film Team

“And if they don’t win it’s a shame.”  Well it seems like the film team is going to win after all.  Much like the SF Giants, the film shooters are a band of over achieving misfits coming together at just the right time.  And like our World Series Champs, the film team was born out of  disenfranchisement .  In this case a frustration with digital photography as an art form.  I’m certain that The SFAI teaches plenty on digital photography, but isn’t it ironic that many people I meet prefer to explore the boundaries of film and alternative processes.  The toy camera, holga, and lomo are the low fidelity player’s choice around here.

This Friday we will hold a reception here at Photoworks to prove the point.  Hope you can join us, and meet the members of the San Francisco Toy Camera Club, or as I call them, The Film Team.  ( certainly not misfits)

"doubles" not really about baseball

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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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