Monday, June 23, 2014

Being a Photographer 2014

In June of this year I flew to Northern Michigan to do a workshop for Bill Schwab and an event he puts together every year.  Photostock is the result of an idea Bill had in 2006 to gather photographers who didn't know each other to meet, greet, share ideas and gather around the idea that they all had photography in common in some way or another.  It's grown now, with presenters and workshops, but it still has the feeling of a grass roots organization, and is a very warm and connected place to be as photographers gather from all over the United States and Europe.

People had many many different kinds of cameras and ways of processing their film.  One photographer brought his own portable dark box(pulled behind his car) so that he could share the process of wet plate collodian image making, an antiquated process that makes for images that look straight out of the 19th century.  I saw photogravures, paladium prints, tintypes, lith prints, cyanotypes, and bromide prints, among others.  All had the feeling of the hand, of age, of respect and of great care.  There were a few images that were done digitally, but not many.  We spent time Friday afternoon taking a group photo(all ninety of us)with a huge, box camera that, once the shutter was cocked, turned in a slow circle so that, just after it swept by you,  you could run to the far end of the line and have your photo taken again.  The sheet film used was enormous, and people were exhausted from running from one end to the next.  I think I may have been in one shot four times.

As the keynote speaker, I became more and more apprehensive as the time grew closer to do my presentation.  Here I was, with my digital camera making quick, sloppy photographs using my computer(a PC no less) and ink jet printer that I then cut up and glued down on top of  paintings, of all things.  I could picture a still audience, punctuated only by the door opening and shutting as more and more people began to stream out.  In the days preceeding my talk, I had found myself trying to explain  how bad a photographer I was, and how, even when I had used a medium format camera and a had beautiful darkroom to work in, I still managed to turn out bad photos.  I didn't want to be caught in a lie, after all, not around these folks.  Of course, this wasn't the case.  The audience was warm, receptive, and completely with me as I showed images and talked about my work. As my talk went on, it became standing room only--the opposite of what I had envisioned. Questions were intelligent, humorous, genuine, and kind. My presentation over, I felt the complete and total rock star.  A real photographer after all--or perhaps, better said, a slightly perverted real photographer.

3 comments:

  1. I am so better for experiencing your shared your art-vision with us. Thank YOU!

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  2. Thank you for sharing. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.

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  3. You ARE a rock star, and your work is just a small part of that...

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