Tag Archives: portraits

writing about photography

in a recent interview with on the onwardphoto blog, jorg colberg spoke about the importance of writing about photography.

http://tinyurl.com/qalulvr   i couldn’t agree more with what he said.  often times people who make photographs have trouble talking about them.

i am guilty too … it is HARD to write about photography, but with a little practice it gets a little easier.

i have a series of portraits i have been making since i was 19 ( more than half my life ).  the project began years before and i didn’t even know it … when i was reading studds turkel’s book “working”, a book about people talking about what they do for work …  i began my project by cold calling businesses and asking if i could photograph people who worked there.  i was a fly on the wall, sometimes, other times i would have conversations with the subject to learn about what it was they were doing, and i would photograph where they worked too.  i documented  people that worked in slaugherhouses, were gravediggers, machineshop operators, mechanics, factory workers, butchers …  people from all walks of life.  i enjoyed talking with these strangers and learning about who they were, and creating almost a story that surrounded each portrait i took.  eventually i began photographing people on the streets as i wandered their neighborhood with a camera,  or where they had a late night snack, or breakfast.  i continued with these portraits, even letting them lead me into paying jobs photographing people for magazines and newspapers, and i never stopped interviewing my subjects to learn a little bit about them.

when i worked for a eileen mcclure, she told me tricks she would do to get her subjects to loosen up a little bit.  she only had seconds to do this seeing she had appointments every 20 minutes all day long …  and she said she had it easy because she was a little old lady, and people don’t feel threatened by little old ladies.  my trick ended up being just having a conversation, and because i was no longer a guy with a camera but someone else.  over the years i think the project has taken a different shape, and really tells more about me than it does my subjects.  if i wrote about the project,  i would write about who my subjects were, and how meeting them changed how i look at portrait photography in general, but how i have learned that people are pretty much the same, whether they are rich, poor, a corporate titan, leader of a state, or someone sitting on their porch, who didn’t remember who i was or who she was a few weeks later when i returned with a print.

i couldn’t agree more with the idea that one should be able to write something, anything, about what it is they do or did with their camera.


Posted in Misc., photographs Also tagged , |

7×11 portriats

made a handful of 7×11 portraits and i can feel for those photographers
who had slow materials and kids that couldn’t sit still.  it was still fun …

Posted in film development technique, photographs, using vintage equipment Also tagged , , , , , |

semi centennial stand, what’s that ?

a semi centennial camera stand is a camera stand on wheels.

it can slide up and down ( counter balanced with springs )  and many portrait photographers
had their cameras on them since they used big bulky large format cameras that weren’t portable.

according to “the photographic times and american photographer”

a book i found in google books edited by wi lincoln adams in 1890
( volume xx, published by the photographic times publishing association in ny )



( a link to google books )

info on the the semi centennial stand can be found on page 181 –
it says: ” the semi centennial camera stand invented by e.c. fisher and sold by c.h. codman & company,
is worthy description in this column. it is called ‘ the camera stand of the future’
and twelve reasons are given why the professional photographer should adopt it.

they are as follows:

first, because you can lower the camera within thirteen inches of the floor,
this being lower than any other stand will admit of.

second, because you can raise the camera as high as you wish.

third, because it is the only camera stand using rubber wheels as casters,
therefore it is perfectly noiseless.

fourth. because it has one of the best turning castors in use.

fifth, by the use of its coiling springs and key, you can make it counterbalance any weight of camera, from 8×10 to 14×17 inclusive.

sixth, because you can quickly adjust your camera up or down with perfect ease.

seventh, because it is very strong and rigid.

eighth, because it is simple in construction and will not get out of order.

ninth, because it is thoroughly made, of neat design, light with no heavy weights.
it is an ornament to the studio.

tenth, because with ease of working you will make better work. you never look down upon the sitter, but squarely in the face.

eleventh, because it was invented by a practical photographer, and has been perfect in all its points.

twelfth, because every stand is warranted perfect in all respects.
the stand when packed ready for shipment, weighs ninety-five pounds, and the price, boxed is twenty-five dollars.


Posted in Misc., using vintage equipment Also tagged |

7×11 / 11×14 camera work

it has been a long time since i took portraits or make any negatives using a 11×14 camera.
i traded a few prints years ago for a century 8 camera on a semi centenial no 2 stand. i fixed the bellows
(they are cardboard) and fiddled with the camera and stand to get it in working order. well, almost in working order … it didn’t come with a 11×14 back, so i made one, and the ground glass,
and for a long while i was taking portraits with it. i later bought a 7×11 back and a handful of film holders for the camera and took a fair amount with them too. the negatives i made weren’t on film, but paper negatives. so the exposures were long.
its been a while but i am going to start shooting with it again.


here’s a link to the camera ..


Posted in film development technique, photographs, technique and style, using vintage equipment Also tagged , , |