Friday, May 16, 2008


It seems that everyone is a photographer these days. People are leaving professional careers to join the ranks of the digital spirit takers.

I was shocked to learn that my heart throb weather reporter on KATU, Julia Radlick left her job to start her own photo business. She is shooting families, children and dogs and she’s doing some rather good work as does her sister and father. I guess it’s in her blood.

I wonder how many people would be photographers these days if digital photography never came around. How many people would be willing to sacrifice a room in their homes that would be filled with equipment and trays of stinky chemicals? Who would ever want to deal with color printing again with all the steps, many in total darkness.

Photoshop and fast computers has made it possible for everyone to do something interesting.

Visitors here like Rich, Chantel, Matt and Lelo all have a great eye, though I think Rich is the only one making a living at it. Chantel’s photos are moody and a bit on the Noir side (but in color). Her images tell some interesting stories. The photo of Chief Condomhead above is by Chantel. It looks totally different than any other image I’ve seen of that carving.

A few years ago the Daily Astorian had a photographer named Andy Dolan. This guy couldn’t take a bad shot. Even though he continually photographed the bridge, he made the damn thing look interesting in every shot. What ever happened to him?

When I was doing photography I actually didn’t enjoy using a camera. I loved dealing with my work in the dark room. I rarely felt as though I had the natural eye for images, but I could do magic with high contrast paper and reticulated film. I still don't enjoy working with a camera, but one day I should explore a good photo editing program.

When I visit I see that one of every 100 or so photographers actually have the natural eye for the interesting. I've had experiences where things that seemed interesting in reality looked pretty boring when reduced to a two dimensional image. I've also had images of the mundane turn out really well in a print.

One of the problems with photography is that it has only been a bastard step-child of what is considered fine art. It has the same distinction in the art world once held for illustrators. It was commercial work that wasn't fully appreciated as art. The only people making good money at photography are commercial photographers who do work for the press, advertising, weddings and special events. Occasionally free-lancers catches a bone here and there, but it is a tough business.

For those of you who have the "eye" and have yet to be compensated, please keep at it. Your day will come.


Blogger Beth said...

I wish I possessed both "the eye" and Photoshop.
iPhoto (comes with a Mac) helps out a tiny bit.
Some bloggers post the most beautiful pictures of their own.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Chantel said...

Thanks so much. Such sweet compliments. P.S. I did have a dark room set up at one time. But with a two bedroom apartment it was getting cumbersome and my college wouldn't let me use the darkroom much longer so I switched to digital. I love the darkroom process as well, I think more than the picture taking.

My darkroom stuff is also moody and dark. ha, ha, ha!!

9:12 AM  
Blogger weese said...

you bring up a good point. photography has changed alot.

there are photographers who are artists, there are photographer who (like illustrators) are working for a living, and then... there are people who can afford nice cameras.

I took photography in college (i have a design degree). we learned mostly about developing our own film and printing our own photos. the bracketing and developing and printing we used to do felt more of an art than the digital commonplace it has become now... that and being stoned in a dark room when you're 20 is really fun.

not everyone is a photographer. tho they don't seem to realize that.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another outstanding erstwhile Daily A photographer is Bill Wagner. In the late 70's and early 80's his front page shots captured the beauty of the area and alone were worth the price of the paper.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How many people would be willing to sacrifice a room in their homes that would be filled with equipment and trays of stinky chemicals?"

Um, me. Hubs is currently designing the darkroom. If we ever run into each other in town, I'll be the one wearing stop bath behind my ears.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Bayou said...

Just reading this post fills my mind with the smell of a darkroom. I miss it. I often feel like I've become too engulfed in the digital world, because it is my profession.

...this may require a follow-up post because I have a lot to say on the subject.

3:27 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, there is a lot of talent out there. Don't worry, you are a talented writer.

Chantel, I love your eye. It is dark and sexy and so you.

Weese, 4:20 in the darkroom was a must.

Anon I arrived here in 87 so I missed his work entirely.

Cyn, don't forget about the yellow fingers from the Dektol and fix.

Bayou, you finished with Lach already? I figured I wouldn't hear from you at least until June.

I used to work big, 16" X 20" and special large prints 4' X 8' that would be mounted on ply wood. Large prints like that would deplete the developer with just one print. The enlarger exposures were often over an hour because of the projection distance. We would also print on rocks. Window screen was fun to print on since you could never see the image unless you were at a great distance. Those were wild and creative times.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

"stinky chemicals"? BLASPHEMY!

The smell of a darkroom is only the second best smell in the world.

(the first being Hoppes cleaners)

Before the popularity boom of digital photography ... there was a device you could add to a home computer, that would scan your developed negatives to produce an image on your computer. But it cost more than the early digital cameras available.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous g said...

Julia Radlick shouldn't shoot her family. It's a felony in most states.

Two very good FREE alternatives to Photoshop are Gimp and
I'm still waffling on which I like better. Gimp seems to be a little more powerful and has better plug-ins.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

I loved my darkrooms in various houses, but with my lack of talent, a digicam is the much better choice for me. Mistakes are far less costly too. Sure do enjoy great darkroom results from others though:)

11:59 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Walt, is that a gun cleaner?

G, I'm not there yet.

Mike, and like email, a lot of good shots are lost or deleted. Not many are ever printed.

5:19 AM  

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