August 19, 2013

Celebrating the Free Gift of Photography Today

On August 19th 2010, World Photography Day hosted it’s first global online gallery. With 270 photographs shared and website visitors from over 100 countries, World Photography Day was born.

Although the earliest surviving photo dates back to 1826, the history of photography dates back to 1790 associated with the invention and development of the camera and the creation of permanent images starting with Thomas Wedgwood.

So what is so special about August 19th? It was on this date in 1839 that the French government announced the invention of Daguerreotype technology a gift “Free to the World”.

Daguerreotype photographic processes, developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre,were officially unveiled by The French Academy of Sciences on January 9, 1839. Though from the modern perspective daguerreotypes were expensive and time consuming to produce, at the time it was the first practicable photographic process. Being unique images, daguerreotypes could still be copied by re-daguerreotyping the original. Copies were also produced by lithography or engraving.

The invention gave boost to the portrait photography market that became a flourishing business practiced by traveling photographers. For the first time common folks could afford to get the likeness of themselves and their loved ones captured.

By 1853 an estimated three million daguerreotypes per year were being produced in the United States alone. This might sound like an insignificant number given that today over 200,000 shots are being uploaded to Facebook every minute. But in those days someone would spend a day’s worth salary to have a family picture taken. These were family treasures to be kept through generations.

Nicéphore Niépce's earliest surviving camera photograph, circa 1826

Nicéphore Niépce’s earliest surviving camera photograph, circa 1826

August 8, 2013

Take good pictures of the ones you love while you still can!

It’s been estimated that every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s. How many of them were worth taking and sharing is a question that will not be answered.
With such a turnover per capita, one might think our lives are being documented at every step and then when a dear one passes away there is somehow no good photo to keep. I know this from experience as I talk to people all the time who call to ask if anything can be done to fix the cherished image. more often than not it’s a phone camera shot that gets too blurry when enlarged. Take good pictures of the ones you love while you still can!

Family Photos

The Poetry of Steve McDonald

I lift them like kisses from the wall:
my daughter in a pumpkin costume;

my mother and her poodle, the one she loved
like the sister, soul mate, lover she never had;

my father, shoulders back, belly out,
a flat blue lake, a gray sky. And in the spaces

left behind—one for each memory
wrapped and packed away— thin, sharp nails.

One-by-one I extract them, gripping
and twisting needle-nosed pliers

to prevent the chip or flake of paint.
But I can’t avoid exposing the plaster

under its layers of years, the same way
the mortician who applies the makeup

to my father’s body cannot prevent
the incidental scraping of his ear,

revealing the cold gray flesh. My wife
at the funeral says His ear is blue.

Once the nails are out, I consider
the pencil marks made years earlier

to define the placement of each frame.
I use an eraser, the kind you knead

until it’s warm and soft, pliable
as an infant’s fist, while outside the window

a sparrow hops across the brick planter,
one of the wild birds my father always fed

when he could still rise on his own.
When I see his body lying in its coffin,

I bend across the torso, press my lips
to the stone-cold brow. I kiss him

the way I never kissed him in life,
stripped now of all defenses, naked

before me even in his gown of coat and tie.
And I do not wonder why I kiss him.

I know I have lifted the pictures from the walls.
I know the walls are white and I will fill

the holes with care—covering anything
that might reveal what has been damaged, or where.

family-photos-poem

August 7, 2013

One Family Life Story of 36 Years

sistersIt was in 1975 when the world-renowned Detroit-born photographer Nicolas Nixon, a professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art originally photographed his wife Bebe and her 3 sisters. They liked the picture so much that they collectively decided to make it a yearly event – the annual family photo – the family’s “annual rite of passage,” as Nicolas Nixon has called it.

Each image reflects another year of life experiences that take their toll.

In 1999, when the resulting series of photographs reached its twenty-fifth anniversary, The Museum of Modern Art published The Brown Sisters photography book, presenting all of the portraits in sequence. “We might wish,” said Peter Galassi, the Museum’s Chief Curator of Photography, “that our family included a photographer of such discipline and skill but otherwise Nixon’s pictures do what all family photographs do: they fix a presence and mark the passage of time, graciously declining to expound or explain.”

That edition is out of print. Eight years later the Museum is published a second edition, including eight new photographs that brought the series up to date.

As of today the Brown Sisters photo story numbers 36 photographs – candid and and at the same time poetic.

You can view them here »

July 3, 2013

Taking Photos of Fireworks – Simple Tips

Happy Independence Day! Most of us in the US will take photos of fireworks tomorrow so that we can share them on Facebook after. Of course you want your firework pictures to look great to reflect the joy of the celebration. Here are some simple tips for photographing fireworks with a point-and-shoot camera.

- Choose your location strategically: you don’t want any view-spoilers such as people’s heads, tree branches or wires.

- Keep in mind that if the smoke from the firework will blow towards you, the fireworks will be obscured.

- Avoid locations where street lights, the moon or any other source of light will shine on your camera lens. The light creates flare.

- Turn the flash off.

- Set your camera to the mode called Fireworks. If you don’t have it, use the Night Landscape or Mountain icons, or a Landscape scene mode.

- When taking pictures of fireworks, listen for the sound of shells going up, and press the shutter release just before they burst.

That’s all. Happy photoshooting!

how-to-take-pictures-of-fireworks

April 9, 2013

Family Photographer Enters The Venice Biennale

The works of Nikolay Bakharev – a Russian family photographer from a miners’ town – will be exhibited at The Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) – one of the most prestigious international cultural event. Ever since its foundation, it has been at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends.

Bakharev, now known as the pioneer of Soviet Eroticism in photography, started his career in the 70s working as a family photographer in a miners’ town of Novokuznetsk taking pictures in schools and kindergartens, at funerals and weddings.

It was good money but he was looking to raise the plank in his trade. He regularly read photo magazines Sovetskoye Photo, Czech Photo Review, German FotoMAGAZIN in search of creative ideas.

His found his clients among workers, students in hostels, people on the beach who later invited him to take photos at their homes. They had no special requirements except “make it beautiful”.

Who knew that many years later these shots would be considered museum grade Art.

In the words of Bakharev, “A human being is interesting with his or her openness and frankness… it has nothing to do with an exalted spirituality and beauty which seems to be hidden in any person and must be revealed.”


The Beach Series Photos By Nikolay Bakharev »
Nikolay Bakharev in Conversation with Luca Desienna »

April 7, 2013

Sears “Amazing Photography” Is No More

Sears-Portrait-Studio-closesCPI Corporation, the St. Louis-based operator of over 2,000 Sears Portrait Studios, PictureMe Studios in Walmart and Toys R Us portrait studios abruptly closed all studios nationwide.

Blaming the Digital trend as they do is just an excuse not to take the responsibility for having been stuck with an ailing business model in the face of the modernization of the Photography industry that rapidly evolves as consumers are taking charge.

While a whole host of specialized high-quality vendors were beginning to command this very personal Photography industry branch – Consumer Photography, CPI was still bundling services from “good enough” providers.

At the production point, the photographer on duty could be bad at handling kids or didn’t know how to pose pregnant women. The backdrops and props were outdated.

At post production, there were problems with cropping for framing, forget about editing out stretch marks, fixing awkward smile, or skin retouching.

Printing took weeks and months instead of the promised 72 hours.

This is why consumers chose to beat feet the hell out of Sears Portrait.  They had options. There are plenty of specialized photographers to choose from and who will come to you to take pictures in your natural environment.

Then you can submit your photos online (professional or amateur) to companies like PhotoHand.com to get professional grade photo editing for the price of a Starbucks coffee.

As for online printers, there are gazillions to choose from offering everything – from plain prints to photo books to photo blankets and photo cake tops. Even professional grade printers like NationsPhotoLab are beginning to serve amateurs.

Lesson learned: Don’t mess with empowered consumers!


photohand-photo-improvement-correction-retouching-ad

March 7, 2013

Photo Retouching: Moving Mainstream, Full-Speed

When Photoshop arrived 24 years ago, the photography community was up in arms as it was affecting photographic truth, according to David Hlynsky, a University of Toronto professor in Photoshop and digital media.

Leaving aside the point that photography is more of a point of view than the truth, the question is whether photo retouching is any more dishonest than wearing makeup.

Now photo retouching is moving mainstream – there is no doubt about it. According to a research conducted by Glamour magazine, nearly 60 percent of respondents feel it’s OK for a woman to tweak her personal pictures, and 23 percent of women ages 25 to 29 do it; that number climbs to 41 percent among those ages 18 to 24. “Several years ago, retouching personal photos would have seemed strange, even vain,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist and coauthor of The Life You Want.“This survey shows it’s common and women are fine with it.”

“[Retouching] is the nature of the digital age, we edit because we can,” says Professor Hlynsky. “Technology will process our image whether we like it or not.”

Why do we do it? Your photo makes a big difference in how people perceive you, so you want to put your best foot forward. Photo editing can help a picture appear to be more professional, and can express one’s personality better. That is if it’s done right.

Self-Photoshopping-fails

SOURCES:
Retouching: How Much Is Too Much? – Glamour
Personal Photo Retouching: Millennials Going To Great Lengths For Perfect Pictures Online – Huffington Post
Self-Portrait Photoshop Fails – Resource Magazine
 

photohand-photo-improvement-correction-retouching-ad

October 26, 2012

Miss Subways in Retrospect: Social Anthropology Through Photo Images

If you are into social anthropology, the “Meet Miss Subways: New York’s Beauty Queens 1941-76,” is the exhibition for you. The photo show will be on display at the New York Transit Museum from October 23 to March 2.

For over thirty years, photos and one-sentence aspirations of New York women were displayed in subway cars as part of the “Meet Miss Subways” contest with a hidden agenda of drawing subway-riders’ attention to other advertisements in New York’s transit system.


For the first 22 years, winners were selected by the John Robert Powers modeling agency and the New York Subways Advertising Company.  Afterward, the voting went the American Idol way, with NYC subway-riders voting via postcard for their favorites.


Now looking back at the collection of women’s portraits you get a glimpse of the images, lives and hopes of the women who made the social fabric of New York city for over three decades.

The contest saw its first African-American winner in 1948 – long before Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1984—and the first Asian-American was honored in 1949.

Immigrants from Russia, Lithuania, Guatemala had their wins. This is New York, after all!

Anyone could participate and win. Married with kids – no problem!

The photos contain the evidence of women’s upward mobility. Here is a winner who happened to be a Recruiting Sergeant at the Manhattan Marine Corp.

Another one was an FBI employee.

There were team winners – twins and triplets.

What made Miss Subways contest so marvelous is that it celebrated ordinary New York women end their dreams. Everyone’s life deserved to be in the spotlight.

October 18, 2012

Edible Photos for a Very Personal Cake

Photo cakes add a lot of fun to any event and add a personal touch to the celebration. To make an edible picture, all you need is a special printer like Canon IP4920 bubble-jet printer, Edible Ink and icing sheets. It’s doubtful that you want to invest in this cake imaging pack, so here is a simple solution: you can order your photo icing online and have it delivered to your door.

Icing Images has been a pioneer in the edible printing industry since the late ’90s, when personalized edible pictures were just starting to become popular. Icing Images does not make or distribute cakes. Bake your own, buy it or order to be baked and then add the photo icing on top of it. You can have cup cakes and cookies decorated this way too.

Below are some of the ideas for edible photos decorating cakes for Birthdays, Graduation, Anniversaries… Just remember that if your photo needs cleaning up before it goes on the cake, let PhotoHand fix it for you.

October 15, 2012

Every Dog Deserves Fifteen Minutes of Photo Fame

Don’t you get annoyed when people share with you the pictures of their kids and dogs? I bet you do unless you are the same way and are dying to show the world what your loved one has been up to. A brand-new (launched last week) photo sharing network PuppyStream.me helps you to do exactly that – broadcast your puppy’s cutest pics to the like-minded dog-owners.

The utterly modern PuppyStream.me is a dynamic way to chronicle your pups’ life through photo updates providing a super easy way to  seamlessly pull in photos from Instagram, Facebook or your computer.

The membership is free. Share your dog’s life story and discover new cute pups from around the world!

Here are some pics from the launch party at the Invisible Dog Art Center where the guests could have their pictures taken in a doggie photo booth. Here is an idea for your next puppy’s birthday party:)

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