A photographers notebook

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Richard Boulware, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. Richard Boulware

    Richard Boulware Member

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    I've been a professional photographer for most of my adult life. Now I'm in my senior years and I have this great passion to pass on my skills and talents to help younger shooters up the ladder. I've even built a complete photo facility with a two enlarger darkroom, and a teaching center, just for this purpose.

    I got hooked on photography when I was a graphic design major at Cornell, a long time ago. I went in to the Navy and flew photo/recon for some years, left flying and the U.S.Navy to take my BFA from the famous Art Center College of Design in California. Major: Photography/editorial. What else?

    One of my projects was to start a regular series, looking back at my career and to share it with interested and serious young shooters...warts and all. The series on another internet forum was called..."Photographers Notebook".
    I stopped writing when some internet 'kooks' just wanted to nit-pick my story simply for the joy of raising hell. I have better things to do with my time.

    My career has been a lot of hard work, with some luck thrown in. I've won many awards in the field of editorial photography and advertising photography. I got into this type of photography for one simple reason. That is where the real money is....if you're good enough.

    I've learned a lot since I got this desire to mentor others. First, my general impression is that most of the shooters simply enjoy the 'process' of shooting, developing film, and making prints. For these, it is the fun of the process, NOT the end result. That was a surprise that I have reluctantly accepted, but not the type of shooter that I could help. I had hoped I would find some shooters who were obsessed with the end result, the photograph that delivers a powerful message to the audience or viewer.

    I see similar trends in the new digital tsunami that is sweeping the photographic world. A significant number of these digital shooters are, I think, just computer junkies who imagine they are artistically inclined. To me this is most evident in the lack of some of the photographic basics like lighting, or even knowing that the 'quality of light' is one of the most important arrows in a photographers "quiver'...or in composition.

    Digital photography is also a significant risk to professional photography...but as yet the danger is unrecognized and not identified. It is there, believe me.

    Just ask the average middle-sized city pro who used to shoot the annual report for a smaller company. He calls to inquire about the progress of the annual report planning...and is told, we are not going to hire you this year.
    "The boss bought an expensive new digital camera for his secretary, and she's going to shoot the annual report"! (Remember her, the blond with the low cut bodice and the high-heels) :smile:-)

    Perhaps somewhere out there, a young photographer lurks, and has a passion to be the very best and turn pro. I'd love to give you a helping hand up that ladder. Call me.

    Thanks for letting me 'emote'! I needed that.
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Hi Richard, first welcome from Hawaii. I'm glad that you decided to join us, we need people that are enthauastic about the film process, and I can almost guarantee that your writing will be much better received here. As someone who has worked the high end of advertising photography, I'm sure you will have some good stories to tell.
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I looked forward to your posts on the other forum and was disappointed when you decided not to continue. Welcome here.
    juan
     
  4. david b

    david b Member

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    Richard, welcome to APUG. I have never read your "photographers notebook" but already like your style. I too look forward to your postings here.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Welcome to APUG, Richard. Glad to see you've taken up this project again. Post away!
     
  6. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Hello Richard Boulware,

    Welcome to APUG. Those kooks ruined some great discussions. However, now that you are here, their loss, and our gain. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
    http://www.allgstudio.com
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Richard, Welcome! from a newbie who would also like to start putting the technical side away from the central concerns.
     
  8. Richard Boulware

    Richard Boulware Member

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    Thanks so very much for the warm welcome. I will do my very best to be worthy of your hospitality.

    First, thanks Mr. Goldfarb, I recognise your name from the other site, and the same for juan.

    First off, I need to give you an idea where I'm coming from. I turned to advertising and editorial illustration because that's where the big bucks were. Having said that, I can say with great authority, that this is not an arena for the faint of heart. Competition is fierce, and great....but so are the rewards.

    Being in advertising photography meant that every picture I made was 'not sitting on top of Aunt Mary's piano'...it was going to be reproduced...printed...in everything from TIME magazine to the annual report of some corporation...like SHELL OIL. This mental mind set was the focus on every thing I shot....and the old adage still holds,...i.e. "You're only as good as your last shot (or assignment). With this in mind, we also have to learn the mentality of the people who would hire you. Mostly, they are art directors at major advertising agencies, who know almost as much about good photography as you do, but just don't know how to make it happen.

    Understanding these fundamental truths, we also have to recognize how art directors think. Sometimes they were creative directors, but it's still the same thing.

    When an art director has enough confidence (not easily won) in you, to hire you to shoot an ad for a major corporation,....they put their own necks on the line. If you screw up, they look BAD. This is not a good thing....to say the LEAST. Besides being confident in your own talents and experience, it involves some "Damned the torpedoes...FULL SPEED AHEAD"....courage and mindset. Why? Just think about it for a moment. I shot a double-truck (two page spread) for an ad for Borg-Warner, and their product Cycolac. It was a snowmobile shot at dawn. As I look back, the two page spread priced out at $5000 per SQUARE INCH...in the national edition. That's a helluva lot of trust and responsibility on your shoulders. Screw up, and you are TOAST!

    With the help of the moderator of this wonderful site, I hope to have some assistance on how I might post some reproductions of this Borg-Warner shot, and others that I will reference in my posts. If I can figure out (with some help) how to post some of these images, I will tell you about this sunrise snow-mobile shot, and how I convinced the NYC art director to let me 'art-director it" on the spot. (A hint...it worked out GREAT" and I made a new art director friend that I have not known before the shot).

    I would really like to show some of these shots, and take you with me on how they were made, and even some of my screw ups. (No body's perfect). Obviously my successes were in the majority, but my goal is to give you all, some insight into the world of the pressure filled life of a successful shooter. Not tooting my own horn here, just acknowledging that I DID survive. Not all can say that. Be well, Richard.

    P.S. "roteague". Thanks for the Hawaii welcome. Spent three years flying P2V's out of Barbers Point Naval Air Station chasing and i.d'.ng Rusky subs. I miss Hawaii. NAS Barbers Point is gone I am told, but still have fond memories making my final approach for landing either over the water, or over sugar cane fields. :smile:-)
     
  9. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Yes, Barbers Point is gone, as are all of the cane fields; even the pineapple fields are mostly gone (the last one closes in 2007), all either sitting fallow, or replaced by housing.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you want to post an image in a thread, the easiest way is probably to go scroll down to "Attach Files" in the reply screen, click on "manage attachments," and follow the instructions to upload the files from your computer.

    They will appear as thumbnails under your post, and readers can click on them to see the full version.
     
  11. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I am sincerely looking forward to anything you have to say. The more people with experience to help us younger folks the better, I say.
     
  12. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Member

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    Hey Richard, glad to see you posting. So far learning from you the past couple of months has been invaluable to me. I hope others get as much out of your posts as I have from our conversations.

    D.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thanks richard for posting your reflections.
    i looked forward to your posts 'over there'
    just as i used to look forward to john cook's posts
    about the life and times of a commercial photographer
    "back in the day" ...

    best of luck!
    john
     
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  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I am all ears, or eyes in this case...
     
  16. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Richard,
    My history in photography reads much as your own, and I welcome you to the APUG forum.

    The main reason I hang out here is to offer help to those trying to find their way through the "Silver Bullets". There is much information available on the internet that is more confusing to folks than is truly answering their questions.

    Again, welcome,
    Charlie...................................
     
  17. Michael Kadillak

    Michael Kadillak Member

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    I can state from direct experience that Richard Boulware is the real deal. Being fortunate enought to make the commute to his house/studio/darkroom in Denver, Richard has been most gracious with his time and vast experience over the last few years in looking over my prints and offering marvelous suggestions to improve and refine my photographic vision and technique. All of his comments have been spot on and I honestly can say that it has been both welcomed and appreciated and I feel that I am making progress to where I eventually want to be.

    I would not hesitate to recommend his guidance to anyone that wants to learn and improve. Plus if you ever get to Denver, he mixes a fabulous gin and tonic.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2006
  18. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    I'm quite looking forward to your stories, and possibly bugging you with questions later in the game. Very interesting so far, I think a lot of us want to get into the photography world professionally and love the idea, but dont exactly know the specifics of that idea.
     
  19. Richard Boulware

    Richard Boulware Member

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    Michael and John: Thanks for your kind words. John...I remember fondly the noble soul of the late John Cook, my good friend. We were of like mind and background.

    I also noticed a post from a lady in Iowa. One of my most favorite places.

    I think, while I am highly motivated, I will start out attempting to post something that might address the most often asked question of authors of great photographs. "What was he/she was trying to say".

    For most, the answer is obvious...and that is one of the reasons it IS a great photograph. The intent and message of the photographer is clearly obvious. For those photographs who's intent is not clear....perhaps one should ask themselves if this is truly a great photograph. There is no ambiguity in great photography. Unfortunately there is a lot of photography,...with great contrast and tone control...that some people say "GEEEZE, WHAT A GREAT PICTURE"! This is a symptom of the syndrome known as "The Emperor Has No Clothes"! Unfortunately is syndrome is all to often to happen in the modern world of contemporary art, and photography.

    Photographers are "story tellers"! We use visual imagery to tell a story, that we want you the audience, to know and understand. The tools we use in the medium, are composition, lighting, size, emotional content or lack thereof, etc.

    Looking back at the masters like, Bert Stern, Richard Avedon Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, Ansel Adams....there is little to be confused about as..the meaning is clear.

    When many young photographers go out to shoot....and group shoots are great for fellowship, but rarely produce meaningful images....the obvious question one photographer must ask of himself is..."What is MY viewpoint"!
    WHAT am I trying to say? Translated, that means... I, the photographer choose to make this photograph for the following reason.......XXXXX?r

    Great photography is not created by imitating the work of others...it is about telling your own story, and expressing your own viewpoint. It's about you, and your own personal viewpoint...STUPID!

    Do you think the world is a wonderful place. Fine,...shoot pictures to make your own, personal point. Do you think the environment is being raped for human growth. Fine....make shots that make your point.

    Ever notice how many early-years photographers choose to make pictures with no people in them....like incredibly boring landscapes...even trying to imitate Ansel Adams. Is my point one that says people have to be in them?
    Heck no. We live in a human world, of both people and the effects to the natural world that people have made...for good or for ill. What do you the photographer have to say about these conditions, for good or for ill.

    That is what photography is about. Telling a story. YOUR STORY, each unique...in it's own personal way.

    Is your own personal story not worth the effort to make a photograph that represents your own, unique, viewpoint?

    Enough of the Kodak picture sites, with yellow footprints in the terf...and tells you to place your tripod here and look West...and shoot.

    Time for you, good friend, to make your own decisions and scrape off the Kodak footprints, and make new footprints of your own. Your own footprints.

    Your own personal viewpoint.

    Look deep within and ask yourself what you want to say. You will always get an answer...or you wouldn't have brought your camera along in the first place.

    Share with us. Please! Let us know what you think and how you feel.

    We are interested. TRULY, we are.!

    DO IT!
     
  20. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Hi Richard,

    Glad to see you starting your series here on APUG. I was following it on the other website and I always found it very informative. Just like in this thread; I've learned a couple things from it already.
     
  21. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

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    I posted a reply in your original notebook thread. I was rather saddened by some of the responses and how things just seemed to go downhill. I have been thinking of how I might find a way to mentor a young photography student through providing some of my old but functioning equipment. I haven't been able to come up with any ideas that would seem feasible yet.
     
  22. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Hi Richard,
    I also liked your series over on LF photo forum.
     
  23. picturetaker

    picturetaker Member

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    Not wanting to miss any posts from the 'Photographer's Notebook', is there a way that I can subscribe to a user's post just like I can with a thread? Thanks
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't know if that will be available in the new software, but what you could do is click on the user's name or avatar, go to their profile, and find a link to "more posts by this user" or something like that, and bookmark it.
     
  25. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    Why not post these as articles, as they seem to suit that type of presentation more than they suit a discussion forum.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  26. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Great idea.

    B.