Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Archive for the ‘Concept Photography’ Category

Getting Fired by the Associated Press

Posted by Mike on January 30, 2014

January 2014:

I am an ex UPI employee so I don’t care much for AP (they act too much like a monopoly and helped kill UPI for one thing)… I would never work for them because of their “work for hire” “rights grabbing” contract anyway.

But it is bugging me… this last thing when they fired one of their well thought of photographers for spotting out a distracting element in a photo. For the record… I have never produced a photograph for newspaper or magazine that wasn’t painstakingly burned, dodged, spotted for dirt, treated with potassium ferricyanide, cropped, selected over another photo for artistic or informational rationale, or had the color or tone shifted to make it a “better” photograph capable of conveying the situation in the best way possible to the end reader.

That’s what we all want is for the photo to be transcendent… (not in the way of the information).

AP cut ties with Contreras publicly after the photographer informed the wire service that he had removed a video camera from a corner of an image of a Syrian rebel soldier taking cover during a fire fight. Contreras says he knew it could end his relationship with AP, but that he didn’t expect to be shut out of the process.

AP-photoshopWas this firing really necessary? Was the picture compromised? I doubt it. Really, the picture doesn’t tell you much anyway so that presents another problem where the cutline writer can spin it anyway he/she wants. (In the old days Pravda was humorously famous for making up cutlines that were just  amazingly fake.)

Here are two examples of my own work which would probably get me fired I guess. When it comes to the scenic of the boat which photo is fake? As far as I am concerned the retouched one is actually more accurate than the dead looking one from the unprocessed RAW image the camera produced.  Under AP rules are we supposed to be stuck looking at dead, automaton generated purely “documentary” crap a camera produces. Then I guess you don;t need photographers to interpret the RAW file because there is no need for “artistic” or “explanatory” efforts in news photography, right? What a load of crap IMHO.

023sunset-2 023sunsetIn another example I worked on a food shoot yesterday. And I am always looking for a better way to enthusiastically promote my client’s efforts to produce a quality product and sell more stuff (so they can afford to pay me help them sell more stuff).  But back to “accuracy” Which photo is more accurate?

102M b 102M c 102Marlenes012914-2 102Marlenes012914-3 102Marlenes012914

Posted in Advertising Photography, Concept Photography, fine art photography, Food Photography, Photojournalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How good is photography?

Posted by Mike on March 25, 2010

How good is photography at conveying the intended message?

Good enough!

A wild coyote goose chaser… but he’s pretty tame…. fools Sam.

Posted in Advertising Photography, Concept Photography, Public Relations Photography | Leave a Comment »

Vision, action, results…

Posted by Mike on February 27, 2010

“Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture.

It is not enough to stare up the steps,

we must step up the stairs.”

— Vaclav Havel

Posted in Concept Photography | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A little fun after dark….

Posted by Mike on August 5, 2009

People have been coming to this location for decades to snap their photos with 8 x 10 view cameras, 4×5’s 2 1/4’s, 35mm’s, digital snappers and now camera phones… (Wait, did you notice a trend toward lesser and lesser quality?)

Why? Mostly they are not seeking a quality professional photograph. They are only seeking a memory…. And in that case, any rough image will do….

Not me; I can’t stand crappy images. I want something to look at with the idea that I might see something different every time I look at it…. The concept is “transcendence”.

This is when the image transcends the medium and you feel as though you are looking at the concept (the essence of the thing (if a real “thing’ even exists)).

Ansel Adams and Christopher Burkett, ( ) and some others are two photographers whose work transcends the medium.

Click the link to the right that says “levels of photographers” for a complete explanation.


Posted in Concept Photography, Landscape Photography | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Life is Rich with Irony(s)

Posted by Mike on June 29, 2009

So, Sunday I am on my way to photograph a Shinto religious ceremony (the epitome of peace-loving, tranquil, harmonious religions) and this a-hole cuts me off and almost hits me so he can barge in on a right turn only lane he needs to be in but won’t wait for 2 other cars…. I am steamed and calling him bad names….

Next thing, I am laughing because this guy has provided me with the best entertainment I’ve had in quite a while….


To get the IRoNY part, of course, you had to be on the planet these week and know that Jackson just died a few days ago at age 50 from a drug overdose… He popped painkillers like candy. But to double the irony a guy who lived just like the bumper sticker said to do had just died 60 minutes prior to my seeing the sticker. An autopsy has revealed he was doing coke and numerous other drugs too. What a shame.


Posted in Concept Photography, Photojournalism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lake Fenwick 4… art in the backyard

Posted by Mike on June 21, 2009


Posted in Concept Photography, fine art photography, Landscape Photography | Leave a Comment »

The Patch in the Dock

Posted by Mike on February 10, 2009

I can’t decide which color rendition to go for a final version.  So how about all three?

Posted in Concept Photography, Landscape Photography | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Pond Scum Art… nothing to do with politicians…. for once!

Posted by Mike on January 14, 2009

You never know where the next interesting thing is coming from (if you’re ALWAYS looking around)…

Check out these shots from along the Snoqualmie River… Made with 21/4 Bronica and color neg film, 250mm, 50mm, and 80mm lenses.

Posted in Concept Photography, Landscape Photography | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Back to the familiar…

Posted by Mike on January 11, 2009

Part of what I have been doing lately, with snow, floods, and gas still at ripoff prices, is revisiting some old interesting places. This time with a panorama set up so I can capture really wide shots more like “being there” than just a snapshot. Here are two new shots from Mill Creek park near the “earth works”.


Posted in Concept Photography, Landscape Photography | Leave a Comment »

Rant… it’s not a digital photograph!

Posted by Mike on December 30, 2008

Here is a photograph. It’s just a photograph not a digital photograph… even though it was made with a camera that captures things digitally.

triangleI am pretty sure my dad and I had lunch in this place sometime around 1956… I remember it was a Friday. We had brought a truckload of cows to the sales barn… (The work lofts… where all those artist types hang out now…if they can afford the rent.)

I had a cheese burger…. bad news on a Friday in 1956.

Here is a digital photograph:


Posted in Concept Photography, Photojournalism | Leave a Comment »