Welcome to The Bartholomew Photography blog.
It might not always be about photography.
“MAYBE you should go up a size. I think that’ll look a little on the small side once you get it in your house.” This is something every photographer who’s sold a print has said. Let’s face it. Photographers love to sell big prints. We like to see our work BIG! It makes us feel appreciated.
BIGGER is better, but is that always the case? Let’s take a look, shall we?
LET'S go back five centuries or more to a time when pictures (paintings in this case) were big. Hanging in the Louvre (and pictured at right) is Veronese’s “The Wedding at Cana.” At more than 10 yards wide, it spans an entire wall. Can you imagine how an image of this size and magnitude affects a room?
IF we look at the stunning image painted a century or so later by Adriaen Stalbemt, “The Arts and Sciences” (below) we can get an idea of how art was used to decorate and enhance a living space.
A room with significantly sized works of art can wake the minds of the room’s occupants and spur their imaginations and conversations. The room and the people in it become alive.
PLAINLY I’ve presented an unassailable case for big pictures. Right?
NOT so fast.
THE fact is, while some of these painters were creating work that would cover a wall or more, they were also making images that were barely larger than a common playing card. Why?
EMILY Kowalski, Communications Specialist with the North Carolina Museum of Art said in 2014 “Often, Dutch and Flemish painters created small self portraits they could use as ‘calling cards’ with potential patrons. “
A few more reasons: Someone might want to use the image in a place in a room that simply won’t accommodate a larger image. A person might rather put a framed image on a table, shelf or piano and not on a wall.
SMALL images can engage people differently than large images. A connection with a small image can be more intimate than with a larger wall mounted image. It can draw people in. It can literally move people across a room to look at the picture.
INSTEAD of having to stand back and admire it from a distance, a smaller picture…we can hold in our hand.
WE can hold it in our hand.
IN 2009 The Arthritis Foundation references a pain management study at the University of California in Los Angeles: “Simple reminders of loved ones, like photographs, engender feelings of being cared for and supported and can be strong enough to reduce pain….Images of their romantic partners lowered levels of pain even more than holding their hands. Viewing a partner’s picture also led to a significantly lower pain rating than viewing photographs of an object or looking at a picture of a stranger….Researchers say their findings suggest that bringing photos of loved ones to painful procedures may be beneficial, especially if those individuals can’t be there in person. And because people have varying abilities in providing support, in some cases photos actually seem to be more effective than in-person support.”
SO, maybe this blog post isn’t really intended for the general public or clients or potential clients. Maybe it’s for my colleagues. Big pictures are beautiful and selling them is great, but sometimes the small picture…
Spring is here and we’re staring down both barrels of our summer getaways. I’ve never been asked to give advice on vacation pictures and there’s probably a reason for that. With that in mind I’m going to post some of my thoughts on this and maybe a little advice.
First off, God bless our dads and grandfathers, camera bugs of half a century ago who tirelessly carried their big clunky cameras on vacations, forcing the family to line up in front of the Grand Canyon, St. Louis Arch, Golden Gate Bridge, light house for Kodak moment after Kodak moment. Today when we look back through those albums of prints (ALBUMS OF PRINTS) we don’t look at how the Grand Canyon has changed, we look at how we’ve changed. These images not only document the history of our family, but they can spur these precious memories. Yes I remember that I went to the Grand Canyon when I was a kid, but actually looking at a photograph enhances and revitalizes the memory to a point that simply not be reached otherwise.
So thank your camera-bug dad for lugging his monstrous camera around. The pictures are worth it. And while he may have looked a bit dorky in his leather sandals and dark socks, using a Rolleiflex TLR and wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarers more than makes up for it.
Now some pointers and some of this is going to seem dumb almost to the point of being insulting, but if I hadn’t been there myself….
Disclaimer: These are rambling thoughts and this is in no way intended to be a comprehensive how-to post.
#1. Have your camera. Let’s face it, in this day and age it’s more difficult NOT to have a camera than to forget one, so there’s just no excuse. Phones have cameras, yes, but to take it up a notch a small point and shoot will go a long way. This has to do with image quality. Pictures from your cell phone will look best…on the cellphone. The images in this post were taken with a dated point and shoot Canon that fit in my pocket.
#2. Read the instruction book. I’m sorry! I’m not trying to insult you. Even the simplest cameras do a lot, but the worst is that they all have a bunch of tiny little buttons and it’s easy to accidentally change the settings and not know what you’ve done. Maybe you did something and it doesn’t take pictures when you push the button or (maybe worse) it beeps when you push the button. As I write this I’m sitting next to a camera instruction book that’s 502 pages long. All in English. Yours won’t be that long.
#3. Don’t NOT shoot a picture because you’re afraid it won’t turn out well. It’s your vacation. Respond to the way you feel. Relax.
#4. Photograph the people you care about. Unless you’re getting something that you really think is going to be a scenic that you’ll put on your wall, your life is about your family.
#5. Watch out for garbage in the background and foreground. It takes patience, but look at what else is in your picture besides your subject. Pedestrians? Other tourists? Dumpsters? Sometimes you’ll need to wait for people to get out of the way. Sometimes you’ll need to move yourself.
#6. Shoot out of a window only if there’s no other way.
#7. If you have to shoot out of a window, watch out for reflections.
#8. And maybe most important, when you pull off to a scenic overlook, get your picture, and then actually take your camera down from your face and breathe it in. Let your mind see it in real life. Feel it.
Chicago Pizza. Leona's on North Sheridan Road.
Color or Black and White?
That’s the question and it’s been the question for a hundred years. This isn’t some elementary exercise for first year photo students. It’s still a topic of discussion for veterans of the industry and those who put down their camera decades ago. Philosophies vary and some choose to not be philosophical at all saying “I don’t even want to see black and white” or “who cares, it’s digital, you can have it both ways.”
In my initial photography education there was no choice. We learned to develop black and white film and make black and white prints. Yes, color photography had been invented at that time (thank you) but we were learning to communicate in black and white. When we approached a subject the image we created had to have something to carry it other than a whole lot of a saturated color. Only if we continued our photographic education for years would we learn to shoot, process and communicate in color.
Maybe a decade later the subject came up in a studio photography class at Columbia College. We were learning how to communicate with various lighting techniques. This required thought and a sense of the subtle. The teacher talked about movies made in black and white (think Casablanca) where lighting and composition engaged the viewer. With the advent of color, he said, directors and still photographers forgot about beautiful lighting and compelling composition. No shadows were needed, no thought was necessary.
As newspapers embraced color things got confusing. Some would say “If there’s no REASON for the picture to be in color, then it should be black and white.” Think of a field of tulips. It generally requires color. Adding to the confusion was the fact that a lot of papers only ran color on the front page and that two types of film required two different processes. Photographers had to carry two cameras and make decisions as they were shooting as to whether an image should be color or black and white.
It shook the photojournalism world when the New York Times went to color. At the time, their creative director said (in effect) “In no other part of the paper do we systematically withhold information like we do when we choose to run an image in black and white.
What do I think? Some images communicate beautifully in black and white. Others communicate better in color.
Welcome to my first blog post. I have to be honest here. I don't know if I'm really into this.
At conferences and talking to my colleagues, they're like "yeah, yeah, you HAVE to have a blog" and I
guess your supposed to post images from your shoots and talk about how awesome and amazing they
are and how awesome the shoot was and how great the pictures are going to be. I'm not sure our
clients are into that and I'm not sure I'm into that. Don't get me wrong, we work our butts off on every shoot
and strive to deliver the best work around, but waving it around on social media...isn't facebook and Instagram
Sooooo, I think I'm just going to give you a little background and then in future posts we'll talk some about
my philosophy of photography (rambling), cool cameras, cheeseburgers and stuff. So...
Born: Hays, KS, 1961
Wife extraordinaire: Ang. (she's the B.W.P. office manager)
Daughter: Cecelia (Musical, funny, smart, good friends. Loves D2k.)
First photo class: 1976, Brookens Junior High School, Champaign, Urbana. Great pizza there and the town where I bought my
First Camera: Canon TX (35 mm film camera. Max shutter speed, 1/500th.) Actually, that was my first adjustable camera.
My parents got me a Kodak X-15 in about 1970.
High School: Hays High
Hastings College, B.A. Sociology
Columbia College, Chicago, studied photography
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studied photography
Took photo classes at other miscellaneous colleges.
USI, bachelors and teaching certificate.
First real photo job: Freelancing for newspapers in Chicago.
First staff job: Greensburg Daily News.
Currently: Photographer at Bartholomew Wedding Photography.
Photographers who most influenced me: John H. White, Tony Ashe (first photo teacher), Steve McCurry, Jim Richardson,
Stan Malinowski, Robert Farber...really there's just so many. All those photographers who worked for LIFE in the 60's and 70s.
Knew I was going to be a photographer in about '69, looking at LIFE magazine.
Equipment that I love: Old Leicas and Nikons.
Knowing that since I'm a photographer, a photo is expected in a blog post, Here's a cheeseburger (OK, double)
from Bass Pro. It rocked and my daughter agrees.