I feel like ranting… I don’t know what has come upon me these past few months but I feel the urge to rant about photography.
I did photography as a means to connect with my father (we had a small dark room) when I was 15 – 16 years old. This lasted a couple of years and then as life happened I slowly lost interest.
Fast forward to 2012, and after trying lots of different things and not really finding what I liked, I saw an ad from Fuji stating that they had re-invented the rangefinder. Moreover, I could use my Leica M glass and switch to digital… The price was fair and as I had 2 gems that I hadn’t used for 10 years, it seemed like the deal of the century. It didn’t turn out as expected, but it did get me hooked into photography again…
After bitching about that X-Pro 1 for over two years, my father told me to “shut it and buy that bloody Leica you are dreaming about!” Easier said than done, but after saving for a while, I bought an M240. It was ultimately the wrong choice for me, but that is another story. The bitching stopped right away, I was free from the impediment of the camera and able to try and find my style; my way of rendering an image. It took me a long time, during which I switched from Windows to Mac, from Lightroom to Photoshop, and from digital back to Film! Oh Yeah!
So what am I ranting about?
For the moment, nothing. I’m just explaining a bit about my journey through digital photography, and this mattered I think.
Ranting, Part I : the Social Experiment
So now I consider myself a photographer. I have the right equipment (or so I thought), GAS hadn’t really set yet, and that M240 and I went shooting 3 times a week. Mostly street photography. I did a session and, as if by magic, 200 pictures were in my camera, waiting to be sorted through, edited and finally processed. At that point I realised a few things: I only see in black and white, I hate sifting through hundreds of images to find the good ones, and I hate spending more than five minutes editing.
Enter somebody who has now become a dear friend, and who used to be a professional photographer. He once told me “why don’t you come with us one evening and we’ll take some pictures of a gathering. The lesson began then, and is still ongoing!
Back to the Social Experiment. We are in late 2014. Google+ sites are a great thing. You can find nice websites literally everywhere. You can post your street photography and have LIKES! Yay! At first, it’s like a drug. The more you get, the more you want. You check your damn thing every five minutes to see how many likes and comments you got. In my experience, that only leads to madness, no progress at all and could destroy your state of mind. At one point I was moderating a 200k+ members site on G+. That sent me completely sideways. It took me a couple of years to quit everything. Luckily for me, my pictures have always had their own distinct style, and didn’t attract hundreds of likes. The addiction therefore wasn’t too severe!
Ranting, Part II: They call me Nobody…
So for a few years I went without posting anything. I was shooting a lot, trying to find people to make constructive critiques of my work and amassing thousands of processed images. Of course all were not good, but at that time I think around 10 to 15% were good pictures, and maybe 4 – 5 % were great pictures. It was during this time that I realized I have a love (and a knack) for shooting musicians and children. Especially children. They are so filter-less! They either like you or they don’t! This is also around the time I started investing in what matters most: not equipment but knowledge! (big thanks to Eric Kim on this one!)
Yes, I did ask permission
So, where are we now? I am exactly at the point of my essay: what to do with all those images? I do not want fame, nor glory, nor fortune, not even recognition (to a certain extent) for my pictures. What I want is for them to be seen. To be enjoyed. I want to provoke a reaction when you look at them. I want you to feel something (Souvenir/Image/Emotion). But what means should I follow to acheive this? Book? Exhibition? Photo Club? Instagram? (hell no!)
Ranting, Part III: The Quiet Man
Am I achieving any of this? Not really, but I have made progress. Firstly, I created a Facebook page where I occasionally post a picture with a title that is in no way an indication of the individual (GDPR) and I shoot only film (no exploitable exif data). I do not shoot street anymore.
Here are the next steps:
- Musician: no need for consent in any form plus I share the best images with them, asking them simply to mention my name (I think that’s more than fair) if they publish the images.
- (Music) Events: Oooooooo my gosh these are the best! Especially with a bit of alcohol in me. My inhibitions leave me, and I am free to go speak to anybody, asking permission 90% of the time to take their picture. I usually forget about sending the pictures afterwards, but if I see the person again I do it on the spot.
- Children: anytime I can, at family reunions, events, friends kids… any occasions is good and parents are usually more than happy to get the pictures.
- Film: I love the rendering and love the imperfections I get with film! (there may be another article on this in the future)
Ranting, The End:
So no, I haven’t found the right way to “present/exhibit” my pictures, but perhaps you could help me? What advice would you give me?
I hope the text wasn’t too long, or too “self-indulgent”. Thank you if you managed to get this far!
small PS: all pictures displayed here were taken on an M 240 and predates 2016 with the exception of the musician (second from the top) which was made on film post 2018 …
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13 thoughts on “Ranting about my Photographic Journey – By Alex Kreisman”
Well I’m a pro of about 40 years standing (theatre photography – now mostly retired) and I’d pay to go see an exhibition of your work – you have a style that reminds me a little of Elliott Erwitt – but very much with your own twist. If I were you I’d find somewhere to have an exhibition, produce a top notch photobook to sell to visitors – and some limited edition prints – and you are good to go.
Thank you for your comment, i would not have imagine that kind of reaction!
As i’m a fam of Erwitt, it touches me deeply.
I think i need a good kick in the a*** and find a way to exhibit.
These photos are some of the best I have seen on this website in a while. Thanks. I would go and see an exhibition of these and your other selects, if you ever decide to come to Kuala Lumpur that is.
Kuala Lumpur is a bit far from my corner of the world but who knows ?????
Seriously, thank you very much for your comment, it is heartwarming and as said to Ash, i would have not expected this kind of comment.
Thank you very much!
Really good BW work and compositions
I guess you could continue writing for 35mmc and these days people have Instagram to share and show stuff plus you could link it to a YouTube channel or something.
I hate sifting through hundreds of images to find the good ones, and I hate spending more than five minutes editing.
I can’t give advice but I can share my story. I am offline, no social media, no website, no portfolio or anything. (I’m also not a pro.) I collect my best/favorite images and use services like Artifact Uprising a few times a year to print books. They are mostly for my family, as a kind of journal, but there’s a lot of stuff in them that isn’t my children on the playground. My family loves them and reads through them pretty regularly, even the older ones. Going through the images to compile the books, I consistently find a shocking number of “coincidences” across time and space that tell a story when put next to each other. I also consistently find that the experience of opening the book and reading it myself is incredibly rewarding in a way that I would never have predicted; going through “albums” on my iPad did not prepare me for it. It also shows me that there are possibilities I didn’t think of. What if you print a book? Just a one-off, for yourself? See what happens, see what comes of it. You have a way of seeing that you yourself might see anew in a format like that. You are worth it. If finances stand in the way, I am happy to send you an Artifact Uprising gift certificate, just reply here or send email if you have visibility to the email I’m using for this comment. (There is nothing special about my relationship with AU except that the other services I’ve used have sent me badly printed books too many times.) PS: your post isn’t too long or self-indulgent, we’re all on a journey. Hugs.
Thank you for your comment, i didn’t knew Artifact Uprising and will have a look!
As for what you say about having a paper version of one of your images, for me it transport me in another world. I do print on an enlarger my negatives and when the planet are in line i have a joy a screen will never give me.
I have several books and project in my head but no mean to transform them in a book so definitely will check the AU!
Thank you a lot for the trick and for your comment!
I was having the same thoughts last week. How do I show my work and will anyone come? Your photos are interesting and I would also go and see your work if it was local.
Out here in Virginia we have weekend gatherings in parks where folks bring their wares, food and arts to sell. I’m thinking of doing that but I have no idea of how to go about it. Also libraries also host artists. Have you checked with them?
My concern is who is going to care for my archive once I’m gone. In my family no one is interested in my work enough to maintain it. So I don’t know. I wish I could could offer more.
it looks perfect.I am very glad to read your post.
Great photos. Love the 2 x singer. Lovely comments too above. Can I suggest patience? Stay local. Stay open. Keep talking to people. Something will turn up. In the recording studio they asked Leonard Cohen if he was making a new album. He said he wasn’t sure what they were doing other than putting words and music together. Maybe best to see it like that? Just keep going! Regards, Peter.
Thank you Peter, will meditate on that! 😉
I’ve got very good advice for you Alex: Keep on doing what you’re doing.