The Paramount struts
New old sign a glow at night
A classic reborn
Tonight, I spent a wonderful evening seeing the work of the noted photographer, Wyatt McSpadden. If you follow Kirk Tuck’s blog, he has mentioned Wyatt several times and considers him one of the best portrait photographers around.
Wyatt has shot extensively for Texas Monthly and is also famous around these parts for documenting the Barbecue Culture, or should I say religion.
Inspirational imagery, humorous stories and surrounded by friends. Not a bad way to spend the evening. Presented by the Austin Photographic Society and held at Precision Camera, it’s nice to be a apart of Austin’s healthy and creative photography community.
I don’t know much about Art. Though as a photographer, some might consider me an artist or a creative of some sort. I have a passing knowledge of the big trends in Western Art. The move from primarily religious subjects to the non-religious. The trend from realistic to impressionistic to abstract. I know this is a gross oversimplification.
I’ve never been much of an art museum guy. I find them too static and detached from reality. When I visited Europe, decades ago, other than hitting the highlights like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, I stayed away. Architecture, product design, typography, graphic design and of course photography are what I prefer. Walking around the city to experience its pulse is what I really like.
Austin had its annual Museum Day last Sunday and I went to the Blanton on the University of Texas campus. The museum has a collection of mostly Western Art with a smattering of classic reproduction statues, Greek vases, through the Baroque period and all the way to abstract modern. Was I moved by the Art? Not really.
I was surprised by the apparent liberal photography policy — the docents didn’t say anything as people snapped away. Emboldened, I decided to shoot the patrons observing the artwork. That’s what I most enjoyed about the experience. That and the architecture of the place.
I did learn a couple of things however, especially when applied to photography.
1. It seems like anything can pass as art or a work of creative expression. That minimalist art that people make fun of, yup it was there. It seems like all you need is the creative intent and a good story behind what you are tying to do. Photographers are too conservative in what they consider valid photographs. Some complain about HDR, for example, which is tame compared to what I saw. Perhaps all you need is a good story and intent behind those highly saturated and textured images.
2. Many photographers seem to shy away from the overly colorful but the artworks I saw were often bold and saturated. That’s one of the challenges I have with digital, I often find the colors too muted. Film, I think, can have more richness and complexity. Ironically, I’m shooting a lot more black and white these days because, at times, I can get more boldness from monochrome.
Photography is about exclusion and simplification. Traditional Art, inclusion. Opposite and different. Yet, I think art can influence photography and it can open my mind. While my trip to the Blanton might have not been eye-opening it has left an impression. Perhaps Museum Day has served its purpose.
I’m sorta on a street photography kick, as this is the third posting in the row about this genre. While people may have different definitions, I think most would agree that street photography doesn’t have to involve the street. It can be on a beach or your backyard or inside a restaurant.
Several weeks ago, after a photography meeting at Precision Camera, we headed to over to the ever crowded Hopdoddy’s for dinner. It’s one of my favorite places for burgers. Unfortunately, there’s always a line. As you probably guessed, I’m constantly shooting and documenting my surroundings. The following series show my progression through the ordering line.
Blue hour in the suburbs is not the most exciting but it’s the starting place for the wait, outside the door. I shot this at 8:55pm. Time appeared to go quickly though, with my photography friends nearby talking shop. I conveniently had my Olympus E-M5 Mark II with a 17mm f1.8 for a nice compact setup.
While I’m obviously not downtown, all my favorite urban elements are here. The warm glow of lights, the deep blue sky and the people. I’m especially a sucker for the warm glow around bars which resemble the festive string lights that I love so much.
I was one of several “mirrorless nerds”. I had my Olympus, Rudy had his Sony a6000 and Steven his Nikon 1 J3. I’ve noticed that the popularity of DSLRs have decreased somewhat, even at these enthusiast photographer events.
As I made steady progress through the line, I surgically focused at the front of the line. Though not extreme, I still get a nice sense of depth even with a less than full size, micro 4/3 sensor. Shooting at f1.8 helps while the 35mm equivalent is versatile for street photography.
As I neared the head of the line, I framed and a customer posed. A friendly interaction with an unknown stranger. I showed her the photograph and she like it. The timestamp indicates 9:25pm. Waiting 30 minutes or so is par for the course. Actually, it’s probably shorter than normal. It’s worth it though. Hopdoddy does a great job.
If you don’t want to wait, try sitting at the bar. Or perhaps enjoy a drink while waiting on line. Me, I just liked the color of the citrus.
We sat outside and until closing. The temperature wasn’t oppressively hot. All quiet inside as I shot this scene through the exterior window. I live for the glow. It’s one of the reasons I love shooting so much at night.
You don’t have to go to exotic locales or to gritty, urban downtowns to do street photography. I snapped this in my backyard the other day.
I’m photographing my backyard project. Most are boring shots — the same angles to show the changes from week to week. But on that day, I had fun shooting the construction workers in action.
Back 13 years ago, I made the switch to digital to document the construction of my current house. I figured that if I shot about 1,300 photos with my modest 2.1 megapixel Canon S300, I would break even relative to the development cost of film. Over a decade later, with well over 200,000 shots (not with the same camera), I would have never guessed that I would be so enamored with photography.
This is my favorite photograph from my house construction back in 2002. I guess I shot “street photography” before I knew what is was. Back then, I took images more by luck than with pre-planning. I’m a bit better at pre-visualizing images now — or at least I hope so.