Identity Crisis

Am I an artist?

This is the question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. When reading other photographers’ blogs and listening to podcasts, for example. The authors are all acclaimed photographers whose work is recognized and praised and whose passion for photography helps them earn a living this way or another. I look at their work and see the vision, the emotion and the hard work put behind it. I see that they really thought everything through before pushing the button, and because of all that, they have the full right to call themselves artists. And I?

Am I an artist?

I’m asking this while revamping my website to look more like a portfolio. I know if I were to do this properly I should have looked through all my pictures first, choosing the best of the best and being my own cruelest curator. In my defense, I want to say that I’ve done some of that but haven’t boiled it down to the creme de la creme. Being your own critic and curator is hard and takes time to learn, which I never did and that’s why my portfolio looks like a mess.

Am I an artist?

Looking back at all the time I’ve been shooting photos, I ask myself this. Since day 1 of my photography adventure, I saw myself as more of a Gary Winogrand type of street photographer, if you excuse me for such a comparison. As I learned later he used to roam the streets shooting almost everything and oftentimes not caring about composition or whatever photography rule can apply. “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed”, it’s the quote usually ascribed to him. So I tried to do exactly that, shooting everything of interest without any projects or assignments, or any agenda whatsoever. But as I started sharing my photos more and the more I was involved in watching others’ work, the clearer I saw the need to reevaluate my principles. What is my message and should there be one? What is my style and vision, and how do I develop them? Am I just a person who takes pictures of what’s in front of him or…

Am I an artist?

 

The answer’s still eluding me.

WPC – Band on the Run

 

Nikon D5100, Nikkor 50mm, Portra 400 film simulation

I never saw them afterward and I had never seen them before. It was only one quick moment on my usual way home.

As I was walking down the street I heard a strange noise disturbing the usual “soundtrack” of a busy street. That was the sound of music approaching. Suddenly these guys on a motorbike appeared out of nowhere playing something upbeat and funky. I had my camera with me but wasn’t ready for them as they jumped out of traffic and rushed away, and I thought I missed it. But then they turned around and for the second time, I was waiting.

The real photo challenge here was to focus, as I had a manual 50mm lens on my digital Nikon. Though the band is not exactly in focus, considering the circumstances I think it is still fine.

The paths we take

Nikon F3, Nikkor 35-70mm, Kodak Ultramax 400

A man vs the world, one vs many, man vs nature, loneliness vs together, full vs empty…

There are so many possible interpretations to this photo and I have never realised that until now. It was taken in Moscow back in 2013. A friend of mine was visiting and we went out for a walk in the sun. The road we were walking along is pretty busy, actually, and suddenly we both saw that girl sitting on the sidewalk and there was no traffic to hide her. So we took photos simultaneously and moved on.

I’ve always liked the symmetry of those parallel lines and how the frame is overloaded with objects in its upper half while being empty in the bottom. But the idea of interpreting it in a philosophical way hasn’t occurred to me until now.

Putting it in the context of this week photo challenge, I wish I could take a moment and sit like this on the side and think about the paths I take and choose. I wish I could put this huge world behind a wall for a moment and have a break. To take a breath, to have a look at the empty road ahead and maybe see where it’s going.

Alas, it seems to be practically impossible, but one can hope, hey?

It’s this time again…

Olympus 35DC, Fomapan 200

And I’m not going to talk about the holiday season, sorry.

It’s been a hard month, a hard year. If you ever read my posts past the photos you might know that almost three years ago I moved country. We’ve lived at one place since then until this December when we moved house.

It’s not nearly as stressful as starting a new life in a new country of course, but it’s not a Sunday parade either.

Needless to say that because of all this turmoil my photo activity has suffered greatly. Almost no new frames shot on film, very few pictures done with the phone, not mentioning social activity – this is the first post in a long time.

It’s all quite understandable and I’m not complaining. There’s another thing that bothers me.

With all this stress accumulated lately, I find it really hard to take pictures. I mean, what could be more inspiring than a new place to shoot, right? Well, one could say, but here I am, struggling to see anything worth photographing around. And what is even more frustrating that I’m living in a town now, which should give me a creative boost for new street pics.

And yet, it doesn’t seem to work this way.

I was wondering: what can I do to rekindle my street photo spark and feel the taste of shooting streets again?

How do you prefer to deal with such blackouts caused by stress and troubles in life?

Self-developed Rollei film and a question

Some time ago I bought a couple of rolls of Rollei Retro 80S to try out. Last weekend I finally developed and scanned them and here some results.

[envira-gallery id=”811″]

As you may have noticed some of the photos turned out very contrasty, while others are really fine. And there were some really gruesome results as well, on which later down the road. Both rolls were developed together so the reason for such an outcome escapes me. I’ve got a couple of ideas, though, and an old developer is one of them. After developing these two rolls it turned yellow, and I’ve read that it might be the sign it’s gone.

Both rolls were developed together so the reason for such an outcome escapes me. I’ve got a couple of ideas, though, and an old developer is one of them. After developing these two rolls it turned yellow, and I’ve read that it might be the sign it’s gone.

Another reason is wrong agitation time or/and speed. I’m still learning to develop film, and moreover, this time I used my new dev tank, so maybe I agitated too fast or something. And there was also a moment when I started agitating without setting my timer right, so somewhere in the process, I could have agitated the rolls with less interval than recommended. It doesn’t explain those fine results but I couldn’t come up with any other theory.

Whatever the reason the negatives came out so transparent in some frames that my scanner had troubles defining the limits. It skipped one or two completely and cropped a little bit some more. I managed to save a couple of photos from oblivion and they look like this.

rollei_retro_80s_1795

rollei_retro_80s_1798

Any ideas why the photos turned out so contrasty and transparent? What did I do wrong?

Rose Man

 

Olympus 35DC, Fomapan 200
Olympus 35DC, Fomapan 200

After some relatively clear and straightforward challenges, this one is again… challenging. I didn’t quite get the idea of transmogrifying after the first read, but now I hope to have found a good match for the topic.

 

It might be too late now for the Halloween costume ideas, but this rose bouquet outfit seems quite scary.

One direction

Nikon D5100, imitating Ilford HP5
Nikon D5100, imitating Ilford HP5

Once upon a time I posted this photo I managed to take in a split of a moment. So this is basically the next shot on my camera.

After I passed those girls on my way down the street I stopped at the crossing and saw these guys. Suddenly they both looked in one direction, having seen something unusual I guess, judging by their face expressions.

Originally a digital image, it was cropped and post-processed to look like a film one. This is a new version in b&w, which kinda looks better and reflects my current street photography preferences. The previous version from 2012 looked like this:

wp-1476714841669.jpg

What’s your thought?

P.S. Oh, and it might be just the picture I needed for that Nostalgia photo challenge.

Time travel or ghosts of the past

Zorki 3C (not sure), Svema 60
Zorki 3C (not sure), Svema 60

Do you ever have a feeling when looking at a modern film photo that it was shot a long time ago?

Correct me if I’m wrong but nothing in this shot can give away the fact it was shot in 2012. To me, it looks like one of the pictures my father took in the 1970s or something. It’s so Soviet-y it hurts. Of course, a true historian would quickly spot the wrongs of the era, like the clothes style or something like that, but anyway.

It just amazes me how this simple combination of an old camera and film can make you time travel into the times you have never witnessed.

Q is for quest

Olympus 35DC, Fomapan 400
Olympus 35DC, Fomapan 400

I don’t do travel photography in the form of landscapes, extreme shots or other “follow me” stuff. But as a amateur photographer I’m always in search for something. And this is my quest: to try and see beauty, irony, paradox, usual and unusual, unique and common in our daily life. I’m on a quest for the shot.

I don’t say that this particular photo is the shot, but at least I like it for its two-level composition. It also looks like a double exposure shot which it’s not.