When I was being taught about photography early on I was taught to expose so that you had detail in the shadows. This was a general rule and as with general rules they must at times be broken. But when? Sometimes we expose in order to silhouette our subjects. Sometimes this works well and other times it just sort of gimmicky. Today when I photographed Jesse sitting on the dock at The Meadville Tribune I know it was going to be tough to keep detail in the highlights and the shadows. Jesse is very dark and he was sitting with his face in the shadows. I exposed for the highlights because in digital, if you lose the highlights they are nearly impossible to get back--similar to slide film. I wasn't sure if I'd get any detail in Jesse's face. When I first called up the picture I didn't think I cared, it looked pretty cool without the detail, but part of me thought I needed detail in the shadows so I began to bring out what detail I could with my limited understanding of photoshop and levels, I think overall I still hear my early teachers telling me to work on my exposures and really prefer the details in the shadows and seeing Jesse's face, but I thought it might be interesting to see them together to see the difference, especially for my students now who I tell all the time to get details in highlights and shadows. Meadville Tribune photograph toned two ways by Richard Sayer.
I think about the statement Ed Steichen made about photography, about how it is our way to explain life to each other. Through reflection upon an image we get a better understanding of who we are. This notion gets lost a lot because of the ease and care-free way we snap away--especially in this day and age with arm length cell phone snaps of cheek to cheek friends just really infiltrating everyone's social networking venue of choice. Images are made so often and so fleeting that they've become commonplace and what is good or not good isn't even really considered much---pictures is pictures---and they are everywhere. Never has there been so many pictures taken in a single day and distributed almost instantly. And never has there been such a demand for pictures--companies want them, friends want them, family demands them. But what are we explaining to each other now? We want pictures and new ones each day--each hour or minute. Are we taking them in? I've posted on facebook several images this past week from recent prize winners. Its great that the prizes will give the pictures more life, but are they affecting our lives in such a way that we gain better understanding and affect change? Maybe? I hope so. In my small way I take this approach with my work at the newspaper, not so much that I'm doing stories that cause us to reflect and seek change, but to reflect on who we are and perhaps take a moment to realize that we're alright. Some stories I work on illuminate issues that need action, but most just sorta show what we do daily around here. And this alright...there is something solid and beautiful about living our quiet lives. Now the work I do for clients in portrait and fashion etc.... mostly this is different--this is more about the craft and making work that helps the individual achieve something they wish to achieve--whether it is a portfolio that might land them some sort of paycheck, or a picture to give to family members or some other purpose where the person wants to perpetuate some particular kind of look. Its not 'real.' Though in each session I try to find a 'real' shot, it is still controlled and the situation set-up so it can never be completely authentic. Its an odd mix. I love the craft of photography and I like to try most anything---and ultimately I hope to make images that benefit others---and when I get a chance, tell a story that helps explain who we are. SayerMotter Photograph of Angela Voorhis who is hoping to be able to do some modeling after school in order to pay some bills and loans and eat and such. I liked the way her hair is in this picture. Not sure if that explains anything beyond that though.
Below is a screen shot from the portfolio of Chris Hondros who was killed covering the conflict in Libya today. I linked his portfolio--just click on the picture. This is work that attempts to explain who we are and allows us--maybe begs us to ask why we are this way.
Recently I invited my nieces and nephews to my apartment for an Easter weekend sleepover. We did all kinds of stuff. We went to the movies, ate junk food, colored Easter eggs, made Easter cards, called the local radio station and requested songs, went for a walk, ate waffles and so on. It was quite an adventure! I was shooting pictures the whole time, but this one is my favorite. I shot this early in the morning when the kids were just waking up. It was so quiet and I loved it. I adore these little rug-rats and enjoy watching them grow!
Photo By: Aunt Harmony Motter
This morning when I was going through my routine of checking various things on the internet--emails, and the usual sites ----in my case I look at the national press photographer's site usually right after checking my business site and the Meadville Tribune site to see what is happening in the world of photojournalism. I saw today that the announcements of the Pulitzer for this year were to be announced at 3 p.m. A certain sadness came over me--though it is always hopeful seeing what gets recognized, this past year I could boast --chest out fully that my friend and colleague in news photography--Craig F. Walker was the Pulitzer Prize winner.And I will continue to boast! This is an incredible honor and since he has, in fact, won it for 2010----no one can ever take it away from him. He is in the history books. And as interested as I am to see this new work take on a global significance just like Craig's work did a year ago, I don't want to by pass the importance that work done in the past by Eddie Adams and Nick Ut and Stanley Foreman and Chris Carter and and and and...... the list is long....... Even though winning big prizes are great--they come with a burden to produce--and produce over and over again. This is unfair. Because those of us dedicated to our craft understand that we do produce daily---and with vigor and significance! Yet only one or two reach the acknowledgment of the the Pulitzer. We understand, as journalist, that our little local stories are important in a local/regional context--and every once in awhile they reach beyond---thats what Craig's work on the Ian Fischer story did--a local kid that spoke volumes about every soldier--every kid---every teen becoming and adult. Craig's work was/is brilliant, but now there is a new 'current' Pulitzer prize winner(Do you think I can convince one f them to come speak at our college here in NW Pa.?????)
My wife just said a --'he is relieved of his duties'---this is perfect!!!!
Above is a picture of Craig's camera during his visit to NW Pennsylvania to talk at Allegheny College. Photograph taken at Sprague's brewery in Venango PA. I think Craig was in the bathroom!
John Clayton has lived in a lot of places over the years. He said Conneaut Lake was one of his favorite places to live, but is happy where he is now in Jamestown. ‘Its a real nice place if you don’t
have much money,’ he said. Clayton was out enjoying his cigar in the parking lot of a convienence
store in Jamestown on Friday. He has smoked for 40 years. “They say smoking causes cancer, I don’t know,
seems a lot of things do.’ He said he doesn’t mind that there are restrictions to smoking inside -
even at his new apartment where he says he can’t smoke inside. "As long as they don’t stop me from smoking
outside, I don’t care."
Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.
One of the saddest parts about being a photographer is that sometimes you get labeled as a creeper! Admittedly there are a lot of --well maybe not a lot , but there are some people out there who use photography to enable their own perversions. Today I was reminded of this as I was covering the back-stage of the body building competition at Saegertown high school. I snapped a photo and was immediately confronted by someone who didn't recognize me as a member of the media. I actually don't mind this--it gives me a chance to show that I'm legitimate and there to cover a story. I actually find it comforting that people are looking after one another this way. The story I was there to tell was this body building competition in a weird place--at a high school in Northwest Pennsylvania. (Many refer to this area as BFE---sorry mom if you know what this stands for!) So this was weird at best for this area. And yet--very cool! The picture I wanted is one that showed it being out of place, but also very real. I understand being involved is something most people don't know the inner workings of---I'm a lawn bowler. So I can relate to someone having extreme dedication to something most people can't relate too. Body building is like this. The people I know who are involved in this are very very good people--so I understand. Today I caught a small glimpse into this world and though I still find it strange to my way of thinking, I understand it because of the personal drive to succeed! And its somewhat lonely this pursuit! I saw individuals blocking out those around them in order to get into the right frame of mind to compete. Below is another picture I took today--it was me being alone with my thing---my craft. I look for things that I think are interesting to photograph. Sometimes its a story about people in a bodybuilding competition--other times its the rain in a puddle! Its all the same to me--its life in front of me! Meadville Tribune photographs by Richard Sayer.
Awards are cool to get. They give you some affirmation that you're doing work that reaches people. That reaches people outside of the community that have grown used to you and your work. I learned on Friday that I won first place for feature picture in the Pennsylvania Newspaper association's Keystone Awards, awards that recognize work done within a year, in this case 2010. I also won a first place in Photo Story with colleague Lisa Byers. When I was younger and building a resume the idea of winning awards was to recognized and perhaps get a better job somewhere else. But I don't want to move. Now I feel these awards mean that a story has more life and can now reach even more people beyond our usual readers. It hit me last year as I watched my friend Craig talk about his Pulitzer Prize winning story, that he is still telling this story and spreading the story to more people and in a way that gives people more insight into how the story came about and what the story means. So I'm hoping now that the picture story we did on Matt Beightol can now reach more people and hopefully help people who are dealing with the same issues Matt and his family have for more than 18 years now. Stories like this that can have a second life are important. The other photograph, the little girl catching rain drops off an umbrella with her tongue, well that won't go far in helping humanity, but I hope it gives more people a chance to see the image and perhaps think about how fun little things in life can be--that sometimes we need stop and enjoy something as simple as this--to breathe. And I still put it on my resume and hope to never have to use it. Meadville Tribune photographs by Richard Sayer and Story by Lisa Byers.
Teacher at East End Elementary School Chad DuPont plants a kiss on Midnight a show pig owned by Maria Angelo of Cambridge Springs. The school is trying to raise $50,000 to renovate their playground. 25 teachers agreed to have a contest to see who could raise the most money--the "winner" won a chance to kiss a pig in front of the whole school. DuPont raised 229 out of the total 916,21. If you've read my writings here before--you know that this is the sort of thing I really really like about working at this newspaper. We not only take this stuff seriously, we have a great time sharing these stories. Many people comment that there is so much negative news in the world. I think one of the things the Meadville Tribune does best is that they share many many good positive stories as well. This was fun today hearing how loud these kids screamed as DuPont puckered up! Meadville Tribune by Richard Sayer.
Every place needs a George Wright. George passed away this week. I did not know George very well, but in my thirteen years at The Meadville Tribune I've come to understand one thing. George watched over us. I had been to a few local government meetings where the only people beside city council in the room were the news people and George Wright. This is my favorite picture of George. Every year George would lead an inspection of Mill Run which included looking under the bridges. I watched George inspect cracks in the cement and then look into storm drains and pipes. That is what he is doing here. The goal was to document areas of the creek that needed to be dealt with in some way or another. Important work for the environment and for the safety of the people who take for granted things like storm drains and bridges operating where they are supposed to. And government....after taking this picture of George I realized--thats what this man does, he looks for problems and when he finds them he does something about them. When I heard he was ill and then seeing his obituary this week I got this feeling that no one will look after us. He was another set of ears and eyes beyond the newspaper and every town can use that. This is a loss. Its funny working for a small town newspaper...I feel sad sometimes when I see someone I really don't know at all beyond covering stories they are a part of who has passed away. Meadville Tribune file photo from 2006 by Richard Sayer.