Art Model, Keisha

Everyone has their own reasons for getting into photography, some of which may be far different from my own. I didn’t do photography to make a buck. I didn’t jump into it because a bunch of other people were doing it. Everybody has their own reasons. For me, I was first curious at a time where much of photography was not as wide-spread or readily shared. I didn’t know anyone doing photography. I didn’t see anyone doing photography. My hometown didn’t have a camera store and I had never heard of a camera club. Nonetheless, there were concepts I didn’t understand and much of it had to do with the speed of the lens. I had no clue what the numbers on the front of the lens meant. To me, a 55-200mm Zoom lens sounded badass. F4.5-6.3 STM must have meant something about it’s special capability. It was certainly better than an 18-55mm. But the 75-300mm must be even better, as bigger numbers most often suggest! Right? [Wrong.]

And how do they get the blurry backgrounds? I tried and tried to take a shot like that and all I did was get an out of focus image. Maybe the images were two shots blended into one… with the subject in focus, but the background out of focus. Also, why can’t I zoom out enough to get everything in the same frame? I knew it was possible because I’d seen wide-angle photos before. But what did it take to get shots like that? My friend took a photo of a ferris wheel at a fair in Germany, back when we both served in Delta Company 3/8 INF in Mainz. It looked like the thing must have been spinning out of control and was about to fly off it’s foundation

Art Model, Keisha

“What the hell? This can’t be real! How did you do that?” I asked. There were no digital cameras at the time and no Photoshop. This was all film.

“I just dropped my shutter,” Coleman said. “Just slowed it down.” And then he took his photos and walked away.

Curiosity is what inspired me, initially. But I also new those instant cameras were not going to do the work for me. My friend, Private First Class Coleman, spent a few hundred dollars on his DSLR camera. I could NOT even imagine spending more than $50 on a camera without my family telling me I’d lost all sense of priorities. 

“Photography has never been so popular, but it’s getting destroyed. There have never been so many photographs taken, but photography is dying.” 

~ Antonio Olmosquoted from an article written by Stuart Jeffries for The Guardian, 13 December 2013

Nudes furthered my interest in photography. I poured myself into it and with inspirations such as Edward Weston, Jerry Ulesmann, Harry Callahan, Sally Mann, and Spencer Tunick, I was hooked. I was an art model posing for colleges and local art clubs. Being a fashion model and an art model for over a decade also gave me a unique vantage from the model perspective. After 6 year into amateur photography and running photo groups, I finally went pro and built a business out of it.

Art Model, Keisha

Today, I still shoot. Or at least I’m ready to begin again since my shoulder is getting stronger. However, I don’t do it hustling the same way I did before. I still have to get my grind in, but it’s just different. But much has changed in recent years. Especially since Covid, photo seems to have taken a side-step. Not an evolution per se, as it has always done in the past. Since the beginning, photography has elevated mainly through technology. Since it’s early beginnings, photography has evolved over time with innovation and feature improvements, such as auto-metering (exposure), autofocus, shooting full production video, and today, cameras can tell the difference between a subject matter, such as a person or a bird and make sure the eyes are in focus.

But they’ve also evolved to give us different perspectives. Skateboarders and adventurists popularized Action Cameras. They showed us what could be done when you strap a camera to a skateboard or to your helmet as you parachuted off a bridge and took us underwater! Drones made Arial Photography something everyone could do and changed the nature of motion pictures since they no longer required helicopters to do the same job. 

But cell phones put a camera in EVERYBODY’s pocket. This might be where things changed and took photography in an entirely different direction. If that is for the better or detriment of photography… it depends on who you ask, perhaps. Digital Photography has been the real difference maker. It was the Pandora’s Box in practically every sense of the analogy. I listened to the “old guys” in the camera store on Saturday mornings talk about how photography is dying. You’d read about it in photography forums. I argued that they said the same thing when Polaroid came out. And again when digital got popular.

Art Model, Keisha

Maybe it’s just that now, I’ve reached that age and become one of the “old guys” leering at the future of photography as my guys did back in the day, but damn if those guys weren’t right! So I’m going to do a series of posts, likely three in particular that deal with issues I see that might be detrimental to the game… or at least to the game, as I know it! Am I saying photography is dead? Well, I haven’t said that yet. It’s definitely experiencing a metamorphosis, though. People has written about the Death of Photography since Autofocus became a feature, but it really kicked off during the dawn of digital. The advent of Cell Phones started the conversation all over again just as we’d calmed the “Down with Digital” guys down. Now we have Artificial Intelligence and we have to start this conversation all over again. Certain genres of photography have been killed, for sure. You don’t see people making a killing career of stock photography anymore. 

What are my feelings on this? I confess, I’ve turned into one of the old guys at the camera show looking for doom on the horizon. Photography is being taken for granted and I think it’s getting disrespected. But I can’t ask it to slow down. No one can. This new thing has it’s own gravity and it doesn’t need anyone to nurture or love it. It has a new identity. I’ll cover this in future possts.