Holiday Break

I’m lucky to work in higher education, where the week between Christmas and the new year are seen as an automatic holiday. This year, I took a few extra days before Christmas off, meaning a lot of time at home with the family.

What did we do? Not much. A bit of repair work on my car, some house showings, a couple of sick kids to contend with, and the busy back-and-forth of family holiday time. I was able to dig into a few photo books – Alex Webb’s The Suffering of Light was a nice Christmas gift – and think about my creative work for 2017.

But mostly, it was just what I had hoped for: quiet time, doing quiet things.

Happy New Year.


Photos Per Year

Photos Per Year

What’s your PPY rate?

What’s amazing to me, looking at the past few years’ worth of photographs, is how (a) I take more photos and (b) it seems to be affected by what takes place in each of those years.

Did I take a wedding job? Did I take more iPhone photos? Did we take a big summer family trip? Heck, I have photos from 2015 that I haven’t even processed yet. They’re just sitting there, waiting for some Lightroom attention.

This year, I’ll hit 11,000 photos no problem. A new kiddo will do that.

Our Photos Per Year tell us a lot about the activities and output of each year. We take breaks. Life happens. We shoot more months than others.

More importantly, do we have an emotional attachment to that Photos Per Year rate? Do we feel bad we didn’t take as many photos this year as last? Why is that? Will taking more photos next year help us feel better?

A Small Fraction


Buy Books, Not Gear

Eric Kim, in a classic:

I would argue that buying even 5 great street photography books will do more for your photography than any lens out there would. And assuming that each photo-book was $50, that would cost $250. That is a small fraction of any lens that you could purchase out there.

Good reminder this weekend, when you have some time for reading. And for the holiday season, when those Amazon gift cards come rolling in.

Tree Shopping

Last year, we didn’t get to Gwinn’s until darkness covered the tree lot. We picked a Christmas tree that felt right. And it was so cold.

This year was different. The temperatures were in the 40s, thanks to a very mild autumn, so we let the kids run through the rows of evergreens, tiring themselves in the cool air. We played tag, and chased each other in the trees.

Then we got the tree home – a short-needle variety, very soft – and did the real work: putting up the ornaments and lights. The kids were so tired from running at the tree farm that they were ready for bed early. That was fine with us.

As we plugged in the lights, we felt official. Ready for the holidays. All that’s missing in are the cookies.

Home Sick

Sick Day

Sick day at home with the kids. The boy got pink eye two days ago, and the baby woke up with it this morning.

Lots of hand-washing these past few days.

It’s not all bad. We watched the snow fall – only the second snowy day here in Michigan so far, which is weird this late into the year. The kids are still in pajamas, the Christmas music is going, and we’re all quiet and restful.

Working from home while a baby toddles around the house is a challenge, especially with icky hands. But I wouldn’t trade days at home with the kids for anything.

Photos To Remember

Photos To Remember

In the process of my big DAM switchover, I’m going through a ton of photos from past years – locked inside iPhoto, or tucked away inside random Finder folders. There are a lot of memories in these old photos.

Talking with fellow photographers, it’s often memory that comes up the most for “reasons why” people make photos. Photos are the physical or digital means to preserve moments. Often, they’re all the evidence we have of certain times or events taking place.

This is what attracted me to photography, as far back as a teenager. I would take disposable cameras with us on family trips, and I have albums full of photos from high school, college, and beyond.

Looking at those images in iPhoto, some as recent as 2011, was a good reminder of this important purpose. Five years ago doesn’t seem all that long ago, in my brain. But as I look back from the images of when I bought my first house (2011), or remodeled my office (2012), it feels like a lifetime ago. Photos help me remember, and show how much time has passed.

“Look at how skinny I was in 2010,” I tell myself. Or, “Boy, what a great Vegas trip we had in the summer of 2011.”

This is all happening by accident. My digital photo management is making me look through these old images, and as I do it it’s reminding me to remember.

‘Color Correction’ by Ernst Haas

Early color photograph holds a special place in my heart. The pioneers, like William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, showed that color photography could be used for more than advertising and editorial work, especially when taken out on the street.

But even before those two guys, and their comrades like Stephen Shore and Alex Webb, photographers in the 1950s were blazing a vibrant trail.

Ernst Haas was one of these trailblazers, exploring streets and urban scenes in the ’50s, and making his living as a Magnum photographer. A reissued book of Haas’s photography, Color Correction, is out from Steidl, and it’s a great overview of Haas’s personal work.

Haas sits in the same photography family as early color photographers like Saul Leiter. You get the sense that color, light, and abstraction were all tools Haas (and Leiter) used to express his personal vision.

It’s Haas’s use of light and shadow that really gets me excited. That low-key work, combined with the vibrant colors, is what attracted me to Haas in the first place.

Color Correction is an affordable look into that midcentury color photography that’s timeless and continually satisfying.