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Making Pictures Photography Richard Kelly Experience Talking Photography N'at

Talking Photography N’at August 10 2021 7 pm

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What was the last photograph you took?

I am speaking from my perspective. For many photographers, this summer has been a rebirth of visual experiences. The past year I have consumed more images than ever before from books, magazines, websites, and even Instagram, and I have picked up my camera and framed the world in front of me with new vigor. I told my mentor just yesterday that even though I wasn’t compelled to “photograph” the pandemic, I am now motivated to photograph the new world. 

Taking a break in July was an excellent opportunity to reflect on this community that we have created. I appreciate the conversations and friendships that continue to “develop” daily through our shared interest in photography. In addition to the Stand Up Paddleboarding, my family and I visited Clemson for Grace’s first college tour this past month, then spent a week near Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and of course, currently driving with a teenager and her learners permit. 

I am also knee-deep into a new project that I will share more details about in the coming months:

  • A culmination of relationships.
  • A geographic point on the compass.
  • Starting a conversation that our country needs to have.

How about that for a vague outline – I hope I write that down somewhere. 

After the August Talking Photography N’at, we will be moving to the second Wednesday of the Month – as I am teaching two courses this semester at Point Park University, and they are in the evening Tuesday and Thursday.

Over the break, I established a Slack group for us to stay in contact between virtual meetups. Here is the link for an invitation – https://join.slack.com/t/rkellyexpportrait/shared_invite/zt-ejka4g5w-rdWnD3z~lz_Isj7x9iOKKw

I hope you join us and share links and photos and keep the conversation going. 

A few regular contributors to the Talking Photography N’at have been up to some exciting work the past few months.

Kristi Jan Hoover installed her three prints at the Children’s Museum. 

Polly Whitehorn had her exhibit opening at the Beacon Art Shortwave Gallery in Stone Harbor, New Jersey (http://www.beaconart.net/events.html)  with some interesting “twists of lemon.” 

David Robert Farmerie – completed a fascinating Artist Residency in Wilson, North Carolina (https://www.eyesonmainstreetwilson.com/#/).

Lisa Marie Cirincione, who lives in State College, Pennsylvania, is still in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics in her work in NBC Sports Television. She is sharing some of her experiences on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisac.photography/

And Ralph Musthaler took his street photography to a new neighborhood on a recent visit to New York City. https://www.instagram.com/ralphmusthaler/

Thank you to everyone for keeping the print sharing alive and a worthwhile experience. I have received some beautiful images, and I am preparing for my next round to go out in early September. If you need access to the mailing addresses, drop me a note. rk@richardkelly.com

I hope to see you next Tuesday, August 10th at 7 P.M. EDT as we get back to Talking Photography N’at. Have I ever mentioned that it is FREE! 

See you then. Here is the Zoom Link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84978587017

So show us what the last photograph you took was? 

If you have images you would like to share prepare and send them to rk@richardkelly.com using Google Drive or We Transfer https://wetransfer.com/. We are no longer accepting DropBox links.

Please share this with anyone who you think might be interested in joining us.

The link in the email above, the talkingphotonat.link/zoom, my Linktree in the Instagram bio, and https://www.richardkelly.com/Experiences/Talking-Photography-N’at/1.

See you on August 10th.

Richard Kelly

Categories
Business Curiosity Marketing Philosophy Photography Richard Kelly Experience

Humans with cameras.

The camera allows us to see things we otherwise could never see as humans. However, the camera alone is not very useful. Ansel Adams, the famous American Landscape photographer, once quipped, “The single most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it.” without a human purpose, the camera is of no use.

Suppose you are a visionary chief executive wanting to illustrate to your potential investors that your leadership team is polishing the antique industrial company into a shiny new modern technology brand—the most efficient method is to contract with a professional photographer creating those transformational stories. Otherwise, you risk not telling this critical story because the cameras are still sitting in the box.

A professional photographer’s job is to make photographs that inform, educate, or emotionally connect with the viewer. Whether journalistically, for marketing, or advertising, a photographer with intention, skill and focus will use their camera to communicate the essence effectively to create compelling visual storytelling.

I love using photography to tell stories. I get to combine my curiosity and lifelong learning and translate those experiences into visual compositions that, when combined with crafted words and elegant design, moves someone to feel something, take action, or stay informed.

I create visual experiences. 

My team and I are available to produce your organization’s unique story and share it with the world. 

Richard Kelly is the President of the Richard Kelly Experience based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his team create visual stories for organizations just like yours.

Categories
Business Making Pictures Marketing Philosophy Photography Richard Kelly Experience Uncategorized

The one about the CEO who bought professional digital cameras for his managers… a parable.

I am not a widget photographer, but I am interested in innovative people and how they make things. For a handful of years, I had been photographing a multinational corporation that made widgets. I had made some pictures for them, and we had been discussing a longer-term project to show their “new and improved process and people for shareholders.” Not that long ago, I would have called these annual report photographs, but now I think of them as “core mission stories” – and by the way – organizations should focus more on these to tell their unique story to stakeholders. 

But I digress. For several years the CEO who was brought in to sell a new corporate perspective to their Wall Street investors about how “an old gritty industrial company” was transforming as a “shiny new technology industry leader” and I discussed using photography and video to show these innovative talents and techniques that the company was implementing. He knew Wall Street had yet to grasp this new point of growth, and I was presenting him an opportunity to reframe the story visually before turning the leadership over to a new team. 

The following year, as he and I stepped aside to make his leadership portrait, he excitedly told me, “you know the concept you pitched for telling the stories of our workers and processes? well, I solved that by buying my plant managers D-SLR’s and instructing them to take pictures.” My photographer’s soul shriveled up and went up to my throat. I was planning to convince him to put this project on the calendar finally. Instead, I was learning that an “everyone with a camera” scenario was replacing my idea. I thought quickly on my feet and rebounded by saying, you know, Mr. CEO, I teach workshops, and I can put together a custom program to teach your managers how to use these cameras. He waved his hand and said these cameras are so sophisticated that they pretty much take the pictures themselves. I finished the session, and my assistant knew I was mentally defeated, and she suggested we stop for lunch to talk about the end of commercial photography as we knew it.

The following year I was a bit surprised they scheduled me to make the annual leadership photographs. Figuring that one of the plant managers would stop by and “snap a picture.” The CEO, I learned, was retiring soon – even though the company didn’t have the positive turnaround he desired. He was ready to move out of the day-to-day operations. As we stepped away to make his final CEO portrait, I asked him how the manager’s photography assignments had worked out? He chuckled and said, “would you believe it if I told you that they have never even taken the cameras out of their boxes.”

Although I wasn’t thrilled that the CEO retiring, the story of the cameras still in their boxes reminded me that I still have value as a visual storyteller. 

Everyone might have a camera with technology that makes taking pictures more accessible and of decent quality. The managers didn’t make the photographs because that is not what they do; they manage manufacturing. They didn’t have the intention. Photographers craft compelling visual stories because that is what we do. 

Richard Kelly is the President of The Richard Kelly Experience, Creating visual stories for mission-focused organizations, framing their unique perspectives with compelling imagery for their stakeholders. 

Categories
Business Making Pictures Marketing Photography Richard Kelly Experience

Use it or lose it

This Pandemic year has been like no other. We are all navigating whatever it means to get back to “normal.” I am not sure I want to go back, but I do know that no one really knows what moving forward will be like either. Over the past fourteen months, I have been on numerous zoom meetings, private phone calls, and text messages with colleagues, clients, business experts, and we agree that moving forward will be different than where we have been. I like it- “the unknown,” which is all opportunity and fewer “that’s always how we have done it.”

One of the upsides to 2020 we tested all of our fears and overcame them, “battle-tested and mother-approved.” Every aspect of our businesses (and life) is being evaluated and reconsidered. Recently I have had several calls from marketing executives in non-profits and medium-sized companies – we talk about how everything, including their mission, is being looked at with fresh eyes. Then the conversation turns to money; many of them face budget reviews, including spending money before their fiscal ends (“use it or lose it”) and planning for next fiscal year’s budget now.

One of their many challenges is how they tell their story and create assets with photographs and videos when employees are working from home. Or when their crucial mission activities occur in spaces that are currently empty. They wonder how they can create messaging about this “new normal” that is yet to be defined? And do that both responsibly and on a budget?

One of the positive outcomes of these conversations is that they are relieved to learn that I know how to translate complex marketing messages into story-driven visual experiences and produce work within a reasonable budget.

If you would like to schedule a conversation about your marketing challenges and how your organization will enter this next phase of this “new normal.” Email or text me (are you on Signal yet?) – everyone else does, so we can chat about visualizing your messages and evaluating short-term communication goals. We can discuss workable budget allocations for creating photography and short-form video storytelling to continue your organization’s mission-driven work.

Categories
Curiosity Making Pictures Nostalgia Philosophy Photography

The Gateway, part 1

Photography is a gateway to many things; I am not sure how else to say it. No matter when you first pick up a camera, the instinct is there. I joke that my daughter was introduced to the act of photography before she met her parents. Within a few hundred microseconds, I had made photographs as my daughter flew through the air from the doctor’s hands to my wife’s, ready to receive her.

I had decided to make black and white film photographs earlier that day.I liked the idea of having a physical object of that moment. The film receives light particles that leave a mark on the emulsion. With a digital sensor, photographers capture a binary representation of that light particle.

I know it is a little nostalgic to consider that on the negatives and slides in my archive, each piece of film was there when I made the picture. For a brief fraction of time, the shutter opened, and light from that place entered the lens and touched it. Not only was I was present at that exact moment, but the film was there too.

I can’t say for sure why I like my film photographs and have more emotional connections to them than my hundreds of thousands of digital images. It is not because the film images are of a higher quality or render the subject better than digital capture because I can say with certainty that they are not better, but they are different.

It is interesting that when photography enthusiasts, who’s gateway to photography was a digital camera, discover film they see every frame as beautiful. A magical quality draws them in to love look of film. They often confuse that magical feeling with quality.

I remember during a conversation with a professional wedding photographer who had recently discovered medium format film photography and was thrilled at how beautiful every frame was – they weren’t. Because they were using film, they were all the better in their eyes – they weren’t. Photographs captured on film are in and of themselves not always great. I can testify to the hundreds of thousands of poorly executed photographs I made on film. But I do understand emotionally what they were reacting too.

Film photographers experience two truly magical moments different from watching your images download from a silicon chip to another digital device. The universal reason many of us fell in love with photography, and that is observing a black and white latent image turn to a developed image in a tray of Dektol under the glow of an amber safelight. Another is the sensory experience of opening a freshly packed box of 35mm slides and holding them up at a time to a light to see what you captured, like opening a gift on your birthday. Then load them into carousel trays and turn on the projector with the whirring fan and the light projecting the color dyes on the film that was in the camera receiving the light from the space you were in when you pressed a shutter for a fraction of time. No LED Projector no matter how good can replace the brilliant colors from the film emulsion emitting from the screen.

I suppose this doesn’t reveal any of the reasons I like my film photographs better than the digital ones. But I do.

Categories
ASMP Making Art Origin Story Photography

Shoot Your Way Through It.

The Zen and the Art of Making Pictures.

Written initially (although I tweaked it a bit) for the ASMP Strictly Business Blog in December 2015, as I work my way through the global pandemic, I find that this blog post captures some of what I am doing right now, today to work through the stress and turbulence of 2020.

By Richard Kelly December 11, 2015 Strictly Business Blog

I’m a photographer. I “frame” my world. But sometimes I can’t see anything. Sometimes it is something outside my world that blocks my view; most often, it is inside my head. Whatever the cause, the prescription is the same; I have to shoot my way through it.

I credit Chicago photographer Jim Krantz for the phrase that is now my go-to solution. It describes the action I have taken for most of my life when self-doubt, insecurity, low self-confidence, fear, or plain-old “I just don’t know what to do” blues hit me. Whatever the reason – whatever the why – the only way out is to pick up a camera and frame my world.

For some reason, I find self-imposed limitations help. This is mostly true when I am scratching what could be an idea or working my way through a project. I select one lens, one camera – I limit myself to a few choices. By boxing myself in, I give myself boundaries that allow me to feel safe to explore.

Sometimes, I walk with a camera, not always to create a new project but to allow myself the space to think more clearly. The walking and looking, especially in a place I haven’t walked in before, will enable me to see what will connect the dots.

Driving can also help me break through a block. I find that it is best to drive without purpose. Bicycling is good, too. I especially like to bicycle in places where I don’t typically walk or drive my car. 

I remember one bike ride in the outer banks one, particularly bountiful summer. The light was perfect. I was using all of my senses for ideation.

I took a walk in Philadelphia a few years ago, exploring the city with my camera, “following the light” with no particular subject in mind. I took some beautiful pictures. I remember using a Nikon F2A with a 58mm lens; that detail’s not essential, although I remember it. I’d love to show you the photographs – they were spectacular – but I can’t. I somehow forgot to load the film that day. A rare occurrence, but I was so used to shooting with my digital camera that I simply forgot to check the film. It didn’t matter, though. It was that walk and the act of shooting through it that helped me work out the project I was working through in my mind.

Categories
Business Curiosity Family Origin Story Photography

My New Next Thing

I am a photographer, have been my entire life. That may be an overstatement, but roaming the Ellwood City Public Library at age ten searching for something new to read, stumbling upon the photography books on the shelves was not overstated; Photography was what I needed to discover that day.
As a teenager, I continued to make both art and music. Still, photography offered me a perfect balance of technology with the camera and what I could capture with that little light grabbing machine.
“Photography is for rich people,” my father would tell me. He was a working-class steelworker, high school educated but never a book guy. Later I realized he had an innate sense to visualize entire mechanical processes in his mind’s eye, essentially seeing a process like an x-ray. I don’t think he ever understood his gift. But that visual balance he passed to me. And his passion for tools and processes. Photography is the perfect expression for a young boy who loves tools, techniques and learning how things work. My curiosity has served me well in my pursuit of photography.
My parents insisted that they would not buy me a 35mm camera; they did buy me for my 11th birthday a Kodak 110 Instamatic, not precisely what I was hoping for as a future photographer.
I wanted to make pictures like W. Eugene Smith, not family photos at my sisters’ birthday party. I guess I was entrepreneurial at the outset. Even before this time, I sold gardening seeds, magazines, and rocks even before the pet rock craze. I had a paper route for the News Tribune – still have the road slag in my knee when I had a tumble with my heavy newspaper delivery bag.
Those dollars and cents allowed me to enter the Caputo’s Department store to buy my first camera. One hundred fifty dollars might buy you a Minolta 202 with a 50 mm 1.8 lens, but it won’t buy much 35mm film even in 1979, let alone the processing. Although a bit skeptical, my father encouraged me to do my first professional assignment, the grand opening of the new Big Beaver Municipal building; my father was vice president of the council.
Off I went with my camera and some black and white film to document the new building and celebrate it. I still remember these men and women looking to me as professional photographers to make them and their buildings look good. I even recall the new carpet smell that day.
It was the beginning of many assignments to offset the film I needed to learn photography. My father was impressed with my commitment, offered to buy me an enlarger, and build a darkroom in the basement off from our laundry room.
Making money and making photographs is a complicated formula for a simple equation for me. I couldn’t have one without the other. Forty years later, I am still working on that equalizing that equation. However, the ever-changing world values these two factors differently. In the year 2020, I am evaluating my “new next thing” to see how I can keep my simple equation in balance.