12.31.2021

It's the last day of 2021 and I'm still thinking about photography. I guess it's time to make some resolutions. Maybe talk about my favorite cameras of the year. Stuff like that.


I've come to believe that if one does photography long enough and with a deep enough immersion eventually the act of constantly looking at life around you in a certain way changes the way one's brain works and processes visual stimuli. You discard certain subjects and hone in more tightly on the one's that remain interesting, or beautiful. Photographers can also be guilty of letting their immersion in specific subjects become overwhelming and circular. I find that when I go out without camera I'm still, on some level, making continuous compositions, cropping in and zooming out of the scenes in front of me. It's a blessing and a curse. 

If the last two years have taught me nothing else they have taught me to make the most of where I am right now. Many people live to go out on adventures to far-flung places and reject the idea that you can make good, fun or happy images where you are most of the time because the novelty or newness of your own space has long since worn off. I find that with the exception of genres of landscape photography there are endless great potential photographs every where you look. If you are a "people" photographer the potential for great images in your own home town is always high. 

I was asked once again, while walking around downtown last week, if I lived "here" or if I was just visiting. My stock reply is always: "I do live here but I'm a tourist in my own town." I enjoy the flow of progress in our downtown but I should do a better job photographing the people. 

One thing I've become aware of though is my addiction to photographing. And to looking at the images I've made. Most of the time it's like practicing scales in music class but sometimes I'll hit a chord that really makes me happy. The days and years of practice are part of a joyful practice with the aim of being ready for the images that actually work.

Resolutions. I rarely make resolutions because it's like admitting that you've been half-assed about stuff in the past. If I want to do something I want to do it well. But there's always room for improvement so I thought I'd make a few small resolutions for 2022. 

But my resolutions are divided between personal stuff and photography stuff. So, I'll lead off with the personal. I'd like to write another book this year. I bought a writing desk as a "carrot" to the process. I'd like to continue the "Henry White" series but I'd also like to write small and easy to read book about the personal process of photography.

I want to take my swimming more seriously, miss fewer workouts, swim harder, be more diligent in my dry land weight workouts and, when possible, enter  more competitions. I've been phoning it in recently and blaming it on aging. But excuses suck. The difference between decent and good performances in the water are largely the result of just setting goals and being disciplined. We have the potential in our program to swim about 312 practices in a year (based on our schedule and making one practice per day). I'd like make as many as possible in 2022. And I'd like to see my competition times drop back down.

One of my bigger goals for 2022 is to finally do the rest of the maintenance my house needs. We've ordered new windows but I need to sand and paint the exterior and replace at least one exterior door. I'd also like to renovate one of the bathrooms this year. 

I refuse, on the grounds that it's impossible, to make any resolutions about how many more or less cameras or lenses I'll buy this year. I'll buy just enough. And whatever I buy will be of intense interest to me...for a least a few weeks.

And then there are the business/photography resolutions. The top business resolution is to fire any client that I don't fully enjoy working with. Working has stopped being necessary for financial survival but it's still something I enjoy ---- when I enjoy it. But overly controlling clients, panicky clients, cheap-ass clients and inattentive clients suck the fun out of the process and this might be a good year to be stricter with the ones on the edge. 

The second goal is to do better work. This means only accepting work that I think I can do well. Work that is challenging but also has a good chance for success. 

A tangential goal is to get out of the studio mindset. The idea of shooting yet another portrait against a gray seamless background or a muslin background is chilling and borderline revolting. Style has moved on and, frankly, as a lazy person, I'm tired of having to clean, organize and straighten up the studio all the time. I want to shoot more than ever on location this year. Location portraits, location lifestyle and, well, all location work. An offshoot of this is that my office becomes just that - a dedicated workspace for photographic post production and for writing. And to that end I'm getting rid of lots of junk that was made and meant for studio work. The premise being that if I don't have the stuff needed to shoot in a studio style then I won't accept the jobs that might call for those things. 

In 2022 I want to charge outrageous fees. Just to see if I can. I'm tired of working in people's fictive budgets and want to see where the edges of the envelope might be. 

I've been selling off other cameras and am considering only buying Leica equipment, for cameras, going forward. Lenses? I'm a bit less constricted on that front. There's so many interesting and fun lenses outside the Leica compound. I'd hate to artificially limit myself. We're down to only two remaining non-Leica digital cameras in the office right now. 

We're well past the point of what Ming Thein always called, "sufficiency." All the cameras on the market now are really good. Really capable. Really high quality. I can use what I own mostly interchangeably which, to me, means we have the opportunity to play with crazy gear. Or to step outside the mainstream and buy crazy cameras. I'm looking at the Leica S2 medium format cameras right now. Need em? No. Want them? Maybe. 

One of my biggest photography goals this year is to print a lot more and try to have a show of my work where people can come into a physical space and actually see the photographs the way they were intended to be viewed. At my last printed show each of the images was printed at 36 inches by 36 inches. I'd love to make work that would look great at larger sizes. And I'd love to see it up on some walls. 

Final resolution. Only drink the very best coffee. Only sip very good wines. Life is too short now to drink swill. 

Those are my resolutions/plans for 2022. I'd be interested to hear what other folks consider important in their own lives. In their photography...

I've recently become a fan of the CookBook Cafe at the downtown public library.
They make good coffee, fun pastries and healthy sandwiches and wraps.
It's a nice place at which to sit outside and enjoy good food and a nice view. 
They also make addictively good cookies...

This bridge is sweet. Love photographing it.
All the images in this post were done with the TTArtisan 35mm f1.4 APS-C
lens and the Leica CL cameras as in camera Jpegs.

the lens is okay wide open. Stopped down to f5.6 and it becomes
ferociously sharp. And contrasty.

The lens is also good when used at its closer range. 
















 Hope everyone has a Happy New Year celebration tonight. We're throwing caution the wind and heading to a big dance club where we'll throw ourselves into the mosh pit and dance drunk for hours and hours.

No. Wait! We actually have plans to stay at "Club Home" and eat fun food and watch a nice movie. Be safe and be happy. 

See you in 2022.