Creating the Visual Historian
When I was in college I thought I wanted to be a photo journalist. I thought it would be so cool to have a story to journal about and the pictures had to represent the story in some way or fashion. I was well on my way to making that my degree but then I had an epiphany. I wanted to learn how to use studio lights and create magazine style images! My grandmother was a model her entire life before breast cancer took her when I was 13 years old. At 13 the only camera I was shooting with was a Kodak Disc point and shoot. My dad worked for Sears, so he had the “IN” on all of the cool new things soon to be available in the store. I can tell you the single most important reason why I am who I am today is the results of my parents. Mom and Dad were highly involved with me when I played music and equally supported me with my little photography escapade. HA!
I never really knew where photography was going to take me, but I knew it was a journey I wanted to be on. I guess you can say, I was an artist but didn’t know it yet. I was still a young man just getting through school, trying to pick a degree to stick with. The day I decided I wanted to be a photographer I’ll never forget my dad telling me, “Son you can do anything you put your mind to it…I believe in you.” He purchased my first pro 35 mm camera with a flash and said, “Happy Graduation. Anything else you need you can work for it and buy it yourself!” I was so excited to have the love and support from my dad I just couldn’t wait to learn as fast as I could. Man I photographed EVERYTHING….from the garden hose spewing water so I can practice stopping the action and slowing the exposure to make the water look like silk, to driving up a parking garage so I had a birds eye view of the city and I would practice long exposure. This was all back in the film days and I didn’t have any training yet, so I would take a notebook, write down ex 1) , 2), 3) …as many numbers as the number of frames on the roll I had to expose. If I had a 36 exposure roll of film then I wrote 1-36 ex on each line of the notebook.I would write down my settings and expose the entire roll.
When I brought the roll in for processing I told the lab dude to just expose everything on NORMAL. I wanted to see the exposure as I captured it, not adjusted from the lab dude.Digital changed everything because you can SEE what you are doing. I still use every single piece of knowledge I acquired but being able to see immediately is sooo gratifying.
Well my grandmother Alma, has always been with me in spirit when I’m working. I can see her poses from her magazine layouts, I remember the quality of the lighting the photographers were producing back then! I had Alma with me in spirit and the modeling world made a bit more sense to me then the average male photographer. I still think a male posing a woman is one of the hardest things to do unless you are comfortable directing or showing them the pose. To this day I talk a loud to Alma like she is right there with me. Alma or grandma Kuchler as we called her, was a strong no nonsense woman who was also loving and playful. She was a beautiful blonde with the attitude to match it. My sister took on those qualities. :)
I took on the the “Get out of my way” attitude and kept learning from people way better than me. I also have qualities from mom and dad. My mom is the Italian red head who want everyone to be happy and my dad is the strong willed German you don’t want to piss off. hahaha! I guess I have some “Hard Headed” in there as well but Elizabeth knows all about that side. :)
All of these aspects create the visual historian I am today. I know how to tackle a shot on the job because every shot is important to me. I love making sure everyone is happy on the job and their wonderful experience goes beyond just me but also the venue, the florist, the church lady and both mom’s. Alma helps me appreciate how a woman looks in her clothing and which poses are the most flattering. My dad is always in my head telling me to "Never take no for an answer if it's important to you!"
Being a visual historian to me is applying all of your qualities into every image you capture. How you see the image and HOW you go about capturing it is what defines us all. It’s exactly why if 5 photographers can have the same prices, the same styled images, and even be in the same city…yet ONE photographer will always stand out. I think the question for you today is which photographer are you? :) -GK
My Grandma the Model...Alma Kuchler
Check out these snaps I took of an album my mom made for my sister and I. The old school lighting, the posing, the clothes and check out the Lakeside Mall Fashion show at the bottom. It used to be a big deal to see the show and get a glimps of the upcoming fashion line that will be for sale in the mall. You look at these images and you can see the huge difference from then and now.
What I get out of these images is keeping the imagery simple and beautiful! The imagery should be about the subject and the background should compliment your job. These aspects have not changed for me. I always shoot with my grandma in mind...is the pose too posed? Does the background work with the clothes? Lastly, when I click the shutter, without looking on the back of the camera, does it feel simple and beautiful?
Well you now know a whole lot more about me than you did before reading this post. :)
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"These flash drives are the best quality and performance" - GK