True Craftsmen

I lived in Washington DC before moving to Seattle. I worked for an interior design/architectural firm as a graphic designer. I had a strong interest in photography, so they had me document their work. I sort of learned on the job. When I left that company, I was fortunate to get an assistant’s job with one of the top shooters in DC who did most of his work for Better Homes and Gardens. I learned a ton about lighting and seeing the architectural space. I particularly liked that they were personal, residential spaces. When I moved to Seattle, I started out shooting architecture as well. It was not only hard to find work, but what work I did get was commercial spaces. Law firms, banks, restaurants and such. I had to work with a 4×5 camera and stay up all night working after the businesses were closed. In looking back, I wonder how I did it. It was hard work and every image had to be made in camera. There was no Photoshop fix it in post later. The final transparency had to be spot on. You had to nail the color balance and exposure. No fake sunsets or virtual staging. Every image depended on the photographer’s skill. To not only see the image and deal with a large format camera, but to know the correct film to use and how it would respond to any given light source. And in the commercial space, there are often multiple light sources. I did a lot of gelling lights and windows and multiple, long exposures, praying the camera wouldn’t move and blurring the image. What a pain. But it was the norm at the time and makes me realize just how easy and effortless digital photography is. Back then photographers were true craftsmen and knew what they were doing. Now we’re just vendors.