Tag Archives: Philly

September 6th, 2017 … One Shot Per Shoot … Leica M

So Andre’ the Leica M 240 and I decided to hit the streets and make some photos. We are walking all over and making a few snaps. See, I wrote about one shot per shoot and it seems I am misunderstood by some. I do not mean to just make 1 frame for the day or shoot. The idea is to concentrate on the here and now and allow the eye, heart and mind to come together and make the photo that makes you happy.

See, if you go out there and just blast away without conscious intent, then the majority of the frames will just be so so. Listen, I love making photos. I need it like air. I love using my camera, cameras. So many times I make photos just to make photos because I love it and because I can. I am old enough that I don’t answer to anyone and that’s comforting. This may not apply to you so just get what I’m saying.

The act of making photos for me and I hope many, is like an experience that equals breathing and feeding life. It is also a highly educational and experimental process. So I urge you to do it as much as you can but!!!!!!! …..absolutely without a doubt, you must be aware of your intent. See, that’s the connecting life line between you and your work. If you ignore, use, abuse, shatter, or any other thing to or against your intent, it’s over.

So back to one shot per shoot. Make as many as you want but your intent should be to get ONE SHOT PER SHOOT that makes you realize the reasons you are a shooter. This process should get you to be more focused and aware of your self as a photographer. This is not one shot per day. You may have some shoots that nothing stirs you, so what. Look at the work and the ones you were on with, check and learn what is going on. Learn, learn, focus, breathe and mak your photos.

Ya know how ya see something and you instantly know there’s a photo there waiting for you…. well…..the photo above…..I walked past, looked at here and lost my breath. I have not seen an Angel since Sau in Vietnam in 1970. (tear in eyes…. heart cracked still) Well I saw this woman and just gazed upon the glow of the angel. I swear she danced for me and then………Andre’ said…..click

August 7th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment

Sorry about being absent for a while and I know youse all need my stuff in your head. Well, here’s something. I been reflecting on my self for a while and the past few weeks really getting critical. See, I have this nice mirror in my office and I sit and look into it for a spell and reflect.

No, not that self indulgent kind of reflecting. The important kind. The kind that says, dude, ya need to lose a few pounds. So I started to think about the importance photographs have for us as shooters and the motives and intent for making them and the end result of the photos life.  Probably the most important purpose for a photo is the making of a memory. This in itself is an oxymoron to the intent of photography. If a photo is a 2 dimensional image, then it should be viewed as it’s own reality. The reality of the photograph. This concept was initialized and taught by Stieglitz.  He was the one conscious of the phenomenon of photography and the one whom discovered the true nature of a photograph. The idea was that when a photo is viewed it should stand on it’s own merit and not need the crutch of the reality it was captured from. This has been passed down from generation to generation of shooters.

The idea of titling a photo supports the crutch of reality and serves to destroy or shatter the illusion of the image. We see a photo of a person and it’s titled, “Grandma, New York 1936.” The title supports the memory but what about the innate existence of photography? If we practice that a photo needs only itself to be recognized as itself, what then about Grandma? What about this memory thing? Does this mean that photos really are not what they appear to be? Does it mean the the concrete illusion of a photo being on it’s own in our reality is not a truth at all?

Stieglitz said that photos were the truth of the moment. Bresson coined the phrase, “The Decisive Moment”.  I lived my life adopting these truths and practicing them and teaching them. So why now at 67yo do I question the basis of a life in photography and stumble uon the very essence of my belief system? Perhaps I am not. Perhaps it’s an awakening of a dormant concept that is now coming to life and trying to create a new path.

I tend to believe that this memory thing is inherit in all of us. Photographs are not an island of tranquility at all. They rock the very foundation of their own existence. Street photography as important and loving as it is, is also the antithesis of memory. When I work the streets, I am not thinking about memories. I am thinking and feeling …. what?    Damn, ain’t the the $64,000.00  question.


I have learned and taught that the photograph exist due to the shooter making it. End result, Fine Art, whatever ya  wanna call it. No not a pretentious intent and result. We look at our work and try to feel and see the reason for making it. It’s not a lost soul, it’s just photography. The real idea is that we had another reason for clicking the shutter than the memory of the moment.

The division between intent is where the problem lies (correct spelling), if there is a problem. If we make a photo and memory is a secondary intent, then post it on Flickr or any place at all and get responses, that serves to justify the  intent and process to get the photo there. While you are looking at the photo, the phone rings and you are told that Grandma has passed away. Well, let me tell ya something, you will be looking for photos of her quickly. It’s the memory of her and the experience you shared making the photo that you long for.

I will continue this in a few days. I’m interested in reading your thoughts if you care to share.

shooter out………………………………………………………………….


January 12th, 2017 … Magic of the Street … Being a Visual Alchemist

Maybe I’m just to sensitive to things but the mood on the street at this time, in Philly is one of confused mixed emotions. I don’t mean politics or work, or financial issues, it’s more about the magic that is missing. Yeah, I know I’m crazy. See, life is a beautiful things and it’s good to live it. The thing for me is to have the magic and that makes living more special. Photography is based on visual magic. Seeing a scene and making a photo is magic. The idea of seeing, the idea of making a photo….nothing short of magic. When I was doing my darkroom for 40+ years, the alchemy turned me on to a high that no drug could ever match. For me, making the negs was the most exciting part of the processing part.

I mean, going out and working and then coming home to my darkroom, making negs, that proves that all went well so far. So if in fact that photography is magic then it seems to me that when I make a photo, and that is magic, how about the people in the photo? Do they see or feel magic? Do they even believe anymore in magic? Is the magic contagious? Where does the magic get it’s energy from?

Is it possible to share the magic? Does magic need to have people convinced that it exist? Don’t they know that just the fact that they exist means they live with and in magic? So, if we as shooters seek and fine magic and make a photo that has magic in it, does that mean we are magicians? Well, we are alchemist in the darkroom, much like Merlin, so perhaps we are magicians in a world that has lost the magic. I name all my cameras like I named my guitars. I don’t really talk to my cameras but if I did my Shrink needs to know about it.

We are given choices in life. One of the choices is how we see the world. I mean as shooters, how do we see the world. Do we just walk around aimlessly and wait for photos to find us and we can TAKE them? That’s a way many seem to work. Then there is the shooters that walk around and they are visual alchemist and they seek and find material to MAKE photos. It’s like there is a passive/aggressive method of working. I see it as either an observer or a participant. You can even be both at the same time. So really I suppose it’s a matter of stance again. How we feel about ourselves and our subject matter.

Harry Bertoia told me that I need to dance thru life. Life is a dance he said. As you dance thru it, sometimes the music is not to your liking but you just dance anyway because in time, the music of life will change to your liking. Just the very concept of what Harry said is magic. The magic in the dance of life, tat’s what I want to see and experience and make photos of.

So when we look at our work, we see the magic of life thru our lens. We experience life in a way that not everyone gets to do. We have a gift and we get to share it with other like minded people. The beauty of that experience is beyond words. For me, life with a camera is magic and life without the camera is almost unbearable….not almost, it is! I am at the age that I make my photos and the real magic for me now is that I need no reinforcement from anyone to make me feel better. My photos do that for me.

Enjoy my friends and love the magic and if you can’t find it, look at your photos and then you should see it.


December 13th, 2016 … The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same


Well, the title for the post is true. I have all these I guess ya call them series going on for decades and as much as I like to add something, I can’t. So at the workshop over the weekend, I was asked by a woman about the way things work photographically. I explained that we are subject to the Inverse Square Law. Ears opened and I was again asked to explain the Inverse Square Law.

So, I went on to try to make sense of Mr Inverse’s Law.  Now it will be assumes that everyone reading this understands this law, even without meeting Mr Inverse personally.

It goes something like this. I will demonstrate some examples. With regards to negatives, (these are film things that shooters used to do back in the Pre-Digital age.) The darker something in the Neg is, the lighter in the print. Then, the lighter something is in the Neg, the darker in the print. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s tried and tested and found to be true. Ok ok…. with a lens, the larger the fstop, the less light it transmits and the smaller the fstop the more light it transmits. The shutter speed works in a similar manner. The larger the speed, the less movement and the smaller the speed, the more movement. The less expensive a camera is, the more it does and the more expensive a camera is the less you want it to do.

So, in the natural order of things photographically, if we are aware of the Inverse Square Law, the better of an understanding of being a shooter we have.


See, image wise, I notice that …

the more I pursue stuff for a series, the less I want to work on the series. Now check this out…… if I have a series or no series with low volume, the more I am excited to work on it. It’s stimulating to find new images that I can file away in my catalog  and say goodbye to them as time passes and they become a part of history. The more photos you have for a series, in time will be less stimulating and the less you have in a series, the more stimulating because your excited to fill in the blanks. Why am writing this? Well I get concerned when someone ask me to help define them and their work. I’m very good at it but of course the Inverse Square Law works here too.

The more I see someones work and help them, the less I can see my own work. The less I see of others work, the more I see my own. Here is where I detour from the norm. A looooong time ago back in the age of darkness in a little room, I discovered that I liked sharing what knowledge I had. Of course this is all based on my personal experiences and the data that was input into me. Many people, friends and of course, not wives, would talk with me and THEN, ask my opinions. That for me was so exciting. I felt that maybe my contribution would be worthwhile and needed. Where I felt inept was anytime I met an educator from a college, university etc.


See, the only education I had was what I learned on my own. Then, then one day, then one day when not expected, a friend told me…..”Don, colleges, universities, schools are there for one reason. To build an appreciable audience.”  I started to thinks that what a shame for the teachers and what bigger shame for the  students to be in that cycle but her was right and that’s the nature of Art, regardless of the medium you practice. I felt that I was set free to live my life and to no longer be overwhelmed by educated people that maybe will have the understanding of them selves, mother light and their work.

A lot of what I write changes along the way but for me, I guess I stay the same. As a person for sure but as an artist, I’m not. I don’t declare to be an artist. Unfortunately I’m nothing but a human being on a journey thru life and that has a camera with me. I make photos because they are about the only things from me that I produce that give meaning to my life.

….. end transmission …..



November 27th, 2016 … Dancing In The Moment With Andre’ the Fuji X100T


We talk of “Being in the Moment” as if it was some metaphysical esoteric place to be. Well I suppose it is. For me it’s the coming together of the Here and Now and being aware of my place in it. Then feeling and breathing photography. I talked before about intrusions and we all agree that we don’t need them. I suppose the only ones we should and have to deal with are the ones out there where our subject matter is. Those are the only ones we need to be concerned with.

Well, ain’t I the lucky one, I have those intrusions all the time. When I taught workshops, I made it a point to make sure the members, (I don’t like students because I’m not a teacher) understood the importance of timing and the need to anticipate it. The shot above called me to be present with the Airstream. I was framing and moving around and I could sense something but not sure what. Andre’ the Fuji X100T as always is at the ready….I held my stance and ….CLICK!


I have mentored, taught, guided many people about photography. There is one lady that still calls me to go out and work. Polly, the Japanese Heart Surgeon. She told me a few years ago that I don’t walk thru life with a camera but I dance thru life with a camera. That is one of the most special statements anyone has ever said to me. The photo above is me doing exactly that.

When I was a young lad, my mother used to put movies on and we would watch them with little interest but she was happy we were spending time together. There were many actors and actresses (proper term back then, considered politically correct) that I enjoyed watching. Gene Kelly. Singing In The Rain. That’s what I thought of when Polly told me I danced thru life. I was Gene Kelly with Andre’ the Fuji X100T.


Ya know, I will miss Philly and the people and my family and my cameras and especially Andre’ the Fuji X100T when I’m dead. But I ain’t going anyplace yet my friends and I’m gonna make my photos my way and stand for them and not think about much else when I’m out there making photos.

At any rate, time for me to rest my weary legs and back cause tomorrow is a shoot day again and I’m excited.

………. end transmission…………..shooter out……….



November 17, 2016 … Random Thoughts … Random Photos … Fuji X100T

Just when ya think your ok, the gremlins knock at your door and let you know maybe your not. It’s so easy to take things for granted or to get complacent. Well, Andre the Fuji X100T doesn’t like me to be complacent. He is the image stimulator. As the country is in turmoil and disbelief and un-trusting to name a few things, that energy creeps into our creative energy. I guess it’s food for the photos and we all need that. Truthfully, with all the ruckus going on around me, I really don’t see much difference. I would like to but I am  blinded by the , hmmm…ummm… dare I say light? Nah…. something else. Don’t know what it is but I’m fighting it off really well without knowing what I’m fighting.


What I do notice is the growing number of homeless on the streets. I also see many more shooters out there. I also notice nicer cameras that people are wearing. I said this was random thoughts and it is. I notice the temperature is higher then one would expect for this time of year. There’s a quality of light that just gets me intoxicated and I never have enough of it. It sculpts the land and the people in a way that adds an emotional dimension that is hard to describe but it’s lovely to live in it. The texture, the tone, the intensity, all just get me going.


I think Garry nailed it when he said, he photographs things to see what they look like as a photograph. I been looking at this kind of scene for a while.. I ride Septa Bus and Elevated almost every weekday. Yes I have a car but I prefer being in life rather than driving thru it. Besides, this in Philly and there are 2 ppl that have a drivers license that they took the test for and I’m one of them. Many others seem to buy it at K-Mart or Pep Boys etc. Well, they drive that way. I think the time of the seasons doe have an effect as to what and how we tune into things.




So Wouter has been posting few words and more photos on a weekly basis. I may do the same because I might just feel things better.

Be Blessed and C sharp and B natural.


November 7th, 2016 … Choosing a Camera Amid the Confusion


Let me start off by stating that Septa, the local Transportation Authority has been on strike for a week …. and then of course it’s election time  here and that all kinda settles out tomorrow. Don’t forget Halloween and hiding some candy from Tanya to enjoy later but she knows all the hiding places I use and she took all the M&M’s and put a piece of garlic there and then I knew I was caught and well… more fodder for the non productive fishes.

So, anything to blame a period of non productivity on except maybe the real truth, and even that is subject to change.

To the point. Well, ever since I was a fetus in mom, I used a Leica M4 with a 35mm Cron. Wasn’t much subject matter in there so i mostly wrote on my Mac. One day, mom decided it was time to empty the fetus apartment and I came out to a world that wasn’t digital. Imagine that. I was breast fed and of course had my trusty M4 that only I had cause it wasn’t invented yet.

That part may be hard to believe but it’s truth as far as I remember. Of course, I don’t remember shit anymore but I remember this part even if I forgot it.

Well, I have always migrated to a M4 and 35mm either a Cron or a Lux. I felt the FOV was the most natural for me. I had many Leica lenses for my cameras and always struggled to bond to any other then my 35’s. It wasn’t the lenses that I had an issue with, it was the FOV.

Natural Field of View

Natural Field of View is when you spot a scene, frame it in your mind and then raise the camera to make the photo and the FOV of the lens on the camera sees the frame closest to what you envisioned. This is absolutely crucial to the failure or success of the “Decisive Moment”. For me it’s always been natural with a 35mm FOV. Then enter the acquired FOV. Acquired FOV happens when you use a lens that changes the FOV and you need to adjust for what it sees.

There are other factors involved such as. Let’s say the my Fuji X100T is my natural FOV because it sees 35mm, and it is. Then I decide sometimes against my will to take out my Ricoh GRII. Dang it, that camera sees 28mm FOV. Hmmmm, maybe I want to take out my Pen F and that camera really shakes things up. I have a variety  of lenses for Serendipity.

When I’m ready to go out to work, I have to decide which camera to take. I don’t like the decision making procedure. I really love my cameras to the point that I name them. Yo’, my shrink thinks it’s ok to do this. It establishes a connection. CONNECTION! Perhaps  a connection is what is needed for all shooters in the way of camera, mind, heart and subject matter.

I don’t know for sure but here in Northeast Philly, it’s thought to be true. There are truths and lies to the universe and then there is the undiscovered. The truth is that we are all in love with photography. The lies is that we don’t need more gear to mess things up.

The undiscovered is out there and waiting for you and your camera to make a photo. Go on, get out there and find it….that’s what I’m gonna do.

October 30th, 2016




The beauty here in Philly with the change of seasons has many facets to it. Perhaps most notably is the light. I just love how the light sometimes blows out the mid-tones and leaves us with light and shadows, deep and long.  It’s also how people respond to the color temperature and the intensity of the light. I’ll be seeking those magical glows in the highs and when I find them, wait for the world to respond and then Click!  I was walking breathing in the cool stinky air. You know the kind. It has buses, cars, garbage  and garbage trucks, ladies perfume, mens cologne, other things we need not go into. I crossed Chestnut St going North on the West side of Broad Street and stopped for a break. My knee is acting up and I rest once in a while to get my mind to jump over the pain.  Then, all the sudden, I mean I had an awareness, then when all was right in the stellar universe, I saw shadows but not anything or anyone to make them and thought, It’s Doc time at the VA and then, now get this, I see a man enter from my right and CLICK!


I was walking South on Broad Street and near the, um..near some bldgs. I stopped and leaned against the wall of one and tried to get my knee to behave but it said…FghweoruhtughK you shooter. A woman came down the street, stopped dead in front of me and looked out upon the streets. I knew if I gave her $10.00 she’d pose for me but I didn’t have $10.00 and didn’t need her to pose cause I hate that shit anyway. I have the camera at the ready and then she….CLICK!


I wonder how is it possible to have so many homeless on the streets. It’s starting to get cold again and I don’t think the city, state or federal govt’s do anything to really make a difference. They say they do and drive around in their pretty cars and live in their nice homes with heat and things like that. I imagine it’s a fact that many homeless are junkies or other druggie or some kind of addicted person. But this is the life on the street. We as photographers do our work and sometimes make photos of the forgotten. It’s a responsibility of all humans to care for all humans. So, I guess nothing will change on the streets once we have a new President in the USA,


The silence amongst us is deafening. We all take solace in the escape from the injustices placed upon us and all. It feels so much easier to be a part of the nothingness and let all go by us and not thru us. I think shooters are plagued by the realization that there is no nothingness because we are out there searching for the something, the something that matters and the something that makes us matter. And that something makes our photos matter regardless of what style or genre’ we work.

I talked about baggage before. It means your sensitivities and sensibilities are filled with all sorts of things and when you go out and seek photos, they pollute the clean vision we all hope for and work for. For me, maybe the weather is kicking in but I can’t deal with the fact that people, kids for shits sake are living day to day on the streets. Then these fuckers that call themselves candidates for the White House spend over $400 million to try to get elected. They send $1.7 Billion to a country that hates us passionately.

I need some sort of emotional ideas that make these things possible all the while, people are homeless with no bight shining light in the future.




Sometimes I need to get this shit off my chest cause it weighs me down and never lets me breathe freely. I walk the streets of life and see the progress man has made and the injustices that are legal and accepted by one and all. I am not a champion of anything anymore. I still make my photos of street people and slip the a few bucks. That doesn’t relieve me of responsibility I feel for my fellow members of mankind regardless of any stature.

We are all trapped in the cloud that perceive as real and yet, we all know that the upcoming election, who the fuck cares who wins…. won’t make a fucking bit of a difference to anyone but the assholes that forget.

Those fuckers forget about the POW/MIA issues also. Makes me sick that I want to write about photography and this is what comes out.

Well, like it or not, this is about photography.

October 12th, 2016 … The Energy of Seeing … vs … The Seeing of Energy


I’m wearing a jacket, at last, jacket weather. See, jackets are wearable camera bags without straps and my new trusty POW/MIA black hat. I love this time of the year, very special for me and I get in a frame of mind that interest me and directs me to a new shape of my photos. I guess I’m lucky to live in a place that has the change of seasons. Well, the point of the story is, energy changes also with the seasonal change. Maybe it’s the change of energy that is so appealing. Then again, we are programmed to fear change. Anyway. I get in front of the US Court House and I see the light dancing on the bldg and the people there. So, I decide to make a photo and …CLICK! Suddenly there is a woman looking at me like she isn’t happy at all. I smile and then see her arm and decide to get the hell out of there quickly. I know a few of the guards there and they were keeping distance from her also.



So maybe change makes us slow down or break the preconceived ideas we have and try to redo the thought process. Maybe it also tampers with the expectations. I mean if we can jar the thinking out of complacency or the comfort zone, it seems reasonable to assume that the gathered expectations will change also.

I remember talking with Winogrand as we walked around Times Square. He told me that he liked the idea of getting a groove going and working it without seeing what was on the film. I gathered from him that, the idea of seeing your results all the time will and does alter the groove you set out to do. If you don’t see the work, then not much gets in the way of the groove. I suppose we all have our madness and the way we think about the same things, changes from shooter to shooter.



Well, change is in order here in Philadelphia, because they give us a change of seasons 4 times a year. I hear other places get the similar season changes but I ain’t seen it and I don’t believe it either. Well, I tried this change thing idea with Tanya about cameras. I mean, maybe changing cameras and lenses is good for the art and for the heart and mind. So I said, Tanya, maybe I should get the Fuji XP-2 for a change of whatever. She changed from not caring what the heck I do and having zero knowledge about cameras to:

What lens you gonna get with the XP-2? Well, I want a 35mm FOV….and what sensor is in the XP-2? Well, it’s got an ASP-C sensor. She said so it’s essentially a bigger clunky X100T, right?

So I changed my diet to try to keep her and my Doc’s at the VA off my ass. Well, I am not getting the Fuji XP-2 but I am finding that the weather is changing and so is my approach to my life’s work. It’s been a few weeks since I did the blog and I didn’t like that change. I will get back on some kind of schedule and get the blog out more often.

To all those that sent messages about missing me, well, I’m back and it’s gonna be a pretty site out there on the streets.

shooter out……………………………………………………………………………..



September 23rd 2016 .. Happy Birthday John Coltrane


John Coltrane  September 23rd, 1926 – July 17th, 1967 (90)

When I was young, I was into music that was outside the perimeter of my family. I loved jazz and bluez, especially. I would be playing records in my room and listening to Trane and Pharaoh Sanders etc. My brother was an amazing drummer and he listened to similar music and could play it but in the bands, mostly Rock.

For me, light and shadow and space and the absence of space is like music. The framing of the scene is like a piece of music. If you don’t believe this, it’s fine, turn your ears on and listen to Trane. If you do believe this but don’t practice it, go find another blog cause you don’t belong here. No, stay here and open your heart and mind and then close your eyes, turn on Trane and let him turn you on.  When you finally open your eyes, go make photos and maybe you will hear them as well as see them. If you don’t see or feel changes, listen to more music then go out again.

Now I’m not only diggin’ Jazz, I really love some Classical. Ottorino Respighi and his Pines of Rome, will put me down in a heartbeat. Obviously I like the darker side of the arts. Hmmmm, maybe that’s where my feelings for light/shadow comes from or is inspired from. The point is that we can’t control the stimuli that comes from the streets or any outside source.  So, by pre-programming our selves we can get a frame of heart and mind started. We don’t live in a vacuum but maybe we can plant some seeds that will nurture what we do while working.

When I’m working, with my camera…see, I’m always working even sleeping. Well, I see thoughts in my head. Not always images but sometimes, thoughts  that dance in my mind. My shrink tells me that it’s probably not normal but maybe for me so he lets me out and doesn’t keep me inside. So the way I see it, well sometimes the way I see it but not always the way I see it I’m on the street and kinda walking thru a song.


There’s a mystery inside the mind. I guess most seek the mystery of life outside of themselves. I kinda learned that I like to find the mystery inside me outside of me. The difference is in the approach and the stance you take.

Not every  photo we make is exciting but you made it for a reason. It is it’s own reality and we need to examine each one and find the secrets locked inside of it.


I’m tired and my meds are kicking in. I’ll post this and do another over the weekend.

…………………………………………………………………end transmission…………………………………………………….