Motivation from Unknown Photographers

Those with more than a casual interest in photography know about Adams, Bresson, Libeowitz & other widely recognized photographers. Their images & words have inspired me. However, these images, from unknown photographers, have also motivated me. Of the many old family photos I scanned, few had dates & fewer had names. They have prompted me to try to do a better job of documenting the images I take.

01

This may be one of the oldest images of The Bemus Point Stow Ferry. I can say with a high degree of certainty this was taken between 1917, the year my grandparents honeymooned & ‘27. The current Ferry was christened in ‘28. An unknown photographer documented a piece of history.  It began operation in 1811 & has seen the evolution of our society. I’ve watched it all my life & now I volunteer as a pilot on summer weekends.

02

The woman with the hat is my fathers mother Anna Schaefer Kuntz. The middle of the 3 younger women is Ethel Kuntz. I believe the other 2 are my aunts. I’m guessing one of dads other sisters took the pictures likely taken in the late 1940’s or early 50’s. I don’t think it was intended to document style but it does. The man on the other side of the fence is a compelling component. I have no idea why they are wearing tags.

03Kids on porch railing copy copy

Whoever the photog was knew classic portraiture or just got lucky. The sloping lines of the children’s heights parallel the roof-line & the support column anchors the frame. I’m almost certain the tallest is my mom at about 9 making it 1931. I wish I knew who the other kids were to share this image with their families. I do know the front porch this photo was taken on.

04

This is another example of the classic ascending heights. My mother-in-law, Jean Yoklic Benson, is the tallest one giving the camera her full attention. From head to toe all 5 brothers & sisters are unique. The subject is intended to be the group but the girl in the window steals my attention. I’m told the photog was a roaming man with a camera trying to make a living doing family photos. Circa 1930.

05Jean Yoklic

This wedding portrait of Jean Yoklic Benson & her husband Don is typical of the 40’s.  The original was OK but lacked balance of tones & details. This image had a large learning curve of both B/W & HDR. As my mother-in-law made wedding dresses for others I had to find a way to blend the train of her gown with their wonderful smiles. I knew B/W was challenging, but the experimenting to get this result was tremendous.

06 Baby.1.300

This is the oldest image from my family archive with a name. From late 1898 or early 1899 this is Anna B Parkhurst my mothers mother. I have debated about spending the time repairing the damage. The face is only slightly distorted & I see little added value to the image without the damage. As I worked on balancing the tones I realized I was working with light that was over 118 years old.

07

This is me & my father Delton. In so many ways he was a great example of how to live your life. We are visiting his mom, dad & sister on Feronia St. It isn’t Christmas because that is the corner where the tree always was. However, from the way I’m dressed it’s easy to see its wintertime. I always loved that TV.

08 Philepina&Gottlieb Glausser father adolph copy

Meet Philepina & Gotlieb Glausser my great-great grandparents. This is likely the oldest image I have but I have no clues as to the date or location. Their crossed arms tell me they were a strong pair. I have no documentation but this is the duo that came from Germany sometime around 1880. Does the mustache look familiar to anyone? I think I got my thick hair from my mom’s side of the family. I’m glad they chose to name me Jay instead of either of the elder males on my moms side.

10 Pre Casino UNK subjectstweaked

This image was taken between 1917 & ‘30 before the Bemus Casino was built. The boat is a rental from Norton’s Boat Livery. I am grateful I have photographs of family & friends at Chautauqua. However, it is disappointing nobody documented the identity of these people. Few of the 100’s of images I have indicate the date & only a few have any names. If you’ve read to this point please begin documenting your own personal photos of family & friend. You kids, grand kids & great-great grandchildren will thank you.

11 Millvinia 1936 copy

Tomorrow, I could walk to the exact spot where this photo was taken. This is my mother Mellvinia Glausser at age 14. She is sitting in the front yard of the lakeside cottage her parents rented. As I begin my family’s 2nd century on the shores of Lake Chautauqua the photos instill a sense of gratitude, humility & connectivity to those that came before me.

Looking Back for Tomorrows Goals

Although we begin a new year my 1st posting of ‘18 will look back & evaluate how my perspective of photography has evolved.

 

01

I begin 2018 looking back & evaluating how my perspective of photography has evolved. Any capture by a camera immediately becomes a document of history. This image of my grandfather relaxing on the porch in Stow connects me with a man I barley knew but am deeply indebted to. It reinforced the connections a photograph can create. Operating the Bemus Point Stow Ferry I ran into a son of one of my fathers fishing pals Dr. Robert Schmalz Jr. He shared this image which was taken before I was born.

02

A highlights of ‘17 was this image taking 3rd place in The Eddie Adams Show. It’s an honor to have any connection with this influential photojournalist. From the moment I snapped the shutter in Sarajevo in 2014, I knew I captured the character of the subjects. To have it recognized in a juried competition was very satisfying. The endless diversity of people & the human condition on streets are subjects that still motivate me.

03

I’ve got comfortable with the ethics of editing my images that don’t touch on journalism or documentary. I still have the goal of capturing what my eyes see. HDR, can assist in adding details our eyes see but camera sensors can’t. I still believe over-saturated HDR  lacks an “actuality aesthetic”. Other images I’ve edited made me realize there is a 2nd opportunity to tell a story. A wildly over-exposed shot became a B/W image I’m happy with. A slightly out of focus image was manipulated into a frame capturing the moment I was after. OBTW I realize it’s in focus or not but I also remember Bresson said… “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

04 split dancer

Although I doubted I would take my enthusiasm for photography into the world of printing, I did. I learned printing, matting & framing require different perspectives. The image on the left was cropped for the web. To get a well-proportioned print & ensure a solid presentation hanging on a wall I went back & included more of the original shot on the right. Is it an improvement? It depends on if you are looking at the print hanging on the wall or the screen of your desktop. Obviously my PS work has improved.

05

I enjoy spectacular landscape photography & I enjoy the opportunity to experience impressive vistas. However, I’ve discovered I don’t have the kind of dedication to this particular genre to take it to another level. I will still wander with my camera, however I will try to improve my photography skills with other subjects.

06

Part of my family’s history,as well as my own, is connected to Chautauqua Lake. When I saw the Steamship Replica the Chautauqua Belle along the port side of The Bemus Point Stow Ferry I was transported to an earlier time when few other vessels on the water had mechanical power. In the months ahead I may try some Photoshop wizardry on this shot. Too bad I’m not really a wizard.

07

It has been almost 1 year since my trip to Cuba. The process of sorting/editing my images was a terrific opportunity for reflection on my abilities. It encouraged me to look forward to what I will do with photography. I’m hoping to cultivate connections for a showing of 15 or so of my portraits of Cuban People. A recent review I got from Lens Culture said my work “had incredible humanism in the portraits of Cuban people.” I liked that. The reviewer also said that, after looking at my blog, a book is something I should start working on. I don’t think that is going to happen.

07a

My own opinion of my sailing images is they are just slightly better than mediocre. That however will not stop me from pursuing this challenging subject I really enjoy. I’m in the planning stages of a trip to Newport RI to catch the 65 foot Volvo Racing beasts in May. Anybody care to join me???

08

I also would like to further develop a portfolio of dance photography. Dancers have balance, form, color, The Moment, texture & space. What better subject for a camera. They blend emotions & athleticism into statuesque animation for our eyes.  Any connections in this area would also be appreciated. Happy New Year.