Common Thread


All you need to know is in the headline. I had an interesting day. It occurred to me just how common the threads that bind us together really are.

We all seem to forget that.

There has been an ongoing and emotional discussion in one of the photographers groups to which I belong. In many ways it was annoying. The group’s founder was trying to understand why a certain genre mattered. I’ll leave out exactly what for obvious reasons.

Once it got going it really got going. There were some 400 comments before they were shut down because one of the moderators had to leave so she could prepare for four classes that she was reaching.

I’d like to say that the usual suspects squared off, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The usual extremists did battle, but the rest of us just talked.

It eventually evolved into old white men being blamed for holding back the marginal photographers. That’s where I left the discussion before I said something that would come back to bite me in the butt.

I’m an old white guy. I worked very hard to get where I am. In two years I will hit the 50 year mark as a working photographer. It wasn’t easy. When it should have gotten easier it got harder through no fault of anybody unless a virus is a person.

The loudest person is a woman who is beyond a feminist. I’m a feminist. I don’t really know what she is, but when I get ready to engage somebody like her I have a look at who she is in real life.

She’s young. She takes pictures. By now you know the difference between taking and making pictures. If you are unclear still, she isn’t very good in any genre. She wants to be championed because she is on the margins.

Screw that. Work hard. Get good. And, everyone will champion you. A while back photographers like her declared themselves to be the founding women of photography.

This didn’t sit well with one of the best photojournalists working today. A woman. She started asking all of us, her colleagues, to name women with whom we’ve worked that were older than the current crop.

I’ve managed a couple of photo departments. I’ve managed regional photographers of the year. I’ve managed two Pulitzer Prize winners. All of them women.

Sheesh. One of the Pulitzer winners covered the downfall of the Soviet Union for The Associated Press. She’s Russian and speaks the language. I’m pretty sure that she managed me while working for me. That was a good thing.

I tossed their names in the ring. Pretty soon there were over 600 women photojournalists who came well before the current crop.

If you disagree with the way pictures are made within a certain genre of photography, that’s fine. Speak loud and clear. But, for God’s sake don’t complain about being on the outside as part of that discussion.

That’s a different discussion.

That’s a discussion that people like me can offer you some tough love. If you don’t fight it, maybe you’ll get good. Or, at least, you’ll understand the hard work and effort that it takes to get good.

Sometimes contrasts are a good thing. Sometimes they aren’t.

Apparently, I’m having real problems with yellows. Or, rather, my phone’s sensor is having problems.

This time I set it to make an HDR picture. That should have settled down the contrast issues.

I didn’t.

I did the best that I could to tone things down. This is where I managed to finish.

This group of flowers are interesting. They bloom at the wrong time of year. They die at the wrong time of year.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’m seeing things at the wrong time of year.

Who knows?

I should just leave this behind, but I want to talk about the right hand column.

Ansel Adams once said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. He also said that if he made ten good pictures in a year he had a great year.

To me, it seems that the loudest complainers are the ones that don’t want to put the work in. Making 10,000 pictures takes a long time if what you really want to photograph 10,000 subjects.


That takes too much time. Often, they want it now.

Ten great pictures in a year? Huh? Maybe ten great pictures in an hour is what they want.

I dunno. Remember, I’m an old white guy. I’m the one who is supposed to be privledged.

Of course I am. That’s historically, not photographically.

Think about that.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every day because there are no useless days.



4 responses to “Common Thread”

  1. Shepherd Cathy Avatar

    Common Thread. Speaking of common Thread, I learned to crochet. A tip my teacher gave me is connecting different strands. Simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      I understand the metaphor. Unfortunately, is these days of polarization theres’t aren’t many common strands.


  2. Kim of Glover Gardens Avatar

    I haven’t seen the discussion you’re referencing, but know the type you mean. Bluster and whining are singularly unattractive as well as being ineffective, so one wonders why the folks you mentioned keep on trying in those veins. I have to turn away from social media (and the news) sometimes because those voices are the loudest, and the least important. Your thoughtful treatise here is welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      You wouldn’t know because it’s in one of two groups started by Andy Adams who goes by Andy Flak. He’s like every curator. Photographers should look his way or the highway. He asked a question about boudoir photography because he doesn’t understand. it. What’s to understand? Mostly women want sexy pictures to give to their husbands or partners or whatever. Most of the pictures are made by other women.His biggest mistake was not staying involved in the emotional conversation that he started.

      That attracted also sorts of photographers and assorted hangers on. Whenever someone is an out and out jerk I go outside of the group to look at their regular profile. That’s how I know this particular women”s level of ability.


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