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Monday, 04 March 2013


Mike, I'm sorry for your loss.


What you wrote about 'record' photos struck a chord with me. When I was in High School I was the proud of a Minolta SRT-202 but, I loved my old Kodak Starmatic. Whenever the muse roused me, I would point it a member of my family. Now, many years later, I find that I recorded a wonder slice of my life; no special occasions, no cakes or gowns to mark a passage. Just everyday life. Sometimes we photographers are very lucky indeed.


Best wishes,

"...recording the mundane but important personal details of my like, days, travels and friends."??

Sounds like a winner to me. It's what I have decided that I'm best at doing, and I'm comfortable, very comfortable with this.

With best regards,



My sincerest condolences for your loss. That's a wonderful photo! Over the years I've done both types of photography—the 'art' along with the record. It turns out that some of my favorite art is from the latter category. Your hypothesis might not be too far off...

And then there are the times where photos you take will help to console a family with a loss. I'm sure that you remember me telling you of my son's classmate who died suddenly of an aneurysm---her family cherished the number of portraits I had taken as cast photos over the years. I had the sad occasion to provide a similar portfolio to another young lady's family after she died in an auto accident this year.

In many ways, those contributions are much more valuable than any art I could create.



It is all about life; the rest could be art.

Mike, sorry to hear about the loss of one of your extended family friends.

I also take way too few everyday pictures. As a commercial photographer I lean toward only shooing if I'm getting paid for it.

Vacations no, family reunions no, family events no. Daily life events, no.

I have gigabytes upon gigabytes of no connection other than commercial payment of images, very few memories.

I'm not exactly clear on why I do that, but it's what I do, or don't.


Record shots are what drew me into photography and continue to drive most of my energy.

Under whatever name; "record shots" is good because it doesn't have the pretensions of "photojournalism" (which suggests that somebody other than me and close friends might care about them). "Snapshots" is a term I refuse to completely relinquish -- it's what we call people's record shots, mostly (some see an implication of low quality -- casually "snapped").

The vast majority of photos that people look at voluntarily, and like, are record shots of some sort I think. (At least if you exclude "photos" that are individual frames of a movie, TV show, or other video / movie presentation.)

One book on sort-of that topic is Photographing Your Family and All the Kids and Friends and Animals Who Wander Through, Too by Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer who you might think wouldn't consider such mundane things worth shooting — but he does.


Very sorry for your loss. Best to you and yours.

Also, I was looking at that pic and first thought..Could this image be made better in post?

So I downloaded and put it an editor and messed around..couple of moves later It was pretty clear that this pic lives right where you have it. It's an incredible image that brings a tear to my eye in it's current context. Everything you need is there in the shadows, silhouette and the gesture..the space just screams Wisconsin summer, or close, and it says so much about this man in the most simple way, just lovely. His Son's quote just drives it further and that's beautiful.

So sorry.

Record shots are funny things. Often they can be quite banal, but sometimes they soar to heights, as Mike's one of Ned exemplifies.

That's why I endeavour to have a camera with me all the time: I never know what opportunities will arise, be they record shots, or something for which I have greater intentions. And after the event, it can at times be difficult to decide which was which.

My condolences, Mike, and to Ned's family. I feel like it's not just an empty sentiment.

My condolences to you. As an amateur genealogist I have often regretted not only the photos not taken of family but also the questions I never asked. And then I wonder what I will leave behind.

Have been ignoring T.O.P. for the last few weeks, the writings were not for me, enjoyable.

And now your friend Ned passes.

As I too age, my photographs of people are triggers of thoughts of them and the circumstances. Many of my friends have gone as have my parents. it is not the circumstance in which we photograph
our friends, rather the image of said people that trigger emotions in our being.

My condolences to you and Ned's family.

Mike, my condolences. My mother passed away a month ago. Oddly enough, I have more pictures from her childhood than I have of her taken after I was born. A few taken with my Dad's Kodak Instamatic (126 cartridge film and flash cubes) though most of the photos in our family albums are of me and my brother on vacation or at Christmas. There are more of my father than my mother, so you know who the photographer was. My mother spent the last 14 years in a nursing home with MS. She did not like to be photographed there because she did not want people to remember her "that way" but we have a few photos of her with my 10 year old daughter who only ever knew my mom in that room (in that bed, for that matter). I treasure the old photos more than these, but I expect they'll prove very meaningful to my daughter in time.

I have over 40,000 photos in Lightroom right now (maybe 10 years worth) and anywhere from 10-20 per year that I count as "keepers" as a "Photographer". But as a regular old photographer; as a dad and a friend and a neighbor, I love a lot of those photos. Your post reminds me, though, to keep photographing (even when the kids aren't doing such photogenic activities or get moody when you point the camera at them) and to photograph everybody, not just the kids.

I did scan in a number of old photos of Mom to display at the memorial service, and I did some beginner photo restoration (with reasonably good results). Now I'm likely to pick up Ctein's book and work on some other old family photos. Well, I'm likely to pick up the book and then do nothing because I never find the time to follow through on those projects ...

Anyway, thanks for the post. Sometimes I get hung up on wishing I had more time to spend on more artsy stuff, though I do get a lot of satisfaction out of shooting friends and family. I'll try to remember this post whenever I get hung up on what I'm supposedly missing.

I offer my condolences to you and to your friend's family. Seeing the end approaching from a great distance does not make its arrival much easier.

"Sometimes I feel like I have so few record shots that I would have been better off as a photographer dispensing with any pretense of art or expression and simply put all my energy into recording the mundane but important personal details of my life, days, travels, and friends."

Those are the best words of indirect advice I've seen on your site, Mike.

Record shots are very important.

We recently lost a dear friend and were much troubled that there are no decent photos of him for an obituary. He did try to avoid being photographed but we should have persevered and have had something worthwhile to display at his final public recognition.

I use too say to every one, shoot, shoot, shoot...what ever, we are writing history. Egyptian used papyrus we are using cameras.

I don't think we have all that much conscious choice over the kind of photographers we are, fundamentally. Yes, as we learn and evolve we may well explore different aspects of photography but, at root, the subjects that call to us are, to some degree, within us before we first pick up a camera.
Of course, that doesn't save us from regret at lost opportunities.
That's the Human condition for you.
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend.

I feel like I spend all my time learning how to make my record shots as good as they can be.

My sincerest condolences Mike... Living half a world away from my parents I think often think the same thing about them. Where are my family photos from my youth? Where were those great holiday photos when I was a kid, and they were young?

I keep thinking that realistically (no change of country withstanding), I can count on my two hands the times I'll get to see them alive in the rest of my life... and for all the times in between I certainly like to remind myself of them with photos of good times (and bad).

I can't think of a better reason to just take photos actually... Art is great and all but sometimes, even just moments count.


My sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend.

Photographically speaking I love the day to day, so called mundane stuff. The amateur historical "voyeur" in me spends a lot of time on boards like Shorpy looking at photos that a sizable percentage of the photographers would have called record shots. I'm also fascinated by a few boards where collectors will publish old film from vintage cameras they have purchased. It's just so... real somehow. I can't really explain it.

The "Jacksonville Beaches Historical Society" is right across the street from my office and the wonderful archivist has let me take a few peeks at the extensive archives (which grow at a considerable clip). Now there IS some very gifted professional work in there but most of the material that grabs me is the "mundane" (often donated by heirs after their parents or grandparents have passed on).

I could lose days in there and not notice. To me it's a gold mine. Every photo is a mystery or never-to-be-known story. I wish there was more of it online.

I do relate, strongly. I never shot family and friends when I was carrying around an SLR. The last years I switched to nice small cameras, a new niece was born, and I shot a lot more memories. Now my father has been declining from a brain tumor and I already know I won't have all the pictures I'd like to. You know, from older times. That's life.

My condolences Mike. As for the "record" photos, I guess is almost always the same, we refuse to believe in death until the last moment. Right now I'm thinking on my mother and the very few good pictures I have of her. Have to fix that.

Regarding Robert Roaldi's comment: I saw the following Henri Cartier-Bresson quote at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, "To show a person something exotic from a different country is quite easy. To show him something exotic from his own country is very difficult." (Heavily paraphrased.)

As the Paul Simon said, "Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you."

I agree with a lot of the sentiments, but I dom't like the term "record shots". It suggests something automatic, where none of the photographer has gone into the image. We all see things differently, and press the shutter at different times. I think this lends even what some people deem mundane shots, a personal evocative quality - t
"this is how i perceive the world around me"

Sincere condolences for you friend !
I've reached an age when many around me have departed not to speak of those who were before me ...
I've been raised literally in old family photos album... Really old! So what I like best in photography is portraits of all sorts, but also those very mundane pictures of everyday streets I walk in everyday... Nadar, Atget, Marville impressed me by such pictures of those little tidbits of our lives, Doisneau, H-C.B. Lartigue showed me that even on such simple settings as the mundane, you can reach summits...

Alas, there are drawbacks ! When a friend dies, it's usually a picture I took that goes around... And the surviving friends have a nasty look when I try to get another portrait of them !!!

Tangentially related to this post ... Does anyone take pictures at funerals and/or funeral homes? I recently (for the first time) took a series of pictures using a small camera to document a funeral. My wife disapproved saying. "Nobody takes pictures at a funeral." It turned out that they were appreciated by those in attendance and even more by family that couldn't attend.

I annoyed my sister at my Dad's funeral 3 years ago next month taking photos with my unobtrusive 5DII and 24-70 :-) . Just him finally resting before he was cremated. My family keeping their chins up. I really do not give a $%$#@& to be honest as I too had too few photos of him alive (many of his adulthood misappropriated by an ex sister-in law at the separation).
Good for you.
George dba Nature Lover

I love Robert Roaldi's viewpoint, I think our parents generation revered the single image photograph as a "kicK" to their memory, far more than subsequent generations, who may just be inundated with visuals. When my last parent died, we went through their boxes of photos and split them up, and it was amazing all the beautiful old stuff they had that they never went back and looked at, or organized into anything; at least one decent black & white of every event up until about 1975. After my mother died, I sort of lost interest in keeping my scrap-books up, because as a single person, it's probably all going in the dumpster the week after I die; I just seem to have lost heart...

HT--here's that quote:

"To interest people on far away places… to shock them, to delight them… it’s not too difficult. It’s on your own country – you know too much when its on your own block. It’s such a routine, going to the butcher, er…, it quite difficult… in places I am in all the time, I know too much and not enough. To be lucid about it is most difficult… But your mind must be open. Open-aware. Aware."

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