Film rolls through lens of Lubitel

I’ve posted on here before about the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and I cannot say enough how much I love this movie, but that post has been done before.

There is a line in the movie where Mitty’s coworker Hernando, played by Adrian Martinez, references Time photojournalist Sean O’Connell and states that he still shoots on film and that results in a man crush for him. I laugh every time because I totally understand.

Digital photography has revolutionized the world of photojournalism, no denying that, but I think there is something special about film and still utilizing it. Shooting on film forces you to know and understand your craft better. For starters you have to think about all of your settings. You have to know your ISO conditions before you put a roll of film in, you have to think about shutter speeds and apertures without digital histograms or previews to tell you if you got the look you want or not. This refines one as a photographer in ways that are just different than shooting on digital will provide.

Maybe we should all dust off our old 35mm or 120mm cameras and go have some fun. I have a bag in my closet with an old 35mm camera and a load of unexposed film begging for some light. Let’s go shoot something interesting and fun!



Will-Ferrell-–-Stranger-Than-Fiction-One of the things in a film or TV show that either connects us to it or pushes us away is the emotion and intensity. Emotions draw us into the plot in ways the story alone would not. We identify with them (i.e. happy/sad; light/dark; etc.).

As I think about various stories I have come across, I find I am drawn more to intense stories, whereas my wife is much more appreciative of the lighthearted, joyful film. This plays out in what TV shows and movies we prefer to watch. Needless to say, I find myself watching some films solo.

Recently I re-watched a favorite of mine, Stranger than Fiction. I love the storyline in this movie, the way it moves between reality and fiction. It takes an unrealistic idea and brings it into reality. Further still, it is presented in in such a way that to some characters it does not seem abnormal.

One scene always draws me in and reminds me how much I love this movie. Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, is so desperate to figure out and understand the voice he is hearing that he starts tearing apart his room. The scene’s intensity grips me every time. It ends with him looking at himself in the mirror shouting, “Say something!” his desperate plea to try and understand what is going on.

As I think about storytelling, I think of the honesty in the scene and how many people in real life are desperate either for someone to listen to their story or to speak into their life. So many times we are so self-focused or self-aware that we don’t interact with the lives of others. We never know who might be around us that at any moment is screaming, “Say something!” but no one is listening.

Maybe today, go listen to someone’s story or maybe share your story with someone else. Who knows what might come from it.

Good Storytelling

Secret Life of Walter Mitty


I am a big fan of movies, especially movies with a great story. One of those movies is the recent version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In case you aren’t familiar with the story it stems from a short story published in The New Yorker magazine. James Thurber’s 1939 story introduces the daydreaming adventurer Walter Mitty and follows him as he drifts between reality and fantasy. It’s a great read!

First made into a movie in 1947, it featured the talented Danny Kaye and followed somewhat close to Thurber’s original short story. The latest iteration though takes a little bit more license with the story and creates a beautiful movie that draws the watcher in with its remarkable layers and depth.

There are so many parts to this movie that have drawn me in and enthralled me that I don’t know which ones to even write about here. The principle idea, that a major news/media outlet has to undergo the switch from print to digital and the effect that it will have on the staff, is something that so many journalists across the world can easily identify with. There is quite a shift to go from designing for print vs. the web and to see if played out in a film allows the viewer to ironically (it seems to me) to get lost in a day dream–as Walter Mitty regularly does–where the action seems to be happening without ever really materializing.

As I have watched this movie countless times, I constantly find myself thinking about my own work in visual storytelling. I think about how I might identify with the characters in the movie, the depth of the character development allows you almost to get lost in them and to come out on the other side challenged by them.

I think that is one aspect of a great story, to be drawn in to a depth that you begin to incorporate aspects of the story into your own reality, where they fit. I’m not talking about trying to live someone else’s story, but being challenged to expand your own story deeper to realms you may not have thought were possible.


Is photojournalism really dead? I mean really?

After reading the August 1 post “For God’s sake somebody call it” on EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK), I decided I would chime in on the whole death of photojournalism.

OK, I will concede that print media has given way to digital media and this has greatly changed the way that things look. Print journals and magazines no longer have the draw that they used to, mostly because you can go online and read the same piece of media for free or a greatly discounted price, but why do we say that it is dead? Can we not just say that the face of journalism and photojournalism has changed? Why dead?

Death has such a negative connotation to it, it makes me think of cemeteries and funerals. If journalism is in some cemetery somewhere then I believe that we have missed something big. Media will never die, in fact the trend is going in the opposite direction, it is growing daily. No, it doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago, but neither does society.

No one would look around and says well we don’t look like we used to so society must be dead, rather it is noted that society has changed. The tastes of culture have changed, and therefore the delivery of journalism to that culture has morphed into what fits the needs of the recipients.

walking down street during May 9 parade Moscow, RUMy first thought when I hear the statement that photojournalism is dead is to question, are there no more pictures to be taken, or stories to be told? Have we covered everything? Are there so many people with cameras now that we no longer need some who can take quality pictures and use them to tell a story?

As long as people and societies exist, there will be photojournalists who capture and document their daily lives and activities, using their craft and vision to tell compelling stories through media outlets that connect with millions of viewers across the world.

I will concede on one other point and that is that the mass population of the world with cameras has created some challenges for photojournalism as a trade, but by no means has it destroyed it. Yes it creates competition, and yes sometimes someone will choose to go with a cheaper less qualified photographer therefore hurting the market, but I will give it no more power than to simply hurt.

The reality is that those of us who work hard at our craft and chase our vision, wrestling it to the ground, only to have it escape again, is that we must be ever adapting to the changes in media and journalism if we are to remain relevant.

The only way or reason that photojournalism is dead is that photographers and journalist have chosen to ignore the changes around them and dug in their heels to hold onto things as they have been. Allow it to change, change with it and see where it will take you.

Who knows, you might even like it there.

(photos in this post were shot on a medium format twin reflex Lubitel camera during the May 9 festivities in Moscow, Russia 2009)