Photo by Ray Potes
I have been selfish. I do these Q+A thingies on the Hamburger Eyes IG stories and I get a ton of questions about photography and publishing. Sometimes I can be informative, but most of the time I hold back. For one, there is only so much space to write. For two, I have always viewed myself as a student. I am still learning. Hella much. Who am I to teach anything when I don’t have any formal education or legit “profession”?
I think I came off annoyed in the last one. Like, how can I answer what camera or what paper type is the best when I am still experimenting and figuring it out. So I made some vague and smug answers. I apologize for my bad attitude.
There exists a weird old school old man vibe of not sharing. I imagine chefs are like this. They don’t want your photos to look like their photos. They do not want to share their secret recipes of cameras, lenses, films, film developers, and papers. I worked in many labs and I adopted this practice too. While the black tape all over my cameras logos is stealthy, it is mostly for a fear of sharks. (Biters. Copycats.) I once heard that old Hawaiian tribes had their own secret tunings for ukulele. How far would they go to protect these tunings? Could these tunings be used as a form of identification?
I got over this sentiment a long time ago because I work with so many photographers and love to talk shop, but it is still there for some. And publishers too. They will never tell you where they are printing their books and it can be very rude in some circles to even ask. So out of respect for tradition, it is sometimes hard for me to answer these questions.
Still, I got more DMs with more questions even after the sesh was over. And according to my analytics, everyone is younger than me. Way younger. So I can shed some light on some topics for sure and provide some understanding for them to make up their own recipes. I know when I meet other photographers, especially older ones or more professional ones, I ask a minimum of 1 million questions. Gold digging for any kind of knowledge or wisdom nuggets I can get, if not technique then philosophy or even just gear nuggets.
It’s not fair to hoard all the nuggets. I will do better. I have freestyled some writings on here before, on again off again, but now a much clearer path has presented itself. I will start sharing everything I know about photography and publishing, including the tools I use and why I use them. I will be your nugget man.
Put in the comments any questions you have and I will answer them in the form of a blog post.
8 thoughts on “Nuggets”
Hi Ray. I’m 71 years old and have been following Hamburger Eyes for well over 10 years now. Don’t feel too bad about what gear you use or whether you are giving something away by revealing it. The last roll I shot was Fujicolor Superia 400 on a FED 50 Automat (we’ll see if the “Automat” really works). Before that I turned out a pretty good roll of Kodak 800 with a Minolta Freedom Escort (a Leica CR2 copy). Right now I am working on a Konica Aiborg (I swear to God! I just want to see what this ugly bitch can do!) with Kodak 200. Right now in the works is a Ricoh AF-7 with Fujifilm 400 and a Lomo LCA with Fuji Superia 400. I have equipped myself with everything from my father’s Rolleiflex to a Soviet Elikon and everything in between. To me it doesn’t matter what you use or what combination of camera and film you use. All of my film is outdated and refrigerated. What matters when you shoot film is that mystical chemical reaction that has taken place for over 180 years when you trip the shutter.
Awesome Jared!! Nice to meet you! And I totally agree. I am shooting with 3 or 4 different cameras right now. When I do these Instagram interviews someone will always ask for my favorite camera set up, I am annoyed at answering it (besides the reasons above) because one, my answer might change next week and two, I agree with you, it doesn’t really matter. So I guess my point of this writing is feeling guilty about being annoyed and that I should try to be more helpful. Sounds like once again, I have overthunk it.
Love you Ray
I’ll comment because I was one of the folks chiming in on your IG interview…
I’m 49 years old, and have been buying your zines since 2008 or so? I take photos all the time but I’m a shit photographer, using shit equipment, and none of that’s really going to change lol
What you’ve done with Hamburger Eyes is much more than just photography. Not to sound hyperbolic but, to me, HE represents a singular artistic vision which is truly fascinating to me. It’s about the decisions, the curation and artistic choices, the underlying creative impulse that really captures my imagination. I might ask about paper or copy machines, but what I’m really hoping to uncover is the nature of the creative impulse I’ve been enjoying for the past 15 years or so. That’s some hard questions to ask or answer directly.
Drop what nuggets you can, I think it’s really generous for you to offer. Most folks I admire as much probably wouldn’t.
Love you Brette!
WOW Thank you Justin! Nice words! You’re right, most people don’t share. When I was younger it was hard to talk to photo editors and publishers. I think that is the thing, I want to be helpful, I usually am. But I caught myself not being helpful (probably being too hard on myself) and I want to do better.
Fred writing from Belgium (yes that’s a country, would you believe it ? We don’t)
We exchanged this morning about the Q&A and I just read your post.
Here’s my two cents, I am 51 and learned the trade starting as assistant in 1990.
At first both studio I worked at gave me … a broom.
Then, those guys (maestros really), well they showed me everything, every trick, they gave away every ounces of their photographic knowledge.
I stayed with the second photographer (an Englishman) for over 10 years, slowly getting my own gig rolling.
One day I asked him, how could he be so generous with the teaching from the start.
I knew by then that one of his previous assistant even ran off with some budgets.
“Well”, he said, “why not ? If you’re so scared to give all your knowledge away, you’re probably not competent enough and surely not confident enough”, “the trade is the trade, the craft remains, the eye irreplaceable. You’re younger, maybe some day you’ll teach me something”.
To this day I have always been very open when it comes to sharing.
I don’t know, copycats don’t last I figure.
And competition, hell that would be a boost, helps fighting the procrastination :)
Then again everything is a remix, it’s all been done before.
Anyway, don’t think about it too much, what you started, what you do is already so much !
Long live HE
Thank you Fred! I have under estimated Hamburger Eyes age demographic! Love that you guys are all here and commenting. And since we are sharing, I just turned 48 and I am enjoying getting older. There was a moment in the Q+A where a friend messaged me something along the lines of, “Whoa kinda harsh today.” And then I felt guilt about it. I think what might be happening is real time identity shift, like yesterday I was a “random dude who likes to mess around and makes zines, please ignore me” and today I am a “photography publisher with 22 yrs of experience, I’m ready to share.” (HE turns 22 in February!) The shift from experimenting to teaching. I think I have been riding this line for a long time, going back and forth, and finally crossed over. You guys are the hair on the camel’s back, I love you.