Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sometimes it Takes a Dog Story

Sometimes it's really difficult to tell a story in pictures. The story is there, but if the scene, the visual side of things, just doesn't convey the message, what do you do?

Sometimes you look for the "dog story." Everybody can relate to the image of a dog. No matter what the situation, include a dog in the scene and you transcend all language and a message, what ever it may be, gets through.

In the 1992 film, "The Public Eye," Joe Pesci's character, Leon Bernstein (loosely based on photographer Arthur Fellig , better known as Weegee) is about to photograph the corpse of gangster and tells one of the attending cops, "Put the hat in there. His hat, stick it in there! People like to see the dead guy's hat."

It makes sense.

Photo: ©2011 David W. Sumner

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The other day while shooting downtown during lunch hour I noticed a considerable variety of behavior among all the office workers taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather during their noon break.

Many congregated in popular places to talk and socialize over a brown bag lunch.

Others sought quiet solitude to make phone calls.

Still others chose to stroll along the sidewalks with their partner or close friends.

These varied situations, all in the context of the lunch hour, brings a certain element of contrast to the photographing of this common phenomena. It's a contrast of subject and intent as opposed to a contrast of highlight and shadow. It becomes an important aspect in the telling of the story and helps shape the photographic narrative.

Photos: ©2011 David W. Sumner

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's About Style

I've always been fascinated with fashion photography. At one point early in my pursuit of a career in photography I seriously thought I'd like to be a fashion photographer. I just liked the style and beauty of fashion images.

I was drawn to the work of Norman Parkinson, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Gordon Parks. There was a simple elegance to their images that so appealed to me. Totally different from the fashion work being done in the 1980s and 90s.

A few photographers like Helmut Newton, maintained a similar elegance, but made provocative images higher in contrast with a certain in your face quality.

I think there is a bit of that "style" of the first half of the twentieth century creeping back into fashion, in part thanks to photographers like Scott Schuman and Bill Cunningham.

It will be interesting to see if fashion in the twenty-first century moves beyond retro-trends and toward a more original style of simple elegance.

©Norman Parkinson

©Norman Parkinson

©Louise Dahl-Wolfe

©Louise Dahl-Wolfe

©Gordon Parks

©Gordon Parks

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Best Light is the Light You Have...

Union Station, Los Angeles, California.

In the headlights, San Francisco, California.

Through the window of a wedding shop, San Francisco, California.

Reflection in a puddle on the sidewalk, San Francisco, California.

Portrait on Water Street, San Francisco, California.

Lily and fireplace, San Francisco, California.

All photos: © David W. Sumner