Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Michal Daniel interview

I love Michal's eye. For example he could make a whole exhibition alone just from the pictures he has taken from the same window, with great variety and beauty.


E/S: What attracts you to street photography?

Michal Daniel: Street photography is what attracted me to making photos in the first place. I'm a voyeur by nature, always have been, before I even picked up a camera. With the camera, I can make the moments of voyeurism last longer. Back in the early 70s, I started with a Leica M4. I lived in England for three years, and it was there that I saw a Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit, of close to 300 prints. Blew my mind! I beelined for a bookstore, bought Henri-Cartier Bresson Photographer, and proceeded to study every image, through the viewfinder of my Leica, to try and understand exactly what he did.


E/S: What cameras do you use, and what is each kind good for?

These days, I make money as a live entertainment photographer. With the latest, greatest Canon gear. But, that is much like shooting fish in a barrel. So, to spice things up, about ten years ago I picked up the now way discontinued Eyemodule2, the camera add-on for the now also done and gone Handspring organizer. 640x480 resolution, massive shutter delay, crappy lens, HUGE challenge! I enjoyed it up to now, but last year I started to feel a bit stale with it. Then I read about the ARAX 6x6. Ordered it that day. It's HUGE, heavy, slow, and totally manual. Love having to come back to where I started, but harder. I mean, you can hide a Leica in the pocket. No way to hide the ARAX! So, I'm discovering a whole now way to work. For years, I've been completely hidden with my Eyemodule2. Don't mind me, just organizing here, is all I'd project to my photo subjects. I got as close to them as is possible, without them knowing I was making pictures. With the ARAX, the exact opposite is in play. They know. They really, really know. I am in their face, with a HUGE tool. So, it's sort of full spiral, for me. Started with street stealth and a Leica, worked my way to near invisibility with the Eyemodule2, now out in the open and communicating with my subjects, with the ARAX.


E/S: What kind of pictures do you hope to achieve?

Portraits and glimpses of real life. Nothing fake or faked, just what I see as I make my way through the day, translated to photos. Incongruities are my favorites. Nothing like one part of the image saying one thing and the other saying something else altogether. And humor, of course. If I can crack people up, I'm happy!

E/S: Thanks Michal!


------

Michal told me about the Arax camera, and as a collector, I just had to get one:


It is an impressive camera, and a fun camera, but as the very reasonable price should clue you in to, it's not an all that good camera. The finder is dark and small and can't be used with glasses, and it does not even have an instant-return mirror, something which has been standard for over 30 years.
But heck, I just got it for the love of cool gear.

38 comments:

Michal Daniel said...

Thanks for letting me yack, Eolake! Anyone else wishing to pick my tiny brain, I'll be more than happy to blabla on and on! But, beware. Though I gave up smoking about five years ago (smoked probably 250,000 cigs, cost me something like $30,000, so it was time), I do drink. Too early in the morning to start, but hurry with those questions, by five I fully intend to crack a beer! :-D

Monsieur Beep! said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

Robb in Houston said...

That's exactly what I have mentioned way back when - shoot pictures on the street with a camera and overcome its limitations, and you'll discover your capabilities and strengths as a photographer.

So Eolake - as a collector, you should shoot 1000 pictures with the Arax. Prove that you have a photographic vision. Buying all the equipment in the world does nothing.

Use it.

TC [Girl] said...

What a MONSTER!! (the camera, I mean! lol!) :-D

eolake said...

It really is, you should see it live. I just laughed when I unpacked it.

eolake said...

Robb,
Much as I can understand your viewpoint, I think collecting is not a waste of cameras, it's a different hobby. And it supports the industry.

Besides that, if I have not yet proved my vision after photographing for 35 years, well then I can't be bothered.

TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"It really is, you should see it live."

That would be COOL!! :-) Looks VERY HEAVY!!

"I just laughed when I unpacked it."

Funny! :-)

"Besides that, if I have not yet proved my vision after photographing for 35 years, well then I can't be bothered."

You have NOTHING to "prove" or "'splain" to ANY of us, Eo! That you even share you LOVE of photography is OBVIOUS...along w/the many pics that you post for us to enjoy, also! THANKS!! :-D

Besides: there are GOBS of people who collect all kinds of stuff...like Jay Leno and his classic cars!! At least your collection is...[somewhat] compact...until *that* "MONSTER" came to live w/you! lol! ;0)

TC [Girl] said...

BTW: Mr. Daniel: LOVE the clouds shot!! That must have been from a vindow...WAY up in the sky...like about 30K feet into da sky, yeah?! VERY "CRISP"! BEAUTIFUL!! :-)

eolake said...

The camera is actually no heavier than a Nikon D3 or a Canon 1D. Which of course is heavy enough for a camera.

Michal Daniel said...

@ TC [Girl]. Thanks! And yes, the clouds photo was made from 3ok feet up, flying from Key West to Minneapolis, last day of last year and decade.

Miserere said...

Good stuff E. (and Michal, really). I like the quirky pics...most definitely not the traditional street shooter's look.

E., I agree with you: It's pretty amazing how much stuff you can buy when you don't smoke, drink, go clubbing or eat out. You just have to get your priorities straight. And not have kids ;-)

eolake said...

Yeah, many people will blow $200 in a evening's drinking, and yet will think $200 is expensive for a camera.

Ray said...

"and I don't smoke or drink."


Good on you, Eolake!
I spent too much of my own younger years both smoking and drinking. The drinking got so serious, I lost a good job over it, and the smoking for several decades has almost trashed my lungs, and both of those habits were very expensive.

I kicked the booze habit in 1970 after spending three months in a treatment center for alcoholics and drug addicts. Then I finally quit smoking in September of 2006, because I was afraid I wouldn't last much longer if I didn't. I hate to think of all the money I wasted on those habits, not to mention what it did to my health. Some of us are literally our own worst enemies.

I'm glad you're smarter than I was, and I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

Michal Daniel said...

Beer time! I'm going with a nice cold Bitburger tonight. Cheers!

ttl said...

Besides: there are GOBS of people who collect all kinds of stuff...like Jay Leno and his classic cars!!

Not to put any value judgement on Eo's style of collecting, Jay Leno's car hobby is slightly different. He not only restores his antique cars to full working order, but also keeps each one registered and drives them all!

Jay's garage is like a zoo trying to keep species (antique cars) from going extinct. While other car collectors just kill the animal and stuff it as a piece to look at.

Collecting cameras is a bit like collecting musical instruments, which I have been a bit guilty of over the years. I think the rub people have with it is, firstly, that since the instrument is made to be used, not using it is kind of an insult to the manufacturer/craftsman.

Especially if there are people on the planet who would gladly use it but can't afford to buy it. The hoarding then, while good for the industry, may also be seen as perverting the industry. Collectors keeping the items out of reach from those whom they were originally intended for.

Secondly, instruments generally don't age well unless you use them. This is why wealthy institutions who have invested in Stradivari or Guarneri string instruments costing millions must continuously lend them out to musicians to be played.

The same applies to less costly instruments, including I suppose cameras, but of course the damages are less expensive.

Collecting is a fine hobby. But when the subject of your collection is work horses and you just keep your collection items in the stables without putting them to work, people tend to not admire your collection and you as a collector quite as much.

KabelYaache said...

"if I have not yet proved my vision after photographing for 35 years..."

So, so, so - where ARE all these photographs from a photo background of 35 years? Allah dem from DOMAI don't count, so where's dat vision and style of photography you got?

eolake said...

Prior to the millennium, I unfortunately no longer have the negatives, but a few had been scanned and can be seen on stobblehouse.com.

eolake said...

"when the subject of your collection is work horses and you just keep your collection items in the stables without putting them to work, people tend to not admire your collection and you as a collector quite as much."

OK, I can live with that.

I use the new cameras.
Of the old ones, there are far, far more of them on the planet than will ever have a chance to be used, so I have a few which give me pleasure just to have around.

TC [Girl] said...

And I, TTL, was just referring to the SIZE of the collection pieces! I "hear" what you're saying but...I think everyone collects for their own reasons...not for anyone else to decide nor judge.

Sam Pieter said...

jeesh

Stop explaining yourself & go on doing what you like best, my good man!

As this is your blog, and everyone here reads this completely voluntary, shouldn't you just be able to write and show us what you want?

If it's your hobby to buy camera's only to shoot them with a BB-gun, or to put them on railroads for trains to run over them, then have fun with it.

You are collecting cameras, and that's a hobby for you. That should be enough. Explaining a hobby, or justifying it ('it supports the industry') is something one should not have to do to anyone.

Ah, I see that TC(Girl) is better at expressing my thoughts: "veryone collects for their own reasons...not for anyone else to decide nor judge."

Henry said...

"He who dies with the most toys, wins."

Michal Daniel said...

Disagree. He who dies with the most worthwhile output wins. Toys are, for the most part, absolutely irrelevant. Collect them at your risk. Collecting stellar output will get you a LOT farther.

TC [Girl] said...

Very nicely stated, Mr. Daniel! I completely agree w/what you said!! I've NEVER cared for that saying! :-(

eolake said...

I think the saying is very tongue-in-cheek.

TC [Girl] said...

Perhaps, but there are many people who [at least in the recent past] lived like their life "depended" on keeping up w/the Joneses! Like the peer pressure of High School fer crying out loud!! So fucking childish! :-(

ttl said...

The expression is tongue-in-cheek, but what it satirizes is not.

I like Michal's expression “collecting output”, even though it does hurt a little, for obvious reasons.

Michal Daniel said...

Been scanning the 16 rolls I exposed since I got my ARAX. Tanking forever, of course. But thus far, I am pleasantly surprised by what I have. Yes, there is some sort of a shutter problem which underexposes the extreme left side of nearly every frame, but that is part of the mechanical charm of film. When I get done with it, hopefully by the end of next week, I'll post a link to it, here. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Disagree. He who dies with the most worthwhile output wins. Toys are, for the most part, absolutely irrelevant. Collect them at your risk. Collecting stellar output will get you a LOT farther.

What an idiot.

Michal Daniel said...

Anonymous, I may be an idiot, but the color Josef Sudek print I got for $300 in 1990 is now worth tens of thousands. That's just one print. Best!

eolake said...

Good for you, dude!

Michal Daniel said...

OK, so here are my ARAX keepers, thus far: http://www.proofsheet.com/arax/

eolake said...

Love 'em, dude.

Blogged here.

eolake said...

I'm gonna get a pink camera, to get subjects in a good mood.

Michal Daniel said...

Thanks for the new post!

But I'd be careful about going pink. Might be counter productive. Gay haters might bash you. ;-)

eolake said...

I'll have to take the chance that my 6.4 broad-shouldered frame will discourage them.

dave nielsen said...

Much as I can understand your viewpoint, I think collecting is not a waste of cameras, it's a different hobby. And it supports the industry.

And it's pretty harmless. I'd rather live in a building with a guy who collects cameras than guns.

eolake said...

Haha. Although if gangs of marauders came around, I'd be hard pushed to really hold them off swinging a Nikon F, solid though it may be.

dave nielsen said...

Misere: "You just have to get your priorities straight. And not have kids ;-)"

Not having kids will by far save you the most money! But not drinking and not smoking (especially not smoking) will save you tons as well.

eolake: "Haha. Although if gangs of marauders came around, I'd be hard pushed to really hold them off swinging a Nikon F, solid though it may be."

Yes, you have a point there! ;-)