Magicians & Their Secrets

I had an interesting encounter the other day, through Instagram, with a fellow film photographer. I had stumbled upon his feed, and was thoroughly impressed with his work. In good fashion I went through and liked a great deal of his photos (some might call this Instagram stalking), and then proceeded to follow him in order to be inspired by his work in the future.

As I was perusing his profile I noticed a few of his recent images had some really interesting dark tones and grain structure that I hadn’t seen in to many photos before. I’m always down for building new friendships and getting conversations rolling, so I sent him a private message complimenting him on his work and asking about these specific images. I simply asked what film stock and develop procedures he had used to get these types of results (a question I have asked and have been asked from other photographer numerous times). His response back was “A magician never reveals his secrets”. Seriously?!

Before I go any further, let me state… I respect his right to not share any info on the whole matter, I do, but is this really necessary? Are we still in a time and age where we have to hide our techniques and film stocks like secrets, lest our feeds get copied by someone half way around the globe. Should I be marking my negative sleeves and film notebooks with classified tape and tucking it into a dark safe behind the framed 8×10 above my office desk?

Yes I am making a caricature of the situation, but it really caught me off guard. In my entire time of shooting photography, there has been no group of photographers as open and community based as those in the film community. I mean seriously, its been open book up to this point. We are swapping gear, film and prints… let alone “secrets”. I feel like we are in a time where sharing our creative process is just as rewarding and empowering as sharing the artwork we make with it.

I will leave the photographer unnamed because I really do enjoy his work, and really don’t have anything against the guy. Like I said above, it’s completely his right to hold onto whatever he deems is a guarded part of his artistic process. We ended up messaging back and forth a bit after his comment, and had a pleasant conversation. I had assumed that the photos were on Delta 3200, which he did end up confirming after a bit of report building softened the conversation up.

I simply bring this up to say thank you to everyone who has engaged in open aired, no holds barred conversations with me over the past few years. I appreciate your honesty, vulnerability, transparency and friendship. I have been blessed with such incredible friendships within the film community, both locally and globally through the internet. I am inspired and encouraged by so many of you on a weekly basis. The beautiful medium of art we know as analog photography will flourish and grow when we come together and share our resources, tips, tricks and discoveries.

I also want to mention that I am an open book. Feel free to reach out and strike up conversations! Whatever I have to offer, I offer freely. However, if you want to buy me a cup of coffee or some film for the info I won’t turn it down! 😉

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Do you have secret processes that you hold too close to share? Have you encountered either side of this in the past?


6 Comments Magicians & Their Secrets

    1. Nick Exposed October 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Good to hear! Thanks for sharing!

  1. Ray Laskowitz October 19, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I’m not an open book . Not anymore. Used to be. We live in an age when everybody wants to be a great photographer in ten minutes. My usual reply to questions like that is “pratice, pratice, pratice.” Stick with it for 30 or 40 years and you’ll figure out everything and it will be yours. Really yours.

    1. Nick Exposed October 19, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      I totally agree that there is no quick route to personal success. I serve at my church so I tend to think in these terms, but a pastor I respect once said about those asking for him to pray over them to receive a double portion of the anointing he has “I refuse to pray a prayer like this. I can’t give them the 30+ years I’ve spent pressing into the presence of the Lord.” It goes the same with photography, I can’t give you the countless hours I’ve spent pressing the shutter, critiquing my work, making adjustments as needed… Wash rinse repeat. It just doesn’t work that way. A good photog friend and I were talking tonight about the idea that you have to get the cliche shots out & the amateur thought process out, before you are even able to think or shoot at the next level. And that’s an on going never ending process.

      With all that being said, forcing another photographer to go through all the trial processes and failures I went through by not sharing “my secrets” doesn’t necessarily help the artist or the industry as a whole. I want to approach life with the mindset of allowing the next generation to climb on my shoulders and learn from my mistakes and thoughts so that the generation as a whole will make greater art and impact than I or my generation ever could have imagined. But that’s just me.

      I really appreciate your comments!!

  2. Michael November 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Nick,
    I’m the same way.
    An open book!
    I like to share my experience which I collected in more then 30 years. Open for critic and hypercritic about my own work. I’ve met many photographers who do have a different point of view about what is a GOOD photo. Technically some are good but they do not have the EYE to SEE. Expensive camera equipment will not do the job by itself. For me it is creativity, passion and inspiration… that lift’s us up to the next level. Once you reached a certain level of experience you might look back and you meet others who are still let’s say “suffering in the dark valley of ignorance”. Little to no talent. But what they have is fun and they enjoy what they do. And that is the important point. It is not reaching a certain level and ignore the rest of the human kind. I gave photography classes for people with “normal” cameras. Explaining to them how I see and how I concentrate on image formation. Rule of thirds etc.
    I send camera’s, films and camera spare parts around the world for free. Knowing that the “poor” persons who receives my gift’s will be happy. I do not take money for jobs like wedding photography. Instead the engaged couple will donate for my work to an aid organization of our common choice. That way a lot more people will have a benefit from the wedding. That is my point of view. Still crazy after all those years. Me? I still love to develop my film and look at the negative and can’t wait until the film is try. Like a little boy….

    1. Nick Exposed November 16, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Hey Michael,
      Thanks for sharing man. I love your outlook on sharing with not only the rest of the photographic community, but even with charities and clients. It’s the selfless leaders of the world that truly make an impact, and you sir sound like you fall right into that category!

      I just checked out your website and absolutely love your work! You have seemed to have a consistent vision for many years, in looking at the work you have on display. And your camera collection is quite impressive!

      Thanks again for your comment and stopping by the blog!


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