KCRA Cameramen Getting Retro
Mike Rhinehart is the level-headed chief photographer of the KCRA-TV news photography department. His California cool is the quietly efficient temperament that keeps a collection of totally different artistic and technical cogs and wheels working together like a smooth-running machine. (Wordy analogy for all the news cameramen.)
Mike has of late been touring sister Hearst Corporation TV stations introducing the news staffs to the Next Gen digital news systems that I’ve written about in past blogs.
So I was really surprised when in past weeks he stopped me to tell me that he’d been following my blog posts about the Retro Camera app for the Android smart phones. Like me, he was intrigued by the way Retro Camera to reinterpret what might otherwise be an ordinary and forgettable color image into a classic-looking image of timeless photo art. It was rekindling the “photo bug” that he’d first felt as a young man discovering a camera.
Mike has been after us news photographers to also shoot a few still photos when we are at news events and e-mail them to be posted on kcra.com. About a week ago I’d started thinking of experimenting with submitting photos taken with Retro Camera as an alternative to the standard color digital photos. My thinking being, “If we are supposed to be creative photographers who see events and the world around us with unique and artistic eyes, why not also capture some of these scenes with unique and artistic tools?”
I wanted to be the first to try this when Mike beat me to the punch by posting these pictures taken while he was covering a story about Johnny Cash’s daughter Roseanne Cash visiting Folsom Prison in memory of her father’s famous performance there.
Mike Wyllyams (name changed due to witness protection program) is the world’s greatest cynic and doesn’t like anything new. He’s also one of the most naturally brilliant minds I’ve ever come across. He’s helped me with Apple and Final Cut and AVID dilemmas more times than a cat has lives. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that Mark Zuckerberg e-mails him for advice.
So I was amazed when the other morning he popped into the editing bay where I was working to tell me that he had posted the first new pictures to his flickr.com account in years. The reason? He’d seen what I was doing with Retro Camera and was excited by the possibilities. He downloaded the free app to his Android and found the creative sparks were still firing in him.
Like so many photographers who grew up in the old “process” days of photography that involved developing and chemicals and never knowing how something was going to turn out until after you’d taken the print out of the stop bath and let it dry, Mike had grown tired of all the work involved and the disappointment that usually followed.
With Retro Camera (as well as with iPhone apps like Plastic Camera and Hipstamatic) the process was automatic and taken care of. You just take the picture and a few seconds later your phone presents it to you for you to review. Faster than a Polaroid!
I’ve tweaked my Retro Camera snaps in iPhoto, but Mike’s pictures here are straight out of the camera and untouched. Instant art.
I love cameras and I love taking pictures. I don’t know if any of these are going to hand in a gallery one day — but then who would have ever thought that someone could create a fortune based on painting copies of Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans?
The important thing is that free photo apps like these are putting the fun and excitement back into taking pictures.
And as far as “Art” goes, quite frankly I look at any of these pictures and I could see them rightfully hanging in frames on someone’s walls.