Evolution of Technology – Film Photography and Darkrooms

Restorations and Collage by Ray Gordon for Boomer Tech Talk

AKA Bruce’s Guide to the Evolution of Technology and His Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Part Four*

With Guest Co-Author, Professor David E. Weber

After a hard-fought campaign, a re-count, and a “chad” review, film photography and darkrooms won the day and is the topic for our 4th Evolution of Technology article. Yes, we are going to explore 35mm film and 35mm cameras though we won’t be taking a firm stand on film versus digital (photography). I am honored to again share the writing of this evolving series with Professor David E. Weber, who has co-authored the previous two on Drive-In Movies and Vinyl Records.

Professor Weber is starting this one with his distinct and amazing memories.

This past summer, an old high school classmate sent me a photograph (at the top of the article) in which I was one of eleven young men crowded around a blue sports car. Somehow or other, I was front and center in the shot (and it wasn’t even my car!). If I had a dollar for everyone I showed the photograph to at work, who said, “Hey, you were a good-looking kid! What happened?,” I would be packing up my office things and retiring tomorrow.  Bruce Note: Doesn’t DW look uber cool in a James Dean way!

Professor Weber lookin' cool in 1970

Mr. Cool is right in front (yellow shirt)! Love the hair!

I have boxes full of other photographs that one day I swear to myself I will install in photo albums—or perhaps scan and corral in digital files. The photos document my life. I occasionally look through the photos, watching myself grow older, remembering this pivotal life decision or that dumb choice, both captured in photographs taken at those points in my life. I became the subject of photographs very early in the game—in a few of the photos, I am no more than a couple of weeks old. Several other photos were professionally snapped when I was around a year old—my mother apparently engaged a portrait photographer to pose and shoot me in our home. In one photo, I am manhandling a stuffed animal; in another, I’m balancing myself on my unsteady baby legs by gripping a chair leg.

Studio photography was so common

This photo, of Bruce, is exactly those kind of posed photos that DW is writing about. Look at that hair "curl" on Bruce as a baby!

Very few equivalent photos of my parents exist. I have plenty of photos of them after they were married (including many snapped before I was born) and several of them as single twenty-somethings, but probably no more than about a dozen or two of them as youngsters. One reason must be that starting with the first mass-market box cameras and roll film manufactured and marketed by George Eastman initially in the late 19th century, the basic tools of photography became increasingly cheaper and easier to use. By the time I was born (1952), cameras and picture taking had become staples of middle-class “baby boom” life.

These old cameras are even before our time

These old cameras are from our parent's era, mostly

Cameras fascinated me when I was a youngster and I enjoyed having my picture taken. I liked to pose in costumes—dressing like a cowboy or a soldier or, at one family garden party, like a chef, with a massive (for my size) chef’s hat and an apron that reaches my ankles. At family events, one somewhat odd uncle (every family has one) always volunteered to take the obligatory team photo—so I have many photos of my extended family, growing and shrinking in size across the years.

DW at Day Camp in 1958

Professor Weber is the boy on the left, middle - the one with the cleanest shirt

I remember my first camera: a Kodak Brownie. One could buy a flash attachment for the Brownie but I didn’t have one. So I could take pictures only in daylight. My next camera, a gift at about age 11, was an Instamatic 100. I kept that camera through my college years. I took few photos, though, except during summer, when I recorded family vacations, summer camp adventures and, later, my own trips with friends. I received a Polaroid Swinger as a Bar Mitzvah gift. With it I could take “instant” photos—the prototype for, today, taking a photo with your mobile phone and uploading it in a few seconds to your Facebook page.

In 1982, I moved to Indonesia. Inspired by the jungle settings and unique visual stimuli where I lived and worked, I decided to get serious about photography. On a business trip to Singapore, I purchased my first 35-mm, single-lens reflex camera. It was manufactured in the Democratic Republic of Germany (known back in the day as East Germany) and had no automatic functions whatsoever. I figured that if I had to make all adjustments manually, I would learn the basics of photography more easily.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a possession that led to more teasing than that camera did! Whenever I pulled it out to snap photos, someone would make a wisecrack—one I remember was, “Hey, Dave, how much did Fred Flintstone ask for that camera?” Back in the U.S. in the late 1980s, I set my trusty Communist camera on a closet shelf, intending to get something more contemporary. I never got around to that, however, and thus began a period in which I took very few photos. The photos I have of my life between 1988 to 2000 or so were taken by someone else.

Digital photography has been a blessing for me because you can shoot and shoot and then just delete what you don’t want to keep. Most of the photos I take tend to be taken when I travel, but I have a couple of cameras and one is usually close at hand. The camera I use is a simple, pocket-size, all-automatic camera—nothing fancy. I attempt to make up for the lack of sophistication of my camera with attention to composition and lighting. Also, I remember a quote I read attributed to Robert Capa, a great twentieth-century photojournalist: “If it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough.” So…stand close, compose well, take several shots if you can, so that you can discard the worst and keep that one gem—that’s my theory of amateur photography!

A beautiful old hand-colored photograph before WWII

My Mom was a stunner "back in the day!" This was a hand-colored photograph, as they did then.

Wow, DW, those are great memories. Naturally, as you are my personal “hard drive,” I don’t have such vivid memories though I do have some that I’ll share. My first reaction, however, is to remember that fact that the cost of film was a big deal so I always was conscious of how many photos I took due to the cost of film, and it did inhibit my picture taking. That is one of the miraculous changes with the advent of digital photography in which “film” is indeed cheap. It certainly has changed how I now take pictures.

My major memories of film photography revolve around my best friend in high school, whom we’ll call Marvin for the sake of his privacy. We were always the odd couple since he was the one who knew how to do everything and I was the one who did everything crazy but didn’t know much. For years, this worked to our mutual benefit.

Marvin built a darkroom in his garage. Yeah, he built it. I can’t put together an Ikea purchase yet my high school friend somehow seemed born and gifted with a never-ending number of these sort of craft skills. As best boy-friends do, we got absolutely absorbed in whatever it was that was our interest of the moment.

So, when we weren’t playing “Tip-In” (a basketball game), we were experimenting in his darkroom. We could only take Black and White pictures and the whole process was fascinating to me. The care with which he made sure there was NO light coming into the darkroom. The various chemicals, clothespins used to hang the wet developed pictures, and the techniques we used to improve or alter photographs. There was one that involved moving our hands over the light, when a picture was exposed, and this would cause a certain effect and darned if I can’t remember what that was called? Shadowing?

Look at the hair on me back in the day

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, early 70s. Wow, I used to have hair.

We went on photographic expeditions. Being relatively nerdy guys, we even convinced one of the “hot” and “cool” girls at school to pose in a bathing suit for us, on the top of a building. We also took photographs of each other skiing and some great ones on our river-rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. And, when we traveled through Europe, back when you could use Frommer’s “Europe On $5 a Day” book (we actually used the updated edition that was $5 and $10 a day), we took extensive slides. All of which are packed in boxes in my garage. The only time I see any of those photographs is when I find the few we printed in frames in other boxes.

We never did get to do our own color developing. It was just too expensive and too difficult, according to Marvin. But, I sure loved those hours in his darkroom and I was convinced we were the next Alfred Eisenstaedt. **

For more details on the evolution of photography, please see the History of Snapshot Technology by BTT’s technical writer, Ray Gordon.

The next article in the Evolution of Technology series will be on “The Telephone.” Stay “dialed-in!”

* an homage to Tom Wolfe’s first collected book of essays, published in 1965.

** Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898[1] – August 24, 1995) was a German-American photographer and photojournalist. He is renowned for his candid photographs, frequently made using various models of a 35mm Leica rangefinder camera. He is best known for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day.

  • Michael

    I still use film! Won’t switch! Love touching it, working with it, and I still say it looks better!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Might be time to switch Michael? Or, at least try it?

    • Anonymous

      Michael, there actually are very good reasons to prefer film over digital images. Even though there have been significant advances in digital technology recently, digital images still do not have the color gamut or highlight and shadow detail that a well-exposed film image can provide. You can see a couple of more in-depth comments on this issue in the responses to my companion article: http://boomertechtalk.com/the-history-of-snapshot-technology/

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        So, do you still use film Ray? I’ve never asked! Or, as I would suspect, you choose either one depending on your photographic assignment or need?

        • Anonymous

          I still use film for the occasional print job that requires very high resolution (I shoot transparencies and then drum scan those), or an art shoot that may result in very large prints. Since so much of my work now ends up being used in electronic media, high resolution digital cameras are quite sufficient and yield excellent results.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      I always liked the smell of film as one opened the packet it came in (not the square box, but the inner container). Thanks for the post.

  • JillLee

    Didn’t Paul Simon write a song about this?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Kodachrome! Love that song Jill Lee

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Paul Simon had another song (“The Boy in the Bubble”) with a line in its refrain that always for me has represented how the juxtaposition of technology and culture often produces a sense of dislocation. The line is: “These are the days of lasers in the jungle . . . . Staccato signals of constant information.” Thanks for the post.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Gonna quote you and Simon! Great memory. Yipes, you are “my” hard drive!

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Gonna quote you and Simon! Great memory. Yipes, you are “my” hard drive!

  • Sjacquard

    Bruce’s mother, June, was a beautiful young woman. She was beautiful to the end of her life. Bruce’s father, David, was quite an athlete, and the picture in this collection reminds us of it.
    I also used an Eastman Kodak box camera with 12 pictures on a paper-back film. Later I graduated to a Zeiss Ikon German camera that I bought when I was in the army. It was nice to have to adjust only three things: the distance, the aperture, and the time. Now with the digital cameras, we have dozens of other instructions to give and buttons to push; they drive me mad. And I cannot adjust the focus the way I could the distance with the old film camera.
    Getting back to the Bruce article, or is it Professor David Weber’s article? I am not sure. There are some girls on the left side of the album. Who are they? The picture of the boys in the blue convertible brings back happy memories of our youth.

    Keep up the good articles, Bruce.

    Your cousin Sandy

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Do you still have those old cameras? That would be so cool, especially the Zeiss Ikon! Thanks for sharing your memories. To answer your question, Professor Weber and I share writing duties on these articles.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      As to whose article is it, Bruce conceived of this series and, for a variety of reasons and through several rounds of discussion, invited me to be a featured contributor. Off the record, Bruce and I have been waiting for over 35 years to collaborate again in a creative endeavor. We have under our belt one five-minute student film (he was the director, I was talent) shot in 8mm in Santa Barbara, CA, in about 1973. Now we have this set of collaborations. Guess which collaboration is of higher quality! Thanks for the post.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Thanks for the smile “professor”! Loved your reply to Sandy (my cousin, btw).

  • Bill Draeger

    I kind of miss film photography because it made me really think about each shot before clicking. This was, of course, due to the cost of film, developing, and printing as mentioned in the article.. As cropping a picture added even more expense, I really worked on the composition. The to make sure exposure was optimal, I used my camera in spot meter mode to take settings around the intended frame and then average them in my head before making a final adjustment. Of course, nowadays a CPU in the camera does all of this for you. And then there was “depth of field preview.” which I believe is not generally available in most of today’s cameras. You could “stop down” the lens, see what was in focus for the f-stop you had chosen, and make adjustments as necessary. I’m feeling a little nostalgic about film but digital just makes it so easy to take a number of shots at different settings and views, then pick the best one later.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Gee, you’re sounding like an “old dude” Bill – said with love from one O.D. to another. Funny how we tend to get nostalgic the older we get and think so many things were better when we were younger. The truth, of course, is a mixed bag of resistance to chance and good and bad changes. Love your comments and insights Bill. Thanks so very much.

    • Anonymous

      Bill, you’re right that the process of shooting film was very different from shooting digital, primarily because of the cost of slide or print film. You are also correct that framing a photo had to be more precise. With digital, you can try a number of compositions AND see the results immediately.

      By the way, most higher-end digital SLRs do have depth-of-field preview buttons (note that to use the depth-of-field preview button, the camera must be in an exposure mode that allow you to change lens aperture).

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Be sure to read Ray’s more technical approach to this topic, with great history and photos: http://bit.ly/SnapshotsHistory. I believe this is what Boomer Tech Talk can do best – give you the nostalgia and the most up-to-date technical information. Thank you Ray!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Your comments are much appreciated…although they remind me how much I have forgotten about the mechanics of photography, since I just “point-‘n’-shoot” nowadays. Thanks for the post.

  • Barbara

    This series of blogs really strikes me to the core. I love them and I hate them because I tend to stay stuck in the past so often. Yet, this site and these blogs also inspire me to learn more with the contrasting you both do with these. Thanks for the memories and thanks for the encouragement.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I often feel the same way, Barbara! So funny, but I must admit while I still hold onto to my love of “nostalgia,” I’ve grown to love what new technology offers as much or more. Ironically, working on this site with my partners has only increased this evolving interest. Plus, I like to call learning these new things “brain exercise” and let’s face it, that’s what keeps us vital!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      I think that it’s worthwhile to keep track of where we have been so that we can more completely engage with what we currently have, as well as retain as much as we can that is good or meritorious from the past. Thanks for the post.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Well said DW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-M-Kinchen/524860969 David M. Kinchen

    I have about 2 dozen film cameras, including 3 Leicas,several Leica copies (Canon P, Bessa R, Yashica YF (made by Nicca), a Nikon S2 rangefinder and a Contax IIA…Also a number of folding cameras and a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex…I develop and print B& W film in an improvised darkroom and I’m also into digital cameras. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Gee, I guess we wrote this article for you David!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      A serious photohobbyist…or are you a professional? Happy shooting!

  • Dickie Chappelle

    One of these days I am going to get up to speed on serious photography using digital equipment. Thanks for the article, and the great old photos!

  • Lindsay Montford

    Well Dr. Weber, we have something in common! My father was a photographer, so it is naturally something that I took an interest too. My Dad give me his Nikon M90 (from 1979) when I was in the 8th grade. I signed up for a photo class my first year of high school, and brought this camera to class. People really did think that my camera was built in the stone-age! My dad saw my intelectual curiosity with my new hobby, so he decided to buy me a NEW film camera. From that day forward, photography has been a hobby of mine, and I hope to one day turn that into a career. I am now shooting digital, but I use the techniques I learned with my film camera, that also, did not have any automatic setting. My proud father saw how responsible I have become with my “hobby” and has invested in some very nice equipment for me. With collaboration through out the years with my dad, photography teachers and peers, I now have the confidence need to think that I can one day become a professional photographer!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m rooting for you Lindsay!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Lindsay, very good use of the Core Skills (intell. curiosity, confidence, responsibility, collaboration, confidence) in walking us through your journey with film photography! Well done. Thanks for the comment.

  • Kirstin C. Vogel

    In my COM 105 class with Dr. Weber we learned about traditional media or “old media” and new media. This article makes me think back to when I took photography classes in high school and dealt with black and white film, and dark rooms. The most interesting part was developing my photos into different chemicals and watching an unexpected image appear. New media in a sense takes away from the excitement of a photo and all the interesting things you could do to change a photos image. And yes if I recall correctly moving your hand over a photo was called shadowing. New media and new technology are making us very spoiled and sort of take away from the specialness of an old photograph and the work that goes into it.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Kirstin I think that the “excitement” is just different! I get very excited when I can manipulate a digital photo, on my own computer, and actually make me look thin again! As for the work that goes into an “old photograph” I would argue that experts on PhotoShop (the full one) may spend just as much time as they did in the good ol’ days of working with a red light in a dark room! Great comment Kirstin and thanks!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Hello, Kirstin, good treatment of old and new media concepts. I never developed my own print photos, so I don’t know what it is like to shepherd them through the steps. Would you say that using PhotoShop or similar digital photography editing programs is as fulfilling as working with the chemicals and so on to develop print images? Thanks for posting.

      • Kirstin C. Vogel

        Well this may sound strange coming from a 20 year old but I am more of a hands on type of person and don’t enjoy the computer technology as much as the old school way of editing photos. Although Mr. Sallan I don’t recall any way of making yourself skinnier in the dark room, so that is one thing computer technology has an upper hand in!

  • Hannah Bingham

    I’m in Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class and this definitely shows the concept of old media vs. new media. Photography (especially the kind of photography mentioned in this article) is an example of traditional media. Personally, I like it better and find it more interesting than today’s “new” media like social networking, mobile telecommunications, and radical interactivty. This old photography is something that I love to look at and something I will probably pass down to my children so they can see how everything evolves. We have been taught that media may be defined as “transformations of the spoken word” (which is the basis of all communication) and these pictures definitely speak a thousand words each!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Hello, Hannah, good use of the old and new media concepts, and in particular, bringing the features of new media into the conversation. What specifically do you find appealing about the “old medium” of print photography that leaves the “new medium” of digital photography in the dust? Thanks for the comment.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        My impression of Hannah’s comment was that she was appreciating the value of both mediums, DW, though personally enjoying the process of the “old” – for me, I even miss the tactile touching of film, loading it, packing it up, waiting for its development, etc. There was an anticipation that was fun vs the instant gratification that digital photograph provides. Actually, on reflection, I think I’m projecting more of my own belief in the value of both mediums more than what Hannah wrote. For that matter, I only use digital now anyway.

  • Skylar Gosnell

    As you stated in the article, there are very few photographs taken of people before the “baby boomers” era. However, in today’s society, a camera is fairly inexpensive and is owned by most Americans. We now have the capability to easily document memories and moments throughout our life in a single snapshot. Pictures are worth a thousand words- not only do they convey emotion and elicit memeories, but they also help transform the spoken word and have a greater impact than if someone were to merely try to describe the photograph.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Skylar, I’m curious if you feel we are better off with the ubiquity of digital cameras and photos of everything, everywhere?

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      The current era, starting in about the mid-1990s, should be called The Age of Documentation. Cameras and videorecording capability is easy accessed and the images/results easily rendered publicly. Thanks for the post, Skylar.

  • Alessandra De Vecchi

    I personally think that film photography may very well be classified under the realm of Interpersonal communication. As I studied, media may be defined as “transformations of the spoken word.”, and as far as pictures and photos go, they transform an image in a visual message that each person may or may not decode differently. Communication often provides a vocab for how to define and understand ideas, but often quality and reliability of memory and memory systems can be unreliable, so we turn to more visual mediums, which we have previously devided into old media and new media. I think this article is a great way to depict how even non-institutional sources of messaging, such as photos, can have a significant impact on people and their emotions.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Professor Weber, can you please explain to me what Alessandra said? Lol – very well written Alessandra. A pleasure to read such smart writing!

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        • People often use the spoken word to exchange information. Sometimes that information may be effectively preserved by a visual medium, such as a photograph, and not solely by memory alone of what was said.
        • Two people may not share an understanding of what a spoken message means. Similarly, two or more people not take the same meaning from a visual image.
        • A photographic image is a “transformation of the spoken word” in the sense that what originally existed as an idea expressed in spoken language is “transformed” into a message that is processed visually.
        • Print photography is categorized as “old media,” whereas digital photography is classified as “new media.”
        • A media message may have been generated by a corporation (e.g., key members, like public relations personnel, of a corporation). Other messages are strictly interpersonal. Messages from either source may have a strong impact on people and their emotions.

  • Lindsey Camp

    Photography as nonverbal communication is a wonderful way to tell a story and express ones self. Dr. Weber, you mentioned early in the article that you would love to composite an album of photographs that could potentially tell your life story. I think this is a wonderful way to share your life with someone. I have always enjoyed looking at the work of historical photojournalists and seeing history unfold through photographs. It is very meaningful to see a story unfold in front of my eyes without anyone having to verbally communicate what is occuring. I firmly believe in the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I seem to become more emotionally interested and in tune with a person (or a subject) when I can visually see their history through a photograph or photographs.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Lindsey, I would like to see you reflect in more depth on your proposal that photography can be experienced as nonverbal communication. I think you are onto something. Thanks for the comment.

  • Kelly McIntyre

    I’m a student in Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class and I really enjoyed reading this article mainly because my father is a professional photographer and I myself am very interested in photography. I really enjoying being able to see how Dr. Weber truly spoke to the “culture” of middle class America. If I recall correctly from our lecture culture is habits of the mind, heart and behavior that distinguish one group from another. I think it is very apparent that you are speaking to the culture of our society whereas another culture, maybe one of a third world country would not understand the vocabulary of this article. I enjoyed it very much and personally also prefer digital to film but do love the feel of old grainy film pictures.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Kelly, I think it’s less significant that members of one particular culture maynot understand the vocabulary of the article, and more significant that it’s possible that photography may sometimes be a sort of “universal language.” An image of a person who is “doing ‘being a member'” of Culture A will be clearly understood by a member of Culture B if there are some cultural universals depicted in the photograph. Thanks for your comment, Kelly.

  • Charlie Healy

    Photography is a great way to not only express one’s self through nonverbal interaction or serve as an example of how old media can still serve in our daily lives, but it also reveals many other facets of communication that I learned this year in Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class. For example, parts of communication’s core skills are shown such as intellectual curiosity. Obviously, taking pictures served as much more than just a hobby, but something that you seriously enjoyed and valued the intelligence of each new endeavor. Also, I have used a dark room before and I am sure that critical thinking and problem solving was held near and dear to your heart as you experimented and learned about new processes. Finally, we learned about the three types of appeals, logos, pathos and ethos. I want to focus on pathos for this post and the importance of photos to a person’s emotions. Reading a few of the former posts I learned that some people understand the emotions photographs can have on life. Even if you look at the newspaper, the photos taken and used in the paper are placed to appeal to the readers emotions. These pictures must have emotional importance to you, and looking at the photo of the family and the car, Bruce as a baby, and the two of you rafting, it is evident that different emotions are captured and perceived through the photos. Photography is separate from other media styles, because all the photographer or communicator has is one frozen frame to appeal to another’s pathos and capturing emotions is such a strong form of communication.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good connection between the concept of pathos and photography. I am having difficulty remembering a photograph that did NOT implicitly involve an appeal to the emotions. As for the rafting photo: It is not Bruce and me (DW) in the photo; the man to the right of Bruce is Marty. I could never grow a moustache that luxuriant! (Although heaven knows I tried!) Thanks for the post, Charlie.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        DW, I love how so many of your students are using the word “pathos!”

        • David W. (“the professor”)

          It’s a technical term that I expect them to use correctly and confidently, which they are all doing here. Pathos means appealing to the emotions in order to get a listener or reader to agree with you. So if I make a claim and, as evidence, quote statistics and cite expert testimony, that is called an appeal to logos. If I use evidence that is designed to evoke an emotional response, and by so doing, attempt to convince a listener or reader that my claim is solid, it is called an appeal to pathos.

  • Katy Fraser

    I found this article to be quite enlightening. As a student of Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class, it is easy to solely focus on the material and sometimes forget that the professor has a story and a life as well. Through the pictures of Dr. Weber’s childhood and young adult life I could really see the process of what we call in COM 105 “doing ‘being human'”. It is the process and experience that links what we know, how we came know it, and how we pass that knowledge along. It is most often used through spoken language but I believe Dr. Weber’s photographs did a good job of transforming his experiences through media.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good use of one of my favorite communication concepts: “doing ‘being ___.'” You wrote that I transformed my experiences through media. To keep that more closely aligned with what we have been learning in class, though, I would edit it to read “transforming the spoken word.” That is, I could TELL you a great deal about my past and personal biography; or I could “transform” those spoken messages into visual media. Telling you about my weeks in summer camp in 1958, for example, and seeing the photo of me with my group and counselor, gives you different information.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I can assure you Katy, that Professor Weber is indeed quite human. I charge the batteries every day and replace his fluids as needed.

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        Remember that in a year or two you will have to start replacing burnt-out incandescent bulbs that serve as my eyeballs with CFL bulbs.

  • Jordan Jeremias

    It is amazing how photograph is apart of the phenomena of “Doing ‘being human’” that Dr. Weber has taught our COM 105 class. Photography has the ability to link together what we know, how we came to know it, and how we pass that knowledge along. What we know is simply the images we capture. For example, the photograph of Bruce on the Colorado River explains that he has knowledge of the river due to his experience with his friend. Bruce came to know the Colorado River by going on a rafting adventure with his friend. The final phenomena of “Doing ‘being human’”, is the photograph it self. Bruce was able to post the photograph of his adventure on the Colorado River on to the web and pass it along to the viewers of this page. Due to the ease of posting photographs to the web, photography links these phenomena together and lets us pass knowledge about our lives on to many people.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Jordan, you totally missed the point of my posting that Colorado photo! It was to show that I was young and good looking once! Lol.

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        Weren’t we all! I am bewitched by my image in the sports car photo! A guy that handsome should have had more girlfriends in high school!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks, Jordan, you unpacked the concept of “doing ‘being human'” very effectively. Thanks for the post.

  • Marta Baird

    One way that this article can be connected to what we have learned in our COM 105 class is how photography relates to the appeals of pathos and ethos. Pictures obviously (and perhaps most prominently) appeal to human emotions, or pathos. I believe that one of the main purposes of taking pictures is to capture a feeling, emotion, or experience. As humans when we look at a snapshot from the past, it arouses certain emotions within us…Dr.Weber, I’m sure that you experienced many different emotions from looking at and reminiscing about that picture of you with the blue sports car! Photography can also relate to ethos, the appeal to character and credibility. An example of this is if I am communicating about poverty in third world countries, I could show pictures of my firsthand experience with that issue. The photos would help establish my character and credibility in relation to the topic as they would show the receiver of my message that I have been directly involved with and impacted by poverty.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      “how photography relates to the appeals of pathos and ethos” is the quote of the day Marta! May I use it? Why is it that a still picture can sometimes evoke so much emotion? I love when they do. Thanks for your comment!

      • Marta Baird

        Yes, of course you can!! I also love the emotions that I experience from different pictures from the past! And isn’t it crazy how different pictures can evoke such different emotions? Thanks for the article, Bruce!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Marta, you have expressed some excellent insight here. I will be able to use your application of ethos and pathos to rhetorical acts, such as making a photograph, when I am lecturing to COM 105 next semester. Thanks very much for this comment.

  • http://adjectivehollywood.tumblr.com/ Jak3715

    As a member of Prof. Weber’s class I’ll try to bring some kind of intelligent response to his post that hasn’t already been said by my peers.
    I would say this blog post fits well with Wallace’s four habits. I find definite examples of search within the article. Both of you found photographer to be of a great interest. For you Prof. you went off on your own and took pictures of your travels’, and found the willingness to improve your skills, to document the stimuli that interested you, and most likely, I’m assuming here, felt like one day sharing those same feelings with others through your work.
    For Bruce, he found a shared interest with his friend, which may also bring constructing connection into the picture. While they were already friends, the taking and developing of photos may have made them a stronger duo than others he interacted with. While Bruce doesn’t remember the ways he developed photos, he still shaped necessary knowledge from it and made a great skill out of it.
    I’m also going to dive into a little bit of the social function of communication because I believe it relates. Through the knowledge Bruce shaped with developing, he gained a certain level of confidence. Confidence that showed through, and created a believable appeal of ethos to those he spoke to. Which generated the social function to persuading others. The other here being, the “cool girl” who let a bunch of so called “nerds” take her photo. Since Bruce was successful in getting the girl to pose, then he most have made a surefire rhetorical artifact. Mind passing off some advice, Bruce, for this nerd so he can get the “cool” kids to pose for him and his new Canon 7D? Haha!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Hey Jack, love your comment. As for help with the “cool girl” all I can advise is be yourself, be persistent (but not too annoying), be CREATIVE, and listen, listen, listen.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Hello, Jesse, you walked down several corridors in the house of communication studies. Very good examples of “talking the talk” of communication. Thanks very much for a useful and thought-provoking post.

  • Jaimie Mullen

    I loved this article! While I am not into any serious photography, I can definitely appreciate it as an art and a way to capture memories. Being a student in Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class, I have learned the importance on interpersonal communication. This article and the pictures included really depict the influence of interpersonal communication. You can understand the communication situation of each photo by the descriptive language of the article and the context, body language and facial expressions in the pictures. Whether it is new technology and digital photography or old media requiring film strips and dark rooms, the same message is relayed to viewers.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Hello, Jaimie, well done…I’d like to know more about the way you see photography and interpersonal communication intersecting. One very quick example comes to mind: a portrait photographer must have interpersonal communication skills that are well developed enough to enable him or her to generate a desired state of being in the person being photographed. I can think of photographers who were good at that and photographers who were not.

  • Joy Ellis

    This blog made me think about photography and how it has changed over the years. The picture of the older cameras in the article makes me think of “old media.” A prime example of old media is a printed mode of transmission. It is interesting to see how the older cameras are larger and shaped differently, especially when compared to today’s technology. Most cameras people use now are small and sleek, and those are desired qualities. My camera is small, sleek, and digital, but I still do not know much about photography, though it is interesting to me. I like to look back and reminisce at photos, such as Dr. Weber did. I have many pictures that are still not printed out, and I hope to make photo albums with them eventually to look at when I’m older.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      And what has happened to writing – like with a pen? That is a lost art. I remember writing in the tiniest of writing on the thinnest paper that was part of international mail envelopes ” back in the day” as we were watching our budget and the cost of postage was a hindrance! Let’s not even talk about long-distance phone calls which were really a luxury in my family and when I was young.

      Speaking of telephones, THAT is going to be the subject of the next Evolution of Technology article from Professor Weber and me.

      Thanks for comment Joy!

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        I have somewhat attempted to reverse the trend — for myself, at any rate — of relying only on digital/electronic technology when writing. I have a small collection of fountain pens, which I really like using. Writing with a fountain pen requires you to write slowly, which means, usually, thinking about what you are about to write. When I travel, I really enjoy sending postcards–not e-cards but hard picture postcards, with stamps. I also enjoy writing letters “on the road,” using the thin international airmail paper, which is still sold here and there, that Bruce described.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks, Joy, for this comment. Photography is an example of old media that, even its new media constitution (i.e., digital photography), exhibits a clear path between its roots and its current manifedtations.

  • Jessica Saunders

    I enjoyed reading this article because it reminded me of this past weekend going through old photo albums with my mother. Many of the pictures were from days I either do not recall or did not even exist yet. A picture truly is worth a thousand words but it holds memories that you can never relive. In my eyes, photos are a representation of tikkun olam, helping heal a fractured world. With communication tikkun olam relates by the more we know the more we can communicate effectively. With a photo, it can relate to someone and then to another person which they may have a common bond with it or totally different meaning. Either way, it can in the literal words help heal a fractured world. I have personally experienced famous pictures that have hit an emotional chord, like those of a natural disaster, with me and talked to a friend studying abroad. Both here in America and where they are studying, there is a connection and then we communicate about what we see and discuss how we wish the world could change and come together. Without pictures the world would be without evidence of everyday activities.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Outstanding! Thanks for the comment. I am sure Bruce too will make an appreciative comment because the concept of tikkun olam is as powerful and meaningful for him as it is for me. (And I hope for you!) To use some other COM 105 vocab., certain photos can inspire in the viewer a response similar to the primordial attunement and co-orientation that is at the root of the communication process. Thanks again for the comment.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’ve found still photographs evoke more emotion that videos. Do you Jessica? I can’t even explain how the right picture will bring on such emotion! Maybe you can answer this, Professor Weber?

  • Sarah Tegen

    As a student in Doctor Webbers Introductory Communication course, I have been lectured on concepts of culture in differently countries. Culture is defined as matters of mind, behavior, and heart that separate one group from another. I consider myself so lucky to be apart of a culture that is constantly growing in technology. I think we take advantage of our easy access to new technology, especially advances in photography, that other cultures may never even heard of. Thinking back to the times when photography was not utilized as much in everyday activities, it make me appreciate my childhood memories so much more. My mother has made countless scrapbooks, which remind me of many amazing times in my childhood that I often forget until perusing the pages of photos. Because we are blessed with new technology at our finger tips, we must appreciate and take advantage of any chance we may get to snap a picture of a funny moment or beautiful scenery.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good use of the concept of culture. I am now thinking about cultural differences are reflected in how members of Culture “A” and Culture “B” respond to photographs and photography. For example, I have no particular discomfort being photographed, which is probably true for the majority of U.S. Americans who were reared as adherents to mainstream U.S. American culture. But members of other cultures dislike being photographed…the classic example would be cultures in which members believe something is being taken from them when they are photographed. Thanks for the comment.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Sarah, my boys LOVE going through the photo albums that I painstakingly have made since their births. While I really do value modern digital photography, having family pix in a digital frame is just not the same, nor is it tactile in the way holding an album is. Call me old-fashioned – my boys do! Lol.

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        For all or most of the reasons I personally (and it is a very personal, and often not exclusively or primarily a rational, choice) prefer to read hard-copy, as opposed to digital/electronic, magazines, newspapers, books, personal correspondence and student essays, I prefer looking through hard photo albums. I do have a digital frame at home. It is loaded with photos from my travels. This device introduces more color and visuals for my back room, a sort of lounge or den designed around a culture/travel/etc. theme. Yet I also have intentionaly accumulated large-format photo books, some of them vintage (picked up in used books stores) and others clearance/bargain books sold by chain bookstores, portraying people and cities from around the world. It is those I enjoy perusing most, whereas with the digital frame, it’s me staring at it, hypnotised, with my chin in my hand. But as Bruce is suggesting, that’s just me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurakeaton Laura Keaton

    Although I admire the artistry and alluring scarcity of photos from my grandparents’ day, I have to say that I harbor only excitement for the camera in my new iPhone. Having to carry only one thing has changed my habit of taking a gratuitous number of photos at times when I have my camera in order to make up for times when I don’t. Now I am free to take photos of single moments. They so much better encapsulate the feeling, or idea, or event that I want to express. Everyone gets so bored looking through a never-ending series of photos from one wedding or family reunion. I think that photos of a single moment are more useful in interpersonal communication. They are each a rhetorical artifact specifically designed and delivered in a direct, immediate, and personal way. They are symbols of what we hold dear and help us in expressing our values to others and thereby in constructing connection with each other.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      YOU, Laura, represent the future and the way many in your generation view things. Thanks so much for the comment!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good use of the lexicon of rhetoric to discuss photography.

      I paid special attention to your observation that “everyone gets bored looking through a never-ending series of photos from one wedding or family reunion.” I suspect this has probably been the dark side of photography from its earliest days.

      I remember on one too many occasions sitting through a friend’s or relative’s endless slide shows, for example. The Kodake Carousel slide projector would be loaded with slides of a trip or “big event.” The audience would suffer through slide after slide, many of them indistinguishable from one another (e.g., three shots of Mary standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial), the slide show taking an hour or more. Ditto being handed thick albums of photos and leafing through page after page (e.g., five pages of photos from Pete’s surprise 35th birthday party).

      But little of that has changed in the era of digital photography. Best example: I received a link from a former student to Picassa pages for her wedding photos…all TWO THOUSAND of them!

      The point of my reflections here is: “less is more.” We all will do well to edit to the bone the number of photos we share with others…what delights us may not in fact be delightful to others. When I visited Viet Nam for two weeks this past December, I took a total of probably 1,000 photos. About 2/3 of them I deleted within minutes or days–wiped them out of existence. Although I kept and catalogued/labeled the remaining 300 or so, all but fewer than 3 dozen were specifically for my own enjoyment (and that of masochistic friends!). The remaining 25 or so shots are the only ones I share, because that set of 25 presents a convincing interpretation (one type of rhetorical artifact) of the experience of what it is like to be in Viet Nam. So ultimately, I may personally see all 300 photos, but others see only 2.5% of them–and I think that’s to everyone’s benefit.

      • David W. (“the professor”)

        PS to my reply above: Bruce and another friend (not me) went to Europe in 1973. They came back with a collection of slides. I absolutely LOVED the slide show they assembled, even though it consisted of many more than 25 photos! Also, it was rhetorically effective, in that it was chief among the influences that induced me to drop of college early the next year and myself travel to Europe.

  • Hillary Linn

    I really enjoyed this article and found a personal connection with it! While I myself am not much of a photographer, ever since I was little, I have always been fascinated by looking at pictures of the past. When I would go to my grandparents house, I would spend hours on end looking through the old photo albums of my family. I love being able to look back at old pictues and reminisce about the past. Personally, I feel like pictures can serve as an “artifact” of your life. I love being able to show people pictures of places I have traveld to or things I have experienced. While people can learn alot about you just by what you say, I think its important to have the “material evidence” to actually show them. Even though in our day and age, it seems like everything is digital, I still enjoy the concept of using “old media”. Being able to physically hold a picture is really special. I think the memories we have are some of our most cherished things, and its amazing that we can capture these memories in a photo that we can keep forever.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good use of several terms from COM 105! You are raising some interesting points. One is that a photograph (or a set of photographs) serves as material evidence that your claims about who you are and what you’ve done/experienced are credible. From a rhetoric perspective, a photo, or a set of them, or the grand collection of photos that traces your actions and choices in life, serves as an artifact that shapes the way people think of you as it shapes the way you relate to them (in that you want them to see you a certain way or think of you as a certain type of person). I have often thought that the photos on one’s Facebook page can be made sense of as rhetoric by directing to the photos, singly or grouped, the questions we learned to enable us to deconstruct media messages (e.g., “What is the text?,” “What is the subtext?,” “What tools of persuasion are used?,” etc.). Thanks for this comment, Hillary.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Who we are, who we were looked a lot different in our grandparent’s times when posing for photographs was a very rigid affair. Now, the number of images of kids growing up is such that, for my boys, they sometimes aren’t sure if they really have a memory of a long-ago, when they were kids event, or is the photo/video re-creating it! Get what I mean?

  • Jessica Crawford

    I think that especially with today’s generation it’s inevitable to not feel some sort of connection with this article. Kind of like what Dr. Weber stated, it’s such a common task now to snap a photo on your smart-phone and instantly upload it to your Facebook or Twitter account for everyone to see and comment on. Photography is major. Growing up, my parents would took pictures of me any chance they got, mainly because I was their first born and they wanted to capture every single moment of my childhood. I now appreciate it so much because my family and I can simply open a photo album and watch history just unfold. Pictures have such an emotional impact on our lives. Like with the concept of communication, these tangible memories allow us to construct a connection with not only ourselves but with those we shared the memories with. To me, a photograph is a form of nonverbal communication. Iit allows us to cherish past experiences and capture special moments without the use of vocalization or speech, for the photo itself says so much. This article really helped paint the picture of how cameras themselves have evolved over time, yet the true emotion brought out by looking at pictures will forever remain the same.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Is the emotional impact the same, Jessica? That’s what I wonder about when so much is done and shared on tiny “screens!?”

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good catch on how the concept of construction of connection may apply here. Thanks, Jessica, for this comment.

  • Amanda Rosiak

    I really enjoyed this article on photography, and it is something I can relate to. As I was growing up, my parents and other family members would always snap pictures of my sister and I. While I did not understand the meaning or importance behind it at a such young age, I have grown thankful for every picture they took. I have pictures of big events (preschool and high school graduation), and also smaller events such as playing on a swing set when I was five or six-years-old. Reading this article actually brought back a lot of memories for me.

    As a COM 105 student in Dr. Weber’s class, the biggest connection I noticed between this article and communication studies deals with relationships. A relationship is the “result that occurs when a self and an other are attuned and co-oriented.” Relationships consist of different types (friend, romantic, etc,.), and they can last for any amount of time. The quality of a relationship also varies. The reason why there is such a connection between a relationship and photography is because you can see your relationships grow or drift apart throughout time. I will look back at pictures from my birthday party in the seventh grade and see the friends I invited to the party. Half the time, I do not talk to them anymore and have no idea how they are even doing. There are other instances when I see a friend in a picture, and we have actually grown closer. My friend Caitlyn who was photographed with me at a kindergarten party has become a great friend, and we are in pictures together from senior prom and at different college functions. The duration of a relationship along with the quality of a relationship can be easily seen in photographs throughout the years.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Very nice meditations on the intersection between photographs and relationships. Over many years, many people have in some way or other said something along the lines of “the quality of one’s life can be measured by the quality of the relationships he or she constructs.” I would agree with that about 98 percent. There are life experiences of great richness that can be defined/described other than by using the lexicon of relationship…but such experiences are probably few rather than many. Thanks for the comment, Amanda.

  • Leah Chappell

    After reading the article, I found many of your childhood memories about photography intriguing. One of them being that you have boxes full of photo albums which document your life. I can relate to this because I have boxes full of photographs at my grandmothers that I occasionally look back on. The oldest of the photos I have seen are Polaroids while the rest are color photos. When I was younger I never realized how meaningful theses photos would become. However, now I am so grateful for digital photography and the change from “old” or traditional media to new media. New media not only makes capturing a memory easier but it also strangely relates to a couple of Weber’s Six Iron Rules of Public Speaking. As a photographer, you don’t want your photo to bore your audience and every choice you make about taking your photo must be purposeful. I am thinking of minoring in photography someday and I think that a communication studies major would greatly help me to develop a professional portfolio and improve my interpersonal communication skills through new media such as digital photography and the internet.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Leah, thanks for the comment. The question of the value of old vs. new is clearly a common theme in comments here. I think there’s no question that the new photographic opportunities allow for more spontaneity, more picture taking, and capturing much more of life, in general.

      But, as another reader said, there was a level of care in composing and taking a picture when it wasn’t so easy.

      I think the same applies to writing. I LOVED hand-writing letters and having pen-pals. I took special care to print legibly, to compose my thoughts well, and it was not only creative, but fun. Now, I tweet in 140 characters or less. I e-mail haphazardly, and I know my kids and so many others don’t care or bother much with spelling, grammar, or even reading over what they’ve dashed off in an e-mail or tweet.

      So, like with most things in life, I think it’s a mixed bag. I love what new tech offer me, but I miss some of what old tech gave as well!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      I had not thought of applying the “Iron Rules of Public Speaking” to communication artifacts other than speeches, but I think you are onto something. Indeed, if a speech is fundamentally a rhetorical artifact, then any analytic frame can be translated for application to use when engaging with another type of rhetorical artifact. Thanks for the comment, Leah.

  • Charlotte Boyd

    I found this article to be particularly interesting not only because it is about photography (which already personally interests me) but because I thought it was cool to learn a little more about my professor than I would normally learn in just a classroom setting. Sharing information like this builds a better relationship with students and allows for interaction to become more fluid. Photography also builds on interaction because more often than not, you have a connection with someone posing for a picture or whoever may be snapping a photo of you. This article also made me think of tikkun olam. I believe pictures serve a large role in repairing a fractured world and to use a current example of this, I instantly thought of the recent crises in Japan. Many people wouldn’t know how bad the damage was without photos and videos. By showing these pictures, other people can reach out and help to repair the fractured “world” of the Japanese. Pictures like those seen on every news channel on television often evoke an emotional reaction in individuals. One of the three appeals, pathos, epitomizes this. Even if it is not a devastating photo, it can still bring out emotion. I personally believe all pictures bring out a certain level of emotion because they are meant to capture a special moment in time that you want to remember forever.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Charlotte, anything you want to know about Professor Weber, just ask me. As for “Tikkun Olam,” it’s a motto of my life and I so appreciate you bring it into the mix!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      You are on the money here, Charlotte. Thanks for the comment.As for getting to know your professors outside of the usual boundaries of the instrumental relationship of teacher and student, I enjoy showing other aspects of my life and personality.

  • Jessica Sumney

    Great article–I especially liked Dr. Weber’s mention of using good composition to make up for his camera’s lack of fancy, high-tech features. The fact that he put this much critical thinking into his work gives the photographs more meaning than if he simply aimed the camera and pushed a button. We know he has a message to convey with his photos thanks to the effort that went into their creation. Each decision was purposeful and planned to impact his audience.

    Photographs are not just the work of the photographer, though. There has to be collaboration between the photographer and his subject in order to really get the point across. Each collaborator needs enough self-confidence to know that they are putting their best message forward by using techniques they’ve learned. It’s one thing to know how to pose for a picture or set a flash, and another to use it effectively. This praxis is what makes the difference between a convincing rhetorical artifact and an unconvincing one.

    I also noticed that most of the photos from Dr. Weber’s generation are staged, and always held at special occasions like weddings or vacations. To me, this is the key difference between how my generation takes photos and how the previous one did. In a world of instant access and portability, photos are not limited by the cost of film or the difficulty in sharing them with others. This leads to more candid, unplanned photographs being snapped almost daily and immediately posted on the Internet. While this makes staying in touch with faraway friends or relatives simpler, we also see more photos of people in compromising situations being shared with the world. So it becomes our responsibility as photographers to know what should and should not be posted, and our responsibility as subjects to be aware that in the 21st century, there is always a camera somewhere.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks for the comment, Jessica. You have given me some food for thought by suggesting that posing was more common “back in the day” than now. That certainly could be true. A long time ago, like in the 19th century, there was almost no candid photography because one exposure took so long to complete. Photography of people was almost always posed/staged. Perhaps there is some progression toward spontaneity.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You hit the nail on the head Jessica in that much of photography “back in the day” was staged and only on special occasions. Today, we capture everyday life, in all its glory and with all its blemishes. People actually dressed up for photos. Also, smiling was often discouraged! Hard to believe, but those photos of your grandparents don’t usually portray them with a wide open grin!

  • Daniel Hatcher

    First of all, I would like to commend both of you on the information that is provided within this article as it was very impressive and interesting to read. I personally found this article to be relevant to a communication model. Photography can be used to tell a story. In COM105 terminology, photography would be used as a method of sending a message. To provide an example, photography is used in all magazines, typically as a method of advertising some sort of product to the viewer. A particular photograph may be used to send a message to the viewer and appeal to their emotions, or pathos. This message would then be decoded by the receiver and become subject to interpretation. In the case that the viewer, or consumer, becomes impressed by what the advertisement has to offer, they would then send a message in return by buying the product or service. Photography can be, and usually is, very effective at sending precise messages to the viewers. I have a small passion for photography and I have even noticed the steady development and improvement within photography equipment in just the last few years. The world is forever changing and dynamic.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks for the comment, Daniel. You’re making some good applications of the terminology of comm. studies to photography.

  • Caroline Merrill

    This was a really great article because it made me want to go find all of my photo albums from when my brothers and I were younger! As a student in Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class I found myself thinking of two concepts while reading this: intellectual curiosity (from the Core Skills) and old/new media. Although the article surrounded the idea of photographs there were constant mentions of different types of cameras. Dr. Weber expressed his love and passion for taking pictures regardless of what camera he used but he was always upgrading (minus the “Flintstones” camera!). Intellectual curiosity comes into play because Dr. Weber was constantly searching for the new way to capture these moments in his life. Today we find ourselves engrossed in the new media such as social networking. A lot of my family members do not send us pictures anymore, instead they use Facebook or Shutterfly. Sometimes I prefer the old media, tangible pictures where I can go back and look at them anytime I want to. In the fall I lost my Grandfather and when we all were home for the funeral we found ourselves going through all of our albums looking at all of the good times we had with him when he was still with us. The good news is that we will forever have pictures whether they be old or new and those are memories that cannot be taken away from us.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Hello, Caroline, we did the same thing when my Uncle Joe passed at 90 last July. One of my cousins located several crammed-full photo album’s at Joe’s house. She and her sister spent hours and hours sorting through the photos and making small piles of them, one for each of Joe’s relatives. So now I have some very cool old photos of Joe that portray him as a young fellow in the 1930s at a hunting lodge or fish camp, making merry with his buddies. Thanks, Caroline, for the comment.

  • Danielle Lamy

    There was never a point in this article where I thought “man I really wish I didn’t have to read this.” Instead I kept thinking of how I wish there was more! I really thought back to growing up being surrounded by family members who had the natural gift for art. I unfortunately never had the full artistic talent that has run through the Mosher’s family blood for many generations before me. I could never draw or paint the way they magically could. However, the one talent I did receive was the talent for capturing a moment through photography. At a young age I developed a deep passion for film photography. In one of the first lectures of COM 105 we learned what passion really meant. Passion, as defined in the Webster Collegiate dictionary means to suffer. It also means having and intense, driving or overmastering feeling for (a task, activity, or endeavor. With that being I said, I am still sticking to the claim that I made about being passionate for film photography. I first came about this passion in high school when I took Intro to Film Photography. From the begging I loved the class. It wasn’t just because I had a crazy teacher who had a pet skunk, it was because I could be really creative in a way I had never experienced. During COM 105 I learned what the true definition of the term “creative”. The term “creative” means “what moves you away from being anchored in place.” At that point in high school I had been stuck in place where I was constrained to doing what others told me to do. In a sense I was limited to using a disposable camera. As I moved to a nicer camera I learned how much I could step out of the boundaries. One of the greatest moments in that class was when I put the blank as snow paper into the last jar of chemicals. It was in this jar that I saw how powerful the art of photography was. I saw how powerful a 4 x 8 piece of film paper could be. In the moment that I developed that picture, I also developed a love that will never leave.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You can cultivate artistic talent in many ways, Danielle – heck you’re a great writer and that counts as “art!”

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks, Danielle, this was really enjoyable to read. I am pretty confident that you ARE passionate about what you are up to … although as I said in lecture, the proof of passion is: Do you have a TATTOO that represents that which you CLAIM to be passionate about? Just kidding! (Well, maybe PARTLY, like 5 percent, NOT kidding.) I also agree with Bruce that your writing in this commentary effectively expressed your ideas…the brief narrative (which begins “One of the greatest moments…”) at the end was especially compelling.

  • Keelee Johns

    This is such a fun topic. I love hearing stories about the “good ol’ days” and it’s cool to hear about how cameras were used in the past. It might be a stretch but it kind of reminds me of signs and symbols from COM 105. A sign has a fixed meaning, but a symbol’s meaning can change. I feel that when you look at a camera you know it’s used to take pictures. It is a sign because it’s meaning of taking pictures is fixed. Yet it’s a symbol as well because a camera’s purpose, how it’s viewed, and the camera technology itself changes througout the years. Culture can be defined as “patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting” and as culture shifts, the symbol of the camera changes. In the older days people had to sit still and wait for the picture to take. Nowadays there are cameras that take pictures of people in action, like athletes. Also, in the article you mentioned that people in the past didn’t smile in pictures. Even farther in the past, people posed for paintings with no grin on the their face so it was a long-lasting belief that pictures were solemn and you shouldn’t smile in them. But recently the cultural belief has shifted and we smile in every picture. We even say “cheese” to make sure everyone is smiling. Culture shifts can be documented by the photographs that come out of the period.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yeah, we’re all about the “good ol’ days” in this series of articles Keelee, though Boomer Tech Talk is very much about the amazing new ones!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      I would agree with most of what you propose. We have to keep the concept of sign narrow and clean, though: a sign is a token that is an inextricable bulding block of, and directly refers ONLY to, a specific natural phenomenon…that is, the referent of a sign is a natural phenomenon, and ONLY a natural phenomenon, and partly constitutes that natural phenomenon. So neither a camera or a photograph can really be considered a sign. That said, your reflections on symbolism, cameras and photography are meritorious. Thanks for the comment.

  • Amy Schell

    I have always been interested in photography but to scared to get started. This article definitly helped me gain the confidence to give photography a try. This article made me appreciate how wonderful it is to have pretty inexpensive digital cameras. This reminded me of a concept we learned in Com 105 about new and old media. New media refers to the information that is presented to a mass audience through the internet, social networking, and mobile phones. I found it interesting when Dr. Weber was talking about how hard it was to find pictures of his parents when they were younger and this makes me greatful that we have things like facebook where we can upload thousands of pictures and post it on our facebook page for the world to see. When I have children I will have alot of documentation of my teen years for my future children to look through. This article also reminded me of a concept of signs and symbols that we talked about in Com 105 . I believe photography can be a sign of anything you want it to represent. With photography you can use your creativy to create a different symbol for any object. This is what makes photography so interesting to me.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks, Amy, for your post. You are reminding me of something that Bruce and I have discussed on several occasions: for some high percentage of U.S. Americans born after approximately 1988, let’s say, social media will enable them to SELDOM, perhaps NEVER, be out of touch with people in their past. One of the things that Bruce and I and others born BEFORE the mid-1980s have experienced with social media is that it (Facebook especially) has been a conduit to reconnecting with those you once knew but fell out of touch with for decades.

      Obviously, how enjoyable this may be will depend how much you like the person who gets in touch with you out of left field! I recall getting contacting, through Facebook, the elementary school classmate I was closest to almost a half-century ago. (It turns out he too is a college professor!) His name is Ben, and he replied very politely but with what seemed like limited enthusiasm to my contact out of the blue. I sent an email or two thereafter, receiving terse replies. I tried not to take it personally, but I couldn’t help but feel sad. Ben and I used to have so much fun on what are now called “play dates” as well as in school–we both had active imaginations and, essentially, didn’t have siblings. (I was an only child; and Ben’s siblings were about a dozen years older than we were, and relatively peripheral in his life.)

      In any case, had we been born in 1992 or maybe even 1982 instead of 1952, Ben and I would not have been out of contact in the first place, thanks to the enduring bonds of Facebook and other similar systems.

      Finally . . . regarding your observation that “we can upload thousands of pictures on our facebook page for the world to see,” please please please please read what I wrote in response to Laura’s comment (posted below at 9.35 a.m., 4/27/2011)!

  • Erin M. McDaniel

    Photography has always been a passion of mine, so it was really interesting to read about how photography has changed throughout the years. After reading this article I realized that photography from the older years is much more meaningful. Like the article mentioned, today we have digital cameras that allow us to snap away and delete what we do not like. To me it is more special to capture a moment and not be able to see it until it is developed, that is where some of the best older photography came from. After taking COM 105 I have learned that communication can be a variety of verbal and nonverbal actions. Photography can be seen as one of these nonverbal actions because a photo can speak to many people, and these people can choose how they interpret it. This type of media constructs connection because the use of symbolism within photography captures the essence of “doing being human”. For example the picture of Dr. Weber as a young stud with the nice car, captured him as a teenager doing something he enjoyed. I use photography as a means of communication. I take pictures of track meets and of the beach and send them to my family up North. To them this is captures me better than a phone call or written email.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      It has been a while since I was referred to as a young stud. Many thanks! And thank you for commenting.

  • Matthew Brown

    I would first off like to say that this article was great and brings back memories of my family pictures and my family talking about how different it is taking pictures today, then when it was when for instance my dad was growing up. I like the fact that Dr. Webber expresses his skills of interpersonal communication by sharing stories like this; and even with a class size of over 100 tries to get to know his students and shares articles like this. While in his COM 105 class this semester I learned about signs and symbols of communication. In this article we see an example of this. The camera is a sign, as its sole purpose for being created and updated doesn’t change. The pictures can be viewed as symbol as their meaning to a person over time may change. While the picture is the same picture over time the person may develop new meaning or value to the picture. While the pictures are a symbol they are also a message; as a picture speaks different things to people threw non-verbal communication.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Be careful about referring to a camera as a sign…it is not a sign. For details, please see my comment to Keelee that I posted today at 9.28 a.m. Thanks for your comment, in any case. You should have seen me back in the day, when my memory was prodigious. 20 years ago I would have been able to nail all 130-140 students’ names within about three weeks. I do think it is important to know and remember someone’s name…I feel terrible when I forget a student’s name whom I have had several conversations with.

  • Ashley Cimino

    I’m not very good at taking “artsy” photos. I’m more of the “pose in front of the thing we came to see while I take your picture”. But I do like looking at photographs, especially older ones that my grandparents would have. But, being a human, I have to find some way to express myself. So I paint. Everyone finds a way to express themselves whether it’s painting, photographs, writing stories, shooting film, or singing, etc. One thing I’ve learned from being in COM 105 is that the things most people crave most in the world is connection.

    It’s the concept of “being human”; taking what we know, how we know it, how we pass that knowledge along, and ultimately experiencing the process of linking it all together. We inform and entertain others of our need to express ourselves through the photographs we’ve taken or the stories we have written, and so on. I’ve just recently taught myself how to play piano (another form of expressing myself) and now I’ve persuaded my friend to start teaching himself too. We inform and entertain others through the use of spoken language, or is sometimes “transformed” by media. It’s a bit like the social construction perspective; whenever we communicate with each other we’re slowly but steadily sharing and construction meaning with each other about some phenomenon.

    It’s our raison d’etre; our reason for being, our justifciation for existence. The way someone expresses themselves is sometimes their sine qua non; it’s an absolutely indispensible thing for them. I did enjoy looking at these photographs; because I love watching people who are connecting, expressing themselves, and “being human”.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Articulate use of a number of COM 105 concepts…thank you for demonstrating how to “talk the talk” of communication, Ashley. What you referred to as “being human” was described in class as “doing ‘being human'”–the phrase emphasizes the communication-grounded basis of our experience of being alive as human beings. I am very impressed by your accomplishment of teaching yourself piano. I took piano lessons as a young boy from about age 7 or 8 to age 12 or 13. Then I stopped. Other people I know can say the same thing; but with them, the basic ability to play still remained. They may not have been BETTER but they didn’t lose the skill. For some reason, though, it didn’t stick with me. I can sit down at a piano and with one finger pick out a melody, but that is it. So the idea of teaching yourself to play…well, that’s pretty cool!

  • Jenny Walsh

    This article was interesting, informative, and nostalgic to those who weren’t even there. Recently, my family and I have taken my grandparents’ old photos and downloaded them onto digital drives for them to readily see on a larger screen. Handling the old photos was definitely a trip back in time, as I noticed they were small, delicate, yet very specific and beautiful rhetorical artifacts. Old pictures, with all the care and forethought Dr. Weber and Bruce Sallan mention go into simply taking and producing a picture, the poses, lighting, location, and angles told much more of the story than did the old fashions and funny hairstyles. Maybe you knew this at the time, but I certainly came to notice how much of people’s lives can be communicated through photography. One can analyze a photo based nonverbal communication codes such as formal or informal clothing, body positioning and distances, shifting or squinting eyes, can tell a story of how the people in the picture interacted with one another, whether or not there’s a smile on everyone’s face. This article may have been filled with sweet nostalgic anecdotes, appealing to pathos, there was also much information about photography clearly explained in this article about the history of photography and how in actually used to work, appealing to logos in the audience. And, of course, if I’m talking about appeals I must mention the appeal to ethos that you both clearly established and developed through the discussion of your photography experiences. Inserting information about the history of photography asserted your credibility on the topic’s basic knowledge, and both Dr. W’s use of lighting and composition in photography and Bruce Sallan’s techniques of developing film enhance their legitimate, no matter how limited, expertise on areas of the topic. The article, including well-placed photos to help the reader follow along was fun to read and beheld interesting new facts I can now reference as well.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good observations about ethos, logos and pathos. That’s a good, basic rhetorical analysis, right there, Jennifer. Thanks for posting a comment.

  • Greg Austin

    As with all hobbies or tasks the core skills of communication apply. The core skills of communication go without exception as principle toward the profession of photography. Anyone can snap a photo but some people with special talent can turn the simple act of recording a split second in time to making it worth a thousand words. Responsibility is necessary for photography because it involves peoples personal rights to recording private events. Responsibility is also held when an important or tragic event has happened and we need to record it through photography. Intellectual curiosity is pretty apparent when it comes to artistic photography because it takes the curiosity to move away from constraint and creatively make something new and interesting. Problem solving is involved because in order to get the perfect photo with everything in-line one must negotiate the way nature already exists with the image they are trying to create. Praxis is used when the photographer takes the right picture at the right time like the picture Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange. Recording an emotional time, while using pathos to call for resolving action. Finally, confidence is used because as with all the best art, the artist has to know that they are talented and can produce a quality photo. Then they apply their learned knowledge and get the end result of a timeless photo.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Good use of the Core Skills as an analytic frame. They’re not the core skills of comm., precisely. We discussed them in COM 105 as the Core Skills that an effective learner cultivates and demonstrates. The idea is that if much of life involves learning — not just learning in school, but learning on the job (“OJT”), teaching yourself a new skill (like Ashley, who posted a comment today at 10.28 a.m., is teaching herself to play piano), or learning how to thrive under conditions that are new for you (e.g., getting married, becoming a parent, learning how to deal with a chronic health condition, etc.) — then he or she who is an effective learner will be successful in handling those challenges. But although we may not label them the core skills of communication, there are in fact approaches to communicating that are consistent with having the core skills in place in your life. Thanks for the post, Greg.

  • Karen May

    As a student of Dr. Weber’s COM 105 class who is extremely interested in photography, I found that I could really relate to the intellectual curiosity of Dr. Weber and Mr. Sallan that were obvious in this article. When I received my first digital camera in December of 2009, I found it hard to stop snapping photos. As time went on, and I began experimenting with Photoshop, I realized that photography was not only a hobby, but a passion. I went on to purchase a Holga camera, an old fashioned, simple film camera, which produces some really neat pictures. From there came my dad’s old film Nikon that he game me, and then a Sony DSLR. Because photography allows one to stop time and keep a single moment in just one picture, I enjoy taking candid pictures of people, whether they are complete strangers or my friends. When I go back and look at my pictures, I pay special attention to their nonverbal communication. A person’s/peoples kinesics can tell you so much about their moods or relationships. Is the relationship instrumental/impersonal or interpersonal? Next, I look at their eyes or facial expression. It is interesting to analyze someone’s interest in the situation, just by seeing where their eyes are fixed. You can tell what type of situation or occasion someone is taking part in by their physical appearance and object language. Do they have tools in their hands? What sorts of things are they working with? Are they dressed up, or wearing jeans and a t-shirt? If two people, or a group are taking a picture together, can I tell if they are close friends, in a romantic relationship, family, or just acquaintances? My favorite pictures are of close friends or of people who you can tell really care about each other. I love being able to capture two (or more) people’s bond and give those people the chance to hold on to a loving moment forever.

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks for the post, Karen. Today was certainly a day when millions and millions more photographs than usual were snapped: The royal wedding took place earlier today, with massive crowds full of snapshot-takers. One of my colleagues here at the office was saying that what she liked about the coverage of the wedding was that much of what the television cameras caught — from gestures and the practices of interaction management — served as evidence that “Will and Kate” really care about each other. What’s your sense of that?

  • Taylor Leslie

    In preparation for the funeral of my great Aunt last week, my family and I went on quite the dive into the boxes of old photographs of the “Greatest Generation”, now almost completely gone. These pictures range from the early teens to the mid to late 1970s. How fun it was to watch these people, who in many ways we know only in one facet (i.e. Mother, or Grandmother), grow from toddlers to teenagers, from young adults to parents and then grandparents. To watch them (and the pictures!) age and learn and change with the times was exciting, and reminded me not only that it is important to retain the intellectual curiosity in the pursuit of new technologies and techniques (as Caroline said), but that as a younger generation we have to be aware of the primis inter pares of the core skills: Responsibility. We are the first generation with this level of web interactivity and super evolving technology, and we have a responsibility to use it and use it wisely. However, we also have a responsibility to not forget our past generations, their technology and their techniques! Much like Dr. Weber’s all manual ‘Flintstone Camera’, learning the basics of more ‘primitive’ technology can help us use the more advanced technology more effectively and efficiently. That responsibility may not seem like a ‘biggie’ now, but I can say that I would be at a total loss if my parents hadn’t taught me the in’s and out’s of the ‘old’ technology of ‘old media’, which helps me to understand greater the ‘new media’ and the ‘new technology’!

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks for the post, Taylor. Nice connection between old technology as a springboard for learning to master new technology.

  • Megan Johnson

    I have always found photography to be interesting, in fact I am taking a photography class write now with Mr. McKinney. The class has definitely provoked my intellectual curiosity. Before I had vague knowledge of the actual process and steps into taking a high quality photograph.
    Recently, I went to my grandparent’s house and they had new photos on the walls that were taken back in the 50’s. The cameras back in the 50’s, that were used to take photo’s would now be considered old media. With to days technology photographers do not have to worry about having enough film or the fact that they want no if the photo turned out good or not. With today’s new media we are able to snap a photo and keep it for ever, we are able to view pictures before they have been developed (old film). It is highly interesting to study photography. It gives you a whole other aspect about the world around you. It in a way enhances your ability to study non-verbal communication. With photography you Instead have to concentrate on the facial expressions, and hand gestures to be able to understand the mood of the photograph. I found the article that Bruce and Dr. Weber wrote to be sensational I think that really did a good job at discussing photography . It was interesting also to read little back ground information about the pictures that they posted.

    Megan D Johnson

    • David W. (“the professor”)

      Thanks for the comment, Megan. One doesn’t have to worry about running out of film today, it’s true…but have you ever been caught with a dead camera battery (and no replacement battery) because you forgot to charge your camera battery overnight? When that happens, I would give anything for even one of those cardboard-box-looking disposable cameras! Speaking of which: About fifteen years ago (maybe it still goes on) there was a trend/fad at weddings to put a half-dozen of those disposable cameras on tables at the reception. The idea was that the guests at the table would snap photos of each other, and therefore a whole facet of the hijinx and interaction at the reception would be recorded for posterity. I always thought that was a clever idea. Chances are that about one in 50 photos were any good…with an open bar, few guests at a wedding will be in any shape to take good snapshots for very long!

  • Jordan Stone

    Hi DW,

    I wanted to comment on a little incongurence between your comment “Cameras fascinated me when I was a youngster and I enjoyed having my picture taken. I liked to pose in costumes—dressing like a cowboy or a soldier or, at one family garden party, like a chef, with a massive (for my size) chef’s hat and an apron that reaches my ankles.” and the evidence provided. One would expect that someone who likes to have their picture taken would be looking into the camera and smiling, but in the pictures provided you seem out of the loop. Maybe you have other pictures that support this claim, but in these presented your NVC’s say that you are not interested. Do you have pictures that back your claim that you were fascinated with having you picture taken?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I can guarantee you that DW was quite the “ham” when it came to having his photograph taken. In the one with his buddies, I think he was emulating James Dean or Brando (from “The Wild One”)! Lol.

  • Walker Mackay

    I like your photo from the early 1970s in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  My Mom and Dad started a rafting company in the Grand Canyon in 1971 and they are still at the helm 42 years later.  Your boat looks similar to their early boat.  Their company is Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.  I just was curious which company you went with in 1971 and who your boatman was?  I love hearing about the early days on the river!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Walker, I really don’t remember the name of the company, but your parent’s company name does sound familiar! You never know! As for who the boatman, was – not a chance I’d remember.

      What I do remember is that we had to rescue a group that had gone over in a rapids with all their supplies strewn along the river and one woman having a bump on the head that swelled to the size of an orange! We rescued them – it was like our 2nd or 3rd day. We gave them a bunch of our supplies and I think a reserve raft. They then left to get out as fast as they could – of course there was no rescue option in those days. I don’t know if there is now?

      • Walker Mackay

        HI Bruce,

        Thanks for taking the time to answer!  Very interesting!