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Welcome! And thanks for visiting. Picture Journals, this blog, has morphed many times since it’s inception back in 2007. At first, it was the beginnings of a family photo album. Many a times featuring my first born, then later, my second born. It featured the places I took them to explore and other times right here at home. Then it was an online portfolio. I even did a stint with sports photography. I took friends family pictures. I explored with black & white photography. When I began shooting professionally, I acquired a professional DSLR and some very fine lenses. Then my lust exploded beyond just family pictures, I began adding interesting photos of places I’ve been. A few more years passed and my taste for photography had changed again. I became infatuated with film and thus began an explosion in film photography. I started with my first foray using an Olympus OM-2 I purchased online which came with a 28mm lens and two rolls of Kodak Superia. An immediate profound excitement came over me and experimenting with film blossomed.

I once took a workshop with a very well known wedding photographer who uses a Contax 645 and Fujicolor Pro 400H film. I really wanted to emulate the kind of color this type of film makes. Most of my professional work can be found in my website at desibaytan.com. There I mainly use medium format with the aforementioned combination of camera and film. But here at Picture Journals, I wanted to keep things simple and because it’s a self fulfilling passion, I shoot tons of film and take them to any local one hour labs that still process film. I do this for three reasons. First, I like the challenge. Most labs don’t have the same quality control as the professional ones I use for my work. So I get back images on CD that, for lack of a better word, aren’t spectacular. So in Photoshop I would enhance them one by one. Sometimes, I would get only one successful frame. Other times, it’s raining cats and dogs. Second, I don’t care much for high resolution. I just want my images to come out so drug store labs, Sams Club, Target, Walgreens, whoever still takes film will do. Third, when I share my images, I intend to do this as a way to teach. There aren’t a lot of labs out there any more so being choosy is not an option. It’s great to see images on the Internet only to find nothing on how it was created. I don’t talk about how to see, that’s up to you. But if you are interested in photography, there is no better way to learn than using a manual camera, some film and a hand held meter.
As for subjects, I like to photograph people and places. But more so, I look for interesting light. Notice I didn’t say interesting things. That’s because the subject matter doesn’t always matter. It could be nature, architecture, or the most mundane. Henry Wessel said it best in an interview with KQED, “In a still photograph you basically have two variables, where you stand and when you press the shutter. That’s all you have.”

And here’s another video of Henry talking about photographing from the road. This really hit home because I get what he’s talking about.

I don’t photograph with a project in mind. Although I’ve done a few. What I like is to carry my camera where ever I go and just wait for something interesting to happen. Often, I can hunt for something to photograph but alas, nothing. Sometimes, I photograph something with no intention and the result looks intentional. It’s random at times, but for the most part, it’s deeper than what my eye sees. If you look through my images, you’ll find in them something hidden. I learn photography through experimenting and looking at my images over and over again. I learn more just by viewing my work and making adjustments in my mind. I sometimes let my photos “cook” for a while before publish them until I feel comfortable there is something to share.
A little about myself. I’m a wedding photographer by trade. Though I photograph the world’s most celebrated event, I resort back to my personal work and often I point my cameras up to the sky. For some inexplicable reason, I like to photograph planes. And I always look up. To me the sun, the sky and the clouds interplay with one another is deeply satisfying to photograph. I’ve been for the most part, self taught. I don’t consider this a negative. But I do feel I could have benefited from an apprenticeship. It’s a slow process to learn on your own. On the flip side, I’m not influenced by trends or trying to fit a mold. I let my photography take me where ever direction I want to go. It’s the most fulfilling part of my life at this moment. I’ve also amassed a collection of film cameras from half-frame 35mm to a 6×7 format. And I use almost all of them. Though I’m not going to talk about gear on this blog (well maybe once or twice) I do provide information of the camera, lens and film I used whenever I can on my post.
Again, thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll come back again to see what’s new. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change again.

Desi Baytan

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