Monday, May 6, 2019

Blue Light

I have a free night, sort of. It was my last day of classes and tomorrow is a reading day, but the year doesn't feel nearly over yet (as I will be grinding till the bitter end). It was a good day, better than most: it's the warmest on the forecast between now and when I leave Rochester, and I spent most of my extra minutes soaking up all the vitamin D I could on the park benches across from school. I phone interviewed while sitting there, and finally got a job for the summer after applying to over two dozen places––now I'll get to sell donuts and read books (which I always tell myself I am going to do) way too early in the morning all summer, but never work evenings and get lots of days off to work on whatever I want.
Spring is a funny thing here. I think it means more to me in Rochester than it did at home, and I'm not entirely sure how to verbalize why yet. I think it's because Rochester doesn't quite have the hang of embracing winter the way Minnesota does, so it becomes a different place altogether when it's warm again, a high contrast from the months of clouds and snow we all tried to deny. But I didn't wear my coat today, and the trees are blooming and the leaves are going to burst open soon. I can smell the lilacs from the house next door through my window, and my roommate is working a long shift so I have the room to myself. Even though my mind is racing with ideas, I'm content with not doing much right now.
I'm sure my babble about meaning in photos and film and digital and all of this is repetitive, but I'll keep talking because it really does feel like getting a little piece of my soul back to be picking up my digital camera for no reason again, finally. It's freeing to just laugh into the void about it, even if nobody will listen. Seriously, why did I ever deny myself the chance to take pictures of nights like this?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


An evening in Foggy Bottom and a reminder that I may regret not taking pictures but I will nearly never regret taking them.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Freiburg im Breisgau

I spent my spring break, about a month ago, in Freiburg, Germany visiting Dan who is studying abroad there for the semester. The Rochester chill and rain followed me for most of my vacation, but it was still a needed change of scenery and week full of messy, jet-lagged sleep schedules and hugs and fumbling with the few German words I know (although I've now been convinced to take GER 101 next fall semester, and am looking forward to what I hear is a great professor and class).

I am getting used to taking my digital camera out again for the hell of it, and travel helps. I experience a nostalgia when I look at my old photos not just for the early years of high school, but for the fact I didn't associate any baggage or specific image with a digital photo diary. I want to be able to photograph my own memories without considering their worthiness. I don't know if I'm quite ready to put images like these on my Instagram yet, but that's why I started up a blog again. What I most need to remember is that I never regret taking photos, but I do regret not taking them. Baby steps. Now I have a week of memories of market walks in the rain, sleeping in, climbing a cathedral spire, and sharing a twin bed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Question of the Year, I Guess: Should I Do Video?

Self-Portrait from Zophia Dadlez on Vimeo.

I suppose I've established here that photographers are, and have been for a while, a dime a dozen: that classic "everyone with a phone camera thinks they're a photographer" idea is not new. And unless people start charging for iPhone shoots in portrait mode (please do not get me started on how phony the phony depth of field looks, thanks, oh my god) I don't have a huge problem with it. Self-expression and creativity are fun and valuable and it's oftentimes a joy to see so many people engaging in those things––and after all, it's exactly how lots of young artists get a start. Videographers on the other hand, at this point in the game, are rather common, but not to the degree that photographers are. And almost anyone spending time in the spheres of online magazines and Photography Instagram has probably noticed an increased emphasis on video. It's the new skill everyone seems to be popping up with, and zines and agencies seem to be holding open calls for video-based content more than any other kind. The Facebook algorithm favors video, and Instagram itself is aiming to push longer-form video with IGTV (though I don't know anybody who actually watches it...have you ever watched an IGTV video?? ever??? who are the people who watch these things?????) ...anyways, relatively speaking, there is a greater demand for videos, so having strong videography skills can really help a photographer stand out in the present economy, particularly as far as job opportunities are concerned.

As someone with ideas on the backburner about pursuing a visual art career, this was something I had to clang around in my head for a while. Amid the tough competition of still photography, should I jump into video as much as I can before that market saturates itself as well, and try to take advantage of the timing and attempt to rise above my peer group while the competition is slimmer?

I've thought about this for a while, but in my case it came down to one pretty simple thing: I've never had any pressing video ideas. Ultimately, I've just never been drawn videography––my very first camera was a video camera, and even at ten years old I'd put the clips in the computer to cut stills from them. Whether it's my artistic intuition or my attention span, it's just not my natural inclination, and at the end of the day I don't want to be putting out shitty, poorly thought-out video content for the sake of it alone. I have a penchant for moving portraits like the one above, but I don't want to push inspiration for the simple sake of money or gaining representation––I am in the fortunate position of being able to make work primarily because it excites me, and I want to keep it that way.

I suppose this whole Video Push isn't inherently bad: like the rise of photography among the masses, new opportunities to express ourselves are nearly always valuable. But at the end of the day, it really boils down to advertising: videos are tried and true, so companies will pay more for, say, a TV commercial or video advertisement than for still images (and a young director, who can boss people around, is simply more impressive than a young kid who knows how to hold a camera these days), which means agencies like Adolescent get a bigger cut and look more they put out calls for directors. Eventually the accessibility of video technology and editing knowledge will probably mean videographers become overwhelmingly common too.
I find it unfortunate sometimes that an entire generation of creative young people, now that they're entering the workforce, are having their artwork become so heavily influenced by the goals of media companies and agencies. I feel mine leaning that way sometimes, and it's tough to push back. But if nothing else, I want to be genuine.