BARE magazine interview //

Kerouac Alley. San Francisco, CA 2013

I was recently interviewed by BARE Magazine who was doing an article on the evolution of photography as an art and an industry. Unfortunately the interview was not published however, I wanted to publish it here since the topic is relevant to this blog not to mention the industry in general.

Q: How has the digitalization of photography changed the art?
A: I believe that many people assume that the digitalization of photography has just made photography easier. Like all technological progress, this assumption can be true but falls short of what has changed the most with digital. Simply, photographers have more options in their arsenal of tools. As a result, this expansion of possibilities has influenced the look of photography. In my industry, architectural photography, you’ll sometimes see the overuse of technology by relying on programs to do much of the work. One of these trends is high dynamic range or HDR photography. An image that has been processed using HDR software tends to look very unrealistic where the highlights and shadows are hugely exaggerated resulting in an image that is not appropriate in most professional markets. Another interesting trend as a result of the digitalization of photography is the vintage look that you see in images produced with Instagram or other similar apps. It’s ironic that with the improved performance of cameras and software, the vintage look resembling film or expired film complete with light leaks and vignetting is trendy. Continued advances in technology will continue, it is up to good photographers to utilize those technologies that best represents their work within their market.

Q: With the rise of smartphones and photo apps like Instagram, people seem to think that anyone can be a photographer. What is your opinion on this trend?
A: Photography is more accessible to more people than ever. Though this trend being in stride with amateurs and some of those who claim to be pros, the number of professional photographers has not changed all that much, certainly not to the degree in which the trend suggests. During the recession, I noticed a huge influx of photographers. Unemployment was high, jobs were scarce and cameras were abundant; many people were attracted to the photography profession for one reason or another. Around mid 2009, many photographers including myself were forced to reduce their rates as a result of inexperienced photographers unfamiliar with market pricing. The plummet in rates as a result of lowered pricing expectations from clients eventually forced many of those newcomers out of the business. Pricing eventually stabilized and returned to normal in early 2011. I encourage anyone and everyone to pick up a camera and make photographs. I also encourage those who enter the professional market to be familiar with current, local pricing for their market.

Q: Why do you think so many people are drawn to photography?
A: The abundance of photography would suggest that it’s more accessible and easier than ever to make a photograph. Similarly, I was first attracted to photography for the same reasons though I stayed with photography because I later discovered how difficult it really is. As an undergraduate in the mid 90’s, I was midway through my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in drawing and painting. From the advise of my painting instructor, I took an introductory black and white photography class to better my compositions. While drawing and painting came so naturally to me, I found art photography to be most challenging. This difficult experimentation of an unfamiliar yet seductive media grew into an investigation of expression that continues to this day. It is easy to be seduced by the ease of making photographs; but an experienced photographer will know that photography never becomes any less difficult with results that often hide more than they reveal.

Q: What future do you see for photography and those involved in the industry?
A: While there will always be a photography future for amateurs and artists, I have my doubts there will be a future for commercial photography. Already, computer generated or “rendered” imagery is replacing photography in many markets. Product and automotive photography is already nearly extinct. Companies such as CGI Backgrounds offers their automotive clients stock photography of roads, parking structures or other environments in which a rendered automobile can easily be dropped into. Nearly every product advertisement is a combination of rendered and photographed objects and environments. Despite its popularity, little by little photography is disappearing from the photos in ads we see every day.
Read more.. Thursday, January 9th, 2014

dwell publication // jennifer weiss architecture // wurster residence > san francisco

Late last year, I was commissioned by long-time client Jennifer Weiss Architecture to shoot a recent renovation project in Golden Gate Heights in San Francisco. The project drew attraction from Dwell and was eventually published in the Dwell Special Issue Renovate Today published March 28th, 2013, story by Zahid Sardar.

Read more.. Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

fort dix // mcguire air force base > new jersey

I love the photos from military projects but man, are they a pain in the ass to plan and execute! I’ve worked with Frankfurt-Short + Bruza architects on four military shoots beginning 2006 in Travis, CA, then Fort Lewis, WA and Buckley AFB in Aurora, CO last year and most recently, Fort Dix/McGuire AFB, NJ. The toughest aspect of planning a shoot on a base is the communication with your POC’s. Typically, they’re medium to high ranking officers – a base commander with this last project – so you can imagine that they’ve got a million other things to worry about than providing information to a visiting photographer. This last shoot took two full months to properly plan however, sometimes when you think you’re ready and received your clearances, you’re still going to run into problems when you arrive. It’s really not the fault of anyone, that’s just what happens when you bring a camera to a very restricted military installation. There’s a lot of paperwork but no matter what, you must be prepared to wait and the possibility of being sent home without shots is always a danger. You must have very clear cancellation terms in your contract and document everything. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared when working in restricted areas. You might think that you’re being somewhat annoying to the client or POC with respect to your preparations but it’s all for a good reason.

Despite some serious setbacks, I was able to gain access to the hangar as requested by the client and spent my authorized one hour to work fast and document as much as I could. It’s quite a rush walking around with a camera in a highly-restricted installation – such a feeling of accomplishment when you’ve got some great shots in the can after so much preparation!

Read more.. Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

split bread // william duff architects

This was one of my favorite projects this year. I was commissioned by long-time client, William Duff Architects to document their recent restaurant project opening at the Metreon in San Francisco. We began the exterior shots around 5am in order to finish the exteriors and interiors by 11am when the staff arrived. I was worried about the lack of warm light on the facade from the tall buildings across the street blocking the AM sun as well as fog however, this time the cool light conditions added a crisp, classic look to the overall shots. I’m very pleased with how this assignment turned out.

Read more.. Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

CBS interactive / san francisco

Sometimes the timing of the shoot – in this case, it had to be very early morning before the staff was in – can make or break the series. Given the right circumstances, I think that this project could have been an incredible space to showcase; however, due to the cool morning light and overwhelming fog, it was very difficult to produce the kind of interior light that I think could have been possible given the right conditions. I pushed the images as far as I could tailoring them to the client’s (William Duff Architects) requirements.

Read more.. Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

before + after // kingspan

A couple more before and after images to illustrate the post-production process of this project. The weather was supposed to be fog early clearing by 8am and clear, zero percent chance of precipitation. However, my early AM shoot to capture the warm, morning light was seriously compromised by dense fog until almost 1:00pm. I had to make due with the conditions that were presented and let Photoshop compensate where I was not able to on location.

Read more.. Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

before + after image // post-production work of hilton shoot

…and a million other proprietary changes. six-hour edit.

Read more.. Friday, June 8th, 2012

The Thin Bottom Line // Outbid & Outsourced

Last week, I received word from my largest hotel client that they’ve signed a blanket agreement across the board with a photography services company in Canada. Their rate quote for a photographic overhaul of their entire hotel including evening exteriors, all interiors and food shots was half my rate and would take half the time required to shoot; and I must clarify, my rates are very competitive and within the norm among professionals here in the Bay Area. I worked for another Canadian mega-vendor like this one in the past (with a strikingly similar name) when I was just getting started. To maximize profits, they paid me very little to photograph an entire hotel inside and out and outsourced all my RAW files to India for post-production. There was no incentive for me to do a good job considering I had already been paid and that I would not have any involvement in the process after making the images.

The hotel for which I was set to photograph this spring – who signed a contract with me and had already sent my retainer payment – informed me that they did not yet know about this new agreement between corporate and the mega-vendor and were now being pressured from corporate to fulfill some photo-necessities that were not on the contractual shot list. I amended the shot list and was able to meet their needs and I reminded them of the personal service that they’ve been receiving from me and how that will most likely change by working with a mega-vendor. But it’s not my client’s fault who their superiors elect to entrust their creative marketing needs to but it is my responsibility as a small business owner to remind them of the differences. As I communicated my personalized services for which they had been accustomed to, they again reminded me that I was twice as expensive as the other guys. When everything rests on a thin bottom line, it is difficult to support ingenuity.

This morning I opened my email box and in it was a message from a company  who specializes in photo-editing. This is what the email read:

To Mr. Fladzinski. Dear Lucas, Good Morning! I’m Jean & I represent Blahblahblah Inc, based out of Wilmington, DE with delivery centers in Bangalore, India. I’ve heard good things about your work and so have gone through your work in your website and it is highly commendable. I am writing this email to request a call with you to discuss about the services we offer which are related to digital photo editing. We are one of the first to start and are market leaders in terms of providing digital photo editing services, people working under us are all certified professionals and so we guarantee high quality outcome with consistency. We work with similar photographers like you and we know that your photographic services cover large number of areas. We are interested in doing business with you so that we can help you in the back end photo editing work and to assist you in saving lot of time, money and give more time for what you love doing.

And my reply:

Jean, so sorry, but I believe in stimulating the local economy and do not outsource any aspect of my services. Lately, I’ve lost a lot of clients due to vendors who do not follow industry standard pricing undercutting professionals with inexpensive outsourcing. My customers appreciate and depend upon the hands-on quality that I provide personally. Thank you.

I typically receive at least one of these emails a week from similar vendors with the same intentions. Companies established so that a few individuals collect the profits while the work is funneled through the appropriate channels until it lands in lap of someone who’s completely removed from the process and equally removed from the client / photography / photographer relationship.

May 5th 2012 marked my seventh anniversary as a professional photographer. I’m now in my mid-thirties but when I started, I was one of the youngest in this area within this particular field working professionally. I would like to retire one day from doing what I love doing but the only way that this industry will survive is by careful maneuvering among one another, adhering to industry pricing standards, continually educating our clients and reassuring them of our commitment to them and collectively addressing all of those who outsource and undercut. Trends are progress at the local level, not the bottom line. If you feel as strongly about these issues as I do, please reply to those offering to save you or your clients money with outsourcing and continue to educate your clients. This industry’s future depends upon the collective ingenuity and talent of its members.

Read more.. Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

5.5.2012 // lucas fladzinski photography turns 7 today

Read more.. Saturday, May 5th, 2012

The Utopian Impulse // Buckminster Fuller & the Bay Area: SFMOMA

MARCH 31 – JULY 29, 2012

The Bay Area has long attracted dreamers, progressives, nonconformists, and designers. Buckminster Fuller was all of these, and although he never lived in San Francisco, his ideas have spawned many local experiments in technology, design, and sustainability. The first to consider Fuller’s Bay Area legacy, this exhibition features some of his most iconic projects as represented in a print portfolio recently acquired by SFMOMA, Inventions: Twelve Around One. Along with Fuller inventions like the 4D House, Geodesic Dome, World Game, and Dymaxion car, the exhibition presents Bay Area endeavors — from Ant Farm’s 1972 domed Convention City proposal to a North Face tent, and from The Plastiki boat to One Laptop Per Child — inspired by Fuller’s radical idealism and his visionary designs informed by technology, ecology, and social responsibility.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Read more.. Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012