Author: Ray Laskowitz

The Welder


I don’t always made normal portraits. In fact, I rarely do. You’ll never confuse me with a studio photographer who shoots nice family portraits. That’s okay. For all of us. But, there is a great backstory here. When I was working for The New River Newspapers in Virginia, the advertising staff came up with an idea to sell ad space. They created an entirely new product. It was designed like a magazine, but it fit in normal newspaper specs. It was basically, what some people call, a shopper. It also created a lot more work for me. I was already working something like 80 hours a week. Young newspaper staffers, looking to make their marks and move on to a bigger newspaper, do that. My executive editor sold the idea to me by saying I would get the cover and the middle spread to publish whatever pictures I wanted. And, I could control the layout and design of the crossover spread. Now, that was something. My pictures. My stories. My way. Oh, and by the way, the …

Voting


1980. The general election. I was working for a small chain of regional newspapers called The New River Newspapers. There were three. One was located in Pulaski. Another in Radford and a semi-weekly in Blacksburg. Virginia. As I recall, this picture was taken early in the morning of the election. Jimmy Carter v Ronald Reagan for the presidency. The economy was terrible. There was very high unemployment. The Iran hostage crisis had been going on for a year. The United States attempt to rescue them ended in failure with helicopters crashing in the desert. Reagan promised, “Morning in America.” The sitting president — Carter — was crushed in a landslide which ushered in the Reagan Era. The rest, as they say, is history. Which brings us today. I don’t comment on political issues on Storyteller. Let’s just say that this is the longest and worst election season that I’ve ever witnessed. I can only begin to guess at what my friends in other countries think. The picture. I made this picture in Radford. For the News-Journal. I …

In 1975


A few of you asked me if I would show my very early work. My black and white work. This isn’t my very earliest work. But, it’s sort of close. If I’m not mistaken I was still in college. But, I was almost done. Ready to graduate. I was freelancing around the Bay Area. In California. And, looking for newspaper work. This picture was taken in 1975. Not at my school, which was San Jose State University. It was taken at Stanford University. In Palo Alto. With yesterday being Bob Dylan’s 75th Birthday, I thought this was the picture to publish today. The Band. Arriving at their concert less than six months before they retired from touring in San Francisco. At Winterland. Their last concert is known as “The Last Waltz.” It featured famous musicians of the time. And, today. Folks like Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell. And, many more. Prior to that, The Band was still touring. So, they came to Stanford. They were the main act. I cannot for the life of …

Light at Night


A little more Impressionism. This time, it’s about traffic in New Orleans’ Central Business District. At night. You’re probably gonna laugh when I tell you how I made those repeating “W” shapes with the light. At the very moment I pressed the shutter release button I did the New Orleans thing. I hit a pot hole. Where would this city be without potholes? Luckily, it was a small one. In those “Ws” you can see just how I hit the pot hole. Down, bounce, bounce, back up to the normal street level. Sheesh. Wherever there was a light, the camera made a shape. The picture. Press the button and hold on while I run over a pothole. That’s about it. No. I didn’t plan for this one. I couldn’t have.  

The First One


Time Square. New York City. I made this picture in 1991. I was in New York for business and probably the big photo convention at The Javitz Center. We had a little free time so we wandered around and looked at stuff. One of my walking partners was Chuck O’Rear, a pretty well-known National Geographic photographer. He was hip beyond the era. For instance, he wore red-framed round eye glasses. Not many people did that back then. I don’t think many people do it now. Anyway. Since I was shooting Fuji Velvia, which had an ISO of 50 and was best used at ISO 32, he suggested that I switch to aperture priority, set the f-stop to f 5.6 and let the camera do whatever it needed to do to make the correct exposure. He also said that since the human body has some constant natural movement that even if I braced myself against something, working like that without a tripod would still introduce motion blur. So, I should just let the picture be really blurry if …

Some Tools


I found this stuff on the street. Artist tools. Tubes of Paint. In Uptown. New Orleans. The tubes of paint are so bright that I could see them as I was driving by. I actually passed the street where I saw them, made a turn and made my way back to them. Nobody was around. There were paint brushes and some work in progress that was being painted on the wall. No. Not graffiti. A big mural. Apparently, the artist took a break. It took a little while to photograph all of the details. The tubes of paint. The artist palette. The brushes. And the unfinished work. Those are all documented in other photographs. I’ll get to them eventually. I never did meet the artist. But. This picture is just too bright. Too colorful. It reached out through the computer screen and grabbed me by the throat and said, “Look at me. Look at me.” I did. I studied it pretty closely. Now I’m showing it to you. I think it’s a pretty good Sunday picture. The …

A Little Rain Must Fall


Yes. A little rain must fall. And, it must fall like it would in an Impressionistic painting. So, here’s what happened. We had a hurricane on Thursday night. You didn’t know about it because it didn’t make the national or international news. What? Wait. Why not? It was something called a Cold Core Hurricane. It formed out of a huge thunderstorm and winds that were blowing from 60 to 100 miles per hour. It started to form an eye and then broke apart. It probably didn’t last for more than a couple of minutes. Luckily for us. On the other hand, it couldn’t last very long. It didn’t have heated gulf water to fuel it. And, the temperature wasn’t hot enough to propel it. It didn’t have the chance to turn cyclonic. What does that mean for this year’s hurricane season? The one that starts in just ten days. I have no clue. The season is supposed to be about normal. But, we haven’t had a hurricane work its way into the gulf and head even remotely …