…scanned from my archive. 1969 - Fifty years ago I went to Woodstock

The photo above was taken in 1969 when I was 15.

The photo above was taken in 1969 when I was 15.

I arrived at the Woodstock Festival three days before it was scheduled to start. My friend Clifford and I actually had tickets for the festival, we were 14 and 15 years old respectively and ready for anything. Cliff’s mom was going to be driving to her country home near Bethel and she offered to drive us up, but the deal was we had to go up a few days early if we wanted the ride.

When we arrived, we found the few people already there doing the work of building and putting together the festival grounds. We somehow migrated to the area the Hog Farm had set up, they had a free kitchen that fed us and in return we helped build some concession stands and other structures around the area. They also gave us free hash breaks, which made the work a bit more pleasant.

Once the music started there were two options: cram yourself into the throngs of people sitting on the hill around the stage, or walk around and take in the scenery. I spent a lot of my time doing the latter. People would offer up a variety of drugs as I walked around, both the smoking kind and the pill kind. Sometimes they would just hand you a bottle, jug or goatskin canteen (a bota) filled presumably with wine, but often with some mescaline or other hallucinogen diluted in. Taking a sip was always an adventure, which I sometimes indulged but often didn’t. I suppose I would size up the offerer before making my decision.

The music was always there, whether you were looking directly at the stage or off somewhere in the rambles or over a hill or in one of the few unfortunate Porta-Pottys. I had seen many of the bands perform before, I was a regular at the Filmore East, usually as the result of my asking for free tickets from the parade of concert attendees filing into the theatre. But The Who, The Band, The Dead, were always a must see if I could. I had seen Hendrix a number of times, always magical, but I was long asleep by the time he played at sunrise.

I remember the one band everyone was talking about and anxiously awaiting was Crosby, Stills and Nash, it was to my knowledge one of, if not the first time they were playing together in front of a large crowd, and we were all looking forward to it. They were great, and it was to be the only time I would ever hear them perform.

The last night I ran into a girl I had met earlier in the summer on a bike trip to Nova Scotia. We gathered around some others who had found a dry spot on top of about 1000 Screw Magazines someone had given out. We all sat around a campfire on our Screw Magazine blankets talking about the last few days. Someone had also given out inflatable orange pup tents, which we blew up and then squeezed into for the night.

To this day I have no idea how I got back home to New York City. I remember walking a bit and then perhaps a bus, really not sure. Really doesn’t matter.

My memories of the whole event was that of a strange tableau of people and freaks, as we called ourselves then, having fun, being outrageous and loving and laughing with each other, all to the most amazing soundtrack every presented. I wish I remembered more of it, but as they say, if you say you remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.

What do you want your photo collection to look like in ten years?

What do you want your photo collection to look like in ten years?

I recently placed a post-it note on my computer screen that asks – What do you want your photo collection to look like in ten years?

Although it was meant mostly as a reminder to me, it's now a question I ask my clients as well when starting a new project with them.
 
In this age of massive digital accumulation, it is something worth thinking about, especially if we believe a family photo archive has value to us, not only in our lifetime, but to those we might consider passing it down to in the future.

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Our photos are the trophies of our lives

Our photos are the trophies of our lives

For years my mother had old photos of myself and other family members and friends thumbtacked to a corkboard in her kitchen. When I moved my mother out of her home a few years ago I had to remove these up to 40-year-old photos that were now faded and yellow and had multiple tiny holes in them from the repeated thumbtacking. If one didn’t know better you might have thought that I and my other family members were victims of some terrible voodoo ritual. Maybe Mom did have some unresolved feelings she was expressing, but more likely they just kept falling down.

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Being there - Make sure you have the memory before you photograph it

Being there - Make sure you have the memory before you photograph it

My family and I visited the museum the other day here in LA to see the renowned King Tut exhibit. It will be the last time much of the collection will be able to be seen outside of Egypt, ever! The key word here is “seen”, as in looking at something and experiencing the use of our sensory ability called sight. If I am starting to sound sarcastic it is because as I wandered around the exhibit looking at all these ancient marvels, I also started to notice that many of those around me were not actually looking at the relics, but walking around and taking photo after photos of them with their mobile phones.

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…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

In 1974 my brothers Tim and Nico took a trip out the Midwest to visit their grandparents. My stepmother Susan was originally from Minnesota but her parents had relocated to Missouri and so the family took off for the heartland. Along the way they stopped for a visit to Mount Rushmore.

I love this shot that my father took. The quintessential snapshot would have typically had my brothers facing the camera, framed from head to toe (because we all know how important it is to include footwear in meaningful family portraits), with the four presidents shrunk to minuscule versions of themselves in the background.

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Saving your family photo collection from devastating events

Saving your family photo collection from devastating events

I recently had a chance to visit the fire zone in Agoura and Malibu, this was the wildfire called the Woolsey Fire that scorched parts of LA and Ventura Counties in November of 2018. It burned almost 100k acres, destroyed over 1600 homes and killed three people. Almost 300,000 people had to evacuate their homes, and it was many days before they could return because of fallen power lines and the danger from falling trees and branches. Most were lucky to return to intact homes, but many were not.

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…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958. While growing up, there were always certain photos that seemed to be present, either in frames on the wall, taped to cabinets, stuck to the fridge or in one of the several photo albums lying around. My father and my mother’s father Boris, were usually the photographers of most of the family photos, so they aren’t present in as many of the family photos as other family members. Boris was a professional photographer, so like myself, he was usually much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

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It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

Depending on what part of the country you live in, natural disasters can strike, and strike fast. While here in California we are bracing for another torrid wildfire season (and it’s always earthquake season), the Gulf States are readying themselves for a hurricane season that seemingly gets more intense each year. Other parts of the country can experience tornados, floods and Nor’easters.

Natural disasters can be horrific, but fires and floods in your home can also cause terrible damage and wipe out most, if not all belongings.

So of course you grab your kids and pets, but what is next on the list, that’s if you even have the time? Many people grab the family photos. But as we are living in the age of digital, the question has to be asked – do you know which hard drive to grab? And what about your older prints and albums?

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Summer tips for taking photos

Summer tips for taking photos

How many photos will you have in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Kinda scary right? And what about videos? Yikes!

Aside from the holidays, summer is the time of year we take a lot of pictures. Taking lot of pictures is great, but taking so many that you don’t even want to look at them, let alone edit them, is not OK. Also ballooning the storage on your phone is not fun, so let’s focus on quality not quantity this summer. Here are a few ways to do that.

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How to take better travel pictures this Summer

How to take better travel pictures this Summer

“Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” ~ Susan Sontag. Funny, when I read that, I totally related to it, as someone who was a professional travel photographer for over 20 years, that sentiment was right on. But if you read the rest of the passage in Sontag’s On Photography, the collections of writings she did about photography, well it turns out she did not really intend it in a positive way. She was essentially saying that when we travel, we can often use the camera and the act of photographing as a way of limiting our experience of traveling.

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Is your digital photo collection healthy, under the weather or ready for the ICU?

Is your digital photo collection healthy, under the weather or ready for the ICU?

Sounds like the diagnosis of a patient, right? Well like the human body, a photo collection is really a system of connections, and if all is not well with that system, it doesn’t work quite the way it should.

As a professional photo organizer, when I see a client for the first time, I actually do a diagnosis of their photo collection to see how healthy it is. I’ve seen some pretty sick photo libraries in my time, but thankfully no terminal cases so far.

So the question becomes, what makes up a healthy photo collection? Basically I am looking to see how it works in these six areas:

Is it organized?
Are images findable?
Are images accessible?
Is the collection safe?
Can images be shared?
Is it endurable?

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Apple Photos – Options for setting up on your computer

Apple Photos – Options for setting up on your computer

The Apple Photos app exists both on your computer as a desktop application, and as a mobile app on your iPhones and iPads.

The way Apple Photos typically works is it uses your iCloud account to sync your photos between your computer and your mobile devices. Apple calls it Hand Off, the idea being that if you take a photo on your iPhone, it will then sync (or hand off) that photo up to iCloud, which then syncs it down to your computer (and other devices you may have).

When you edit a photo on one device, it updates that photo on all other devices. And when you delete a photo on one device it also deletes it on all other devices, this is very important to remember.

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Setting up Apple Photos right from the start

Setting up Apple Photos right from the start

The Holidays are upon us and that means we are going to be taking a lot more pictures than usual. All good, except when the storage on our phones or laptops starts to max out and we have to scramble to free up space. Here are some Apple Photos settings that can help you avoid that mess and get you set up the right way.

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Using iCloud Photo Sharing to share your pics with family and friends

Using iCloud Photo Sharing to share your pics with family and friends

One of the questions I get asked the most is “When I’m using Apple Photos, what is the best way to share my photos with others?”

You could use the Apple Family Sharing plan, but that will entail a bit of a set up, plus a subscription fee for iCloud storage (This would be in addition to any iCloud account you may already have in your name).

Some folks have asked me if they could have other family members sign into their iCloud account. The problem with that is everybody who signs in will not only have their photos shared, but also their Contacts, Documents and whatever else they have backed up to iCloud as well. Not a good answer!

The easiest way and cheapest (its free) way to share your photos is to use iCloud Photo Sharing. This is how it works.

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Lyn - An easy and fast way to view your photos on your desktop

Lyn - An easy and fast way to view your photos on your desktop

I came across Lyn on a website listing alternative photo cataloging apps. I had been looking for a simple, desktop-based photo management program to offer as an option to my clients. Aside from Apple Photos, there is a trend towards cloud based image platforms such as Google Photos that offer no desktop management at all. Lots of my clients like working on their desktop and don’t like being forced to do all their work on the web. Also, with so much hacking going on, I think it’s asking for trouble to be completely reliant on web based platforms. Read whole article...

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Adobe Lightroom Basics

Adobe Lightroom Basics

Adobe Lightroom is a great way to catalog and edit your photos but it can be a very intimidating program to work with. Here is a recent article I wrote that tries it make it a little simpler to use. Hope it helps.

Many years ago during my misbegotten youth, I worked as machinist in the San Francisco shipyards. It was there I learned two very important lessons. First, you can lose a finger. Second, make sure you have the best tool to get the job done right. Happily I can report that I still have all ten digits. During my later years as a photographer, photo agency owner and now, photo organizer, Adobe Lightroom has proved, since its inception, to be the most valuable tool at the center of my workflow. Read the whole article...

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How to edit down a large selection of images and rate them from Favorites to duds

I used to do freelance photo editing and it was not uncommon to be given up to 20,000 images from a photo agency and asked to edit it down to about 20-30 pictures for a story. Now it is highly unlikely you will ever deal with those kind of quantities, but the same editing process I used for that will also work just as well for an edit of 500 photos.

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Don't run away from your photos!

Don't run away from your photos!

We are living in a constant state of digital acquisition and accumulation, and nowhere is that more evident than with our photos. Last year it was estimated that over one trillion photos were taken.

How many did you take? Now think about how many photos you will have in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? And what about video? Yikes!

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