Words are not sufficient to describe seeing a total eclipse of the sun in person. I have dreamed of seeing a total eclipse my entire life. I've been watching eclipse photography since the early 80's as it progressed from the film era into digital. I've seen countless photos of eclipses from around the world. Nothing prepared me for the experience. As the sun winked out of view in my viewing glasses, and I took them off, I was it a totally different world. The sun replaced by a black hole, the brightest thing in the sky a ring of light with billowing curtains of gossamer flowing from it. It was if I was transported to another planet, so profound was the change from partial eclipse to totality. Superlatives seem an insult.
Cameras are like our memories: They preserve snapshots of they way things are at a unique point in time, creating links to places, people and events that we can no longer visit in person. The conflict between this sense we have of eternity, and yet being stuck in mortal bodies, provides a never-ending protagonist as we photographers tell stories by writing with light.
Today I came across this photo I made in 2013 of one of the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center. I was struck with a new connection to it, as this week part of the tower has been torn down to make way for the new Falcon 9 Heavy rocket made by SpaceX.
I took this photo on a pilgrimage of sorts. I love watching while history is being made. As a young photographer it fueled my desire to be a photojournalist. In high school, I was able to cover part of the 1988 Presidential race as Ronald Reagan and Michael Dukakis both visited my swing state of Ohio. Seeing people up close that I’d only watched on the evening news was an incredible rush to a 16-year-old.
Over time, I realized that I value a personal connection to places and events. It’s one thing to see a picture of something like Stonehenge, but until I stood before it, it wasn’t as real.
It’s with that motivation that I traveled to Kennedy Space Center in the spring of 2013. NASA was flying Space Shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles, and I had secured VIP passes to be on the flight line the morning it flew out. I really wanted to see a space shuttle on the back of a 747, and this was my last chance because it was never going to happen again. I was also able to take a special tour of Launch Complex 39A...the site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took flight to become the first men on the moon. This launch pad went on to serve the shuttle program with 82 shuttle launches. Because the pad was not in use for the first time in nearly 35 years, up-close tours were allowed in ways that hadn’t been before, and are no longer available, since it has become a main launch site for SpaceX.
It was a powerful moment for me to stand inside the fence at pad 39A and have a few brief minutes to examine and photograph a place I’d thought about since I was a small boy. This is a very personal photograph that represents far more than just the subject before the camera. And today, knowing that this scene is gone forever, I’m very glad I had the chance to make it.
If you are like me, there are certain restaurants you’ll go out your of your way to experience. I have my favorites, and I bet you can picture your favorite spot, and maybe even your favorite dish, right now.
So what’s the big deal? It’s just food. You can probably buy the same ingredients the chef uses, and cook them at home, right?
Not so much...
Part of dining out is experiencing the chef’s creativity and talent. That creativity intrigues us so much, there’s an entire TV network dedicated to food, with competitions where chefs showcase their training and talent. The shows always start out with a grand introduction, listing where the chefs studied, which chefs they worked under, and which restaurants they worked at, or own. They then open their mystery baskets and have to turn seemingly contradictory foods into something that will impress the distinguished panel of judges.
If I invited one of these chefs over and asked them to cook something from my pantry, it would be far better than anything I’ve ever cooked. Think about it. To become a talented chef, these people have studied at culinary school, worked for other top chefs at top restaurants where most of us will never eat, have tasted thousands upon thousands of recipes and ingredients, and probably prepare more meals in a day than we do in a month. It’s something they have poured their whole life into mastering. They are so practiced and skilled, they can combine all this experience and creativity into tastes and flavors I’d never dream of.
That’s the easiest way to explain what I do as a Fine Art Printmaker. I take people’s photographs and, using my years of study, skill, talent, and experience, I make a photograph look the best it can be. I make it into something that makes you feel happy about it, every time you look at it, so you can enjoy that photograph more.
It’s something every photograph, and everyone, can benefit from...so why don’t more people use a printmaker? After talking to my non-photographer friends, I discovered a number of reasons. The biggest one is that they simply didn’t know what a printmaker could do for them. Another was access; most printmakers today require ongoing work or large projects to work with. It isn’t easy to find a printmaker who will work on just one or two files. They typically want ongoing relationships with artists who will do a certain volume of work with them.
I’m out to change that, making printmaking more accessible for everyone. With my new “Printmakers Choice” service, I’ll take one of your photos and give you my take on it, as seen through my experience and taste, for just $35. Think of it as my food truck. I can give you the benefit of my 5-star restaurant experience at an incredible price because you just come to the counter, order, then trust my judgment. This setup streamlines my workflow, allowing me to offer a very high-end service without requiring any minimum orders. Want more collaboration? I can do that too...but it comes at a bit higher price.
My new order system makes it easy to order:
You can then use this file to order prints, canvas wraps, metal prints or whatever you choose (and I can help you find a good lab who will print your file well, if you’d like).
When you consider the cost of putting a picture on the wall...from the printing, to the framing...that it’s going to be a focal point of your room...and that it will be something your family will treasure for years to come...it’s easy to justify the $35 to make sure your photograph will look its best.
Rich Seiling is a pioneer of Fine Art Printmaking, having worked on thousands of prints for leading photographers.