Caretaker Public School : Detroit Michigan

Caretaker Public School : Detroit Michigan


When I first got a real job in photography I worked with an agency called Report/IFL in London.There we specialized in photographing working people. The, by then, elderly man in charge of the agency was Simon Guttman, he has a recognized place in the history of photojournalism, for one thing he gave Robert Capa his first camera and assignment on which he took a now famous image of Trotsky . Simon Guttman is also credited with starting the first photo agency to supply photojournalism in the way many do to day. When I worked with him late in his life he had lost none of his passion for photography or indeed left wing politics. He was a life long anti-fascist and supporter of Trade Unions. Simon always emphasized the importance of attempting to show the dignity of manual labour. I have since that time on always enjoyed being with people as they work especially in traditional industry but also in service industries and all sectors where people are really working. I have often enjoyed the company of real workers and enjoyed attempting to show them at their work. I know, now, I do not always photograph as Simon would have preferred, but he would still like this subject. He would definitely tell me not to shoot Ray as a silhouette. In fact he would have a valid point. Ray is a great guy who works diligently as a Public School Caretaker in Detroit. A great guy with endless patience and good spirits. Im sure he is a brilliant role model to the kids that he sometimes takes for drumming classes. Ray has been a drummer all his life and been in many bands. He still develops new techniques and skills and drums with such passion he has literally put himself in hospital on occasion. A great mix of decency, dependability and hard work with a hint of crazy dreams (I told you about the drumming but I did not mention his racing car) Ray is certainly a great guy that Simon Guttman would have appreciated were he still around.

[ 14 ] comments

  • Fab pic, Jez. Just a qick technical question. On your professional shoots do you shoot raw or large jpeg? If raw, does that slow down the whole process in any way or are your cameras able to cope? Also, do you miss the UK and your early days shooting and training as a photographer in that country? I hope one day to get over there myself if money allows, especially to London. Cheers. Dom.

    Dom @ October 11, 2006, 9:55 am

  • Yo Dom, Thanks for taking time to comment. These days I mostly shoot RAW but if I’m working really in the middle of nowhere or on some very fast moving piece of journalism then I use the highest quality JPEG’s. The only time the camera has difficultly with RAW is if you shoot long rapid bursts. It then needs a little rest……er………. which can be a problem……. certainly can be in news situations. I was in a crush of people with Hillary Clinton the other day Im suddenly right next to her…….Im thinking……er……nothing is happening…. why no more shots? Then it comes back to life…….er…….. clearly that moment would have been better on JPEG although the client wanted a front cover and maybe a poster so we agreed RAW. You should definitely get to the UK especially London. You know what they say: ‘If you are tired of london you are tired of life!’ Yeah….. England ……. sometimes I miss it……. I spent $20-00 on PG tips the other day…… England’s fave brand of tea….. which is only available rarely and at a premium over here. I stopped at a weird little place in Virginia with a red phone box and a Union Jack flying……….it claimed to be a British Cafe and proved it by being closed by 4PM……er…..thats just too convincing…….. in old style bits of the UK people still go for lunch and shut shop when you have your lunch break and want their services………this cafe was closed but its store bit was in fact still selling British goods (only till 5PM of course) all the Jaffa Cakes and Digestives, Marmite etc……all stuff that you didn’t know you were missing until you see them so I spent $100 on what would only be $20 worth of shopping in the UK……. yeah …..i guess i miss it sometimes. (Er……..don’t get me wrong sometimes when Im in NYC I cant believe I didn’t move here 20 years ago!) but I do miss British light ……. those over cast days in Northern England perfect for B&W……………. Check this out……. ‘Birdmen’ …….if you can its on the wall at San Francisco Airport…….a piece of photojournalism by Zak Waters who in the past worked with my London agents Insight-Visual…….. it perfectly demonstrates UK B&W northern light and is an intrinsically British story. I always thought this was a great set of pictures. Cheers Jez XX

    jez @ October 11, 2006, 12:56 pm

  • Be interesting to know which client you were photographing Hilary Clinton for. Are you mainly working for US newspapers/magazines or is it corporate clients? I assume it’s corporate because of the need for raw. I shoot commercially in the US too with digital cameras and the request is mostly raw. Seems you are all over the US working. Do you work freelance and find your own jobs, or through an agent? I’ve only recently obtained an agent and am still not sure whether I get more jobs now than previously when I worked alone. Of course the agent takes a cut, which has its advantages and disadvantages. What d’you thinK? Nice images above. Very nice.

    Tom Rowledge @ October 11, 2006, 1:21 pm

  • Yo Tom, Thanx for checking out the blog. Er……. Hillary C……… better not say which mag at the moment as its not out yet…… but mostly I am shooting advertising and corporate photography for both European and American Clients with some editorial for again both European and American magazines………I do everything through my agents Insight-Visual who are in London and here in the US of A……… I always advise people to get an agent……. but I also advise them to then really help their agent to get the work…… as Jerry McGuire (Tom Cruise as sports agent) would say ‘help me to help you’……….. photographers have got to work closely with and gel with their agents…… really like and trust them otherwise there is no point…….. I sometimes think photographers often sort of sign up with an agent but sort of don’t…… keeping some stuff out of their alliance. So they never really push to be 100% represented by that agent…….. the agent sort of knows that and sort of doesn’t bother with them 100%. Therefore nothing really happens and the photographers end up not feeling its worth it. I have been lucky I’ve had great agents…….. Marc Jackson who was previously the London director at Insight remains one of my best friends and Matt who is my Insight guy here in the USA is certainly one of my best mates over here…….. those guys who are my agents…… I have always been fully committed to them and them to me…… I would always advise people to do it like that and if then it is not working leave…….fully in.. or fully out…….. not half in half out all at once. Cheers Jez XX

    jez @ October 11, 2006, 2:11 pm

  • have to say JC that is a cracking shot. I am a floor shot person myself and I can appreciate the dirty trousers and the breath holding which got you that. Interesting angle for me is the cleaners shirt was it white? Or is it reflecting the blue of the doors? MJBx

    Marc Jacksons brother @ October 13, 2006, 1:21 pm

  • yeh MJB thanx for checking out the blog……and thanx for noticing its a floor shot………this was shot with the people who make the floor cleaner! So for political reasons…. I’ll have to state right now my trousers in no way became dirty…… of their floor applications is designed to allow you to not clean the floor for up to a year!…….Im sure this perfectly practical and all well and good…..but as I knew I was gonna end up flat on the floor… I was rather hoping that the year was starting either today or yesterday as it were! er…..his clothes were blue I think! Jez XX

    jez @ October 13, 2006, 1:58 pm

  • I love the composition and angle.. you also caught the reflection just right! Excellent work.

    Craig Wilson @ October 17, 2006, 2:26 pm

  • u know I use jpegs all the time. that is probably as my private work I still shoot on film. I have had huge posters done with high quality jpeg and they were amazing.

    Zak @ October 21, 2006, 4:58 pm

  • Looks like he missed a spot… not!

    Richard Houtby @ October 21, 2006, 10:04 pm

  • Yeah…you are right Zak when I was shooting all the Katrina aftermath I shot high quality JPEG on the EOS1 mk2’s. The resulting quality was fantastic for magazines and easily made a very high quality exhibition with prints at poster size A1. It seems to me the main advantage to RAW to us in the real world appears to be if you want to burn in or hold back areas of your image or indeed if you have not made a correct exposure in the first place! I guess you may have a fuller colour rendition in some circumstances but that is harder to see for sure…. most clients seem to prefer it, and its no big hassle so I now shoot mostly in RAW …… Jez XX

    jez @ October 22, 2006, 11:20 am

  • I know and you are right, they are the main differences. I was initially put off RAW as I started on the Kodaks which seemed natural for me after using Nikons all my life and wanting to keep full frame with 14 millions pixels. Anyway RAW was so slow on the Kodak. It is better with Nikons and the D2X is a wonderful machine. Jez you would love the D2x it is such an F5. I know you are Canon, but I also know you were Nikon most of your career. The only heap of shot about Nikon is this full frame bollocks I do not know what they are playing at. If Canon can any one can as they say… Are they forcing us to buy new lenses too? I hate this half frame rubbish. I have to buy a 14mm just so I can have somethign near to 28mm on my camera… What a load of shit. I do rate the Canons, but for me having never used a Canon in my life I would find it all to much as well as the credit card bill… Back to jpegs. I tend to shoot jpegs when the client wants me to shoot 600 images on Monday and Tuesday and have them on their desk on Wednesday morning. I just load everyting on to disc after the shoot on Tuesday and give them to the client and say there you are. They can have all the mages there and there and choose what they want. Saves me sifting throught hem all night. And to be honest a lot of clients are getting a bit sniffy about paying too much for post production. My rant over…

    Zak @ October 25, 2006, 7:20 pm

  • Hey Zak The mega Cannons are in a bit of a league of their own….as you can imagine I did not want to change from Nikon ….as you point out I had always used it…… first FM’s then FM2’s then F3’s then F4’s then F5’s……I even had a D100…….I was waiting for Nikon to get to the party with a mega pro camera but in the end it appeared they weren’t coming….. it was just the file size…… you can’t argue with it. In the end i just had to change to Canon.. cos clients were not willing to accept the smaller image file size. I have a couple of the huge EOS1 DS mk2’s and they are huge which can be a drag but they are pretty magnificent in all other regards….. cheers Jez XX

    jez @ October 26, 2006, 1:35 am

  • But my dx2 shoots 38mb jpegs and if they want bigger i fractal it up to anywhere in the region of 100mb. Apart from the full frame rubbish the Nikon d2x is there with the top end Canon and you dont need a PHD to focus the bloody thing…

    Zak @ October 26, 2006, 9:05 am

  • Hey baby Its done now……and the focus thing was kind of hard at the beginning…… will find they focus the wrong way! But the actual auto focus is miles better than any Nikon system I ever used……Im still a manual focus guy…..and weirdly I of course, i now find that Nikon is focusing the wrong way!!! Jez XX

    jez @ October 26, 2006, 10:42 am

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