Meet the Street Photographer Documenting Divisadero for 12 Years and Counting

Hey, that’s me!

 

 

 

 

 
It was wonderful to sit down with my local online publication Hoodline and talk about this ongoing documentary photo project I’ve been working on (for 12 years now).

Divisadero Corridor is a project that is near and dear to my heart. When I started it, back in 2004, I owned an Olympus point-and-shoot 3-megapixel camera. I thought it was the greatest thing at the time. There was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I had a blog – but no one read that.

The neighborhood I had just moved to was dark, gritty. Sandwiched between still colorful Haight-Ashbury and its weird cousin, the Lower Haight, the Divisadero Corridor didn’t warrant much explanation. It was (as it still is) a major north/south thoroughfare through San Francisco, a part of the much larger area known as the Western Addition. There were few businesses besides the car repair shops and gas stations. A couple of corner stores. A few quirky places to eat and drink (Club Waziema remains a favorite). No one came to Divisadero to do anything. But they used to. As I walked the Corridor and its surrounds I began to pick up on the rich African-American history that was once at its core. Sadly, I’ve watched the little parts of that which were still here in 2004 be chipped away at even more. Yet, I’ve also watched a slow and careful gentrification take place. I was here when the shift was made to calling the neighborhood NoPa, but as I still photo walk the Corridor a couple of times a week, I can still feel the beat of Divisadero. It’s all about where you look.

 

New Collateral for Jeanne & Mike: Original Art

On the back of our success with my short film about my parents and the art in their house, we thought it was time to freshen up the collateral. These double sided postcards will continue to help KazzaDrask Media spread the word.

If you haven’t seen Jeanne & Mike: Original Art yet (or just want to watch it again…and again), visit the film’s website. You can also like the Jeanne & Mike: Original Art page on Facebook and keep updated on the film’s progress on the film fest circuit and upcoming screenings.

Jeanne and Mike 2016 collateral

 

jean and mike backside of postcard

Let Your Instagram Feed Be Your Photo Portfolio

instagram feedThis is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time. It comes from photographer and designer Andrew Griswold (@the_gris) via FStoppers. It is particularly relevant when you think of how widespread mobile is these days. Who wouldn’t rather scroll through an Instagram feed on their phone or tablet instead of trying to click their way through an online portfolio, no matter how “mobile-friendly” it is intended to be?

I’ve been looking at a lot of photo portfolio websites over the past year. First and foremost because I love discovering a photographer and exploring their work and processes. It’s inspirational and it always sets the bar higher for my own work. I have several favorites and I’ve bookmarked their websites on my laptop. Something far more worthy to look at when taking a break instead of Facebook. (Note to self: Unbookmark Facebook!)

Secondly, I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to having my own online photo portfolio, whether as an offshoot of this website or a standalone. And every time I get close to pursuing that, I experience a mild anxiety attack. Show me any freelancer out there who wants another website to update and maintain. (As a temporary solution, I’m using Tumblr to showcase a current project (Divisadero Corridor) and current photo work and inspirations (KazzaDrask Mixed Media). Both of these sites are easy to maintain from my iPhone. In fact, even film photos and photos from my non-mobile friendly digital Ricoh camera eventually get uploaded to Flickr, where they can be then downloaded to my phone for mobile sharing.

The ultimate in mobile sharing for photos of course is Instagram. I was an early adopter of the app, posting my first photo 258 weeks ago (which is early 2011). I’ve done a bit of “curating” my feed over the years, mostly removing photos I wasn’t especially proud of and lately adding the occasional #latergram as I sort through images thinking about my photo portfolio website. But what I love about the idea of letting your Instagram feed be your photo portfolio is the honesty that comes from the app’s original intention, to share an image in an instant (preferably using the app’s built-in camera, but obviously, the plethora of smartphone camera apps long ago upped that game).

While those of us with a more professional photography bent might pause a bit to edit and then time a post, even the most disciplined of us can get caught up in the app’s instant gratification nature. “This is a really good photo and I’ve got to share it — now!”

With that comes the instant feedback. A “like”. Sometimes even a comment or a thumbs up, smiley face or lightning bolt emoji. Whoo-hoo! They like me, they really like me…

But back to the honesty. That rawness, vulnerability, a glimpse into one’s personal life is certainly rare even in Stacy Kranitz’s online portfolio. Yet, follow Stacy Kranitz’s Instagram feed (@stacykranitz). Well, that’s what I’m talking about!

In considering dropping the idea of developing a photo portfolio website, I have to drop the idea of having my work narrowed down and neatly categorized or “projectized”. I’m willing to bet that of the almost 600 photos in my Instagram feed maybe about 10 percent would make it to my mythical portfolio website (and that a good portion of the rest of my work is either unprocessed on my desktop or in Dropbox or eventually processed and haphazardly uploaded to Flickr). Don’t go there – but I’m sure you will.

None of this probably bodes well for anyone reading this hiring me for a shoot – which is the point of having a photo portfolio website. But if you’re here, on KazzaDrask Media reading this post, take a look around and you’ll see that photography is just one component of my digital media business. And, you’ll recognize that I am able to deliver whichever service you engage me for, despite my disorganized Flickr account.

By using Instagram as my photo portfolio, you might never know about my work as an online and digital media revolutionary, but you will know a lot more about me. And if a photo is as much about the image as it is about the person behind the camera, then using Instagram in the manner it was intended to be used – to witness things as they happen (forgiving the occasional #latergram) – will indeed become the preferred way to at least take a first look at someone’s photography.

Sources:Why You Don’t Need a Website and Probably Never Will” by Andrew Griswold, Fstoppers; “Stacy Kranitz is TIME’s Pick for Instagram Photographer of 2015“.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art Named One of the Top 250 Indie Docs of 2015

spotlight film awards laurel

Earlier this year I wrote about a shift in KazzaDrask Media – from video to filmmaking, but keeping that iPhone front and center in the process. I had made what I considered a film – a short, independent documentary film about my parents and the art in their house called Jeanne and Mike: Original Art. I shot it with my iPhone 5s, took many of the still photos with my iPhone 5s and edited the film using iMovie. It was as much a study of my family’s history of self-taught artists as it was a study in making a film with the low-cost and readily available tools we all have at our hands. At the time of that post – I wondered if I could even call myself a filmmaker. Today I got my answer.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art has been named one of the top 250 independent documentary films of 2015 by the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Am I a filmmaker? Well, I guess I can say, “Hell yeah!”

We’re about halfway through the film fest circuit since the release of this film in mid-2015. A few other awards and recognitions have come our way, including being named an Official Selection of the Underfunded Film Festival and being nominated for best international short documentary by the monthly Wendy’s Online Film Awards (we didn’t win – but its all about being nominated, right?)

underfunded

Wendy's shorts laurel

While KazzaDrask Media is far from ready to give up our day job telling your stories using digital media – Kathy Drasky will continue to tell hers as a filmmaker with an iPhone.