October 4, 2013

Photo Story: An Occasional Series About Photos We Love

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I didn’t want to go that far back in time but it was the right thing to do. I knew poring over old my archive of photographs would lead to more than a few recoils of horror but the optimist in me said it would be cathartic. I knew my archive held more than a few diamonds in the rough – after all, I have been at for a quarter of a century. No sane person would spend that amount of time doing the same thing over and over – would they?

Eric and I have talked for a while about doing an occasional series of blog posts that showcase photos we’re passionate about. We discussed that it would be an opportunity to talk about any kind of photo even those not related to our current passion of documenting weddings in a beautiful and meaningful way. After all, we’re photojournalists first, it so happens that weddings fall nicely under the umbrella of what we do: We tell stories with photos.

Now that I’m fully engaged in the idea (yet still only 5% through an archive of 244,846 and counting photos) I’m starting to see the value of going back. From the first published photos in my college paper, the Metropolitan, to the family photos I took at Washington Park two weeks ago, I see the arc of a story that is uniquely mine. I see how terribly framed or poorly exposed some of those first photos were but there’s a glimmer of what was to be. I see the quick improvement after landing my first internship at the Greeley Tribune. There’s nothing like a photo editor putting a camera in your hands everyday and handing you the days assignments. You get good in a hurry. There’s no alternative to putting in the time in photography. In looking back at these photos there’s no doubt that I’ve put in some time.

In this series we will look at a photo or group of photos and explore the back story. Sometimes we’ll talk deeply and passionately about the photographs we make and why we like them. Other times we’ll let the photos do most of the speaking. Either way, our goal is to show how passionate we are about telling stories with our photography.

The photo that leads this blog entry was taken in Loveland on September 25, 2007. The red and yellow building houses a Tortilleria La Autentica that I visited on the first day of working at the Loveland Reporter-Herald. That day I told myself to file away that spot in the memory banks. I knew it would be a good background for something. Months later while looking for a feature photo to fill a hole in the next day’s paper, I came across these kids riding unicycles near the library. I followed them and inwardly rejoiced as they headed north on Washington Street. I knew this would carry them past the building. As an added bonus, the light was perfect. I had to laugh when I reread the cutline that explained why they chose to ride unicycles:

Elijah Butts, 14, left, and Joel Freeman, 12, unicycle their way past Tortilleria y Panaderia La Autentica Tuesday afternoon near Washington Avenue and Fourth Street in Loveland, Colo. The two and a group of their friends started riding unicycles a little over a year ago because too many people were riding bikes and skateboards.

Don’t worry, we won’t switch from photography to carpentry just because there are too many photographers. We love doing what we do. And, after years of working for newspapers and magazines, we found that switching gears to photograph weddings wasn’t switching gears at all. We still document the important moments – everyone’s just dressed better.

Chris Stark
Wedding Photojournalist at Stark Bellamy Photography
Chris Stark is an award-winning photojournalist and former news photographer who honed his craft at several Colorado newspapers. Documentary wedding photography translates perfectly into Chris' fly-on-the-wall style. Chris lives in Longmont, Colorado with his wife and daughter and spends his free time on the bike or hiking with his family.
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