John Chiara Shows His Photography Workflow

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Today I came across this video on Youtube of a photographer – John Chiara. The video takes 7 or so minutes and gives you an insight into the mind and process of a fairly unorthodox photographer using an extremely unorthodox camera. While it’s a film process and not digital I think there are some good things to take away from this photographer who made his own camera, who takes no more than one image per day and who spends considerable time and energy to get that single shot.

John’s process isn’t for everyone but I hope you enjoy this glimpse at his story.

Here’s one more video – similar the first but a little shorter.

Thanks to Gary Kelly (on Twitter) for the tip on this.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • That was out of this world cool. Thanks so much for sharing that.

  • wow, this is awesome. teaches us alot, really open my eyes. thanks Darren.

  • Very cool story. But I really think the guy is crazy. I mean…I have a lot of respect for what he does and I think the images that he’s produced are absolutely cool. But with his talent…I don’t see why he couldn’t do this all with a large format camera.

    The big takeaway that I have is one of his closing statements (paraphrased): “I like to spend time staring at my work. I think you really have to spend time with the work.”

    One shot a day is fine. But he’s spending a lot of energy on the process when he could be spending that time “with his work”.

  • Bader

    Thank you for sharing! That was a bit interesting. However, all this process was very unnecessary. It’s probably fun for this photographer to do or that is the only way photography interests him. But its not necessary at all.

  • richard

    Awe inspiring! This man can change the world. Love the process! What an incredible metaphor for life–joy in the journey. Thanks John –you’ve broaden my horizons.

  • Nicholas Brien

    So amazing to watch and really inspiring. Each photo should be a process that one thinks about and plans and puts that much effort into, even if its on a smaller scale. Mind blowing. WD

  • Fascinating!

  • I love this video. I would never do this because I hate fidgeting with my stuff, but I love that he does one picture a day, I love everything about it. Thank you so much for showing this vid!

  • Oh, I thought I was cool, when I was 10 years old and my brother just gave me a “brownie” type box camera…
    but this guy sure beats that – had I only known back then!
    🙂

  • Awesome. I so much admire inventive artists…

  • Great! The line, “I’m not going backwards, I’m trying to create something that’s my own”, exactly!

  • That was very cool. thanks for sharing that.

  • Amand

    such a freak

  • Captain Obvious

    BTW, this page demands that I permit *18* servers to script my browser.

    You ever heard of security? secure browsers? ones that disallow scripting by default?

    Since I can’t find this video on You Tube, from your description ( and won’t trash my system again with “shockwave”, a travesty of code, that thing ), I’m having to try enabling these servers to script my system, one by one, until I reach my tolerance.

    IF I’ve been able to get through to the YouTube page you mean ( WHY hasn’t there been a SIMPLE DIRECT LINK to the YouTube page? WHY disallow all low-vision disabled people AND all secure-browser people? ) then I get to see what you apparently want me to be able to see.

    If not -shrug- you made your site block low-vision people & secure browsers, you must have some reason for blocking us.

    Peculiar determination, though.

    PS. IF you fix your site so such links always come with a *plain* link to YouTube’s page, then please remove my comment, as it’d then be less-than-worthless.

    Blessings,

  • Captain Obvious

    Nope, it blocks me unless I go through Shockwave, which can’t happen: Shockwave destroys this system ( had to recover from backup several times before – some kind of hostile incompatibility ).

    Whatever, enjoy it, whatever it is.

  • Very interesting and unique. I likwe that he loves it and it shows in who he does it from start to finish! Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks so much for sharing!

    I’ve turned a room into a pinhole camera, but just for school kids to view the image, we didn’t take any photos. Pinhole cameras certainly are fun to make & use and the images are amazing.

  • Ursula

    Differengt and kind of geekish. He may achieve what he wants but why go through all this trouble that he is going through when he could get simmilar results the old fashioned way or digital. He limits himself with just one picture a day while with his talent he could blow the world apart with his art if he would do more. However, maybe 150 years down the road from now his artwork will bring a million dollars or more on the antique market. Though a DaVinci he is not

  • Marion Brizendine

    John: Your processing of your art is wonderful. You work is truly unique. Easier and faster are not necessarily what it is all about. Keep challenging yourself.
    Marion

  • He got his way into this life,like he got the skills, and maybe he like the whole processed.Would be a great photographer if he would do all his works on large format camera.
    But not everyone search for the money and wealth, maybe he’s just searching something within him, and find it with that kind of photography.
    Really open up my eyes and perspective.
    Nice Vids.!!!

  • Kenny

    He is inspiring

  • nicos

    I just love it ! You can only respect him for the way he treats photography. A way that a lot of photographer who never spent entire nights in a dark room can’t understand… but I’m wondering, how is he getting frome negative to positive? maybe a dumb question but with the size of the images this is quite a challenge… please, I need an answer !

  • Craig

    WOW ! That’s innovative and labor intensive. Imagine taking only 1 pic per day? And working hours to create it?

  • Claudita
  • Hi All,

    I see the Youtube video was taken down but you can go to Mr. Chiara’s site and view his photography video.

    http://www.lightdark.com

    It’s still quite amazing as is his bibliography.

Some Older Comments

  • Bay Area Guy November 22, 2008 06:38 am

    Hi All,

    I see the Youtube video was taken down but you can go to Mr. Chiara's site and view his photography video.

    www.lightdark.com

    It's still quite amazing as is his bibliography.

  • Claudita October 12, 2008 07:44 am

    Captain Obvious, here's the link to the videos
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0ta32g9M6c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL2SZW4gWPY

  • Craig October 11, 2008 04:03 am

    WOW ! That's innovative and labor intensive. Imagine taking only 1 pic per day? And working hours to create it?

  • nicos October 10, 2008 07:39 am

    I just love it ! You can only respect him for the way he treats photography. A way that a lot of photographer who never spent entire nights in a dark room can't understand... but I'm wondering, how is he getting frome negative to positive? maybe a dumb question but with the size of the images this is quite a challenge... please, I need an answer !

  • Kenny October 9, 2008 11:01 pm

    He is inspiring

  • azam October 9, 2008 03:02 am

    He got his way into this life,like he got the skills, and maybe he like the whole processed.Would be a great photographer if he would do all his works on large format camera.
    But not everyone search for the money and wealth, maybe he's just searching something within him, and find it with that kind of photography.
    Really open up my eyes and perspective.
    Nice Vids.!!!

  • Marion Brizendine October 9, 2008 03:02 am

    John: Your processing of your art is wonderful. You work is truly unique. Easier and faster are not necessarily what it is all about. Keep challenging yourself.
    Marion

  • Ursula October 9, 2008 01:31 am

    Differengt and kind of geekish. He may achieve what he wants but why go through all this trouble that he is going through when he could get simmilar results the old fashioned way or digital. He limits himself with just one picture a day while with his talent he could blow the world apart with his art if he would do more. However, maybe 150 years down the road from now his artwork will bring a million dollars or more on the antique market. Though a DaVinci he is not

  • keith October 9, 2008 01:00 am

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    I've turned a room into a pinhole camera, but just for school kids to view the image, we didn't take any photos. Pinhole cameras certainly are fun to make & use and the images are amazing.

  • Gina October 8, 2008 10:42 pm

    Very interesting and unique. I likwe that he loves it and it shows in who he does it from start to finish! Thanks for sharing.

  • Captain Obvious October 8, 2008 09:04 pm

    Nope, it blocks me unless I go through Shockwave, which can't happen: Shockwave destroys this system ( had to recover from backup several times before - some kind of hostile incompatibility ).

    Whatever, enjoy it, whatever it is.

  • Captain Obvious October 8, 2008 09:02 pm

    BTW, this page demands that I permit *18* servers to script my browser.

    You ever heard of security? secure browsers? ones that disallow scripting by default?

    Since I can't find this video on You Tube, from your description ( and won't trash my system again with "shockwave", a travesty of code, that thing ), I'm having to try enabling these servers to script my system, one by one, until I reach my tolerance.

    IF I've been able to get through to the YouTube page you mean ( WHY hasn't there been a SIMPLE DIRECT LINK to the YouTube page? WHY disallow all low-vision disabled people AND all secure-browser people? ) then I get to see what you apparently want me to be able to see.

    If not -shrug- you made your site block low-vision people & secure browsers, you must have some reason for blocking us.

    Peculiar determination, though.

    PS. IF you fix your site so such links always come with a *plain* link to YouTube's page, then please remove my comment, as it'd then be less-than-worthless.

    Blessings,

  • Amand October 8, 2008 07:31 pm

    such a freak

  • Seattle Wedding Photographer October 8, 2008 09:35 am

    That was very cool. thanks for sharing that.

  • Allyn October 8, 2008 08:46 am

    Great! The line, "I'm not going backwards, I'm trying to create something that's my own", exactly!

  • Amandalynn October 8, 2008 06:55 am

    Awesome. I so much admire inventive artists...

  • Sunnyman October 8, 2008 06:34 am

    Oh, I thought I was cool, when I was 10 years old and my brother just gave me a "brownie" type box camera...
    but this guy sure beats that - had I only known back then!
    :)

  • Abby October 8, 2008 05:16 am

    I love this video. I would never do this because I hate fidgeting with my stuff, but I love that he does one picture a day, I love everything about it. Thank you so much for showing this vid!

  • Paulo Sacramento October 8, 2008 04:42 am

    Fascinating!

  • Nicholas Brien October 8, 2008 04:40 am

    So amazing to watch and really inspiring. Each photo should be a process that one thinks about and plans and puts that much effort into, even if its on a smaller scale. Mind blowing. WD

  • richard October 8, 2008 04:39 am

    Awe inspiring! This man can change the world. Love the process! What an incredible metaphor for life--joy in the journey. Thanks John --you've broaden my horizons.

  • Bader October 8, 2008 04:23 am

    Thank you for sharing! That was a bit interesting. However, all this process was very unnecessary. It's probably fun for this photographer to do or that is the only way photography interests him. But its not necessary at all.

  • D. T. North October 8, 2008 03:57 am

    Very cool story. But I really think the guy is crazy. I mean...I have a lot of respect for what he does and I think the images that he's produced are absolutely cool. But with his talent...I don't see why he couldn't do this all with a large format camera.

    The big takeaway that I have is one of his closing statements (paraphrased): "I like to spend time staring at my work. I think you really have to spend time with the work."

    One shot a day is fine. But he's spending a lot of energy on the process when he could be spending that time "with his work".

  • Victor Augusteo October 8, 2008 02:17 am

    wow, this is awesome. teaches us alot, really open my eyes. thanks Darren.

  • Natalie Norton October 8, 2008 01:02 am

    That was out of this world cool. Thanks so much for sharing that.

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