Photography is about seeing with the mind’s eye. Our cameras merely record that idea to share it with others. And we all have a different way of seeing. When seeing becomes a profession like that of photojournalists, it becomes another very important tool in their arsenal. Steve Szydlowski is one such photographer, a photojournalist.
I first met Steve after a camera club meeting, and we chatted a little. Partly due to his easygoing personality, and partly because of having practiced photojournalism in countless different circumstances, he engages with others with ease. We quickly became friends and he has visited me many times before the Covid-19 era. Even then, he came to see us, but we stayed out in the backyard or chatted at the door. The last visit was the last Sunday to drop off a photo book he created, sharing a collection of his photographs.
Steve worked at the Providence Journal for 32 years as a staff photographer. During that time, he has been called to cover different kinds of stories, at different locations, under varied lighting conditions. Working on an assignment when the story may be unfolding before your eyes, there is not much time to set up the gear and explore different angles. All need to happen instinctively. Identifying the key elements, finding suitable angles, looking, and seeing the events, the people, the environment need to happen rapidly.
When Steve started this project, I gave him some pointers on how to use Lightroom to create his book, and prepare a PDF file for MagCloud printing. I had seen some of his work before when we printed a few together so that he could submit them for exhibits. The book project let me see more of his work. Whether it depicted a street in Providence or hotel stairs in Provance, the intentionality came through very clearly.
The book is over 70 pages long with about that many photographs. It is an eclectic collection of work that includes some almost abstract cityscapes, delicate still life, portraits, events, and the like. They all have one very important element, at least for me. They all convey the mood very well. There are no artificially opened shadows for more detail, nor do you feel that the colors are oversaturated. That dark shadow needs to be that black, and the bright red color of the Coca Cola truck is what the photograph is about.
Some photographs are almost whimsical, or borderline optical illusions. The important thing for us is to acknowledge that Steve saw that, and he did not leave it behind. All of them testify to his keen interest to observe the light and the shadow, and how they interact. The book is unpretentious, its simple and clean layout serving one main purpose: to push the photographs forward.
Take a look at the preview of the book, What I See, on MagCloud. You will enjoy the content. And, if the spirit moves you, order a copy and look at the printed images, my preferred way of looking at photographs. You will see work from the fields of Poland to the vineyards in Newport with grapevines covered in cloth, almost like bridal veils; from children in Ireland to the Dalai Lama visiting Newport, RI.
Very enjoyable collection, Steve. Get going on the next one!
You can see more of Steve’s work on Instagram.
You can write to him at: [email protected]
A few more photos on his Web site.
He will respond to comments written here, and answer questions if any.
Here is a small collection to give you an idea about his work, and to whet your appetite for the book.