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How To Make Pictures That Tell A Story

June 17th, 2018

How To Make Pictures That Tell A Story

Most of my work as a Catholic photographer has been to document public figures: statesmen, celebrities, professional athletes, and leaders of the world religions. This is important work because what your camera is doing is telling the story of history in the making in ways that words cannot. I have had to learn to be a tight-lipped and trustworthy person who has excellent relationship skills, yet is unnoticed and doesn’t get in the way of the moment -- a fly on the wall. I've learned to remain humble in the moment, too, and not let the “power” faze me. They will pick up on it, and this will show in the pictures.

Many of my people pictures from over the years have become fine art photography. Though in recent years there has been an interest in street photography as fine art, which are pictures that illustrate a society or a culture, I try to tell a stronger story with my pictures and go deeper to transform the viewer to stop them, to make a more positive and lasting impression.

Many of you will not be in the position to photograph public people in private moments, but you may be in situations that call for you to be like a fly on the wall. The key to making pictures of people in this way is the element of waiting. I’ve mostly learned (how to do) this because of how I was born in an Italian Catholic family, as my camera has found its way into in many churches. People here are deeply personal, reverent and holy, and its important to be sensitive yet understand that a click of the shutter in the right moment will tell a great story (about today) in the next decade or century.

When I start walking around a church with my camera, for example, people will usually watch me for a while. But then after some time I start to fall into the background and they forget I’m there. I then somewhat have their trust, and, it is at this moment their heart and Soul comes to life ... An outward expression of their inner thoughts or beliefs.

Back when I shot more film, my workhorse cameras were the Nikon F3HP with a quiet shutter. It was important too for my lenses to have a lot of glass (I mostly used the 85mm f/1.4), which means they need to be really bright and let in a lot of light. Now that digital sensors see a lot more light this is a bit easier, but the rules are still the same to prevent motion and un-focussed pictures. This brings me to the key element of all this ...

You really need to be one with your camera and feel the light as your camera sees it.

For example, sometimes I will be propped discreetly in a corner with my eye on a moment and, to capture it, I’ll need to hold the camera at waist level. If the subject sees me move the camera to my eye the moment will change instantly. So, I may only get one shot and it will have to be right. You learn this by practicing it and making all the mistakes so that you know what not to do in the ‘real’ moment.

My present workhorse digital camera is the Pentax K-10D. It has a CCD sensor that collects the image as analog then converts it to digital. The results are images that look like film to me. This is how I want my images to look and feel, because I usually don’t post process any more than a slight tweak. I do most of the work (composition, lighting, and exposure, etc.) in-camera through the viewfinder, as if it where still a film camera.

I'm also now experimenting with iPhone photography in a documentary form, known as Art Phoneography.

One of the great documentary photographers, Edward Steichen, whom I studied while a student at Columbia College Chicago, has said “Photography is a major force in explaining man to man”. It is these words that really have made a lasting impression on every time I click the shutter. Because humanity needs images that are examples of hope and goodness.

Art is not a luxury, and my mission is to share hope and God's love in the world.

Why is this?

Because growing up as a Catholic, it was impressed on me that many of the Catholic Saints were born with shortcomings. How they are recognized by the Church today, through icons and illustrations, is because of how they transformed their shortcomings into virtues or goodness.

Likewise, all of us posses goodness, and (because of this) we need ‘fly on the wall’ examples that tell the story of (your) history in the making in ways that words can not.

So keep making pictures that tell a story about life.


Photo: 'At The Heart Of Everything' by Frank J Casella https://frankjcasella.pixels.com/featured/at-the-heart-of-everything-frank-j-casella.html


Caption: Cardinal Blase Cupich (then archbishop) of Chicago prays at the Tabernacle before Mass during a parish visit.



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Fence on the Wooded Green by Frank J Casella

June 13th, 2018

Fence on the Wooded Green by Frank J Casella

Fence on the Wooded Green by Frank J. Casella

A white picket fence wraps between the trees at the Glenwoodie Golf Course in Illinois.

I am not a golfer. But I love to ride in the cart. When I photograph golf outings they give me a cart to tool around. I often can find time to go off into the nooks and crannies of the course to look for it's beauty.

Here I found the details of a tree and its leaning trunk to be most interesting juxtaposition with the curved straight lines of a white picket fence.

It is said that more business transactions happen on the golf course than anywhere else. I've also seen more money donated to important causes through golf outings than anyplace else.

There is beauty from a golf course for everyone I think. From it's scenery, to a peaceful respite away from a busy life, to sit under a tree, or to drive a cart to nowhere and find your way back.

My hope is that, with this picture, you can bring the memories of the golf course to your living space, or to gift your friends or loved ones with a smile on their face.


Wall Art, Home Decor, Greeting Cards, and More https://frankjcasella.pixels.com/featured/fence-on-the-wooded-green-frank-j-casella.html

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Beauty of Reflection by Frank J Casella

June 12th, 2018

Beauty of Reflection by Frank J Casella

Each day we can live the promise that our lives are a reflection of the true beauty we are given.

That the choices we make, or not, reflect onto others the beauty they see in us, and thus the beauty they see in themselves, or not.


Wall Art, Home Decor, Greeting Cards, and More https://fineartamerica.com/featured/beauty-of-reflection-frank-j-casella.html

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Father And Son Wisdom Walk By Frank J Casella

June 6th, 2018

Father And Son Wisdom Walk By Frank J Casella

A Father and Son out for a walk, sharing bullet points about life.


A Dad's job is to balance out what Mom says, because there is something about the voice of Dad that determines in our kids the image they see of themselves as a person and member of society.


In other words, Moms do the nurturing, but it is Dad who provides respect and stability in our kids through, not long conversations but, little snippets of (Godly) wisdom.


Wall Art, Home Decor, Greeting Cards, and More:
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Fatherhood - What is your ID as a Man

June 1st, 2018

Fatherhood - What is your ID as a Man

By Frank J Casella, Photographer

While growing up my Father often said to me “You’re a Casella, and Casella’s don’t do that”. He was referring to how our words and actions create the identity of our name. As a Catholic man, we are given the responsibility to define what our (family) Name means for this generation.

Men, we all make mistakes, but we need to example to our kids how to clean it up like spilled milk and move on. Our job is to balance out what Mom says, because there is something about the voice of Dad that determines in our kids the image they see of themselves as a person and member of society.

Recent studies tell us that Dads determine the church habits of their children and thus to a significant degree their eternal destiny. According to one study, if a father doesnʼt go to church no matter how faithful the mother is, only one child in fifty will become regular church goers.

In other words, a Father has the power to pass on blessings or curses to his wife and family. In order to be a blessing, though, we as men must first be open to receiving the blessings. Likewise, the reason I believe that God has his hands on America is that America is pro-Israel.

Genesis 48:15 shows how blessing are spoken by Fathers. We shape the image of our wife by what and how we speak to her. Daughters will marry someone who disrespects her because our actions as her Father ( to her Mother ) illustrate to her this is how life works. When we speak positive encouragement to our daughters about who she is as a person and a women, it gives her more confidence to be more than just a pretty face to men. Men, we need to speak to our kids about their future by painting for them a picture of success.

The relationships of parents greatly affects the psyche of our kids. Kids need to see us men hold our wife and kiss her in appropriate ways. Likewise, our sons and daughters need to have from us hugs and meaningful touches of affection otherwise they view us as authoritative. Moms do the nurturing, but it is Dad who provides respect and stability in our kids through, not long conversations but, little snippets of ( Godly ) wisdom.

Guys! As the priest of our house, we need to example and speak to our family about identity and what it means to be a insert your Name here _____. Commit to correcting their path. God uses the broken experiences of our lives to turn it into His glory, if we are open to letting Him.

Receive these blessings and pass it on. You only fail when you give up.

Shop now my Fatherhood collection https://frankjcasella.pixels.com/collections/fatherhood


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Fast Food by Frank J Casella

May 30th, 2018

Fast Food by Frank J Casella


Metra Chicago Millennium Train Station. It's on both sides as you walk to or from the trains and the street. Always busy just like this.

Every time I see this, I wonder with the abundance of food in the United States, if the excess of what is slightly 'old' can not only feed our poor, but people in other countries as well.

This all reminds me back a few years ago, when I was on a plan to maintain proper weight through portion control. How much food I ate that I really didn't need to.

On a recent family trip to the city, one fast food place had a promotion to buy one burger and get another free. Each of us bought the promo, and on the way out the door handed our second burger to the poor asking for pocket change.


Shop Now https://frankjcasella.pixels.com/featured/fast-food-frank-j-casella.html



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Frank J Casella Photography - My Top Seller

May 24th, 2018

Frank J Casella Photography - My Top Seller

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about my photography is, “What is your top selling image?”

I often smile with this question, because it’s not the one you may think. At least it’s not what I expect. But then again, it doesn’t surprise me.

It’s mostly purchased on greeting cards and phone cases, but it’s also on the walls in Chicago and New York skyscrapers (that I know of), as well as guest room walls of a four-star hotel chain worldwide.

That would be Perfect Bloom Magnolia: A pink and white magnolia flower in perfect bloom beautifully hangs on a tree in the sunlight. I have to agree, it’s beautifully done, and absolutely breathtaking! You can almost smell the fragrance!

I happen to come across this flower while out for a dog walk (sound familiar?), The sunlight was at the right angle, and the blossom was spot on swoon worthy. I also lucked out with the blue sky for the background, and not other distracting elements.

For you photography nerds, I exposed for the shadow detail, then post processed for the highlights. I then did some minor tweaks, like sharpen, vignette, and blurred the background a bit more.

Mostly, carried over from my film days, I make the image in the camera with the viewfinder, instead of doing all that work post exposure, as what is often done today with digital photography.

So, this is the artwork that has been my top seller, it regularly gets favs, and likes, and comments, and is also the most viewed photograph on my online store as well.

View Perfect Bloom Magnolia by Frank J Casella

Welcome to Frank J Casella Artist Photography Blog

May 21st, 2018

Welcome to Frank J Casella Artist Photography Blog

Subscribe to my blog click here and receive new blog posts, and latest photo uploads, straight in your inbox!


Pictures speak in ways that words can not. I've had a camera in my hand since I was a kid, and since then perfecting how to put my viewer where my subject is -- I call this "Pictures People Listen To".


I'm a product of Columbia College Chicago and, shortly after, my childhood dream became reality when I was assigned to photograph the ministry of the (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Chicago - the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. 

My artwork style is inspired by Norman Rockwell. I'm privileged to be nurtured by John H. White - Pulitzer Prize photojournalist.


To that end, here are positive reasons why I post each new entry primarily on my own site, not on social media:


1. Having a home

This blog is a creative outlet for me. When I want you to know something, I'm going to talk about it here. This is where you'll be able to find me over time and space. This is my home. People in my old neighborhood used to just drop by to sit on the front porch and catch up; this site serves the same purpose for me. It's something we can depend on so we can always be in contact.


2. Internet citizenship

This is called the "web" because our sites all interconnect with links. Hyperlinking is what gives the Internet its richness. Following links has helped me learn so much, and give back. My own site lets me do that.


I've become passionate about designing my life around focused work and protecting my time from distraction and devices. After all, it's the only way to get any photography done.


Follow along with my journey by subscribing below. Talk to you soon!


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Frank J Casella Photography May Update - Life in a Square

May 19th, 2018

Visual Stories and Lessons from Life in a Square Picture



Hi There!

It's that time again that I send you a monthy email update, in addition to your weekly Thursday mails. This is where I share with you features of my website, or recent news, instead of the popular picture of the week.

One of the more recent collections I've added to the site is pictures in the square format. What I love most about this format is the ability to provide strong composition, balanced with story telling elements that create emotion and immediate impact.

Square format often times is easier to decorate with as well, as the art is often more forgiving when arranging your wall decor. The square also fits well inside the dimentions of the Hand Bags, Pillows and Shower Curtains, and Mugs, and plays well with the Round Beach Towel which is the latest craze.

You may recall, back in the day when film photography was introduced, everything was in square. Do you remember the square prints on Kodak paper with the white boarder from when you got your film developed? I still have those is a shoe box!

Eventually the rectangle came into play that we know of today, and the square faded away. Now it seems to be coming back into being a favorite again, especially with interior disigners for home decor.

One of the things you will find with my square pictures is this format lends itself to powerful visual stories, or lessons about life. I'm inspired by how people tell me they buy a greeting card of these and frame them for their night stand or desk, or to give to a friend.

You can visit the Life in a Square collection at the button below, and remember to hit the 'Products' drop-down to shop your options. Enjoy!


Talk to you next Thursday,

Frank


Shop Life in a Square Collection




Chi-town photos by Frank J Casella

May 17th, 2018

Chi-town photos by Frank J Casella

Chicago is one of the most iconic cities in America. From Wrigley Field to the Bean, the Windy City is full of famous landmarks. Its amazing skyline and many bridges make for gorgeous photographs that will bring life to any room. Whether you were born and raised there or you consider it your adopted home, Chi-town photos make for chic home decor.

Whether you were born and raised here or you consider it your adopted home, Chi-town photos make for chic home decor.

You'll find my pictures of Chicago carry my strong points of people and human behavior, and the interplay of shadows and lines. I try to illustrate more of the vibe of this most beautiful city in the world, rather that the usual views of landmarks.

I was born and raised in Chicagoland, and can not imagine living anyplace else. I hope you find this through my pictures and, as the summer months bring with them the nice weather, you'll see why I call this place home.

Photo Gallery City of Chicago Scenes by Frank J Casella https://frankjcasella.pixels.com/collections/city+of+chicago+scenes


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