Is There a Difference Between A Snapshot and a Photograph?

Peter Turnley is a great photographer. I admire his work. I have one his prints hanging in my home.

When I think of photographs of people, I think of posed versus unposed photographs. I prefer unposed photographs. Having said that, either posed or unposed photographs have the potential to reveal something precious and lasting about humanity.

Turnley accomplishes this way more than most photographers, whether or not his subject poses for the camera. That’s what makes his work special.


Lightroom Classic Reference Guide

Julieanne Kost of Adobe is the best Lightroom and Photoshop instructor I know. She’s just updated her free 33-page Lightroom Classic Tips, Shortcuts, and Quick Reference guide. It’s a concise PDF so it’s easy to search.

If you use Lightroom Classic this is a great resource. It’s amazing all that Lightroom can do. I don’t think any other photography software is better documented than Adobe Lightroom.



Anna, a young woman training to be a nun in 1960s Poland is on the verge of taking her vows when she meets her only living relative for the first time and learns that she is Jewish and that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. Together they discover what happened to Anna/Ida’s family.

This compact masterpiece has the curt definition and the finality of a reckoning—a reckoning in which anger and mourning blend together.

David Denby, The New Yorker

This jewel is only 82 minutes long and every moment makes good use of the viewer’s time. The story is one example of the decimation of Poland’s Jews during World War II. But in the end, this is not a film about Poland or the Holocaust – but about life.

The film, which came out in 2013, is in black and white. The places photographed are ordinary yet the cinematography is stunning. Each scene looks like a black and white photograph made by a Magnum photographer using a Leica camera. Łukasz Żal is a superb, young cinemaphotographer born in Koszalin, Poland.

Ida is played by Agata Trzebuchowska. Her character is sweet, innocent and beautiful. Her aunt Wanda – Agata Kulesza – is also a fine actress.

Pawel Pawlikowski directed the film. He was born in Warsaw in 1957. At the age of 14, Pawlikowski left Poland to live in Germany and Italy, before settling in Britain. In 2004, he directed My Summer of Love with Emily Blunt and Natalie Press.

This film touched me deeply and left me thinking for a long time about what’s important and what’s not. It is among the best films I have seen.


“The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner”

Photo of Friedrich Kellner in 1934. Scanned from family album by Professor Robert Scott Kellner

I am reading the recently published second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries “show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe.”

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.


Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


The Elusive Search for a Small, Light Full Frame Camera

Scott Kelby explains that size and weight are not good reasons to switch to mirrorless cameras from DSLRs:

It’s time to face it — the new full-frame camera bodies from Nikon, Sony, and Canon aren’t really that much smaller (if at all), and if they are lighter, we’re talking a few ounces (not pounds). This isn’t awesome because one huge reason so many people were attracted to mirrorless in the first place was the dream of a super high-quality camera without the bulk and weight of a DSLR. That dream is fading away as many of the new bodies being released are relatively close in size and weight to their DSLR counterparts.

Kelby goes on to add that if:

you actually want a legit super lightweight mirrorless body and lens, you almost have to leave Sony, Canon and Nikon full frame and go with a crop sensor or Micro 4/3, like a Fuji or a Lumix with a fixed pancake lens (nothing wrong with Fuji’s, Lumix or Olympus cameras btw, all three make great mirrorless cameras), but if your goal is a lightweight carry-around camera that takes great photos, why not just use your iPhone’s camera instead?

This post resonated with me. I own a Canon R5. There are times I am happy to carry it. But quality Canon RF lenses are both heavy and expensive. For example, Canon’s RF 50mm F1.2 L USM lens weighs over two pounds (950 grams) and costs $2,299. That’s a heavy and expensive kit.

Sometimes, I want to go light. For those times, I have the Ricoh GR III. The Ricoh is small and light. It fits in the palm of my hand. It has a fixed 28mm f2.8 lens and a crop sensor. I think it takes better pictures than an iPhone, especially in low light. But the Ricoh lacks a viewfinder and the ability to change focal length. The screen on the iPhone is great and the iPhone 12 Pro offers three focal lengths.

If you want a small, light full frame digital camera, Leica has two options available: the Leica M and the Leica Q2, each with either a color sensor or a black and white sensor. However, Leicas are expensive. And the Leica M lacks autofocus. I know not everyone values great autofocus, but I sure do. The Canon R5 autofocus is amazing. And the Leica Q2 — like the Ricoh GR III — has a fixed 28mm focal length lens. But the Q2 is much bigger and heavier than the Ricoh GR III. The Q2 won’t fit in a pocket but the Ricoh GR III will.

I would love a small, light full frame mirrorless camera with a viewfinder. But right now, the options don’t seem appealing.


Photography Books

Over the years, I have collected books filled with images that have moved me in a lasting way. I am sharing a list of them here. I will update the list over time.

When I arrived in Paris twenty-five years ago, at the age of nineteen, the city I encountered sang to my senses. My heart and mind were immediately stimulated by its light, vibrancy and texture. The French language entered my ears like music, and suddenly communication seemed not merely functional but a celebration of feelings. I quickly grasped that in order to understand Parisians I would have to speak French well; otherwise, I would never be able to get to know the beautiful, mysterious women I was seeing everywhere I looked.

Peter Turnley, An Affair of the Heart, (page 13) 2000

I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.

James Nachtwey