Contact Sheet

Blog Author Richard Newman

My copy of TPS Contact Sheet came in the mail a couple of days ago. I spent a long time just looking at it, thinking about it, and I’d like to share some thoughts.

Please do not take this for granted! Do NOT assume that it will show up in your mailbox. Here’s why. I was the executive editor of the Newsletter for the Photographic Artist, published by Calumet Photographic from 1996 until well after 2000. That publication was a continuation of Fred Picker’s Zone VI Newsletter, when Calumet purchased his company. Before we printed the last issue, it had once again morphed into Student Photo, which was published for 3 more years. Student Photo was awarded Best Medium-Level Newsletter out of 25,000 entries. That was very nice while it lasted, but they’re all gone now, while Contact Sheet remains. Even with the power of a major company behind it, the others have failed where Contact Sheet keeps on giving TPS physical evidence of its members’ photography, passion, ideas, concepts and vision.

How important is this?  It’s critical in my opinion. Contact Sheet ties us together as a community because it puts the work of the membership physically in front of us. There is no waiting for an Internet connection or the solar cells to feed the batteries enough to power up the computer. It’s there in front of us and it demands our engagement.

What’s inside? There’s your work and commitment, laughter, thoughtfulness and pride. Ideas abound from the members. Sometimes the amount of creativity and original ideas make me return to look at old issues again and again. I have several binders of old Contact Sheets that I revisit every once in a while when I need inspiration. Also, there’s member news that allow me to see what TPS members are doing, where they are exhibiting their work and what’s going on in their photographic careers. I just love it.

Contact Sheet is a great resource for the membership! And, don’t think that Amy put me up to this blog, it’s critical that we all know what a resource we have in being TPS members. Thank you all for being a part of this great community!

Blog Author David Gremp

It warmed my heart when I brought in the mail the other day and saw the latest TPS Contact Sheet (volume 37. number 03. 2017). I don’t get much mail that puts a smile on my face these days, and that makes me sad. IRS checks are nice, but they only come once a year! Time was, the ritual of bringing in the daily mail brought hope for something fun, informative or stimulating: a letter from an old friend or relative, a photo magazine of some worth or an announcement that I’d just won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Grand Prize (Never happened!).

So even a small thing like the 6-page Contact Sheet was a nice surprise. And, what added to this issue was all of the photos from the 30th anniversary Members’ Only Show. It was such a pleasure seeing the awesome range of work that TPS members submitted and were selected for publication; a true encapsulation of the many wonderful things that photography and photographers can capture and create.

While I don’t live in Texas and am not even a paying or subscribing member of the Society, I have always respected their/your contributions to contemporary photography and the passion generated by the members. I’m from Chicago, which has a long photographic history and legacy, from its museums, galleries and educational institutions, but I’ve always felt that it was all kind of disjointed or disparate, with no real sense of community. So it’s nice to see and feel a part of a group effort, even as a contributor. I feel honored to be a part of it with outsider status.

The last time I was part of a group of like-minded folks was while I was working at Calumet Photographic. In my 30+ years with the company, we felt like we were doing a great service to photographers of all interests and talents. We published The Photographer’s Catalog (1980–2008) that offered (explained and sold) “all things photographic” to anyone anywhere. We shared our passion and knowledge of photography with unique and creative publications such as the Journal of American Photography (1983–1985) and the Newsletter for the Photographic Artist (1996–2000). All were attempts to create a sense of community with all who were passionate about photography, from aspiring students to successful pros. And, I was very proud to be an integral part of it all. But, alas, alack, all gone now! However your TPS Contact Sheet survives! As Richard says, “Don’t take it for granted!”

One other thing that I feel is important to savor: competition! The Members’ Only Show is a huge benefit that you should embrace and be proud of. I have recently been working on my CV for a personal website, and it’s forced me to go back into my old resumes and archives for exhibits and awards that I have long forgotten. I was finishing graduate school in the late ‘70s and submitting work to every photo competition I could find, many generously listed in Afterimage, a publication by the Visual Studies Workshop (which I see is STILL alive!). I remember the excitement of putting together slide sheets and packaging prints to send them off in hopes of being accepted. I also remember the rush of receiving those acceptance letters and even winning a few “prizes.”

TPS members still have these opportunities and, perhaps more importantly, a sense of community. You need to feel that pride and not take it for granted. In the wonderful words of Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, enjoy the ride!”

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