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For the love of photography
Plan Your Next #132
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #132 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
💡 What’s new?
✍️ Watch me draw this week’s image using the Canvas drawing lamp (see below). Check it out from start to scratch here.
🎨 My live workshop—Approachable Design 7(!)—will be on the weekend of Dec 3/4. If you want to get on the waitlist, you can do that here.
It’s just a lamp. What’s the big deal?
There’s a reason people get obsessed with Canvas. Several actually. The circle lamp is well made, stable, nice to look at, and easy to use with your phone. Want perfect lighting in every video?
For the love of photography
The first camera was invented in 1816.
The earliest surviving photograph was taken in France, in 1825.
The first selfie was taken 183 years ago by Robert Cornelius, in 1839.
In 1888, George Eastman revealed the first mass-produced camera that included a roll of 100 exposures. (You had to mail the entire camera back to Kodak to get the film processed for an inflation-adjusted $312)
Polaroid created the first instant camera in 1941.
The first digital camera was launched in 1991.
Cameras have been around for a smidge over 200 years. And I’ve grown up around cameras all my life.
My family was never lucky enough to have a video camera, but my dad loved photography. He was a graphic designer and had several creative tools any kid would be lucky to have. His personal treasue was the Nikon Nikkormat. A daily shooter that felt like a piece of artillery. Out of the box, it looked like it was built for war.
It was all metal, mechanical, lined with springs and knobs, and dents. My favorite part of the camera was the extended film advance lever. Cranking it to the right was like doing a crunchy situp. It had just enough friction as it tugged film across the length of the camera, spooling it to the other side, frame by frame. It was addicting to advance the film, like a mechanically inclined dopamine hit.
As beefy as the camera was on the outside, inside, the film is like the beating heart. You can’t expose it to light, for fear of ruining the pictures inside. The film is sensitive, needing to be kept in darkness. And without film, you can’t capture anything.
Before cameras and film were invented, people used a camera obscura, a dark room with a pinhole of light on one side. The hole of light transfers the image from the outside of the room onto a dark wall on the inside of the room.
This analog way of viewing images helped people draw and paint pictures, and even safely view lunar eclipses. You might also have heard this called a pinhole camera.
Around the house, we had yet another monster. The Mamiya RB-67. A giant black container that sat broken for years until my love for photography started to go from a walk to a jog.
The Mamiya is a medium-format camera. Compared to 35mm, the difference is like HD-level quality compared to an old boob tube. Its beating heart was four times the size of the Nikkormat. The detail of its pictures was stunning, and every photo looked like a piece of art, even if you messed up the exposure settings.
I was 17 when I purchased my first film camera, the Nikon F90 SLR. The “F” was the international version, which was priced more affordably but came without a USA warranty.
I babied that lil’ knockoff, but it was built to embrace the pain of an amateur using it.
I was working at a photo studio called ProEx, where I met my first gaggle of photography friends. By day, we ate bubbles to make kids laugh for family portraits, and by night we were shooting long exposure shots of comets, stars, and waterfalls.
I was quickly getting immersed in this thing called photography, wondering how anyone might be able to make a few bucks doing it.
I ran a side hustle out of the photo studio, combining my love of Photoshop and photography by photoshopping ex-wives, ex-husbands, and short-lived boyfriends out of pictures.
It didn’t take long for my friends in the studio to refer me to customers who needed to erase old relationships from photos. I was making two incomes, slowly finding a detour in my life plan.
Photography gave me a way to look at the world differently. It introduced me to people who needed portrait studios to be retrofitted as things moved digital, as well as finding ways to display photos on websites.
Before long, I was working two jobs again: this time as a commercial photo assistant, and a web designer for all of my photo clients.
I decided to put the camera down and pick up a browser and HTML, launching me into a new world where art met design, and I never looked back.
Years later, I’ve owned dozens of cameras.
I’ve not thought about photography professionally since working in studios and watching the real pros work their magic, but knowing how to compose and pick the right exposure settings for the right photo is like being able to drive a stick shift.
Today, I use a camera that’s been in my possession longer than most cameras in the past. The Leica Q, which gives a subtle head nod to my dad’s old Nikkormat, creates images that would have left Joseph Nicéphore Niépce—the inventor of the first camera—stunned.
Thank God for Joseph, because 200 years ago, he figured out a way to capture an eight-hour-long exposure on a piece of pewter coated with asphalt.
Photography is incredible.
⚡️ Two creative hits for you to check out next
👨💻 iA Presenter: A new way to present slides
Slide decks are a challenge to a lot of people. I believe because it’s one of the most complicated things to do. It mixes storytelling, design, presentation, strategy, and distillation of ideas. It’s hard to be great at all of these!
But building slide decks start with telling a story, which requires writing. And I love how iA focuses on writing throughout the entire experience.
👨💻 Leica re-releases the M6 and this video inspired the hell out of me`
👋 See you next Sunday
My calendar is always open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.
My goal is to help more people give a damn about what they’re creating next, through my writing, teaching, and design. If you want to support my journey, the best ways are to make better design decisions more easily, communicate stories with better slide decks, or discover your visual style in my live workshops.
Or, if you want to sponsor this newsletter, sign up here.
Have a great week,
p.s. Words are just words, but if these words made you feel something, would you let me know by tapping on the heart below?