Randall Armor

Articles by Randall Armor

Confessions of a For-Profit Photography Teacher

Making a living as a commercial photographer these days can be tough. But trying to keep the lights on at “for-profit” schools that teach photography to budding professionals ain’t no picnic, either. Just ask anybody who used to work for Brooks Institute in California or Hallmark Institute of Photography here in Massachusetts.

The Year of Living Mirrorlessly

The Fuji X100T is yesterday’s news for most of you, I know. Mirrorless cameras represent the latest stage in the rapid evolution of the tools and technologies we use to make pictures– look no further than the tantalizing new Hasselblad X1D if you need proof of where things are going.

Old Shooters Never Die, They Just Ride Off Into Cyberspace

Nestled at the base of a red rock cliff just north of the Utah/Arizona border, Goulding’s Trading Post offers a commanding panorama of Monument Valley -- it’s every photographer’s dream vista. It also invites travelers, through prominent signage, to visit “John Wayne’s Cabin”. Now, to a sucker for kitschy Americana like me (who also just happened to be moseying through on a recent 1700 mile southwestern photography trip), that sign was magnetic.

20 Years Digital: A Migrant’s Story

It occurred to me last night that 2015 marks my twentieth year as a digital photographer. I suspect that many of you geezers reading this (i.e. those of you over 40) are approaching or have already passed a similar milestone. You’ll probably agree with me that it’s been quite a roller coaster ride, one that my younger readers might not fully appreciate. So like any other two bit amusement of questionable soundness, I feel it’s my responsibility to post the following notice right up front:


The Great War on Photographers: A Dispatch From The Trenches

Karl Baden should have known better.

I mean, what was he thinking, casually snapping a few pictures as dramatic sunlight broke through the clouds after one of last week’s late spring rainstorms? From the front seat of his car in a suburban Boston Trader Joe’s parking lot, of all places? What is he, nuts?

A Fair Fight? Shooting Film in the Digital Age (A Rebuttal)

I wish I hadn’t, but the other day I stumbled across an essay on PetaPixel entitled 12 Reasons  Photographers Still Choose to Shoot Film over Digital. Bravely, the writer had polled his associates who shoot film and culled their responses down to a dandy dozen. I shook my head sadly, because I’d heard them all many times before.

But the worst part came next. I scrolled down to the comments section. I tried mightily to avert my eyes, but I couldn’t, and the lurid spectacle of grown men and women (but mostly men) verbally beating the living daylights out of each other while thousands cheered them on from the cheap seats proved too much for me.

The Myth of More (Not Just Another Fuji X100T Review)

I'll say this right up front: what you’re about to read is not a review of the Fujifilm X100T. That’s a good thing, because I’m a lousy camera reviewer. So if that’s what you’re looking for, stop reading right now and hightail it over to one of the many excellent camera review sites instead. You know the ones. Just don’t forget to help support those reviewers’ growing families and camera collections by clicking through to one of their fine sponsoring vendors.

One of Those Shots… September 13, 2001

I was divorced about a week, so it was perhaps understandable that I was already feeling a little shellshocked when I started another day of work as an advertising photographer at Filenes in Boston on September 11, 2001.

Friday Morning in Strobe Alley

“Ya wanna see Edgerton’s lab?”

Now, asking a photographer if he would like to see the workspace of the guy who made all those iconic stop-action images of impossibly fast-moving objects was like asking a short-order cook if he’d like to see where they invented the ham and cheese omelet.

Heads in The Cloud

Imagine, if you will, a secret week-long conclave held in a trendy Northwestern city renowned for its adherence to …

Who’s Your Dada?

Let me say this right at the outset. This is not another high and mighty rant against cell phone cameras, Instagram, "art" filters, Lightroom presets, etc. You’re not about to read another gripe about everything that photography has become in the twenty-first century, even though I was afraid that’s what it would sound like when I started writing this.

A Safe Harbor: Being Viewed as a Creep When Out as a Photographer

Most years around this time we take a road trip to visit my family in New Jersey. There are always a couple of camera bags in the back seat, as there will be tomorrow night when we saddle up and head south once again. And most years around this time I think back to something that happened on another hot summer night less than two months before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

For photographers, a lot has changed since then, but we have to remember that most of it started changing well before 9/11. When my students complain about the hassles of trying to make photographs in public places, I tell them that it’s something they’re just going to have to get used to. And then sometimes I tell them this story.

Hey Kids! Wanna Be a Pro Photographer? Here’s How!

There has been a lot of talk recently about how best to succeed as a professional photographer, now that "everybody is a photographer." A recent post here by Alex Ignacio emphasized how important it is to “specialize and focus” -- Ignacio believes that if we don’t, we’ll “perish”.

As someone who trains aspiring commercial photographers, I agree that some doors may shut if you don’t specialize, but many more will open if you’re versatile.

Attending My First Portfolio Review After Thirty Years as a Photographer

Having made it through over 30 years as a commercial photographer and photography teacher, I find it daunting, at this stage in my life and my career, to feel the need to seek advice and assurance from professional peers. But participating in the New England Portfolio Reviews this past weekend turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done for my creative self in a very long time.

To ‘Shop or Not? The Hard Part of Being a Good Photographer

Pictures like this drive me nuts. I call it Meanwhile, Back at the Supreme Court. It captures the boisterous scene outside that building as right and left wing demonstrators clashed after the contested election of 2000. While all this was happening, President George W. Bush was delivering his first inaugural address in the background over loudspeakers. It was an exciting and historic experience to witness and document, but until now, I’ve never shown this image to anyone. As a matter of fact, it didn’t even exist until last night.

The reason? It’s fake. The moment it depicts never happened.

From Hot Type to Bottom Feeders: Adapt or Die as a Wedding Photographer

Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, my great grandfather started a printing and publishing business in Philadelphia, which, for many, many years was one of the finest and most successful letterpress shops in that city. Nearly every male descendant of Charles Jefferson Armor, including my great uncle, my grandfather, and my father, worked there for most if not all of their lives.

I recall with great fondness the occasional Saturday mornings when I would accompany my dad into work, stopping first at the Horn and Hardart automat at 8th and Market St. for cream donuts and hot chocolate. Incidentally, and an interesting tangent to my story here, H&H (as it was known for nearly a century) closed its doors in Philly forever in the late 70‘s. It was another victim of the fast food craze being led by more ubiquitous, lower cost chains like McDonald’s, whose shiny new franchise quickly occupied the automat’s former space at 8th and Market.