Bringing Darkroom Awareness to the Digital Age

May 20, 1956 one month before my 16th birthday

One month from my 16th birthday, I created this 1956 version of a “selfie.” Easy to do when you’re photographing into a mirror.  The alternative was to use a self-timer. In either case, it was difficult to line up with a rangefinder camera that resisted getting two edges of the mirror’s frame straight. So what to do? Easy enough – just wait! In our era of Photoshop. I simply lined it up.

My point? Even then, the darkroom translated handily to the digital age.  I had long ago appreciated what you’ll see on a histogram: the range of tones from whitest white to blackest black.  Arranged properly, this gives you not only a range of tones but a happy medium, so you have readable mid-tones and a pleasing contrast as well. The effect then is snappy, what we used to try to achieve in creating a print. So now I have both vintage prints, the ones I created close to the time I developed my negatives, as well as pigmented ink jet contemporary prints.

These are just as archival but with today’s technology. It lets me tweak my images into a pinpointed perfection not possible in the early days.

Ah, it’s a great time to be digitizing my archives!


You can see this image and more, in my See-Saw book, previewing on Amazon

Art Should Be Everywhere

Art should be everywhere – or so the gallery site Daylighted declares. As part of this tribute, Daylighted recently chose me as its featured artist of the month.

Daylighted is a service that places visual artist into non-traditional exhibition spaces such as hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and more. It seeks to “change the way you see art. Daylighted transforms places…into digital art galleries and offer[s] them an opportunity to easily display and sell an exclusive collection of art from worldwide and local artists.”

Daylighted featured my nostalgic photography, including the images in my updated monograph: “See Saw: How Once We Looked.”

Sports team

You can view and purchase more images on the Daylighted site, at:

These images reflect my overall fascination with movement as well as with light, that showed in the photographs I created in my early teens. I see that I developed reflexively and intuitively, in capturing the essence of a moment. I see that the innate compositional sense expanded into a style. And so on, all insights offering me a chance to pause and reflect as I go forward.

See-Saw, A Sampler of How Once We Looked, is now available for purchase at at this link:

What Gives A Picture Life? Beyond Empty Photographs.

I see too many empty photographs passing for art these days.

Too many empty photographs are passing for art these days. I want images with life and meaning, action and humor. I want them to capture life, to be alive:

Freaks. A picture with energy and movement rather thann bland, empty photographs

George Eastman created a world of photographers in 1888 with cameras that lived up to the slogan, “you press the button, we do the rest.” Perhaps today’s cameras are too easy to use. Point and shoot techniques can lead to empty, lifeless photos. I want to take the concept of picture-taking one or two steps further, from merely taking pictures to making photographs: composition, lighting, finding that decisive moment. I rebel against decision makers who influence collectors into thinking that barren photographs are fine art.

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“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.” —-E. L. Doctorow

Such a pleasure, to capture feelings and not only the competition.  The play is over, but not the photography.  What a wonderful show of sportsmanship after a hard fought high school football game.


Was the game over?  Sure was, but staying alert as a photographer never ends.

View more images at:


Delightful Instants

Capturing a Moment in Time

Delightful Instants

In an era of flashbulbs and press cameras, I was exploring what available light had to offer. It presented the world as we saw it, without the harsh effect of a single flash. Both techniques froze a moment that goes by in a blur.

Photographing peak action stopped the movement at its height.  It allowed slow shutter speeds in an era of slow films. And it preserved a feeling forever.


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Fine Art Photography and the Photographic Art

Collectors and Photographers:
Please Join Me in Pondering the State of
Photographic Art

My circuitous route through a long career in professional photography has swung back to my roots. So many bloggers are picking up my images.

And curators and collectors appreciate photojournalism as fine art.

There’s a message there!

Hence into the archives I go. I’m digitizing a series of nostalgic images.

Boys at the Wall ©1980 Michael Philip Manheim

It’s satisfying to capture the human spirit, framed in a meaningful composition. I’m fascinated with portraying people relating—to each other, to their surroundings—-in this case a family of Hasidic boys at their lessons with their father at the famed Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

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Moving On

I learned more about the process, more about the marketing, more about the human condition. I gravitated to photojournalism, happy with candid photography…

B42-10 Father&Family&Liberty Bell5X8


…and grateful to people willing to share their lives for my magazine assignments:

College Educated Cops in April 1971 Pageant Magazine

College-educated police, from the April 1971 issue of Pageant magazine.

Photojournalism sharpened skills that applied as I tried out other phases of photography, following the twists and turns of a rapidly changing profession.  Reacting to my own decisive moments, I sought emotional content whenever it might appear, meaningful composition as a frame, and the feel and shape of the situation.


I remember wishing that I had had a mentor back then, someone experienced, with an overview to help guide me.  Instead I created a composite, picking up bits and pieces from so many people I met.

Now I have become one of those who nurture.  I have stories to tell, I have realized, after participating in panel discussions, lectures, gallery talks, any events where people gather around.  I’ve come to recognize that, wow! I’ve learned something. And I learn even more as I explain to, and consult with, others.

I hope that collectors and curators might want to join in, to share insights with anyone wanting to improve their photography.


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Politics in 1960

When Nixon And Kennedy Competed For The Presidency

All images Copyright ©1960 Michael Philip Manheim. All Rights Reserved.

46B-15__Campaigner2 crop

Nixon rally at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1960


Vice President (For 8 years under Dwight D. Eisenhower) Richard M. Nixon ran against Senator John F. Kennedy in the closest election since 1916.

46B-20_Campaign cigar & pipe cropped


Kennedy was the youngest President at age 43 and the first Catholic.  His win came from an Electoral College vote.

Kennedy proved a media master.  Theirs was the first televised presidential debate, and image played a role.  Three of these photographs seem to telegraph a feeling for the times and for that would-be urbane college crowd.

What do you think?


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The Circus Comes to Town

The circus would roll into Alliance, Ohio every spring.

___Entrance to Old-Time Circus---Use this 5x8__prime w white ©
In 1957, it was the traditional circus.
Elephants provided pulling power
for trucks stuck in the mud,
 31A-3 Circus Elephants Pull Truck_Prime w © white 5x8
and townsfolk were eager for entertainment once all was in place.
I was a witness, a budding photojournalist knowing none of my subjects,
eager to hone my skills.
I was using a Leica IIIF, with distance and exposure pre-set, so that my reflexes could take over. No time to think, only to spontaneously react.
 This was the practice I needed.
Have you ever sought out events where you could photograph this way?