@Rudy Umans
@Rudy Umans

https://rudy-umans.pixels.com

When did you first become interested in art?

I liked drawing and two-dimensional art since a very young age. Probably when I was 5 or 6 years old, but not to a great extent. That came much later.

Vase and Flower @Rudy Umans
Vase and Flower @Rudy Umans

What about photography in general?

Well, my parents gave me my first camera when I was 6. It was a kodak instamatic. They probably gave it to me to stop all the whining. I still have that camera

Which camera do you use most?

I have 3 cameras I use the most for different purposes and occasions. They are all 4 x 5 inch large format cameras.

My walk around camera is mainly a 1971 Graflex Crown Graphic. This is one of those cameras you see on pictures from the fifties or so with news photographers with those giant square looking cameras.

My landscape camera is a wooden 4 x 5 field camera. This camera is kind of special. There are less than 150 made from serial number 100 to 250 and I have 241.

I also use a large format wooden pinhole camera. That camera looks like a little birdhouse and weighs next to nothing. Great for when it’s hot out

I became a member of the Baha’i Faith. I married my wife, and I quit smoking

What made you choose that camera?

For all 3, it is the film size. 4 x 5 film rivals digital in quality (except for the pinhole camera). With the wooden field camera it takes 15 minutes to set up and shoot, so I would say, it slows me down. The pinhole camera has no lens, viewfinder, or electronics. I just an empty box between you and your subject. Beside the shutter speed, there is nothing else technically speaking to worry about. It’s my favorite camera

gloves-1948 @Rudy Umans
gloves-1948 @Rudy Umans

Also. I try to capture the mysterious, magical, and somewhat ominous aspects of the Everglades and a pinhole camera seems to be perfect for that.

Do you use a photo editor? How much editing do you do?

I use Photoshop and I don’t do much editing. I develop the film myself, but I don’t have room for a darkroom with an enlarger, so I scan the negatives and then mainly some dodging and burning like in the old school darkrooms.

The most editing I do is when I restore old pictures or when I work on some mixed media artsy project.

Red Barn @Rudy Umans
Red Barn @Rudy Umans

I use photoshop because it takes my favorite luminosity plug-in, ADP lumiflow, which makes dodging and burning more precise and easier.

I use Affinity Photo for restoring old photos. It has some features for restoring that Photoshop doesn’t have

I am in the process of learning old school printing. It’s called alternative processes. I am particularly interested in Salt printing and Silver Palladium printing. Briefly, an alternative process is a contact printing process, you coat the paper with a light sensitive emulsion, place the negative on top of that and expose it to UV rays for a period of time, wash it and fix (stabilize) it

Do you enjoy the photography or the editing more?

The photography. I love the (usually) solitude and being in nature. Even when I do tabletop things, I am in some sort of zen mode. I do like restoring old photos though

Which other photographer, dead or alive, would you love to meet?

Without a doubt, Alfred Stieglitz. He did so much for the American art world and the art world at large. It’s unbelievable. He directly or indirectly persuaded or influenced so many well know 20th century photographers to continue to do what they were doing that without him, we would have missed out on many of the greats. He also introduced Picasso, Matisse, and Rodin to the public.

If he is not available, I would also love to meet Margaret Bourke-White. She was fearless! Julia Margaret Cameron, a famous British pictorial photographer is another one.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself? 

a large format pinhole image I did in the Everglades.

Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans
Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans

How well do you take criticism?

Depends. I generally only take criticism from people who I consider to be better than me and then it depends on the criticism about what. Subject? Composition? Technical execution? I would take criticism from a guy like John Sexton every day.

I sent in some pinhole and other film images for critic to the Photographic Society of America one. They told me that some of the pinholes were not sharp!! (pinhole images are btw always in focus if the camera is made well. It is the diffraction that makes them look blurry) They also altered one of my other images as an example of “how it should be done”. Needless to say, I threw a major fit. I even talked to the president of that society. Turned out that the branches of photography I and a few hundred thousand others practice were “frowned upon”.

So how well do I take criticism?

It depends.

Do you travel far when photographing?

Fortunately, I live near the Everglades National Park, The Big Cypress Preserve, and about an hour or so from downtown Miami, FL. The backyard of my house is a park. I mean literary. I have everything I need nearby.

Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans
Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans

Have you tried drone photography yet?

Nope and not going too. I leave that to the drone professional. I am not interested.

What is your favourite personal photography story?

I am usually by myself and not too many things happen. Although back in the eighties, a friend of mine and I were surrounded by police with guns pointed at us once. This was in Holland and was very very rare. Not the wild west (east actually) I live in now. We were on out way on foot to a location in a somewhat remote area for some night photography and somebody saw us and mistakenly thought that our tripods were riffles of some sort. They called the police and before we knew it, we were surrounded, and staring into the barrels of some 8 or 9 guns. Of course, it didn’t take long for them to realize a mistake was made. They were nice, we were nice. Everybody was nice about it. It turned out that a few night prior, a police officer was killed in that same area. (we didn’t know that) So they were all a little jumpy.

3-Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans
3-Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans

Have you had exhibits in galleries? 

I had two exhibits in Holland, one solo show in West Palm beach, one shared show with another photographer, and one shared show with wood turners in West Palm Beach. The very first picture I ever sold was on my solo show in WPB.

Currently, I have some work in a permanent gallery inside the Gaylord Hotels and Resorts in Orlando. FL


Joe Bonamassa & Beth hart – I’ll take care of you (Beacon theatre live New York)
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?

Not right now. I thought about it and I though about art fairs. I might pursue either one of those in the near future, but not right now. Right now, I concentrate on on-line, book covers, and my own photobooks.

What was the best advice given to you as an photographer and what advice (if any) would you give new photographers?

I never got much advice. I had a mentor long time ago, but he was a retired war photographer and he loved what I was doing. So, other than encouragement and constructive criticism, not much advise.

The advice I would give to new photographers are Be committed to your art/craft and stay true to your art/craft

Do you think the internet has altered the way photographers can get known? 

Yes, the Internet has altered the way photographers can get know. The biggest difference is geographically. The whole world is at your disposal now. You can just easily communicate with somebody the other end of town or 10000 miles away

As far as marketing goes, the internet didn’t make it easier, you can have a web site or any other web presence, but you still have to let the people know it is there. Web based social media might have made that a little easier, but not much and is limited. Sure, you can get lots of followers on social media, but that is a full-time job and no guarantee your marketing efforts will be successful.

Has the internet made infringing easier? Absolutely. Lots of people infringe since the internet or use images in another unauthorized way. However, it is not always intentional. Many people think if it shows up in a search, it is automatically in public domain and that is of course not the case. The big search engines don’t make any effort in changing that opinion. They don’t seem to care much one way or the other. Royalty free microstock companies don’t help either. Of course, there is a percentage with ill intent, but for the rest, it is just a lack in education.

Have you done any courses to help you?

None, besides the mentor I mentioned, all self-taught


Kaz Hawkins and Her Band O’ Men – Because You Love Me (Remember her name!)
What do you do to market your work?

I published a small booklet that I give away to people. I use Facebook and word to mouth. I advertise on Facebook sometimes, but so far, it seems fruitless

I am working on improving my marketing though. I need to get out more and network.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

Just Facebook and Instagram.

https://www.facebook.com/rudyumansimaging/ or https://www.instagram.com/rudyumans/

Are you available for work (commissions)?

Yes. I still do the occasional family or individual portrait. The old school film way

Next month (February) I am commissioned to do a CD cover for a Georgia based old school blues musician

I struggle between being humble and getting my name out. They seem the be the opposite of one another. I don’t want to sound like “oh look at me!”, but then again, I want them to look at me and my work. How else do I get my name/work out? *sigh*

Have you got hobbies?

No time. Between my dogs, my faith, my photography, my family life, volunteer work, my book projects, and some work I do for some extra income (all in this order lol), plus all that time consuming middle piddle stuff that goes in between things, there is no time left. Reading maybe. I try to read when I can.

4-Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans
4-Everglades pinhole @Rudy Umans

Do you have a significant other? Are they supportive?

Yes, and she is extremely supportive. We are like one brain, one soul

Although my family love my work, the “get a real job” mantra seems to be the consensus. Except for my wife. She doesn’t think that way


Large Format Cringe Moments – Large Format Friday
What do you dream about when asleep?

Different things but dreams that I wander in a city, or roam around in a very large house seems to re-occurring. Last night I dreamt about insects. (not funny) Sometimes my dreams are very direct and personal in a spiritual sense

Where are you based?

Miami. Florida

6 thoughts on “Getting To Know Rudy Umans

  1. I love Rudy’s work. There is something very emotive about it, especially his pin-hole imagery. His landscapes are like characters. Enjoyed the interview very much..

  2. Great article Enjoy your art Rudy. There’s a special place in our hearts for the Everglades and you captured some beautiful images. Thank you.

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