In the eye of the beholder

Photographer Charles Owcarz says that the world of digital photography has made the industry more versatile and he’s got the pictures to prove it

Heather R. Breaux
March 26, 2008 at 2:22 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

NEW YORK. The Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, November 2006.
Photos by Charles David Owcarz
NEW YORK. The Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, November 2006.
Photography is commonly defined as the process of obtaining a permanent image of an object, either in black and white or in color. But for Luling’s Charles Owcarz, capturing a moment in time is larger than just simple mechanics - it’s the desire and ambition to document the interesting things he sees in the world around him.

His photos are compelling. He has a portfolio chalked-full of eye-catching images of post-Katrina New Orleans and landmarks found in major cities around the country like Chicago and New York.

Owcarz’s interest in pursuing photography as a career peaked when he studied visual communications in college and says that all it took was one course to reel him in.

“While in school for graphic design I took an introductory photography class as an elective and ended up signing up for every course they offered,” said Owcarz.

Most of Owcarz’s in-school instruction derived from a film-based learning environment simply because, at that time, the industry had not yet fully evolved into the now fast-growing world of digital photography.

And it wasn’t until a year after he was out of school that camera manufacturer Canon released the first semi-affordable digital SLR and Owcarz decided it would be a good opportunity to switch and adopt to a digital workflow.

“I had to teach myself, but the differences between the two weren’t so vast that I wasn’t able to catch on,” said Owcarz.

“The mechanical philosophies of a digital and film camera are basically the same. It’s primarily the storing of the image that differs.”

For Owcarz, most of the adaptation with digital photography comes with working in what he calls a “digital darkroom” - which is basically a computer program like Adobe’s Photoshop that allows users to upload, store and tweak images - and points out that there are skeptics who declare digital photography as lacking true talent and skill.

“Every once in a while I meet someone who is completely against digital cameras and is a die-hard advocate for film,” said Owcarz.

“And although I have to admit that there is something comforting about the smell of dektol and a dimly-lit red light, I disagree with them.”

“I don’t think that by digitally altering an image you take talent out of the equation. The end result has always been and always will be the same - to produce a striking image regardless of the tools used to obtain it. It’s just a matter of learning to harness them to their full potential.”

Owcarz says that although he does think it is good for beginners to first learn with film because it makes it easier to comprehend how the camera works, he also believes that digital photography has made the process more versatile.

“You no longer have to waste money on film and hope for the best,” said Owcarz.

“Now you can correct issues immediately and the image processing options are almost limitless.”

While Owcarz says that he has studied the art of photography, he might just be a natural-born photographer.

After all, the desire to capture the captivating surroundings or images “sort of” runs in the family.

“My grandfather was a hobby shooter,” said Owcarz.

“He always seemed to have a camera in his hands and kept a darkroom. And my uncle was a professional photographer for many years.”

Owcarz says he’s also been inspired by other photographers like American landscape shooter Ansel Adams and portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, but adds that his photography is somewhat different and has had experience with several different types.

“I mainly do what is called ‘street photography,’ but I was trained in portrait and studio lighting while in school,” said Owcarz.

“I’ve done other things as well such as family pictures, concerts and weddings.”

But Owcarz’s most memorable photo shoot to date was when he snagged a press pass for last year’s VooDoo Fest.

“Having a press pass for the festival was really cool and strange at the same time,” said Owcarz.

“I was right up against the front of the stage during the performances and backstage between sets.”

“I was sort of star struck for a bit because there were bands on the line up that I grew up listening to and all the while there were thousands of fans screaming behind me.”

Owcarz says that his ultimate goal is to one day own a photography studio that focuses on advertising and fashion editorial and hopes to possibly take a few business courses to help jump start this dream.

“I’m not saying that I know all there is to know about photography, but I feel I understand the technical aspects just about as well as any professional,” said Owcarz.

“I’m just lacking on the business front and think that it would be logical to take a business course some day.”

And although Owcarz has had the opportunity to photograph many interesting and different aspects of our world, he says that there is still more out there he would like to shoot.

“I would like to photograph Europe and other countries in general, and extreme climates like a dessert or Arctic landscape,” said Owcarz.

“But I also think it would be great to do some traveling and take pictures for a music or nature magazine while I’m still young.”

Owcarz says that he always uses Canon camera bodies and lenses and rarely uses a flash, but would love the chance to use a Hasselblad camera.

“I would pretty much drop the Canon in a heartbeat for a chance to work with any of the Hasselblad H3D series,” said Owcarz.

“But they range from about $25,000 to $35,000 so, I'm not holding my breath.”

To view more pictures, visit or email Owcarz at

WINDOW. Owcarz's backyard, January 2008.
NEW ORLEANS. 9th Ward, March 2006.
NEW ORLEANS. Burnt-out van near D-day Museum, October 2005.

View other articles written Heather R. Breaux

featured merchant

BENT'S RV Bent's RV is a Full Service RV Dealership in Louisiana.

Man convicted of child porn hangs himself in jail cell
Man convicted of child porn hangs himself in jail cell
A man convicted of producing child pornography and coercing minors for sex hung himself with the cord from a laundry bag in Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.

Become A Herald-Guide Insider

Get breaking news, sports and lifestyles straight to your inbox