What truly inspires you? And don’t travel down the route of other photographers and photography. This is the obvious and easy answer – as photographers we are ALL inspired by other photographers and photography. There are thousands of other disciplines, activities, and hobbies out there that can change the way we see the world. The two things that get my engines roaring (other than a monster mocha) are modern paintings and film. I am not talking about the undisputed classics like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, I am talking about the likes of The Matrix, The Shawshank Redemption, and Apocalypse Now. Contemporary films that make you think, scare you with the possibilities, or change your perspective on a controversial issue. Now, without putting links/trailers into this post of my favorite full length feature films, I think these Five films about photography, by photographers, and related to photography are absolutely perfect to get you thinking, inspired, and ready to possibly discover another avenue for your work. I promise they are worth using up your lunch hour to watch…
As photographers, we are always on the quest for what I call “Optimal Light”; you know, that beautiful light that hangs on the margins of the day – sunrise/sunset. But what if that light was non-existent on the only day you had the opportunity to head out and photograph? Are there any creative tactics for you to use to produce better photos when things aren’t happening the way you truly want them to? Here are three creative tactics that I use when everything else is failing.
In May of 2013, the sheer volume of images getting pushed to social media was staggering. The online photography forum Petapixel cited a 60 second video from another online community (BuzzFeed) that highlighted the numbers of what is getting published to the web every 60 seconds. It is completely overwhelming to know that 27,800 images were being uploaded to Instagram every 60 seconds, Facebook received 208,300 uploads in the same timeframe, giving them 9 billion uploads every month! Are you getting the cold sweats yet?
I have taken you into the realm of fixing your photos that suck. Suggested you to ‘f’ the rule of thirds, even told you that HDR is not for me. Now it is time for a little filtration. Time to discuss what I use in the field to balance my images for a lot of the lighting scenarios that many believe Photoshop is the holy grail of fixes for – time for some neutral density filtration.
On our workshops and tours, we get a ton of questions about using neutral density filters. And while there are something shy of a bazillion of these filters available, we are going to discuss three basic categories of Neutral Density filters: Circular Neutral Density filters, Variable Neutral Density filters, and Graduated Neutral Density filters. We will also discuss some of the subsets within these categories, and mention some of the manufacturers of the most popular styles.
“You learn a lot of things on the way to 500. None more important than this… ~ The Knockaround Guys.
The rule of thirds is probably the first and quite possibly the most popular compositional tool out there for photography. I don’t really know anyone who hasn’t started to become a decent photographer who hasn’t followed it, but like Vin Diesel said in The Knockaround Guys, “You learn a lot of things on the way to 500.”
You may find this hard to believe, but there are times when every photographer struggles with what to do when their photos suck. I struggle with it, Art Wolfe struggles with it, and you can even bet early photographers like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson struggled with it. The difference here is that pros typically take so many photos that the bad ones just get tossed into the trash can. These days, that’s a virtual one found on our desktops. We don’t dwell on it, because frankly, we don’t have time.
Use Lightroom because it is a non-destructive, importing, cataloging, processing, exporting, and sharing software designed as an all-inclusive platform specifically for photographers who need photo and video imaging control. It is completely integrated with most of Adobe’s additional software packages specifically, but not exclusively limited to/with Photoshop. Phew! With those two statements alone you can already begin to understand the power of this program. It allows me, the stand alone photographer, to run a photography business without the need for an army of other people managing my office and images for success. Thus, I realize more of the profits while I attempt to work less, unlike many of those whom I compete against.
Here is the ultimate photographer gear list for everyone that sends along questions about what I use. I know, I know, on the surface I easily look like a complete gear whore, but I am competing against photographers who have twice this equipment. Remember, it truly is not about the gear, it is about the vision of the photographer. If all you can afford is some piece of junk Holga from the PRC then that is what you use as your camera to create a stunning idea. And nine times out of ten, I would choose the Holga over any of this if I had the option. My clients typically want it a different way though.
Why 5 things we need to forget? Quite simply because I feel that all over the world too many photographers are jumping on bandwagons that truly don’t “make a photograph”, who then write about these five things and confuse the rest of us. We stress about, fight about, argue about, and write about these things tirelessly. Honestly, enough is enough. Go out and start honing your photography. Prove to me that it is not the equipment. Show me compelling imagery taken with your iPhone. Use a freaking film camera that has no motor drive, or dig out a TLR and take it in the field. Then I will truly be impressed. Even humbled.
2014 was one of those years where I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I am not talking about one of those old rickety wood things from the 60’s. I am talking about the new ones, the ones that are designed by retired NASA engineers that pull 4g.s and are made of more steel than what’s in a miscellaneous scrap yard in the desert outside of Vegas. The edit for My Best Photos of 2014 began with a look at 28,174 selects from this past year. Then came tears. Pain. Suffering. Success. Failure. Pleasure. Cold. Warmth. Vomit. Diarrhea. And bug bites. Lots of freakin’ bug bites.
With the age of digital photography now becoming a mainstream part of society, how do you decide what photos are good to keep and what ones should be thrown in the trash? While we need reasons to reject an image, we don’t necessarily want to form a hypothesis of rules. If you ever take a workshop with me you will quickly realize that I choose to disregard rules in almost every aspect of my life and my photography. And I believe that creativity cannot be contained within a set of rules.
My Best Photos of 2013 began with a look at 56,721 selects from this past year. I think it is safe to say that I shot a LOT of photos in the past 12 months. Out of those selects I narrowed my image selection down to 100, had my wife further refine the collection down to 50, with the final goal being 13. 13 images that would represent an entire year of assignments, commercial contracts, and travel. And then I hit a speed bump. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t meet my goal of 13. Through struggle, deletion, careful thought and consideration I got my best photos of 2013 down to 18 then added 2 back in – hey this is my blog and I can do what I want, when I want.