• The Modern Democracy of Photojournalism


    We live in a world driven by immediacy. We have countless sources of information through our various social media platforms. The curious dynamics behind viral content gives a tremendous power to this information democracy, we have as accusers of both positive and negative happenings. A population armed with a smartphone and a basic data plan is giving professional photojournalists a hard time by delivering the news before they do. But what are the pros going to do about this situation?

    What is Photojournalism?

    Photojournalism is the branch of social photography that aims to present images to report a story. From breaking news to documentary research, photojournalism has helped societies feed themselves with stories because  its images give readers a better understanding of a topic. Such images need to be useful; they need to support the story for those who read it.

    5 Sources of Photojournalistic Content

    If you want to get a broad idea of what photojournalism is, watch the following five media sources. The first three include modern photojournalism, therefore they are likely to include great examples of important images taken by non-professional photojournalists (people who don't make a living out of photojournalism). Magnum is a more traditional Agency, and the TIME archive is an excellent way to look to the past.

    The Atlantic

    National Geographic

    Lensculture

    Magnum

    The LIFE Picture Collection

    The Importance of Photojournalism

    The importance of serious committed photojournalism is easy to illustrate. Its importance relies on photojournalism’s commitment to spreading meaningful and truthful stories to the majority of people. Social media offers people a great source of information, but users must choose their interests to get the best out of the tools.

    Photojournalism gives the world a valuable asset when it comes to reporting breaking news or any other socially interesting topic. Photography has the gift of being able to synthesize a story in a few images, and in some cases with just one, like the iconic photos that have chronicled human history since the 20th century. The importance of having stories accompanied with images is crucial, since an illustrated story retains the attention of the viewer more easily, so the impact of a story with an image attached to it is likely to be broader than a text-only one.

    Photojournalism has a high and disciplined job to present the truth without alterations (when it is done right and true), hence its importance when seeking or consuming any kind of relevant information.

    The Importance of Captions and Statements

    Many photographers these days take writing for granted. I myself am guilty of this flaw and I'm working hard to give my images the voice they need to create the impact I seek. My intention is to present daily unseen happenings in my street photographs.

    Walter Benjamin explicitly stated in his essay The Author as Producer that the photographer is uniquely responsible for the captions of his own photographs. Captions and statements are hugely important, because this is where the photographer speaks right and true about the facts we are reading in the photographs.  

    The Influence of Social Media in Democracy

    Thanks to the technological evolution of portable and powerful cameras, as well as highly powerful smartphones with incredible image-rendering capabilities, more people can record reality and almost immediately share it with the world. They don’t even need to send their images to a local or international news broadcaster – they can deliver them to the global community thanks to the high level of embeddedness of social media in our lives this days.

    The Big Question

    There have been some great efforts to understand the dynamics that drive content go viral. All I can say about this massive topic is that virality is driven in some percentage by emotion. Therefore, highly emotive content (positive or negative) is more likely to go global in no time than those with low-arousal content.

    Today’s photojournalists understand that it is getting harder and harder to compete with the highly democratized world of social media, especially when the content triggers the dynamics of viral content. I consider this type of content as a substitute "product" that fulfills the job of informing society about something, and with the added value of immediacy. This substitute also has a price that we as hungry consumers of the latest happenings need to pay. In most cases, this price tag relates to technical and aesthetic qualities. The authors of this content rarely have a statement that drives their images along a consistent road, but they still do the job of giving us the image we want to see while the events are still going on. The authors behind these images could get a similar joy to the one musical artists get when they achieve fame via one-hit wonders.

    The thing about breaking news and other media related to photojournalism is that its informative value trumps the aesthetic variables we can evaluate a photograph with. The Big Question here is, what will professional photojournalists do (if they are not it doing now) to cope with the new, immediate, and democratic imagery the world is consuming?

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Analogue Cameras are not Props


    This is a rant dedicated to all the people who are missing the main focus of the primary photographic tool. This is a rant dedicated to all the people, especially photographers, who are using analog cameras as props, as vintage decorations, and not giving them the respect they deserve. This is a rant directed at all the people who worry about having the latest and greatest camera gear, even when the history of photography has shown us that the camera is just a tool a photographer uses to capture meaningful work.

    If you’re passionate about photography, it’s highly likely that at some point you’ve been curious to know how images were captured before digital sensors existed. The beautiful thing about analog gear, no matter how old it is, is that light is captured using the same physical principles. So it really doesn’t matter what camera you stumble onto – you just need to know the mechanics of the tool to achieve a desired result.

    Main Focus of the Tool

    The main focus of every photographic tool is, and always will be, to reproduce reality through images that depend on exposure calculations that exceed the capabilities of human eye. Therefore, it is pointless to think that meaningful work depends on having the latest and greatest gear out there. Use whatever you have when stumbling into those moments.

    My own experience with Analog Gear

    My experience with analog photography came after the onset of digital, so I did things the other way around. My everyday camera is still a digital one. But analog gear has given me extremely joyful experiences thanks to its therapeutic, slow-paced way of producing a tangible image. After watching this movie, I got pretty interested in how pictures were made before photographers couldn’t see anything on an LCD screen. I researched a bit and was given a camera that was wrecked – with one condition: to get it repaired. I asked a few questions and got to meet a camera restorer in my country. After the camera’s resurrection, I started snapping some black-and-white film using the same exposure logic I’d learned with digital. The results were decent – but my craving didn’t stop there. I learned to develop film. Nowadays my scope reaches print, and I love it.

    My rant was born thanks to the many pictures of photographers using analog cameras as props when they could also be enjoying the brilliance of analogue photography. I’ve never stopped feeling a sense of magic  when I develop a film. Especially when I get my roll of film out of the developing tank and start seeing those images with my eyes. I enjoy it so much that I teach my friends how to develop film, for free, if they've never seen the process with their own eyes.

    My prime goal is not to be a purist. My main objective is to invite you guys who are using analog cameras as props for your portraits and related stuff to actually use one of those beautiful cameras to make pictures.

    To this day, I use three analogue cameras to make images that give me joy in addition to my regular street work:

    -    Pentax Super ME

    -    Pentax K1000

    -    Yashica Mat 124G

    Camera as an Object

    It’s fascinating to see how people can transform almost anything into a camera. People like Carlos Jurado take the premise of "every exposure setting will work on any camera" to the next level by almost any object the mechanic of a camera.

    Camera’s Archeology

    It’s interesting to learn how the famous images we most admire were made using less-capable technological tools. It’s still easy to get a secondhand analog camera on eBay or some local shop. I'm not advising you to migrate from one format to another – I'm just saying that different formats can coexist in a photographer's life, and the results can be rewarding in terms of creativity, self-expression and self-imposed challenges.

    Examples of Fine Art work

    Some great examples of people making fine art work with analog gear (there are a lot, but for illustration purposes I'm just mentioning three) are Chema Madoz, Alexey Titarenko and Michael Kenna.

    -    Chema Madoz: Surrealism is not some weird abstraction for me. For me, surrealism exists when an artist gets to see mind-blowing juxtapositions or personifications that seem so obvious, but never cross our minds. Chema Madoz is one of those artists, and his favorite tool for creating his art is a second-hand Hasselblad medium-format camera he bought back in the ‘nineties.

    -    Alexey Titarenko: Alexey Titarenko is another photographer who uses a Hasselblad film camera, as you can see in this video. But the scope of his passion covers everything from the shot to the last print.

    -    Michael Kenna: Everything has probably been said about this magnificent contemporary photographer, but what he has to say about photography and about all the beautiful things surrounding it is priceless. We tend to forget about connecting with other cultures, and I’m sure this guy enjoy his travelling more because he doesn’t have to worry about carrying several camera bodies and lenses. A minimal setup is key to enjoying photography.

    So, if you have access to analog gear, don’t limit its existence to prop usage. Give it a new opportunity to play a role in your creative life. If it works by itself, good. If it needs a little love, get it repaired. These bad boys were made with such enviable quality mindsets that they could last forever after some minor restoring maneuvers.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Some World Famous Photographs


    Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.

    What you have caught on film is captured forever…

    It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

    Aaron Siskind

    To me, photography is an art of observation.

    It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…

    I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

    Elliott Erwitt

    A tear contains an ocean.

    A photographer is aware of the tiny moments

    in a person's life that reveal greater truths.

    Anonymous

    Choosing a batch of iconic images is really complex, but really fun to do, because studying images, is for me the best way to learn about photography in its essence. Photography for me is about capturing meaningful stories, and nothing more. It is completely normal to expect readers commenting on the inclusion or exclusion of certain images. The purpose is not to exclude or include, but to mention some of the images that had been renowned as iconic due to their social and anthropological importance. Please feel free to share other images that could be considered as historically important in order to get a richer experience through the social development of these words. Without further ado, let’s talk about some world famous photos.

    Sharbat Gula - Steve McCurry – 1984

    Published for the first time in 1985, the iconic portrait of a young afghan girl, refuged from the war, still evoques to this day, a deep and complex mix of feelings and emotions. After seventeen years, Steve McCurry found her, and portrayed her again.

    This image is the superb portrait, of all portraits, of all time for me. This due to many things; but the primordial is that eerie feeling of indefinite expression (I guess this is why some people have stated that this picture is the modern Mona Lisa). The moment Steve McCurry captured is so intense, that I could only guess that this is an evidence of the transition between recognizable emotions. Her beautiful green eyes, her skin, her hair, her fragile clothes, the outstanding sharpness of the image, the complementary colors, her soul piercing look, everything in this picture, speaks.

    I used to remember when I first saw this image, that I imagined Steve McCurry running on a random street, and capturing this image almost candidly. Later on I learned that it wasn't like that; and it doesn't matter to me, this portrait is sublime and perfect, it speaks about the universality of the human being.

    A couple of years ago, I saw this video, and I understood the importance of having agile and well-intended social skills in order to capture meaningful pictures. Steve McCurry wasn't running away from the bullets like a superhero-portrayed him when I saw this image for the first time (at least with photographic awareness of what could had implied capturing an image like this one surrounded by a bellic context), but he was at a school, and he managed to let her almost want the picture. He’s skills were beyond amazing. We have the wrong idea that kids don't understand things, and they could be tricked out easily. But kids don't lie, and they have a lot of temper and character, and this is completely tangible in the iconic portrait of Sharbat Gula. And after 17 years, he found her again.

    And for the techy and curious ones, he shot this image with the legendary Kodachrome film, with a Nikon FM2 and a trusty Nikkor 105mm f/2.5.

    Falling soldier - Robert Capa – 1936

    Robert Capa acquired a great and vast experience as a war photographer during the Spanish Civil War, and with this image, the Persona behind Robert Capa, got a great degree of recognition at a global scale. Taken near Córdoba during the first months of the war, the image depicts a soldier that has just been shot. Published for the first time in the 23th issue of the French magazine Vu, the photograph was printed and reprinted over and over again, and became the war's icon, and one of the most famous war photograph ever been taken. Two years after that picture, the British magazine Picture Post stated that this 25 year old photographer, was the best war photographer of the world.

    The image is really controversial because it has been surrounded with many theories that debate on it's authenticity. It has been said that the image in fact was staged. Nevertheless, the image shows a clear reality about the harsh vulnerabilities that people endure during war.

    The image shows the rifle of the soldier falling while the body of the soldier falls to the ground. The image shows the fragility and the immediacy in which death could happen to a human being. The surrounding field and mountains have served studious people as the key studium to determine the veracity of the image.

    Migrant Mother - Dorothea Lange – 1936

    Migrant Mother from Nipomo, a picture taken by Dorothea Lange in her home state California, is the emblematic icon of the harsh realities Americans endured during the Great Depression of the 1930s. This is most well-known image taken by during the project commissioned by the Farm Security Administration in the pursuit of capturing the impact of the Great Depression on the American Families. Dorothea Lange stated that she found this woman while working on the journalistic project, she was a mother of seven children at that time and that she spent as little as ten minutes picturing them. The image is a pure capture of a real moment in time.

    This image is the archetype that represents the victims of such economical struggle, and portrait centers at first, in just one person. Dorothea Lange didn't mentioned the name of the woman, and decades later it was recognized that the woman in fact was Florence Owens Thompson, which lived at that time in the Cherokee territories of Oklahoma. The fact that the name wasn't stated by the photographer, makes a complex deal around the job of a photojournalist in a documentary work, but I personally think that she knew about the importance of the image as an archetype, and the name wasn't necessary. But, the same Florence Owens Thompson recognized years later that she wasn't comfortable that her image worked as the eternal depiction of poverty. The image is also part of the assets of MoMA.

    If we study the image, we can easily recognize her as the center of the image. Lange had a fixation on hands as symbols of the hard work many people had to perpetrate for a living, and this one is no exception, but here the hands show us a little more, they show us a great amount of worrying. And last but not least, the three children on the image. There are two kids, framing Florence side by side, and suddenly, we can see a baby that looks vulnerable to the harsh realities surrounding them. We can say that the punctum of the image is the worry in her eyes and hands, and the studium of the image, is the difficult context of raising a vast family under the struggles of the depression.

    Hyeres - Henri Cartier-Bresson – 1932

    Cartier-Bresson was known for his challenging approach of not cropping his images, and showcased them right as they were framed in camera. He talked a lot about the Decisive Moment, which is few words, the ability of capturing a moment, right before it happens. I don't remember the source, but I heard once that he said (and this one was printed in my memory) that if ou had seen the moment, it had just occurred, and that one as a photographer must be able to see the moment before it happens.

    The image called Hyeres by Cartier-Bresson is almost all the illustration needed in order to comprehend composition. We have rule of thirds everywhere, but mainly on the bicycle rider, and we have leading lines everywhere, from the sidewalk, to the obvious swirl on the hand railing of the stairs. And if that wasn't enough, the slow shutter speed, shows a great sense of movement and dynamism of the rider exiting the scene.

    The picture itself was taken in Hyeres in 1932, and has been present as an iconic image of Henri Cartier-Bresson during several retrospectives. The decisive moment here is obvious, and it beautifully juxtaposes the freedom of the rider, with the rigid soul of the balcony and the railings. The image seems even to be taken by accident, but thanks to his theory of the decisive moment, chances of doing things the way he intended, were and are, on his side. We can also think that this was the product of a long wait, which is in fact valid. Photography is about patience, and we must never forget it.

    Steve Jobs - Albert Watson – 2011

    Iconic, simple, intriguing, just like his legacy. Soon after passing away, Steve Jobs portrait became the landing image of apple.com, and I think that is one of the most important portraits of our current times. The images was taken by Albert Watson in a 4×5 camera, ironic twist for such an innovative person like Jobs was.

    It doesn't really matter what sort of technicalities Watson defined for this portrait, the image is about one person, and nothing more. The pose of his hand suggest constant thinking, and the subtle smile drawn in his face, transmits a great energy and confidence. The look pierces into the viewer and the black and white choice, was the perfect way to go in order to avoid any distractions.

    Few people have not seen this picture of Steve Jobs; and the way it was spread around the globe, made it an iconic portrait of our times in no time.

    Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper - Charles C. Ebbets – 1932

    This image shows the tranquility of eleven of the several workers that worked during the construction of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. They are not just relaxed over the crossbeam, but they are also having lunch, which gives the image a curious character.

    The image is very iconic, and was taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932 and there has been a lot said whether the scene really happened or if it was just a publicity maneuver for some sort of reason, but it doesn't diminish the fact that the men were real ironworkers at the 69th floor of the building on the last stages of its construction, and there have been numerous claims regarding the identities of the men in the image.

    The image has been a great icon of the hard working culture of the human being, and also a great example of how much have evolved in terms of Occupational health and Safety as well. This is something that just won't be seen again, I hope.

    V-J day in Times Square - Alfred Eisenstaedt – 1945

    It is fair that the image related to the end of the World War II, came out of the hands and eyes of a Jewish photographer. Here we can appreciate the great moment two of the greatest symbols of the war meet in a deep and passionate kiss. The two symbols are humans indeed, but they are the anonymous ambassadors of both all the sailors and all the nurses that worked hard during the war. The both institutions were fundamental pillars that helped United States to maintain its strength during the horrors of war. The celebration is due the end of such a violent and bloody period of our modern history, the image was taken in Times Square, New York City.

    There is another image from a slightly different angle (almost like what happened with the two pictures of Iesha Evans during the Baton Rouge protests in July this year) but the iconic one, due to its point of view and composition (I guess) is the one that Alfred Eisenstaedt took, but still the less popular image of Victor Jorgensen, is great, because it still captures the essence of this great summit of the War.

    The image doesn't give a clear distinction of the two faces in the frame, which hoists the character of the symbols.

    Einstein’s Birthday - Arthur Sasse – 1951

    Often called "Einstein's Tongue", is an image that became iconic due to its humorous character. Humor as itself requires intelligence, and capturing humor in photography (especially when done candidly) is one of the hardest things to do in the discipline. The picture shows a different profile of Albert Einstein, and it's playful and nutty character is what makes the image so great.

    The moment occurred in the 72th Albert Einstein's birthday celebration, and a lot of photographers were there, but just Sasse capture the one that became iconic. We can delight ourselves with a humorous Einstein, instead of the Nobel prize-winning physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, therefore, we have a more accessible side of Albert Einstein.

    A really important background fact of the image, is that Einstein enjoyed it so much that asked the UPI (United Press International) to facilitate him nine copies of the cropped image for his personal use. One of those personal uses landed on Howard K. Smith, a friend of Einstein. The image, as predictable, had a little text at the back, the text quoted this "This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare."

    Guerrillero Heroico - Alberto Korda - 1960

    Just like V - J Day felt correctly shot by a Jew, this one feels appropriate to be shot by a Cuban. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was Argentinian, but the close friendship he had with Fidel Castro, makes a correct correspondence that the image was in fact taken by a Cuban. Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, best known as Alberto Korda, was the official photographer of Fidel Castro for 9 years, and traveled with him to many countries as well.

    Ernesto "Che" Guevara was photographed in very remarkable ways, like the one that Rene Burri did of him. But the one that immortalize the heroic character of the Che, is Korda's without a doubt. It had been widely spread from flags, to t-shirts to stickers, and the story behind the image, is the following. March the 4th of 1960, the French freight ship La Coubre, was transporting weapons from Belgium to Cuba to equip Castro's regime. The boat exploded, and Castro blamed it on the United States. More than 75 persons died in the happening. The next day, a solemn funeral was celebrated in La Habana. While the speakers of the ceremony where dictating some words, Alberto Korda took two images of Guevara. He didn't noticed the picture taking, and with time, the image became not just iconic, but symbolic.

    Alberto Korda was never happy with the fact that the image was used commercially in the way it did, since it was a completely contradiction to the Che’s believes, the ones he died for.

    General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner - Eddie Adams – 1968

    It is been said that no other group of photojournalist had the freedom of portraying the atrocities of war, than those that walked around the bloody boundaries of the Vietnam War. Here we are in front of one of the cruelest images ever captured by a photographer. The image itself accredited Eddie Adams the Pulitzer Prize in 1969.

    Eddie Adams explains what happened in this short video, and honestly it feels like a true and honest reaction of a committed photographer, he saw the officer raising his gun, he instinctively raised his camera. The image became iconic almost immediately, and serves as a raw evidence of the horrors of war.

    This image is without any doubt, the most iconic image of the Vietnam War, due to its proximity to the exact brief moment one man takes the life of another man. The uniformed South Vietnamese officer shoots a prisoner in the head, and the brutality of the moment, got immortalized thanks to photography. This is why Photojournalism is so important, so we can remember things that may not be repeated.

    The Mahatma - By Margaret Bourke – 1946

    First of all we need to understand the importance of the spinning wheel, since one can just look at the image and state "why is it iconic?” The spinning wheel was the strongest symbol for India's struggle and desire for independence from the United Kingdom. Gandhi was near one and the composition seemed appropriate, but Gandhi's secretaries stopped her, and told her that if she was going to make the image, with that precise composition, she had to learn how to use one spinning wheel herself.

    If Margaret Bourke didn't had the social skills to accept the traditions and respect for the cultural demands, the image simply wouldn't have happened at all.

    LIFE magazine’s first woman photographer was in India in 1946 covering the Indian independence process.

    Tank Man - Jeff Widener – 1989

    Still with his identity uncertain, the picture of the anonymous protestor of Tiananmen Square. The background of the picture is the following. When the Chinese military convoyed into Beijing, the one-man army individual opposed the long column of tanks that were rumbling into the area.

    The pictured was captured from pretty far away from a hotel room by Jeff Widener, and we can see him talking about the image's context here.

    Fortunately the tank driver was compassionate and stopped, because something like that happened a few months back in Turkey, and the drivers weren't so human like the Chinese. Even though images keep reminding us about the atrocities that must not be done, there are still work to do in order to sensibilize the human race to avoid this kind of events in the future.

    The image shows the great power protesting can have. 

     

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • Photography Portfolio Best Practices


    “Portfolio” is a word you've probably heard already in the context of photography. We can define a portfolio as a group of work collected in a specific format. One of the main characteristics of a good portfolio is that it applies to a specific topic or niche. Somewhat like workflow, a portfolio is sometimes misunderstood (as curation, or something like that).

    What follows is not the ultimate guide to portfolio crafting, but I’ll try to define the true purpose of having a consistent and targeted portfolio.

    Formats

    Portfolios used to be simple: it was just a bunch of photographs inside a sober black box. Nowadays we have a wide range of format options – web pages, videos, PDF files, photo books, and printed versions. There is no perfect format, and some options are better suited to certain situations than others. (For example, it’s easier to share a link when dealing with clients abroad than to show them a printed version of your portfolio.)

    Audience

    This is the first thing you should consider before starting to craft a portfolio. There are several people you might want to show your portfolio to – from museum curators to family and friends. The most common audience – from freelance clients to executive officers – comes into play when you’re looking for a certain job. In that case, showing a portfolio is more about sales promotion than a mere "I love taking photographs" thing. Define your audience first, then you'll start to form a better idea of what work you should include.

    Let's take, for example, a wedding photographer who wants to win more clients. These days, there are certain photographs that clients demand, so keeping an eye on the trends is a healthy business practice. These clients will expect you to have photographs in line with the trends, instead of your more artistic portraits done in an studio session. These pieces could be part of an appendix to your portfolio, but they shouldn't be the prime focus if your purpose is to attract more customers with more average needs and expectations.

    I've seen portfolios (defined by their owners, not me, so they could be technically defined as just a photo stream) that don't speak to an audience at all. I’ve made that mistake in the past, and as time went on I narrowed my style to something more consistent than the work I posted online a couple of years ago. The portfolio content doesn't follow a specific order, and when I find a picture worth including it is just a mere chronological addition. I'm aware that I need to pare it down, because right now it’s too extensive for my taste.

    Tone and Gamut

    Defining a specific tone is important if you’re willing to present your portfolio to a client with certain tastes you'll want to please. Okay, that sounds complex, so let's look at an example. Imagine you are a corporate portrait photographer and all of a sudden you have an opportunity to show your portfolio to the CEO of a massive firm. You should invest in a sophisticated-looking package to present the best of the best from your corporate portrait portfolio. You should present a generous gamut of work inside the aforementioned volume, but it shouldn’t be tiring to look at. In my opinion, between 20 and 35 pieces is perfect.

    Scope

    Speaking of quantity, it’s good to define a scope for any portfolio. If you shoot in more than one photographic style, you should keep separate portfolios. Nowadays I want to try something new: environmental portraiture. If I get good results (wish me luck!) I’ll keep this work apart from my current portfolio that highlights my social photography. If you want to know more about what an environmental portrait is, just look at the work of Arnold Newman, the master.

    Handpick

    Now the most exciting part: selecting your work. In my opinion, your portfolio should consist only of "mature work". A healthy practice is to change your “immediacy habits”. We live in the internet age, and immediacy has changed the rhythm in which we tend to showcase our work. This rhythm has become a bit frantic in my opinion, and a good habit – at least, when it comes to your portfolio – is slow down a bit. Don’t try to pick your work in just one evening. This exercise should take a couple of weeks or even more, so you'll have some objectivity while doing your first selections of work.

    Also, don't consider recently taken pictures, because you'll still have that emotional attachment that clouds our minds with subjectivity. If you’re not sure about which picture to include from a small batch of handpicked ones, ask other photographers to help you out. It is a very nurturing experience.

    Content order

    Many photographers consider that a narrative style is good for a portfolio. I include work in chronological order to show my photographic evolution over time. But if I'm presenting a specific album to somebody, I try to organize it in a narrative form.

    Web-based Portfolios

    There are a bunch of good options for presenting your work. Personally, I like the way Behance works for presenting all my work, but I've found that Issuu is a good choice when I’m uploading a PDF file. A lot of good photographers work with 500px nowadays (for me, it’s like an evolution of Flickr, and I was almost pushed to doing mine for a lecture on portfolio crafting).

    Visual content is top priority when it comes to photography for portfolio websites. Images should be the main protagonists, which is why so many website template focused on portfolio showcasing are so simple and clean. The idea is that your work should be experienced in an almost distraction-free state. Try to upload images using a constant format as well, and think of all your potential internet users when doing so. What I mean is that you really don't need to upload a humongous high-quality image file, because they will be very slow to load, and that could negatively impact on your website's bounce rate.

    Ask for feedback

    Every time I think about including new imagery in my portfolio, I don't add it right away. First I ask a couple of trusted fellow photographers for their insights about what picture fits best in the portfolio.

    Things to always keep in mind when developing your portfolio:

    -    The scope and the work order

    -    Consistency

    -    It should be "pure" (i.e., it should only have the best of the best of what you are trying to present)

    -    It should be easy to present and not tiring to read.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • How do I Price my Work


    Turning our passion for photography into a sustainable business is one of the most-desired goals for many photographers. Photographers often have an opinion about working with certain clients and the frustrations that can arise from the difference between doing what they truly love and what they’re hired to do. The main reason for this discontent is that the work they need to deliver is completely unlike what they love to do. This is why they yearn to turn their genuine passion into a sustainable business. But for this to happen, they – we – need to correctly price our work in order for it to sell. Obviously, if we give our work away, we’ll never make our photography business sustainable. If we over-price it, we may encounter a rocky road when trying to sell it.

    Rate

    The best way I've found to define an hourly rate is to think about the hourly rate you earn at your day job, or, if you don’t have a daily job,  a rate that matches your current skill level. If you’re just starting out, it’s likely that you'll be a freelancer, so you'll probably be sacrificing some day-job hours. If this is correct, you have to consider an opportunity rate of at least x2 the day-job hours you’re missing. Some countries don't always work with hourly rates, but with monthly salaries. In this case, you need to take your monthly payment and divide it by 4, and then by 8, to calculate your hourly rate.

    Here are the factors you need to consider in your calculation:

    -      Hourly Rate

    -      Opportunity Cost

    -      Expected project expenses (from inputs to outputs)

    -      % of revenue that you’re willing to get above the costs

    Expected expenses may include things like:

    -      Gear depreciation

    -      Transportation

    -      Gear rental

    -      Hiring a makeup artist and/or hair stylist

    -      Deliverables (prints, USBs, etc.)

    For example, if the assignment’s expected expenses are $300.00, your hourly rate is $15.00, and you’re spending 15 hours on your entire workflow run, then your cost will be:

    $300.00 + ($15.00 x 15) = $525.00

    Remember to include the opportunity cost if you’re skipping day-job hours:

    $300.00 + ($15.00 x 15) + ($15.00xC) = $525.00

    Then you have to calculate your margin. If you charge the same price as the cost, you won’t earn any profit:

    $300.00 + ($15.00 x 15) + ($15.00xC) = $525.00

    Price:  $525.00 * 1.35% = $708.75

    Let´s round things up:

    Sale Price: $715.00 + taxes

    And that’s pretty much how to price your work. The thing you need to really think through is the “expected expenses” part, because this is where your work must cover its own existence. Marcel Duchamp was known to price his work at a very odd way, but it was very accurate. He counted the even smallest expenses he incurred while creating one of his works – curious, yet obvious things like the time he took seeking out his ready-mades, the coffees he drank, the cigarettes he smoked, the taxis he hoped on, etc.

    The job doesn't stop there. If you try to define a selling price, it’s because you’re about to give it to a potential client. So you're crafting a quote. And there are other elements that are important for you to know about when it comes to doing that.  

    These include:

    -      Your area of expertise: It is important to bid only on projects that are within your domain of expertise. For example, I’m a street photographer, so being part of a wedding photographer’s staff as a candid photographer is not a problem for me. But I would never accept a job as a principal wedding photographer. I could easily work for a NGO that wants to document a topic around agriculture, but I wouldn’t dare to offer my services as a commercial photographer for a fashion brand. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not being short-sighted here. It’s just that I’m very conscious of my own skills.

    -      Scope of the Project: I’s also important to know the expected scope of the project. Being the photographer who simply takes the pictures is not the same thing as being hired for an entire production in which you need to handle the logistics behind clothing and make-up, for example.

    -      Delivery Dates: I’m a true believer in working to the clock. That is, delivery dates are important to me. I always give loose rather than tight delivery dates. That gives me the ability to deliver earlier, and it gives a bonus value to my work.

    -      Payments in advance: Clients of creative workers have a bad reputation of expecting you to work for free, and we as creative individuals have the responsibility to change that bad habit. Not all clients are like this – but let’s face it, there are some really special people out there. The safest way to work a project is to have a payment in advance, and this is something that you need to define in your quote.

    -     Resources the client needs to hand over: Remember to ask your client for all the assets you need for the project so you can work seamlessly and without any trouble.

    If you’re willing to sell Fine Art

    Today’s market is filled with collectors who are somehow more price-conscious, and also the offer is pretty vast when it comes to Fine Art for any purpose.

    According to the art-trading platform Saatchiart, subjective qualities vary from viewer to viewer, making price acceptance a tricky thing. A consistent, fact-based price structure should be formulated for pricing your work.

    Barter is valid

    I'm a true believer that any work requires payment. You don't go to a doctor and expect to have a free appointment just because she or he barely looked at you and gave you an accurate diagnosis. I also believe that there’s a huge difference between working for free and working for something in exchange. Let’s say you know a programmer who creates amazing websites and happens to be getting married. A very good exchange can result from this mix.  

    Don’t work for “exposure”

    Many clients have a bad habit of offering you great “exposure” and endless rivers of clients, if you work for them for nothing. Just don’t do it.

    Freelance Calculators

    Here are some great sources to help you arrive at a better number for your own rate:

    -   http://www.yourrate.co/

    -   https://freelanceboost.com/freelance-hourly-rate-calculator/

    Another great resource for defining your hourly rate

    -   http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Country=United_States/Salary

    There are various business models inside the photography world, but the best formula I have found (and this is really just my own personal opinion, so I may be wrong) is to base everything on an hourly rate. This model works at any level. At the very least, you should have a healthy price that covers all the costs related to your work.

    Originally published at Lightstalking

    READ MORE
  • Do You Really Need Photographic Education


    Every craft, discipline, and profession has knowledge that must be acquired before mastery is eventually achieved. Every person who seeks to excel must acquire a minimum of technical skill that will eventually result in an efficient and experienced way of working. Since its birth after the appearance of lithography, photography has evolved around complex physics of light that result in still images. From its formula to define exposure, to its reproductive nature, photography presents certain demands that must be learned to master its tools. After that, only passion and dedication will lead to a fulfilling career and meaningful work.

    Photography involve as much technical skill as any other discipline out there. The technical aspects of photography center on the action of capturing light on photosensitive media to render an image.

    I live in a country with an extreme shortage of academic offerings around photography; therefore, we are a largely population of self-taught photographers. But, of course, there are courses that teach the fundamentals of composition, exposure and artificial lighting. But thanks to our craving for academic knowledge, we have developed a very interesting photographic culture. The large majority of us tend to share the tiny amounts of knowledge we have. We are used to reading books, and we burn our eyelashes by watching tutorials from various photography-related sources on the internet. Even though our lack of academic resources has bred a cheerful culture, there are some things we should resent:

    -    The hard time we have earning profit from our photographs

    -    The fragile, fragmented network that has grown due to the lack of academic support

    -    Low access to resources for experimenting and learning from other professionals

    -    The lack of workflow instruction

    -    The shortage of portfolio reviews.

    Building a sustainable career in photography is not necessarily achieved by just taking pictures. There are a lot of professional opportunities that are popular worldwide. Some of these are:

    -   Gallery networking

    -   Licensing

    -   Teaching

    -   Working at museums

    -   Editorial activities.

    It’s no secret that with the evolution of the media and the appearance of social media (and its sharing dynamics) we are constantly bombarded with images that are not necessarily meaningful. Therefore, it is important to pursue knowledge to create a more thoughtful visual culture and objective criteria for our own stuff. Being able to stand out from the crowd is key – especially today, where things get more ephemeral each day.

    It’s not only basic technical skills that are important. Guidance and feedback, which both rely more in society than in teachers, are also critical. John Free explains this idea more clearly than I do. The key is to practice, practice and practice, after knowing how the tool works. Why practice so much? Easy: because there’s no better way to learn.

    When it comes to sustainability, understanding the basics of business management is important, too. Creativity must not fool our minds into thinking that it is all that matters. The guys over at 99U (an amazing project of Bēhance) know this for sure. I'm currently reading their books as well – and wow, they are treasures when it comes to balancing things out.

    Some people discourage online learning. But if you don't have access to academic resources in your own country, or its academic offerings are simply beyond your financial wherewithal (I'm a true believer that education must be easy accessible to anyone with a passion for learning, no matter their academic level) online learning is a great solution. I've learned a lot via online – not just about photography, but also about meteorology, curation and food security, which are topics I love, but which are not easily accessible to me through a traditional academic experience. In a couple of months, I’ll start studying for a PhD in a traditional way because, happily, it happens to be accessible to me. You see, I don’t rely on online learning only. The only people who look down on good quality online learning are those who have never experienced it, period. MOOCS and High Quality Tutorials are awesome.

    Websites I consider as good for learning technical photography stuff include:

    -    https://www.nyip.edu/courses

    -    http://www.shawacademy.com/

    -    https://www.lynda.com/

    -    https://www.coursera.org/learn/photography

    Recently I was talking with a friend of mine, a great illustrator, and he told me something I think can apply to photography as well. Talent is not enough. You can have lots of talent, or very little talent, but what really matters is discipline and responsibility. Another thing he believes is that you'll always have people to admire – people that produce work that inspires you to become better each day. This is something you learn in the real world, not in classes. Education may introduce you to a more precise photographic environment, but the responsibility of making amazing stuff is entirely yours.

    I can't remember the episode, but in her podcast, Valerie Jardin once related a very cool anecdote. She met a young girl who asked her for advice. The girl had an opportunity to study either Photography or Pediatrics. Jardin told her to become a pediatrician, because she could always be a pediatrician and a photographer. But if she decided to study photography, her chance to become a pediatrician might not present itself again. Amazing advice! (That anecdote reminds me of the great writer William Carlos Williams, who was a medical doctor and a poet.)

    For me it all comes down to this: photography schools are fine for learning the mechanics of photographic tools. You don’t need to learn every system once you understand the nuts and bolts of exposure; you’ll be able to work with any camera, and every camera will work for you. But there are three huge things you rarely develop at school:

    -    social skills

    -    passion

    -    a personal voice.

    Your own passion will drive you to learn more about history and other beautiful things related to photography. Keep that passion alive, and your photography will evolve in a positive way.

    Originally published at Lightstalking

    READ MORE
  • What I Pack for a Day of Street Photography


    Planning is key in photography. It’s the essence of any efficient workflow. It is also one of the most valuables assets of a professional photographer. But what if someone in the niche goes rascal and rogue? Street photography requires a different approach when it comes to planning, because you need to be ready to take a picture at any moment. Talking about "what to pack for X type of photography" is an obvious way to plan "expected results" when making studio-type photographs. Which is why exploring this particular topic in the context of street photography is so curious.

    Since I have a trusty camera with me at all times (like my phone), I stopped "planning" – and everything went nuts. How come? Because I'm always seeking out that special candid picture. This practice always leads me to the next great shot, and the next. The pursuit never ends, and hopefully it never will.

    There are two scenarios for my street photography. The first one occurs daily and mingles perfectly with my personal, professional and academic life. And then there’s the one that happens when I’m travelling or when I go on photo walks with other fellow photographers. The later requires a bit of packing and some useful apparel.

    In this piece, I’ll talk about some of the things I carry when I’m doing street photography of any kind – from a regular walk or drive in the middle of my regular work day, to the things I take with me when I’m travelling abroad. Perhaps the only difference between the regular daily companion of my camera and the packing I do for travelling is the inclusion of elements that enable me to shoot all day without failing in terms of photographic tools (and physically as well).

    So let´s break it down.

    Something to Capture Photographs, of Course

    Currently I use my trusty Fuji X100T, but my daily companion used to be the Canon G1X. Both are great street photography cameras due to their portability and inconspicuous nature. After realizing the benefits of always carrying a camera, I started dedicating myself almost exclusively to social photography. But before that I used to use a DSLR. Back in the days of heavy gear, my DSLR always wore small prime lenses like the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM and the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. Nowadays I also enjoy shooting film from time to time, and my gear consists of the now sadly forgotten Pentax K1000 and Yashica Mat-124 G. Even my phone has given me the great joy when making some nice photos, even though it’s not the most powerful thing on earth.

    Useful Clothes

    Don’t take clothes for granted when doing street photography, especially if you’re going for a full day of shooting. For me, useful cargo pants, a cap and comfortable shoes are the way to go for long photo walks or travelling. Clothing is the only thing I really think hard about and even plan for long walks. I say “useful” pants, because they will facilitate your movement. Try to wear neutral colored clothes as well, so you can blend into the crowd when visiting foreign cultures and avoid the “tourist” look.

    Even when I carry a bag with my Yashica, some film, and the X100T with the TCL-100 attached to its lens, my most valuable asset will still be useful clothes. They’re the only thing that let me to work swiftly and comfortably in the streets.

    Public transportation maps

    Public transportation  is a great way to move from place to place. The urban experience of moving around like this is vast and rich, but it can also be confusing. Having a metro system map on my phone has saved me several times, especially when I’ve been in countries where people speak a language different than my own.

    PDF Portfolio on Phone

    Street photography is best when it’s candid, but sometimes you'll have the good fortune of meeting magnificent strangers in the street. A conversation can be valuable to both parties. Also it is very likely that you'll want to make a portrait of these characters. Not all people will get you into their trust circle easily, so explaining and describing your work using a portable version of your portfolio is a great idea.

    Some people use amazing looking postcard prints, but I stick to an easy-to-access PDF version of my portfolio on my phone. I use PDF because browsing on the web is not so cool – and as I said before, my phone isn’t very powerful. Even though this PDF tool has been handy for short-notice situations, I'm considering making a pocket-sized booklet of my portfolio.

    Batteries

    My trusty Fuji has a huge problem, and I hope they have corrected it with the recent release of the X100F.  The problem is that the batteries on this amazing camera run out pretty quickly. My solution is simple: I just carry extra batteries (and, just in case, an extra SD card). The good thing about these batteries is that they’re fairly small, so I don't mind having them in my pocket all day. I also don't shoot a lot of pictures, so I carry the extra battery as a contingency.

    I have little to say about my packing methods, but I’d love to hear about how you do it when you’re preparing for a day of street photography.

    Originally published at Lightstalking

    READ MORE
  • Things to Consider When Capturing Humour


    "There is a fine line

    between good clean fun,

    and tackiness"

     Elliott Erwitt

    Capturing humor in a studio setting is a complex job that requires intelligence, patience, care, delicacy and respect. And if that isn’t hard enough, capturing humor in uncontrolled situations is an even more massive challenge – but why?

    A “sense of humour” means that someone has the ability to be amused. Humour triggers laughter, and making someone laugh is not that easy. If it was, everybody would be a comedian – and that’s why working with humour is indeed complex. Human beings respond to humour in different ways depending on age, culture, and even their unique "sense of humour”.

    Natural > Controlled Situations

    I truly believe that capturing humorous incidents on the streets or in any other uncontrolled scenario is much more difficult than doing it in controlled situations. I’m not diminishing concept photography; I'm just saying that because humour that occurs in uncontrolled situations is usually brief. It has to be subtle enough to make you laugh without jeopardizing the subjects'  integrity and situation. Finding humour in real-life circumstances requires patience, luck, being present at the perfect time and place, and a well-bred eye for seeing subtle humour that might escape others.

    Great humour photography, under controlled situations, can result in ingenious art when done right. The deal around the “concept” must be taken with meticulous care by the photographers when working something around humour. Sometimes humour is focused on a deep topic. Just look at satire, and you'll get my point. Humour can be used as an intelligent way to transmit an idea or concern.

    The Thin Line between Humour and Vulnerability

    The biggest challenge, and probably the main reason why humour is considered such a complex theme in photography, is drawing the line that divides a photo from being seen as “deriding” and something that suggests that "we’re laughing with you, not at you".

    Capturing people in vulnerable situations and publishing them as "humour" is just not cool, and it goes against many of human ethical standards I believe in. When that line is not so obvious, but a person asks you to delete a picture of them, please do so. Don't be rude. Being so inflicts deep collateral damage to other photographers.

    Shooting people in vulnerable situations is valid from my personal point of view, when the aim of doing so is to produce a social statement of complaint. Photography is a powerful tool, but it’s important to define the meaning behind the decision to make a photograph.

    About Empathy

    Do you find it hard to define a photograph as acceptable or unacceptable? Just ask yourself if you’d like to be photographed in the same circumstances. And it doesn't stop there – add to that simple equation some broader perspective on empathy. Don’t limit yourself to comparing things like peaches and apples.

    Having a camera pointed at our face isn’t so pleasant when the photographer is a total stranger. Try to be as quick as possible when snapping pictures of strangers, and even quicker if you find that the scene or the situation you’re about to capture is humorous.

    Cultural Thing

    Humour depends a lot on culture. If this wasn't true, there wouldn't be debates on why people from country X don’t get Y type of jokes. Therefore, the cultural aspect is something you need to consider when capturing humour on the streets or when targeting a specific audience (when working in concept photography). Whether or not you’re seeking to evoke humour, remember to use your social skills when diving into cultures different than yours.

    Juxtaposition

    If capturing a "decisive moment" wasn't hard enough, capturing humour is about delivering a specific message inside the decisive moment. Explaining this juxtaposition for me is easier when I put it like this:

    Juxtaposition is the interaction of subjects that otherwise would present dull meanings when captured alone.

    Humour is not expressed by the subjects in many cases. Humour is constructed by the interaction of a subject or subjects with their context. Humour is born when these elements combine at an exact moment of time to result in a playful message.

    Elliott Erwitt

    Observing the images of Elliott Erwitt is the best way I can illustrate the greatness of humour. Erwitt was not just a master of the popular "decisive moment", but a master of capturing humour through irony and absurd situations in uncontrolled situations. He stated once that "making people laugh is one of the highest achievements you can have. And when you can make them laugh and cry, alternately, like Chaplin does, now that's the highest of all possible achievements. I don't know that I aim for it, but I recognize it as the supreme goal."

    Wise words from somebody who truly understands how to capture humour through photography. By contemplating his photographs, you'll realize that humour doesn't even exist in the scene itself, but it can manifest itself in the photograph.

    Show your pictures offline once in a while and watch people's reactions. You might be making people laugh, but "likes" are not necessarily telling you that.

    Watch a video where the man explains some things.

    As a street photographer, you don't seek humour; humour finds you – and it's picky. Which is yet another reason why I never tire of telling people this: never walk without a camera. Always have it with you as your closest companion. Make it a habit, make it feel strange to walk around without its trusty strap slung from your shoulder. Amazing moments happen without planning. They don’t ring any alarms. They just happen. And humour is even rarer. It is serendipitous.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Photography Books to Become a Better Photographer


    Giving your workflow the input of technical knowledge is crucial and wise. The following list will help you to make your workflow leaner and more organic in order to make every resource count.

    Chris Marquardt and Monika Andrae - The Film Photography Handbook

    Due to the curious behavior of our human race, film photography has witnessed a significant renaissance, which is not necessary happening because of the people that had previously shot film. Younger generations are getting interested in the format for various reasons (curiosity, nostalgia, pride, etc.)

    In The Film Photography Handbook offer an easy-to-understand and pretty complete resource to shooting film. The book is definitely not a stubborn position in photography. In fact it fits perfectly in today’s working climate because it includes topics as the hybrid film/digital workflow, digitization of negatives, and even working with smartphones for light metering and to assist in film processing.

    Here you will learn various important aspects of film photography. From the obvious and not so obvious differences between film and digital photography, how to buy a second-hand film camera, film formats, and everything you need to know regarding film development as well.

    Bruce Barnbaum - The Art of Photography

    Despite its dense appearance with a lot of text and few (but intelligent and precise) images to illustrate it, this is a very understandable and complete textbook on photography. If I could only pick one single book of photography (hope to never be in that situation of course), I'll pick this one. This book is magical because it can be read by beginners, intermediate and even advanced photographers; and they'll all find valuable knowledge here. Birnbaum's voice through the entire book is a true evidence of the passion he has for teaching, and for photography.

    If you want to learn how to create meaningful and powerful photographs, instead of lazy snapping and hoping to correct everything in the computer later, this is the book for you. One of the best things I've ever read on photography, and a great investment as well.

    Michael Freeman - The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography

    I've always been a book lover, so Barnes and Nobles is always a good place for me to spend some time when traveling to the U.S. I still remember that day I entered that store and immediately went to the Photography section just after buying my first DSLR camera. I was naïve and impulsive, and some great force guided me to buy this specific book out of everything else that was in the shelves.

    This is the best thing that happened to me in order to craft my own style of imagery in terms of development. This book for me is like the bible, and I revisit it constantly. Thanks to this book I understood the importance behind developing a RAW file with a clear purpose in mind. If you are a black and white photography lover like me, this is the best book that you could buy.

    Marvin Heiferman and Merry A. Foresta - Photography Changes Everything

    This book is an important reminder to all us photographers that we are the carriers and protectors of a great responsibility. Photography changes everything is an innovative compendium of essays that speak about photography changing the way of doing, perceiving and understanding almost everything. This is a great book for every photographer to read in order to become better because it awakes that hardly ever seen truth about photography in our minds.

    John Szarkowski - Looking at Photographs

    Modern and Contemporary Photography wouldn't be what it is today in terms of art if it wasn't for the devoted, passionate and intense work of John Szarkowski. He was an important curator at MoMA, and he centered his vision on photography. Here Szarkowski shares his way of seeing and reading images, which is something we can't afford to lose in terms of photography evolution. Doing a deep and contemplative reading of images is important because we are the reflection of what we consume, and if we consume photographs, and we digest them well, we'll produce better images as well. Among the outstanding figures represented here are Hill and Adamson, Cameron, O'Sullivan, Atget, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, Weston, Kertész, Evans, Cartier-Bresson, Lange, Brassaï, Ansel Adams, Shomei Tomatsu, Frank, Arbus and Friedlander. Some of these photographs are classics, familiar and well-loved favorites, many are surprising, little-known works by the masters of the art.

    John Szarkowski - The Photographer's Eye

    Another great book written by this important figure of the photography universe. This book includes a breakdown approach of 172 curated photographs. The selection includes work from the all-time masters, as well as amateur work and even vernacular snapshots. The purpose behind this juxtaposition is to analyze almost in a SWOT style text, the challenges and opportunities that all photographers endure in their career. The reason why I think this is an important book for you to become better is that it can be seen as an inspiration, or even as scale, that will ease the emotions of all photographers that want to be great fast, and think that this joy happens spontaneously. When I read this book, I felt like I was been drawn back to earth, but with parental care, it was an awesome experience for sure.

    Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

    Short and almost ludic to read. This book was published not so long ago by the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes. Almost like "photography changes everything", this book talks about the effects photography create in the spectator consciousness. Roland Barthes considers photography as irreducible to the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind. The well-known concepts of "studium" and "punctum" are widely explained here. In few words, the "punctum" is that small portion of the picture that "yells", and "studium" is the available context inside the picture that makes it easy to read as a whole story. These two fancy Latin words, will invite you to create meaningful work in every image you consider worthy of being published.

    Susan Sontag - On Photography

    Susan Sontag was an American writer, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist. And just like Szarkowski, she wasn't known for her photography, but gave photography big contributions in terms of ideas. She was the partner of the great American photographer Annie Leibovitz, and this book has been considered as a selection of essays about the meaning and career of photographs. It begins pretty philosophical with the famous "In Plato's Cave" essay, which has worked as inspiration for movies like The Matrix and The Island, to quote a couple. This 30 pages essay invites us to brake prejudices and rules, which is a key feature in the work of many well-known artists.

    Annie Leibovitz - Annie Leibovitz at Work

    And speaking of Annie Leibovitz, this is a book that shows an intimate and sincere look to the photographer's workflow and way of doing things at the backstage. We as photographers are always in seek of inspiration, and we only center our fascination to the finished results of the photographers we love the most. But we hardly stop to think about all the work that has been done to create such images. This book explains what professional photographers do and how they do it in her own words. If this is not valuable knowledge to any beginner, amateur, and consecrated photographer, I don't know what else I could offer you to read.

    Ansel Adams - The Camera, The Negative and The Print

    Ok, this is not a single book but three great treasures of photography in technical terms. The summit of Ansel Adams were his easy to recognize direct photography; but the unseen rocky road, are the technical aspects he speaks of in this series. I need to be honest with you, I have only been able to read "The Camera", which is a text that explains the tool in a way that allows the reader to predict the results of the final image while still setting up the camera's parameters. "The Negative" and "The print" are books that I have only read slightly, but are considered to be as great as the Camera. Many of the themes he discussed are still valid since we have only substituted emulsions for sensors. Having such a vast amount of knowledge written down by The Master, is a complete treasure that needs to be in your bookshelf for sure.

    Eric Kim - 100 Lessons from the Masters of Street Photography

    Eric Kim deserves a monument. He has been passionately writing about Photography (especially Street Photography) in his blog, and he has collected 100 lessons from Masters of Street Photography into a free e-book that can be downloaded here. The lessons can contradict themselves because they are a collection of several lessons preached by various photographers, and at the end of the day, every photographer will adopt the ones that fit their personal voice.

    Laurie Excell - Composition

    Every camera comes with a decent User Manual that will teach you very little about how to take meaningful images that will go beyond mere snapshots. Composition is the best tool you have for creating visually attractive images, and now that you have invested in some gear, you need a book that goes along with that piece of gear. In this book you'll find a friendly road into composition. Learn the best ways to compose images while getting great detail in every image you capture. The book has an innovative way of combining the best of the two worlds (digital and analogue experience of books) by offering a simple to access Flickr group dedicated to the book readers for them to share their work.

    Harold Davis - Creative Composition - Digital Photography Tips and Techniques

    Another great book on composition that speaks of the importance of mastering rules before breaking them. Cameras are great tools filled with desirable technology, but they don't take photos unless they have their shutter buttons pressed down. When I was starting to take photographs, a friend of mine lent me this book. I was using a small point and shoot camera, and thanks to this book, I surely made that camera count until the very last day it was taken away from my hands by a robber on the street. I don't consider myself a master of composition, therefore I'm still learning different ways of rendering my own vision of the world through photography, but this book was indeed a great way to start.

    Joe McNally: The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World's Top Shooters

    I haven't had the time to finish reading this book, but I assure you that this is a great textbook for anyone with desires of becoming better in the photographic discipline. After reading some pages, I noticed something really interesting about the book. I love stories, and the book is filled with real world stories that will grab any photographer's attention immediately. It is awesome that a great master like McNally tell you stories that give other people, unknown people, but important in their worlds, the credit for the lessons he is indeed teaching in his book.

    Uwe Steinmüller and Jürgen Gulbins - Fine Art Printing for Photographers

    These guys of Rocky Nook have books for everything when it comes to photography, but with this one they really nailed it. Many of today's photographers have little interest in making prints of their images because of a several number of reasons we are just not going to discuss.

    This book gives the necessary assets for doing print right, which is an important part of the photography workflow. Such assets cover color management, profiling, paper and inks.  

    Uwe Steinmüller and Jürgen Gulbins - The Digital Photography Workflow Handbook From Import to Output

    Workflow, workflow, workflow. We all have heard the word; I even mentioned it in this article introduction, but really, what is the Photography Workflow? Thanks to this book I've finally got to define it as the replicable and structured process of doing images from start to finish. Such scope spans from preparing the equipment to the final deployment of the print, and the internet version publication of the image. I haven't got an official medical statement about me having OCD, but this book really fed my obsession for structures and archive organization.

    Kristen Lubben - Magnum Contact Sheets

    This book is a rare revelation of an unknown world that was private for just a few people. Contact sheets was the way many photographers and editors efficiently flagged images that were good for publishing or printing. It was part of the entire workflow, and is really curious to see the creative process of the great photographers of one of the most mythic agencies in the world.

    Magnum Contact Sheets is rich view of the other images that accompanied a lot of iconic images captured by the agency's photographers. Since Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment theory we have this prejudice that iconic images resulted of a single shot, and thanks to this book, we can see that they were not single images taken by these talented photographers. By watching their contact sheets, we can see a more human side of them, with mistakes and not so striking images as the ones they and the editors picked for publishing in their times.

    Knowledge sources are getting wider as time goes by, but even when the internet can offer us a vast world of wisdom, books are still the leading asset for knowing more, and therefore becoming better in everything. Travel Photography therefore is not outside this scope; and the books that we just briefly mentioned, are the top books that I personally consider to be great sources of photography knowledge.

    All of these books are loaded with content that wave between the dense, and easy to digest literature that provides the skills for becoming better as a travel photographer. But remember that none of these passionate tips and tricks that can be found in this book will work if you don't practice. Many travel photographers limit themselves to just shooting when travelling, but I encourage you to practice every time you can, in order to make your workflow leaner and agile.  

    You can combine all of these books loaded with technical knowledge with coffee table books that could give you a richer inspirational experience than the images that can be found on the internet. Hopefully we'll do a whole text dedicated to those books as well.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • Candid Photography


    Being candid while traveling is way more complex than doing it locally, because it is easy for people to spot us as foreigners. I'll talk about some important things like Social Skills, and Ethics in order to travel without any trouble and remain as candid as possible. Also remember to make a appropriate research on public laws of the countries you visit, since they may have regulations that prohibit photography in such places.

    Candid Photography has been almost like a synonym for Street Photography, but for me it goes way further. Being Candid is a way of doing things, and it has a larger scope than Street Photography. This personal opinion and approach to doing things candidly will give you a better understanding of its role in photography.

    Importance

    The most importance value of doing things with a Candid approach, is that with it you can achieve natural and unaltered documentation from ordinary (or not) scenes that surround societies. So, if we are on the pursuit of capturing things without being noticed; developing candid skills will definitely get your photography into a much satisfying level of result.

    Since photographic mediums got more capable of capturing images in fractions of a second, photographing things in the most natural way form, got a little bit more doable. Telling the true stories of people is without a question the best way of doing things, when picturing the streets, and even when the slightest crop can alter an image candid is a very objective photographic approach.

    Social Skills

    Candid photos are not just about being extremely sneaky and almost invisible in order to capture things. It is also about getting close to people and being able to be a comfortable person to have around. Being skilled in social terms will allow you to get closer to your subjects, instead of just shooting from a voyeuristic distance. When socializing with people, they'll obviously know that you are taking pictures, but you need to do things with a different rhythm. With a much slower approach. The great trick is to get people used to your presence, and then candid images start to bloom.

    Use slangs if you know some of them, especially in your own city or country. This trick has saved me countless times, because people easily recon outsiders, but when you start talking in a way that they relate you their same culture, they get their guards down a little bit. It is my survival tactic on the streets of my country, and it is awesome.

    Also care about people when approaching them, hear their stories, ask them things, give them a good quality time even if that happens just for about ten or fifteen minutes. Keep that care in consideration even when composing your images. When taking photos of homeless people or children, avoid doing them from a high angle point of view, because this will make them appear vulnerable than they really are. On the other hand, a low-angle shot will portray them in a stronger and more human way.

    When talking with people, they might ask you why are you doing pictures, and just be honest with them, show them your passion for capturing the streets if you can.

    Maneuvers

    Don't give yourself away

    If you react with obvious movements, you'll easily get spotted by the people. Try to be smooth when taking your camera to your eye. Shooting right from the viewfinder is amazing, but we tend to over excite when taking our camera from its walking place, to our eyes. This frantic and sloppy movement can cause people to notice us.

    I've been on the other side of the fence in this terms, and I have been photographed as well while walking on the streets (I don't complain, it is just the price one has to pay, it is almost like karma or the third law from Newton haha), and the movement is so obvious, that we need to practice being more stealth in terms of getting our camera to our eye in order to achieve more candid frames.

    When shooting candidly, try to avoid eye contact as well. Eye starring has a tremendous power, and it tend to be felt by other people. When this happens, you get eye contact. Try to not capture eye contact because it will not be 100% candid.

    - Shoot from the hip

    Shooting from the hip requires a lot of practice, and I personally think that when practicing this maneuver, it is also important to commit yourselves to one single lens. Getting to know the exact amount of the scene that fits through your lens takes huge practice, and if you are interchanging lenses like crazy, you will only get yourselves frustrated with this amazing technique.

    - Use your LCD

    I really don't like using live view modes when shooting from the eye level, but when shooting from odd angles, it is a good friend of mine. Especially if such screen has the capability of getting tilted.

    - Acting

    Another great tactic is to act like if you are just checking pictures on your camera. People tend to know that you are taking pictures of them only when you take you camera to your eyes.

    And the best acting trick, is to perform like you are shooting something way further than the people you are taking pictures to, and this one is really useful while shooting through the viewfinder. My current camera doesn't have a tiltable LCD screen, so this tactic is the one that I use the most.

    It is highly known that Walker Evans painted all the chromed parts of his camera matte black, and hid it under his overcoat in order to get completely stealth and inconspicuous when shooting at public transportation. Maybe this technique was a little bit too voyeuristic, but hey, the man did a great job while photographing the ordinary people that traveled down the subway.

    Gear

    Gear, gear, gear. The major worry of our generation when talking about photography. Just get yourselves a trusty piece of gear (or pieces) that can be with you at every moment and every day.

    A little bit about my digital gear background. I entered photography through a small point and shoot camera. I got robbed while doing some street photos, and I got myself an entry level DSLR after that gunny encounter. With the DSLR the lens frenzy began. My favorite lenses when working street photos with my DSLR are my 28mm, and 2 pancakes I got at the end of my lenses rush (a 40mm and a 24mm); occasionally I used to shoot with a 10-20mm lens as well. After a while, I got back to small gear; and got myself another Point and Shoot since I decided to get away from commercial work, and focus on street photography. After two years of that, I got myself the first "Digital Rangefinder camera.

    Gear is important, because is the tool that makes you capable of capturing the images you want to. I got my gear needs driven by my passion, which is Street Photography, and I realized that small and inconspicuous gear is the best way for me to do the photographs I love.

    Don’t let yourselves be driven by gear innovations and brands. Decide your companion gear by listening your passion, not the market.

    Patience

    Another important aspect for excelling at candid road of doing photography, is to keep high levels of patience. Everything done candidly, have small levels of control in terms of light and pose. For example in street photography, one can wander the streets for hours, and just make a couple of pictures, or even none. This happens when are in the pursuit of something specific, a special moment, a meaningful story. And capturing them, require high levels of patience and discipline. But, that doesn't mean that you need to lower your guard. You never know when the moment of your life is going to burst in front of your eyes, and you need to be prepared for it.

    Blending in

    Being able to blend in in the crowds is crucial for doing candid photographs. It is not the same to be dressed in bright colors in winter at Paris, as well as it is not normal to be dressed with overcoat at the beaches of California. Blending in is not just about dressing, but manners and even the way of walking. Try to be smooth and not give yourselves away as tourists when travelling, because this will reduce the abilities for being candid.

    Separation from Vernacular

    Candid approach on photography goes beyond vernacular photography, because vernacular is more oriented for domestic purposes, and other fields of photography, like publicity in newspaper and stuff like that. The real difference between candid photography, and natural vernacular, is the aesthetics that a photographer could achieve by taking in consideration composition techniques, and exposure techniques as well.

    Respect

    Respect all the people that you encounter in front of your lenses. It doesn't matter if they are your friends, or complete strangers; respect all the people that get in front of your shutter eye. The voice of a picture is really important, and doing things without respect, is reflected in the images you capture.

    Respect needs to be given to cultures and religions as well. It doesn't matter if you are an open minded travelling in a conservative country; or a cookie molded squared minded conservative one travelling in a completely open minded country, you always need to have respect to anybody.

    If you can't show respect to anything that surrounds you; maybe social photography should not be your strong field. I tell you this because this will negatively impact in your blending in, and your social skills for getting involved with different people. Physical language speaks more than verbal language, and people notice it a lot, so the next time you are surrounded by a different context than yours, show some respect, and things will flow better, ergo, you’ll capture more candid photographs.

    Niches that Glorify with Candid Approach

    As I said before, Candid is more an approach, and it has a larger span that a simple photography genre. The two niches that I think get a larger benefit from it, are without a doubt Street Photography, and Photojournalism. This is because these two genres cope better with natural and ordinary happenings.

    Ethics

    Please, don't make us Street Photographers look bad. Don't be rude to people if they ask you to delete their images just because you are in a public space and you are in your right to capture things in public spaces. Some people just don't like to be photographed by some stranger with a camera, and if they ask you to delete their picture, please do it. Also don't take pictures like if you are spying on somebody, and don't run after taking a picture of somebody, that is just not cool.

    A little anecdote around my TLR

    I was telling Viktor that I got myself a little present for my birthday (it was on October 19th). I bought a second-hand near-mint Yashica Mat 124G, and just recently (last November the 2nd) I had the opportunity of trying it out for the first time. November the 2nd is the Day of the Dead in my country. The tradition is simple, people go to the cemeteries to mourn their loved ones. I woke up early, loaded my Yashica with some film, and got into one public cemetery. I knew that I was entering a fragile ecosystem, filled with mourning people. And I knew I could get some insults if I didn't approached people with absolute respect. The thing is, that this camera, is so freaking obvious, that people didn't even react to it. I placed the camera over some concrete structures, made my exposures with a phone app, focused the camera, composed, and took the pictures. All of them were completely candid, and I was uber surprised that I was so obvious, that I got candid, and insult free.

    Some people like to do portraits of unknown people, and getting close to strangers and convincing them to pose in front of camera, is something completely incredible. There is nothing wrong with doing portraits of people on the streets, don’t get me wrong, but we reduced this text to plain candid approaches in photography. The real magic of candid photography, is when you see an image, and you are not sure if that was posed or not.

    I invite you to push yourselves to the limits in order to capture completely natural and close images of people that tell meaningful stories. It is not the same to walk around inside a crowd, with your camera near your hip shooting like crazy. Seek beautiful, amazing, compelling and meaningful moments inside such crowds, or outside them. Have your camera always with you, prepared for shooting, and those moments will have a hard time escaping from your eye.

    In sum, Candid is an approach for doing photography, therefore it spans a larger scope than just a genre inside photography like Street or Photojournalism. Candid is a way of getting involved with societies and crowds in order to capture meaningful stories that otherwise will remain unseen to the public. Doing Candid Photography is about being inconspicuous, sneaky, stealthy, but above all, respectful and socially skilled in order to get close to the intimate and ordinary moments of urban and rural peoples' lives, and capture them in the most natural and purest way.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • The Importance of Passionate Feedback


    Photography has evolved to a magnificent state in which we are constantly able to nurture our love of images thanks to the endless stream of pictures uploaded to the internet daily. And, as lovers of photography, we have the responsibility to speak truthfully about them. This post invites you to develop a discipline and a mindset that will detach you from giving superficial reactions such as a lazy press of a Like button on the web. Giving genuinely passionate feedback will help you grow not just as a photographer, but also as a consumer of other people’s photographs.

    Is Feedback the Same as Critique?

    They’re almost the same, but feedback is more likely to be received with an open mind by the author of the image. Critique, not so much. The biggest difference is that feedback is accepted without being requested, while a critique is something photographers usually ask for. So the next time you’re writing a well-intended comment that you feel inspired to give, call it feedback and it will be very well received by the photographer.

    Perhaps feedback happens naturally and is just reflects how an image makes us feel. Not all images are perfect – and here comes the tricky part of well-intended feedback. Most images trigger our emotions, and since we’re insatiable human beings we want more of the same amazing feeling. Here’s when we start suggesting ways to enhance a specific image or a technique from the photographer.

    Both feedback and critique have the same spark, which is triggered by the way an image makes the reader feel about it. But feedback is broader than critique, because it speaks about image’s pleasant aspects and doesn’t always speak about improving an image. Critique, on the other hand, centers around the idea of achieving perfection via suggested improvements to an image or technique. Feedback could have that "suggestive" component, but is not always present. Feedback usually consists of you saying what you like most about the image, and that's it.

    The image’s message

    When creating feedback, let your words be driven by the image’s message. Let the image speak through you and your interpretation. Images are open to different interpretations, especially when they have no captions.

    It’s also important for photographers to seek meaningful moments that will speak to their audience in order to create this dynamism between photographer and viewer.

    From Reading the Photograph to Breaking it Down

    The most important thing when giving meaningful feedback is to read the image well. By saying this, I mean to take your time to examine and read the image. It doesn’t matter if takes one minute or 15 – this is all about doing things at a different pace, not defaulting to the usual immediate burst of Likes.

    Such reading can be superficial but meaningful if you express what you feel in a couple of paragraphs. Some pictures deserve a broader reading, which will eventually lead you to a deep study of the image. Breaking down an image is fun and nurturing, but (of course) not all images invite us to do so. The choice is completely subjective and must be driven by critical thinking and contemplative reading.

    It is also a good exercise to read breakdowns on iconic images written by different people or academics to get a better glimpse of the way some authors dig into images.

    The fancy terms punctum and studium are good for analyzing a picture. The punctum is the implied or most obvious element that screams the message of the picture. And the studium is the context that helps us better understand the purpose of the photograph. Studium is not always present in the image itself, but in the captions and the picture’s historical context.

    Allow yourself to be inspired by others

    Allowing yourself to be inspired by other people's photographs is good for your visual knowledge and helps you recognize great work (beyond that of the masters). Today's technology allows us to find many inspirational work around the globe, and much of the work of passionate serious photographers is an amazing source of inspiration.

    Practice with the Masters

    Even though you’re not going to publish your comments on the work of the masters, it’s a healthy exercise to practice giving feedback on their work. Think critically about why the work of the masters is so revered. This book provides a very human approach to the editing behind the iconic images we all have sighed over.

    Stop Asking about Gear

    All right, we’ve landed at the reason why I wanted to write this article. As a photographer, it’s frustrating to hear questions like, "What camera are you using?" or "What lens gives your images that look?" Hearing such comments is tedious, exhausting and discouraging, because it suggests that people prefer to know about gadgets more than they want to read the image you’ve published online. Please, stop asking about gear, and start questioning the image’s author in terms of their "how", "why" and "what".

    -   How was the image taken? Under what circumstances did this image happen?

    -   Why did you compose the image that way? Why did you expose it that way?

    -   What was your intention with the processing you gave the image?

    If you’re deeply interested in gear, ask why the photographer felt that the gear they used was crucial for that image. You’ll be surprised to know the answers that will follow such a line of questioning.

    Be Objective, but don’t be Rude

    Recently I had the great pleasure and honor of reviewing the portfolio proposal of the Photojournalism students of one of the most prestigious universities in my country. The exercise took longer than expected, because I was really passionate about giving my feedback. Mea culpa. I was objective as possible, and one of the students got the assignment instructions all mixed up, and my first words to her were something like, "I want you to understand that this is what I love, and therefore I need to speak the truth." I tried to encourage her to keep exploring everything and said that she'd eventually find a style of photography of her own, which was one of her biggest worries.

    The message behind this anecdote is that we to always try to be objective – but please, avoid being rude. If we love photography, we’ll want more people to fall in love with it. Don't be rude, be objective – but keep yourself together and encourage people to keep practicing every day.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

     

    READ MORE
  • Contemplative Reading in Photography


    This is not a revolutionary and technological thought. This is not the biggest secret to becoming better in photography. The following text only talks about a different approach to your huge love of photography. I’m simply inviting you to spend amazing quality time with valuable images instead of  just endlessly scrolling through images.

    Contemplative reading is a term that I took away from an academic lecture,  and I'm sure our teacher took it from the religious term "Lectio Divina", which states that good reading must include at least reading, contemplation and even meditation at some points to be considered a good reading of a text. This good reading invites the lecturer to form a deeper and more analytical interpretation of what’s going on in the text, or the visual asset per se.

    Contemplative reading in photography goes a step further, because you'll be reading no literal words, but you'll be able to apply every possible meaning contained in the image to your own life, and especially to your own identity.

    Personally, I think that contemplative reading is enriched by reducing the speed at which we’re used to consuming content these days, especially through online platforms. By doing this, we open the door to reflective and critical understanding of the pieces we are observing. I think that contemplative reading is easier to practice when the visual content can be seen outside a screen in a more tangible form. Still, I've discovered that there is a simple trick to avoid distractions while surfing the web – just go to full-screen mode when you find an image that deserves a contemplative reading.

    Images become more suggestive when we give them the chance to pitch us their messages; but to do that, we at least have to be sharp and sensitive in order identify those images that have something beautiful, amazing, and meaningful to say. Not every image will tell a great story, but a great story can come from any image.

    The Process

    The contemplative reading process begins before you see a single picture. It starts with your own mindset, making it more aware and sensitive of the images you constantly see and discerning as to whether the story is meaningful or not. Let’s imagine that we are surfing our favorite photography-sharing websites, and then we stumble across a certain image that catches our attention. Instead of just giving it a simple like, make it full-screen and grab a small notebook (nothing fancy, you’re allowed to be messy) and start listing the things you like the most about the image. Just brainstorm over the thing. It could be the composition, the color palette, the elements inside it, or outside, etc. Start doing some analogue work, because at the end this is going to be a personal approach to your love of photography.

    The Benefits

    It helps to Create Better Critiques

    Critique helps to enhance the evolution of a photographer, without a doubt. Building a solid learning experience based on critique works in two ways: you can either receive good constructive critiques, and/or you can give solid elaborated helpful critiques. That said, contemplative reading helps you build solid comments on others’ photographs, and also write a good statement that gives your work a conceptual basis.

    Imagine what a wonderful world photography could be if we all could receive solid, deep comments on our works, instead of mere likes or gear-related questions? Well, we can start to build this amazing and nurturing collective consciousness of constructive critiques thanks to contemplative reading.

    Just do a small exercise, without sharing it at first. Select images you love, images that moved your soul the first time you saw them, and write a small paragraph about what the images made you feel. Then try to answer small and simple, yet powerful questions about:

    How the image makes you feel

    What does the image tell you?

    And if you have any suggestions to make that enhance these prior statements, you can also write about:

    How the image could be enhanced

    Why your suggestion could enhance what you’re feeling in the image.

    It doesn't matter if the image is by a friend of yours, or a great master like Henri Cartier-Bresson. These texts are for you, and nobody else.

    It Helps Build a Personal Visual Criteria

    Thanks to the massive bombardment of images we are exposed to every day, one of the biggest challenges of our times is that it has become harder to have an educated visual culture. But contemplative reading can save our way of doing things thanks to its slow-paced methodology.

    It just takes from 5 to 15 minutes to perform a good contemplative reading of an image with no distractions, and with full entire focus on the images (while writing these lines, I remembered this short movie called La Jetée). Every image you observe in a slow-paced way will remain longer in your memory, so you’ll be increasing your personal collection of visual assets. If we consume good images and digest them correctly, we’ll speak in a more refined visual language when creating our images.

    Finding Favorite Images

    Having a bunch of favorite images is really important, and I must say that I personally don't have a single favorite image, but a good group of favorites. One of my all-time favorite images is the portrait of Marina Ginestà shot by Juan Guzmán during the Spanish Civil War. The image may not be massively iconic, but it transmits a great power thanks to the fearless youth of the young communist militant girl. I tend to revisit my all-time favorite images to seek inspiration, and the messages I get from them become stronger and stronger each time.

    Maybe the term “Contemplative Reading” sounds fancy and overpriced; but in the end, the concept is simple. Just start looking at images at a slower pace, and try to analyze them with a passionate eye. We love photography, we love making images, and we love seeing them, so the task should not be hard.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Keeping Things Balanced Between Photography and Everyday Activities


    Due to globalization and the frantic immediacy that drives today’s media, following our dreams is easier by achieving balance between everyday responsibilities, and doing stuff we love the most.

    This has been a fantastic year for me. I have been pretty busy in my day job, and writing about the thing I love the most, have kept my passion fueled in a way I never imagined when I dreamed of having some extra income due to photography. Nowadays I have almost quitted doing photography I don't feel passionate about, and I'm way freer for doing Street Photography, which I hugely love.

    Following our dreams turn us into one soldier armies, and maneuvering around every stuff, is crucial for keeping everything well fed. Sometimes we overheat our responsibilities, and leave our dreams for later. This is what you may not do, or at least don't get used to do. Getting comfortable at leaving things for later is extremely dangerous for any discipline you are willing to excel at. Don't get me wrong, I love my day job, because I believe we are doing some really amazing stuff and I enjoy it even at after hours. Having a day job like this, allows me to do images without the pressure of clients and deadlines. I'm just doing images for myself, and for the people that stumble into my work thanks to the internet sneaky way of doing things.

    Not everything is perfect though, because I also love writing literature, especially Poetry and Short Stories. I have to recognize that I had let that part of my world to cool down, which is really bugging me honestly. So, here I have an improvement opportunity, which is great.

    Without further ado, I’ll tell you now some tips that I personally think work really great when balancing things up:

    Passion will lead you

    If you are passionate about what you do, you won’t have such a hard time in keeping yourselves fueled with energy. It doesn’t matter how tired you could be at the end of a hard day, if you are passionate with Photography, you’ll feel guilty if you at least didn’t watch some good pictures at a slow pace at the end of the day.

    Productivity Tools for Organizing your Mess

    Being productive and time efficient is key for keeping balance between responsibilities and the things you love. If you don’t have a system, it will be HARD to keep up with everything, and eventually you could feel frustrated if you don’t accomplish such balance.

    I have tried many productivity tools, but I’m sticking just with the following. These are great, I know there is a bunch out there, but I will only mention those tools that I use to keep myself organized.

    Google Calendar is my master reference in terms of managing my days for everything I do.

    Google Drive is where I keep all my files for quick and easy access no matter the place or device.

    Google Keep is where I keep my random notes handy.

    Asana is amazing for project managing. I started using it at work, and eventually I started using it for all my personal projects. It is almost like a to-do list or a task manager with steroids. Asana recently launched “boards” which is way more practical for continuous workflows. It is also a collaborative platform.

    Trello is a simple tool that allows seeing the big picture of an overall team working. I use it at work, and for regular magazines I work as a columnist.

    Agenda, ok this may be redundant by I really need to do things in analogue form as well, if not I’ll just freak out. But, I don’t use it for work activities, just Academic, Photography, and Writing tasks.

    Notebook for ideas and much other good stuff.-

    Watch, because time will run out quickly if you don’t mind it.

    And no, Moleskine doesn’t sponsor, I just love their products.

    Rituals are good, routines not so much

    Some time ago, while enduring a personal dilemma (for not saying crisis), I concluded that routines may be boring, but rituals is something beautiful. Rituals are those small things you do every day that keep your mind at peace (ok, I may have OCD, but I don't care). So don't feel sorry if you start doing some routine things that are related to the things you love. Not everything is about inspiration. Inspiration is great, but the muses aren't as generous as we would love them to be. Therefore, we need to have discipline for inspiration to grow into great results.

    Avoid procrastination

    Ok, losing ourselves in the marvelous tentacles of the web is great, but if we don't control them, we will procrastinate things for later and later. You don't need to be as extreme as me (I don't have Facebook), but you can give your web browsing some routine or ritual, and even schedule it so it doesn't get off your hands.

    I try to keep everything organized, from photography web platforms, to social media and YouTube channels; again, I might have OCD.

    Maybe you work as a professional 8 hours-a-day photographer, or maybe you are just dreaming about accomplishing it. Every Photographer has their formula, and I'm just sharing mine with you. I’m also trying to encourage you to keep your passion fueled, because you are not alone.

    For me the best example is Ted Forbes, who left his day job at a University as a teacher, and now has a sustainable YouTube channel thanks to his passion and love for Photography. Please let us know about what you are doing, we are not alone.

    READ MORE
  • The Sad Truth about Practicing Film Photography


    Film photography has always intrigued me, but I entered photography from the opposite direction. I just learned about the logic behind exposure, and digital was the easiest way to go. Obviously I started shooting in digital, and I still do it, constantly. After stumbling upon a film camera that I found, because of a small experiment triggered by watching a movie, I learned to shoot film, too – and the exposure logic was still the same. I didn’t know how to develop, so I had to send my rolls of film to a lab. I also had to send it in pairs, because two rolls of film was the minimum quantity that lab would develop.

    This year, this laboratory stopped providing this service, leaving a considerable number of amateur and vernacular photographers empty-handed in terms of film development services. If a good friend hadn’t taught me how to develop, I would be empty-handed too. I don’t blame the lab, I understand that they need revenues, and investing in such a small number of customers is not profitable.

    I’ve learned to develop and print, but I have gone from buying the film and chemicals, to only developing the film. I don't do any printing, but I hope to get a darkroom revived for the use of a small community of film photographers in my country.

    Almost all the members of this tiny community are young photographers, which leads to my first point about the truth of shooting film photography.

    Let me tell you a little story about a hateful and discouraging video. I'm not going to post the source of this video, because I just don't want to give such discouraging content more exposure. Recently I watched a video in which a man was mocking young photographers who are interested in film photography. He was mocking them because apparently he thinks they are pursuing film photography out of a nostalgia for a time they didn't live through – which is not paradoxical, but ridiculous, as he states.

    This made me think a lot, and I realized that I wasn't nostalgic. In fact, I don’t even consider myself an artist. Recently I took a great course online that pushed me into writing an "artist statement", as the wonderful artists of the Helsinki School do. But I excused myself from the lecturer and wrote a simple statement around my Social Photography.

    This bitter encounter with the aforementioned video made me write another statement, so I now have two statements that give my passion a certain direction. This new statement centers on film photography, and preaches the following:

    I allow myself to practice a less-meaningful form of photography in terms of societal studies, because it is not targeted to the public. The process of this different way of practicing photography is slower, and I found it to be a therapeutic procedure. Since it is not limited to meaningful social documentation as my work shown online, its scope is broader, and therefore I allow myself to experiment further into fields I haven’t mastered, even though it doesn't prevent me from pursuing my passion for photographing people candidly.

    Currently my scope, in terms of analog imagery, goes from preparing the chemicals, to drying and storing the negatives after developing them. The images that result here are "more mine" than if I’d taken them in a digital format, because I believe that an error while developing could erase the exposures. There is a high risk of not capturing the expected, but it doesn't matter, since it is all part of the same therapeutic exercise. The audience for such images is smaller than it is for digital formats, but it still works well with the social photography I love the most.

    In simple words, I’m not being a snob or a bourgeois, and I’m having more than mere fun. I’m having the time of my life with photography, both digital and analog.

    A different form of photography

    For me, shooting film is just another way of capturing images. We have all read about the benefits of shooting film, which encourages us to shoot fewer, but better-quality images.

    I’ve been shooting 120 format rolls of film for a while now using my beloved self-made birthday present camera, which allows to make 6x6 square exposures. The 120 film format is limited to 12 exposures, and I recently got a tank camera that my grandfather bequeathed to me. I felt that shooting 36 frames was hell of a lot after shooting just 12 frames.

    After shooting my last 35mm exposure, I felt that I had spent ages with that roll of film (and it only lasted about a week inside the camera). I developed it recently, and I even felt that the format was amusingly small – and this format is the equivalent of a full-frame camera. The images that came out of the film were gorgeous, and I’m happy with them, even though they might not be deep in terms of storytelling.

    The Sad Reality

    Now the bitter part of this practice: it is getting harder and harder for me to find films and chemicals. I’m even developing with expired chemicals, doing the math around expiration times to develop my films in the best way possible. I’m about to learn how to develop with paper developer instead of film developer because the stores that sold it here no longer sell this line of products. Buying online is too expensive for me, so I have to do my best to use my remaining chemicals in the most efficient way I can.

    Film is not dead, but sadly, thanks to people like the one mentioned in the unshared video, its life could be in danger. Please allow film photography to breathe and live! Practice it, get to know it. It will teach you invaluable experiences about photography – experiences which, if you love taking pictures like me, you will appreciate your entire life. 

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • How Photography Changed our View of the Vietnam War


    Unfortunately, the history of humanity has been violent and bloody since the beginning of time. We have witnessed enough violence and enough wars, but our craving for peace is far from being satisfied.

    The Vietnam War was sandwiched between technological advances in many fields and the still-human presence on the battlefields. Thanks to this, we have plenty of images that portray terrible human situations in ways that dramatically influenced our perception of the war. Some people opposed the war because of these images – and some of the most iconic ones were not even taken in conflict zones. The best example of such an image is Marc Riboud's photograph known as Flower Child, which portrays a courageous young girl opposing a large and threatening group of armed men outside the Pentagon during a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War.

    Still imagery and video have been affecting our perception of many conflicts and wars over the years, and especially the Vietnam War. Due to technological advances in photography, photojournalists could venture inside battlefields without much technical trouble. In fact, press agencies didn't train the photographers who were commissioned to cover the war. Nowadays it is different, and photojournalism has even taken a step further by training photographers via a risk-focused program that helps them evaluate risks before they enter a danger zone. The news coverage of the Vietnam War supported the era’s widespread patriotism. The news was bold, and this fact helped people become conscious of the great struggles both parties were enduring. I believe this way of transmitting news made opposition movements stronger.

    Vietnam War reportage was not just illustrated by photography, but also with video, and many people believe that this image resource made people even more conscious of the horrors of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. The saturation of horrifying images played an important role in shaping public opinion and awareness of the truth behind the war.

    Iconic Images of the Vietnam War

    Identifying the most iconic images of the Vietnam War is hard, but there are some key images that still haunt people thanks to their raw nature.

    Thích Quảng Đức self-immolation - Malcolm Browne - 1963

    The self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức happened as a protest against the South Vietnamese government’s persecution of Buddhists. A violent reality that was summed up the context of the War. Malcolm Browne was the only western photographer who managed to capture the immolation in spite of the notice that the monks had given to the press that something big would occur within the next few days. The Vietnamese government controlled the press, but thanks to Browne's documentation of the immolation, this tremendous act of protest saw the global light of day. The image itself is truly an iconic image of the time.

    Rough Justice on a Saigon Street - Eddie Adams - 1968

    The image shows General Nguyen Ngoc Loan killing a Vietcong officer known as Nguyen Van Lem. Due to footage that is still available even on YouTube, we know this moment happened quickly, but thanks to the quick reflexes of Eddie Adams, the still image exists – and it is more powerful than the motion films. This image was seen by the whole world, and internet was not even around the corner. Images like this, shown constantly, helped people form their own self-awareness about the horrors of war.

    Terror of War - Huynh Cong Ut - 1972

    The image speaks for itself about the horrible tragedies of war. The picture features a naked 9-year-old girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc, running toward the camera and away from a South Vietnamese napalm attack on North Vietnamese troops at Trảng Bàng village.

    The body of images of the My Lai Massacre shot by Ronald Haeberle - 1968

    The documentation by the press of the massacre showed people some of the estimated 425 murdered civilians, an atrocity had that remained largely out of the public eye.

    Imagery

    Such a vast topic must be studied in depth by the younger generations of people that didn’t experience the broadcasting of the war. The errors of the past need to be kept alive by historians, in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Here are some links that better illustrate the images that made an entire generation more aware about what was going on in this part of the world:

    https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/?s=vietnam

    http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/?s=vietnam

    http://time.com/3841060/iconic-vietnam-war-photos/

    Photography changed our perception of the Vietnam War. Through photographic imagery, the entire world bore witness to the constant and daily endless river of blood and violence. Nowadays the iconic images mentioned above, along with the flying Hueys and exploding Napalm fireballs, are symbols that pop immediately into our mind when we think of the Vietnam War.

    Many photographers perished documenting this war. Even Robert Capa died while covering the early beginnings of the conflict, and the images that we are able to still look at are a constant reminder of the horrors humanity has endured in history. Photography changes everything, and our perception of conflicts has changed hand-in-hand with the evolution of photographic technology. It all started with the nineteenth century images of the U.S. Civil War aftermaths, and with faster mediums the possibilities of capturing war at its roughest also got bigger. We as human beings have the responsibility to not forget all the horrors that were endured in times of war, and war photos are a constant reminder not to repeat them. As a tool of opposition and protest, to a way to provide evidence of the cruelty of war, photography has been an important tool and weapon.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

     

    READ MORE
  • The Eerie Side of Contemporary Still-Life Photography


    When photographers first started their imagery studies, they found Still Life to be a great subject due to the obvious nature of just staying still and being perfectly arranged without the motion that living subjects inevitably have, especially in slow exposure situations.

    Still Life is something that has been around for about some time now, and there have been records of paintings from the late sixteenth century that show that still life was in paintings and were exquisite subjects.

    The most accepted definition of a Still Life is the following: "it is a piece of work made by arranging manmade objects in a determined space with the desired light in order to enhance the object's shape, textures and colors." The effect of doing this usually results in a serene and harmonized composition. Several objects have been part of still life through history. Plants, fruits, sea shells, jewelry, coins, pipes, antiques, kitchenware, etc. In the history of arts, there is not a more vastly symbolic and emotionally charged genre than Still Life.

    Still Life has been referred to and often described as a minor genre of the arts and scoped to a domestic field even though its character has never been neglected or defined as trivial. Since the arrival of impressionism and cubism, its bourgeois character has been democratized when it comes to the represented subjects, changing the cornucopia style of representing abundance and wealth to humble elements that could be easily related to the warmth of a more real home. Another change that Still Life suffered is the type of elements arranged together (or not) that began to appear in the works. Such subjects started to center on the “feeding of the soul and the intellect” instead of mere food.

    But does photography have something new to give to Still Life? Photography as the art of the twentieth century has not forgotten about Still Life, and it has given the genre some approaches that without photography, their strength just couldn’t be the same. This includes the works of Wolfgang Tillmans or Joel-Peter Wilkin. Some other photographers have been working on ironic remakes and such effort has a degree of recognition without a doubt.

    Whether the subjects be figs, pears and apples, or skulls, musical instruments candles and books, or even oysters and fish; they all speak of one specific thing, the decadence and the inevitable bill that time will lay on our shoulders.

    Many photographers have been centering their work not in the beauty and the vanitas but something closer to reality. They have changed the romantic subjects and light for junk food, used napkins, disposables and debris of any kind sizzled with the sauces of harsh and direct light. Still Life has been filled with detritus and all the things that we are leaving behind instead of the foods and things we desire the most.

    Blaise Pascal had always an intriguing admiration for the fact that people seemed to be deeply fascinated by Still Life art, but not so much for the real subjects. The contemporary universe of Still Life imagery excludes the radiance and the beauty, and showcases a fragile introspective from the authors. The classical order has without a question been totally inverted, and a confessional biographism has been a more common thing to find in such works. Our modern Still Life genre has become eerie and sincere, and has revalued the main subjects of interest. The vanitas no longer has a concrete value. Instead, the secrecy of the marginal and the dispossessed is what matter the most in today's Still Life art.

    There are two main characters that can be easily identified and discussed when it comes to reading still-lifes in a contemplative form. The first one is the Metaphors, which of course depend not only in the viewer but also in the artist. Metaphor in this genre of photography is the result of arranging inanimate objects in a composition that suggests another thing. It is a very complex term to explain, but I always refer to this subject with the images of Spanish photographer Chema Madoz (1958- ). He has said that his workflow is more like sculpture than photography itself, and he uses photography as a way of showing his work easily. And the other common element is the found object, which is often known as readymade or an isolation of mass produced objects. The man responsible for this term is Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). So basically, this art involves taking an everyday object produced in series, and isolating it outside its utilitarian context. A lot has been said about his work, but if we justify his work under still life, we can surely appreciate his work more.

    Creating a Still Life Image

    Still Life image creation can happen with few elements in terms of gear and lighting. Besides gear, there are other things that must be worked out for creating them. The first thing that needs to be resolved is the concept; in other words, what you want to transmit with the arrangement of objects that you are willing to use. The next thing that you need to do is to look out for references. All has been done through history, and we are just expressing the melting pot of influences that have touched our mind and ideas. Last but not least, look out for the still life arrangement that will help you in the transmission of that message.

    The equipment is a separate part in the still life photography; and as Chema Madoz states about himself of being more a sculpture maker than a photographer, the camera isn't the most important part of still life photography. All the arrangements are ephemeral sculptures that are immortalized by a camera with specific settings of light and exposure.

    For creating any type of Still Life Photograph, you’ll need basically three things besides the camera. First thing, a normal lens (50mm). This will work perfectly because you’ll have a very comfortable angle of view and an extremely sharp optic. It would be very likely that you’ll work inside a location or in the outdoors as well, but you’ll have full control of both the natural and the artificial light. You’ll need your favorite light setting, which is a big part of the self-expression and must be resolved in the conceptualization stage to enhance the mood of the overall image. Last but not least, you’ll need a firm, flexible and sturdy tripod. All that should be enough in terms of gear. With this genre you’ll have all the time in the world to experiment with crops, points of view and angles of light, so shoot whenever you feel absolutely ready.

    This is a great niche for experimenting with film as well. Since you’ll be dealing with few shots and putting more effort in the construction of the still. Placing the complete array of objects in the table is in essence showing oneself. The brief equation results in a symbolic self-portrait when doing Still Lifes. If Van Gogh painted nearly 200 works of Still Life art, maybe the nature and importance of still life art is not so vernacular. Thus, it definitely should not be taken for granted.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • How to Develop The Street Photographers Mindset


    Ending up with Street Photography for me happened in the most sincere form I could imagine. I didn't even knew about street photography, and almost all I ever had knew about disciplined photography could be summarized as still lifes, landscape and fashion. I had a very uplifting social experience, and something inside of me got triggered and started taking pictures of that person that was in front of me.

    This is the image I took, it is not and I'm aware that it has tremendous downfalls technically speaking, but it doesn't matter to me. This is the context of the image, this man, (he's name is or was Salvador) had no legs, and was laying in the ground, alone, almost forgotten, in a blood pond of fish guts and stuff over a pier. He grabbed my hand, and I sited with him. He told about how he lose his legs on a bus wreck, and still he had that lovely smile on his face while telling me about how graceful he was with life. This is the image that I treasure the most, because it taught me about the importance of caring about people. My camera is just my way of sharing what I think about things that matter in life. Sometimes I'm gloomy, sometimes I'm cheerful, I know, I tend to be led by my emotions. This man was the best photography teacher I ever had, and he knew nothing about Photography. I've come to think that photography niches or styles are the supreme definers when deciding for gear.

    Always carry a Camera with you

    If there could be just one ultimate tip for photography (and especially for Street Photography) carrying a camera always with you would be it. In order to develop the Street Photographer mindset, you should not just rely on your phone, because we are so used to having it around, that our mind will not have that special pinch that having a camera with you produces. It almost makes you feel guilty for having a camera with you and not be taking images. This is not a bad thing of course, I’m not saying to shoot like crazy, since we are seeking meaningful stories, but it is like a good self-imposed thing to feel guilty about shooting few images as long as your keeper ratio grows up.

    Allow yourselves to be inspired

    In the photographer’s life, it is important to have curated quality sources for seeking inspiration. These inspirations can come from books, movies, stories, paintings, podcasts, blogs etc. Allow yourselves to be inspired by the works of others. Your own voice will eventually mature and the cumulus of all your cultural background will help shaping and defining that voice. The work of the masters will be the best school for shaping that style that will define your work.

    Be on the known

    It is important for all Street Photographers to be on the known of all the social events that are happening around them. We are documenting society in a aesthetic way, and alienating yourselves from the current events is not a wise thing to do. Many people tend to take the neutral position for things like religion and politics, but all these things beat in the society's invisible heart. Get yourselves a good source for news and valuable live information about the things happening near your or the cultures that you get close to while traveling.

    Use your spare time

    Street Photography could be a profession, but many of us find Street Photography as a creative outlet, and even in this approach of photography, images could achieve impressive levels of quality. Personally speaking I can give you the following example. I have my day job that has little to do with photography, but I have the fortune to move a lot on the streets, and I use those moments to create some of the images I love the most doing. Use your spare time for capturing images that will eventually tell meaningful stories. By having a camera always with you as I suggested earlier, is the best way of using your spare time in a very photographic productive way.

    Use public transportation

    Many stories could unveil in front of your eyes when getting close to the benefits of public transportation. Some cities around the world have the enormous facility of having solid public transportation systems, but there are other countries where the culture pushes people to getting mobility independence. If you live in a city like this, use the public transportation from time to time.

    Walk

    Walk more often, and always carry a camera with you. Walking has the fortune of allowing people to become more aware about the things that happen on the streets in a closer form. Instead of calling for lunch to be delivered at your places, try walking for getting your bites.

    I’ll give a weird example now. Do you know what the true success behind Pokémon Go is? It wasn’t the fun and the addictiveness behind the Nintendo motto of “Gotta Catch’em All”, it was the fact that people started getting outside their places and offices to gather Pokémon on the streets. We are so used to being not on the outdoors, that this curious fact, as the real success of one of the most important social happenings of the year.

    Watch movies

    Movies are a great source of inspiration and knowledge. Here we have two options. The first one is to watch movies that will inspire us because they tell the life of certain photographers, therefore are movies about Photography itself. And the other way of getting high quality knowledge from movies, is by watching the work of specific cinematographers. Try to discover the reason behind the point of view, cropping, lighting settings and focal lengths in movies' cinematography.

    Becoming a Street Photographer has more to do with an inner discipline of getting better and better. The battle is against ourselves, because we are capturing images that matter to us. We love to share them with the world, and the world respond positively or negatively with them. We are not satisfying clients’ needs, concepts or looks; we are capturing meaningful stories that matter to us in the first place, and therefore we are fighting against ourselves.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Street Photography Front Door


    Street Photography was born with a very long, yet regular exposure for the time picture at Paris. This image is often referred as Boulevard du Temple and it was taken by the hands of Louis Daguerre in which a person stood "still" for the amount of time the exposure took. Daguerre wasn't trying to capture the person, it was just a serendipitous found object, and after that moment in time, street photography was born.

    Street Photography is one of those genres that have been polemical due to people and photographer's judgment deciding whether something fits its scope or not. In other words, you'll encounter a lot of "street photography police" out there judging and arguing if your images are street photos or not.

    Personally I have defined myself as a Social Photographer, and my statement clearly speaks about it. I also believe that "street" photography shouldn't be limited just to the streets, since it serves as a door for crafting deeper and meaningful projects around certain subjects, but that is called many times Documentary Photography, and we'll leave it for another occasion. Street Photography is not exclusive of streets (which are great findings of urbex) but also can be done in rural contexts.

    Without further ado, let's talk about the basics around Street Photography.

    Shooting Candidly

    Street Photography glorifies with the appliance of candid approach to people, especially strangers. Candid is not a style of photography, it has a larger span because it is a way of doing things. In summarized words, shooting candid images is about getting invisibly involved with societies and crowds with the primordial purpose of capturing meaningful stories that otherwise will remain unseen to the public. Let's also make a separation between diving into a crowd and start shooting like crazy. Shooting candidly requires attention and must not be left to randomness.

    Keeping a Camera always with you

    I love giving advices to people every time I have the chance to, and I love receiving advices as well. The best one I could offer you, is to always have a camera with you. The feeling of remorse and regret that I have had thanks to not having a camera with me in moments that I can only remember (because I have no pictures) is something I just wouldn't wish to anybody. There is a peculiar image that lives in my memory, wandering and haunting me with its vivid image that got exposed in my mind, but I can't show. Get yourselves a trusty camera that can be with you at every time, and you'll enjoy Street Photography way more.

    Many times I've got commentaries stating that "why bothering having a camera always with you if you can take impressive images with a cellphone", and it is true. But personally I think that having a camera with you bugs you into being aware of your contexts and surroundings in order to avoid moments slip out your sight. In the other hand, by having a phone, your guard could be less awoke because having a cellphone with us is so natural now that it doesn't reminds you to be aware of the things that are happening around you.

    Not everything should be Black and White

    We have had the wrong idea that Street Photography must be done in black and white formats. Who said that? Who stated that as a standard? I love monochrome conversions in digital and shooting in black and white when I have the chance of shooting with film, but that doesn't mean street imagery should be done only with black and white. Only tweaked sensors and this pricey friend are capable of shooting monochrome natively in digital, all the other stuff comes by post-processing. You should decide to go black and white only if your color image has the potential of looking better in monochrome format.

    I love Black and White, and I know for sure that it removes the distractions that color depict, but there are tons of great street photographs taken with color. A couple of names like Saul Leiter, Steve McCurry and Jeff Wall comes to my mind. All of them are known for their specific niches in photography, but they have taken images that cope pretty well with the genre and definition of "street photography".

    Inconspicuous Gear

    Ok, this is something you really don't "need" to acquire, but they will make your life a lot much easier as a street photographer. If you are willing to get yourself more committed to Street Photography, it will be very likely that you'll be capturing images of people in the majority of cases. People feel threatened (and it is obvious) when you point a bazooka lens attached to a huge DSLR camera in front of their faces. Just imagine walking around your local city, minding your business, or just looking for something to eat, when suddenly a street photographer is aims at you a 70-200mm lens to your face. It will be very uncomfortable. Now, imagine the same scenario, but the photographer was so stealthy, that you didn't even noticed him so much, and you even thought that he was just some regular amateur shooting some snapshots. Now that character is the one we need to perform in the streets. Forget about that "I'm a pro" look when doing street photography. Another thing that is important; right the first second a photographer stumbles into a crowd with a massive camera and lens, it will get easily spotted by people, and they'll start to feel a little bit edgy, especially if such photographer starts shooting picture right the first moment he got close to that crowd.

    Don't worry about the "Oh you are not a pro, you're shooting with a tiny camera" comments from people. You better start worrying about the images and moments you capture instead of the Pro looks.

    I'll tell you a little bit about my digital gear background. I entered photography through a small P&S camera. I got mugged while doing some street photos and I lost it. I loved that camera, but since I was getting myself serious around photography, I got myself an entry level DSLR. I bought various lenses, and my favorite lenses for the streets are (or were, since I don't use them so much for street) a 28mm, and a couple of pancakes (a 40mm and a 24mm). After some years working with the DSLR, I went back to small gear; and got myself another Point and Shoot for doing my beloved street photography. I just wanted something that I could carry on with me always. After two years of that, I got myself the first "Digital Rangefinder" camera in history, and I don't plan to go back to those chunky and noisy DSLR cameras for inconspicuous photography, it is just nuts to try, and trust me, I did a lot of street photography with my DSLR, now I use it only for commercial purposes.

    Mind your Social Skills

    Being able to blend within the crowds, and small packs of people is crucial in order to achieve meaningful street photographs. This will vary from person to person, and I can only say that whatever you do on the streets and society, always be respectful. It doesn't matter if you don't share the same moral, religious or even political values from one place or another, please be respectful, and if you think you can't handle it, please use your camera for another niche of photography. My intention is not to be rude, but this is the thing I love the most doing, and I need to do my thing in order to keep it clean from people that could mess it for being rude with other people at the streets.

    READ MORE
  • Modern and Contemporary Photographers You Should Know


    To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

    Elliott Erwitt

    You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

    Joan Miró

    Alexey Titarenko (1962- )

    Born in 1962 at Leningrad, USSR, now Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is a modern photographer that has been influenced by the Russian avant-garde works of Alexander Rodchenko and Kazimir Malevich as well as the Dada art movement.

    At the age of fifteen, Alexey Titarenko became the youngest member of the independent photo club Zerkalo, and graduated with honors at the prestigious Department of Cinematic and Photographic Art at Leningrad's Institute of Culture.

    His most iconic work is an exploration of urban spots during and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and 1992 best known by the name of City of Shadows. These images began in the surroundings of the only public transportation system of the time, the train system. In this work Alexey captured the human condition of ordinary people in a metaphoric way thanks to his concepts, style, and technique. Many of this images were created with long exposures and intentional camera movement as well. He has continued to work his social photography until present with long exposure techniques.

    One of the most important things to mention about Alexey's fine art work, is that he crafts everything, from the concept, to the printing, and this gives the final work a finer quality. For me Alexey Titarenko is the living evidence that limitations burst creativity into the most fantastic ways. While working City of Shadows back in the Soviet Union, he had very limited access to photographic resources such as film and paper, and still he managed to create such a tremendously good body of work by turning those limitations into photographic advantages.

    You can delight yourselves with his work at his official website, and if you have the opportunity to invest in a book, I highly recommend to get yourselves a copy of The City is a Novel, which includes the work of The city of Shadows, and more work from other cities like Havana, and Venice.

    Image

    Chema Madoz (1958 - )

    Born in Madrid, Jose María Rodríguez Madoz, better known as Chema Madoz, is a modern renowned photographer known for his black and white surreal images. But he has personally considered himself as an arranger, and later a photographer. He creates visual poetry, freshly extracted from his imagination with ordinary objects that he arrange into mind blowing compositions.

    The great simplicity of his images, is where the beautiful trick behind them, because is a very easy to digest art. His creations make us feel guilty for not being able to see the obvious that he so naturally can portray.

    By the combination of elements and shapes, Chema Madoz creates images that are both suggestive and visually strong, with a great personality, and a poetical force. His images go beyond surrealism and abstraction, and are for me purely visual metaphors.

    He is truly in love with the possibilities objects can offer, and his arrangements (that are later photographed with medium format film) are the crisp evidence of this belief.

    There is little to say about his technique further than the adequate use of film, and the careful printing work he passionately performs. The best way to understand his work, is to contemplate it more than just seeing it. He is without a doubt, my favorite still life artist. He’s able to see far beyond the everyday and the ordinary. He is a visual poet, and you can delight yourselves with his work here.

    Image

    Iurie Belegurschi

    Iceland is without a doubt, one of the most desired places for Landscape Photographers. It is like the holy grail of the discipline, and the adventure-seeking tourists. Perhaps that was the main reason the Moldovan Photographer Iurie Belegurschi moved to Reykjavik in 2006 to study tourism and hospitality. After a while he founded what is now the biggest Photography Workshops Travel Agency in Iceland.

    His passion for photography and tourism has being a wonderful venture for both Iceland and Landscape Photographers all over the world. His work has made Iceland the most popular photo destination for such photographers as well.

    We have here an entrepreneur that has maneuvered his passion and business into a sustainable way of doing things. His absolutely mind blowing and jaw dropping landscapes have been published worldwide in books, calendars, ad campaigns, commercials and even newspapers; besides the reach capabilities of social media as well. People trust his workshops due to the fine quality of his own images, and of course he happens to be the instructor of the workshops.

    All his images are nature photography master pieces, and the tribute he makes to the wild landscapes inaccessible to many people, are a beautiful asset of our modern times.

    Image

    Sohail Karmani

    Part-time Photographer from London currently based at the New York University in Abu Dhabi as a full-time professor of writing. His images are both bold and human. He shows a profound respect for people and has definitely refined his social skills in order to approach complete strangers on the streets, and rapidly gain their trust in order to allow him to portray them. He is currently doing an on-going exploration of his own ancestral hometown of Sahiwal in Punjab, Pakistan. He has only visited his hometown a very limited amount of times, but every visit has been exploited into the most efficient way. Each visit has resulted in great portraits that he shares through Flickr account, and his personal Website as well. Such images have the commons of beauty, and humanity of ordinary and kind people.

    His images have consistency in terms of lighting, composition and posing. All of them can be categorized as "Street Environmental Portraits", with a careful composition that maintains the eyes of the subjects as the prime subject in many cases. His scope has hues of candid street photography as well, and is currently working on some monochrome conversions of earlier work. His work could be easily compared to the great Documentary Photographer Steve McCurry (he even got the chance to photograph the man with the same consistency of all his work). Sohail Karmani's work is a great evidence that watching the work of other photographers is important in order to refine our eyes, taste and even photographic discipline. Each photographer develops a unique style that is a melting pot of influences and experiences. His work is a gift to the eyes, and I just wanted to share it with you.

    Image

    Marc Adamus

    Unforgettable Wilderness Photography, that is the way Marc Adamus describe his own imagery, and trust me, the guy is right about this condensed description.

    He is a young landscape Photographer currently based at Western North America. His love for wilderness is absolutely evident in his Landscape Photographs. Full time landscape Photographer in the ongoing pursuit of the wild nature at its most (still) purest state. His passion for the wilderness has attracted a wide audience around the world. His style is unmistakable, it depicts the most epic moments of true nature.

    His images have been published extensively worldwide in a large variety of media; from calendars, books, advertisements to several publications of National Geographic. He seeks to express his own feelings evoked by the locations he visits and explores. He attempts empathy from the viewer towards his own experiences while being at the wild.

    The more patience photographers put into the sublime pursuit of great Landscape Photography, the more the landscapes unveils to them. Landscape Photography is not just waiting for you to capture it while passing by, landscapes want you to forget about the modern world, and reconnect to the proto state of the human being sharing life with the wild, not threatening it like we have been doing since the last centuries.

    Marc’s work has evolved from the days he started of course, but has been able to pull out the best of professional film, and digital formats. He currently just shoots in digital, and has made a clear statement about the importance of post-processing, just like Ansel Adams did back in the old days. What happens in camera is just the canvas for the beautiful master piece that is going to happen later in the favorite workflow of any photographer, and of course, the best quality this canvas is, the less work you'll have to struggle in the RAW development stages of the overall workflow.

    You can let yourselves be moved into the wild here and here.

    Laura Wilson (1939 - )

    American photographer with a current 40 year old photographic career, and one of the finest American photographers with an active career until today. Her work is reserved in its majority to books, which she has published four until today. She is one of those not broadly known but important photographers of our current times. She started her career as Richard Avedon’s research assistant in his famous work In the American West in which he detached from the celebrities and focused on the ordinary people.

    She has been working for more than 25 years documenting present modern times cowboys in several ranches through West Texas and Montana. She has photographed these men that hold tight to their own traditions and behavior codes that are an important part of their cow boy heritage. She worked for six years as Richard Avedon's assistant while he was working on landmark "In the American West".

    Her four books can be found directly through her website here, and are the following:

    - Watt Matthews of Lambshead (1989)

    - Hutterites of Montana (1990)

    - Avedon at Work: In the American West (2003)

    - Grit and Glory: Six-Man Football (2003)

    All of them are documentary works of topics that triggered her curiosity into a exploring worthy state. The curious fact about Avedon at Work, is that she documented Avedon's creative process, working methods, and many other backstage findings while working as his assistant.

    One of my favorite pictures of Laura, is this one, which is a behind the scenes snapshot from Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, showing a very charismatic Owen Wilson, which happens also to be her son.

    Image

    John Free

    Social Documentary and Street Photographer, Free is what you can name a Living Legend. Currently based at Los Angeles, his photographic essays range from railroad tramps in California, to automobile abstracts, to London and Paris street life. He has trusted his love for photography to his trusty Nikon F3, and for me is a great example of the importance of always carrying a camera with you. You will not see John Free on any video (and I image in real life too) without his trusty camera.

    He has a contagious soul, and shares from time to time his invaluable wisdom through his YouTube Channel. He has severely critiqued the academic systems that charge a lot of money and discourage people instead of encouraging them to practice and practice. And this unfortunate reality of photographic schools has inspired him into crafting his own visionary workshops around photography and what he believes is the real important thing in photography as well, passion and practice. One of the things he critiques the most (and is pretty logical if you just analyze it a little bit) is that these people discouraging students, rarely show their own work. I assume this unraveling idea is the reason why he shares his images with us.

    The anecdotes he shares are the best evidence I can find about the importance of doing photographs with passion. He believes that no matter the level of skill, we, all photographers must study the same things over and over again in order to improve our images. He teaches us that we are always students, and he shares this vision through his workshops as well. He teaches to be aware of the time element in street photography, which is the most difficult element of the discipline, he even accurately states that time is what governs Street Photography.

    He has being able to make meaningful and compelling photographs from everyday life situations that of course can be find in any country regardless of the visual landmarks, street photography is about capturing meaningful things from the ordinary and daily situations of human life. He also teaches about surviving in the real world while photographing strangers at close range without getting into trouble, in other words he teaches about respect and social skills in order to achieve the meaningful pictures we as street photographers are always seeking for. Street Photography deals with moments that are constantly vanishing, and once they are gone, there is no possible way for bringing them back.

    You can read his fantastic blog here, and you can delight yourselves with his galleries here.

    Image

    William Wegman (1943 - )

    Watching the work of William Wegman over and over again, repeatedly, allowing yourselves to be surprised by the personification and the sense of humor he portrays, you'll eventually conclude about the great universe of possibilities a single, limited, and consistent subject can offer.

    Wegman is best known for his evolving series of images involving not just dogs, but only his dogs, that are just one breed, Weimaraners. So, we have a great contemporary artist, working with a very limited subject, and still being able to produce a tremendously large body of work.

    He originally intended to pursue a career as a painter, but I guess he found the photographic medium more comfortable to work with. By the early 19070s his work began to be showcased in several galleries, including the Konrad Fischer Gallery in Düsseldorf, pretty close to the famous Düsseldorf School of Photography. His work has been showcased in several museums, including the prestigious galleries of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

    I just love dogs, and so does he.

    Image

    Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989)

    He was an American photographer treatment of controversial subject-matter with a highly stylized black and white medium. His work had a broad selection of subjects from himself, to celebrities, nudes, and still lives of flowers. His most controversial work is that of the underground BDSM scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s of New York City. You can see his eerie work at the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation website.

    Above all the controversial portraits, he centered his work on still life images of flowers from the end of the 1970s to few months before his death in 1989. Tulips, lilies, orchids, poppies, and Alcatraz flowers.

    The same year he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, he took a photograph that was different. He used portrayed flowers in a spotless state while blooming, but this one was different, this one was dying. This image is a delicate metaphor of his own health decay, and eventually became his symbol for immortality in his later imagery. The image is currently part of the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York.

    Three of his quotes (shown here with an intended poetry like structure from myself) reveal the ideas behind his controversial and bold work:

    I am obsessed with beauty.

    I want everything to be perfect,

    and of course it isn’t.

    And that’s a tough place to be

    because you’re never satisfied.

    Beauty and the devil

    are the same thing.

    When I work,

    and in my art,

    I hold hands with God.

     

    Image

    Andreas Gursky (1955 - )

    German Photographer that studied between 1981-1987 at the famous and renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. After he finished his studies, he continued to develop his on voice in the medium and eventually gained fame among the critics. At the end of the 1980s he started to enlarge his images into what is known as mural sizes, which is nowadays part of his fame. Since 1992 he started to discover the possibilities that digital images could offer, and has worked with it since then.

    Gusky has rocketed the art market by selling not one, but two of the most expensive photographs ever recorded in history. His print Rhein II sold for USD $4,338,500 at Christie's, New York on 8 November 2011, and in 2013 Chicago Board of Trade III (1999-2009) was sold for 2.2 million pounds. There is a huge debate about the value of art thanks to them, but still, it is important to know this fact.

    The short accessible perspective in many of his work often offers an elevated vantage point that enables the viewer to see another perspective of everyday life situations, like his famous 99 Cent II picture. He is drawn to large, anonymous, man-made spaces like office lobbies, stock exchanges floors and the interiors of big box retailers as well. You need to meditate a lot when looking his images, and probably you’ll have to revisit them from time to time to understand the concept behind his portraiture of globalization as well.

    Another important image showing his fascination in capturing man-made spaces reflecting globalization is Paris, Montparnasse, 1993.

    Image

    Ralph Gibson (1939 - )

    American living photographer best known for his editorial work in photography. His images continuously include fragments of mysterious and erotic undertones, and this ability of building narrative is outstanding. His work is sometimes about the perfect and basic detail, that when seen in context, what he left out speaks largely about the image itself.

    His images often have a surreal juxtaposition that is both subtle and elegant. His frames are great examples of gestaltism thanks to affect he evokes in the viewer’s when just showing the key elements inside his frames.  

    His work has been described as a combination of the nature of street photography with the possibilities of still lives. You can lose yourselves in the endless river of images available to see at his official website as well, so if you don’t know his work, please give yourselves a treat.

    Image

    Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948 - )

    Born in Tokyo, is an active fine art photographer currently splitting his time between Tokyo and New York. His catalogue is made up of a number of series, each having a distinct theme and similar attributes.

    He got his first camera at the age of 12. In 1974 he started studying politics and sociology at the Rikkyō University, but he later was retrained as an artist in 1974 and received his BFA in Fine Arts at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Afterwards, Sugimoto settled in New York City. He soon started working as a dealer of Japanese antiquities in Soho.

    He started to work on a series called Dioramas, inspired in what he saw at the American Museum of Natural History of New York. Two years later, he started a series called Theaters, which is unique and beautiful study of both the screens and the architecture of such places, leaving the screens at a dreamy and timeless pure white.

    He has worked with many subjects, and on the most renowned works of Sugimoto are his minimalist and gradient like seascapes. They all show a symmetrical duality between the sea and the sky, with a carefully perfect captured horizon. Some of his seascapes have been shot at normal shutter speeds like 1/30 or 1/60 of a second, and retain the wavy texture of the sea. Some others are long exposures that show a polished like surface of both sky and sea.

    You can see many of his work at his online portfolio. Here he shows many different studies from still life to thunders. And you can see some fine artwork as well at the Fraenkel Gallery.

    Image

    Fan Ho (1937 - 2016)

    Great Chinese photographer and film-maker. We are still mourning his loss, and Fan Ho was a great among the greatest. The celebrated Chinese photographer won over 280 awards from international exhibitions and competitions worldwide since 1956 for his photography.

    He got a TLR Rolleiflex camera from his father at the age of 13, and what a wonderful thing to do. This gift entranced him and was the perfect spark that triggered Fan Ho's passion for photography.

    In the 1950s he moved to Hong Kong, and began documenting the street life of the city. During his career, he was repeatedly named a top photographer in the world and one of the most influential photographers in Asia, ever.

    He invited by 12 Universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong as a Visiting Professor in order to teach the art of film-making and photography. Imagine what a gift for the students that had the opportunity to learn from the passion of this fantastic photographer. He wrote five books, and here you can watch him talking about his own history and his philosophy behind image making. Three of his films received the Official Selection of the prestigious International Film Festivals of Cannes, Berlin and San Francisco; and five of his films belong to the Permanent Collection of the National Film Archives of Taiwan and Hong Kong. His cultural background made his style so unique, lyrical, dramatic and poetic.

    Many of his amazing street photographs are still able to watch in his official website.

    Image

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • World Famous Photographs


    Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

    Aaron Siskind

    To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

    Elliott Erwitt

    A tear contains an ocean. A photographer is aware of the tiny moments in a person's life that reveal greater truths.

    Anonymous

    Choosing a batch of iconic images is really complex, but really fun to do, because studying images, is for me the best way to learn about photography in its essence. Photography for me is about capturing meaningful stories, and nothing more. It is completely normal to expect readers commenting on the inclusion or exclusion of certain images. The purpose is not to exclude or include, but to mention some of the images that had been renowned as iconic due to their social and anthropological importance. Please feel free to share other images that could be considered as historically important in order to get a richer experience through the social development of these words. Without further ado, let’s talk about some world famous photos.

    Sharbat Gula - Steve McCurry – 1984

    Published for the first time in 1985, the iconic portrait of a young afghan girl, refuged from the war, still evoques to this day, a deep and complex mix of feelings and emotions. After seventeen years, Steve McCurry found her, and portrayed her again.

    This image is the superb portrait, of all portraits, of all time for me. This due to many things; but the primordial is that eerie feeling of indefinite expression (I guess this is why some people have stated that this picture is the modern Mona Lisa). The moment Steve McCurry captured is so intense, that I could only guess that this is an evidence of the transition between recognizable emotions. Her beautiful green eyes, her skin, her hair, her fragile clothes, the outstanding sharpness of the image, the complementary colors, her soul piercing look, everything in this picture, speaks.

    I used to remember when I first saw this image, that I imagined Steve McCurry running on a random street, and capturing this image almost candidly. Later on I learned that it wasn't like that; and it doesn't matter to me, this portrait is sublime and perfect, it speaks about the universality of the human being.

    A couple of years ago, I saw this video, and I understood the importance of having agile and well-intended social skills in order to capture meaningful pictures. Steve McCurry wasn't running away from the bullets like a superhero-portrayed him when I saw this image for the first time (at least with photographic awareness of what could had implied capturing an image like this one surrounded by a bellic context), but he was at a school, and he managed to let her almost want the picture. He’s skills were beyond amazing. We have the wrong idea that kids don't understand things, and they could be tricked out easily. But kids don't lie, and they have a lot of temper and character, and this is completely tangible in the iconic portrait of Sharbat Gula. And after 17 years, he found her again.

    And for the techy and curious ones, he shot this image with the legendary Kodachrome film, with a Nikon FM2 and a trusty Nikkor 105mm f/2.5.

    Falling soldier - Robert Capa – 1936

    Robert Capa acquired a great and vast experience as a war photographer during the Spanish Civil War, and with this image, the Persona behind Robert Capa, got a great degree of recognition at a global scale. Taken near Córdoba during the first months of the war, the image depicts a soldier that has just been shot. Published for the first time in the 23th issue of the French magazine Vu, the photograph was printed and reprinted over and over again, and became the war's icon, and one of the most famous war photograph ever been taken. Two years after that picture, the British magazine Picture Post stated that this 25 year old photographer, was the best war photographer of the world.

    The image is really controversial because it has been surrounded with many theories that debate on it's authenticity. It has been said that the image in fact was staged. Nevertheless, the image shows a clear reality about the harsh vulnerabilities that people endure during war.

    The image shows the rifle of the soldier falling while the body of the soldier falls to the ground. The image shows the fragility and the immediacy in which death could happen to a human being. The surrounding field and mountains have served studious people as the key studium to determine the veracity of the image.

    Migrant Mother - Dorothea Lange – 1936

    Migrant Mother from Nipomo, a picture taken by Dorothea Lange in her home state California, is the emblematic icon of the harsh realities Americans endured during the Great Depression of the 1930s. This is most well-known image taken by during the project commissioned by the Farm Security Administration in the pursuit of capturing the impact of the Great Depression on the American Families. Dorothea Lange stated that she found this woman while working on the journalistic project, she was a mother of seven children at that time and that she spent as little as ten minutes picturing them. The image is a pure capture of a real moment in time.

    This image is the archetype that represents the victims of such economical struggle, and portrait centers at first, in just one person. Dorothea Lange didn't mentioned the name of the woman, and decades later it was recognized that the woman in fact was Florence Owens Thompson, which lived at that time in the Cherokee territories of Oklahoma. The fact that the name wasn't stated by the photographer, makes a complex deal around the job of a photojournalist in a documentary work, but I personally think that she knew about the importance of the image as an archetype, and the name wasn't necessary. But, the same Florence Owens Thompson recognized years later that she wasn't comfortable that her image worked as the eternal depiction of poverty. The image is also part of the assets of MoMA.

    If we study the image, we can easily recognize her as the center of the image. Lange had a fixation on hands as symbols of the hard work many people had to perpetrate for a living, and this one is no exception, but here the hands show us a little more, they show us a great amount of worrying. And last but not least, the three children on the image. There are two kids, framing Florence side by side, and suddenly, we can see a baby that looks vulnerable to the harsh realities surrounding them. We can say that the punctum of the image is the worry in her eyes and hands, and the studium of the image, is the difficult context of raising a vast family under the struggles of the depression.

    Hyeres - Henri Cartier-Bresson – 1932

    Cartier-Bresson was known for his challenging approach of not cropping his images, and showcased them right as they were framed in camera. He talked a lot about the Decisive Moment, which is few words, the ability of capturing a moment, right before it happens. I don't remember the source, but I heard once that he said (and this one was printed in my memory) that if ou had seen the moment, it had just occurred, and that one as a photographer must be able to see the moment before it happens.

    The image called Hyeres by Cartier-Bresson is almost all the illustration needed in order to comprehend composition. We have rule of thirds everywhere, but mainly on the bicycle rider, and we have leading lines everywhere, from the sidewalk, to the obvious swirl on the hand railing of the stairs. And if that wasn't enough, the slow shutter speed, shows a great sense of movement and dynamism of the rider exiting the scene.

    The picture itself was taken in Hyeres in 1932, and has been present as an iconic image of Henri Cartier-Bresson during several retrospectives. The decisive moment here is obvious, and it beautifully juxtaposes the freedom of the rider, with the rigid soul of the balcony and the railings. The image seems even to be taken by accident, but thanks to his theory of the decisive moment, chances of doing things the way he intended, were and are, on his side. We can also think that this was the product of a long wait, which is in fact valid. Photography is about patience, and we must never forget it.

    Steve Jobs - Albert Watson – 2011

    Iconic, simple, intriguing, just like his legacy. Soon after passing away, Steve Jobs portrait became the landing image of apple.com, and I think that is one of the most important portraits of our current times. The images was taken by Albert Watson in a 4×5 camera, ironic twist for such an innovative person like Jobs was.

    It doesn't really matter what sort of technicalities Watson defined for this portrait, the image is about one person, and nothing more. The pose of his hand suggest constant thinking, and the subtle smile drawn in his face, transmits a great energy and confidence. The look pierces into the viewer and the black and white choice, was the perfect way to go in order to avoid any distractions.

    Few people have not seen this picture of Steve Jobs; and the way it was spread around the globe, made it an iconic portrait of our times in no time.

    Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper - Charles C. Ebbets – 1932

    This image shows the tranquility of eleven of the several workers that worked during the construction of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. They are not just relaxed over the crossbeam, but they are also having lunch, which gives the image a curious character.

    The image is very iconic, and was taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932 and there has been a lot said whether the scene really happened or if it was just a publicity maneuver for some sort of reason, but it doesn't diminish the fact that the men were real ironworkers at the 69th floor of the building on the last stages of its construction, and there have been numerous claims regarding the identities of the men in the image.

    The image has been a great icon of the hard working culture of the human being, and also a great example of how much have evolved in terms of Occupational health and Safety as well. This is something that just won't be seen again, I hope.

    V-J day in Times Square - Alfred Eisenstaedt – 1945

    It is fair that the image related to the end of the World War II, came out of the hands and eyes of a Jewish photographer. Here we can appreciate the great moment two of the greatest symbols of the war meet in a deep and passionate kiss. The two symbols are humans indeed, but they are the anonymous ambassadors of both all the sailors and all the nurses that worked hard during the war. The both institutions were fundamental pillars that helped United States to maintain its strength during the horrors of war. The celebration is due the end of such a violent and bloody period of our modern history, the image was taken in Times Square, New York City.

    There is another image from a slightly different angle (almost like what happened with the two pictures of Iesha Evans during the Baton Rouge protests in July this year) but the iconic one, due to its point of view and composition (I guess) is the one that Alfred Eisenstaedt took, but still the less popular image of Victor Jorgensen, is great, because it still captures the essence of this great summit of the War.

    The image doesn't give a clear distinction of the two faces in the frame, which hoists the character of the symbols.

    Einstein’s Birthday - Arthur Sasse – 1951

    Often called "Einstein's Tongue", is an image that became iconic due to its humorous character. Humor as itself requires intelligence, and capturing humor in photography (especially when done candidly) is one of the hardest things to do in the discipline. The picture shows a different profile of Albert Einstein, and it's playful and nutty character is what makes the image so great.

    The moment occurred in the 72th Albert Einstein's birthday celebration, and a lot of photographers were there, but just Sasse capture the one that became iconic. We can delight ourselves with a humorous Einstein, instead of the Nobel prize-winning physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, therefore, we have a more accessible side of Albert Einstein.

    A really important background fact of the image, is that Einstein enjoyed it so much that asked the UPI (United Press International) to facilitate him nine copies of the cropped image for his personal use. One of those personal uses landed on Howard K. Smith, a friend of Einstein. The image, as predictable, had a little text at the back, the text quoted this "This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare."

    Guerrillero Heroico - Alberto Korda - 1960

    Just like V - J Day felt correctly shot by a Jew, this one feels appropriate to be shot by a Cuban. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was Argentinian, but the close friendship he had with Fidel Castro, makes a correct correspondence that the image was in fact taken by a Cuban. Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, best known as Alberto Korda, was the official photographer of Fidel Castro for 9 years, and traveled with him to many countries as well.

    Ernesto "Che" Guevara was photographed in very remarkable ways, like the one that Rene Burri did of him. But the one that immortalize the heroic character of the Che, is Korda's without a doubt. It had been widely spread from flags, to t-shirts to stickers, and the story behind the image, is the following. March the 4th of 1960, the French freight ship La Coubre, was transporting weapons from Belgium to Cuba to equip Castro's regime. The boat exploded, and Castro blamed it on the United States. More than 75 persons died in the happening. The next day, a solemn funeral was celebrated in La Habana. While the speakers of the ceremony where dictating some words, Alberto Korda took two images of Guevara. He didn't noticed the picture taking, and with time, the image became not just iconic, but symbolic.

    Alberto Korda was never happy with the fact that the image was used commercially in the way it did, since it was a completely contradiction to the Che’s believes, the ones he died for.

    General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner - Eddie Adams – 1968

    It is been said that no other group of photojournalist had the freedom of portraying the atrocities of war, than those that walked around the bloody boundaries of the Vietnam War. Here we are in front of one of the cruelest images ever captured by a photographer. The image itself accredited Eddie Adams the Pulitzer Prize in 1969.

    Eddie Adams explains what happened in this short video, and honestly it feels like a true and honest reaction of a committed photographer, he saw the officer raising his gun, he instinctively raised his camera. The image became iconic almost immediately, and serves as a raw evidence of the horrors of war.

    This image is without any doubt, the most iconic image of the Vietnam War, due to its proximity to the exact brief moment one man takes the life of another man. The uniformed South Vietnamese officer shoots a prisoner in the head, and the brutality of the moment, got immortalized thanks to photography. This is why Photojournalism is so important, so we can remember things that may not be repeated.

    The Mahatma - By Margaret Bourke – 1946

    First of all we need to understand the importance of the spinning wheel, since one can just look at the image and state "why is it iconic?” The spinning wheel was the strongest symbol for India's struggle and desire for independence from the United Kingdom. Gandhi was near one and the composition seemed appropriate, but Gandhi's secretaries stopped her, and told her that if she was going to make the image, with that precise composition, she had to learn how to use one spinning wheel herself.

    If Margaret Bourke didn't had the social skills to accept the traditions and respect for the cultural demands, the image simply wouldn't have happened at all.

    LIFE magazine’s first woman photographer was in India in 1946 covering the Indian independence process.

    Tank Man - Jeff Widener – 1989

    Still with his identity uncertain, the picture of the anonymous protestor of Tiananmen Square. The background of the picture is the following. When the Chinese military convoyed into Beijing, the one-man army individual opposed the long column of tanks that were rumbling into the area.

    The pictured was captured from pretty far away from a hotel room by Jeff Widener, and we can see him talking about the image's context here.

    Fortunately the tank driver was compassionate and stopped, because something like that happened a few months back in Turkey, and the drivers weren't so human like the Chinese. Even though images keep reminding us about the atrocities that must not be done, there are still work to do in order to sensibilize the human race to avoid this kind of events in the future.

    The image shows the great power protesting can have. 

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • Famous Photographers You Should Know If You Love Street Photography


    "The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world "picturesque."

    Susan Sontag, 1977

    Let's talk about Street Photography. There's been a lot of images through the years posted all over the internet that have been self-categorized by their photographers as Street Photography. Many of them really fit into the category of Street Photography, and some of them are just snapshots with a certain aesthetic level. The definition of Street Photography is really vague, and the most accepted "term" states that it is a conducted art that features unmediated and random in public places. Something like "Serendipity" if you like.

    Since the definition has not been thickened yet by us, watching the Street Photography Masters work could illustrate you about the art like no other description stated before. Around the term of Street Photography are also other that share so many things, that they tend to overlap hugely. For me these are: Humanist and Social Photography, Documentary Photography, Candid Photography, and Photojournalism.

    Here is a brief list of ten Photographers which work I think, every Photographer that is aspiring to achieve Street Photographs should study, but most important, contemplate.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

    Founder of Magnum Photos with Robert Capa and David Seymour, and one of the most respected photographers in the Street Photography field. He is sometimes credited as the father of this movement, and it really makes sense. He also has been broadly known for the artistic term of "The Decisive Moment", which practically states that if you are able to see the moment, you'll very likely won't capture it, you have to learn to anticipate the social happenings in order to capture that decisive moment. So the term practically invites to develop an ability that will allow you to press the shutter button just before the moment happens.

    You can delight yourselves with his images here.

    Garry Winogrand (1928–1984)

    I must say that I regret discovering Garry Winogrand until some months ago. He even took that iconic image of Marilyn Monroe, and I found about him just recently.

    He was an outstanding street photographer able to get so close into people's intimacy, that his pictures cross the border from stealthy to very conspicuous, and still they have that natural aesthetic that good street photography is so famous and claimed for. John Szarkowski, the former director of Photography of the Modern Museum of Art in New York from 1962 to 1991 said that Garry Winogrand was "the central photographer of his generation".

    He innovated so much during the sixties, that he perfected the style of street photography by presenting images that will touch some nerves of the political moments of the time.

    You can see some of his work here and here, and my favorite image of him, is this one, and also this one.

    Vivian Maier (1926-2009)

    There's been a lot of complexity around the topic of Vivian Maier, since her work has been massified after her work was discovered by John Maloof. The thing is that her work was really intimate for her. She was a collector and collected all these moments with her camera. Mrs. Maier's worked as a nanny through much of her life, and she didn't approached the artistic industry by any means. You can read some of the history behind her discovery here and there is a splendid documentary titled "Finding Vivian Maier" that was indeed nominated by the Academy Awards of 2014 for Best Documentary Feature that you can watch to understand better her world vision.

    Her photographs are on another level of awesomeness, they are great, and there are so many images that are being published by Maloof that is hard to believe that one person could shot so large body of magnificent images, but well, she did, and for me, she is one of the Masters.

    Josef Koudelka (1938- )

    He started mingling with Street Photography while studying and later working as an aeronautical engineer in Prague. His first deals with photography were commissioned by theatre magazines and later on he got involved more deeply with photography.

    He did an essay on gypsies in Romania, and two days later after finishing the assignment, the soviets invaded Prague. He witnessed and recorded what happened on the following days of august in 1968. He later became a member of Magnum and also his work of this invasion was smuggled out of Prague by them. His photographs were published in magazines under the humble title of P.P. (Prague Photographer) due to fear of his life and family being in danger thanks to reprisals.

    This is one of my favorite images taken by Koudelka because of its symbolism, that it's absolutely powerful. He took this image at the exact moment Prague was invaded by the Warsaw Pact military forces. The watch is the perfect marker or evidence of the moment in time this tragic happening occurred. The lone streets behind this foreground object, give us big idea of the general feeling of the city at that time. The small portion of the sky, enhances the feeling of the oppression about to come to Prague.

    Robert Doisneau (1912-1994)

    An undoubtedly master of Street Photographer, that in fact was an influence for Henri Cartier-Bresson (who entered the arts thanks to painting firstly).

    He was not just a Street Photographer but also a great Concept artist thanks to his arrangements that juxtaposed elements that resulted in intriguing visions of society and even surrealist at some point. One of his most popular concept portraits is Les Pains de Picasso 1952, that I won't describe, because you need to see it for yourselves.

    One of his most iconic image, was later recognized to be posed. But still, the nature of the image is so great, that for me it doesn't matter, and in fact, and I think he got  inspired from a less known Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph published in Life in 1945 that has a very high comparable dynamic.

    When it comes to street photography, nothing is harder to capture than humor, and Robert Doisneau was extremely good at doing it. One of my favorite shots that depict humor, is this one.

    Jill Freedman (1939-)

    Jill Freedman is a highly respected photographer whose work has been included in several museums and institutes. She started taking pictures at an age some might consider to be late, but miraculous talent, needs respect, and contemplation. Jill's style is very hard to define. For me she is a splendid storyteller, with large body of stories and short stories that are full of symbolism and humor, which is completely mind blowing.

    Indulge your eyes with her work.

    Walker Evans (1903-1975)

    Walker Evans was an outstanding photographer and photojournalist as well, and one of his most iconic works was for the FSA (Farm Security Administration) documenting the harsh effects of the Great Depression in American Society. He said that his goal was to make literate, authoritative and transcendent photographs, and yes, he accomplished his goal.

    One of his most ambitious projects regarding Street Photography, was done in the subway of New York City where he photographed various subway riders in a very inconspicuous way. He took a 35mm camera, painted it matte black, and hid it under his top coat where he was able to pick through the hole between two buttons. You can see part of this work online thanks to MoMA, and personally, I’ve been in love with this image since the first time I saw it in an academic book of Black and White Photography.

    Susan Meiselas (1948- )

    She's an American documentary photographer, and has been associated with Magnum Photos since 1976. One of her most valuable works in relation to the intimacy street photography sometimes need, is her work called Carnival Strippers, where she documented the backstage intimate lifestyle of women working as strippers in carnivals. This was presented in a book with audio, and my personal favorite, is this one. You can watch an excerpt of the project here.

    Elliott Erwitt (1928- )

    Elliott Erwitt is an amazing documentary photographer, very well known for his candid and witty shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings, ergo, humor, which is for me the most difficult thing to capture in the streets.

    He is considered a master in the photographic philosophy Cartier-Bresson defined as the "Decisive Moment".

    But, what is the absurd and the ironic? Well, this image simply known on the art world as USA, 2000, New York City by Elliot Erwitt, is a great example of that.

    There is a very eerie and strange image that he took known as “Cracked Glass with Boy” that symbolizes violence in my very personal point of view.

    And one of his most iconic images, and a personal favorite of mine, is this one. It is funny how many times people think this image was taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Just a huge evidence of his "Decisive Moment" mastery.

    W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978)

    William Eugene Smith, was a famous photojournalist from which we can learn a lot for improving our street photography. He devoted himself to very large projects, in which he stamped his ethical and ideological vision of the world. Even in his most violent images of war and bellic aftermaths, the sense of respect is completely tangible.

    One of his most notorious project, filled with deep intimacy and camaraderie, is the Jazz Loft Project, in which he documented jazz musicians playing at Manhattan.

    My favorite image of him, doesn't need any of my words, enjoy.

    Donna DeCesare

    She is not a so famous photographer; that you would love to watch.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

     

    READ MORE
  • 15 Famous Photographers


    If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.

    Robert Capa

    It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.

    Alfred Eisenstaedt

    Narrowing a list of Famous Photographers that you should know if you love Photography, is a pretty dense task, and even more when you pursue a fixed number, but this is necessarily in order to make selections based on criteria, and objectiveness. We are going to talk about fifteen great photographers, that had become Famous in popular culture for their passion, dedication, and style when crafting their photographs. Without further ado, let's talk about Famous Photographers you should know.

    Ansel Adams (1902-1984)

    The Supreme Master of Landscape Photography. His prints are the perfect evidence that the work that happens after pressing the shutter button is extremely important. He was an American photographer and environmentalist, which is no surprise since his images depict a pure fascination for nature. His landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park have been his most iconic body of work.

    Every Time many of us hear the phrase Landscape Photography, Ansel Adams is highly likely to pop right through our minds. And is no surprise, since his passion for landscape photography transformed his skills into mastery.

    Adams used mainly large format cameras, which are also known as view cameras or field cameras. He used this particular cameras because of its extreme ability of ensuring extremely high resolution and sharpness when rendering images. Large format starts at 4"x5". Just to get an idea of the amount of information this format is capable of capturing, inside a 4"x5" negative (the smallest of large format) you can fit 15 35mm negatives. And inside an 8"x10" (another standard of large format) you get the same amount of information of 60 35mm negatives.

    You can enjoy his work  virtually here, and if you ever have the chance of seeing live prints of him, please do yourselves the favor, you'll be blown away and will understand how deep passionate he was about getting the best tones in his images while printing.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

    Founder of Magnum Photos with Robert Capa and David Seymour, and one of the most respected photographers in the Street Photography field. He is sometimes credited as the father of this movement, and it really makes sense. He also has been broadly known for the artistic term of "The Decisive Moment", which practically states that if you are able to see the moment, you'll very likely won't capture it, you have to learn to anticipate the social happenings in order to capture that decisive moment. So the term practically invites to develop an ability that will allow you to press the shutter button just before the moment happens.

    You can delight yourselves with his images here.

    Philippe Halsman (1906-1979)

    He began contributing to fashion magazines when leaving Austria and arriving at France, and eventually stumbled into Vogue, and after that he gained the reputation of being the best portrait photographer in France.

    You can look at his work thanks to the Philippe Halsman Foundation here. His most notable muse was Salvador Dalí, which is evident thanks to their accomplice in creating images out of this world like the famous Dali Atomicus.

    Brassaï (1899-1984)

    Born in Transylvania as Gyula Halász and better known as Brassaï; he was a Hungarian-French Photographer that did a lot of work as a journalist while traveling through Europe. He was one of the numerous Hungarian artists who flourished in Paris beginning between WWI and WWII.

    Today he is better known for his fantastic work of night photography, especially in France since the 1930s, a time where the photographic resources were tremendously limited. His images are filled with shapes that were subtly perceptible under the little available light of night.

    His compositions had a great presence of shape and form, which were later and are still considered as great studies of shape. Thanks to the natural contrast enhanced by wet surfaces and little available light, his compositions were reduced to the basic essential amount of elements needed to transmit a concept.

    He captured the essence of Paris and many other cities through his photographs. There is a great book titled Paris de Nuit, published in 1933, and is also known as the first of many books compiling his work. It was very well received and was a great success. The book itself is a beautiful object, and was called "the eye of Paris" by Henry Miller. He also portrayed scenes from the life of the city's high society, its intellectuals, its ballet, and the grand operas.

    Man Ray (1890-1976)

    Born in the United States as Emmanuel Radnitzky, Man Ray was a visual artist that made significant contributions to both Dada and Surrealist movements. He was best known for his innovative techniques with photography and photographic materials. He was also known as a fashion and portrait photographer. He created iconic photograms that he called rayographs in reference to himself.

    He was close friend with Alfred Stieglitz, Marcel Duchamp, and of course, Salvador Dalí. In July 1921, Man Ray went to live and work in Paris. He settled in the Montparnasse quarter, which was a favorite of many artists of the time. Shortly after arriving in Paris, he met and fell in love with Alice Prin (better known as Kiki de Montparnasse), an artists' model and celebrated character in Paris bohemian circles. She was his companion for most of the 1920s, and in those years she became the subject of some of his most famous photographs.

    One of the most iconic Man Ray portraits of Kiki is this one, broadly known as Noire et Blanche (1926). In the image we can see a contrast of black and white, and also inanimate and alive with both elongated faces with closed eyes.

    Other iconic images of Man Ray are Le Violon d'Ingres (1924), and Larmes (1930), also known as Glass Tears. In Le Violon d'Ingres we can see a homage to Ingres and his fascination for playing the violin in presence of his guests. The image shows a nude and limbless Kiki depicting a violin. The f holes were painted by Man Ray, and the most notable surrealist element of the portrait. Larmes is linked to his romantic rupture with Lee Miller, and the image show an unrealistic character of “sadness” with the crystal tears and the perfect eyelashes.

    Weegee (1899-1968)

    Born as Usher Fellig in Złoczów (now Zolochiv, Ukraine), later on he was named Arthur Fellig when he and his family immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. He was a photojournalist best known for his harsh black and white street photography of both crime scenes and emergencies.

    He published photo books, and also worked in cinema, at first making his own independent short films, and later he collaborated with famous Stanley Kubrick. After working as a darkroom assistant to commercial photographers, he decided to get himself on his own track, so he became a freelance news photographer.

    He was so close to emergencies calls and law enforcement against crime, thanks to his strategy of just hanging out at different police stations. When the crime called over some scanner, he raced the cops in order to photograph the scenes in the rawest state possible. This is the reason why his images were so desired by the press.

    He outraced them so much, that he prided himself about arriving before than the police to any situation. This ability of his inspired popular culture to say he used a Ouija board in order to know what were the things that will happen. The phonetic pronunciation of this artifact, derived into Weegee, and he loved it.

    He used only a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera and a mounted flash throughout his career; and is not known for his printing abilities, but for the elements of his social photographs.

    His work reached further than the press, and he crafted a career on his own terms. He implanted his brutal, humorous and even absurd style to his work, and there's hardly been another Weegee since Weegee.

    You can see an excerpt of his harsh and stark images here and here, and you can get yourselves a great and simple book simply called Weegee as well. And one of my favorite photographs of Weegee, a simple yet strong cinematic shot of two men at the back of a truck that seems to be under arrest.

    Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015)

    She passed away recently, and has been known for her broad scope of photography, that covers the fields of photojournalism, documentary photography, portraiture, and advertising photography as well. Her images depict a unique sense of closeness and care for the people she photographed through her career.

    Her images were simple yet strong, and that juxtaposition is hard to achieve almost like humor in street photography. Achieving narrative statements, through one single image was a basic aspect of her images.

    Hard enough, she take things even further. Whenever you see her work, you'll notice an incredible and solid composition in her framings, and guess what, she didn't cropped. She just hated the idea of cropping after taking a picture, she cropped in camera. Of course cropping is necessary in order to improve a prior shot, but if you could crop perfectly in the viewfinder, then your discipline will raise the bar.

    She truly believed that images need to be emotionally involved with the photographer, if not, then you are just not going to get it right.

    One of my all-time favorites of her photographs, is this one called Rat and Mike with a gun, Seattle, Washington, USA, 1983. The image shows two youngsters with a very fierce attitude in the streets. Another favorite of Mary Ellen Mark's work, is Tiny, Halloween, Seattle, 1983 © Mary Ellen Mark, a portrait of Tiny, at the first stages of a long and compelling essay she did that portrays her life. The portrait summarizes everything, the fragile pose of her hands wrapping her thin arms, in contrast with her face expression, which suggests an older age than the actual fourteen Tiny had at the moment of the picture.

    There are so many images that I love of Mary Ellen Mark, that it will be absurd to talk about all of them, you can watch her portfolio here.

    Robert Capa (1913-1954)

    Born as Endre Friedmann in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, was a Hungarian war photographer that left a tremendous and important body of work in anthropological terms, or who we are as a culture.

    In 1947, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos in Paris with David "Chim" Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert. The organization was the first cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers, and is still active today.

    Capa originally wanted to be a writer, but he felt in love with Photography at some point of his early years. Right before starting to work as a photographer in Berlin in 1933, he moved to France during the rise of Nazism since his roots began to cost him work. He and his beloved Gerda Taró created a persona of this great American photographer named Robert Capa.

    In 1936 he reached fame with his controversial yet incredible image of the falling soldier at the Spanish Civil War. Many things have been said around this image, but no matter what, I want and I will believe that the image is legit.

    By 1944 he was living in New York City thanks to the Jewish persecution of WWII, and was embedded with the American troops to photograph war while working for LIFE Magazine. On June the sixth, Capa took part of the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach, Normandy. He was inside the second wave of troops, and has been known to shot 106 images with his trusty Contax camera and a 50mm lens. He almost lost his life in the bloody event of human history, and after getting safe, he quickly sent the rolls of film to LIFE headquarters at England, when a very much hated character in the history of Photography melted the emulsion and the negatives due to the rush. Just ten images survived, and the negative of the iconic image of a soldier coming up on the beach, is missing as said in Magnum Contact Sheets.

    After publicly stating he was done photographing War, he was traveling to Japan for a Magnum Exhibition of the early 1950s. LIFE Magazine had talked him into going on an assignment to cover Southeast Asia to cover the French fighting in the first Indochina war for the previous eight years. On May 25th, 1954, he stepped on a landmine while photographing and died on the way to a small hospital.

    Gerda Taró (1910-1937)

    Born as Gerta Pohorylle, she became a war photographer, and the beloved companion and professional partner of Endre Friedmann (Robert Capa). Taro is regarded as the first female photojournalist to cover the front lines of a war and to unfortunately die while doing so.

    In 1935 she and Endre moved to Paris to start working as a team. Things weren't as they expected economically speaking, and they came up with a groundbreaking idea, they created the myth around a Famous American Photographer named Robert Capa, and thanks to the importance of the journalistic task he was committed, they were going to be his agent. Some say that this as all Taro's idea, and others that it was a team work, I prefer to believe that it was all Taró's plot.

    When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Gerda Taró travelled to Barcelona, Spain, to cover the events with Capa and David "Chim" Seymour. She acquired the nickname of La Pequeña Rubia during this time.

    She was rather to use a Rolleiflex camera, and this is the criteria used to determine which of the images credited to Robert Capa were actually shot by her. Even though, this is not a precise criteria, because they both used to share their gear as well. And this is important mainly for the people cracking their head around The Death of the Soldier.

    He started to split from Endre and gained more professional independence. She covered many conflicts alone, such as La Batalla de Guadalajara.

    On July 25, 1937 during her coverage of the Republican army retreat at the Battle of Brunete, Taro hopped onto the footboard of a car that was carrying wounded soldiers when a Republican tank crashed into its side. She was critically injured and died the next day.

    Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)

    She was an American Documentary Photographer and a Photojournalist. In the 1930s, one of the deepest and harshest economic crisis happened in human history. Due to this pitfall, many people migrated inside the United States from one state to another. This happening was a perfect situation for Dorothea Lange to document what was going on at that time. Thanks to an initiative of President Roosevelt, the Farm Security Administration was created. Inside this Administration, a man named Roy Stryker contacted many photographers to portray the realities farmers were facing at that time. Inside this group of photographers, was Dorothea Lange. Her photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.

    Even though she inherited us with a tremendous body of work that has an invaluable importance to human history, her most iconic image, is the one called Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1938).

    The image is considered as an icon of the struggles the American people endured in the Great Depression. The name of the woman was Florence Owens Thompson, and by that time was mother of seven. Dorothea Lange discovered her while documenting what the FSA had commissioned her. She spent little time with the family, something like 10 minutes or so, and she took a series of images portraying her and her kids. In the image we see Florence as the very center of the frame, our eyes go directly to her expression, and few moments later we start to notice that she is surrounded by three of her kids. The punctum of the image is her hand. Lange was known to center the attention of her images in hands, which showed the marks of hard rural work.

    Sally Mann (1951-)

    She is a very talented American Photographer largely known for her large format black and white photographs. She has covered the intimacy of her family and even though the work is amazing, unfortunately it had created some controversies in the past, especially for her work titled Immediate Family.

    Immediate Family is one of her many books containing 65 images featuring her three children Emmett, Jessie and Virginia. The topics cover the broad scope of typical childhood themes such from joyful to gloomy. She covered skinny dipping, reading the funnies, dressing up, vamping, napping, and playing board games; as well as insecurity, loneliness, injury, sexuality and death.

    Her images are pretty much about the final product, and works with film and wet plate; also handcrafted print as well. Her artistic vision is pretty complex at times, and I just love her work. You can delight your nerves with her selected work here.

    Robert Frank (1924- )

    Born in Zürich, Switzerland, he is a great (among the greatest) American Photographer. His most notable and respected work is a book titled The Americans (1958), with introductory words by one of my favorite writers as well, Jack Kerouac. The book contains 84 images out of 28,000 shots taken for the project. And it is considered one of the few agents of change in terms of Photography’s History. The cover of the book is a photograph called Trolley-New Orleans (1955) and depicts an everyday scene, which is a subtle social critique of the time.

    His images are about capturing the unseen everyday life that seemed to be obscured by other topics that became popular thanks to the after-war phenomena of the 1950s. Nowadays is common to see great street and documentary work focusing on the everyday life, but Frank did it when the masses demanded something else, and is today seen to us photographers like heaven on a plate.

    William Eggleston (1939- )

    American Photographer best known for his successful efforts of increasing the recognition of Color Photography into the artistic medium of Photography, which has been widely known for monochrome images.

    His images were presented in the Museum of Modern Art of New York in 1976, and marked the scene of the Art of Photography. He presented his Kodachrome prints to John Szarkowski in 1967. Szarkowski curated nearly 400 images to a selection of 75 photographs. These images portrayed the everyday scene. His work as critiqued by Hilton Kramer, and defined them as "Elegant Snapshots", even though today are known as a definitive corpus of color photography in the Art world.

    Even though when MoMA has presented color photography in exhibitions, the one of Eggleston was the first big one, and as the groundbreaking moment of Color Photography's presence in the world of Art.

    Some of the images I love the most from Eggleston body of work are in fact those presented at MoMA under the name of William Eggleston's Guide. You can see a little excerpt of this collection here under the section of Monographs.

    The famous image of the human-less tricycle is a great representation of solitude and speaks of human life so well. The tricycle element is simple, but the notoriously large presence speaks in a very suggestive way and invites the viewer to think. Personally I think this image summarizes life. From the great and simple joys of childhood, to the less enjoyable stages of adulthood at the back.

    Irving Penn (1917-2009)

    He was an American Photographer best known for his fashion photography as well as portraits and still lives. One of his most notorious works happened due to publications of Vogue Magazine. But he also worked with independent clients as well. His work has been exhibited internationally and continues to inform the art of photography.

    Between 1934 to 1938, he studied drawing, painting, graphics, and industrial arts under the teaching of Alexey Brodovitch. While still a student, he worked under the supervision of Alexey Brodovitch at Harper's Bazaar. He eventually ended up working for Vogue Magazine after Alexander Liberman offered him a position as an associate of the Art Department. Eventually, after explaining ideas, Liberman asked him why not trying to shoot the things for himself, and that was the trigger that started his non-stopping evolution as the great photographer we all know now.

    He was a pioneer, and was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop with great effects due to their simplicity. He went even further and started working with a corner, in which he squeezed celebs in order to pose.

    Referring to just a few favorites seems pointless, and I invite you to see what you can online, at magazines and museums as well. You can see some of his Vogue work here. There are two books that collect portraits and still life that you can check out as well.

    Vivian Maier (1926-2009)

    There's been a lot of complexity around the topic of Vivian Maier, since her work has been massified after her work was discovered by John Maloof. The thing is that her work was really intimate for her. She was a collector and collected all these moments with her camera. Mrs. Maier's worked as a nanny through much of her life, and she didn't approached the artistic industry by any means. You can read some of the history behind her discovery here and there is a splendid documentary titled "Finding Vivian Maier" that was indeed nominated by the Academy Awards of 2014 for Best Documentary Feature that you can watch to understand better her world vision.

    Her photographs are on another level of awesomeness, they are great, and there are so many images that are being published by Maloof that is hard to believe that one person could shot so large body of magnificent images, but well, she did, and for me, she is one of the Masters.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

    READ MORE
  • Famous and Important Portrait Photographers You Should Know


    A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.

    Philippe Halsman

    Portraits have been so important in human history, that its plasticity has a very broad scope that includes Painting, Photography, and Sculpture as well. Basically a portrait is an artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The deep purpose behind portraits is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. Portraits have been with us since 4000 years ago.

    There is so much to learn from these portrait photographers, that is important to study and contemplate their work, even though we are not so into portraits. I’ve crafted this list of portrait photographers that any serious, passionate, and committed photographer, should know at some point in order to learn something from them, and also as the best seeds of inspiration.

    Richard Avedon (1923-2004)

    Richard Avedon was an important fashion and portrait photographer. His work helped the process of defining the style, beauty and culture of the United States during the twentieth century[1].

    He reflected a great complexity behind the portraits he directed. I consider that he has an amazing portrait photographer, but more than that, he was an artist, that captured his directions through photography. He was in control of what the people in front of his lenses were portraying.

    There are three portraits that he created that blow my mind away (but I love almost all of them, but those three are the top for me):

    -          Twiggy, 1968

    Twiggy was photographed multiple times by Avedon, and it's no surprise since both were doing remarkable statements in the fashion industry in the field of expertise of each one. This particular image property of MoMA (MoMA | The Collection | Richard Avedon. Twiggy, hair by Ara Gallant, Paris. January 1968) is quite simple, but the dream quality of it, is amazing. A great example of the master of concepts Avedon was.

    -          Dovima with Elephants, 1955

    Avedon was deeply influenced by Martin Munkácsi, and this image is a tangible evidence of that influence. Surreal, oneiric, and humorous fashion, that is how I could describe this image that juxtaposes the elegance and the freedom of a deliberately lean portrayed model Dovima, in contrast with the roughed and tamed elephants at the back.

    The beautiful parallelism of the dripping cloth and the elephant's frontal foot, is a subtle reminder of the art direction behind this iconic image of the fashion world.

    -          Beekeeper, 1981

    An extremely bold portrait of Ron Fischer, a beekeeper from Oak Park. Richard Avedon posted two ads in national beekeeper journals, and four months later, Ron appeared. Avedon had a concept in mind, sketched in paper, and the whole production lasted a couple of days. A masterpiece of portrait photography indeed.

    Annie Leibovitz (1949- )

    She is a very well-known Portrait Photographer that has been creating an amazing and consistent body of portraits. Her commercial work is very well known, but her more personal work is something that not all people have seen. I once had the opportunity to look through the pages of a photo book titled A photographer's life: 1990-2005 by Annie Leibovitz that has a lot of her non-commercial work, and I became a huge fan of her.

    Her unique style was born with the inspiration and influence of the reportage style of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

    She is the author of the iconic photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono that we all have seen many times. The image was the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine issue of January 1981, and the last professional photograph somebody ever took of him, since he was murdered 5 hours later that same day.

    Yoko Ono's hair floating in the clear background, firmly grabbed by John Lennon like avoiding her escape, the tangible difference between their looks, the contrast between her dark clothes and his nakedness, all these are elements that make the image a complete masterpiece in the world of portraiture.

    Leibovitz was hired by The Walt Disney Company to portray several roles and scenes that are iconic Disney branded.

    Helmut Newton (1920-2004)

    He was born as Helmut Neustädter in Berlin. He was a notable fashion photographer known for his provocative photographs. He worked mainly in Black and White, and his most important publisher, was Vogue.

    In front of his eyes and lens, notable portraits of iconic and famous were made. From David Bowie to Leonardo DiCaprio, from Sophia Loren to Margaret Thatcher. With such a vast array of celebs posing for him, it is no surprise that his work was published by Vanity Fair, Nova, Queen, Playboy, and of course, Vogue, which published 64 covers depicting Newton's art.

    My favorite shot is this one, titled Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking Jacket, presenting a beautiful and androgynous portrait of a very elegant model in the middle of a street. A complete breakthrough for that time, an innovative perception of beauty indeed. His mastery is obvious here when presenting a vertical shot with so great composition and mood. This is another great treasure Newton gave to the fashion magazine Vogue, is this shot taken in London at 1967, where a model is running away from a stalking airplane that fits perfectly in the composition.

    Martin Chambi (1891-1973)

    While Europe and North America where debating and struggling between pictorialism and Straight Photography, in a small part of the world, locked down at Perú, Martin Chambi was creating stunning portraits of his social context.

    Like many photographers, Chambi had two streams in his Photography repertoire, the commercial work, and the personal work, and both were amazing.  There is so much to learn about the use of light, the contrast, and even the perfect sharpness of Chambi's portraits.

    Víctor Mendívil and the Giant Paruro, is an evoking portrait that I personally think symbolizes Chambi's beliefs of rural people being greater than the people from the cities. Pequineque Friends is a relaxed portrait, very rare at that specific moments in time, where everything was pictorial and assembled. Queromarca rural woman with child is a strong portrait, which still has a very powerful message behind it.

    Even his commercial work, like the Wedding of Don Julio Gadea, has a sublime quality that few photographers had. Even nowadays, with so many wedding photographers, there is a lot to learn from this single image with such an interesting composition of black and white arrangement in the crowd.

    Martin Chambi's style is unique, and has distinguished him from a vast group of great masters in photography.

    Daniel Mordzinski (1960- )

    Photography is a vast world that requires specialization in order to achieve stunning work. These niches can be narrowed down to a sublime point, and that's exactly what Mordzinski did by narrowing his work so much, that became the Photographer of the Writers.

    Before knowing about Daniel Mordzinski, I just have seen his images in several books, and websites, but a tragic happening to his work thanks to an irresponsible inventory[2] maneuver over at Le Monde, resulted in the loss of many images created by him.

    You can delight yourselves with his work at his website, and my personal favorite, is the portrait of Jorge Luis Borges, http://www.danielmordzinski.com/.

    Arnold Newman (1918-2006)

    An amazing portrait photographer also known by his academic role as a photography teacher and less known role in the news world. He created very notable environmental portraits that talked efficiently about the context, the professions, and the passions of the people he portrayed.

    Environmental Portraiture is known for being a field of photography in which the photographer directs the subject in a carefully controlled setting inside the everyday ambiance of the person portrayed.

    His signature picture was a minimalistic monochrome portrait of Igor Stravinsky taken in 1946 in his environment, ergo, close to his piano, and nothing more but a light colored wall. This contact sheet is a fascinating evidence that great work requires discipline and objective eyes. This fantastic portrait shows a serene Stravinsky lingering close to a beautiful open tailed piano in front of a two shaded wall. The portrait is bold, innovative, and even minimalistic as well. It is curious and beautiful how the shapes inside this composition depict a perfect triangle at the center of the image.

    Another iconic picture he took, and a personal favorite of mine, is a portrait of Martha Graham in a very simple yet strong portrait with great basic composition tricks.

    Philippe Halsman (1906-1979)

    After a terrible experience in his early twenties he left his native Austria to find a new home at France. Here he began contributing to fashion magazines, and eventually stumbled into Vogue, and after that he gained the reputation of being the best portrait photographer in France.

    You can look at his work thanks to the Philippe Halsman Foundation here. He portrayed several talented people like Louis Armstrong and Audrey Hepburn, and even Albert Einstein. But I think his most notable figure was Salvador Dalí, due to their accomplice in creating images out of this world like the famous Dali Atomicus.

    In 1961 he publishes a book called Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas, that stimulate photographers to pursue unusual images by following six rules that he stated as these:

    -          The rule of the direct approach

    -          The rule of the unusual technique

    -          The rule of the added unusual feature

    -          The rule of the missing feature

    -          The rule of compounded features

    -          The rule of the literal or ideographic method.

    Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

    Her subjects were different, her subjects were away from the standards of perfection fashion depicted. She presented the world with another face, with an unseen face that was in the shadows. Her most noted portraits had marginalized people such as dwarfs, giants, transgenders, nudists, circus performers as the most important subject.

    She and Allan Arbus (her husband) contributed to several fashion magazines such as Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar even when they both had a clear vision that resulted in a shared hate for the fashion world.

    She was able to get close into an intimate dimension with her subjects thanks to her camera, even if the social interaction lasted briefly, she achieved that parallel trust with her subjects that resulted in great portraits we no can contemplate.

    Even her access was clearly trusted, she reflected a great level of respect and even fascination towards her subjects. This is really important to learn and never forget if we want to achieve meaningful portraits such as hers.

    My favorite picture from all the great portraits Diane Arbus captured, is the Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967 photograph taken at a twins and triplets gathering for Christmas Eve. The image shows a slight contrast of a subtle smile and a subtle frown even both were stated as identical. I really want to believe that this image inspired Stanley Kubrick when seeking the performers of the twins that appeared at The Shining 1980.

    Steve McCurry (1950- )

    Everybody knows the image, but there is more behind McCurry's body of work. This outstanding and notable photojournalist has captured so many great portraits, that is hard to believe a single person has done so many amazing shots, but he has, and he still does.

    His portraits have a hard to explain powerful quality, that exceeds my scope, and I just love to watch his work. His portraits have a consistent quality, and this is something we should study and learn. Consistency requires practice and discipline, and this both are ingredients that put us close to perfection and mastery.

    The Afghan Girl is a portrait made to a girl named Sharbat Gula in December 1984 at a refugee camp, published later in the cover of National Geographic Magazine of June 1985. This image is so powerful, that has been considered one of the greatest portraits of all time. Her fully expressive eyes, the magnificent sharpness of the shot, the complementary colors of her clothes with the background and her eyes, and the almost moving expression of her face are just the most tangible elements of this magnificent portrait. Beyond Gula, you can see his amazing repertoire of journalistic portraits in his website http://stevemccurry.com/.

    Jimmy Nelson (1967- )

    Jimmy Nelson is a tough guy, no doubt about it, but with a hard sense of care for people, especially those whose culture is about to disappear. Just like Mordzinski’s angle of craft portraits of writers, Nelson's most notable work has the main goal of capturing and portraying the people and cultures that are about to be extinct for several anthropological reasons.

    He is creating an important work for humanity, especially those generations that are about to come. His technical mastery is splendid, but beyond that, his mission to capture the time vulnerable cultures of the world, is at another dimension of importance.

    The most important thing we can learn from him, is the care he has for the people. And that care, converts later in trust, which allows him to get close to the most intimate circles of these endangered cultures. This process requires patience, time, and above all, respect. We need to stop shooting just for the sake of it, we need to care about people in order to achieve the best portraits possible, period.

    Valérie Jardin once said that it is important for us photographers to watch TED Talks on a regular basis, and here is one valuable Talk that I want to share with you, enjoy.

    And the Easter egg of the evening is one of the best portraits I've seen ever, a completely natural and candid portrait of Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas taken by the outstanding photographer, Tina Modotti (1896-1942), cheers.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

     

    READ MORE
  • Famous and Important Landscape Photographers You Should Know


    Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.

    Ansel Adams

    Landscape photography, is without any doubt, one of the most (if not the most) famous members of the disciplined family of Straight Photography.

    Ansel Adams (1902-1984)

    The Supreme Master of Landscape Photography. His prints are the perfect evidence that the work that happens after pressing the shutter button is extremely important. He was an American photographer and environmentalist, which is no surprise since his images depict a pure fascination for nature. His landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park have been his most iconic body of work.

    Every Time many of us hear the phrase Landscape Photography, Ansel Adams is highly likely to pop right through our minds. And is no surprise, since his passion for landscape photography transformed his skills into mastery.

    Besides making Landscape Photography popular, he also inherited us with a great tool for getting the best tones for each portion of the photograph in print, which is the summit of every photographic workflow. This beautiful gift is called the zone system, and he developed it along with Fred Archer. Basically the Zone System refers to the amount of light a specific portion of the negative needs to imprint the best tones onto paper. Ted Forbes created a great video that explains it pretty seamlessly.

    Adams used mainly large format cameras, which are also known as view cameras or field cameras. He used this particular cameras because of its extreme ability of ensuring extremely high resolution and sharpness when rendering images. Large format starts at 4"x5". Just to get an idea of the amount of information this format is capable of capturing, inside a 4"x5" negative (the smallest of large format) you can fit 15 35mm negatives. And inside an 8"x10" (another standard of large format) you get the same amount of information of 60 35mm negatives.

    He also founded the photography group known as Group f/64 along with fellow photographers Willard Van Dyke and Edward Weston, which is like Magnum but for Straight Photography.

    He also created three magnificent books that are like the bibles of photography. The first is The Camera, the second one is The Negative (in which he started talking about the Zone System) and last but not least, The Print. He covers the entire photographic Workflow with these three very dense and technical books.

    In the book titled The Camera, he covered from visualization to special purpose equipment and techniques. In The Negative, he covered from Image values to the Value Control in Processing, giving a lot of importance to the Darkroom Processes and the Darkroom Equipment and Procedures. And in the final book of this series (which are not the only books he wrote about photography) he covered from The Expressive Image to Special Printing Applications.

    You can enjoy his work  virtually here, and if you ever have the chance of seeing live prints of him, please do yourselves the favor, you'll be blown away and will understand how deep passionate he was about getting the best tones in his images while printing.

    Michael Kenna (1953- )

    Brit photographer famously known for his black and white, unusual, almost ethereal, landscapes. In order to achieve his iconic style, he has taken the extreme approach of shooting at night, with exposures up to ten hours long.

    The nature behind Kenna's work has a very characteristic and peculiar quality that is filled with minimal compositions and a high reflective or meditative nature.

    He has been introducing us to a Zen, and highly unseen world, that truly exists, but just doesn't unveil to us but him.  The quality behind Kenna's work has been vastly awarded through time, and is a constant reminder to us that Landscapes are not just waiting for us to shoot them, we must wait for them to open themselves to us.

    He started as a commercial photographer, but gratefully he started drifting apart the world of commercial work, and eventually landed into his own style after working to the side of great photographers such as Ruth Bernhard.

    You can delight with his work on his personal website.

    Nadav Kander (1961- )

    Nadav Kander has created a work that invites us to another world. He created the images behind the book called "Dust". He photographed the desolated landscapes of the Aral Sea where he captured the abandoned and fascinating images of the restricted military zones of Priozersk and Kurtchatov. These two places didn't appear on any map until long time after the end of the Cold War.

    These ghostly landscapes became the main subject of the work presented in Dusk, and the consistency of the whole project is impeccable. A great thing we all as photographers must pursue when boarding a project. It reminds me of a more specific project called Restricted Areas created by Danila Tkachenko, another great example of consistency.

    Sebastião Salgado (1944- )

    Sebastião's formal education is a little bit different of those photographers that had the opportunity of studying arts. He trained as an economist, and earned a master's degree in economics. He began working as an economist for the ICO (International Coffee Organization) and this allowed him to travel a lot, especially to Africa on missions for the World Bank. He started taking photographs, and eventually he became serious about it. So serious that he abandoned his career as an economist, and went full time photographer in 1973. He initially worked on news assignments, and then he later became more interested in documentary work. In 1979, he joined Magnum Photos, and he left the holy group in 1994; and with his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado formed their own agency, Amazonas Images, in Paris, to represent his work.

    After photographing the tragedies of human race, he switched to nature and wildlife photography. Together with Taschen he has published a massive and impressive book called Genesis. In this book he states that this work, is a true homage to nature, and he was trying to give the environment something back. The book has some of the most beautiful landscape shots I've ever seen, and the print quality is really something.

    He has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2001, and there is a splendid documentary directed by Wim Wenders that you should watch in order to understand the whole philosophy behind this work called Genesis.

    You can also watch this great TED Talk that is both inspiring, and revealing.

    Brett Weston (1911-1993)

    Van Deren Coke referred to him as the child genius of American Photography, and when you see his landscapes, you just cannot deny the genius behind Brett Weston. He learned a lot from one great master, Edward Weston, his father, and he later became a great photographer on his own.

    You can feel that Edward Weston influence in his botanical work, but when it comes to landscapes, he was unique.

    The most valuable thing we can get from Brett Weston, is that landscapes can be captured with both wide and long lenses. Many of his images have a tight focal feeling, and this may sound like a contradiction, but seeing his work, encourages us to think outside the box and don't keep caged on the prejudices and the stated rules of photography.

    You can see more of his work at the online Brett Weston archive.

    Franco Fontana (1933- )

    Quite an interesting style of landscape photography, Fontana's world of view is just beautiful. His landscapes have been defined as abstract and colorful, and I couldn't agree more with that, especially with the colorful statement.

    He teaches us through his photography, that there are still things that can be discovered in landscape photography. He captures the interrelation and interplay of colors in natural scenes.

    Fontana has worked mostly with 35mm camera, and his studio is the world. He pursues his own view of making visible the invisible through art. While browsing his work, I remembered a polemical shot taken by Frans Lanting for National Geographic that depicted a completely surreal landscape, which happened natural inside the camera.

    The minimalist and abstract approach that Fontana has over landscapes, is worth watching. Every Time we are trying to capture something different, try a tight focal length in order to see just little portions of the landscape that will eventually render the abstraction of the whole nature in front of your eyes. A great source for teaching our eyes into watching seamlessly abstractions of the world, is through constant contemplation of abstract paintings. You’ll never go wrong with Kandinsky or Miró.

    Takeshi Mizukoshi (1938- )

    After dropping out of the Faculty of Forestry, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Mizukoshi worked as a naturalist and later as a mountain photographer after studying with the late Yukio Tabuchi, another great landscape photographer from Japan.

    Mizukoshi is one of those hard to find landscape photographers, but even though there is unfortunately very little to contemplate and appreciate in terms of quantity of his work through the web, the few things you could find, are a complete ode to nature itself. His works are displayed in a number of domestic and international museums and art galleries, and I think is almost the only way besides books to properly watch his work.

    His work portrays serene landscapes that remind us of our true smallness towards the beauty of nature.

    Fujifilm published a brief excerpt of Mizukoshi's work here.

    David Brookover (1954- )

    Like Ansel Adams, capturing the beauty, and form of imagery through his lens and then hand-crafting that image into an exceptional print is the core of his art.

    Besides Brookover's focus on traditional techniques that go from the planning to the print, the intuitive artistic detail in his wildlife, landscape, abstract, and western photographs make up the core philosophy of his work.

    He practices platinum palladium printing as well as silver gelatin printing. You can watch some of his work at his online Portfolio, and he has a gallery at Jackson, Wyoming if you ever get near, you should stop by.

    Great sense of aesthetic and beauty, his landscapes are rendered in accordance with his own natural vision of the world.

    Galen Rowell (1940-2002)

    He was a wilderness photographer, adventure photo journalist and climber. He turned into a full-time photographer in 1972, and curiously, he was never formally trained as such.

    Rainbow over the Potala Palace is an exceptional evidence of how passionate, and patience Galen was.

    Galen was not using a large format camera, instead he used the both trusty and popular Nikon FE and FM2. A great example of "the best camera is the one you have with you". Portable, and extremely good built.

    He was famous for answering with a pride "f/8.0 " every time somebody asked him How did you get that great shot?", a great answer indeed.

    Galen had the discipline of spending extensive time in the outdoors to be at locations when the light was right, therefore this was a great advantage for him when compared to the work of less disciplined photographers.

    Carr Clifton (1957- )

    American landscape, nature and wilderness photographer, teaching us about the importance of conversation, and to never get comfortable with the status quo, not even with a format. Clifton has created a body of work with a large format 4x5 film camera, and more recently a digital camera. The images of Clifton are the perfect portraits of nature at is purest breath taking form and massive reality.

    I think he has been humble enough and enthusiastic as well, to change within time. As an early adopter of photography in the early 1970s, he just wanted to craft good looking images of beautiful places. And today, that same desire pushes him a little further into the great outdoors.

    National Parks have been photographed a lot, but Clifton believes that beauty is still there, and that there is a lot left to be photographed. The way in he believes that even a single place, has been photographed  to the weariness, there is still a lot left to be shot, and that landscapes have not revealed completely to say everything has been shot.

    With his philosophy, we can deeply start to think about the importance of scouting our hometowns, and to don't take any place, anywhere for granted.

    You can watch his images here.

    And the Easter egg of this day, Per Bak Jensen, with his ephemeral and dreamy minimalist landscapes.

    Originally Published at Photo Traces

     

    READ MORE
  • The Truth About Using Less Camera Gear


    As it is in many fields and disciplines, less is more, and reducing things to achieve that state of "-lessness" is a complex road to walk. Let me talk a bit about what you'll learn when you trim your gear down and about the benefits of making such an effort. Imagine you have only one gear configuration to save in a catastrophe so you can continue taking photographs. Which one will it be?

    One time I heard Omar Rodriguez-López talking about how reducing the number of pedals produced great changes in his music. He became more creative due to the limitations he had imposed on himself. I’ve seen this rule apply in many other disciplines besides music – and, of course, it applies in photography as well. Using less gear invites you to push yourself to the limits to capture the images you want. Prime lenses make you walk more; using film cameras restrain you from shooting more; and using only one lens makes you unbelievably creative.

    Let’s talk about the truths surrounding this topic.

    Seeking limitations help enhance your style

    Since photography relies on several tools for capturing images in the form closest to our desires, it is easy to start reducing our equipment to achieve a minimum amount of valuable gear. I also believe that photography has a certain pattern of growth in most cases, almost like a learning curve. Many of us started with a compact point-and-shoot camera, and as our passion grew, so did our gear. In parallel, we experimented with many styles and niches of photography, and knew how much gear each niche required. For example, wildlife photography requires fast telephoto lenses, macro photography needs to be done with optical maneuvers and macro lenses. At certain point, we started to enhance our personal style and photographic voice. This is the moment we realize that we are working more with specific optical resources, tools and settings. Ask yourself which style of photography you love the most, and which gear you couldn’t leave behind to capture the images you love the most.

    By reducing your gear you’ll be more inconspicuous

    Less gear means less visibility. Therefore, by maintaining a low profile gear-wise, you'll be more inconspicuous than ever. You’ll blend seamlessly into social contexts in ways you never could before.

    Social photography is my deepest passion, and getting close to people is definitely important. You can do this by working with a non-intrusive piece of equipment – like one prime wide-angle lens, one small pancake lens, or even just a small yet powerful camera like the one I currently work with.

    You'll enjoy more, and stress less

    This most applies when you’re travelling. I’ve been saying this forever, and I’ll never tire of it. Enjoy your travels – you’re investing a lot of cash in the experiences travel can offer. Don’t forget this. Maybe you’ll be travelling alone, maybe you won’t. Maybe your companions are not passionate about photography, but they respect your passion, so respect their presence as well. By dragging around large amounts of gear, you’ll enjoy less, believe me. Grab one piece of gear and you’ll enjoy your travels more than you would when carrying a whole studio with you.

    Commitment to gear is key

    Committing to a limited amount of gear will give you one of the most fulfilling experiences in photography ever. You'll get to know the gear so intuitively that it will become an extension of your body. You'll know its limitations, its scope, and the advantages it offers. This is the fundamental strategy for learning to shoot from the hip as well, because you'll know exactly what you’re framing without having to peek through the viewfinder.

    Once upon a time, I knew a photographer from my country who was here visiting. The guy had been working for several years with just one camera and one lens, and had recently bought a second lens for his camera. He told me that he was so used to his lens and camera that using it was like driving; he made the camera settings unconsciously. Achieving that level of organic reflection is amazing.

    The greatest two benefits I can pinpoint are the following:

    A higher level of creativity

    Imposing photographic limitations on yourself will reflect in the images you'll be able to capture. Embracing less gear will allow you to return to the basics, and you'll see the richness that available light has to offer to you as you capture images. The result of working with less gear will boost your creativity in ways you never dreamed of if you (like me and many others) once believed that having more tools would produce better images.

    Higher quality

    Reducing gear will cause you to shoot less, so you’ll have a greater amount of quality photographic material at the end of the day. Just remember the days of film, when the resources were expensive and each frame was carefully shot. Be grateful for the resources of our time, and don’t fall into the trap of taking those tools for granted.

    Reducing gear can take extreme roads – such as micro SD cards and even turning your LCD screen off to avoid chimping . Photography has evolved to a beautiful state that gives people more powerful photographic resources each day, but also seduces them into a state approaching laziness. Remember to create limited scenarios to avoid falling into the sweet tentacles of laziness. Practice, practice, practice, and get to know your gear like it’s an extension of your body.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • How to Shoot Black and White Landscapes That Make People Stop


    Landscape photography is a discipline that many photographers desire to master, but sometimes we take landscapes for granted. We believe that landscapes are just there, waiting with clouds and mountains for us to shoot. The reality is much more complex than that, and there are some things we need to know, and respect, about Landscape photography in order to achieve breathtaking results. Using black and white is a great strategy, but there is more to nature than simply a monochrome conversion of our beloved RAW files, and I'm going to talk a little bit about them today.

    Scouting

    Unexplored nature is harder to see nowadays – since humans have explored almost everywhere – but there are still places in the world waiting to be explored by our photographic vision. All disciplined and passionate photographers have their own and peculiar visions of the world, and this broadens the possibilities for achieving great results.

    The first step is to scout for them. Scouting can happen many times without you getting the desired shot, or even a single picture, but this is okay. The main goal of scouting is to seek the best location from where you can take an image later.

    Scouting is really important, and you must consider certain elements to maximize your previous scout. Due to the nature of having plenty time on your hands, I recommend you start scouting the local landscapes near your home, because starting it when you’re travelling could result in very frustrating outcomes.

    Some elements to consider after scouting include:

    -   Early hours or golden hours of the day at dusk

    -   Clouds, meteorology, weather, and sunlight hours.

    Filters

    Filters boost photography in a way that no post-production maneuvers could ever render, because they distort reality while the image is being captured. The most conspicuous results are created with ND filters, which alter the exposure by few or several stops depending on their optical configuration and design. Circular polarizing filters are great for landscapes because they reduce or alter reflections into pleasing results, and help highlight the sky by making blue tones darker.

    Due to the nature of Monochrome photography, these planned images can be boosted with harsher contrast without unpleasant results.

    Learn to interpret reality as Monochrome

    All right, this one is hard, I know. Still,  you can achieve that vision with practice, or with a bit of cheating. There are two ways to get an instantaneous preview of a scene in monochrome format. The first one involves using a special filter that works more like a viewing device than a camera filter. The other one is to use live-view mode with the monochrome profile activated. Don’t look at live view below your shoulders – it’s a great tool for precise focusing while shooting landscapes.

    Sharpness and Vast Depth of Field

    It’s no secret that great landscapes are incredibly sharp, which happens thanks to tiny apertures (now you understand why the elite club of Ansel Adams was called Group f/64) and hyper focal-lengths.

    Tripod

    The best lens you’ll ever have in your hands could be a sturdy and trusty tripod. The best glass in the world has little to do in front of a magnificent landscape if it is not placed over a sturdy tripod. The reason why landscapes need a firm tripod is because slow apertures and slow exposure times are needed to achieve the best exposure. A tripod will also allow you to use the less-sensitive ISO settings, which have less noise impact on the image (which is great).

    Post-processing

    After scouting, composing, setting the best filter configuration for the desired shot and clicking the shutter button, you'll have walked only half the road. The other half is about to come. Post-processing in black and white is, without a doubt, more flexible in terms of allowing more extreme setting configurations without getting eerie and odd-looking results. This happens just the same way film acted when it was developed – you could be sloppy when tempering the chemicals still you could manage to get the desired results with a simple arithmetic calculation.

    It’s important that you learn how to develop a RAW file, especially in terms of contrast. The most valuable secret for developing any image is to understand how colors interact with each other when converting them into a monochrome version. By contrasting the color channels – by keeping in mind the mechanics of complementary colors for example – you can achieve outstanding results. After that, local adjustments with graduated filters and the key brush (I'm talking Lightroomian here, sorry) will give your images the nudge they deserve.

    This is a simple-to-define task, but it requires patience and passion to get the best results. I strongly disagree with photographers who find this part of the photographic workflow tedious. It’s just as important as the shot itself. In the days of film, this was done at both the film development and printing stage, because both required chemicals and care. Ansel Adams was known for being extremely careful with his prints, and that is why his photographs are so desired and famous. It is valuable to learn about his passion in order to understand the importance of the work to be done after pressing the shutter button. Read and study Adams because of his consummate skill, his view of what looked good and the fact that he wrote a lot about these things.

    HDR or Tonal Range

    More Ansel Adams here. Unfortunately, HDR is presented to us in a democratized form that leads to irresponsible and unaesthetic results. Some say the effects of HDR are "surreal" – but no, when done improperly, they are just ugly pictures. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the principle is to give a proper exposure to each tonal range of the image. So images with blown-out lights will be correctly exposed, as well as those that are much underexposed.

    The thing is, HDR technique can result in images with a high tonal range without either solid whites or solid blacks. Pretty much like the Zone System Ansel Adams created.

    When doing HDR, please be careful so you will stay inside the good-looking scope of post-processing.

    RAW

    I never get tired of saying this: please shoot in RAW. This magnificent file format is the exact equivalent of film negatives. Don't restrain your camera's potential just because the files are a little extra-large. This allows you to shoot less, and will impact the quality of your images. Seek quality, not quantity.

    Composition

    Composition is the foundation and the blueprint of a great photograph. The image could be technically perfect in terms of exposure and focus, but if the composition is not interesting, the image itself will crumble in the ephemeral air of social media and the web.

    The most important elements to consider when composing landscapes are lines and shapes. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, organic and implied. And shapes are enhanced by slow apertures that capture the sharp beauty of their silhouettes (trees, boulders and mountains).

    Understand Clarity

    When importing images into RAW development software, you'll encounter a poorly understood tool called clarity. Many photographers have the wrong idea that clarity improves focus. No: it just gives a sharper feeling. Improving focus in post-production is impossible (nowadays, of course).

    Clarity allows you to control the contrast of all the elements of a picture, especially when they are adjacent to differently lit objects (such as the sky, for example). This is fantastic for creating separation of elements, which is really important to maintain texture and tones in a scene that are often the complete opposite of minimalism. Give all the elements the proper space and role in the scene by separating them from their neighboring tones using clarity – just don't overuse it.

    An Extra Tip

    Improve your black and white landscapes by adding more interest to the image with foreground objects. This will give a richer feeling of depth and even tridimensionality when done right. 

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Magnificent Experiences of Photography That You Should Try


    Photography is filled with experiences that are worth trying. They are vastly enriching, and many go beyond the mere act of pressing the shutter button. Here I’ll describe several activities that I think can correctly be called Magnificent Experiences in photography. This list is not presented by hierarchy, but is simply a combination of experiences I have tried that have added great romance to my love of photography. Please feel free to share your Magnificent Experiences in Photography with us in the comments section.

    Printing your work

    During my early work with Point and Shoot cameras, printing was the great moment at the end of collecting images. Everything was new, therefore I was clumsy as hell, and I printed my first images at a supermarket express thingy on 4x6 "photographic glossy paper". Even though the quality of the prints was seppuku-worthy, they brought me great joy.

    I've become a bit more technical and systematic when it comes to printing my work. Every time I finish uploading work to an album on my website, I print it as well within a couple of days, for my own satisfaction. I invest in two types of prints. The first set is pretty poor quality, but I do it just to see the images physically and to showcase them when friends and relatives come home. The second type of print is the best I can get in my country, and the quality is amazing. It is so fantastic that I don't feel ridiculous manipulating them with latex gloves. They are worth it. These prints are reserved for my portfolio and for selling.

    Seeing your best images, your most beloved ones, come alive on paper is an experience from another world. Every passionate photographer should try this, not just once, but constantly, as part of their workflow. I'm even considering investing in a good (but still domestic) printer to take this experience to the next level.

    Photo walks

    Photo Walks are a liberating experience. Getting together in a social event whose main purpose is photography is great, and doing it while practicing your art seems perfect to me. On photo walks you get to experience walking the streets safely, with peers who will share with you their vision and their goal for being there with a camera.

    Many great tips have been given to me during these photo walks. I have also tried to help people when I felt I could. 

    Some photo walks conclude at a friendly meeting place where the participants share their shots and ask questions. The ambience at the end of a photo walk is a mix of pride and glory, mixed with a share of wise philosophy.

    I love photo walks that break down into little clans or groups. As photographers we need our space – and sometimes it is huge. But it’s great to share terrain with people who understand and respect your own photographic philosophy.

    So whenever you hear about a local photo walk, give it a shot. You may like it, or not, but it’s definitely an experience worth trying.

    Photo Clubs

    Gathering with a group of photographers can boost your technical and cultural knowledge. Photo clubs have the peculiarity of being formed by photographers with different skills and niche specializations.

    Getting involved with a club can be truly worthwhile because of this. You can get access to other photographers’ workflow and valuable feedback that you’d have a hard time finding in online forums or similar groups.

    Critiquing

    The way in which we showcase our photographs has evolved thanks to the modern dynamics of the internet and Social Media. Sometimes we post images expecting to get valuable feedback, and we just receive lazy comments that in most cases circle around gear. They rarely go beyond "great shot" or something similar.

    The great experience of critiquing goes in both ways, giving and receiving. Getting structured and nurturing critique on hard-won work is extremely satisfying. We need to have an open mind and consider applying the advice that other photographers can offer us in order to improve our skills. Giving valuable feedback and critiquing the work of other photographers is very satisfying as well.

    A great way to get involved with this form of commenting on images – beyond the non-valuable feedback of social media – is through the disciplined platform of 1X.com. You should try it sometime. It’s a great way to get better at photography, and they require you to write 3 well-structured critiques in order to post one image into the pool. It is slow, I know – but what's the rush? Growing in a discipline requires time and patience.

    Teaching others about photography

    Don't be selfish. Try to encourage more people to get involved with photography. When somebody asks for advice, be a good sport and share your knowledge. Sharing is caring.

    Buying photo books

    There is a time when buying gear reaches a certain limit, and you start to invest in something less fragile and full of knowledge and passion. Photo books are the summit for many photographers, and buying these pieces of work will bring you some magnificent photographic thrills. From the smell of the paper to the tones of the printing, and the images that you hardly ever see on the internet, photo books are the best place to seek inspiration (for me, there’s no doubt about it).

    Film

    Film is the king of photographic magnificent experiences. You must try shooting with it. I’ll divide this one into three parts, because each has its own magic:

    • Shooting on film

    You have 36 exposures before you need to change a roll of film. You need to think wisely before pressing the shutter button, you can't change your ISO, and to make things more interesting, you can't see the image after pressing the shutter button. All these elements result in a completely different way of shooting – and believe me, this is the best exercise if you want to improve your good shots/shots taken ratio.

    • Developing film

    To develop film you need to prepare your chemicals, get to the right temperature, follow instructions, and do some exercise with your hands. And don't forget that you need to get the film out of the can in complete darkness and twist the wheel of the development tank. Pretty hard, huh? But totally worth it. The most valuable experience will be when you pull your developed film, after the final rinse, off of the reel. Here’s when you see your images for the first time, in a long strip of 36 exposures. There’s nothing more beautiful than this. It makes me smile all the time (except when I've been sloppy and ruined everything).

    • Making prints

    If that wasn't enough, printing film is even more magical. I don't have as much experience here, but I've done it a couple of times with all the chemicals prepared. Trust me: seeing your image appearing in a positive form on a floating piece of paper is just unbelievable.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Social Skills For More Intimate Photographs


    When we talk about Social Photography, we’re also talking about Street Photography, Documentary Photography, and Photojournalism as well. We have two roads when it comes to Social Photography: we can achieve great images from the distance, or get ourselves closer to people to capture their lives in a more meaningful way. I have heard several photographers say that they don’t take pictures of strangers because they find it disrespectful – and this might be true, especially if you do it in a “spy-like” or “voyeuristic” way. But if you do it in a manner that reflects closeness and even respect for the people, there’s no reason why the work should be called disrespectful.

    Getting up-close, human Social Photographs has more to do with social skills than technical knowledge and fancy gear. I’m talking about getting in touch with the lives of people. We should never forget that we’re always a foreigner in someone else’s life. We may share a culture, but we definitely do not share our lives. Here are some things you can practice to develop a more organic style of social interaction that will result in closer, more intimate photographs of people.

    Try to remain inconspicuous

    This is the moment where flashy gear stands out. When getting close to any social system, large gear makes you easily spottable. People get a little suspicious when an outsider intrudes on their intimacy and daily ambience with a gigantic telephoto lens. Try to get a small camera, or to not even use a camera during your first encounters with your subjects. It’s important to establish regular social contact with people before starting to shoot. Doing it the other way around is just rude, and will result in ordinary pictures that reflect nothing about the human soul.

    Use slang

    This is a tool that has saved me many times. It’s the reason why I have achieved some natural-looking shots, even when I’ve been tagged as an outsider. Speaking the same slang of the people is a tool with a great potential. It’s like a survival trick for the street. It’s just awesome.

    Care about people

    Street Photography can be viewed as voyeuristic, but you need to truly care about the people in front of your lens to reflect a true meaning moment in the frame. Try to not show people in vulnerable situations as well. Images can be manipulative, and the Point of View can have a deep impact on the image’s message. For example, taking photos of homeless people or children from a high angle will make them see more vulnerable than they really are. On the other hand, a low-angle shot will portray  them in a stronger light.

    Talk, and listen

    People have wonderful stories, and sometimes they’re delighted to have somebody to talk with – especially older folks. So talk to people. Listen to their stories, and absorb a piece of their lives by paying attention to what they have to say. Every interaction will positively affect your images.

    Show your passion

    Let's say you have gained people's confidence to enter a very hermetic place. Now you have to talk to them about what you do, and let them know that you do your stuff because of your passion, not for commercial purposes. Many photographers happen to keep little booklets or even postcards of their work with them. Others keep business cards to give to people who have noticed themselves being photographed on the streets. The techniques may vary, but the important thing to bear in mind is that you need to let people know that you have a deep, abiding passion for photography and that you’re doing something with meaning, passion, and importance.

    Know about local news and the history

    Getting close to certain communities or people requires homework. Keep yourself up to date on the news inside a city or a town. This is great advice for travelers who love to do social photography. You’re going to be spotted as a foreigner (sorry, but it’s true). Still, you can get a bit closer to the locals by keeping yourself informed about things that are happening in the town. You can get quick updates from cab drivers. They’re like encyclopedias. It’s amazing how much you can learn from them before arriving at a destination.

    Respect foreign cultures and religions

    What makes foreign cultures so interesting is that they are completely different from yours. But you always have to be humble, and remember that you’re a foreigner, an outsider, a visitor. You need to treat people, cultures and religions with respect if you want to keep your relations nice and smooth with the locals. If you’re an open-minded person, you need to respect hermetic, more conservative cultures. If you’re old-fashioned and square, you need to respect open-minded cultures.

    Blend in

    This is a great trick when travelling. Try to blend in with the crowd by using regular clothes. You can never go wrong with this. Being in a crowd in winter dressed in heavy black clothes is not the same as being at the beach in the same type of clothes. The example is ridiculous, but you get the idea.

    The good thing about these tips is that they work when you travel to foreign places, when you’re on a photojournalistic assignment, even when you’re wandering the streets of your city or town. The important thing about Social Photography is to produce images with meaning and elements of great storytelling.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • 9 Things To Consider For Building A Sustainable Photography Business


    Unless you are working for an agency, you'll end up becoming a one-man army when your photography skills turn into acquisitionable product. There has been a lot been said about turning photography into a business, and this is just my two cents here.

    Define your Rate because everything has a Price

    Let's say that you have already defined your own style thanks to the melting pot of inspirations your life has stumbled into. Now, there has come the time to decide how much you need to charge for your time. I say time, because defining an hourly rate, is the best way of making a fair and consistent math for pricing your work.

    That sounds cool, but, where do you get the first number to start creating an hourly rate? Let's say you have a day job, now imagine that you'll be skipping one day, to work on a shoot (this time will include shooting and editing, so maybe 8 to 12 hours.) If you make $X.00 an hour on your day job, you can charge $X.00 times 2, since you'll be putting aside some responsibilities of your day job. Also you need to add some fees for gasoline, light, internet, and other stuff. If you calculate a rate that wisely includes all the things you spend in when working, you’ll have a less risky rate. This is one way of doing it. You can also state your price in packages comparing yourself to the competition, but I consider the hourly rate is much financially healthier.

    This video is a great source of wisdom when it comes about pricing structure.

    You are not just a Photographer

    When getting involved with the world of business, you start to understand that you are not just a photographer, but also the CEO of a small firm starting to bloom. You'll have to find solutions to financials, legal, and marketing stuff. If you don't find the sweet spot between having those things (and many others) in control, you're photography, will be significantly affected due to stress and many other things.

    Consider renting before buying

    Gear is great, no doubt about it, but do you really need that Tilt-Shift Lens? Or do you really need that 50 megapixel sensor for all your shots? Of course not. Be smart, and work with the assets of others. There are a lot of companies leasing or renting equipment as their most solid business model. Only buy things that you'll be willing to use every single time, like a high quality tripod, or a very good bag/case for your gear. This will let you perceive faster revenues.

    Define a Workflow

    In the world of photography, it's very likely that you have had encountered with a term known as "Workflow". But I know, is hard to find a guide that really explains workflow in its essence. I have concluded that this has a reason, and it’s simple, workflows reflect the personal method of a Photographer of doing their stuff.

    It may vary in scope, but at the end, is just a personal standardized way of doing things, in which you can repeat certain procedures to maximize your resources. The good thing behind a solid workflow is that you'll eventually do certain things that have little to do with creativity, in a very mechanical form. This will allow you to use your time in a more efficient way.

    Your Workflow will eventually become more agile, and even leaner, but only time and practice will tell you what things can be improved and which are not yet able to be improved in your own workflow. Think your workflow as a recipe; filled with step by step tasks that you do in order to showcase a splendid picture in your portfolio, and you’ll be able to see it more clearly.

    Invest in community management instead of cracking your head

    I think many photographers are trying to keep up with Social Media in a very exhausting way. Let's create a sustainable environment for other creative as well, and let our minds focus on making pictures, instead of juggling between marketing theories and trends. Many of us don't have the marketing skills, knowledge, or even the energy to do digital marketing the way it needs to be done to create strong impact and drag.

    Thanks to freelance platforms, we can hire great talent to rely on, and the impact will be better because they know better what they are doing. I have always believed, that there is a very poor pressure applied to something when you try to reach to much, on the opposite, you can get a better grip by applying enough pressure to a smaller area.

    Show a consistent Portfolio

    Portfolio is the most valuable asset of a photographer. Showing a consistent Portfolio, will be perceived as a solid niche oriented photography business. Here are some notable niches of photography:

    • Aerial Photography
    • Architectural Photography
    • Candid Photography
    • Close-Up/Macro Photography
    • Conceptual/Fine Art Photography
    • Documentary Photography
    • Fashion Photography
    • Food Photography
    • Landscape Photography
    • Night/Long Exposure Photography
    • Photojournalism
    • Sport Photography
    • Street Photography
    • War Photography

    Invest in Promotion and website

    You'll find a great deal after working with intelligent social media strategies, to always keep a budget for promoting your business through Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Consider a monthly fee of a percentage of your total income in order to maintain sustainability.

    Also you’ll find that a fan page is not the most professional way to go, so you can invest in a proper web site that will help you showcasing your portfolio in a clean and attractive way.

    Keep the numbers in order

    Unfortunately, accounting is important in every business, no matter it size. And with photography, as well as the digital marketing scenario, it is important to find a solution, because we are not going to start to learn about proper accounting skills now. Try to keep all your accounting centralized through cloud accounting software. There are great solutions out there. You just need to try them until you find the one that fits your needs.

    Model and Property Release Forms

    Cover your backs with the proper release forms. Here you can find a great source for all sort of forms templates that will define the proper scope of usage of your images. 

    Originally Published at The Amazing Pics

    READ MORE
  • The Road For Amateur Photographers To Improve Their Skills


    "We all've been beginners, we all've been amateurs."

    Anonymous

    Photography is one of those disciplines that come with a great road to endure, and by embracing it, you can help define your own voice. We all have been worried at some point of our career about defining that particular style in Photography that can be so tangible, that it will be easy for the crowd to recognize one of your images without looking at its caption.

    Improving skills is really important for all those committed amateur photographers that are passionate about getting better as time goes by. I think the adjective “amateur” has an underestimated look thanks to its counterpart word “professional”. Let’s define first what is professional and what is amateur. The dilemma is easy to solve, any Professional Photographer is anybody that makes its most significant monthly income thanks to Photography. And a respectable Amateur Photographer is anybody who is passionate and disciplined about photography. The definition of the word Amateur is simple: "any person who engages in a pursuit, on an unpaid basis." Covered that, let’s talk about the simple roadmap we all have to follow in order to improve our skills.

    Learn about Further Rule of Thirds Composition

    Composition is definitely one of the most important elements in photography. It is indeed the most tangible asset in photography if you like. Composition is demanded by the readers' eyes, and is the photographer who decides, how and which of the elements are inside one shot. The rule of thirds is indeed important in Photography, but is not the only road to take aesthetically composed pictures. Let's talk about other concepts in the broad family of Composition:

    • Line: There are horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines that can be used to enhance the compositional character of an image. Further from these physical and strong lines, there are organic and implied lines as well. Organic lines are those created by nature, and implied lines are those that we as readers can feel on an image, like those we feel between two subjects looking at each other.
    • Forms: Forms can be hard to include in composition, because they require a deeper level of technical mastery. This happens because forms can travel in between the abstract and the objective. The level of abstraction in a form can be achieved with exposure variables like aperture and shutter speed.
    • Simplification: Simplification requires minimizing the amount of elements in a frame, to its minimum valuable expression. By doing this, you will be able to leave the right amount of elements, resulting in a richer message with less distractions in it.
    • Rhythm: In chaos you find complexity, and inside simplicity lives tranquility. Rhythm is defined by symmetry and patterns in the composition.
    • Negative Space: Let's not be afraid of negative space. This can be a great balance in the composition, and it helps empathizing the real message of the image.
    • Rule of Odds: Groups of 3 or 5 elements are more interesting compositions than those with groups of 2 or 4 elements. This might be subjective, but I really think it can help creating balance in compositions.
    • Rule of Space: This peculiar rule refers to a subject juxtaposed with a negative space, and when done right, it can really level up the visual quality of your images' messages.
    • Sub-framing: Sub framing is simply taking an object or subject in your image and framing it with lines within the composition is just like having a picture in a picture.

    Select your future “all-time favorite” Masters

    In our modern times full of immediacy and endless rivers of photographs upload to the social media, we need some quality break. Look the Master's work. The great Masters may be loved or hated; but their legacy is something that we should constantly embrace as our best source of learning. Invest in books instead of gear, and the reason why is because many images of the Great Masters are just found on Photo Books, and even if they can be all found, there is a great sense of Contemplation when looking images in a physical way instead of the monitor’s screen.

    If you are lacking of knowledge, you can refer to Magnum for great Social Documentary Photographers to find a handful of your next favorite photographers:

     https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographers/

    After doing so, study them as your best source of constant learning.

    Learn about RAW Development

    Developing for me is like the 50% and shooting is the other 50% of the whole photograph. RAW development is considered a non-destructive way of treating files. And it is also the equivalent of the dark room processing. Have fun with the development; build your own voice thanks to the richness you can achieve when developing with the same passion you took those pictures with.

    Define a Workflow

    Workflow is something you’ll eventually hear when walking the road of Photography. There is no exact recipe for creating or defining this. So, you must define it scope for yourselves, and it is simple to define. You just need to contemplate the whole amount of tasks you do on average from the moment you plan a photo, to the final deployment of the image. This will allow you to standardize non-creative tasks, so you can focus your energy on the real creative tasks.

    Commit to Reduced Equipment and Practice

    By reducing your equipment to less gear, you’ll position yourself into challenges that will demand creative solutions.

    These are just elements that I consider to be important when it comes to improve the current skills of any Passionate Amateur Photographer. You can embrace them all or just one, but whatever you do, practice, practice and practice. Always carry a camera with you. Don't underestimate your phone; it can be a very powerful camera too. Be prepared to be amazed by the vernacular and “everyday” aspects in life, so you can be always extremely sensitive to moments that deserve to be captured and recorded for posterity. Forget about the new brand new gear, and embrace your current gear as the most powerful tool in your hands.

    READ MORE
  • How To Restrain Yourself In Order To Achieve Better Images


    Restraining yourselves from shooting anything, will create a discipline that will impact on the quality of your work. We are not saying to shoot less, because that will go against the best principle of photography that is constant practice, but with more meaning.

    Shoot film

    Shooting film is an experience really worth learning, understanding, and practicing it from time to time. Personally I found many incredible benefits when I widen my photographic scope by learning how to shoot and develop film. It all started after watching a movie called "The Bang Bang Club". After that I felt the deep need for shooting with a SLR, not a DSLR (at least for a while). Unfortunately, my country has a very limited offer when it comes to gear (both digital and analog), so it was hard to find the camera, and it was harder to find film, but I managed shoot. After a while shooting with my beloved Pentax Super ME, I felt the need of getting further, and learn to develop film. A friend of mine taught me the process, and I created a little darkroom with developing tank and chemicals.

    Shooting film is a great school for easing the crazy finger illness. Since you have only 36 exposures, at $5.65 each roll of decent black and white film plus almost $10.00 in chemicals, your resources really come to a short. Each frame requires a deeper thinking.

    There are a lot of magical stages in the workflow of shooting film:

    • Due to no screen, you don't chimp.
    • You tend to forget a little bit about the whole images taken if you shoot a roll in a long period of time.
    • The first look at your negatives coming out of the developing reel after rinse, is just priceless; I can't describe this feeling, you need to try it for yourselves.
    • Positive images appearing in the chemical soaked paper under the red light, is also priceless.

    I have had the opportunity of printing some negatives, and I hope someday I'll have the complete set of tools required for printing.

    By shooting film, you'll eventually develop a certain level of "economy of shooting", which will positively effect on your digital shooting.

    Don't chimp

    Chimping is the slang used to refer to that peculiar action of looking at our camera's LCD screen after every shot made. Learn to anticipate the results by the exposure levels, trust your skills, and learn from the mistakes while looking at your pictures on the computer.

    Each stage in the photographic workflow needs the proper respect, and shooting is one specific moment, and deciding the potential of the image is another moment. Each of them require the proper "aura" if you want to see this in a metaphysical form.

    You can turn your LCD off, or close it if flips. Or you can take yourselves even further with this bad boy, just kidding.

    Don't shoot in machine gun mode

    Technology has evolved into a magnificent state, there is no doubt about it. But sometimes the easiness and the comfortableness of the tools, can make us a bit lazy. Avoid using burst mode shooting, unless it is extremely necessary. Just avoid using it when a single, well felt shot, can do the job splendidly. Burst mode can led to make us eye lazy, and instead of pursuing the "decisive moment", when end up capturing the whole moment in 20 frames.

    Avoid uploading immediately

    Social media has changed our world, and the benefits of immediacy are great when we are seeking "live" information on specific happenings around the globe. But when it comes to fine art photography, immediate uploading of freshly captured pictures may not be the smartest move. You need to let your images breathe into your consciousness. If you establish an uploading bar, criteria, or discipline, and you respect it, you will deliver top quality images to your various audiences.

    Try to create almost all the image in camera

    A well done picture in terms of exposure, and composition image (focus is something that can be mimicked, but not truly enhanced) you will be achieving fewer images, with better results. Please, don't be lazy and think as post-production as the solution to all your images. Post-production is a separate process that depends on a well taken image. The goal with post-production is to give the image your personal voice, not to correct a ton of mistakes.

    Don't embrace the 365 days projects

    Many people have embraced 365 projects. And there are three roads to achieve here. The first one is the ideal, to capture 365 magnificent images, which is absolutely hard. The second one, is that you will capture sloppy images in order to keep posting daily. And the last but not least, you'll feel discouraged, and you will leave the project behind.

    365 projects push you to take images daily, which is good for practicing, but let's face, it is going to be pretty hard to achieve amazing shots daily. You can practice daily, but the exercise of practicing is to enhance your technique in order to achieve better results in the future, not to present draft works to your the audience.

    Use small SD cards

    The same as rolls of film, if you have a small capacity for capturing images, you'll be pushing yourself to take better images. Try to stick to fast 8GB SD cards instead of the humongous 128GB SD cards. It will also be a great benefit when considering risks of electronic failure on your memory cards as well.

    These are just some tips that I humbly share with you, with the intention to inspire you in getting better quality images that you'll feel proud about, and most important, that will have real deep meaning. The key here is to practice daily, and to think about the message, and feel the moment, before and in the fraction of the second your shutter button pressing lasts. 

    READ MORE
  • 7 Inspirational Black and White Photographs


    Harold Feinstein - Coney Island Teenagers - 1949

    Since the first time I saw this image, I felt completely moved by it. I don't know much of the context of the picture, but all I can think, is about the Beatniks. The image was taken at Coney Island in 1949, the hometown of Harold Feinstein, and it might look like a snapshot, but is not. It is a candid portrait taken to strangers. It's amazing sharpness, and its beautiful naturality, is what makes the image for me.

    Even though there is a very crowded scene, the attention goes directly to the girl in the scene, and then it makes a smooth spin round through the whole image. For me she is the marker that tells us an approximate about the moment in time this picture was made. The image is composed with deep aesthetics, and a very pleasing point of view, that ironically, makes the image really natural. The girl, the smiling young man, the singer, the man functioning as a pillow, and the guys hugging at the back. The whole scene makes me smile.

    Garry Winogrand - Central Park Zoo New York - 1967

    It is no secret that this image touched various nerves in society (from both sides of the political context in terms of racism in the 60's). For me, the image is a complete masterpiece of street photography, were very little is under the photographer's control. We have a very elegant couple, which had definitely raised some looks from the crowd on those days, holding a pair of monkeys dressed as children.

    The image is great, and for me, the best things about its composition are the following:

    • The chimpanzees dressed and also with amazingly human gestures, looking with discontent to the viewer, that is watching them.
    • The notorious shadow of Garry Winogrand shows extreme proximity, which is something I personally love in street photography.
    • The crowd at the background minding their own business.
    • The kid at the right corner has something very similar with the monkeys.
    • The elegance of both woman and man in the shot.

    There are also more shots of this scene, and it is worth the effort in order to find them.

    Sally Mann - Candy Cigarette - 1992

    Sally Mann body of work is splendid for me, because she has taken family intimacy to the most sublime state one could possibly imagine. She has portrayed her family since her early work, and this portrait for me is amazing thanks to the strong character portrayed by her daughter holding the candy cigarette. Then, our eyes got catched by her second daughter with an authoritarian gesture looking at the back, to Sally Mann's son on top of some sort of stilts.

    When a photograph has been composed with the "rule of odds", there is an appealing aesthetic in the image, and even though the picture was taken with square format, thanks to the three subjects, and the obvious point of interest, the image doesn't feel caged at all. I just love this image.

    Josef Koudelka - Prague, August 1968

    This is one of my favorite images taken in Black and White format. It can be defined as very simple, but thanks to its symbolism, it is absolutely powerful. He took this image at the exact moment Prague was invaded by the Warsaw Pact military forces. The watch is the perfect evidence of the moment in time this tragic happening occurred. The lone streets behind this foreground object, give us big idea of the general feeling of the city at that time. The small portion of the sky, enhances the feeling of the oppression about to come to Prague.

    Henri Cartier Bresson - Rue Mouffetard, Paris - 1954

    The great Master of Street Photography has a vast numerous of iconic pictures that have inspired many others into various disciplines of Art. For me, this picture, showing an undoubtedly happy and proud boy carrying two bottles of wine, is an splendid masterpiece of Photography.

    The joyful expression of the kid, walking next to a building in a street of Paris, is absolutely priceless. The kid is the foreground interest of the image, and at the background we have two layers of happenings. The first, a couple of girls, almost like celebrating the kids attitude, and at the furthest, an old lady coming down the street.

    He created the concept of the decisive moment, and there has been a lot said about this particular topic of Street Photography, and for me, this image summarizes the whole thing.

    Hans Gutmann - Marina Ginestà - 1936

    The photographer of this beautiful portrait, is not much of a famous as the others, and is just the evidence that great images can come from anywhere. The girl in the picture is Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, and her portrait still transmits that indefinable passion of youth, in just one frame.

    Arnold Newman - Stravinsky in New York - 1946

    The original shot taken by Arnold Newman, portrays a serene Stravinsky ling close to a piano in front of a two shaded wall. The famous crop shows an innovative, bold and minimalistic approach, juxtaposing a serene portrait, with a massive negative double negative space of the wall and the upper door of the piano in flat black. The curious thing about the crop, is that it emphasizes a notorious triangle in the composition, as well as a metaphor of music, thanks to the shape of the piano's door.

    I want to reduce this to the most important essence of Black and White photography for me. Nowadays, we have the choice of having final images in both color, and monochrome, in fact, the color version is native in cameras, and black and white is a procedure achieved in post-production. 

    Originally Published at The Amazing Pics

    READ MORE
  • People in Landscapes


    It never ends to amuse me how simple ingredients can create such a deep impact no matter the creative discipline. This applies in cuisine, music, film, photography, and pretty much any creative field. If we talk about reducing photographic assets, landscapes are just special. They can be produced with such little elements, and still result in rich and wonderful images. We can reduce the gear to the camera, a wide lens, a tripod and some filters, and the results will be stunning with the proper scouting and dedication.

    You definitely can't go wrong with an energetic scouting; a very well thought hyper focal length, a miraculous ND filter that will aid you capture time as never seen before and a wide angle lens. But what if the scouting doesn't bloom in a Garden of Eden or something that will cause Ansel Adams to smile with deep joy? Do you stop shooting? Well, not exactly.

    What if I tell you that you could achieve great stories by including human beings or even manmade objects in your landscapes? That sounds a little bit ironical right? But no. Our beloved modern times filled with immediacy and multitasking maneuvers, could impact in the time dedicated to scout our precious landscapes. Do you stop shooting them just because you don't find that glorious spot in the nature? Nope, you manage to capture a story, with a little help of Social Photography, this means, by including people in them.

    Landscape Photography has been widely recognized for showing realist approaches of spaces within the world. The amounts of subjects to photograph are vast, and they typically show nature at its most glorious stage thanks to wide angle optics. But sometimes, these magnificent locations of nature, may be enhanced, or even twisted thanks to the presence of human beings and manmade objects.

    The first image considered as "Street Photography" or photography with a social approach, was taken between 1838 and 1839 by Louis Daguerre, and it's humbly called the Boulevard du Temple. The image was a typical long exposure of a city scape, but thanks to a still man that didn't moved for quite a long time while his shoes were being polished, the exposure captured his figure. The figure is not sharp due to normal motion, but still the figure is completely understandable as a human being.

    The most notorious aspect of landscapes with human beings is the scale between the vastness of nature, and the humble size of the subjects in it. It is curious that even the smallest portion of a picture depicting a human-like figure, will instantaneously be recognized as such. Of course there can be different approaches by showing foreground interest in a human being, but thanks to the concept of landscape photography, such an image could end up being catalogued as a portrait instead of a landscape.

    Landscapes can include manmade objects as well. Objects like light posts, signs, railroads, or houses can work pretty swell. We know that the material presence of these objects in nature, have obvious human connotations, and they can work great for telling a story as well.

    Some time ago I read a comment made to a picture (I'm sorry I don't remember the source) that suggested the photographer to clone certain portions of the image. He suggested the photographer to delete some high tension electric cables and a tower in the landscape since they “distracted” him. The photographer answered with a very humble approach stating that this manmade objects were part of reality, and they served to give a hint about a moment in time, and that the landscape will possible change in the future thanks to human beings. A really responsible approach indeed.

    We as human beings are explorers by nature, and there is hardly a place that has had zero interaction with human beings, but the majority of the ocean’s body. This is a fact that we don’t need to elude or neglect; and placing a human being, whether it is candid or posed in a landscape, really tells a deep message about our exploring nature indeed.

    This image is quite simple. I’m a social photographer, and landscapes are definitely not my strength when it comes to pressing the shutter button. But even though, I love to watch them, and this time I went for it. This shot was taken from a restaurant on top of a cliff, and I think that the image tells the message about scale stated before. And I also think that the image without the person, would have been a mere snapshot; with very little content. The atmosphere of the beach was very humid, as well as salty. The person is walking with such serenity in the middle of the rocky beach, that it makes the shot interesting. If you look at the further background, you can see other people walking too, but the main subject, even though it occupies such a small portion of the shot, is completely obvious.

    Either landscapes or social photography can be twisted a little bit by juxtaposing the main subject of one with the main character of the other. Landscapes with small human elements, or far away people captured candidly in a vast nature or urban context. I invite you to experiment with this by giving your landscapes a different approach, or your social photographs as well. I know that we as Landscape Photographers may be a bit of loners; and we rarely invite people to our scouts, and even less to pose in front of our lenses. You can try by asking locals or tourists to walk into the distance, or just go with the candid approach as well. I guarantee that you’ll have a very satisfying experience in terms of photography.

    Specializing in a niche or a style is crucial for the photographic success, but sometimes we need to boost our creativity; and getting away from our comfort zones is strictly necessary. Almost by accident, I and my colleague Federico have found this in an almost ying-yang style thing. He shoots majorly social photographs, and encountered the opportunity of telling a much interesting story thanks to landscape, and I, have seen the storytelling potential of including this human punctum to some of my landscapes.

    Originally Published at Iceland En Route

    READ MORE
  • Work of Cinematographers Every Photographer Should Watch


    Image by Robertlischka

     

    Why should we be learning from directors of photography or cinematographers from the film industry? Simple: because they are in charge of all the camera crews behind film and television productions. Like photography, this industry has evolved into an industry delivering very high quality products to its audience. They are the people responsible for making all the artistic and technical decisions in relation to the film image itself. They are in charge of selecting the cameras, the film, the lenses, and the filters as well, so they have a great amount of creative responsibility on their shoulders. The film industry is very structured when it comes to hierarchy, and the director of photography has a very high rank when it comes to doing the job.

    Emmanuel Lubezki (1964–present)

    This guy is a genius, no doubt about it. He has won three Academy Awards in a row. The first was for "Gravity" (he almost shot the thing without gravity), the second was for "Birdman" (which has a beautiful non-stop scene that truly makes the viewer part of the movie, like watching a theatrical performance), and last but not least, for "Revenant" (he shot the movie only with natural available light). The style of "El Chivo" is great. He loves to shoot with wide angle lenses and has a thing for shooting in motion.

    You can see this reel (https://vimeo.com/99452979), which shows the cinematographic style of Lubezki. There are a lot of things many photographers, especially photojournalists, can learn from his close to the subject wide angle vision.

    Lubezki was in charge of the cinematography of "Children of Men", and for me it is the greatest example of that photojournalistic feeling many social documentary photojournalists can learn from. The movie has very long one-shot scenes, with a point of view that locates the viewer in the center of the action. His talent for locating the viewer in the middle of the action is something we all should honor and humbly learn from.

    Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997)

    This multifaceted photographer worked for Mexican Cinema and Hollywood. His contribution to the art industry included:

    • Camera Operation
    • Cinematography in Black and White
    • Cinematography in Color
    • Light Direction
    • Still Photography

    Since his contribution was so vast and rich, I'll only talk about some great aspects of three movies that were directed by the great Luis Buñuel with Figueroa's cinematography.

    • The Exterminating Angel (1962): Great use of focals and frame compositions to get the audience psychologically involved with the drama.
    • The Young and the Damned (1950): Great use of long sequences to follow the sad story that unfolds in the 80 minutes of the film.
    • Simon of the Desert (1965): Amazing use of color contrast to enhance skies and lights at the most striking moments of this surrealist film.

    He was great at enhancing contrast and drama in complicated situations, like in surrealist plots, by having a great control over focals, lights, and shots.

    Luca Bigazzi (1958–present)

    The first thing I noticed when starting to watch Paolo Sorentino's "La Grande Belleza" was the great photography in it. It introduces the viewer into a banal world with such great genius that there is nothing more to say about it.

    Bigazzi has the ability to slow or shift the pace of the film with his compositions and his subject-tracking movements in the films.

    We should all learn from this guy when it comes to innovative points of view that are not harsh or forced. The great achievement that I personally find in his cinematography is the fact that even though he has very peculiar and innovative points of view sometimes, the humble and human sense inside the film is not lost a bit.

    The thing about Luca Bigazzi is that he can work with so many points of view that it doesn't matter if there is a zenithal plane, or a detail plane. Many of his frames have the ability to stick in your mind like nothing else.

    Please, watch this two movies:

    • La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)
    • La Giovinezza (Youth)

    Robert Yeoman (1951–present)

    Wes Anderson has a thing for symmetry, and the silent man behind the beautiful and symmetrical planes in his movies is Robert Yeoman. Symmetry is a very ugly word in the world of composition because we have been taught that we must follow the rules of composition in order to achieve great images, but this guy really knows how to break those rules. The beautiful symmetry and composition of his work is something memorable, and a great subject to study as well.

    And if you love this type of compositions as I do, I recommend taking your research a little bit further: watch the movies of Sergei Parajanov (who worked with many cinematographers, like Viktor Bestayev, Yuri Ilyenko, and Suren Shakhbazya).

    Chung-hoon Chung (1970–present)

    The first time I encountered the amazing photography of Chung-hoon Chung was with a movie called "Stoker" (not to be confused with Andrei Tarkovsky's masterpiece titled "Stalker"). The thing about Chung-hoon Chung is the great ability he has for using his photography and cinematography to enhance the psychological aspect of the movies that he puts his hands on. If you are a person who has a great passion for twisted concepts in your photographs, this fella is a great master to study.

    This is just a little list based on my limited knowledge of the film industry. I just love to watch movies, and as a photographer, I found that other art streams are great for enhancing my own personal world vision. Enjoy the movies, but don't relax too much: think about the photographic decisions the cinematographer has made in the key scenes of the movies. In photography, many people can shoot the same subject and the results will be different in accordance with every peculiar point of view and decision behind the shutter button. Cinematography is the same: every cinematographer has his own style, and it's amazing how many movies you consider personal favorites (in line with your taste) will turn out to be related when you discover the names behind the billboard ad.

     
    READ MORE
  • About Jonathan Bachman’s Image “The Baton Rouge Protester”


    Jonathan Bachman - The Baton Rouge Protester

     

    Some days after the image went live, we can draw some conclusions about the importance of the photograph itself.

    Protestor Ieshia Evans is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department on July 9. Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    Protestor Ieshia Evans is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department on July 9. Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
     
    About the Image

    The image is clean and poetic. It has been also described as theatrical, particularly in the comment streams of several online media outlets. The image’s composition is very eloquent, giving an balanced picture in terms of physical weight. Even though that symmetry is obvious, we still find an intriguing leverage at the end. The absolute serenity of Ieshia Evans, waiting, still, with her eyes closed, to be detained by two police officers illustrates the antithesis of vulnerability. It is completely moving and compelling. This is the main striking subject-plot of the image, but almost immediately we can see a wall of the same invulnerable law enforcers, in contrast to the empty space at Ieshia’s back. And there is also a sub-plot cooking at the background. In the still-visible far background, we see many people intrigued by what is happening. 

    Important elements in the image

    Let's break down the image a bit.

    -   Two against one

    The Baton Rouge Protester - Jonathan Bachman - 01

    The heavily armored suits of the officers are very intimidating, for sure. And it's the way it should be, since it's a national security thing when it comes to riots. Still, they contrast tremendously with her light dress, delicately lifted by the wind. And if that isn’t enough, there are two officers about to arrest her, not to mention the whole battalion at the left of the picture.

    -   People in the rear distance

    The Baton Rouge Protester - Jonathan Bachman - 02

    All the people look far off, like they are not getting involved, but we don't know this for sure. We can spot some media types and particular people who are moved by the scene and trying to capture what they can from where they are. People are keeping their distance, but they know something compelling is happening.

    -   Urbanscape

    The urbanscape tells us about location and the moment in history, which will be helpful in the future if the image achieves the grade of “iconic”. Pictures become iconic because of the reactions they evoke and their spread through media, as demanded by people. There might be an anthropological or social algorithm to determine whether an image will achieve “iconic” status, but at this moment in time, the image has been seen by much of the world's population, which is important for a message that must be conveyed in a single image.

    -   The serenity of Ieshia

    The Baton Rouge Protester - Jonathan Bachman - 03

    This is the most fascinating part of the image – the serene, calm, strong and confident attitude of Ieshia. She didn’t need a challenging stance to appear completely defiant in the face of the law enforcers. It is almost like she was meditating in peace.

    –   The expression on the officers’ faces

    The Baton Rouge Protester - Jonathan Bachman - 04

    The officers have an expression as well, one which is the complete opposite of Ieshia’s tranquil expression.

    -   The colors

    The image has a great color palette, as if it were planned using a color script. This is very important, because it doesn’t bother the viewer with banal distractions; the message punches without losing its strength.

    -   The Motion

    The image was obviously shot at a fast shutter speed, but we still can feel the dynamism and the motion of the moment. We know what is going to happen; we anticipate the clash that’s going to occur in the next still.

    About the Context

    A series of murders classified as police brutality in the last week has created an atmosphere of collective social indignation in the United States. This photo captures the moment before the arrest of a protester that has been defined as "peaceful" and "unthreatening". The context of the image is important because it summarizes the way people see police brutality worldwide; it’s a strong statement about how regular civilians do not pose a threat that is deserving of death.

    The comparisons on the internet

    There’s been a rush to define this fantastic and bloodless image as “iconic”. And there has been much noise from the public, comparing it to the following images:

    -   Tank Man - Jeff Widener - 1989

    The first thing said by many on the internet was that this image recalls another event that happened on June 4th, when a still-unknown Chinese protester stood in front of a forbidding column of tanks. The contrast between a single man versus a series of tanks is ridiculous, and the image shocked the world.

    -   Flower Child - Marc Riboud - 1967

    A more accurate resemblance is the image taken by French photographer Marc Riboud at The Pentagon on October 21, 1967, which shows the early beginnings of the antiwar movement of the time. This image acted as an icon because of the eerie juxtaposition of a young girl offering a flower to a group of soldiers with their rifles in threatening positions. She got to speak with the soldiers, and they lowered their guns. Things ended peacefully for the girl, unlike the arrest of Ieshia and many others that day.

    -   The Immolation of Thích Quảng Đức - Malcolm Browne - 1963

    Somebody mentioned this photograph, which still leaves me speechless. The only thing I can agree in terms of its similarity to the Ieshia shot is that conveys a certain serenity, even if Ieshia’s is just a small and beautiful sprout compared to the image of Thích Quảng Đức’s self-immolation.

    Conclusion

    Before claiming that something is iconic, the world must take its time. I think is still too soon to proclaim the Ieshia image as iconic, but is still very important indeed because it summarizes a chain of events that has been worrying the world’s population, even beyond the United States.

    For an image to penetrate our mind – at time when the immediacy of social networks is king – is no small feat. Therefore, it is worth meditating on its significance.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Workflow in Photography


    In the world of photography, it's highly possible that you have had encountered with the term known as "Workflow". It's pretty hard though, to find a guide in many photography resources (web, books, forums, videos, etc.) that really explain workflow in its essence. But I have concluded that this has a reason, and it’s simple, workflow reflects the personal way of a Photographer of doing their stuff. It may vary in scope, but at the end, is just a personal standardized way of doing things, in which you can repeat certain procedures to maximize your resources. At first I was willing to find a graphical way of getting to define a workflow in the web, but I simply couldn’t get something that satisfied me. My mistake was that I was willing to find a step by step guide on a book or any resource that could help me get into making my own workflow, but this was not going to happen as I wanted it to be. For me Workflow is this "the standard way of doing things, with the capability of repeating it in cycles in a period of time." This is when the scope mentioned before comes into play, at the end you are going to define a workflow from its beginning to its end, based on the way you have being doing this since some amount of time, and also from learning from your mistakes.
     
    There are a lot of benefits on doing this, and it’s definitely not overrated. The most iconic of this benefits, it's the time you can maximize by creating this organized structure. You are going to stop mumbling with a lot of trivial stuff, and you are going to be capable of focusing in the things that matter the most in Photography, making Photographs. There are a lot of times in which you are working against the clock, because of your own will in personal projects, or just because you have a deadline set by a client. You can apply this also to deliveries in which you are involved with a collective, and it’s important to have a good time of response with your crew. There is also a way of getting back to a certain image and determine what specific adjustments you had made to the image by going backwards, this in Quality is called traceability. It also helps to get a certain level of automation of a lot of elements that are involved in the final product you are going to deliver or present. Thanks to this automation, you will focus in things that have more weight when talking about creativity. By having a personal structured way of doing your things, you'll also be able to "define your style", but this is a topic for another day.
     
    When defining our workflow, we have to be very clear about what we must include and what we must not include in its scope. The best way of putting a little pause in certain automations of a workflow, is when we encourage ourselves to drift into a new project. Traveling into a new project can be thrilling, and can be very rewarding thanks to the boost of creativity you are going to experience when trying different and new stuff. The prime objective of doing something new, is to get ourselves out of the comfort zone because it will allow us to learn new things and stuff. By marking up certain procedures in your workflow, you'll be able to determine when you can get creative. For example, a new way of developing a RAW file. 
     
    I recommend to make certain revisions on your personal workflows, because they tend to evolve. I do this revision every six months. In the road of continuous improvement there is always things in which you can make things better. The reason why I do this in a regular six months basis, is because I think that in that period of time, I can reach a point in which I have embedded certain actions into my own way of developing the Workflow. You can have different workflows as well, for different medium (digital and analogue film). Or depending on the discipline (Documentary, architectonical, social photography, macrophotography, nature, commercial, nudes, still-life, etc.)
     
    There are certain elements that are very important to keep in mind when structuring a Workflow. I tend to consider this as fundamentals:
     
    Kind of photography
     
    I think that each specialty of photography might need singular workflows.
     
    Check List
     
    This action is really important, and it should be pinned in the first steps of the flow. A check list can include:
     
    - Batteries
    - Empty SD cards
    - Lenses to use in the field
    - Lighting
    - Accessories
    - Cables
    - Contracts
    - Permissions or Credentials
    - Equipment
     
    It is important to keep in mind the photographic equipment
     
    - Back Up of the files
     
    There is always not enough back-up and this should be a crucial element in the workflow.
     
    This is just my personal approach to Workflow, but at the end you will elaborate the one that suits your needs.
    READ MORE
  • Great Movies About Photography


    The passion around photography can be triggered by many sources available in life. One such source is the great stories about other photographers. The most visual form to get in touch with a story is with the wonderful world of film. Thanks to movies and documentaries, we can get in touch with the life and intimacy behind great photographers. I want to talk here about six movies that I consider to be great.

    The Bang Bang Club

    This wonderful movie is pretty different from the book of the same title, which is great too, but let's focus on the movie. The story is very straightforward and it narrates how Greg Marinovich got involved with a particular group of photojournalists in South Africa during the end of the apartheid. The group was formed by João Silva, Kevin Carter, and Ken Oosterbroek. This might be a little spoiler, but after this involvement, the story addresses how Greg Marinovich and Kevin Carter both earned Pulitzer prizes with various photographs. It also covers how political interests and social scrutiny can lead photojournalists to despair and conflicts. This was a very special movie for me because it led me to learn more about film photography. I was in a very dry time of inspiration, and my involvement with film photography, thanks to this movie, aided me in becoming more conscious when pressing the shutter button. Film photography has a great quantity of values.

    Blow Up

    There are two valuable facts about this fantastic movie directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. The first is the great cinematography in the hands of Carlo di Palma, and the other is the mysterious story behind the main character, who is a photographer.

    There has been a lot discussed and written about this fantastic film, but I'll stick to the obvious. The story relates the internal conflict of a very talented fashion photographer of the late 60's, who felt bored in the middle of a session and went out to wander the streets. He went to a park to take some pictures of obviously non-fashion related subjects, and after a while, he encountered a couple who he eventually photographed. The couple were very stressed out about the pictures, and there were some theories behind the reason for this behavior. After developing the film and making some prints, the photographer became intrigued about a strange patch on one of the pictures and he decided to unveil the mystery.

    The great thing about this movie is that it states something that has been taken from granted, and is the fact that photography can be a very useful tool for fashion but also for criminology.

     

    Finding Vivian Maier

    Vivian Maier has become very well-known these days thanks to her wonderful photographs discovered after she passed away. The story behind her is great, and this documentary takes us back to the places she lived and involves us with her very intriguing personality.

    She worked as a nanny and her passion was to collect objects—so there is no surprise that she loved to collect memories as well by taking pictures, great street pictures indeed.

    This documentary tells us about how John Maloof acquired a box full of Maier's negatives at an auction in Chicago in 2007. He later decided to scan those negatives and he started publishing them online. One thing lead to another, and Maier became pretty famous after her death.

    The great question one comes to at the end of the film is that due her extremely hermetic and conservative personality, how would she have felt if her photographs became exposed while she was still alive?

    Le Sel de la Terre

    This wonderful documentary directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado portrays the photographic vision of Sebastião Salgado.

    The work of Sebastião has moved me since the first time I saw one of his pictures, just recently invested in his book Genesis, and it is one of my beloved treasures.

    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    This is another great inspirational movie, and it narrates the dull life of the trusty person behind the negative assets department over at LIFE magazine. The story may be funny and have a very thin intellectual layer, but it's inspiring indeed.

    Walter Mitty had a certain affinity with a fictional and ideal photojournalist portrayed by Sean Penn (whose name is Sean in the movie). The printed version of the magazine was coming to a pitfall, and they were preparing a great issue to be published as the last printed edition of the magazine.

    One tends to put some thought in this and gain a certain level of unfounded nostalgia. Personally, I thought about what would happen if National Geographic went this route. It made me very sad. Walter Mitty tends to daydream constantly, but after a big mistake with a misplaced negative, he goes after Sean and the ensuing adventure is something that really inspires a photographer who has a deep passion for adventure.

    The Mexican Suitcase

    A great documentary about a much greater finding: a modest suitcase filled with developed film shot by Gerda Taro, David Seymour "Chim", and Robert Capa.

    This film revives the deep passion of these three great photographers who, with bravery and commitment, recorded many important moments of our modern history.

    For me, there are two great facts in this film. The first is the recovery of such a treasure, and the second, the personal and unique vision behind three fantastic photographers who worked together to cover war.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

     

    READ MORE
  • How to Become a Committed Photographer


    Becoming a Photographer is something that takes some time to achieve; and the whole process can take many many years to evolve, but never to conclude.

    Since it belongs to the arts, for me the title is something that relies more in the hands of the people in the context than personally entitlement. Many great Photographers and many of us as well, have been learning by juxtaposing academic teaching and empirical learning. This is about practice, and I highly recommend the words from John Free when it comes to Photography Schools: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHKa6GB5nS8

    It is difficult to entitle yourselves as Photographers, so let your passion speaking for you, and the title will become a great appendix of your vision and believes.

    Let's make a distinction, or explanation between what is to be a Passionate Photographer and to be a Professional Photographer. Both are the result of a great commitment to the discipline, but the great difference relies on the income. When a person is getting the majority of their regular income thanks to Photography, then it can be recognized as a Professional Photographer. This is because the person is doing things in a Professional manner, is the way they earn their lives. On the other hand, a Passionate Photographer has more to do with a very disciplined and rigorous hobby in life. Let's not speak of quality, and let's assume that we have both great quality Photographers in the same table; one is Professional Photographer and the other a Passionate Photographer. They'll both be sharing the same level of excitement, because they love what they do. Without further ado, let's not distract ourselves more on the topic of defining ourselves as Professionals or not. It is just a title; the important thing is to do everything with deep Passion and Discipline.

    These are my personal tips for anybody that wants to evolve in becoming a more Committed Photographer

    Learn About Composition

    Composition is known to be one of the most important elements in Photography; it is the most tangible characteristic of Photography if you like. Composition is demanded by the readers' eyes, and is the Photographer who decides how and which of the elements is inside one shot. I recommend this website to set a start point on learning about Composition: http://compositionstudy.com/. It is a simple yet powerful summary of great topics in relation to Composition. This is for getting your mind beyond the Rule of Thirds, which is a great starting point when learning about Photography and Composition, but if we feel that we need to enhance our commitment, we need to get beyond The Rule of Thirds.

    Watch Photographers with certain Legacy

    The great Masters may be loved or hated, but their legacy is something that we should constantly embrace as our best source of learning. Invest in books instead of gear, because many images of the Great Masters are just found on Photo Books, and even if they can be all found, there is a great sense of Contemplation when looking images in a physical way instead of the monitor’s screen.

    Take your time in defining the Photographers that will build your personal collection of favorite and admired photographers; almost like a top 15 perhaps, and stick to that list of great Photographers as your personal guide and masters. Study their work and read why their works is still recognized until these days as a great achievement in Photography. Try even watching documentary movies about your most beloved Photographers. In recent years there has been one Documentary on Sebastião Salgado and one about Vivian Maier, just to give you a few. When you learn about the context and the intimate life of admired photographers, you really learn about their vision and philosophical motives towards Photography.

    If you are lacking of knowledge, you can refer to Magnum for great Social Documentary Photographers: https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographers/

    If you are willing to include modern day’s photographers, this blog is great: http://www.cadadiaunfotografo.com/

    And if you like Landscapes, you can start with Ansel Adams.

    The great thing about names is the recommendations that come in relation to those names. Google has been doing a splendid job in recommendations, just search a name, and they'll give you some recommendations at the right pane:

    Learn About other arts

    There is nothing wrong to be pleased by other arts when forming yourselves as Photographers. Learn about rhythm, cadence, syncopation and structure thanks to music (especially jazz). Read, so you can imagine more vividly the scenes that are very obscured for you. Many writers have a great way of using words into creating intangible images. Take true advantage of literature and poetry to imagine the scenes that will eventually be part of your Photographic Vision. Learn about Painting so you can contemplate the rendition of light in accordance to the painters. Remember that Photography is the result of a transition from Painting into something else, and the Great Link was Pictorialism, in which the image was both created by several techniques and the aid of photographic recordings.

    Define a Workflow

    Workflow is something you’ll eventually hear when walking the road of Photography. There is no recipe for this, and you must define its scope for yourselves. Even though it is indeed something really important, it is simple to define. You just need to contemplate the whole amount of tasks you do on average from the moment you plan a photo, to the final deployment of the image that pleases you the most at the moment of defining the final moment of an image.

    This means that you need to standardize some things, and a brief checklist may help you when planning a photo-shoot for example. This action is really important, and it should be pinned in the first steps of the flow. A checklist can include:

    • Batteries
    • Empty SD cards
    • Lenses to use in the field
    • Lighting
    • Accessories
    • Cables
    • Contracts
    • Permissions or Credentials

    But, don’t be afraid of standardizing a few things. This will give you great control over the tasks that really doesn’t need more of your creativity, and focus your mind on being creative on the crucial tasks that really require it.

    Have a camera always with you

    This should be your mantra; you cannot become a good photographer, if you don’t practice. And for practicing, you should have a camera always with you. Take my advice, and you’ll never regret it. With today's marvel's, you don’t need a chunky and heavy equipment with you to be able to capture an image. Don’t let the photo of your life passes through your eyes, and become just a vivid memory you’ll regret your entire life of not being able to record it into a Photograph. Trust me, because it happened to me, and I’m still haunted by that vivid memory, which is just there, living inside my head, tormenting me, for being lazy enough to not carry a camera with me at that day. Since that day, a camera is always with me.

    Defining a style

    Alright, this is something that really bothers a lot of people on the first years or even decades of their career. I truly believe that a style is the result of the collection of ideas, visions, and contemplations one photographer has filtered and saved on their subconscious. A style is the mixture of the elements that one particular individual has considered as valuable, and have made certain impact in their mind. Another great element of Style, is the definition of the branch of Photography anyone feels most passion for.

    Some of the genres in Photography are these:

    • Aerial Photography
    • Architectural Photography
    • Candid Photography
    • Close-Up/Macro Photography
    • Conceptual/Fine Art Photography
    • Documentary Photography
    • Fashion Photography
    • Food Photography
    • Landscape Photography
    • Night/Long Exposure Photography
    • Photojournalism
    • Sport Photography
    • Street Photography
    • War Photography

    Engage with other Photographers

    This has a very positive impact when it comes to Photography, because by surrounding yourselves with people that feel the same passion as you do for Photography, you’ll be moved to keep going, and being more disciplined about the great Passion you have for Photography. It is normal to have some lack of inspiration and even some droughts, but thanks to the social quality of engaging with other Photographers, this negative normal aspects of every photographer's life, will be eventually diminished by the warm and friendship other Photographers may produce.

    Stay away from the Gear Freaks

    It is hard not to be fanatic about Gear, but remember, the gear is just a tool for achieving the result we want, and we want to tell a story with our images. Don’t you ever lose focus on this fact.

    Becoming a Photographer has very little to do with the technical knowledge, but the Passion and the Practice. If you are lacking of these elements, you are not late, you just need to practice and practice. Passion is something that will appear almost by osmosis when practicing your Photography every day. Challenge yourselves too, try working for six months with just one lens, and try getting in contact with film photography, watch movies so your eye will develop a cinematographic view. Don’t be worried about the definition that only Passion and Practice can truly define.

    Originally Published at Shuttertalk

    READ MORE
  • The Perfect Gear for Street Photography


    When living from photography, you get always questions related to gear. And I want to answer one particular gear related question with this article. What is the perfect gear for street photography?

    For me, there is not quite a perfect gear for street photography yet, but there are a lot of offers out there that are very close to that enclosure. Let's divide my suggestions into 3 particular branches: cameras, lenses and accessories. Before starting talking about gear, I'll like to be clear about a particular prerequisite for getting comfortable at working on the streets, and it is to be as inconspicuous as you can. On my early years working on the streets, I used only my big DSLR. Then, I got to own a film camera from 1979, a Pentax ME Super. I got in love with it because of its small size and feeling. Sometime after that charm, I got to know a great social documentary photographer of my country, Francisco Campos. I was stunned with his intimate documentary photography, and I asked him the question, "what camera do you use" and he laughed and told me "I only use this, always" and he showed me a very compact, yet powerful Point and Shoot camera. Since that moment in time, my whole paradigm of huge gear changed dramatically. I went after my own small and powerful Point and Shoot, and I bought it. This little fella allowed me to shoot on Manual mode, and of course, it shoots RAW, which is just great for developing your digital negative files.

    The great benefit of working with inconspicuous gear, is that you don't attract attention, and you seem to be a regular tourist, amateur of new photography enthusiast. When you don't appear to be a great figure in the photography field, people tend to get really comfortable when they see you around their context taking pictures.

    Cameras

    Let's talk about cameras. There is nothing wrong with working with DSLRs, but it's good to match them with lenses that get you at achieving the prime goal of being inconspicuous. Nowadays we have a great range of very good mirror less cameras and Point and Shoots. I had the opportunity to work once with a range finder camera, and there is a priceless feeling you get, when shooting, and still being able to look at what is going on. DSLRs have a great disadvantage here because the mirror flaps upwards once you press the shutter. I'll mention one particular camera I recommend from 5 brands, and my premise for recommending this, is because they help you getting pretty unnoticed:

    • Canon: EOS-M3
    • Fujifilm: X100T
    • Nikon: Nikon 1
    • Olympus: E-M5
    • Sony: A6000

    One great thing to have in mind when thinking about gear for street photography, is that any thing you'll like to buy, must have a flippable screen. This is great for shooting stealth mode from the hip.

    Lenses

    About lenses, I can state that the best gear for working on the street are prime and fast, wide and small lenses. Anything from 24mm to 50mm will work wonderfully. The thing here is to get a lens that is small to carry around and that will not intimidate people when aiming it to them. I have recently bought two new lenses that are wonderful for working on the streets, a 24mm pancake lens and a 40mm pancake lens. I still work a lot with my chunky DLSR, especially when traveling, and my favorite lens for this is a 28mm f/1.8.

    Accessories

    There are two miraculous accessories for working on the streets. The first one, is a strap. Get rid of that brandy strap the camera comes with, since it makes you somehow noticed. Also a great tip that goes in hand with straps, don't hang the camera like a medal, wrap the strap around your wrist and walk with your camera in your hand. Another great accessory are leather cases that comes in two pieces.

    Bonus Tip

    Blend with the crowd with clothes that doesn't get you so noticed.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE
  • Why You Should Always Have a Camera With You


    The ultimate advice I always give to anybody that loves Photography, is to always have a camera with them. It doesn't matter what gear you choose as your trusty companion, as long as it is reliable.

    About three years ago, I was working as a salesman for heavy machinery hydraulic components. I was traveling with a driver from the company were I was working with, and we hit the road at dawn. There is something really peaceful and enjoyable about driving at early hours of the day, especially when the heavy traffic is the norm on the roads you usually drive through. The sun had already hoisted, and the light was charming. Suddenly, about one hour after departing, I saw one of the most striking scenes I have ever seen in my life. And I wasn't carrying any kind of camera with me that day, so I only have the memory of the scene, which is imprinted in my mind so vividly, that I could draw it, unfortunately, the ability of drawing isn't a gift I have.

    I live in El Salvador, a Latin-American country, so the common cultural element you can find in the majority of our population, is the strong religious believes, especially for Christianity. The scene was like the following. On one side of the highway, there was an old lady kneeled on the ground, with her arms lifted to the sky and with her eyes closed. Her mouth was moving, so I can figure that she was praying out loud. She was praying with a passion and faith, I could only describe in its truest form, as Tangible. Two elements were close to her that shocked me. One of them was a couple of persons standing next to her, minding their business, completely unmoved by the praying woman. The other one, a fire built by her (I guess). To her right, a fire made up of wood and trash, at her left, people minding their business, and at the center, the praying woman. That was the scene that changed my philosophy of photography forever.

    That's the best I can remember the scene thanks to my sloppy behavior of not carrying a camera with me at all times. That moment in time changed my discipline forever. I remember talking with truckers about that particular scene in that peculiar spot of the highway, and for my surprise, they have seen the woman too, praying. I think I have driven by that spot at least eighteen to twenty times after that happening, always hoping to see that same scene again, or at least a similar one. It has never happened again for me, yet. I have faith that someday, I'll see her again, and I'll be prepared to capture the image I so deeply crave.

    It is not a cliché for me. You really need to always have a trusty camera with you at all times. You don't need to go through a bitter experience as I did to include in your routine the companionship of a camera. Learn from my mistake, this is the reason I'm sharing this anecdote, so you can learn and take advantage of my harsh mistake. That image has been wondering in my memory since that day, and it hasn't leaved me alone. It is a vivid image that haunts me by remembering me that having a camera with you at all times is really important.

    I have talked with photojournalists that have been involved with several wars, and trust me, some of them have not enjoyed the company of a gun with them at all, but they have a very wise philosophy, and they said that it's better to have it and never use it, to need it for one second, and don't having it at all. The same applies to camera, since it's a weapon for capturing truth and reality when talking about Street Photography and Social Documentary Photography. Moments happen quicker than the blink of an eye, and you have to always be prepared to capture those moments that get your attention. With Street Photography and Social Documentary, you can't control a lot of variables, and as romantic as it may sound, serendipity is one of those huge variables you just can't control at all.

    You’ll find plenty of tutorials and tips, thousands of articles and cheat sheets, but I find that intimate and true words from any person, are really priceless. That’s what I’m trying to achieve with this anecdote of mine, which is obviously not a great success from my behalf. But I find that the lesson that I learned through my skin, is something I’ll never forget. I have read and heard a lot of always have a camera with you, but until that day, I didn’t truly understood it. Don’t take advices for granted, and don’t you ever feel fully confident when taking pictures, especially in Street Photography. Please, don’t lower your guard, be always vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Happenings are just around the corner, so always be prepared. I try to always turn off my camera with the same settings, always. (1/125, f/5.6, ISO 100) And I do this to gain precious time when turning it on again. About the gear, the only thing I can tell you, is that you chose the most comfortable, and inconspicuous camera you can afford. Little yet powerful cameras are the best way to go when thinking of a daily gear. You should have a trusty camera with you, and try to bond with it in a way that you unconsciously can operate it. I recommend small gear because carrying a chunky camera all day long, forever, is not something I should consider as comfortable or enjoyable.

    The saddest part here, is that I have heard this advice from friends and online websites. But I’m stubborn, and really didn’t took the adequate attention from those wise words that I heard without the proper meditation. Please, don't wait to be so regretful that you end up haunted by the vivid memories of the images you left behind on capturing. Listen to me and take my humble advice, always have a camera with you.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

     

    READ MORE
  • How to Control Lens Flare


    Lens flare is a peculiar light that infiltrates through the lens and creates polygonal, veil-like and spiky shapes in the actual image captured by the camera's sensor. These artifacts can enhance the artistic meaning of a photograph. I truly believe that when any element is used in a media, one definitely needs to understand the whole context to enhance a final composition.

    Flare occurs when light covers the surface of the front element of any lens in a different direction from the angle of view of the optical element. Light has the ability to leak anywhere, and when light touches the front element of a lens, some light will leak inside the lens barrel – and therefore, reach the sensor – when the camera's shutter opens.

    One thing that many newcomers to photography will notice is that each lens has a different lens hood. This is because each hood is engineered to block lens flare for a specific lens, and they are great evidence of optical engineering. There are two common lens-hood shapes: tulip petal and round. Basically, the funny tulip-petal-shaped hood works with wide-angle lenses, while round hoods work from 50mm and beyond. They are this way because the angle of view of the lenses. Every time you attach an improper lens hood (one that hasn't been engineered for that particular lens) the risk of (or opportunity for) lens flare increases. Knowing this, the easiest way to achieve natural lens flare is to shoot without a lens hood.

    Lens flare according to Lens Type

    Since prime lenses have fewer internal moving elements, they’re less susceptible to lens flare than zoom lenses. Lenses with more complicated internal elements – like ones that zoom from wide-angle to telephoto – are even more prone to lens flare.

    Using Lens Flare to Guide the Viewer

    Lines are common compositional elements used to guide the reader’s eyes. Lines can be found in four states, horizontal, vertical, organic and implied. All of them help the story of the photograph to take place in the way it is intended by the photographer. All these lines can be aided with lens flare and light leaks. Lens flare can also lead the viewer's eyes by creating a point of interest in the image, close to the main subject, almost pinpointing it, so the eyes go directly to that particular subject. 

    Use Lens Aperture to Permit more Light Leaks

    All lenses are engineered differently, and all of them have a “sweet spot”, or an optimal aperture at which they are the sharpest. Not all shooting circumstances allow us to shoot at the sweet-spot aperture. But that’s no problem, because to get more lens flare you need to get far away from that sweet spot. It doesn’t matter if it’s wider or tighter – light leaks are more easily achieved when not shooting at the lens’s optimal aperture. The only difference between a wide aperture and a tight aperture is the shape of the lens-flare artifacts. The sweet spot of a lens is, in most cases, two f-stops from the lens’s widest aperture. If you have a f/1.4 lens, the sweet spot should be f/2.8, and if you have a f2.8 lens, your sweet spot should be f/5.6. It’s basic and beautiful mathematics.

    Use Lens Flare to Enhance Certain Moods

    We can substantially enhance the mood of a picture by using lens flare. You can see it in many movies as well, from sci-fi to romantic, from drama to animated. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who is going to shoot a couple in an engagement session. The mood must be romantic, and lens flare will definitely help you achieve this. The different forms and shapes of lens flare will help, because they have a certain impact on reducing contrast in a picture – especially those light leaks that create a beautiful long veil of light in a big section of the photograph. When doing this, aim for a washed look in the picture. Remember to use complementary colors when the light leaks are present in the image, so it won’t look fake and weird.

    Old-School Lenses allow more Lens Flare

    Old lenses are still great tools for modern photography, because they were built to last. Two things are obvious when you compare old lenses with modern-day optics. The first and most obvious is the presence of electronic components, like the electric contacts in the bayonet and focus motors. The other thing is the level of perfection of the new coatings. Old lenses were manufactured to their era’s highest optical quality, but things have evolved, and the new materials allow fewer light leaks thanks to modern coatings in the internal and frontal elements of lenses.

    Ways to shoot

    Your point of view will affect lens flare, so it’s good to know which of these maneuvers will create more flare:

    • Shooting into the Sun: When shooting directly to the sun, or a subject is in sun’s direction, it will be entirely possible to get light leaks and lens flares in the picture.
    • Think Silhouette: To achieve silhouettes, you need to shoot with smaller apertures, like f/16 or even f/22 if the sun is getting in the way. By applying tight apertures, you’ll be getting away from the lens sweet spot, which will make it easier for you achieve lens flare.
    • Use Manual Mode: Manual mode is the shooting mode that gives you the most control of all the shooting modes available, in all cameras. Lens flare tends to happen in “inadequate exposures” in the camera’s mind. But let’s not rely on the camera’s poor perfectionist brain. We want creative results, so we need to take complete control of the situation.
    • Shoot at an Angle: When shooting from a low angle, the possibilities of capturing lens flare tend to increase. Also, shoot from angle relative to the direction of the light source. Of course, without a lens hood, the light coming from a different direction than where the camera is aiming can create the lens flare inside the camera’s body.
    • Watch your Focus: When focusing, the internal elements of the lens move, and this might help achieve lens flare.

    When all is said and done, don’t be afraid of lens flare. Try to capture it with purpose that supports your concepts.

    Originally Published at Light Stalking

    READ MORE