Photography Is Legal Again
Thursday, February 3, 2011
It just got more legal to photograph in public spaces around important government buildings and landmarks. Thanks to efforts from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. government last week made it once again officially A-okay to photograph any and all exteriors of federal buildings viewed from public spaces. The Hyperallergic blog has a link to the documents, and Chase Jarvis suggests printing them out to help inform any government officials who haven't yet been brought up to speed. Chase also offers a great example of how problematic the old way was; he wasn't photographing a federal building, but because his streetscape shoot was close to a federal building he was still shut down by armed officers. And if you want to read about governments that really don’t like photography, check out the Time interview with photographer Platon who describes evading Burmese secret police in order to make a simple portrait.
The Next Big Camera Thing?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
John Paul Caponigro first alerted me to a cool new concept camera debuted at the CES show a few weeks ago. It's called a WVIL ("weevil") which stands for Wireless Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, and it's a pretty amazing thing. Turns out it's the epitome of a concept—some designers at a company called Artefact built it as a hypothetical look a few years into the future of the camera. More specifically, it's what a camera phone might look like if it were made especially useful for photographers. What's so special? Imagine a 32-megapixel iPhone with an interchangeable lens stuck to it. The sensor and all the camera "guts" are contained in the lens, so the viewfinder and touchscreen controls are all that's required in the phone. It's a pretty great theoretical approach to making more powerful cameras out of our increasingly compact communication devices. Watch the video and check the Artefact site to see the concept for yourself.
Is This CF Card Empty Or Full?
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
How do you know which of your batteries are charged and which ones are empty? How can you tell which CF cards you've already shot, and which ones are ready to use? What methods do you use to distinguish spent cards and batteries from fresh ones? It's actually an important consideration, because the last thing you want is to accidentally shoot over images on your CF card, or rely on an almost empty battery to get you through your day. My method is simple: unused CF cards go in my right front pocket, and used cards go in the front left. If I won't be able to download immediately, I put full cards in my wallet so they're never just sitting abandoned somewhere—that's the first step toward accidentally erasing. When it comes to batteries, though, I have no good plan in place. Maybe I should check out this DIY Photography post on distinguishing ready-to-go equipment from spent supplies. You should do it too if you haven't figured this out already for yourself.
Lighting School With Blair Bunting
Monday, January 31, 2011
Since I first saw Blair Bunting's great portrait work last year I've been a big fan. The kid's got skills. Lots and lots of skills. So it should be no surprise that he's partnered with Photoflex to provide lighting advice via Photoflex Lighting School. Blair will be providing insights via the web to help you improve your own people lighting skills, and his first one is already up. It's a great workaround for those who don't want to shell out gobs of cash for a ringlight (which isn’t exactly as versatile as a softbox). He uses a small Octodome softbox instead, and the results are great. Check it out at Photoflex Lighting School.
Legal Aspects Of Street Photography
Friday, January 28, 2011
No consideration of street photography would be complete without a look at the current societal challenges facing street photographers. In the UK there was a law enacted, and thankfully recently retracted, that compared street photography and shooting in public to terrorism. (The Wired story about the law also includes a great gallery of images from the book, Street Photography Now.) It's understandable that law enforcement wants to be sure crimes aren't being perpetrated by people with cameras, but in most cases I have to believe that if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a duck. So if it looks like a photographer taking pictures of a photogenic subject, chances are good it's just a photographer. Let’s not forget that photography is not a crime.
Some overzealous folks do sometimes forget this, though, and they try to prevent legitimate photographers from doing their jobs. It’s one thing to inquire about a photographer’s intentions, yet completely another to prevent legitimate and legal photography. That's what happened to notable journalist Manny Garcia when he was shooting a newsworthy event on the public sidewalk in front of the White House. Garcia, who's name entered the news in recent years when his photograph of Barack Obama was appropriated for Shephard Fairey's iconic "Hope" poster, was harassed by a novice security guard. It caused quite a stir when the professional photojournalist balked at the unreasonable attention. When a uniformed law officer stops you while you're taking pictures in public, the best practice is to be polite and cooperative—even if you know you're right. But if you are detained illegally and prevented from taking pictures, be sure to get the officer's information and file a complaint rather than to cause an immediate stir and get yourself arrested in the meantime.
Learning Street Photography
Thursday, January 27, 2011
All week we’ve been looking at some masters of street photography. But what if you want to learn how to do it yourself—maybe eventually become a master in your own right? Covering everything from how to hold the camera to how to shoot stealthily on the fly, there's a great DPS article on tips for candid street photography. The piece provides a whole "how-to" guide for getting up close and personal portraits—a mainstay in the street shooter’s repertoire. Philip Greenspun, the brains behind Photo.net, has even written a wonderful street photography guide for everyone from beginners to advanced shooters. It’s a must for anyone looking to hone their street photography skills.
Being Bruce Gilden
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
While Winogrand may have been the master, there’s no other street photographer quite like Bruce Gilden. He jumps in front of his subjects, startling them with his camera, and shoots. ìIf you can smell the street by looking at the photo," Gilden says, "it's a street photograph." There’s a great video of Gilden at work, and it’s fun to watch whether you’re interested in the great photography or the shock value of his brash approach. One thing’s for sure: you can’t argue with the success of his in-your-face street photography style. There was even a mini-documentary made about Gilden called "Head On." It was filmed just last year and it’s available at vimeo.com.
Watch The Master At Work
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Garry Winogrand is considered by many to be the greatest street photographer of the 20th century. There’s a wonderful story by Mason Resnick who recounts the workshop in which he studied with Winogrand for a few weeks back in the mid 1970s. My favorite quote from the story? When asked if he felt bad about missing pictures while reloading film, Winogrand quipped, "There are no pictures when I reload." You can even see the master in action, watch him work and diagnose his great photographs in a wonderful video on YouTube. This video is well worth a look simply for the glimpse of this great photographer while he walks the streets of New York.