Howard Schatz’s Life In Pictures
Thursday, October 2, 2014
For 25 years, Howard Schatz has been an incredibly prolific photographer. I've been fortunate to interview him several times as we've profiled the man and his newest works in Digital Photo Pro magazine. You may know him as the photographer of beautiful black and white nudes of pregnant women ("With Child," 2011) or the photographer who studies the faces of the most famous actors in the world ("Caught In The Act", 2013). Maybe you know his work from the athletes he's photographed, or the redheads, or the underwater dancers, or any number of subjects that have each made up an individual project—32 of them in total—over the course of Schatz's 25-year career. Well as I write this, Schatz is on press with his newest book, a two-volume retrospective boxed set called, appropriately, "Schatz Images: 25 Years." Due on store shelves in early 2015, the set amounts to 832 pages and more than 1,000 photographs, but for collectors ordering the limited edition, signed edition prior to January 1 there is an early-bird discount of 30% off the retail price of $500. To look inside the beautiful books, and to pre-order the set, visit http://schatzimages25years-glitterati.com/
Studying Spielberg In Black And White
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Want to go to film school in about an hour and a half? Then take a look at what Steven Soderbergh has done to one of Steven Spielberg's beloved films. Via his blog, Soderbergh has turned the 1981 classic movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" into a black and white silent film. Why? Because he wants to make an important point about its visual storytelling: Spielberg was incredibly effective at coordinating all of the visual elements in any given scene—including the actors and their movements, the locations, the sets, the props and even the editing choices that ultimately determine the pacing of the whole film, and which start with simple choices on every shot. It seems to me that it illustrates very clearly not only how to tell a story in pictures, but how to keep your audience captivated by the way you frame every single shot. Whether you're a budding moviemaker or a still photographer wanting to make better pictures, it's worth watching. Check it out at http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders
The Evolution Of iPhone Image Quality
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Bending issues aside, the new iPhones seem to be causing quite a stir. Are you considering upgrading your current phone to one of the new iPhone 6 models? If so, here's a test you should check out before you do. It's a visual comparison of the image quality from all of the iPhones, going all the way back to the first one. You can tell instantly that the camera started to get really good after the 4S model, and sure enough the iPhone 6's results show increased fidelity at even the smallest details in the images, as well as better skin tones in portraits and some other subtle but notable improvements. The megapixels are virtually unchanged—still 8 megapixels in the new phones—but as the results show, there's more to image quality than megapixels. (The only notable differences in technology between the two new models is the optical image stabilization built in only to the iPhone 6 Plus.) Read all about the particulars in Lisa Bettany's iPhone camera test at http://snapsnapsnap.photos/how-does-the-iphone-6-camera-compare-to-previous-iphone-cameras.
Malkovich Remakes Iconic Portraits
Monday, September 29, 2014
In an effort to, apparently, just blow everyone's mind, John Malkovich has recreated, in collaboration with photographer Sandro Miller, a whole bunch of iconic twentieth century portrait photographs. These include Malkovich standing in for Dorothea Lange's iconic Migrant Mother," Malkovich as Che Guevara, Malkovich as Andy Warhol, and, my personal favorite, Malkovich as the identical twins made famous in a photograph by Diane Arbus. The project, called "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters," is a bit of lighthearted fun, as well as some serious heavy-hitting, high-quality photography. Ultimately it's a fun homage to some of the most phenomenal portraits in history. To see more, check out the article at petapixel.com.
Michael Kenna’s France
Friday, September 26, 2014
There's a beautiful new photo book coming from one of my favorite black and white photographers working today, and he's partnered with one of my favorite publishers to produce it. It's Michael Kenna's new monograph, "France," published by Nazraeli Press. As you might imagine, it's filled with more than 275 duotone images from Kenna's 30-plus years photographing in France. There are a few different versions of the book available, including an affordable $85 hardcover, slipcased edition, the signed and numbered edition for $250, and for ardent fans and collectors, the deluxe edition which comes from a signed and matted print for $1,500. No matter which edition you choose, you'll be adding a very fine piece to your collection—filled with some very fine photographs made by a master of the medium. To learn more, visit the Nazraeli Press web site at http://www.nazraeli.com/complete-catalogue/michael-kenna-france.
On Wearable Cameras And Our Urge To Photograph Everything
Thursday, September 25, 2014
There's been lots of good photo-related text in the New Yorker of late. They just published an interesting piece that was ostensibly about the rise of the GoPro camera and its ubiquitous presence in everyday life, but it delves deeper beyond just the technology and into how we use it and how it changes our laves. Namely, the article explores our need to record so much of our lives that the act of documenting actually takes priority over the things we are doing. (There seems to be a very real lasting impact to the phrase, "Pics or it didn't happen.") It's an argument I voice on occasion when I suggest to my wife that maybe we just let our kids play for a minute without making pictures of how dang cute they're being. (Then again, when my little kids are grown maybe I'll feel a little bit different about it.) I know one thing: photographs are more prevalent in our society than ever, and our desire to document every waking moment has a real impact on how we see, and experience, our world. Read the thought-provoking article by Nick Paumgarten at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/camera.
The Photography Of Erwin Blumenfeld
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The New Yorker did a neat little piece last week about the work of iconic fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld. He's always been a favorite of mine, and I even have a photogravure of one of his images in my small but beloved collection. Blumenfeld was really an innovative, creative photographer who I don't believe gets his just due in the pantheon of 20th century masters. So today I'm going to try to do my part to rectify that. If you don't know, Blumenfeld was inspired by the Dadaist tradition whereby he used experimental techniques (such as solarization, montage and multiple exposures) in order to create his unique images. As the New Yorker story points out, even through his successful commercial photography career Blumenfeld managed to retain his creative vigor thanks to his fundamental refusal to see himself as anything other than an amateur, making photographs because it interested him. Blumenfeld worked to ensure that he would never fall out of love with photography, consequently his work retained an youthful, passionate spirit throughout his too-short career. If you'd like to learn more about Erwin Blumenfeld, be sure to visit the web site started by his grandchildren. It's designed to be the primary resource for learning about the man and his work. His grandson Remy is a prominent television producer who has produced a documentary on the life and work of Blumenfeld for the BBC—the first 15 minutes of which are on the homepage at erwinblumenfeld.com. And be sure to read the piece in the New Yorker, which also points out that a collection of Blumenfeld's work is currently on display in Shanghai and will be traveling halfway around the world, arriving in Brazil next month.
A Great Book About Portrait Posing
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Students in my portrait class invariably have questions about posing. While I tend to focus more on matters of lighting and interpersonal communication, posing is just as integral to the success of a portrait—if not more so. I'm always on the lookout for materials that might help students better understand the principles of successful posing—not simply what works, but why it works. So when I recently purchased Roberto Valenzuela's book, "Picture Perfect Posing," I was blown away. Not only is this 300-page book full of useful insights and instructions on how to pose subjects in flattering positions, but it's full of very useful information, at a fairly high level, about all of the individual pieces that make up a successful pose. For instance, Valenzuela points out that when posing a couple it's imperative that their noses not be pointed at one another, nor that they're parallel. Why? Because that's a clear tipoff that the pose is inauthentic and unnatural. Instead, noses that are slightly off axis to each other tend to produce pictures that are much more natural in appearance. That's just one little tip about couples and noses; Valenzuela addresses practically every posing possibility and every body part. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get better at photographing people, whether you're a new student of portrait photography or a seasoned veteran. It's built on a solid foundation of posing fundamentals, so there really is something in it for everyone. Read more, and buy the book, at http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Perfect-Posing-Practicing-Photographers/dp/0321966465