The Photographer's MBA
Friday, September 27, 2013
Every professional photographer I know says the same thing about their education: they wish they'd learned more about business. Instead of creative tips and photographic techniques, the nuts and bolts of running a business is often what professional photographers talk about when they get together. To that end comes The Photographer's MBA, a new book written by a working photographer that tells you everything you need to know about the business side of the photography business. It's about "the other 90% of the job," everything from incorporating and business plans to branding, pricing and social media strategies. Written by super-successful wedding and family portrait photographer Sal Cincotta, it's a must-read for anyone interested in going into business for themselves. Read more, and order online, from the Peachpit Press online store.
Composition Beyond The Rule Of Thirds
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Do you have two hours to dedicate to improving your compositional skills? I realize that sounds like a tall order, but maybe you can do what I'm doing and break those two hours up into a few different sessions in order to make your way through this tremendous video presentation by photographer David Brommer. In it he explains the complexities of composition far beyond the basics like the rules of thirds, leading lines and S curves. Relying on these rules established by the renaissance masters, Brommer's B&H sponsored presentation is a valuable tutorial for photographers from beginner to experienced, as compositional considerations factor in to every exposure from our first to our last. It's an important topic that doesn't get covered in enough detail. Which is why I think this video is two hours very well spent.
On “Good” Photography
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Michael Johnston, the Online Photographer, made a great point with a recent post that I think is really worth sharing. We photographers, and those of us who discuss photography in public, can do a pretty good job of focusing only on the visual content of pictures. Does the composition fit the rules, perhaps, or was the special effect applied in post production just right? What about when it's the content that makes for an outstanding image? That's the case with the accompanying photo by Jachin Mandeno. The image is, as Johnston says, not much to speak of in technical terms. But when you know the story of the image, it becomes quite powerful. Which is Johnston's point: emotion, meaning and the story of an image are just as important—maybe even more so—than the visual elements that make up the physicality of a picture. And that's not something we talk about enough in the photoblogosphere. Per Johnston, "now you know how I feel when I look at ravishingly gorgeous, richly colored, technically perfect digital confections that are devoid of even a scrap of meaning." Amen. Read the whole story, including what makes this picture so powerful, at Johnston's Online Photographer blog.
Marc Adamus On Maps
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
On newsstands now, in the October issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, you'll find my interview with landscape photographer Marc Adamus. Every time I talk to Marc I'm impressed with his drive and passion for photographing the outdoors. It seems like he's always traveling to the most remote locations in the world in search of dynamic and dramatic landscapes. During our recent conversation he told me about his secret for preparing for a trip to someplace he's never seen before: traditional topographic maps.
"I'm really a big map buff," Marc told me. "I absolutely love looking at maps. If I'm going to go to a mountainous region, I'll get out a topographic map, which I've loved my whole life. Looking at that type of map for me is like looking at the location itself. I can just imagine myself being there, I know what the peaks are going to look like, what the best routes are, how the light's going to hit the peaks, what the shape of the peak's going to be. I can determine a whole lot just by looking at maps. I like to pore over maps and then just imagine myself exploring some of these beautiful areas."
"For example," he continued, "just this last week I have been spending hour after hour looking across maps of northernmost Norway and Scandinavia, which is where I'm going to do a trip this fall and winter. Even though I've never seen that area in photographic images by anybody else, I recognize just through the map study that there's a huge amount of potential. I'm really putting myself right there. And more than that, I'm determining what specific aspects, or specific points, would look like through my lens. And, of course, how to get to those points. It helps me get to know places. I can determine down to the most finite details exactly what the best route from point A to point B is, and I can learn a whole lot about the terrain in between the two. Just by looking at a topographic map I can tell exactly what a peak is going to look like through my wide angle lens looking at this distance away and I can tell how the light is going to hit that peak at what time of year. It does take a lot of practice to really be able to determine the obstacles, the geometry if you will, to kind of put yourself there on the ground in that scene, but it's something I've become really adept at doing throughout the course of my life. At first just for route planning backpacking and climbing trips, and now it's an integral tool in my photographic research as well."
The U.S. Geological Survey, linked below, is a great resource for downloading detailed topographic maps of areas throughout the United States. And to learn more about Marc Adamus, here's a link to the new OP article, as well as a link to his web site.
Lens-Style Cameras: The Next Big Thing?
Monday, September 23, 2013
Have you heard of "lens-style" cameras? They're pretty interesting, actually, once you get past the initial shock of their peculiar design. Sony's new QX models are the first of this new style of camera that looks like a lens and affixes to a smartphone. No, they're not just lenses for smartphones, but rather self-contained cameras that are shaped like lenses—with all the camera guts, like the imaging sensor, built in. The one thing they don't have, though, is a control panel. That's where the smartphone comes in. Simply affix the lens-style camera to your smartphone and control the camera via an app. Brilliant! Or maybe not; I suppose it's still too early to tell. One thing's for sure: these cameras have legit features like 20 megapixels, HD video recording and image stabilization—so it sure seems like they'll be likely to find an audience. I'm intrigued, that's for sure.
Sam Abell Interview
Friday, September 20, 2013
Sam Abell is a fantastic photographer. He's spent his 30-year career working for the likes of National Geographic creating iconic images—like a personal favorite of mine, an image of cowboys branding cattle that is both as iconic as any image ever made, and a study in how to craft a photograph with depth in both dimension and story. Published recently on the A Photo Editor blog is a wonderful interview with Mr. Abell, in which he shares many insights from his long career in photography—one which Mr. Abell says is now officially entering retirement from the world of assignment photography.
A Master Printer's Dodging And Burning Directions
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Magnum's master printer, Pablo Inirio, has shared with Fstoppers a series of work prints marked up with his notes for darkroom dodging and burning. I was never an expert darkroom printer, though I definitely did always enjoy the challenge. The hardest part, I've always thought, is that printing is an totally separate skill from photographing. To be great, you have to do both really well. It gives me new appreciation for the classical masters of the medium who exhibited such skill behind the camera as well as in the darkroom. Anyway, I love this glimpse into a master's darkroom notes—which happen to be on some iconic photographs from some of the biggest names of 20th century photography. This post also serves as a reminder of just how easy we have it these days when it comes to making prints, with dodging and burning becoming a permanent part of a digital image file.
Immerse Yourself In The Desert At Night
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Normally when it comes to immersive panoramas, my preference is for the gigapixel style high-res images of cities that allow you to zoom in and see what's happening on a street corner. But here's a quite beautiful immersive panorama (sent my way courtesy of Stumble Upon) that might change my preferences for something a little less busy. It's an image of the night sky photographed in the wide open expanse of Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. I'm particularly fond of the intersection of that gorgeous sky with the land—especially the subtleties of the green glow from the distant lights of Salt Lake City, and the bright lights from the town of Wendover. Both of these elements bathe the scene in an otherworldly glow.