The Ideal Photography Career

I recently began teaching a college-level photography class. One of my responsibilities, along with teaching the technical aspects of lighting and composition, is to prepare the students for a career in photography. Not all of them are planning to become commercial photographers, but they’re all interested in knowing what that might entail. These days, photography careers are different than they were just a few years ago. There’s a lot of competition, and a lot of great work out there. That’s great for photography, but it makes it more difficult to excel in a crowded field. So what’s the lesson? In my opinion, the way to succeed is to do really great work. But more than that, if you want to be happy in your photography career, if you want to carve out your ideal place, you’ve got to do work that you want to do—not just the work people will pay you to do. I made a little Venn diagram to illustrate this point in class. Find what you want, find what you can get paid for, and seek work in the place where they overlap. This makes for an ideal photography career.

I recently began teaching a college-level photography class. One of my responsibilities, along with teaching the technical aspects of lighting and composition, is to prepare the students for a career in photography. Not all of them are planning to become commercial photographers, but they’re all interested in knowing what that might entail.... Read more

McDonald’s Gigapixel FanCam

At the football game in Pittsburgh two weeks ago (the one in which the Steelers upended the Jets in order to make it to this weekend’s Superbowl) fans were treated to their own Gigapixel photography experience courtesy of McDonald’s. Photographed from the 50-yard-line, the 360-degree Gigapixel image lets viewers zoom in close to spot friends on sidelines and in the stands, and folks who were at the game can even tag themselves in the browser. Hopefully we’ll be treated to a similar shot this weekend, but if not, and even if you don’t know anybody in Pittsburgh (or if you’re a Jets fan) it can still be fun to zoom in and look around the stadium from a perspective we don’t often get to see.

http://www.steelers.com/gigapixelfancam/230111

At the football game in Pittsburgh two weeks ago (the one in which the Steelers upended the Jets in order to make it to this weekend’s Superbowl) fans were treated to their own Gigapixel photography experience courtesy of McDonald’s. Photographed from the 50-yard-line, the 360-degree Gigapixel image lets viewers zoom in close to spot friends... Read more

Photography Is Legal Again

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.

http://hyperallergic.com/17621/us-photogs-official-free-to-photograph-public-space-federal-buildings/
http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2011/01/avoid-being-hassled-by-the-cops-while-shooting-pictures/
http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,731023907001_2040082,00.html

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... Read more
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The Next Big Camera Thing?

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgBl0ejQ8c0
http://www.artefactgroup.com/#/content/camera-futura-3/

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... Read more

Is This CF Card Empty Or Full?

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.

http://www.diyphotography.net/yes-but-is-it-ready

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... Read more

Lighting School With Blair Bunting

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.

http://www.photoflexlightingschool.com/Lighting_Lessons/Basic_Lighting/Portrait_Indoor/Ring_Flash_Effects_with_the_OctoDome__extra_small/index.html

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... Read more

Legal Aspects Of Street Photography

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. 

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2010/11/street-photography-now
http://pdnpulse.com/2010/12/obama-photographer-confronted-by-secret-service-after-taking-photos-in-front-of-white-house.html

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... Read more

Learning Street Photography

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.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/getting-close-and-personal-11-tips-for-close-up-candid-street-photography
http://photo.net/learn/street/intro

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... Read more

Being Bruce Gilden

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBARi09je8l
http://vimeo.com/17408282

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... Read more

Watch The Master At Work

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.

http://www.photogs.com/bwworld/winogrand.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek

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,... Read more

Street Photography Week

With all the recent hubbub about the discovery of the work of unknown street photographer Vivian Maier, I thought I’d put together a collection of links and stories pertinent to street photography this week. So today, the kickoff: the story of Vivian Maier. A Chicago nanny and world traveler, Maier’s story sounds almost too good to be true. She was discovered as a master only after her death when a stash of 100,000 of her negatives (made over the course of 40 years) were purchased at the auction of her storage unit that had gone unpaid near the end of her life. The stash revealed a phenomenal body of street photography; had she been known during her life, she may have been considered in the same breath as 20th century street photography masters like Garry Winogrand. An exhibit of her work is ongoing in Chicago, and a Kickstarter project is underway to raise funds for a documentary about her work and its surprising discovery.

http://www.vivianmaier.blogspot.com/
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/800508197/finding-vivian-maier-a-feature-length-documentary

With all the recent hubbub about the discovery of the work of unknown street photographer Vivian Maier, I thought I’d put together a collection of links and stories pertinent to street photography this week. So today, the kickoff: the story of Vivian Maier. A Chicago nanny and world traveler, Maier’s story sounds almost too good to be... Read more

27 Reasons To Take Your Camera Out When It Snows

It can be really difficult to take your camera out when it’s cold and snowy. Lenses can fog, fingers can freeze, even walking a few blocks can become a life-altering challenge. The benefits, of course, involve the opportunity to make great photos in a world blanketed by seamless, beautiful white snow. Lightstalking not long ago listed 27 great reasons to bring your camera out in the snow. Really, though, it was a collection of 27 great snow images; the reasons were simply implied. So I decided to think about a few actual reasons, and here are the ten I came up with.

1. Everything looks unique when blanketed with snow, and that’s inherently interesting.
2. The aforementioned blanket of white is also really, really beautiful.
3. Shooting high key, where you shift everything toward overexposed, is much easier. 
4. You get great fill from snow, making contrast easier to control.
5. Shooting after dusk is easier, because it’s so much brighter.
6. It’s quieter, which can actually make it very pleasurable to photograph in snow.
7. Silhouettes can be simpler because of the bright white background.
8. Graphic simplicity can be much easier in the snow.
9. Simple things look cuter—pets, people, homes—when surrounded by snow.
10. You can have hot chocolate when you get back, and you’ll enjoy it much more than if you just had the hot chocolate without going out in the snow and taking great pictures.

Be sure to check out the great gallery of snowy images that inspired my list at lightstalking.com.

http://www.lightstalking.com/27-reasons-to-bring-your-camera-out-when-it-starts-snowing

It can be really difficult to take your camera out when it’s cold and snowy. Lenses can fog, fingers can freeze, even walking a few blocks can become a life-altering challenge. The benefits, of course, involve the opportunity to make great photos in a world blanketed by seamless, beautiful white snow. Lightstalking not long ago listed 27 great... Read more
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