Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Photography Week(s) in Review - June 17-30

Sorry for the lack of a post last week and the delay this week.  It was a slow week and I didn’t feel that I had a great deal to report.  So, I decided to combine the last two weeks into one post.  Here are the last two weeks in review.

Lumu Light Meter for Smart Phones - Kickstarter
We wouldn’t have photography if we didn’t have light.  Cameras interpret the light and create the exposure based on the amount of light in the scene.  The image is then captured digitally or burned onto a film negative.  Those of us that use completely manual cameras know the importance of a light meter.  Without it, we wouldn’t be able to properly measure the light in a scene (unless you’re using the Sunny 16 rule or you’re Mat Marrash, the human light meter).  If you own a smart phone and are a photographer, you’ve probably heard of the Lightmeter app.  It’s a great app to use (that’s surprisingly accurate) and is always in your pocket.  A group of individuals are taking smart phone metering to the next level with the Lumu Light Meter.  It’s an actual light meter (and accompanying app) that fits into the jack on your phone.  It’s a slick device and I may have to pick one of these up.  The team at Lumu Labs have nine days left on their Kickstarter and have already reached their goal.  Support Lumu Labs and pick up your light meter for less than launch price here.
Instagram Adds Video
Last week rumors were swirling about an upcoming announcement from Instagram, the popular, mobile phone photography app.  It was rumored that the company would introduce a video feature to compete with Twitter’s Vine app.  That rumor came to fruition on June 20 when Instagram announced that video capabilities were added to version 4.0 of Instagram.  The capabilities include 15 second video capturing (9 more seconds than Vine), image stabilization and seamless integration in your Instagram feed.  It also includes 13 filters to add to your video along with the ability to edit and choose your “cover” video shot.  Unlike Vine, the video plays only once.  The Internet seemed to think this would be the “death” of Vine, but I personally think that’s quite an exaggeration.  Vine shares on Twitter have dropped off quite a bit since the introduction of the app, but Instagram shares have stayed about the same.  Adam Goldberg, king of Vine, has made his allegiance clear and even stated that a few accessories he uses for his videos don’t work on Instagram.  I will be staying with Vine, but use whatever app makes you happy.  Read more about Instagram’s video capabilities here.
Voigtlander Discontinues Rangefinders
On one hand, we have a company expanding its’ offerings (in the case of Instagram); on the other hand, we have a company shrinking its’ product line (in the case of Voigtlander).  Even though the announcement was made a few weeks ago, it just started hitting some photography forums within the past week.  On June 10, Voigtlander announced that the Bessa A series of rangefinders is being discontinued and the 2M, 3M and 4M series of cameras were decreasing in price by $100.  This leaves the Leica M7 as the only new auto exposure, rangefinder, film camera on the market.  Read the Pdexposures blog post on the announcement here.
Impossible Project Black Frame Film Back in Stock
Perhaps my favorite piece of news of the past couple of weeks was that the Impossible Project restocked their shelves with my favorite film - PX600 UV+ Black Frame.  This film produces great tones, develops extremely fast and is framed by a beautiful black border.  When it ran out the first time, I stocked my fridge with a number of packs and I can’t wait to pick more up.  For those interested, don’t wait too long - they had just under 1,000 packs in stock at last check.  They also have a short supply of PZ600 UV+ Black Frame for Spectra cameras as well.  Pick up a few packs here and here.
Pdexposures Podcast #12
The Pdexposures gang was back with another podcast.  This time they tackle thrift stores, thrift store finds and overlooked gems.  Check out Nate, Simon and Tony delivering film photography goodness in their very unique way here
Lomography for Beginners on Japan Camera Hunter Site
Over at the Japan Camera Hunter site, a new article popped up regarding Lomography.  The article, presented as a Q&A session with a panel of experts, gives advice about the ins and outs of Lomography, their lifestyle and cameras.  It’s a great read for someone new to film photography and Lomography.  In addition, Simon and Tony from Pdexposures lend a helping hand by being part of the Q&A panel of experts.  Check it out here.
Toby Deveson Article
Speaking of articles, I came across this great article from a retweet by a photographer I follow on Twitter.  It was a blog post from a photographer about the first exhibit (in 15 years) that he put together.  He produced all of his black and white images by hand in the darkroom and he included some writings and vignettes on his process.  The post was an ode to slow photography and the serenity (in a world of hustle and bustle) that spread across the exhibit viewers as they took in the images.  What he’s talking about definitely strikes a nerve with me and he mentions a few reasons why I shoot film.  Give the post a read here and let me know what you think.
And that’s it for the past two weeks.  Have a great July 4th holiday and I’ll see you all back here for this week’s review.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Photography Week in Review - June 10-16

I hope you had a great week; it was an interesting week in the world of photography with a few product launches, more Kodak news and of course new episodes of my favorite podcasts.  Here’s your photography week in review for June 10-16.

Leica releases new camera 
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Leica was going to be making a new product announcement.  Well, June 11 came and went and there is now a new camera in Leica’s line up.  It’s called the Leica X Vario.  Leica had been teasing the product as a “Mini-M;” however, it’s not a new M series camera.  It was simply modeled after the M.  The X Vario is a compact camera with a f/3.5 autofocus zoom lens that also allows you to record full-HD video.  The camera was not a favorite among the Leica fans I follow on Twitter.  What do you think?  Read more about the X Vario here.
Lomography goes the DIY route with the Konstrucktor
While we’re on the topic of new product releases, Lomography released their newest camera.  They had been teasing it for the past few weeks and my guess was that it was a 35mm SLR system.  Well, I was close.  It’s actually a DIY 35mm camera.  Lomography is touting it as the world’s first DIY 35mm camera and they’re marketing the educational benefits of assembling your own camera, allowing the "builder" to truly learn about the analogue photography process. The camera takes 35mm film, has an unbelievably slow  50mm f/10 lens with a shutter speed of 1/80 sec.  It has multiple exposure function and focuses from .5m to infinity.  The surprising thing about this camera is that it’s only $35.  The initial results from the camera are fairly sharp and are missing the major light leaks or other quirks usually associated with Lomography’s product line.  It will be interesting to see the results once more individuals get their hands on the camera.  Learn more about the Konstrucktor here or pick one up here.
Kodak Stopping Production of Film Acetate Base
From product launches to product discontinuations.  Last week, Kodak announced that it was discontinuing the in-house production of cellulose acetate which will result in the cutting of 61 jobs.  Kodak has been in financial troubles for awhile and sold off it’s film division earlier this year.  They’re trying to emerge from bankruptcy as a leaner company with the ability to make a profit, but as it stands right now, I don’t see how they can be successful with the product line they’ve chosen to stand behind.  Kodak claims that they will continue to produce film and that they’ll be looking at external suppliers for the film acetate base once they run out of existing stock.  I like a few of Kodak’s film stocks, but at this point, I want to support a company, like Ilford, that truly believes in film.  Read more about Kodak’s changes here or here.
FPP Releases New Podcast
One group that will always support Kodak for as long as they’re around is the Film Photography Project.  They just released their second podcast of June and this time they’re joined by long time listener and contributor Darren “Pancho Ballard” Riley and his new wife Rebecca.  John Fedele and Leslie Lazenby also join the podcast and topics such as scanning film, New York street photography and listener letters are covered.  Check out the podcast and show notes here.
Pdexposures Intermission
It’s officially not a photography week in review post if I don’t mention the Pdexposures gang.  They released their fourth “Intermission” podcast and this time the topic is the Pdexposures meet-up that took place in Seattle back in May.  Nate brought along a mic and recorder and recorded interviews with some of the participants.  Check out the intermission here.
Weegee’s Birthday
Weegee, born Ascher Fellig, was a famous press photographer in the ‘30s and ‘40s.  He  was mostly known for his gritty, black and white, crime scene work from the Lower East Side of New York. He was a member of the famous New York Photo League and was ahead of his time in marketing himself and his photographic style.  Luckily, for us, his archive of 20,000 prints, negatives, tearsheets and other memorabilia were donated to the International Center of Photography and have went on to produce several outstanding exhibitions and books.  June 12 was Weegee’s birthday and to celebrate, look up his work and admire it.  You can find it here.
Margaret Bourke-White’s Birthday
Weegee wasn’t the only famous and ground-breaking photographer that celebrated a birthday this week.  June 14, Bourke-White would’ve been 109 years old.  She is best known for three things:  (1) the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry; (2) the first female war correspondent; and (3) the first female photographer for Life magazine.  She died of Parkinson’s Disease in August of 1971, but her images left a lasting impression.  One of my favorites is “Kentucky Flood.”  What about you? See more of her work here.
50 Most Influential Photographers of the Past 10 Years
I don’t have a lot to say about this specific news item.  I came across this article from one of the individuals I follow on Twitter.  It’s a slide show (with a small write up) of the 50 most influential photographers in the past decade.  The article was featured on the mobile site of the men’s magazine Complex.  The list is certainly pushing the boundaries of what is defined as photography, but even without knowing half of the names on the list, I’m going to give their work a longer look.  You never know where inspiration will come from.  What do you think about this list?  Check it out here.
Negative Viewer App for the iPad
I happened to come across another cool app this week.  This specific app is for the iPad.  It’s relatively simple, as it turns your iPad into a tablet sized light box.  Thus, providing you with an easy way of viewing and evaluating your negatives.  I haven’t actually tried it yet, but it’s free, so how can I not download it?  it will be the cheapest light box that I’ll ever find.  Check it out here and here.
That does it for this week.  Get out there and shoot and I’ll see you all next week.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Process - Part Three

Welcome to part three of my creative process blog series.  In this installment, I’m going to start diving into the details of my particular process, which is why I started this series in the first place.  Now that I have two posts under my belt, I hope you’re on the road to a more creative place with photography.  You’ve begun to look at photography as art, you’ve started to develop your creative eye by working a scene for all possible ways to photograph a subject and you’ve decided to shoot as often as you can.  But, how do you start creating photography that will set you apart from other photographers?

Every photographer starts by photographing what is interesting to them.  This subject matter eventually becomes a type of comfort zone.  This helps to develop a style and a body of work; however, as with all comfort zones, we need to move out of them in order to grow.  That’s not an easy thing to do, especially in photography.  One way to step out of that comfort zone and expand your photographic style is by shooting a subject or style of photography that you’re not typically known for.  If you’re a landscape photographer, try shooting portraits; if you’re a nature photographer, try shooting urban and cityscapes, etc.  Try bringing your creative eye (from your preferred style) to this new subject; this will allow you to start distancing yourself from other photographers, further cultivating your vision.  This activity won’t be the only thing you need to achieve this.  There is a component of photography that is truly unique; something that no one can duplicate no matter the amount of effort or the opportunity.  That singular component is inspiration.  Inspiration can be defined as the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. Only you can interpret how your intellect or emotions are moved at any given time.  Even if two artists are inspired by the same thing, the inspiration touches each artist in a manner truly unique to them.  

Start opening yourself up to inspiration.  We come in contact with hundreds, even thousands of things during our daily routines.  How many times do we actually stop to absorb a potential inspiration?  If we do, do we try to focus on that while we shoot or even use it for a future project?  We almost always continue about our days and forget that moment or sudden source of inspiration.  If you’re waiting until you get to a photo shoot to be inspired then you’re waiting entirely too late.  Use any inspiration that you come in contact with as part of your work.  It could be food, literature, film, music, art, other artists, other photographers, your surroundings, a family member, a friend, nature; it could be anything.  We wake up to a world of inspiration surrounding us, we just have to open our eyes to it.  
I’ve been trying to tap my creative side as a photographer for the past couple of years now.  I’ve done everything that I’ve suggested in this series of blog posts; however, I came across a piece of literature this year that has helped me expand my creative thinking.  I was gifted a book on the creative process that I highly recommend.  It’s written by an actor, writer and creative director from Minnesota named Blaine Hogan and the book is entitled Untitled:  Thoughts on the Creative Process.  By no means is this book mind blowing (at least not for me), but I did take substantial notes and it really has helped me to further develop my ideas (either photographic or marketing related).  One suggestion that Hogan provides is a process that he likes to call “scratching.”  This process is a time set aside to gather and collect ideas that will be used at a later date.  Hogan uses music; he pulls five or six eclectic songs from his music library and listens to them on repeat.  He then writes down any thoughts, ideas, feelings or emotions that come to him while listening to those songs.  It doesn’t matter if these things are fully fleshed out; what matters is that he was inspired or interpreted a specific thought or emotion and he wrote it down.  Those scratching exercises always help generate project ideas in his role as creative director.  Listening to a small music playlist may not be the way for you to generate ideas or draw inspiration that can be used in your photography; however, you can find an activity that does work for you.  It boils down to interpreting the inspiration that surrounds you on a daily basis and cataloguing it for future use.  The cataloguing is almost as important as gathering the inspiration, but I’ll get into that for my next post.  
Get inspired and I’ll be back with more on the cataloguing process in the next post!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Photography Week in Review - June 3-9

Welcome to the first full week of June.  It’s hard to believe that we’re to the halfway point of 2013.  It’s almost officially summer and that usually means additional shooting opportunities.  Here’s hoping you’ve been able to get out and shoot.  Now, onto the Photography Week in Review for June 3-9.
Mat Marrash Print Sale
I’m a big fan of Mat’s work.  Not only is he extremely talented, he’s also a great teacher willing to share his knowledge.  Mat is also willing to lend a hand to other artists in need.  Lauren Bagley, a brilliant illustrator, was the victim of a massive hardware crash resulting in the loss of her PC and tablet.  Mat’s hosting an “emergency print sale” for three of his most recent large format prints.  All proceeds are going to Lauren to help get her back up and running.  This is a great opportunity to own some of Mat’s beautiful work and help another artist.  Learn more and buy prints here.
Ringo Starr Photography Book
While on the subject of prints for sale, Ringo Starr is set to release an e-book titled “Photograph” this week.  The book features never before seen photographs of The Beatles and is being released in conjunction with the Grammy Museum’s exhibit, “Ringo:  Peace & Love.”  The book will be available in physical format in December.  Read more about it here.  
Japan Camera Hunter Zine and Book Feature
I talked about the Japan Camera Hunter site a few weeks ago.  This week he posted a little write up regarding a few self published zines and books that he received in the mail.  He’s definitely a fan of this format and has decided to do a feature on them (potentially once a month, depending on the number of submissions he receives).  This is a great opportunity to get your work seen by a much bigger audience.  Read the post and learn how to submit your zine or book here.
British Journal of Photography Article on Creative Peak/Decline
This article can be summed up by a quote from one of the individuals that was interviewed for it:  “How do photographers keep their work fresh in the face of - “probably the greatest taboo subject of all” - creative decline?”  The issue is now on newsstands and features exclusive interviews with photographers aged 19 to 100 and how they keep their work fresh as they age.  It’s a great read, so I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Additionally, it’s nice a companion to my ongoing series about the creative process.  You can read highlights from the article here.
Lomography Releasing a New Product
Based on their great marketing and product packaging, Lomography likes everyone to believe that they have the perfect tools for keeping your creativity as a photographer alive.  Love them or hate them, they do a great job of promoting analogue photography.  In that vein, they’ve been teasing their brand new mystery product this week.  They’ve released four clues regarding the product they’re set to announce in a few days.  Based on the clues, my early guess is a SLR system.  Guess for yourself here and stay tuned as the announcement is set for this coming week.
Ona Releases New Camera Bags
While I’m on the subject of new products, a camera bag company that I’m obsessed with announced a new line of bags for this summer.  Ona is a company with a simple vision:  To provide camera bags and accessories that complement your life and style.  I’m in love with their Union Street bag and I hope that I will have it as part of my gear soon.  However, that is not their newest bag.  They just announced a new line for summer.  Here are the gorgeous bags that have been added to their already stellar line-up:  The Leather Bowery, The Bolton Street Backpack, The Dark Truffle Leather Brixton, The Smoke Bowery and The Presidio Camera Strap.  Learn more about Ona here.
New Apps
I have a couple new apps that I wanted to share this week.  The first one was not necessarily released this week, but just came to my attention.  It’s called Shutter-Speed.  It’s an iPhone app that measures the shutter speeds of old cameras.  If you’re like me and you have a collection of old manual cameras, then this app is something that will definitely come in handy.  Unfortunately, as time passes by, the shutters of these old manual gems seem to slow, which can cause improper exposure of your film.  This app measures the shutter speed of these manual cameras using sound waves to mark the time when the shutter opens and when it closes.  I haven’t been able to test it yet, but I’m definitely intrigued.  Read more about it here and here.
The second app that I wanted to discuss was just released this week.  The VSCO Cam is a new mobile photograhy app that is like Instagram on steroids.  You can take images directly from the app, edit immediately after capture, add filters from their multitude of presets and share the image across multiple channels.  The interface is sleek and shiny and is due to attract many hardcore mobile photographers.  I downloaded the app but have yet to really play around with it.  Regardless, I recommend checking out their promotional video here and seeing what the app is all about.
Pdexposures Release Podcast Episode #11
It just wouldn’t be a week in review if I didn’t mention the Pdexposures gang, would it?  They released their 11th podcast episode this week and it’s all about instant film.  Nate, Tony and Simon discuss the evolution of The Impossible Project, Fuji Pack Film and Fuji Instax.  Would you believe that Tony is a fan of instax?  They’re back with their normal banter and they even include some instant photography book recommendations.  Check the podcast out here.  
That’s it for this week.  Stay tuned for part three in my creative process series (due to drop in no more than two days) and I have a few new images from a shoot last fall to post.  Keep shooting and have a great week!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Photography Week in Review - May 27-June 2

Upcoming Leica Announcement
There has been a lot of buzz this week about an impending Leica announcement.  The mysterious “Mini-M” is set to be announced on June 11.  There have been a few teaser images floating around this week.  See them here and here.  What do you think the “Mini-M” is?
Pdexposures Kickstarter Article and Intermission Challenge
It wouldn’t be right of me if I didn’t follow-up a Leica post with a Pdexposures post, right?  Nate from the Pdexposures team posted a great article on signing up for Kickstarters that you’re interested in early.  For one, the money won’t be withdrawn from your account for a specified number of days and that’s only if the project is successful.  Perhaps the best thing is that you usually have an early bird option to pick up the project at half of the cost of what it would be when it launches to the general public.  Read the article here and see what great deals Nate has gotten on some exciting projects.
Continuing on with the theme of saving money, Pdexposures released an intermission podcast this week featuring a new project/contest – The $20 Challenge.  The object is to buy a camera, a roll of film and have it developed for no more than a $20 bill.  Listen to all of the details here.  
Nashville Community Darkroom on Kickstarter
There’s currently a great community darkroom Kickstarter project in need of funding.  This is a project that was started by John Haubenreich, a lawyer and amateur photographer, and Katie Sampson, a recent graduate from Louisiana State University and professional photographer.  They have all of the items for a great analogue photography center in Nashville.  All they need is money for the building materials.  This darkroom project will serve as not only a working space, but a gathering place for like minded photographers as well as a community learning center for schools.  They also have a killer "Wes Anderson style" video to introduce the project.  The deadline for backing this project is June 19 and at the time of this post they were still about $16,000 from their goal.  Read more and back the project here.
Aperture Tremont’s New Issue of Anie
From one darkroom to another, it’s time to talk about the owner of Aperture Tremont’s most recent project.  Aperture Tremont is a photography variety store (as well as studio space, gallery space and community darkroom) owned by Scott Meivogel.  You can check out all of their film goodness here.  About a month or two ago, Scott and his constant collaborator, Anthony Zart, released a great analogue zine entitled Anie.  The first issue was great and the second issue is hitting the store and newsstands on June 1.  I highly recommend checking this out.  Pick up your copy here.
Light [ ] Squared Article on Shooting Both Analogue and Digital
There are a number of photographers that shoot both analogue and digital; I’m one of them (even though most of my output is analogue) and so is Scott Meivogel from Aperture Tremont.  Patrick J. Clarke, the creator of the blog Light [ ] Squared, produced a great piece this week about shooting both analogue and digital side by side.  He made some very valid arguments for carrying both cameras to the same shoot and it’s worth a read.  Check it out here.
KEH Expands Purchasing Hours
If the previously mentioned article has you itching to get some new gear so you can shoot both analogue and digital, the great used camera emporium, KEH, just expanded their purchasing hours this week.  The purchasing department can be reached at (770) 333-4220 or (800) 342-5534, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST.  That’s three additional hours.  Visit KEH here.
International Photography Awards Deadline Extended
The International Photography Awards, a prestigious, annual, photography competition extended their deadline to July 15, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.  This is almost two additional months to get your best images ready to be seen by some of the most influential individuals in the photography world.  $22,500 in prize money is up for grabs in addition to the notoriety that winning can bring to your work.  Learn more or submit your entries here.
Ilford Obscura Pinhole Camera Gets Official Release Dates
I discussed this camera in my first week in review post and this week Ilford officially announced the availability of this camera.  It will be available next week in the UK; the second week of June for the rest of Europe; and the second week of July in the U.S.  Find out more here.
FPP Releases New Pod cast
The FPP gang were broadcasting again from Findlay, Ohio and this podcast features a brief overview of the upcoming Photostock Celebration, listener letters, Nikon F/Nikon F1 camera discussion/review, FPP gang featured on analogue photography blogs and a lengthy copyright discussion.  Check it out here.
Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Photography Staff
Perhaps one of the biggest stories and most shocking was the news that the Chicago Sun-Times laid off their entire full-time photography staff, including a Pulitzer Prize winner John H. White, due to the consumer shift towards online video.  According to Amar Toor of The Verge, the remaining editorial staff will be trained on iPhone photography, video and basic editing.  Running a photography blog, it's pretty obvious which way I lean in this discussion.  Regardless of the increased reliance on cell phone photography, the mobile photography art movement and the use of it in photojournalism, you can't replace the years of photojournalistic experience with reporters using iPhones.  The reporter's main focus is to get the story and crank out column inches; their mindset is different from the photographer trying to capture the essence of a story.  Sure, we live in the days of lean business tactics, but you can't honestly tell me that a reporter with an iPhone is going to generate the same quality as John H. White.  Read the New York Times article here, The Verge article here and the PetaPixel article here.  What do you think?
For Ohioans
The Cleveland West Art League, in conjunction with the Ohio Art League, is holding the "Cleveland Connection" Juried Exhibition.  Entries will be accepted June 1-July 5.  Learn more here.

Well, that does it for this week.  Keep shooting and stay tuned for part three of my series on process.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Photography Week in Review - May 20-26

It's hard to believe that it's time for another photography week in review.  I don't have as much to report on this week, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a busy week.  In fact, there was a story that generated a great deal of debate within the photography community this week.  So, here's the photography week in review for May 20-26.

Yahoo Makes Two Big Announcements
Monday started off with a bang when Yahoo announced that it had agreed to purchase the young startup blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion.  Tumblr is a popular blog platform with over 100 million users and little revenue.  The demographic sways towards the younger generation and the platform focuses more on visual content; it's almost as if the users are curating content that they put on display to the world.  It will be interesting to see how this deal shakes out; how Yahoo will use the service to generate revenue and if the platform can continue to gain traction without losing it's current user base.  There is art and photographic content that factors into Tumblr; however, that's not the announcement that stirred up photographers around the globe.  In a press conference late Monday, Yahoo unveiled a complete redesign of Flickr.  

Yahoo acquired Flickr in 2005 but devoted very little resources towards further development.  It was if time stopped moving for Flickr; while other platforms continually updated and made changes to stay competitive, Flickr made very little changes.  The user interface was plain; white background and heavy on text.  The new update, which greeted a multitude of unexpected users Monday evening, was not the "coming out" party that Yahoo was hoping for.  Users flocked to the help forum to tell Yahoo how unhappy they were.  Over on Twitter and Facebook, where I follow a number of photographers, concerns and feedback were rampant the majority of the week.  Change is usually hard to accept, but it's easier when it's the right thing to do.  Yahoo didn't make all of the right moves with the Flickr roll out.  Flickr is a social network; but it's a social network for a large group of photographers.  The white background allowed the user to focus on the art; the new look floods the screen with photographs and it can be quite overwhelming and chaotic.  Additionally, information about the photograph (tags, exposure details, descriptions, etc.) are lost in the new design.  Individual photo streams are not as personalized as before and changes to the Pro account were also cause for concern.  It didn't make matters any better when Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, made a statement regarding the Flickr Pro account that upset a number of photographers:

"There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”

Needless to say, Mayer backtracked later in the week and said the statement was taken out of context.  In terms of numbers, the professional photography crowd as well as the serious amateurs, make up a small population; however, they are highly active on Flickr and it's not a wise decision to alienate them in the manner that Mayer did.  There are other services out there that could benefit from the "new" Flickr.  The additional space for users is nice, but I'm not a fan of the user interface changes.  The active groups and communities are what make Flickr so great, so I'm not sure I'll be leaving any time soon.  Time will tell if this move was for the better or for the worse.  Read about the changes here and feel free to comment on how you feel about Flickr's new look.
Freestyle Updates Website
Another photographic company updated it's website this week, but to much less fan fare and complaints.  Freestyle is a photographic supply company that has been servicing the photographic community with tools of the trade since 1946.  They are based in Los Angeles and are dedicated to stocking traditional photographic materials in addition to newer digital and hybrid items.  They updated their website this week with a new interface that's much more attractive in addition to being more customer friendly.  It's a great new look for a great company.  Stop by, say hi and purchase some film (or loads of other things) here
Pdexposures Releases Podcast Episode #10
Photographic accessories are one of the many things you can purchase at the new Freestyle website and it just so happens that Nate, Tony and Simon released their tenth podcast in which they focus on photographic accessories.  They banter in their usual manner and of course fit a mention of Leica in at every chance they get.  It's a fun episode and I think the guys are really starting to hit a groove.  Give it a listen here.
120 Film Cases!
Bellamy Hunt, also known as Japan Camera Hunter, lives in Tokyo and sources cameras and other photographic gear to customers around the world.  In addition to this amazing service, he also runs a blog filled with great articles and fantastic artist profiles.  He has a long running feature entitled "In Your Bag," in which photographers send in pictures and descriptions of their photo bags.  He created these great 35mm film carrying cases and he just released the final prototype for a 120 film case due to come out in June.  Check it out on the Facebook page and visit his great site here.
Instant Film Society Print and Negative Holders
While we're on the subject of photographic organization, I came across another wonderful item this week.  The Instant Film Society, a group based in Texas dedicated to the use and promotion of instant film, have a wonderful invention for sale.  Anyone that's shot pack film/peel-apart film in the field knows how difficult it can be to keep your prints and negatives dry, free of dust and flat.  Instant shooters fear no more.  The Instant Film Society created a handy drying box for prints and negatives that they're offering them for sale for a small fee.  If you shoot a Polaroid Land camera or you use pack film in a medium or large format back, I highly suggest picking up one of these nifty, little, drying boxes.  Pick one up here.
Snap It! See It! Giveaway
Continuing on with instant film goodness, the site dedicated to the love of instant film just launched a very special giveaway.  Thanks to the kind individuals at The Impossible Project, Snap It! See It! is giving away a silver Polaroid SX-70 Sonar kit (with a PX Shade and some film).  It's very easy to enter the giveaway, so head over to the site and find all the details here.

Wayne F. Miller (1918-2013)
Wayne F. Miller passed away on May 22, 2013.  Miller served in the Navy during World War II and was chosen by Edward Steichen to be part of a special unit designed to document the war.  He was one of the first individuals to capture images of post atomic bomb Hiroshima.  After returning to Chicago, he created his most well known series "The Way of the Northern Negro," which is now held in multiple museums.  He joined Magnum Photos in 1958 and served as President from 1962-66.  During this period, he strived to "photograph mankind and explain man to man."  Learn more about Wayne F. Miller here.

Petapixel Article on the Decisive Moment
Earlier this week the site Petapixel posted an article on how the decisive moment in photography was dead and the constant moment is and will continue to be the future of photography.  The article begins by talking about the master of the decisive moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The author goes on to discuss the creation of art as the curation of time and delves into a discussion of technology and the future of photography.  You can read the full article here, but the author is concluding that in the not too distant future there will no longer be the need for the decisive moment or for the photographer to actually be present for the moment he or she is capturing.  Needless to say, I do not agree with the author's insights.  What the author is clearly missing is the human element of photography. So much of what we photography is not necessarily the decisive moment as it is a personal or emotional moment that connects the photographer to the subject.  If Alfred Stieglitz had the technology that is referenced in the article, the images of Georgia O'Keefe would almost certainly not be as emotional, complex and as amazing as they are today.  They had a connection and a way of working together that could never be replaced by technology.  What about the uncovered street photography of Vivian Maier?  Would she have been able to pick out the exact images that she captured using drone technology?  So much of photography is about being in the moment and capturing what you feel and witness. To remove yourself from the equation creates a disconnect; watching a historic event unfold on television is not the same as watching it unfold in person.  Technology can be wonderful and has done so much for the photographic industry, but let's not forget what has been behind every technological breakthrough in the industry - a human eye behind the viewfinder capturing the beauty that is before them.

For Ohioans
The Dayton Art Institute is holding an alternative photographic processes workshop June 3-5.  The workshop is being taught by Richard Jurus, Director of Photographic and Digital Studies at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.  The workshop will focus on three different printing processes:  Cyanotype, Vandyke Brown and Platinum/Palladium.  The workshop is composed of three, daily, five hour sessions.  Cost of the workshop is $200 for non-members and $175 for members.  Hurry, because registration ends today, May 27.  Learn more here.   

That's it for this week.  Happy Memorial Day!  Get out there and shoot and feel free to comment on any of the items discussed this week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Process - Part Two

Last week, I began to pull back the shades in regards to my creative process.  I discussed the importance of overcoming the mental hurdle of not viewing photography as art.  I can’t stress that step enough.  If I didn’t view my photography as art, there is no way that I would’ve created some of the images that I have.  It’s the most vital element when trying to evaluate your photographic creative process. 

This week, I want to focus on activities that will help facilitate this process.  I don’t partake in them for every project, but they have helped to change my approach.  I’m talking about activities that cultivate your photographic eye and your individual voice in photography.  We all see things differently, so why should we try to imitate images that we’ve seen before?  Sure, looking at the way others have approached a subject is a great way to get inspiration, but it can lead to boring photography.  Boring photography doesn’t mean that it’s not technically proficient photography; it just means that you didn’t bring anything unique to the image.  You simply saw it as another photographer did.  So, how do you stop seeing what others did and start seeing what others didn’t?
When I jumped into photography with both feet, I joined a small photography club in my area.  The advisor of the club was the photography professor at the local community college and she played a major part in pushing the creative limits of my photography.  One of the assignments she would give her students was one that pushed individual creativity without sacrificing technical proficiency.  She would assign the students to select a subject; something simple and not too complex.  After the subject had been selected, she would require the students to assemble a series of 10 different, final images of the same subject.  This is a great activity to generate creative thinking.  It requires the photographer to start viewing the mundane in a new light by forcing a change of perspective and by thinking about a subject in ways that are atypical.  Lying on the ground, getting on a ladder, changing the location and context of the item; these are all ways to start seeing things in a different light.  One of the greatest examples that perspective has on an image is one of William Eggleston’s.  It is variously known as Untitled, Tricycle and Memphis, 1970.  You can view the image here.
Remember, art is subjective, and you may find this image boring.  A lot of critics felt Eggleston’s show of 1976, which featured this image, was boring and banal.  This image has held up over time and is one of Eggleston’s most well-known images.  As adults, we would be looking down at the tricycle.  Can you imagine if Eggleston had taken this image from that perspective?  It would be boring and banal; by changing his perspective, he brought a sense of childhood wonderment to the image coupled with the looming adult world that would dispense of our innocence and naivety entirely too soon.  By changing his perspective, Eggleston was able to see what others didn’t or couldn’t.
Another easy activity that will help you locate your photographic voice is simply to shoot more.  And then shoot some more.  And then shoot some more.   It takes about 10,000 hours to become truly good at something, so this means that you need to shoot every chance you get.  By continually practicing your craft, you develop a style and become more adept at pushing individual boundaries.  One way to do this is to take on a project that focuses on shooting every single day - something like a 365 project or a 52 week project.  The point of this type of project is to take your camera everywhere; it should become an extension of your body.  You begin to view every single thing around you as a potential image.  I completed my own 365 project in 2011 and it was one of the most challenging, yet satisfying projects I’ve ever undertaken.  I created work that I never would’ve if I wasn’t out there shooting every day.  Were there days that I didn’t feel like shooting or days that I wasn’t feeling especially creative?  Of course there were; in fact, you could probably pick out those images in my project photo stream.  However, the project challenged me to find ways to interestingly photography mundane objects.  The project doesn’t have to be a yearlong commitment; it could be something as simple as taking a picture every day for a month; or shoot weekly or bi-weekly themes.  As long as the assignment puts a camera up to your eye more often than not, then you’ll begin to look at the world differently.  
A great example of photographers and artists working on a project to push creative boundaries is the Coalesce 52 project.  Two photographers are shooting at least a roll of film a week and an illustrator/designer/writer is producing an original visual or written piece a week.  Check it out here.  If you’re looking for places to get ideas for themes or assignments, look no further than Snap It! See It!  They are an instant photography based blog that encourages readers to submit photos to their bi-weekly themes.
The two biggest obstacles in the creative process are the two that I’ve now discussed.  The following entries in my series will begin to focus on my personal creative process and how I set out to create art.