Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Great New Year!

December 7, 2012

I need to think more conceptual and not allow a scene or subject to overwhelm my senses with extraneous details.  If a scene is powerful (has alot of striking subjects and striking light) don't jump in and begin shooting randomly.  I know sometimes light is fleeting and you must act fast but calm your nerves and think.  Think about the subject in front of you, what idea, emotions, feelings does this subject represent and what can I do to create through my choice of lens, exposure, composition, perspective etc.. something more than just random objects in the scene that give the viewer a mixed and confusing response to your image.  By making your image a metaphor, you have created an expression beyond literal seeing.

Think about your image's purpose before you click the shutter.

What do these details represent, what larger meaning is speaking to me through my subject and the light that is present and the composition that I am choosing.

Think about the scene. What if you eliminate parts of your initial composition.  Are you shooting with a wide angle lens and your subject is now just part of an overall landscape that doesn't speak to your initial purpose for composing the scene.

Open yourself  up to that voice in your head that is speaking to you, wanting you to look deeper into the subject. Look at the scene from a different perspective that would speak more to your audience and give that inner voice a visual representation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish all a Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope everyone is spending time with family and friends.

November 18, 2012

Do you over think when you are taking photos? Is your mind overly active, moving in different direction worrying about how you look to others as you explore the subject of interest around you?  Are you afraid your going to step on someones toes and be yelled at?  I guess you have to ask yourself is this subject worth my effort even if it means taking a chance on being singled out in a crowd.  Do you have confidence in your self as a photographer to focus on your goal, choosing to take a great image that you and only you see.  When you come to a scene whether it is a street scene in a busy city or a landscape tourist trap you must let go of your anxieties that have built up and just intuitively recognize your perceptual responses that are guiding you to your subject.  This inner sight you are relying on doesn't have an ego, an I that is exploring your surroundings.  Something is guiding you to your subject and if you let go and release your constricted perceptions and just let the scene reveal itself to you, let this inner sight guide you to compose a scene that is meaningful to you, your images will be worth taking.    

Subjects are fleeting, light changes quickly and a momentary pause could mean the difference of getting your photo or something less revealing.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Going back to a special environment that means something to you is what good photography is all about.  Once you have been to a scene you have more ideas of what can and will make a better image.  You have done the initial leg work and have had that inspirational moment, when you just know that this place is special.  A great location inspires you to have patience and wait for the best light (sunrise/sunset), composition (you have already tried a number of them previously), atmospheric conditions (depending on the time of the year), and details that can all come together and make a great photograph.  For me Lake Cassidy is one of those places.  In an earlier post I mentioned a missed opportunity that arose when I wasn't prepared because of nervous energy that sabotaged my composition and choice of lens.  I wanted to post some images of the lake when I was more calm and sure of my lens, composition and light.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21, 2012

Can you make it in Stock Photography without shooting those high demand images it seems all the clients need?  You know the ones, the edgy, natural, de-composition imagery of young moderns exploring their world without fear, inhibitions or purpose.  The image depicts a moment in time, composed with a gesture to illustrate an emotion we can all identify with and through that connection buy the product they have subtly put on left center stage. Can you have it both ways, a career creating your own personal images that seem to resonate beyond the art world and get into mainstream consciousness and yet will sell?  I feel the answer now is no.  Be prepared to work at other things as well as your photography in order to make a living.  The internet has leveled the relevance of licensing your imagery. It has cheapened the photo experience and lowered the bar on what can sell (and the price it can sell at) and what should sell.  Now in the web environment anything can get published.  You have photo apps that can transform an ordinary image of a person or landscape or urban environment into an edgy combo of self interest and self delusion that makes the viewer believe that the image they are seeing was actually the purposeful intent of the photographer. We have on one hand photographers that believe an image must have a purpose and a subject to reveal, and on the other hand photographers that shoot in rapid fire mode always checking their monitor to see what they shot and after seeing it, never explore further the subject in front of them.  They never have that nagging did I miss something moment, have I explored all the possibilities I can with this subject. With the dreaded back monitor, we see the image come up and that is good enough so they  upload the images and manipulate them after the fact. Not to enhance the subject (because there was no subject to begin with) but, to cover over the lack of purpose in making the image. These broken connections between the subject, the image and the viewer become the new standard to exploit.  We become more fragmented in our ability to see purpose and revelations in the imagery of others.  It becomes more difficult to see their conscious choices to enhance and educate us on the chosen subject. When the minutiae of detail we see on the web becomes so vast that it drowns out good photography, we are on the threshold of selfish, delusions of grandeur. If you don't explore your subject and get closer to it and reveal something of its inner character, then you have lost the depth it takes to create emotional connected work.  I know it is not all or nothing; just creating personal work and nothing else.  I create imagery for stock photo clients and then create imagery for myself.  Sometimes the personal work crosses over to mainstream media outlets but more often than not the clients have been conditioned to accept whatever trend is being perpetrated on them at the time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13, 2012

We enjoy Halloween.  Each year I get 12 pumpkins and carve them for our haunted porch.  The pumpkins line the steps leading up to this dark, mysterious, scary cavern.  A huge bat hangs from the porch and we have a mannequin that has a scream mask on it.  When our daughter was younger she too would dress up like the mannequin and stand still on the opposite side of the porch and the kids couldn't tell which one was real or fake.  She got the biggest kick out of scaring them as they came up to touch her cloak.  Years later some of the kids think that the one mannequin we still use is real and they don't want to come up to our house.

Once Halloween is over I use those pumpkins in a photo shoot.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30, 2012

I try and shoot at least one subject a week. Sometimes I shoot more, but other times life's barriers interfere with my goal.  My normal routine is to shoot and then upload those images into Lightroom and then do a quick 1st edit.  But not today. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of time we use downloading, editing, cropping, color correcting, captioning, key wording, etc...  This takes away from the satisfied feeling you had while you were creating your images. You begin to think more about what you will have to do to your images on the computer and not on the subject you are photographing. Why shoot and explore your subject when it just means more work when you get back to your office?  That is no way to enjoy photography.  So this afternoon, I will wait a bit and enjoy just the making of those images and not the rush to get them before an editor. It is nice sometimes to just think about what you photographed instead of the instant knowing what you photographed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012

As Autumn begins in the Northwest I can't help but remember as a child how fun it was to play in the fallen leaves.  We knew exactly where we wanted to go and we would get on our bicycles and tear down to Woodland park in Seattle. We would then go crazy making huge piles of the fallen leaves and then have leaf fights.  That is one of the great things about the Pacific Northwest, the changing seasons.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I have been thinking lately concerning the tit for tat of micro shooters versus the professional photographers.  We have our own definition of what a micro shooter is and what a professional shooter is and these labels interfere with what is truly happening in the Stock Photo Business.  For me, there is no difference between the two when it comes to the imagery produced.

How many times do we hear these same old cliches;  the "professional" trying to convince the micro shooters that they are destroying the stock image market,  they say maintaining a higher price structure will in turn stabilize the photo market place for everyone.  We should be paid a decent wage for our photo efforts. not give our hard earned images away for pennies.  You micro shooters better watch your backs,  prices are dropping even further in your arena and the studio production guys are jeopardizing your future sales too.

From the Micro stock perspective...What are you guys talking about? Price stability in the photo market place is a joke!  There is no price structure anymore.   Why would a magazine pay for your travel image when the locals are shooting thousands of images and posting them to their social media sites on a daily basis?  All these images can be bought and published for basically a credit line on the image.  With the amount of choices and the new mega pixel phones, the image tsunami is getting bigger and the client's choices are expanding. We (micro-stock shooters) feel we are getting a fair price for our images and it is not as if you professionals haven't compromised your own pricing structure.  We all have to compromise.  The micro studio shooters are eating the professionals lunch too.  Rights Managed shooters are saying how great it is to have control over their images, when the agencies are selling your RM images for peanuts. The RM pricing scheme doesn't seem to protect you.

The new market place doesn't care who you are behind the image.  The Image is King. You can sell it for pennies or dollars, give it away, or just be happy to have captured a moment that relates to your life and the interest of others.  It is your choice and we have to get over the illusion that any image we shoot has a high value because of the license model we choose. Pricing structures adapt to the market place and you have to adapt accordingly.  That doesn't mean I will jump ship and start shooting for one of the micro sites.  I don't want to chase the proverbial penny through high volume productions.  I like the slower pace of committing to a subject and exploring it more thoroughly.

Good imagery is good whether it is in a micro collection, a Royalty Free collection or a Rights Managed collection.  You have to feel comfortable with how you shoot and what kind of a business you want. If you shoot for a micro site then you hope that volume makes up for the low fees.  And sometimes they do.  But for me I feel more comfortable having my images in Non-Exclusive Rights Managed Collections.

As we argue the same old cliches about each other, we miss the real point of photography.  Photography is your chance to express yourself in a unique way that can impart to the viewer a new level of seeing this world. Your image can trigger in the viewer something unexpected, something jarring or innocent or inspirational.  The Stock Photo Business is no longer a business model that makes any sense.  If you focus on the imagery rather than getting frustrated with the $ returns then you will have made a leap of faith that eventually your images will sell to a client that sees their worth and is willing to pay a decent price for your unique perspective.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15, 2012

Summer is ending and school is beginning.  We can already feel the change in the morning up hear in the Great Northwest. Some fun summer photos to keep us going as winter comes steamrolling along.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

Barriers to Success In Photography

Have any of these words interfered with your ability to get that perfect image, nerves, hectic, fast changing light, lens choice, perspective, anxiety, tension is mounting, I must get this shot, mind racing, and more.  If we over think a photograph we have already lost the natural flow of the scene and your relationship with the subject.  Your imposing on the scene your inner desire for the absolute best composition, the best color, the best of everything and by doing this you are limiting your ability to intuitively recognize the good photograph wanting to be taken right in front of you. As a matter of fact I think if you are overly concerned with the technical side of image taking you have already missed the shot.  I am not saying don't be prepared.  With experience we all have an artist's ability to previsualize an image.  I have a lens rotation I do when taking photographs.  I start wide and keep narrowing my focus until I have found a close-up macro shot.

I bring this up because the other day I went back to one of my favorite small lakes up in Snohomish County, Lake Cassidy.  The lake sits in a valley and usually has fog hugging its calm surface.  Fishermen will come in and launch their small engine boats (sometimes canoes, kayaks and fishing inter-tubes) on the west side of the lake right as the sun rises over the Cascade Mountain Range. It is a wonderful landscape and has all the ingredients for making a great picture.

I hadn't been there in awhile and as the light got better and better I heard a boat in the distance heading my way.  I had a 50mm lens on my camera and had a great composition with Mount Pilchuck to the right in the frame and the sun coming up through the fog on the left side of the frame and a boat in the distance coming perfectly into the composition.  But instead of thinking calmly I got excited about a potential new image and in mid-stream decided to change lens to a 105 mm.  As I put the lens on the camera I looked up and saw the small boat come out of the fog and right through the frame before I could re-compose my image and get the shot.  My nervous energy sabotaged what could have been a great scenic photograph.

I did go back to the lake the next morning and this time waited patiently as the fishermen entered my composition.  The light was great and I will post some of those when I get them processed through Lightroom.  The images below are from previous morning shoots.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012

Remember When?

I was on an assignment to shoot community guides for a national phone company.  And as it often happens when you are out and about looking for subjects, serendipity played a role.  I stumbled into a kids ballet class at one of the grade schools I was photographing.  This was perfect, a great teacher and the kids enthusiasm and me the loud photographer shooting with  MD-12 motor drives which sounded like a sledge hammer going off in your head.  I know what you're thinking, just take the motor drives off and then do a Henri Cartier-Bresson. Compose the frame allowing all the forms to line up perfectly and click the shutter for that decisive moment.  Very nice and tidy.  Oh no, not this cowboy.  I had in my mind's eye a young prodigy flying in midair and the audience clapping at the way the photographer captured with perfection the youthful ballerina's expression.  Or something like that.  So no, I didn't take the motor drives off and as I look back at that day I still remember the parent's (who were paying good hard earned money for these classes) distasteful looks at me as my motor drive (which felt hot in my hands) distracted not only the kids, but the teacher as well.  For me however, I didn't bat an eye, and it was only later as I was leaving that I realized that the loudest clap was not for the kids, but for me leaving. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 19, 2012

Do negative images sell?  I discussed this a few weeks ago and wanted to post some images that I have been working on that relate to this topic.  I have been shooting a series of images that focus on the the overabundance of pills in our lives. I know that when my folks got to a certain age they had an increase in the amount of medicines they took.  Some were necessary, some were not given their age and side effects.  The conceptual images I took for this series really focused on the addictive quality of the medicines that people use nowadays.  Whether it is for pain, anxiety, sleeping, sex, high blood pressure, etc...We are addicted to meds and the ads claim that by taking these pills your life will be better.  But when they list the the side effects of the medications you have to wonder what the heck is going on.

Will these images sell.  I think they will.  We are beginning to see more articles discussing the over medication of our children and our senior citizens. When creating images you have to go with your gut instincts and shoot what you feel.  Sometimes in photography subjects hit you over the head that you just can't ignore.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

We had a stray cat come into our yard after the 4th of July.  With all the fireworks going on it is amazing more pets don't run away.  We found out about the stray cat when our dog tore out of the house, down the back steps, howling like a banshee and abruptly stopped and began barking.  Our Jack Russell had corned the stray but this cat wasn't going to take anything from this little yapper and to put an exclamation point on it scratched our dogs nose and Jumping Jupiter backed off immediately until his reinforcements came.  As we separated the two animals the cat slowly and methodically moved under our back deck.  He then backed himself up against the wall and peered out daring anyone to try and move him.  Our daughter sat and talked with the cat as we went around the neighborhood to see if anyone was missing a pet.  Sure enough it was one of our neighbors a few doors down and our stray was reunited with his family.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7, 2012

Before dawn there is a quiet movement of nature.  A slow waking to a new day.   In this quiet place your interior dialogue can distract you from this moment. The key is to calm this reflection to a little ripple that moves outward from your interior to an exterior subject and transforms the landscape into an image worth taking. You submerge yourself in the environment and see more deeply the things around you. Potential images are everywhere the trick is to really see them.  You cannot do this with an active, jealous mind.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012

Safe and Happy 4th of July.  Up here in Marysville people take their fireworks very seriously, so we have hoses at the ready both in the front yard and in the back yard. Of course we add our 2 cents as well.

The clean up from last year!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23, 2012

Negative Images vs Positive Images

I do think positive images sell better than negative images.  Who wants to be beaten over the head time and time again with all the crap that goes on in this world.  News now is a police blotter.  But there is a place for images that tell the other side of life's march forward.  I tend to want to shoot negatively.  It fits my personality better.  I see the world through life's hardships and want to express that through concepts that explore our consumer/money oriented society. We are seeing a change in ads and in movies that explore the anxiety and advertising manipulations of our desires. As Pink Floyd lyric states, "Money is the Root of all Evil today".

But you can get caught up in this negative image trip and lose sight of the humor and the wonder in this world.  So I do try and balance my shooting with beauty and also with the real issues facing us.

Animals and kids are always a favorite for advertisers.  And especially humor.  These images can be used in multiple ways that connect with the consumers own experiences.