Street Photography Tutorial #3: Visualizing The Shot

Whether you shoot from the hip or bring your camera up to eye level, being able to pre-visualize a shot is one of the most important skill every photographer should learn. Unless youíre shooting in a studio with all the time in the world to play around with lighting and focal lengths, being able to know, even roughly, what your cameraís going to see ahead of time is a must. Even in the studio, time is usually money, and being able to create a shot in your mind before you even touch a camera will save you both; if you can switch focal lengths or lighting in your head you only have to do it once physically. Continue reading “Street Photography Tutorial #3: Visualizing The Shot”

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Nightlife Photography – How To Survive Shooting After Dark

Working in the nightlife industry as a photographer can be a lot of fun, but it can also be unnecessarily stressful and difficult dealing with the business side of things. Iíve talked about the technical difficulties of shooting bars and nightclubs before but Iíve never really touched on the logistic side of things. Of all the different types of photography gigs Iíve had, dealing with bars and clubs has been my biggest challenge as a business.

A lot of this applies to any kind of event photography, but shooting clubs and bars has it’s own subset of quirks and problems. Itís chaotic, fast paced and extremely unorganized. The turnover rate on of employees from bouncers right up to management is so fast that the people you dealt with last week may not be there this week. As soon as you develop a relationship with someone it seems theyíre out the door and you have to start all over.

Thereís always one person you officially work for; this could be yourself as a freelancer, a 3rd party promotions magazine or website, the venue owner, the venue manager, the promoter for that nights event and possibly the manager of some performer or celebrity if thereís one attending. The easiest situation is for you to shoot as a freelancer and then sell the shots to one or all of these people. By shooting for yourself you retain the commercial rights to the shots and can sell them to whoever you want. Sounds easy enough but this could mean a lot of leg work getting invites, press-passes, photo permissions etc. and freelancers are usually on the bottom of the list when it comes to getting any of these things done. It can take a lot of time and effort to build up the reputation and connections to grease the wheels and get yourself into an event worth shooting by yourself, and afterwards you still have to worry about turning those photos into a paycheck. If an event is big enough that people want pictures theyíre probably going to send their own photog instead of hoping a freelancer shows up and gets the shots they want.† Continue reading “Nightlife Photography – How To Survive Shooting After Dark”

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Street Photography Tutorial #2: Tools of the Trade

Last tutorial I talked about the two main types of street photographer: Hunter or Gatherer. This time I’m going to go into the tools of the trade. My street photography kit is very different from my working kit in many ways; my usual working kit contains everything I think I’m going to need for a job, a lot of things I’ll probably need and many things I’ll never need but feel better for bringing. My street photography kit however is usually only about half of what I would like to bring on a given day. The reason for this is simple, on a job I have to be ready for any possibility I can think of and be prepared for the fact I didn’t think of everything. Less is more however when it comes to street photography; I could be walking around for hours so the less I’m carrying the better, and the fewer lenses I bring the less I’ll be inclined to focus on lens selection instead of watching whatís going on around me. There’s many reasons to keep your street photography kit small, which I’ll get into as I go, but first things first, lets talk about the foundation of any kit: your camera and lens(es). Continue reading “Street Photography Tutorial #2: Tools of the Trade”

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Hello, My Name is Jesse and I have a problem…

Hello, my name is Jesse, I suffer from GAS but itís been over 6 months since my last purchase. Itís been a hard road, but Iím fighting, one day at a time. I know Iíll never be free of GAS, but Iím finally controlling it, instead of letting it control me.

For those of you new to the group, GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is an epidemic sweeping the photographic community, youíre not alone in this. Although it started in a very small subset of the population, mostly professionals and collectors, it has spread into the general populace at a staggering rate. Besides the fact that cameras are awesome, as electronics have become the de facto status symbols of our generation the urge to have bigger, better, more than our friends and neighbours is increasing. This creates a fertile breeding ground for GAS. GAS is highly infectious, highly contagious, expensive to treat and will lead to many hours of internet browsing. Although not sexually transmitted, it can be repellent to non-sufferers. Continue reading “Hello, My Name is Jesse and I have a problem…”

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Street Photography Tutorial #1: Hunter or Gatherer?

Street photography is probably one of the most miss-understood genres, not every photo taken on a street falls into the category and not all street photography actually happens there. Street photography is just as much photojournalism as it is art, in its simplest form, the goal is to capture people being people. There’s almost as many schools of street photography as there are photographers doing it, everyone has their own methods, preferences and visions but what unites us is our passion for recording the time in which we live. This series of tutorials, tips and essays will hopefully shed some light on what I’ve learned in the years I’ve been practicing. Continue reading “Street Photography Tutorial #1: Hunter or Gatherer?”

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Advice From Behind The Lens: How To Look Good On Stage

I’ve been shooting bands for almost a decade now, and while looking back over thousands of performance shots last week, I realized that all the bands I’ve photographed fall into two categories: “That show was amazing” and “Wow, I don’t even remember taking these pictures”. I know that’s a pretty obvious statement; of course I’m going to remember some bands and forget others. What wasn’t obvious at first, however, was that the more I thought about the bands I had forgotten shooting, the more I realized musical ability had very little to do with whether I remembered the show or not. I had shot some amazingly talented musicians but had completely forgotten their live show, while I could remember in detail some four song sets of the smallest and off-key garage bands. When it comes down to it, the common denominator is that some bands forget that when you put out a CD you’re a musician, but as soon as you go on stage, you’re a performer. If you want to be remembered, you have to put on a show, be larger than life. Occasionally when a band asks me to come shoot their show, they’ll ask if there’s anything special I’d like them to do; well, here it is: my guide to getting the best photos you can out of your performance. Continue reading “Advice From Behind The Lens: How To Look Good On Stage”

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On The Job: Exposure or Exploitation?

Sooner or later every photographer, or really anyone who makes a hobby out of what someone else calls a career, has to figure out exactly where they stand with their trade and ask themselves the question,
“Is my work good enough to get paid for, and is that something I want to pursue?”

How do you transition from hobbyist to getting paid? Everyone needs to gain exposure, get out there, get their work seen. I’ve given away my fair share of work, but at some point it turns from gaining exposure, to losing out on a paycheck. Where is this magical turning point, you may ask. Well… it’s a very, very fuzzy line.

One big trap a lot of beginning photogs fall into, myself included, is the “pics for exposure” trade. In my experience, as soon as you hear the words “it will be great exposure for you” a big red warning light should go off in your head, along with a suitably loud siren… I find something in the “AWWWOOOOOOGAAAA” family works quite well. Pics for exposure, ninety percent of the time means “we’re too cheap to pay for a photographer”. Continue reading “On The Job: Exposure or Exploitation?”

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Workflow Tutorial #2: Stand Development with Rodinal

So last time I went over the basics of what happens when you develop film, if you missed it, take a look at the previous tutorial: Film Developing Basics. Go on, I’ll wait… read it? Good! Now we’ll take a look at stand development, my personal favorite. Stand development goes against the grain of a lot of photographers, especially those that have worked in or with professional developing labs because it thumbs its nose at most of the standard practices and gives the finger to the rest. Film should be developed at a tightly controlled, exact temperature… stand development doesn’t care. You should have a stop watch on hand to precisely schedule each inversion cycle and total development time… nope, don’t care. Under no circumstances should two different brands or two different ISO rolls be developed in the same tank… well, maybe… nah don’t care. Normal developing methods are more or less an exact science, every photographer might have their own tweak on the manufacturers recommended times, but it’s just their own exact science. Stand development is grounded in some good science, but it’s much more an art form. Ask any two photographers how long you soup Tri-X in D76 and you’ll get pretty much the same answer every time, but everyone I’ve talked to about stand development has given me wildly different magic formulas for the perfect soup… and they all work.
Continue reading “Workflow Tutorial #2: Stand Development with Rodinal”

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Workflow Tutorial #1: Film Developing Basics

One of the things I get asked about the most is my developing methods, especially my use of Rodinal in stand development. Rodinal has become my go to developer for almost all my souping needs. It’s flexible, economical, produces negatives that are great for scanning and almost idiot proof when used in stand development. But before going through my workflow, it’s helpful to know a bit about what’s going on when you develop film.

In traditional developing methods the goal is to immerse your film in a fairly concentrated developing agent for a specific time and temperature indicated by the manufacturers (or garnered from experience and experimentation) for the given combination of film and developer. Agitation performed semi regularly throughout the development period refreshes exhausted developer next to the film as exposed areas leech out the active chemicals as they develop. With this method time, temperature and agitation all play very active rolls in how the end product will turn out. Development time, which is usually between 3-12min needs to be extremely precise, especially with times down around the 3-5 minute mark, which makes sense if you think about it. If your development time is only 3 minutes a change of +/- 30 seconds means your film is roughly 17% lighter or darker than you wanted, assuming a fairly constant rate of development over the souping time. The amount you’re off by has a diminishing affect the longer your overall development time is; this is going to be key later on.

Continue reading “Workflow Tutorial #1: Film Developing Basics”

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