5 Techniques for Becoming a Better, More Thoughtful Photographer

Earnestness, uncapped passion, and curiosity tend to produce incredible photos. The ability to point a lens at a person and capture their soul, or point it at an item and capture its presence is a skill that not everyone has, but it is something that every hopeful photographer can aspire to.

For some, photography is a just method by which they plug self-indulgent images and snapshots into various online networks, and for everyone else, photography is a visual art form. It’s a practice that’s realized through art and science, through the meaningful application of electromagnetic radiation and recorded light.

Photography is the ability to create durable images, and its existence services businesses, recreation, hobbies, communication, and the art, film, and video production industries. There are many ways you can inspire the creative photographer within, including discovering what things excite you and spark your creative juices.

Read a Book

Your first thought may be to pick up a photography book, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, attempt to seek out all types of content. Regard images you read in poetry, fiction, non-fiction and comics, and imagine what that work would look like. Do this while considering some of the techniques you’ve come across when examining the word of the greats.

Please visit brendantaylorfilice.com to read the rest of the blog post, which offers insightful tips on how to be a more inspired and motivated photographer. Click here to read on. 

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Surfing Movies to Inspire You

The Best Surfing Movies …catch a wave

Whether you’re a surfing freak, you tried it once, or you’ve never even been to the beach, surfing movies reveal the fraught power of the ocean and those athletes who challenge it. An epic sport with a fascinating history, surfing has a cult-like film industry for those who want to witness the biggest waves and bravest who go out their to chase them.

The Endless Summer

Endless Summer is the quintessential surfing movie. Release worldwide in 1966), filmmaker/narrator Bruce Brown follows two surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August, on a surfing trip around the world. His aesthetic style and inspiring story set the standard for the “catch a wave” aesthetic of the decade. In Endless Summer, summer never ends.

Point Break

point-break-surfing-movie

What’s your breaking point? If you’re a cameraman working on a high-budget surfing thriller, hopefully it’s pretty high. The waves of the film were 60 to 70 feet high. In order to get the best shot, there was more than one helicopter involved. Flying helicopters is dangerous enough in a controlled situation, flying as low to the ocean level as they did was risky.

North of the Sun

Norway is not everyone’s first thought when thinking of surfing destinations. Jorn Nyseth Ranum, 25, and Inge Wegge, 28, thought differently. They dreamed of living as self-sufficient hermits on a remote Norwegian beach. In frigid temperatures, join Jorn and Inge in their surfing and snowboarding adventures. It’s also all about survival, as they use only materials washed up on the beach and scavenge for food.

Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

Eddie Aikau is a surfing legend. Eddie Aikau proved himself to be a real hero. And not just as a surfer. With over 10 years in the lifeguard tower at Waimea Bay, her saved over 500 lives. He died paddling against all odds in an attempt to save his Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea crewmates. With its rich combination of archival imagery, dramatic reenactments, interviews and meticulous research, this one makes the top of many sport show lists.

View From a Blue Moon

Now these are some beautiful waves. With the world’s most dynamic surfer John Florence and Blake Vincent Kueny, this is the first surf film shot entirely in 4K.  Follow him as he journeys around the globe catching the biggest, prettiest waves. Redefine what is possible in the ocean and how it is represented by the camera.

Castles in the Sky

castle-in-the-sky-surfing-movie-brendan-taylor-filice

Filmed over the course of three years, Castles in the Sky explores the five different locations and the surfers who travel there.  With never-before seen waves and some of the best surfers in the world, experience passion and athleticism or pioneering new coastlines.

For more movie recommendations, follow Brendan Filice on Tumblr and Twitter.

The Internet of Things, or the Internet of Images

The Internet of Things is changing how we see photography.

What is the role of photography in the digital age?

In 2013, according to Internet.org’s whitepaper, people uploaded 350 million images to Facebook each day. That’s a lot of images. Now imagine all of the images uploaded in Instagram every hour. Think about the tourists in New York photographing the Statue of Liberty. Think about tourists in India photographing the Taj Mahal, or in Brazil with Christ the Redeemer. In fact, think of all the iconic places around the world getting photographed and shared every second. There are so many images, and now think about all of the images of the past; the forgotten family snapshots, sometimes found as relics at thrift shops in piles. There are billions of photographs in the world, and now there will be exponentially more thanks to technology.

Technology is a tool that allows to experiment. Within the field, photographers take risks you couldn’t afford with film. It was too expensive and precise.

Our lives continue to become ever more connected. In that process, cameras will find their place in the “Internet of Things,” the coherent ecosystem of electronics that we use to help define our new technological existence. As more and more people use images to communicate on an everyday level, who knows how our world will change?

One of the inherit challenges about these changes is that photographer in the digital age makes everyone a professional. With a high-end camera and the right subject, great pictures are waiting to happen everywhere you go. You no longer need a teacher to guide you through the process of film processing and the terms of aperture, exposure, saturation, and so on.  Digital photography also makes photography accessible and affordable to everyone. Even ordinary iPhones have high-tech cameras and built-in editing software. Now anyone can shoot quality images, edit them and share them.

However, great photography still requires the same hard work as it was in the past. It requires dedication, patience, creativity. In our new world of virtual reality and augmented reality, the best photographic artists must be willing to react to audiences who demand sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change.

And maybe the next revolution in photography isn’t all about technology. Maybe it’s about what we see right in front of our eyes and how we show it. One of the best works this year was from Nico Young, whose collection of images about his friends, fraternal twins, was featured in the New York Times magazine. You can see “Inside Santa Monica High” online, see  “Fraternal Twins.”

Whether you’re a more traditional photographer or one who enjoys the latest gear and gadgets, good photography is still the same. It’s documenting the present by producing an artistic interpretation of it. So part of you has to be a dedicated artist to be a professional.

 

Follow Brendan Filice on Flickr and Twitter.

The Basics of Skate Photography

Why skate photography is an art, and why it matters.

There are rules to skateboarding photography.

There’s a great article by Nic Dobija-Nootens in Jenken Mag called, “The Politics of Skate Photography” that rightfully argues that the legacy of skateboarding is pretty much defined by how it’s photographed. Difficult decisions determine how these photographers get their work seen and ensure the proliferation of skateboarding’s legacy.

First, check out these basics of skate photography to familiarize yourself with the lingo.

19 Radical Skateboard Photography Tips

Skateboard photography is very much amount the critical moments of the trick, the landing, the style of the boarder and the style of the board and skate park. Set the scene and define the energy. Photographers are known to shoot in clever perspectives, getting down on the ground and capturing boarders flying over their head.  Close-ups are  a classic method to capturing brief moments during an execution of a trick. Show speed, shadows, and learn your angles.

What is a “make” photo?

A make photo is when a skateboarder finally makes an epic trick.

dan zaslavsky photo
Dan Zaslavsky

Nic Dobija-Nootens asked well-known photographers whether they always use these images in magazines. Dan Zaslavsky is the photographer at Thrasher, who replied,
“That’s a question that’s been asked since the inception of skateboarding magazines.
I don’t consider that a problem. I consider that a success. If he didn’t land it that try, but the photo looks rad, who gives a fuck? I will try my best to get a photo and get out of the way before the dude’s ever landed it.” When asked if he would publish a photo before the trick was properly landed, Zaslavsky says, “If I decide to let that photo slip by without them actually landing it yet, I feel I have done an injustice to skateboarding as a whole.”

Skateboarding is where art and journalism collide . If the image fails to represent the truth, even though it presents the potential (of a faithful execution of the trick), then the photographer is perpetuating a lie. It would be wonderful to look through a skate magazine with people launching off of immeasurable heights, imagining amazing feats of tricks as the land; but it would just be a false perception.

 

Please find these great articles on JenkemMag.com and BeyondPhotoTips.com. Dan Zaslavsky’s work can be found on his website, DanZaslavskyphoto.com.

Here’s my own amateur skate video! Feel free to comment with your own. Follow me at @BrendanFilice on twitter.

 

 

Why Photography Inspires Me

Why Photography Inspires Me

Brendan Filice Photography Paso Robles California 4

The world is constantly in motion. In cities, people rush from point A to point B – commuters on the bus, students running around at recess, police cars whizzing to the next scene. In the countryside, insects swarm over crops and winds sweep over the vast landscape. Photography inspires me because it allows the viewer to capture one single moment in time. This image will never be the same outside of the frame; it’s immediately a historical artifact as well as a reflection into your personal memory.

My favorite photography subjects are from nature. The sun rising and falling leaves a magical luster over the landscape and it’s impossible to ignore the beauty.

Here are some of my favorite moments that I’ve caught through my lens in recent months.

Brendan Filice Photography: Driving through Mammoth

While driving through Mammoth Park in California, I couldn’t resist photographing this amazing natural frame created by the arc of the underpass. The beautiful bright sunlight is countered by the darkness of the tunnel. This was an incredible day with so much to see.

Brendan Filice Photography Mammoth 3 copy

Have you ever seen water so clear and grass so green? I hope my children and grandchildren are able to enjoy the splendors of nature as I have been lucky to growing up in green California. If we don’t take care of our planet our climate will definitely be in danger and these beautiful vistas will be nothing but archived photos – history.

Brendan Filice Photography Laguna Beach 3

If you can’t tell, I love landscapes. Landscape photography is inspiring because it captures a sense of place. It provides the people you share your images with an source of inspiration for what this place is like – a walk in the woods or a sunset stroll in Laguna Beach. If the photograph is particularly powerful, it will evoke feelings like memories of being on the beach or happy nostalgia.

Photography is also inspiring because it’s not THAT hard. If you are struck by a certain moment in time, and you have a camera on hand, you can capture that moment! Just snap a photo. Even if you’re an amateur photographer, these photos will have an impact on you for your personal collection and for friends and family. And the more photos you take, the more skilled you will get with your tool. Your camera is your friend but it takes time to get to know each other.

 

For more on photography follow BrendanTaylorFilice.com and see Brendan Filice’s photos on Flickr.

“The Important Thing Is Not The Camera, But The Eye.”

“The Important Thing Is Not The Camera, But The Eye.” Brendan Taylor Filice on the influence of imagination and endurance on photography.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, American photojournalist
Alfred Eisenstaedt, American photojournalist

 

The camera is your eye.

Alfred Eisenstaedt was the man behind some of the most memorable pictures of the 20th century. He got his start in Weimar Germany in the 1920s. Having fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, he shot the debut of LIFE magazine in 1936 until the publication ended.  The very same year he emigrated to the US he became one of the first four photographers hired by LIFE. Pretty impressive. Even when LIFE was over, Eisenstaedt continued shooting hundreds of images through the 1990s.

Eisenstaedt’s work reminds us that our tools only function when we understand the world and can translate our creative vision.  All of Eisenstaedts images share the deeply humane sensibility that defined the very best work of the man’s creative eye. Who he shot, and how, is entrenched in his legacy as a photographer.

Read more about Alfred Eisenstaedt.

 

 

What does your creative eye inspire you to shoot? What do you see in this world? Imagination defines the artist.

The camera defines the photograph, but don’t be limited by what you can’t see. Be freed by what you CAN see.

 

Follow Brendan Taylor Filice on Twitter.

How To Get Big On Tumblr

Brendan Filice wants you to get big on Tumblr. What’s your niche?

No matter how much time I spend online, I will always keep coming back to my favorite site; Tumblr. When I first started using it, I realized Tumblr was more than a collection of blogs; it’s an intricate network of users who have developed their own language and many of us are still in our teens. Tumblr is an outlet to express and share and connect. It’s like one big digital art gallery; changing constantly as its users grow and more join.

But despite the collective energy that fuels Tumblr, there’s still a bit of a popularity contest that haunts it. Everyone wants to be a little popular online!

How can you achieve this elusive Tumblr fame?

To become Tumblr famous, you have to know your followers. Craft a clever username. Consider an aesthetic theme when designing your layout. Looks are important. Are you interested in a portfolio page to show off your personal work, a fandom blog, a fashion blog, or a writing-focused social justice blog? If you’re blog is focused on personal thoughts and quips, that’s fine – but remember that you’ll have to develop a following off of your own brand.  Micro niche blogs like cate memes, Justin Bieber, and foodie blogs will get serious views and will continually get loads of followers for time to come.

You also have to post regularly. Post good content and post often.  Tumblr has a great option where you can create drafts and then queue your posts. So, queue 300-500 images and post around fifty of them images every day.

This will make your blog really active and you’ll start to attract about 200 to 300 followers each day. But remember, you have to use the appropriate tags on these images or they won’t get noticed. If you’re just starting out, start with less images so your blog is not as “spammy.” Be consistent. It might take a few months to hang onto your followers, so remember to keep it up. Don’t stop posting!

Ok, but what exactly should I post?

Refer back your username, your blog’s title, and theme of your blog. Where do you fit in?What can you offer to your readers? Your posts should be concise yet eye-catching.  This might only require a couple of lines.  But those few words should be accurate and provide necessary background. Always give credit to the original source of the photograph because people on Tumblr are sticklers about credit. Also, don’t fear a little personal insight. People like to know there’s a personality to your blog.

Here are some general rules of thumb:

  • Maybe because Tumblr followers scan their dashboards so quickly, videos and audio posts rarely rack up as many ‘likes’ and ‘reblogs’ as images.
  • Additionally, long articles don’t attract as much attention as shorter, snappier entries. (This isn’t always the case, personal essays frequently go viral)
  • Multiple images tell a story better than one image.
  • Weekend posts tend to attract less traffic than those posted during the work week.
  • Animated GIFs attract a lot of attention.

Most of all, have fun with it. Don’t get too hung up on your stats. You should use Tumblr because of a desire to connect with the online community.  With authentic content, an active community will follow.

Why not follow Brendan Filice on Tumblr and Twitter? Read more from Brendan Filice on BrendanTaylorFilice.com.

Go On A Photography Adventure

Explore the world through photography with Brendan Filice’s tips.

photography brendan filice

We take pictures to show the places where we’ve gone. We look at photography to explore our innermost dreams; the luxurious hotels we want to stay in one day, the mountains we want to climb, the creatures around the world we hope to see with our own eyes.

I encourage everyone to go on an adventure, inspired by photography itself. Your camera will be your guide. Your camera will be your compass. Prepare your gear, pick a destination (short term or long term) and commit to dedicated exploration of your subject through your lens.

1. Prepare

You’ll want to be diligent in choosing your gear.  It may be difficult to choose which camera gear to travel with. No one wants to miss out on that perfect shot because didn’t pack the right lens, but you definitely don’t want to overpack.  When you are trekking across a the dewy field, every additional ounce will way you down and start to distract you when you’re trying to shoot. So when preparing gear, keep size and weight to the lightest possible. Remember, lightweight doesn’t mean poor quality. You can get cameras that can still focus and shoot great photos.

Just as important as choosing your camera and is choosing the location. If you’re lucky to have a lot of time to take for a vacation, and can go internationally, you can start exploring options by searching photography destinations on Flickr and 500px.  Check out the map features that display pictures at popular destinations.  Narrow down the spots you want to travel to, analyze the captions of the images, and connect with users to get more tips on the place. My best advice is get to know as much as you can before jetting off. Guide books and travel blogs are good to get a reference of the area, but I recommend reaching out to bloggers and even photographers who have taken the same trip. These people are your best resources.

photography adventure brendan filice.jpeg

2. Pack light, pack smart

We’ve all had that moment where we run out of batteries or lose charge. Pack light but remember essential accessories such as batteries and tripods. Carry equipment in a camera-specific bag with padded inserts. A waterproof cover is also smart to keep on hand. It’s fun to take long exposure shots when you’re traveling in the open wilderness, but you’ll need a tripod to hold your camera in place. There’s a lot of work going into new mirrorless cameras recently. These cameras are gaining in popularity because they provide dSLR-like performance in a lighter and more compact package. They literally ditch the “mirror” and images are recorded directly onto the digital sensor; cameras tend to be loaded with new technology, such as WiFi uploads and mobile phone connectivity.

risky photograph.jpeg

3. Say “Yes”

Vacation is for sleeping in, but it’s also ideal for beautiful early morning light. The magic hour is a special way to photograph your new destination.  Don’t miss the golden light and long shadows at twilight.Take advantage of the night (if the weather’s right) by setting up your tripod and slowing your shutter speed in order to capture mountainous or desert landscapes lit by the blue moon. One special destination is in the northern hemisphere, Iceland for example, where you just may catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. It’s worth the wait.

 

Brendan Filice is the author of The Defining Images of Photojournalism. Follow him on Twitter and Quora.

These Photo Sites Will Suck You In For Hours

Brendan Filice’s favorite photo websites; great exploration to suck you in for hours online.

Uh oh – prepare to dive into late night binges on these awesome websites dedicated to appealing toward photographers and artists.

In ye olden days of photography, publishing photo required expensive materials (and a wealth of connections) to get any audience in front of your images. Today, connect with awesome photographs is just a click away.

Most of us already obsessively check Tumblr, Instagram, and Flickr obsessively. But it’s important to broaden our perspective of what’s going on in the art, journalism, and photo world by checking other sites. New platforms allow us to dive deeper into how to develop as artists.

So, what photography websites stand out from the rest? I’d love to hear about your favorites sites, too.

 

Booooooom

Booooooom started as Canadian Jeff Hamada’s curation project in the 2008, in the early days of similar sites like Tumblr. It’s writers cull the best works from up-and-coming artists around the world, listed in easy-to-navigate categories. It’s fun to explore and my favorite section is of course, the photography section.

Photographer Spotlight by Jeff Hamada: Susan Worsham
Photographer Spotlight by Jeff Hamada: Susan Worsham

 

Lisa Bettany

When, Vancouverian Lisa was 21-years with Olympic dreams on the horizon, she suffered a life-altering figure skating accident. A close friend loaned Lisa a camera as a creative coping mechanism. Photography brought ignited her passion to heal and see the world. Her main site, lisabettany.com, displays her accomplishments since. She has been featured in Elle and Wired among many other publications. Her work is pretty impressive.

Mareen Fischinger

Mareen Fischinger is a great role model for anyone working on developing their professional portfolio. She’s deft at combining an aesthetic eye with the vocational requirements her job as a photographer demands. All while displaying it on an awesome site.

The Gordon Parks Foundation

Harlem Gang Leader, 1948. Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks Foundation
Harlem Gang Leader, 1948. Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks Foundation

A simple search is often enough to find a collection of influential works. The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work on their website’s archive of Civil Rights era photographer, film director, and writer, Gordon Parks.

Weegee

Another site that’s out there is Weegee’s archive, although a bit dated and unofficial. The best opportunity to find Weegee’s work is when his pieces are featured in galleries, but he was truly a master of capturing New York City at its strangest. Worth a peek.

Government Archives

ex slaves african american experience in ohio
Tap and Susie Hawkins, married ex-slaves in Springfield, OH. Image from the Ohio History Connection

 

Prince Albert the Educated Horse with school children. Pay Streak Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition: Seattle 1909
Prince Albert the Educated Horse with school children. Pay Streak Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition: Seattle 1909

That’s right, our government is the best curator of them all. Photography has proven its power in this country; influencing journalism and the course of history. The government hosts a variety of archives on its site linking to a plethora of images. These range to collections of African-American history (as ex-slaves in Ohio, pictured above) to a large collection of images of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, publicizing the development of the Pacific Northwest and showcased the famously trained horse Albert.

 

Remember to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates. This post was originally posted on BrendanTaylorFilice.com, where you can find more on photography.

 

The Enigma of the Sun

Every day the faraway, blisteringly hot, mysterious ball of gas that is the sun, dips below the horizon. For a few hours, we simply cannot see it. from our sight. This is the source of spiritualism and myth, science, fear; and nearly everything we depend on; energy, food, electricity, and so on; in the strange moment that it “fall asleep,” artists awake.

It’s the role of the photographer to frame this moment. There is a communal hum we make as humans when the sun vanishes; thinking perhaps, where did it go? Who can see it now? Photographers can capture the raw beauty emitted by the eternal beast of the sun.

Penelope Umbrico is a New York artist who has developed several works on the subject.

She believes the lure of sunset photography is not quite an complex as one may think.

Umbrico’s work questions the sun’s power to enhance collectivity.  For her project, she curated sunset photos from Flickr. Then, she cropped them to remove the surrounding context, whether it be the beach or a smiling portrait, leaving only the suns themselves. The resulting work is a vibrant collage that stands as a testament to our desire to preserve these “liminal moments as a social experience” as stated by Jonny Weeks in the Guardian.

Umbrico says “The sun is this incredibly powerful object, and there’s only one of them in our world,” she says. “The sun can kill us or give us health. It’s the symbol of enlightenment, it makes us happy – it’s phenomenal.”

See the rest of Brendan’s images on Flickr.