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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Even if don’t count yourself amongst the pros, you do bring a powerful tool with you most places if you carry a smartphone. This is actually a great way to start getting the hang of composition and timing as a novice. But to take serious photos, you’ll need to develop an understanding of the sometimes daunting specs such as ISO and f-numbers.
Once you gain at least a peripheral understanding of what these descriptors mean, you’re better equipped to manage the array of choices as your venture to buy a new toy.
Let’s dive into details.
1. How much are you willing to spend?
This should be the first question you answer before you make a responsible decision about your camera. Are you an amateur photographer? Do you just want to snap pictures of friends when you’re hanging out? Then there are great cameras under $300; in fact consider learning how to use your phone as camera if you’re not ready to invest in a new professional camera.
The best cameras, DSLRs (digital single lens reflex), will set you back a few thousand dollars, but are a smart investment if you’re planning to get into photography professionally.
2. Do you need all these megapixels?
A megapixel is composed of the millions of tiny squares of colors (pixels) that line your image, horizontally and vertically (think of square footage), that compute to give you the square pixelage of the picture. Up to a certain point, megapixels do matter. But only to a certain extent. The highest megapixels only matter if you plan to blow up your photo to huge proportions and need to maintain the quality of the original shot.
3. What are you willing to carry with you?
Some high-end cameras are bulky and require complicated set-up; such as tripods. However, this gear often gets you images with great quality. The camera really has to fit your style and your lifestyle. If you aren’t going to be proud showing off that camera every time you pull it out of the bag, then chances are you won’t use it as often as you’d like.
4. Do you hate asking, “Can I charge this here?”
Most cameras have rechargeable batteries and you’ll want to know how often you’ll have to glue yourself to an outlet.
5. Which features are essential?
Cameras nowadays have tons of figures; some have dozens of specific details that will alter the outcome of your shot. Image stabilization, fast focus, easy manual override and even wifi and printer connectivity are just several options. If you’re trying to shoot action photos, you’ll need features for fast focus and stabilization. Are you freelancing and need to print often? Consider portable wifi and printer models.
These are just a snapshot of the questions to ask yourself when buying a new camera. Make the right investment for your lifestyle! Check out my Twitter @brendan_filice for the latest.
Photography defines how we remember critical historical events. Whether its the tragedy of war or famous portraits of leaders, photography has become the ultimate form of news since its creation in the mid-19th century.
However, photography is changing. We now are filming ourselves nonstop, with Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, and other apps that keep us vigilantly connected to friends and family.
New York Times columnist James Estrin speaks to social media’s affect on photography. There are two notable changes. One, it is creating a vast new audience that can appreciate photography (consider Instagram). Two, it is changing what we share; the majority of pictures circulated is about ourselves, our friends, and families (consider selfies).
Teju Cole’s “On Photography” column in the NY Times has addressed the influence of photojournalism throughout history. Images that may seem simple now; for example, the dancing legs of three African boys gracing the sand as the ocean splashes their feet, inspired artistic masters to go out and capture the “eternity through the moment.”
Without photographers to help us define our world, where would be? How would we understand our vast history — in moments dark and bright?
“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images — one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”
– Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)
Let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most influential photographers and their iconic images.
Fenton was one earliest to capture the war’s effects on film to be brought to the public. He traveled from Britain in 1853 to the document the war on Crimean peninsula, where England, France, and Turkey were embattled in a territorial fight against Russia. This photo is famously free from any dead or wounded bodies. This avoided offending Victorian sensibilities, but the natural landscape littered with cannonballs evokes the wasted tragedy of the war.
Matthew Brady and team didn’t actually have quite the technical ability to photograph the the civil war battles in action, but his haunting visions of the aftermath of major battles like Antietam and Gettysburg perhaps forever defined the public’s relationship with warfare; and journalism.
Prokudin-Gorsky’s talent as a chemist helped him pioneer some of earliest color photographs of the diverse culture and history of the Russian empire.
Jacob Riis was a Danish-American social reformer who believed that goodhearted citizens would help the poor when they saw for themselves “how the other half” lived. His work was turned into a groundbreaking book in the muckraking movement.
In one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, Dorotea Lange captured the muted fear of a migrant mother during the Great Depression in the American West.
As a Swiss Jew venturing across the US at the height of the Cold War, Frank captured a subtle honesty in his portrayal of the American people ; black and white, poor, middle, and upper class , in the cities and countryside. The Americans is arguably the best visual critique of modern society from an outsider’s perspective produced in the twentieth century.
Nick Ut captured what would become a Pulitzer Prize winning photo for the Associated Press. It showcases the utter terror of war, as children run from a Napalm bombing during the Vietnam War, ripping their clothes of from the extreme heat. If we consider the earlier photos listed here, it’s evident that we still live with a culture of violence; and we rely on these photographs to come to a better understanding of these moments.