Hibernation

2019 was a great year for my portrait photography. There are so many creative, beautiful people out there and it was great to work with them but I need a break. 

I’m hanging up the camera for portrait photography to focus on personal photography and reorganizing organizing my archives and portfolio.

I’m really looking forward to focus on writing. The days will be getting shorter and colder but I’ll be inside cranking out those words.

What’s Old Is New Again

My photographic journey started in the mid to late 80’s when my parents bought my sister and I a Minolta 35mm Disc camera for Christmas. This camera was light, compact and simple. Pop the film disc in (actually a thin plastic square) and shoot. The film processed the same as a roll of 35mm.

Look how cute this tiny thing is. It all started here.

I don’t have a clue as to what happened to it. I will probably find one online just for the hell of it and use it(!) I also don’t remember what camera I used (probably a hand-me-down) when my high school was offering photography and developing your own work in a dark room.

Keep in mind too, that I was never a photo nerd. I didn’t shoot for the school newsletter or for the yearbooks. I still played varsity football and soccer but the idea of doing something fun while earning credit sure beats learning French, okay?

I remember the smell of the chemicals and the safe lights. I cannot remember specifically how I unrolled the film and then transferred it to paper stock. I can’t tell you which toners we used or how to dodge and burn. Before there was Adobe Lightroom, there was the darkroom.

Had I known how invested into photography I would be I would have held on to everything. My first camera, those rolls of film, my prints, everything. Damn it! Aargh!

I regret now not paying enough attention to the details. We had our assignments (fun!) and I enjoyed watching the images magically appear as soon as I put my paper in the chemicals. The details didn’t matter, I only cared about the results.

I think this is an ongoing issue not only with myself but for a lot of people as well. The ability to snap a photo with no skill or knowledge is making photography too easy. The ease of modern photography has robbed us of learning the basics.

I want to relearn what I have forgotten. With the acquisition of some vintage 35mm film cameras I’ll have them lab processed at first to see how the cameras held up after all this time. If successful, there is a darkroom open to the public I can use and take advantage of.

I am just as excited now as I was back then with that tiny little camera. This time, we’re going to do it properly.

See more:
Website | VSCO | EyeEm | Flickr | IG

If I Had To Start Over…

I see articles all the time with that title and it usually goes something like this:

  1. Get this gear not that
  2. Get that gear and not this
  3. Start social media and marketing plan
  4. Blah Blah Blah
  5. – 10 More Blah Blah

What I do not see, and even when I am searching for it specifically is advising new photographers to organize their shit.

I learned too late that I had no plan for organizing my digital images and I am paying the price for it.

So here’s my advice:

  1. Delete your shit. Save the few you want/need but delete the rest. What are you going to do with it? The answer is nothing.
  2. Organize that shit. Have two sets of images; your edits and then your originals.
  3. Organize by month and year- Example folder: 10-2019, 11-2019 etc

That’s it is all for now.

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Website | VSCO | EyeEm | Flickr | IG

Essentials

At some point in the past I had all the camera gear I would ever need. I owned a few Nikons and Nikkor lenses. Had the best Windows laptop, software, tripods, light modifiers, Polaroid cameras, and all the supporting equipment as well.

I had it all, and at that time it was good. So why did I decide to get rid of everything I worked so hard to obtain?

I used most of the gear. Not everything I purchased I needed but they were used. I eventually accumulated a lot of gear.

But over time something happened. Something changed. The problem was and wasn’t the photography gear. Using the gear made my life easier. It gave me the opportunity to generate my creativity and vision into whatever I desired. My clients loved my work and paid me for my time. But slowly, I lost my passion for the photographs I was creating and the jobs I was getting booked for. The work I was doing wasn’t fulfilling anymore and I decided it was time to change things up. 

I wanted a style, a process I could call my own. The gear wasn’t making me happy anymore and was becoming a burden to own, carry, use, set up, move and store. 

I wanted a simpler life, a simpler camera setup, and to do that required letting go of all that. Yes, all that. I stopped using all that gear and sold them. I had been shooting Nikon for 15 years.

I switched to Canon and only then with 3 multi-purpose lenses. I needed a simpler process that would help me test my creativity.

Throughout the years I’d look to other sources besides photography for inspiration and to spark creativity. Going to museums, I’d take photos of the portraits and statues of people. We as a species are interested in ourselves and other people’s lives, then and now. I would also read up on human philosophy, art books and photography books.

It has been a busy summer of portraits, plus an art show. I am anticipating a slow fall and winter of shooting so it is time for me to re-organize again and also reevaulate my workflow.

I am going to start over, embrace the amateur mindset. Call it a reboot. I want to explore minimalism, essentialism and discover my photography roots again. The how and the why of it.

I suppose I could limit myself to

  1. One camera Canon Rebel T6
  2. One lens 1/4f 50mm
  3. One ND filter
  4. One film/preset (Kodak Panatomic X

These are the limitations I could set myself. A recipe for my new photographic journey, and eventually my new photographic style. These ingredients are the limitations that will force me to think and create.

Because I limited my gear and post-processing, I began to feel liberated. free. I no longer had to make decisions as to what gear to use or what lens to use. I only had one lens and one camera. I could only photograph using available light, so no more questions about what lighting setup I should use. Wherever the sun is, that’s what I get. 

By minimizing my gear, I found happiness. Happiness in less. I started to love and create like the philosophers and artists I was reading about. I found zen. Zen in one camera and one lens. 

I don’t regret getting rid of all that gear and in fact, I still have some pairing down to do but for now, I’m enjoying the set up and experimenting with it.

  1. Macbook Air
  2. iPad Pro
  3. Canon Rebel T6i with 18-55mm, 50mm & 75-300mm lenses
  4. iPhone xR
  5. Canon SureShot 35mm
  6. Minolta 7000 35mm with 35-105mm lens
  7. Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom

See more:
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Film Is Not Dead

As I alluded to in a previous article, my mother found and gifted me the 1985 Minolta Maxxum 7000 35mm film camera.

She needed some cleaning and restoration, especially from corroded battery acid but she is up and running. I cannot wait to test her out and then re-learn the art of film photography.

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Photography’s Future

The 2019 iPhone 11 Pro

I’ve written about mobile photography previously and I wanted to add to my thoughts now that the tools have changed significantly.

I will not go into the full specifications of the device but rather the benefits.

Yes, the cost of the new iPhone Pro is $1,000 and yes, it could be a deterrent for some but honestly, we as photographer’s spend the same money if not more on a new body or a new lens. When was the last time your new prime lens could make a phone call?

What camera do you own has the capability to capture, edit and share your images all in one except for your mobile device?

I was honestly content with my current xR and was thinking of upgrading my mobile photography with external lenses such as a telephoto, fisheye and wide angle. I could have spent hundreds of dollars for these.

Instead, Apple has included three fully synchronized lenses built in. A 12MP wide angle lens, another 12MP Ultra Wide and a 12MP telephoto lens. Combined, all of these will fit my portrait photography needs. Combined with all these lenses, I’ll be able to shoot 4k quality videos as well.

I am looking forward to lightening my camera kit and taking images with one device. We’re not quite there yet, almost. But photography’s future is looking better and better.

See more:
Website | VSCO | EyeEm | Flickr | IG

How To Become a Creative Photographer

You ‘should’ be doing _____

Photographers are creatives at heart and usually find their own style of photography and their own workflow. But too many of us want do it the easy way and find those shortcuts to the instant online credibility that we crave. When watching YouTube tutorials or other methods shared online by people selling these tutorials, photographers want to duplicate almost exactly the same look.

But when this happens then you’ll notice their photos pretty much look like everyone else’s. There is no uniqueness or even creativity. BORING!

It is perfectly fine to study how other’s are doing their craft but there way may not be perfect or fit for you and your creative views.

Learn the tech and the specs of your camera. Follow those rules and master them. Then and only then do you realize that they are simply guidelines that can be experimented and played with.

Following the rules will get you almost perfect, sharp, beautifully exposed images, sure. And then find your own style by bending those rules.

Every image you snap will be different. If you capture the same scene every day there will be changes. The weather and the light will be different. So take what you learned and apply it to these changing situations. You can’t get this from a tutorial.

Apply your own creativity and skill for the results you want and not to please others.

Shoot how it ‘feels’ instead of what it ‘looks’ like

Only your feelings and emotions will allow your unique perspective to come through. Add your feelings to these photos. Who else can see the world as you do? No one.

You want your images to convey feeling and to provoke emotion. These are the most compelling.

Learn Your Camera and shoot constantly

Like every thing learned, it will take time and practice. The more you go and shoot, the faster you acquire desired skills.

Shooting in automatic mode? Try manual instead.

Using your camera’s built in flash? Learn to master exposures instead.

Once you’ve acquired the skills you need, you’ll be able to create and express yourself faster

And pretty soon, you’ll be a creative photographer.

We are created to become creative. Try not to rely on other’s creativity. Make your images brilliant and unique.

See more:
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What’s Next?

I’ve been exceptionally busy this past summer communicating with photographers, connecting with clients, working those portrait sessions and preparing for an art gallery showing at my favorite art bar. At times I was far behind in delivering promised images. This was all self-inflicted and have no one else to blame but myself.

But I feel the results have been satisfying and I am grateful. What’s next?

Archive Organization

Before I can begin to think bigger I must get organized. I struggle with managing my archives. I recently acquired a 10TB EHD and I’m actually looking forward getting a fresh start knowing where everything is and can be recalled easily.

Developing Photographs

Thanks to the art show, I have a renewed desire to print more of my work. It is simply a joy to see your image turn into a photograph. In addition to the website, I want to start and build a portfolio as well.

While I’m discussing prints I want to find a photo print exchange with other photographer or print enthusiasts. This will challenge me to be more deliberate in my sessions and choosing what to print and on a schedule.

Book Club

I may even publish photograph books and magazines for. In both print and digital. Educating myself on how to publish will be a welcome challenge as well as delivering frequent content to digital subscribers (email newsletters?)

Digital Publishing

I will continue of course to maintain this platform. Obviously it is the easiest way to communicate what is going on here in the studio. But I do need to be more deliberate in sharing my experiences and thoughts here.

Adobe Lightroom Presets

Something that has been on my mind for a long time is developing my own film filters to use Lightroom. I think I can even publish them for others to use as well.

Film Is Not Dead

My mother recently acquired and gifted me a gorgeous Minolta 35mm camera that needs some restoring love before using. I’m eager for this to happen as soon as possible. In addition to that, I came across a Canon 35mm to play with as well. If time permits, I may even hop back into one of the darkrooms in town and play with some chemicals to get my images developed.

Keep Shooting And Have Fun!

Of course in the immediate, I’ll be shooting more portrait sessions but at a slower pace of course. On tap is another loft shoot with four models instead of five this time.

There are a brilliant mixture of immediate, short term and lofty projects to chip away at and I cannot wait to begin.

See more:
Website | VSCO | EyeEm | Flickr | IG

What To Wear: Boudoir

A lot of people about to pose for a boudoir session have the same question and that is: “What do I wear?”

After years of photographing people in this type of setting, let’s see if we can offer some peace of mind. Most photographers such as myself love to coordinate almost everything. The backdrop/setting, the model’s hair color, eye color, skin, wardrobe choices, etc. Ideally the client will send images of the wardrobe prior to sitting. For the ladies:

Casual Wear
If you are concerned about what to wear to this session than let’s start casual. Real casual. A tee shirt or over-sized sweater over underwear is simple and can produce amazing results.

Underwear:
A bra and panty is always a good choice. To keep a consistent look, try to have them match! Or be playful and mix and match. I’d suggest if you want to do that then it’s best reserved for outdoor shoots. Either way it’s fun.

Speaking of fun, try a sexy twist and wear something that your partner does. One of their tees or button downs for example.

Accessories:
Jewelry, glasses, bags, hair accessories can all enhance your session. Viewers’ eyes are drawn to everything so why not enhance this with a personal touch?

Lingerie:
If you want that sultry, sexy look then lingerie will always be ideal. Garters, slips, teddies, stockings are all sexy, intimate choices.

And for the men?
Again, simplicity is best.
Start with a simple tee, or tank top.
Jeans, then a mix up of either briefs, boxers or boxer briefs.
After that? Time to get creative.

The most important thing to wear is your confidence and personality. This is you at your sexiest.