Mary Ellen Mark is one of the world’s greatest and most influential documentary photographers. Next month, 65 years after she took her first photograph, she will be the recipient of the Sony World Photography “Outstanding Contribution to Photography” 2014 Award. What is it that earns a photographer such an esteemed accolade? Let's take a brief look at her work to find out.
"Oh, so you're a photographer now...?"
It's a question I'm sure each of us has heard. Coming to us from a friend and/or family member that we haven't seen in a while, maybe those who we're remotely connected to on any one of the social media platforms where we post our work. It rings of sarcasm, and while I don't believe it's meant to hurt us, truthfully, it kind of does.
It’s no secret that everyone can become burnt out on what they do. Whether we are photographers, athletes, truck drivers, or teachers. If we do something long enough, maybe unless you’re a fighter pilot, professional surfer, and/or an astronaut, almost everyone will experience a period of time in their career when they’re flat-out bored and/or they suddenly arrive at a place where they question both their work and if what they’re doing is really what they should be doing.
Danny Santos II, portrait and editorial freelance photographer, recently published an awesome blog post where he pushed his new Nikon Df to the limit, taking portraits in low light at crazy high ISOs. You won't believe the image quality he gets out of the Df at up to ISO 4,500. While in the past we've railed on the Df here, here, and here for it's "hipster-esque" aesthetic, there's no denying that it contains one of the best sensors on the market today.
I'm always fascinated by what makes the best photographers think they way they do. What shapes their ways of seeing? In the current climate of photography, it's easy to get lost in everything technical. We can often lose sight of the most important thing about photography...why we photograph. In this video from Steve McCurry's Youtube channel, we get a glimpse at what goes on in the master mind of perhaps the world's greatest living photographer.
Bokehliscious photos. That is the ultimate goal for any photographer no matter the experience level. When "bokeh" is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the lens and the aperture. Although both play vital roles in bokeh, there are a few key elements that play an even more important role in achieving the finest milkyness in a photo. These requisites aren’t often discussed or even seen as necessary.
Some days, as we plod through our respective news feeds, it seems as though the Internet was invented for one thing and one thing only; to share photos. Although the quality of the photos we have to wade through can sometimes be questionable, and at times our feeds can become overwhelming, the relative ease with which photos are shared is in my opinion, the greatest benefit to our seemingly photo-obsessed and Social Media saturated society planet.
I've been there, standing in the middle of a field on a hot day with a scorching sun, mulling back and forth on how to capture a quality shot. In the back of my mind, I'm wishing for some cloud cover or an overcast sky to magically move in. A commercial client or art director doesn't care what time it is, they just want the right image. It’s up to you to capture that image with the weather Mother Nature has dealt.
I'm guilty. As a commercial and fashion editorial photographer as well as a writer for Fstoppers, I love lighting, bokeh, rigging, and all technicalities involved with cinematography and photography. For many months, content fell second to setup. From my experience, there are three types of photographers: those that confide in instinct and sunlight, those that rely on post processing, and those that excel at artificial lighting and formalities.
When retouching in Photoshop, there are many different ways to achieve the same thing. Personally, I've always struggled to find the best method to remove shadows under the eyes. Like everything else in Photoshop, there are a slew of methods to correct this, but each of them had their weaknesses. Check out this simple - yet slightly hidden - method that you probably never knew existed.
There is an old quote that says, “If you want to shoot fashion, shoot in color, but if you want to shoot emotion, shoot in black and white.” I don’t know who said it, but I tend to agree. I do love myself a good black and white portrait. There is something special about black and white imagery which has the ability to cut through all the baggage and display both the inner beauty and turmoil which can be so easily hidden away by color photography.
The first time I saw a levitation shot, I stared at it for 15 minutes in astonishment. I could not conceive how the image was captured; I was captivated by the story it conveyed, it was surreal, magical and awe-inspiring. Conceptualizing the image and executing it can prove to be rather difficult and meticulous. Thankfully, photographers who have mastered the techniques involved in levitating have decided to share their secrets with us.
Knowing the importance of color matching strobes indoors is crucial when combining strobes and ambient lighting. Fixing mismatched lighting temperatures can be extremely difficult in post process. Ian Christmann, a commercial and lifestyle photographer discovered a method which will change your life.
Scott Rankin’s calmly stunning photographs initially caught my eye on Instagram, and I reached out to him to talk a little about his process. Like so many others in the digital age, Rankin’s interest in photography was sparked after joining Instagram, where the ease of shooting prompted the couple to start spending weekends going on photo walks. Drawn to landscapes involving human elements like silhouettes or a lone figure, Rankin says, “I love the idea of small people surrounded by big nature.”
Polish photographer Emil Stankiewicz’s has created a unique, handmade Talbotype camera nicknamed Idlozi, which means “window to your heritage soul.” Each unique image captured by the wooden camera starts as a paper negative which is then rephotographed with the same box camera to yield a positive print. The camera also known as a “street camera” or “á la minute camera” are inspired by Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype, the British inventor who was able to create a paper negative from which positive prints could be contact printed.