As Halloween comes to a close and we reflect on all the creative costumes roaming the streets, I think it’s a good time we take a moment to talk about cultural appropriation. We are blessed as photographers to be able to view images from any culture in the world through the Internet. It’s pretty cool that we have access to unlimited inspiration from just about everywhere, something the founding fathers of photography had nothing close to. It's important for photographers to have a vast basic knowledge of cultures, subcultures, and social classes so that we can always use culture with respect and honor in our images.
A few months ago, I took an overnight bus from Pokhara, Nepal, to Kathmandu. Arriving at five in the morning was not a part of the plan; nor was losing a night’s worth of sleep to dangerous curves, heavy rainfall, imminent landslides, and music that blared until shortly before arrival in the city. When I got there, I wasn't in too pleasant of a mood.
What’s stopping you? We all have at least one imperfection that we wish wasn't part of us so that it would be easier to achieve our dreams. I often wonder what my photography and life would be like if my extreme anxiety disappeared, if I had more money, physical strength, and even if I were a man instead of a woman. Our flaws that hinder us are often hard to deal with, but once we embrace them for what they are the outcomes can be surprisingly perfect.
In a recent article entitled "Why You Shouldn't Submit Your Photographs to Magazines," I discussed Vanity Magazines and how, in my opinion, they often fail to deliver enough value to justify the photographer's effort. As a result of that article, I've had the opportunity to talk with the editors of two of the more well-known and better-curated vanity, or submission, magazines, Lucy's and Jute, to find out how their work benefits photographers.
Outdoor on-the-go DIY style editorials are really picking up in the fashion world. It is a good skill to have in your toolkit as a budding photographer. In this article, I want to break down how a small team of talented artists and myself went about producing and shooting two full on-location, outdoor editorials for Bullett Magazine in less than two weeks in NYC.
Albert Watson. Legend. Period, end. With a career spanning five decades and multiple iconic images, his career in fashion and portraiture would be the aspiration of any budding photographer. Alongside Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, PDN recognized him as one of the twenty most influential photographers of all time. And in a new video by Profoto, the man whose subjects have ranged from Alfred Hitchcock to Kate Moss, discusses his approach to lighting, photography, and life.
We are photographers. We are not a bunch known for a lack of opinions. By and large, we know (or think we know) what’s good and bad and aren’t shy about telling others just how qualified our own personal greatness makes us to pass judgment on other far inferior work. Yes, I’m generalizing to make a larger point. There are as many different types of photographers as there are different types of people. And, if ego sits on one shoulder, its distant cousin humility stands firmly on the other, grasping tightly to the other end of the rope in an endless game of tug of war. But knowing when to pull, and when to offer slack, from one side or the other can be the secret to both successful shoots and successful creative relationships.
I’ve learned a lot over the past 15 years as a professional artist. I’ve learned a lot about fear, failure, and success. I’ve been fortunate enough to mentor and educate thousands of photographers all over the world. Even as a young four-year photographer who many would still consider “green,” I’ve taught photographers from all walks of life, all levels of advancement, and even some who had reached a level of comfortable success.
I first discovered the work of Cannabis Photographer Kristen Angelo when the Seattle Times did a profile of her for their series highlighting "cool jobs" in the region. Her work stood out as something fresh, new, and real. Unlike the high-contrast, psychedelic images I was used to seeing, Angelo's images showed different side of the culture of cannabis: sun-drenched, cultivated by passionate farmers in the rural Pacific Northwest. I caught up with Angelo to ask her about how she got into the field of cannabis photography, and how she developed her business as a freelance photographer.
Many of us have been there. You upload your work to a social media platform only to find out months later that your photos have gained the attention of the masses. Immediately you start getting bombarded with emails, phone calls, and publications start reaching out. You quickly realize the moment you have always been waiting for is happening right now, but a new reality also sinks in: you have no clue what in the world you are supposed to do with all of this attention. In this video I sit down with Mike Kelley to discuss some of the steps you should take to capitalize on your viral photo series.
A casual conversation leads to an interesting question. There I was again. Spouting endless drivel at the beginning of a date. Trying desperately to impress her with my chatter. Listening to her and responding with what I hoped were deep and probing questions that both relayed my interest in her personally and required a significantly lengthy response which would provide me the necessary time to catch my breath and subdue my nerve-induced racing heartbeat.
This method is widely used in editorial magazines. It's a fun way to look at different perspectives of your work combined. Sometimes it’s just not possible to capture everything you want in a single shot. The solution is simple – shoot two photos and display them side-by-side. I find that displaying two images side-by-side is a great way to tell a story photographically, and to create ideas that are not necessarily evident when one or the other image is displayed by itself. If you're interested in trying this technique with your own images, here are some of the tricks I’ve picked up along the way. Make small prints and lay them out on a large table to play the mix and match approach.
Perhaps no single photo is more symbolic of America’s troubles during the Great Depression than Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.” Depicting an itinerant farm worker, Florence Owens Thompson, and five of her children apparently in the grips of despair on the side of the road, this single image came to surmise an entire era.