Fashion magazines, brand-name advertisements, and catalogs of all sorts seek out interesting locations to stage their photo shoots. Some are simply looking for controllable surroundings for privacy and security, but other productions are seeking something special to enhance their photos. Many locations, however, come with a price.
There’s no phrase I dislike more in the photo world than "I’m a natural light photographer." Believe me, I love natural light more than anything. It’s simple and easy to work with, and you don’t need to worry about bringing a ton of gear with you. But very rarely will just unmodified natural light work. It’s the unfortunate truth of photography (unless you’re a landscape photographer, you lucky bastards). Most photographers will use a flash to do what natural light can’t. Sadly, many don’t use it to great effect. If you want your portraits, or any image with mixed lighting to look better, there are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re on location.
We live in a world constantly fascinated by technology. We want the TV with the greatest definition. We want the tablet with the shiniest screen. And, as photographers, we always want the most expensive gear and the most elaborate new toys. But the more you grow as an artist, you'll quickly realize it's the man that makes the equipment, not the equipment that makes the man (or woman).
While we are all talking about the Oscars I thought now would be a good time to share this fascinating blog with you. Not only are these images great fun but I actually think this website is incredibly useful for any photographers who are looking for cool locations.
How did technology make "Planet Earth" so much more cinematic? If we go back to how it was done back in the day and compare it to the technology we have today, it's quite a leap. Back in the day 35mm was the broadcast standard. The 35mm cameras were bulky and heavy, they were perfect for studio and not for the shots that they needed. In the filming circles and the BBC insiders saw 16mm film as being for amateurs. But, thanks to David Attenborough first taking his 16mm camera out to shoot abroad and coming back with footage of animals never filmed before, it changed opinions. This made the program that later became one of the best wildlife documentaries of all time.
For the majority of my life, I was a soldier in the United States Army. As a part of military life, I learned how valuable it was to be prepared for all the things that could go wrong. Many soldiers will build a bug-out bag, also known as a go-bag. A bug-out bag is essentially a bag full of items one might need when in a pinch. Now as a photographer, my bug-out bag is full of all the little items I often am asked if I have or things that can make any shoot go easier. These things have often meant the difference between success and failure on a shoot. Here is the list of stuff I put in my bag.
When doing a documentary-style video production, an interview or series of interviews is often at the heart of the content. Uncontrollable lighting, background noise, and the size of the space you have to work in all play a significant role in capturing a quality testimonial, so location scouting to check on these is an important facet of our production process. In this short video, Joshua Pardon and I explore two rooms at a location and discuss what we look for when making a decision on where to set up for a shoot.
The idea of a travel tripod causes hesitation. On one hand, you have a size that makes bringing a tripod on location no longer a physical strain. On the other, these tripods tend to be thin, causing them to be less sturdy than larger, thicker tubed tripods. The key to a good travel tripod is striking a balance of size and strength. For the past few years, MeFOTO has been the leading brand in travel tripods with their wide selection of sizes. Their introductory line of tripods offered everything from tabletop height to a full size 64" tripod. With their newest release, they seem to be pushing the boundaries of how small a tripod can really be.
As work slows down for me in the off season, I wonder where I can go to create something new. For me, traveling is an awesome thing, and being able to explore our world is really amazing. After watching some of these aerial videos on Vimeo, I am really interested in flying across the country with all my gear and creating the most memorable trip I have ever had. Even though this may not happen soon, there are plenty of places that are within driving distance that I myself can go explore. I am going to make these trips a more common thing not only for the sake of creating new content, but for the sake of seeing more of the beauty in nature.
This article is a twist on the more common behind the scenes post. Instead of writing about the thought process of the shot in retrospect, I am starting this article several days before the full moon, to showcase my process and mindset when planning for a once in a lifetime shot of the Supermoon.
Alex Bartsch has done the incredible. Through a lot of research and after climbing over fences and onto roofs, he sought out 42 locations where reggae artists had photos taken for their album artwork. He even got into the living room of former Trojan label owner Marcel Rodd in Hampstead to take a photo in front of the fireplace. His work documents an era of London's reggae scene between 1967 and 1987.
Bartsch's series looks like it took a lot of hard work. Either the artists, label owners, or photographers had to be tracked down to get the information about where the shots...
A photo series to me was always just another project in school; whether it was for my digital photography class or film photography class, there was always something that had to be done in a series. Being done with school and not having any projects assigned eliminated the need to think about creating a series of work, but now I realize that a series of photos can be a pretty cool personal project. So one year out of college, I challenged myself to start working on a personal aerial series. This time there was no project that needed to be done, no deadline, no rules, I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. The only hard part was actually doing it, but I do believe that this is something that can help any photographer out.
For anyone who appreciates the use of flash, there comes a point in photography work when you want more power than a standard speedlite can offer. Many strobe options provide more power, but require you to be tied up to power outlets. Few strobes offer a simple portable lighting option. Many would contend the Profoto B1 is currently the best self contained portable strobe on the market. That may be changing with Impact's newly released strobe, the Venture TTL 600.
Photographing skylines and cityscapes takes a lot of technical ability, both in knowing what gear to bring and how to capture a variety of lighting conditions. Many photographers have made careers out of perfecting this genre, taking it even further by mixing in astrophotography, light painting, and even motion. Whether you're looking to explore your own backyard or get more out of traveling, shooting skylines can open your eyes to new possibilities no matter what type of photography you shoot.