When I photograph events, I do my best to become a “fly on the wall.” I try to stay out of the way, to be unobtrusive, to not affect what’s happening around me and just document what I see. To be a photographer in the White House and be a fly on those walls — surrounded by high stress, classified this and that, diplomats, dignitaries, tragedies, and achievements, while being charged with capturing all of it, 24/7/365 — would obviously be a job that would take all you’ve got. And to do it for not one, but two presidents? That’s nuts. But there’s one guy who did it. His name is Pete Souza.
Articles written by Stephen Ironside
If you live in the United States (and aren’t fortunate enough to reside in Arizona), you probably set all of your clocks back an hour on Sunday to switch out of daylight saving time. I’ll put aside, for now, the arguments about why the daylight saving time system is outdated and annoying, and just ask you this: did you remember to change the clock on your cameras?
I'm just starting to look into adding drone photography to my commercial photography services, so I've been trying to learn as much as I can about it when I have the time. Quick videos like this one usually teach me a thing or two, and they don't take long to watch. I'm all about learning something new while eating breakfast, editing photos, or even folding socks.
When I was first getting into photography in college (and teaching myself), I read as many “10 Ways to Improve Your Photography”-type things as I could. My reasoning was this: even if I already knew some or most of what was included in the book or the post, if I picked up just one solid piece of new knowledge, it would have been worth the effort, and it was a quicker read than a long book. To me, those types of articles are still useful. Some see them as clickbait, I see them as an easy way to either refresh what I know or learn a quick tip that may be beneficial to my career when I'm short on time.
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.
There aren’t many photographers whose work I keep tabs on consistently. I barely have time to keep up with all of my own work, so while I may follow some photographers on Instagram, that’s about it. One of those select few that I check in on is Benjamin Von Wong, and once I heard about his latest project for Nike, I was excited to check it out.
Sometimes when on a job, things happen. You might show up and take photos of the wrong couple at a proposal shoot. You might break into an abandoned house and discover it wasn’t as abandoned as you had thought. Or, you might turn around and see the groom you’re photographing standing nearly waist-deep in water saving a kid from drowning. You know, normal stuff.
Sometimes we photographers get caught up in things that we think will help our work: the latest camera, more powerful lighting, lighter tripods, etc. It’s easy to forget that keeping it simple and getting an idea executed properly is the most important part of what we do.
It looks like there’s a “new” kid on the block, and it happens to be our old friend Polaroid (Or is it "old guy on the new block," or "new old kid on the old new block," or something else entirely? I don't know...). There are a number of instant-print cameras on the market, but to me, they’re all missing at least one of two things: the brand recognition of the Polaroid name and the classic form factor of the camera that made it famous decades ago. The Fujifilm Instax camera is missing both. Even the current Polaroid offerings, such as the Polaroid Snap or the PIC-300, probably don’t have what it takes to rule the market. So, here it is. The Polaroid OneStep 2.
Every year for the past few years, I’ve donated photo work to a local organization that puts on a half marathon in coordination with the local firefighters union chapter to raise money for local charities. Last year, I ended up doing a relatively simple shoot with just some firefighters and a ring light. This year, I wanted something different. And so, quickly and repeatedly, the question became, “Can we use real fire?”
If you haven’t heard about or seen images of the destruction that Hurricane Harvey has caused in Texas and Louisiana, you’re probably living under a big, dry rock. Around 100,000 homes have been affected by the storm, all with varying levels of damage as well as varying levels of insurance. Even one of our own writers was affected. For those of you who suffered a property loss in the flooding, there might be a small silver lining. A data recovery company is offering free services for hard drives damaged by flooding.
I know that the solar eclipse on Monday made you feel young again. Maybe it made you feel energetic, inquisitive, motivated to keep exploring. But by now those effects have surely started to wear off, and I have some bad news for you. You’re getting old. How do I know that? Because the hashtag just turned 10.
Life as a freelancer is different. People with "normal" jobs don't usually understand what we do, how we do it, when we do it, or why we do it. But, we do what we do, and it's not always easy. It's not consistent, it's not stable, but it's a great way to live your life if you do it right. Here are some small ways you can make it easier. They've helped me, and maybe they'll help you as well.
After every trip I go on, I always end up with a favorite image. Maybe it’s the one with the best story, or the one that was the hardest to get, or the one with the nicest person I met on the journey. In 2014 I headed to Bolivia to shoot a wedding, and a few weeks later found myself wandering around on an island in Lake Titicaca. And there, my favorite image of the trip was born.
If you stop and think about it, it's pretty difficult to exist in today's world. Vaccines are(n't) out to get your children, there could be Daleks around every corner, and even that vintage lens you scored on eBay might be radioactive, lurking between the sheets, following your every move, wreaking havoc on your DNA when you're not looking. Maybe even stealing your french fries. Or, at least that's what Mathieu Stern was concerned about before he made this video.
A couple of months ago, I finally pulled the trigger; I broke out my wallet and dropped a (rather large) chunk of change on my first mirrorless camera kit, the Fujifilm X-T2. I had been researching mirrorless options for almost a year, and finally landed there for a multitude of reasons. I was mainly interested in a mirrorless kit for use while traveling and backpacking, and loved the idea of a smaller, lighter kit. All signs started pointing at the X-T2 over the other long-term contender, the Olympus OM-D EM-1 MK II. It was only a couple of weeks before I headed off to spend a month in India and Nepal, so I needed to learn this camera relatively quickly.
When I moved in to my studio a little over three years ago, I needed a place to hang, store, and use my rolls of seamless paper. I didn’t have many — just a few nine-foot rolls of white, gray, black, and green — but I wanted them out of my way. Storing them vertically wasn’t a good option in the space, and storing them laying down is never a good idea. So, I wanted to figure out a simple system that I could build that would do the trick. Here’s what I came up with.
Most of the time, when photographers are buying equipment, they choose the piece of gear that will accomplish their goal using some set of typical parameters: price, weight, build quality, warranty, size, speed, etc. These days, for shooting Formula One car races, you’d probably choose a fast-focusing, high frame-rate camera such as the Nikon D5 or Canon 1DX — if you had the budget for it — because F1 cars are fast and crazy. But that’s not what this photographer did; he decided to step back 100 years and break out a camera that was definitely not designed for shooting a modern-day race track. And the images are awesome.
Back in 2010, I was commissioned to do a photo of some spices for a family friend. I had never done anything like that, so I wanted to do a good job, and invested in my first off-camera flash setup. It was daunting at first, but I’ll never regret dipping my toes in the water and starting to learn about one of the most important things about being a freelance photographer: learning to control light.
One thing to remember in life is that there is always someone cooler than you. Today, it's this guy. He decided his '96 Suzuki needed a little boost to be sold, and I don't think anyone could have done a better job. Even I want to buy that little car now.