Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last week, I ordered some new equipment and am still dying for a chance to really use it. That chance will actually come tomorrow when I do a promotional shoot for the Upper Main Line Y and their amazing Haunted Mansion (full disclosure: I work for UMLY and help plan the mansion...that's how I know how awesome it will be.) I have work from last years promotional shoot and event that I will definitely have to put up sometime soon. Long story short, if you have kids 10+ AND live in the Philly area, come out. If you DON'T have kids AND live in the Philly area, then you should still come out. I'll get more into that when I actually put the new photos up.

Now that we're back from my rambling (arguably, it's all rambling,) I've wanted to expand on my lighting options, so I bought a second SB-600 speedlight, as well as a set of stands and 33" umbrellas. It's kind of a mix between what you'd find recommended on Strobist and what you'd hear from Joe McNally. I already have one SB-600, so purchasing a second and continuing to work using Nikon's wireless CLS seemed like a good place to spend the money. That I ordered from B&H, along with the cheapest umbrella's money can buy.

As recommended on the Strobist blog, I ordered the stands (Lumopro 8') and the umbrella/flash mounts (also Lumopro) from Midwest Photo Exchange, When compared to shopping for a brand like Manfrotto, going with the Lumopro was much cheaper (good for those who are recently/soon-to-be graduating...also known as unemployed.) They're pretty lightweight and just a little wobbly where the sections connect if fully extended, but easily get the job done and don't feel cheap. That might seem like a contradiction, but I plan on doing most (see: all) of my shooting on location, since I don't have a personal studio. So by following the math, Less Weight + Saved Money = Portable Lighting Goodness.

There are a lot of other posts I've got backed up, so be ready for shots from the Black Panthers as well as my first ride-along.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So the Daily News just ran a feature on the state of the honey industry last Thursday.  While hugely popular in the US, domestic production has gone down. I was asked to go out and shoot a local couple with their own hive. When I received this assignment a while back, the thought of a frantic Chris Farley waving his hands wildly at a fake bee attack crossed my mind. It stayed there as Suzanne Matlock and her husband Norman donned protective gear, even as they assured me I would be fine. Being the fearful fearless photojournalist that I am, I steeled up, gripped my camera, and shot away.  The actual scenario was much more docile than I built it up to be, as the bees seemed more interested in tending to their own business than bother with me.

Suzanne examines a bee-covered slat to check on honey production.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I recently saw another photojournalist post a link to this article on EPUK by British agency director Neil Burgess urging that it's time to take "photojournalism off life-support."

I've heard a lot of talk from some of the older people in the industry who think that photojournalism is going the way of Old Yeller. And I guess it would seem that way compared to the state of things maybe 20 years ago. But I still don't believe we've reached morgue-levels just yet.

Citing as just one example of the demise of the photojournalist, Burgess notes that of the seven British-based photographers that won at this year's "World Press Photo" competition, none of them worked for British news organizations. I think it's a bad move to use any photo competition as a measurement for the success of the industry. While prizes and recognition are sought after by any professional, that shouldn't be the driving force for good work.

There should be no shame in taking a grant or pursuing a project through an NGO, as Burgess seems to suggest. The essence of photojournalism is accurately telling the stories of lives and conditions to educate people, regardless of who you're working for. If anything, I think it shows that photojournalism is surviving, even if in a different form.

And it's true that many (most?) of the photo positions available at major news outlets have dried up. Nobody knows that better than the average recent photo-j college grad...except for maybe the mass of great journalists who have lost their jobs due to deep cutbacks over the years. But we all need to find a way to adapt, not give up all together.

And then there's this comment: "Looking at all news and current affairs these days it’s so obvious that what you are seeing or reading is regurgitated information fed to the news organisation by someone else’s press department."

I must be either blind or stupid, because last I checked, Pulitzer's were still being handed out for in-depth investigative journalism. While that's not photography, Burgess opens it up by saying that writer's are the next to fall.

I can imagine a world where an automated "Google News Processor" can instantly take press releases, rewrite them for publication, and publish to the web without the need for a human being. But I don't think it will ever come to that, because there will always be a need for journalists to examine our global society, asking the questions that push us to do better.

Instead, I think what's more accurate to say is that photojournalism (and print journalism in general) has become less profitable than it once was. But to say that college students should give up on the profession and find a job somewhere else is unfair. With an attitude like that, photojournalism will without a doubt pass into history. Times are tough. Extremely tough. But from where I'm sitting, the sky doesn't look like it's falling just yet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I've been diligently working on getting my website up and running at full capacity for a week now, and it's looking pretty good, if I don't say so myself. However, it certainly hasn't been without it's frustrations. Designing a layout in Photoshop is one thing, but getting it functional and on-line is another. Just getting the navigation bar to resize properly across all browsers and OS was a huge victory. Trying to integrate my blogger account seamlessly has been another huge pain. I've done some web design before, and would by no means consider myself a master, but that's why Al Gore invented Google. It's been a great resource to find solutions to problems other people have already encountered and solved.

The fact that I'm starting with prior template (through Photoshelter) has been both a help and a hindrance, as I've had to interpret all the CSS. It's like trying to read someone else's handwriting, but once you under what you're looking at, most of the hard work is done.

Aside from all the design, I still need to get more of my portfolio online, which is helping semi-daily, so keep checking back in the Photography section.
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