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Tag Archives: Photography
The New Barrier to Entry?
We start off with Rick trying to dial back his (seemingly) hatred of the French but then he turns his attention to the Basque region of Spain. But, hey, he does an Irish friend. If you’re familiar with the other podcasts that Tony is involved in, you’ve gotta be shocked that he is the voice of reason and sanity on Polarizing Images!
And don’t forget the new segment! Send us the name of a drink via our Twitter account – @PolarizingImage – and we’ll have Rick drink it through a Red Vine straw. Remember to tag the Tweet with #RedVineDrink.
Anyway, lots of good stuff in this episode once you get past our usual goofiness (A.K.A. the reason you keep coming back). Topics today include:
- Do we really expect Tony to do any heavy-lifting? *Can* he?
- If E&J is good enough for us, it’s good enough for hillbillies. Let’s just call it “domestic”… I wonder if Rick is blind yet?
- With the cost of software, does that make it a barrier to entry? How about the learning curve of software?
- Does keeping on top of software updates prevent the guys from updating their gear?
- Is there a perfect tool or piece of software?
- How terrible or lazy are actions and filters? (hint: Rob has changed his opinion)
Even just 20 years ago, it was quality camera gear that posed the greatest barrier of entry to being a professional photographer. You would never have dreamed about becoming a wedding photographer with “just” a 35mm camera and a couple of inexpensive zoom lenses. Today? Different story! But you need something for post production. Whether you’re buying high end applications like Photoshop (still the “gold standard”), paying less for a more appropriate version of Light Room, or stand alone apps and filters, your collection and library of software is going to grow and, regardless of how much you spend (or don’t) it all takes time to learn. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the time required to hone your craft as a photographer!
Starting with our photographer, we look at Italian photojournalist Clay McLachlan. Want to see how a working (and successful) photojournalist sets up a seemingly easy food shot? Check out this behind the scenes video called Blue Bottle.
As an homage to Rick’s father, Rick chose the German-American architect, Helmut Jahn. Jahn was the architect behind the United Airline’s terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. And yes, at one time, O’Hare was an example of modern architecture. Chicago is a city filled with architectural history and relevance but, beyond that, a city of artistic importance. Anyone who wants to be a travel or architectural photographer will, at some point, need to travel to Chicago and see the works of influential designers such as Jahn.
Context is King
Okay, for the record, Rick does not hate the French. He seems really intent on convincing us that he doesn’t.
Too few photographers look at their work in the context of the subject or client. What makes an image important to the client or viewer is the broader context and meaning of the photograph. For example, would the picture by Addie Adams of the young Vietnamese girl running down the road after her village was hit by napalm be as powerful or have such impact if not set in the story of the Viet Nam war?
Topics today include:
- Really, Rick doesn’t hate the French
- “Dry Ginger” is not the porn name of one of our hosts
- Context is key
- How arrogance and fear prevent a lot of photographers from reaching their potential
- Developing relationships with your subject or clients is critical
- Surreal photographs existed before Photoshop!
- Could the iPod have existed 20 years ago, even if they had the technology?
- No, really, Rick does not hate the French!
This week’s photographer is Jerry Uelsmann. In particular, we were struck by the image shown here – created in 1969 and done entirely in the darkroom. So, for the post-production haters who think Photoshop has created too many “artists”, we’ll point them to Jerry and say it was being done before Photoshop. Beautifully developed as a black and white image, his work straddles that line between realism and abstraction.
Our other artist is Sir Jonathon Ives of Apple. Ives is the Senior Vice-President of Industrial Design at Apple and is responsible for some of Apple’s most iconic interfaces. Rick, an Apple fan boy (an “Apple-lyte” as Rob calls him/them) since the 80s, waxes poetic about Ives’ influence on design and suggests (correctly, Rob and Tony think) that the same design principles used by Ives’ can be used in photography.
“The word design is everything and nothing. The design and the product itself are inseparable” – Jon Ives.
Photography: You Ready to Go Pro?
Holy shit, this sucker is one long show. Two freaking hours! Anyway, this show is based on a question that Rick and I (Rob) get on a regular basis. It usually goes something like “I’ve been shooting for a while and I get lots of positive comments on my photography and now I’d like to start charging. Am I ready?”
It’s a tough question. Hell, we don’t mind answering it and for sure as shit’s sake we’ve been there, too. Rick and I are certainly tainted by their own experience, having been through the school of hard knocks, and would love to tell everyone asking this question to hang tight for a bit. But we also know that they won’t, so we try to talk about what we wish we had known and what we think every new photography professional needs to know before diving in. Here’s a hint, it’s a business so treat it like one!
Just as we were wrapping up the show, Rick asks an “innocent question” and then he and Tony start arguing for another damn half hour while I played Words with Friends. I think, dear listeners, that if you can make it through to the end of the show, you’re going to tilt on either what Rick says or what Tony says!
Since wedding photography is often the attempted path into professional photography, we look at one of the best wedding
photographers in the country, Chicago-based David Wittig. David’s photography shows his depth of experience with the wedding niche, an ability to connect with clients, and an ability to shoot great photographs that are unique to his style. If you’re thinking that wedding photography is an area you might want to get into, David Wittig is a photographer you need to be aware of.
Tony, never wanting to do anything normal, chose Adrian Newey as this episode’s artist. Newey designs Formula 1 race cars. They’re pieces of beauty and he creates game-changing designs.
Photography? No, really, we do talk about it eventually! As usual, the guys take the long way around to getting on topic as we have our usual discussion about what we’re drinking, why Rick will eventually play all seven dwarfs, whether Rob or Tony has the larger breasts and, well, you know by now…
Oh, and thanks to Mr. Sadie Breeze for preventing brain damage.
Photography, Dinosaurs, and When You Won’t Change
After the last episode’s emotional tirade about whether or not the photography industry still needs a traditional sales force, things come down in this second part. Instead, we talk about whether the film shooters and even the dSLR users today are being left behind by the advances of technology. Is there still a place for traditional print portraits? Is there still room for the fine artists? How about the RAW vs JPG argument: is that argument going to be irrelevant in the near future? And what about those guys who insist on only selling prints and not providing CDs? That’s an issue we need to deal with.
Let’s face it, photography is indeed changing and, as much as we want to believe differently, we don’t have the actual answers about what will still be viable five years from now. But one thing is clear – if you’re not going to be a visionary in photography then you’ll end up a dinosaur and, historically, we now how that ends.
Artists of the Fortnight
Tony points us toward the amazing photography of Dennis Hopper. Sadly, Dennis is no longer with us but his work in photography remains with us. Rob believes that actors often make great photographers because they live their lives being creative. Regardless of why, Hopper himself has a body of work that is poignant and strong. Anybody who wants to get into the fine art side of portrait photography would do well to take a good long look at Dennis Hopper’s work.
For our artist, we look at the well-known Rembrandt. If there was ever a true Renaissance Man, Rembrandt was it. Schooled in math, science, art, literature and history, Rembrandt used that learning to develop a style of portraiture known for its sharpness and, of course, it’s lighting.
Don’t forget – Our Photography Book Review
Head on over to www.PolarizingImages.com now and take part in our book discussion, The Art of Photography!
When You Find Yourself Lacking Inspiration
At one time or another, every photographer deals with lacking inspiration. It’s frustrating as hell, knowing that you want to shoot but you end up just sitting there trying to figure out what to shoot. But don’t worry, you really aren’t alone; we all go through it. It’s just a matter of how you power through it, right? Right? Hmmm….
It’s easy to be distracted and blame other things like spending too much time on Facebook, or shooting only for clients/income, etc. But, in truth, sometimes we just get burned out and we seek out those distractions. Fortunately, we don’t leave it on such a negative thought – we also talk about how to get past it.
Rob is starting to shoot new material again and has gotten deep into hybrid photography and that’s seems to be the catalyst for finding inspiration again. Rick’s finding inspiration by specifically not going out and shooting for clients. But, for both of them, allowing themselves to be open to new creative vision and direction has brought a certain spark and inspiration back.
Just watch out for the “analysis paralysis”!
Tony chose the artist and, as you can guess, he went way outside the box. But, if you can believe it, he doesn’t choose a musician. Yeah, we’re surprised, too! It’s Sam Calagione. Who? Sam is the president and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. All three of the guys are into home brewing (big surprise, right) and Dogfish Head provides plenty of inspiration not only for their home brewing but also on a higher creativity level. Sam, and Dogfish Head, don’t allow themselves to be constrained by what’s been done before or by thinking that experimental beers can’t (and shouldn’t) be done. By allowing the creative spirit to flow, Sam and his brewery produce some of the most exciting and creative beers today. And there’s some huge lessons for all of us who are photographers in that approach.
Rick chose Joel-Peter Witkin as the photographer. It’s artistic and Witkin’s work shows his level of inspiration but, as a warning, his work can be very disturbing and definitely not safe for work. His composition techniques are quite strong and his use of black and white really brings a timeless feeling to the images. His subject matter, though, is where we have to warn you. From his bio on the Acid Skull site (that’s the site we’ve linked his name to): “His works carry the delicate tonality of a 19th-century ambrotype, showing morphed scenes with human body parts and deceased subjects with a strong satirical sentiment against vanity.” Here’s the link to his work on Acid Skull.
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The New Digital Workflow
Howdy! Today we welcome Giulio Sciorio, a well-known commercial photographer from Miami, to fill Rick’s place while Rick is traveling and we chat about the changing nature of the digital workflow. New cameras coming out this year are mirrorless and provide a host of advantages. Today, we talk about how the digital workflow is changing and gives photographers more options and gives us time back in our day. That’s never a bad thing!
But a new digital workflow is not just about taking advantage of new cameras. Giulio brings up an amazing point that, today, there is a return to photo-realism and clients are moving away from the excessive post-production and heavy-handed editing of the previous few years. Rob and Tony completely agree and think that that is welcome change. So, when you combine the ability to take the JPG right out of the camera (Rob’s use of RAW files in his digital workflow has dropped dramatically), the use of new lights that allow easy balancing, a new casualness in styling clients (also reducing the need for post-production tweaking), and a shift away from the heavy editing, you get a new digital workflow that is easier to follow and more accessible to everyone.
What do you think? How has your digital workflow changed in the past couple of years?
Rob dropped the ball and it shows. We start off talking about another photographer documentary, Strand: Under the Darkcloth. But after talking about his best-known image of Wall Street (1915) but then the discussion kind of fizzles from there. Hey, after 31 episodes, it was bound to happen. Still, if you’re not familiar with how important Paul Strand was (and still is) to photography in the United States, it’s well worth your time to learn more about this early master.
And, if you want to learn more about hybrid photography, check our Rob’s new web site, Shoot Hybrid.