Sam Javanrouh is the photographer behind daily dose of imagery, a photoblog that has won Best Photoblog and Photoblog of the Year in numerous publications.
PetaPixel: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sam Javanrouh: My name is Sam Javanrouh. I was born in Tehran, Iran and lived most of my life there. I finished university in Tehran in French Literature, but was always fascinated by movies and cameras since I was a kid. My father is a cinematographer so I’ve been around cameras from 8mm to 35mm Arri film cameras as well as many types of SLRs. My first camera as a kid was one of those Kodak cartridge 110 film cameras that I loved. But I didn’t own a serious camera until I came to Canada. My first one was a Nikon CP950 Digital Camera in 2000.
I moved to Toronto, Canada in 1999 when I was 26 years old. In Iran I worked as graphic designer and started doing 3D animation and Motion Graphics a few years before moving to Canada. I continued in that field in Canada and currently work as Creative Director at Optix Digital Pictures, a post production and visual effects company.
PP: How strong is the Toronto photoblogging community right now? Can you tell us about it?
SJ: Toronto has one of the strongest photoblogging communities out there. There are many great photographers here and blogging is very strong as well. There might be a few reasons for it. First Toronto is a very online city. The cold winters could play a part in that! Also the fact that Toronto is a very multi-cultural city, maybe the leader in the world, means that there is a very diverse range of point of views in the city. The leads to many interesting neighborhoods and varied urban sceneries that are not very apparent if you’re just a visitor in Toronto. It’s a city of hidden treasures and not a city of big landmarks. Another reason might be the extreme weather. You shoot a scene in July and you shoot the same scene in February and they look completely different. The beach in winter looks like a scene from Antarctica and in summer looks like a scene from a Fellini movie. Whatever the reason, Toronto’s photoblogging community started very early and has been going strong ever since.
PP: How did you first get into photography?
SJ: My father is a cinematographer and he took to the set of his movies and later on I worked as his assistant so I was exposed early to world of cameras. I used to take behind the scenes photos for movies and TV shows I worked on, but it wasn’t until I came to Canada that I took photography a little more seriously.
PP: Can you tell us about your first camera?
SJ: My first camera was a Kodak Pocket 110 cartridge camera, I think it was Kodak Tele – Ektralite 40.
My mother bought it for me when I was 8 or something I loved it. But then after that I didn’t own a camera up until 1999 when I got my first digital Camera a Nikon Coolpix 950. Between those times though, I used my father Minolta SLR or my friend’s Canon AE-1 occasionally.
PP: What’s in your gear bag now?
SJ: I have a few gear bags now! I have one that is mostly for when I’m on the bike which included a Canon 5D Mark II with a wide zoom, either a 17-40L or a Sigma 10-24 plus the Canon EF50mm f1.4 lens and sometimes a EF100 f2.8 Macro. I also always carry a point & shoot camera on me, even when I’m just going to the grocery store. At the moment my favorite P&S cam is Panasonic LX3.
When I’m going out for walking around and shooting photos, I carry my bigger bag which can fit a telephoto zoom which in my case is EF70-200 f4L plus one of my favorite lenses which is EF 200mm f2.8L. I also carry a PCLIX, which is an intervalometer and shutter release unit at all times. If I have room I carry my fisheye lens with panorama head to shoot some 360 panoramas.
PP: What’s your favorite body and lens?
SJ: Currently my favorite body is 5D Mark II and for lens I like many to point only one. I do love the pics shot with the EF200 f2.8 and I also love the super wide results of the Sigma 12-24.
PP: What’s on your wishlist?
SJ: That’s the problem with photography, there is always something you want, it’s never ending! I really like fast prime lenses, which are generally very expensive so it’s no wonder they’d be in my wish list, like the Canon EF85 L f1.2, EF24 L 1.4 and EF14 L f2.8. I also really enjoy tilt/shift photography so the four Canon TS-E lenses are very attractive. And now with the addition of video to the new DSLR cameras, I feel the need for a video rig for 5D Mark II like the ones from Redrock or Zacuto. Oh, and a Litepanels Micro Pro wouldn’t hurt either.
PP: Has it been hard posting a quality photo a day for so many years? How do you keep it up?
SJ: It’s been definitely challenging. I sometimes can’t believe it myself that I’ve been doing this for almost 6 years. Sometimes I feel really lost and don’t know what to post and it gets really hard to find something worth posting. It’s interesting though that when I look back many photos on the site reflect how I felt in that day or at that time. And then there are days that I sit down and process ten images that I’m happy with and I can breathe for a few days. But when you’re talking about posting photos daily for years, there are definitely posts that are, for the lack of a better word, fillers, and then there some that are winners. It’s pretty much impossible to produce something amazing everyday, and sometimes it gets frustrating when people have very high expectation from you. But overall it’s very rewarding, when you push yourself on a daily basis you’ll have to come up with new ideas and try new things that you might not normally try otherwise. For example I’ve experimented with adobe flash to add a level of interactivity and also posted interactive panoramas and time-lapse photography to vary my posts.
PP: How many fan emails do you get on a regular basis?
SJ: It varies, depending on what I post and the day of the week. I get somewhere from 10 to 50 emails a day. Some email with questions regarding my site and photos, some are very kind and thank me for the daily photos and some are professional inquiries.
PP: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since you started your photoblog?
SJ: My photoblog started in 2003 as a fun side project. I had only a handful of visitors daily for the first month, but suddenly my number of visitors skyrocketed to thousands a day which slowly transformed my photoblog into something bigger than a small side hobby. My biggest challenges are: Keeping the site interesting for my visitors on a daily basis over the years, and with that balancing my time between my full time job, having a family and keeping up with all the daily feedback from the site. I work in an animation company which in itself is not a 9 to 5 job and I have to work many long hours, and my site requires at least a few hours a day so you can imagine how challenging everyday can be. And I have a three-month daughter now, so you do the math! But at the end of the day my blog has been and continues to be an amazing experience.
PP: After so many years of shooting, how much disk space have you used? How do you archive all of your photographs?
SJ: Right now my photos archive is around 3TB on 1TB drives. I have mirrors of those drives as backups. But after upgrading to 5D Mark II the size of RAW files got much bigger which means the size of the backup drives increase faster. My processing drives are two 1.5TB internal SATA drives. I save my PSD files and my current archive on these drives since they’re faster than external USB drives.
PP: Can you tell me about your workflow?
SJ: I shoot RAW exclusively. After shooting, the first thing I do is ingesting the photos using Camerabits Photo Mechanic. I use Photo Mechanic to attach my copyright info and all IPTC metadata including keywords to files. I set PM to also rename my photos to add the sort-able date and time before the filename. Then I use PM to browse through shots and tag and rate and select my shots and delete files (which is rare, I keep almost all my photos).
Next I import all photos in Adobe Lightroom, which reads all the info attached by PM. You might ask why I don’t LR to ingest and attach IPTC. It’s a valid question since LR can do all that too, but the short and simple answer is speed. Photo Mechanic is many times faster than any other software I’ve ever tested when it comes to browsing RAW files. The JPG extraction from RAW files is also lightning fast in PM.
I do most of my processing in Lightroom. I still however use Phase One occasionally, since I find the speed and final quality is superior but I absolutely love the workflow in Lightroom. If I need to create an HTML photo gallery for clients I use Lightroom but if I want it to happen really fast I use Photo Mechanic.
After processing in Lightroom I continue editing the file in Photoshop, where I finalize my processing and then resizing for web and sharpening.
For catalogue and indexing of my final JPG files I use Microsoft Expression Media (formerly i-view media). That’s where I attach the GPS info to photos as well. I use to use RoboGeo, but after the addition of location tagging in the new version of MS Expression Media I don’t need to anymore.
Surprisingly I get this question more than anything else: “Why do you use Windows and not Mac?” The short answer is I use applications so it doesn’t matter what OS. And I’ve been comfortable with Windows for many years and also I use many apps on it that don’t exist on Mac.
As for video workflow, I import the video files with photos using PM and then convert the files to Cineform Avi files with NeoScene. This produces larger files, but they are much faster to work with in Adobe After Effects and Premiere. MS Expression Media also supports video files so it fits in greatly in my workflow.
I have a brief video of my workflow here.
PP: If you had the opportunity to shoot anything, what would you most like to photograph?
SJ: I love cityscapes, urban and street scenes, architecture and landscapes. My dream is to travel to all corners of the world and photograph places and people. One of my regrets is that I didn’t take photography seriously when I was in Iran and I’d love to go back and only travel the country exclusively to take photos.
I also love to shoot in abandoned places and decaying factories, building, etc.
PP: Who are your favorite photographers and photobloggers?
This is one of those questions that are very hard to answer since there are too many to count. I always remember afterwards that I missed many people. But here goes.
Probably two people that influenced me most are Horst Hamann and Raymond Depardon. Hamann’s book Vertical New York was probably the main reason I went out and bought my first digital camera. I discovered Depardon years later and his book Errance is one my favourite photo books of all time. Joe McNally is another photographer that hugely inspires me. In my opinion he’s the perfect photographer, he shoots practically any subject anywhere in the world and he’s not afraid to try new things and continues to challenge himself. And the fact that he’s very active online (his blog is one of my favorite photography sites) makes him even better. I’d love to attend one of his workshops one day. When people ask me why I shoot so many different subjects and don’t stick to one style of photography, my answer is what’s wrong with that? Look at Joe McNally!
Other photographers I love include Steve McCurry, Reza, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, many Magnum photographers like Martin Parr, and the list goes on. Classic photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson, Walker Evans, Andreas Kertesz and Robert Frank might seem too obvious to name but they never cease to inspire.
Then there are the new generation of photographers which I found through flickr and other photography sites that are immense sources of inspiration like Chase Jarvis, Jeremy Cowart, David Hobby and so many more.
Same goes for photobloggers, there are so many amazing photobloggers out there that is almost overwhelming. To name a few, I hugely admire the works of Miles Storey (mute), David Nightingale (chromasia), Jessyel Gonzales (dailysnap), Jonathan Day Reiner (18% grey), Tanja Tiziana (double crossed), Kathleen Connaly (Durham Township), Jonathan Greenwald (Shrued), Istoica and many more.
PP: If you could see one person interviewed on PetaPixel, who would it be?