thoughts

Observation and Investigation for Documentary Photography

If the intention behind a photograph is to produce something photographic, weighted by aesthetic merit, or artistic expression, then it is your observation via the camera that you are most likely going to share in that image.

No Photography is Wasteful If It’s Part of the Growing Process

Failing to succeed doesn't mean failing to progress. I think for many of us the last few pandemic years have spotlighted this sentiment, especially as when it comes to photography “success” is already such a broad and nebulous concept.

Seeing Versus Shooting as a Photographer

The photographer Dorothea Lange once famously said “A camera is a device that teaches you to see without a camera.” I always loved this quotation. Once you get good at shooting, you start to see the world like a photographer — you notice things, you notice light, you look slower, you take pictures in your mind. The camera saves them, but even without one, you see differently.

Get the Cliché Out of the Way When Doing Photography

I drove 5,200 miles around the country after my junior year in college. And I brought 20 rolls of film — 720 images in all — which was a lot in 1984. I felt like a pro, traveling with a “brick” of Tri-X. When you shoot film you try hard not to waste frames; it’s a natural force function that filters out some of the more idiotic shots you might take.

Synecdoche: The Essence of Photography

I was struggling through Caesar in 10th grade Latin class when I first heard the term “synecdoche” (although the term is from the Greek) — it’s a figure of speech where a part of something is used to represent the whole. Today, familiar synecdoche include “threads” to mean clothing, as in “dig these new threads I’m wearing.” Or “boots on the ground” when talking about soldiers. Or “she got a cool set of wheels” to mean a new car.

The Fundamental Building Blocks of Interesting Photos

My particular interest in photography aims for hitting certain notes in the image, regardless of content. So whether I’m shooting landscapes or my garden, friends at a party, or my kids on vacation, I’d say the approach is consistent.

8 Useful Ways to Describe and Measure Your Photos

A leading textbook on creative photography, released in 1980, devotes more than 90% of its 460 pages to technical considerations — how cameras and lenses work, darkroom procedures, lighting — and just a few pages to aesthetics and composition.

Why Outsourcing Wedding Photography Editing is a Slippery Slope

In the past few years, we’ve seen the dawn and domination of mirrorless cameras and exponential improvements in software and computing power. Speaking as someone who started shooting on black and white film, moved to digital on a 6-megapixel camera, and now shoots solely only on mirrorless bodies, I can honestly say that it’s never been easier to produce great quality photography.

Photographers, It’s OK to Not Own the Latest Camera Gear

Photography is a tech-heavy job. Camera companies do a great job of hyping up new gear and creating a fear of missing out. However, very few professionals that I know actually go and splurge on the latest and greatest equipment.

Thoughts on the Nikon Z9 by Someone Who Has Used Every Nikon DSLR

In all my years in photography, I don’t think any camera has had as much buzz leading up to its release as the Nikon Z9. There were many reasons for that, both good and bad, but now that the camera’s here, does it live up to the hype? After one week of using it, I think so.

The Tenets of Neo-Modernism, A Way to Look at Creative Photography

After decades of studying the classic works of photography, I’ve determined there is a historic and philosophical bifurcation in the works created. For convenience, I classify all works as falling into one of two camps, and the group I’m personally drawn to — and one that I find most applicable in discussing current photographic creativity — is what I call “neo-modernism.”

Should Black and White Imply the ‘Age’ of a Photograph?

In many art practices, a new method or process does not usually automatically override the old one. You can still use berries and charcoal to paint a cave wall, paint on a canvas, or put pencil to paper. These do not become irrelevant just because a Wacom tablet can be used to make a digital illustration or a VR for a 3D painting.

Producing Narrative Photographic Work for a Small Audience

Producing photographs, writing, and ideas to share with others is such a wonderful way to direct creative energy, and for many, this approach involves setting themselves up as a photography business practice in some way, whether that’s offering the work as a product or as a service.

Whatever Story You Have, Tell It Slowly as a Photographer

There's an expression in relation to investment banking I've heard which I think translates quite well into advice for documentary photographers: "it's not timing the market, its time in the market."

With Photo Zines, Less Can Be More

All of my recent motivation in photography has come from the desire to see actualized publications of my projects, in the wake of the wonderfully positive response to my recent Bulgaria zine and USA Digest.

Are Expensive Light Modifiers Worth It?

There have been thousands of articles written about cheap and expensive lights, cameras, and lenses. To me, the light is not as important as the modifier.

Lighting Setups Are Nonsense — Here’s How You Really Learn Light

When starting out, you will inevitably stumble upon someone telling you to use a three-light setup for portraits and a beauty dish for fashion photography. I think that’s a whole bunch of nonsense. Lighting setups don’t teach you light -- they only confuse you and derail you from progressing.