I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the TWiT Photo podcast with hosts Catherine Hall and Leo Laporte. I suppose with a name like TWiT I was the obvious choice to be a guest. I’m hoping to get to California at some point to see their brand new studio. Check out their weekly podcast here. Also, I’ll be part of a panel discussing photo sharing on the web. That will be live today. I’m sure it will be recorded for future viewing.
Catherine is hosting a webcast tomorrow (Thurs. 8/18) at 3pm EST. I’ll be joining the panel discussing copyright and sharing photography on the web. The panel is full of some amazing folks like photographers and bloggers Trey Ratcliff, Frederick Van, and Nicole Young. We’ll also be joined by Mike Linksvayer (VP of creative Commons), Christa Laser (specialist in copyright law), and Brian Rose who is the photos community manager over at Google+. I’m sure we’ll be discussing, among other things, the hotly debated G+ TOS that have divided opinions from many in the photography industry. It’s going to be good to hear from a manager of the community there.
You can watch the live broadcast here today (Thursday 8/18) – www.keithbarrett.tv
This month’s promotional mailer and the inspiration for a new gallery on my site is based on this poor lady I recently came across in Times Square. Evidently she did not have the proper permit to be posing for photos with tourists and a few of New York’s finest were telling her she needed to get lost. In those words. “Get lost lady.” I think she was already lost. My new street gallery can be found on the main page of this site. It’s called “Here kitty kitty.” (note: using your arrow keys is the easiest way to navigate the new galleries)
This work is a departure from my editorial and commercial portraiture work. It’s taking me back to the journalistic roots that I grew from when I started pursuing photography 15 years ago.
Street photography is a difficult way of shooting for me for a number of reasons. In my commercial work I am in control of every aspect of a photograph. I control the subjects, the environment, and most importantly, the light. Street shooting is the antithesis to this. I’m in control of nothing . I also struggle with the emotions that I am part voyeur and part thief. It is not uncommon for me to spot an interesting character on the street and start to trail them. I’ve followed some people for more than an hour all while stopping for brief seconds to put my lens on another subject along the way. I steal personal moments. There they are just going about their day and I show up, take a moment of it, and push it to tens of thousands of people through social media. It’s fascinating, exciting, and kind of pervy. I love my job.
If you would like to see more of my street work, miscellaneous personal photos, and partially completed projects then I invite you to check out my visual dumping ground over at 500px.
I made a “what’s in my bag” post in 2009 about my mixed kit of Nikon and Canon gear. I’ve recently sold my Nikon gear and have gone 100% Canon to the surprise of many including myself. I’ve fielded lots of questions on Twitter about it, many I have not gotten to, so I’m making this blog post to cover your questions and to take the time to talk about why I am doing all of this. In this post I’ll talk about my past kits, my current kit, why I made the switch, the gear on my wish list, and why none of this matters all that much. Be warned, this is fairly wordy.
Let me get this out of the way… The Fuji x100 is the greatest digital camera ever made and may just be the greatest camera I have ever owned. You’ll have a hard damn time convincing me otherwise. I can state with confidence that this is my favorite camera I have ever owned. Period. End of story. Done. Best. Camera. EVAR. OMG. Etc. Note that I am not sponsored by Fuji, I have no relationship with Fuji, and I paid for this camera with my own money. I have nothing to gain in services, advertising, affiliations, or monetary value by writing this review.
I’ll break this down after the jump …
In case you haven’t read my 1,000 something tweets about how much I love the new Fuji x100, then I need to let you know that I love the Fuji x100. I’m working on a full review of the thing right now. It will NOT be a pixel peeping, button counting, megapixel masturbation fest of flowers and cats. It will be more of a review about how it fits in the life of a working photographer and how to work around the number of “quirks” the thing has.
I’m in New York this week getting my book looked at and stuff. It’s a fantastic process and I’m meeting some fantastic people. The brand is done. The site is 98% complete. I’m having some issues with the portfolio PDF download. Working on it.
Here are a few more from the streets of NYC. It’s a little series I’m calling #de_VICE. We are tethered to our devices to the point they may be a vice. I know I struggle with it. Once you are in the iWorld it’s amazing how unaware you become of your surroundings. Like, some guy taking your picture of you doing whatever it is you are doing there on your device.
More images to come with the review. It’s an awesome camera and a total pain in the a** at the same time. I absolutely love it.
I spotted this car at a 7-11 and knew I had to take a portrait of whoever was driving it. As I crossed the street he pulled out and drove down the street only to pull over at a cell phone store where I was originally standing when I saw the car at the gas station. I should have just stood there and let him come to me. I hung outside of that cell phone store for thirty minutes waiting for him. I’m glad he agreed to have his portrait made. That reflection on his eye off the window trim makes it for me.
From an afternoon stroll through Chandler, AZ. Shot with a Hasselblad SWC/M. TMAX 400 developed and scanned at Richard’s in Hollywood, CA.
Alright folks, we are just a few days away from the next creativeLIVE three day class. It starts this Friday and it is called “The Foundations of a Working Photographer.”
I’ve been teaching workshops for about four years now and I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of photographers. I would venture to say that most photographers entering the industry today are self taught. You read blogs, watch DVDs, go to workshops, attend conferences, read books, and do a lot of trial and error. We all do that. We are all learning and growing and trying to move forward but from my experience working with a lot of emerging photographers these days I see a number of holes in a lot of people’s foundations. There are a number of missing ingredients and this weekend’s class is designed to identify those weak areas in the industry and fill them in with knowledge and practical advice.
The goal you should have for yourself is to be able to walk into an environment, size up your subject, your shooting conditions, and your camera bag and formulate a plan quickly, efficiently, and with a smile on your face. Before you ever open your camera bag you should already know which lens you are going to need. You should have an idea of where your subject needs to be, what your background will be, and what you are going to have to do to the light. It’s like the matrix. You have to see the code.
This Friday we start with the basics of cameras and lenses and knowing your subject. Can you run your camera blindfolded? Do you know it? I mean KNOW it? I mean KNOW KNOW KNOW your camera. When you walk in a room do you know which lens you need and why you need it? When you are ready for a new lens do you know EXACTLY which lens you have to purchase next and EXACTLY why you need and do you know EXACTLY what it will do and what it won’t do for you? Are you nailing your exposures? Do you know how far your in camera meter is off? Can you identify 18% grey quickly? Do you know that aperture is only a SMALL part that determines depth of field? It isn’t the only thing that determines that and sometimes it’s the LEAST significant part of the depth of field equation.
Do you know your subject? Do you know how to best light them and best photograph them? Do you know how to keep them happy while you are freaking out in your brain about the shoot? When it all goes to hell can you keep them engaged, keep the shoot going, and make it the best experience they’ve had in front of a camera? That’s all on Friday.
Saturday starts of with light. Available light, flash, strobe, mixing the two, etc, etc. Get rid of the plastic cocktail cup on your flash and grow as a photographer. It’s all about light. It always has been and always will be. We are going to be shooting a lot on Saturday. Working with light, working with our gear, working with our subjects, and taking lots and lots of technical questions via the creativeLIVE chat room, twitter, etc. I’m going to end the day with my take on Jeremy Cowart’s 90 minute portfolio. I’ll have a few subjects to work with and I’m going to try to create as many different looks and photos with whatever I have to work with in whatever environment I have to shoot in. We’ll be taking breaks from shooting to talk about the creative process, getting rid of fear, and moving forward when you don’t have it all figured out.
Sunday will be a recap on the technical and then it’s on to business and balance. If you are trying to do this for a living or would like to then you need to know how to position yourself in your market, how to price for your services, how to research the industry around you, and how to find a way to stand out from the crowd. If you begin to find success with any of this you may just find your personal life going down in flames. Photography will take everything from you if you let it. Sunday we will be ending the day with my love, Meghan, and I having a transparent conversation about work and life and family and the issues we face trying to keep it all together with a business and four kids aged 12 and under.
There are going to be times I get on a soapbox. There will be times I say things that aren’t a lot of fun to hear. This isn’t going to be all double rainbows and fluffy kittens. This is a hard damn job and there are some people who just aren’t cut out for it. Photography calls many but chooses few. I know what it’s like to find success in this field but it wasn’t until I was an utter failure in everything. I sucked as a photographer. I sucked as a business person. I sucked as a family man. I’ve seen the mess that this can become and it sucks. I’m going to do all I can to help you avoid some of this and hopefully increase your odds at being one of those who are called and chosen. I promise to leave you on Sunday with plenty to be thinking about and plenty to be working on. I’m going to also free you up from some of the stress you may be feeling about some things. Like, forget about branding. It really doesn’t matter for you right now. Go get a cheap blog and don’t spend a dime on a logo. Huh? Really? Yep. Go rock $50 portrait sessions like it’s nobody’s business… because it’s nobody’s business. You’ll see.
It’s going to be like flying a kite in a hurricane and it’s going to be a blast!
Do you have any initial questions right now? Things you really, really, really want to see covered? Drop them in the comments below. We will also be taking questions Friday, Saturday, and Sunday via the chat room and twitter. It’s free to watch all weekend and they will be rebroadcasting over night for those of you on other parts of the globe.
PS – I might get into my new personal project that I’m working on. A few of the images are above. If you know what project I’m speaking of don’t mention it in the comments.
I’m in Chandler, Arizona today teaching a workshop. This is one of our shots from today. All you need is a dumpster.
Yesterday I spent about three hours walking the streets around here shooting 2 rolls of film. Well, I shot nearly two rolls. I shot 22 images and finished the other 2 images today. I’m working on a mini portfolio currently called “Chandler F*cking Arizona.” It’s inspired by a t-shirt that my previous studio manager, Erik Dixon, would wear. It looked a bit like this but with better typography. I have no idea really why I want to call this mini portfolio by this name. It’s kind of against my style yet it’s just something I feel like doing. Who knows. I’m sure I’ll play it safe when I’m actually putting it together. (I really hope I don’t)
So yeah, more walking around with film. Why film? Here’s the deal…
Film costs money and film takes time. So when I’m out shooting with film I’m asking myself a series of questions.
1 – Is it a good picture?
2 – Is it worth the money?
3 – Is it worth waiting for it from the lab?
4 – Is it worth giving up this frame of film for a shot that I might find later that I’d rather have than this one I’m about to shoot?
5 – Will it be worth cleaning the scanner, loading it in the carrier, and making a scan?
6 – Will it be worth spotting in Photoshop?
7 – Will it be worth posting or printing?
8 – Is it a good picture?
If I answer “no” on any one of these questions then it’s not worth shooting in the first place. It’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the time. It’s not worth giving up that frame for a frame I might get later. It’s not worth sitting at the scanner and dorking with all that. It’s not worth waiting for. It ain’t worth shooting in the first place.
How much do you think I concentrate more on each photo? A lot. When you shoot digital who cares? Just go ahead and shoot it and if you don’t like it later then no big deal. So you shoot and shoot and shoot and don’t really stop and think about the process. You also don’t feel really invested in it. At least, for me, right now in my life, I don’t feel invested in digital. I’m just in that phase where I’m adding limits to my work and simplifying. I need to grow. I need to move forward with my craft, my vision, and my work. DSLRs bore the shit out of me right now.
Boy, I’m getting a potty mouth. Probably due to shooting film.
Not only that, but I want better quality. Back in the days of film 35mm was for run-n-gun photography and newspapers. Medium format was the ruler of the pro field. Of course large format has even better quality but MF was the format that could give great quality and still be portable. 4×5 and up isn’t all that portable and you sure wouldn’t shoot a wedding with one. Or would you? If any wedding photographer out there would attempt it, it would probably be John Michael Cooper.
It used to be a $5,000 or so investment gap to move from 35mm to medium format. In the days of digital that canyon to cross from 35mm format DSLRs to MF cameras and backs has been $30,000 or more until recently. MF manufactures are getting the prices down. You can get into a system for about $10,000 and that is really amazing. Just as amazing as when the Nikon D1 came out and an unbelievably low $5,000. $400 Rebels shoot circles around the D1 these days. I’ll move these Hasselblads to digital as soon as I can but I got into the classic 500 series so that I can switch from digital to film with a click of a release button. The back I’m looking at is $14,000. That’s a heck of an investment but a few years ago it would have been $30,000 or more. Prices are coming down. Pentax and Mamiya both have systems starting at $10k and I know one of you (@MikeSeb) is rocking that Pentax. You need to do a review on your blog!
If you ever shoot digital MF and nail the shot then DSLRs will seem like toys. DSLRs have their place in my bag. They always will but I shoot portraits for a living. I’m not running and gunning through events so much these days. I don’t need to spray and pray anything right now. I sit my subject in place and do my thing. I can work slower and be more deliberate with what I shoot. That’s what I need.
The image above? Digital. Just shot that a few hours ago. The film I shot yesterday? I won’t see it for at least a week. At least. Then I have to scan it and I won’t have time for that for another two weeks. And then I’m going to want to print it. Really print it. Myself. In a darkroom. Damn it. Stupid film.
12/09/11 – UPDATE – I was looking at the Hasselblad CFV 39 back for the V series cameras. It sucks. I’m not spending a dime on that stupid back. Sometimes it works! Sometimes it doesn’t. All for the low low price of $14,000. Yeah, no thanks. I am however moving to a Phase One it looks like. I’ll know in a week or two and update this entry and make a new one about it.
Starting to shoot film again is like having to learn photography over again. It’s maddening and beautiful at the same time. I had to wait nearly an entire week to see these images! And I haven’t even begun to dig into the 15 rolls I shot last weekend to scan them.
The image above is from the Hasselblad SWC. Super. Wide. Camera. It has no optical viewfinder and you have to zone focus. Read that as “guess focus” unless you want to pull a measuring tape out. It’s a lovely camera and I call it Squirrel.
More to come.
My first scans are coming in from my recent shoot with Blackberry Smoke. Kodak Portra 400 NC in an RZ67.
Scans? Yes. Film? Yes. RZ? No. Too heavy (although it remains one of the best cameras ever made.)
I’m moving to Hasselblad.
More on this? Yes. Later.
Cheers :: Zack
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