Thursday, October 27, 2011

I feel like Cassandra

It occurred to me while chatting with Daphne Chan that I feel like the Greek Mythology figure, Cassandra. If you haven't read Edith Hamilton's Mythology recently I'll save you the pain-staking detail and relate that Cassandra was a mortal that Apollo found to be quite beautiful. Beautiful enough, in fact, that he gave her the gift of prophesy. When she did not return his love he cursed her so that no one would believe her prophesies. She had predicted the Battle of Troy along with the Greek Deception of the Trojan Horse, but no one would believe her as a part of her blessing with a curse.

(Okay Jeremy, get to the point... You're a nerd and you like Mythology.)

My point is this... I read Zack Arias' latest blog post on the rundown of how to build your book and it reminded me that I promised Zack and Chase that I'd make a book and send it their way... Sort of a "Did I take a step forward this year?" type of thing... I might even send one to David E Jackson while I'm at it... I love that guy. Then I realized that it's been nearly 6 months since the class in Seattle....Already! It's crept up on me like creeps like to do.

It feels like I have made some progress but while going through my work I found that I have holes in my work, but more interestingly I've found that I have extra work that doesn't fit in my book. The above photo (a model by the name of Cassie, btw...she fits well withe the Cassandra story...) doesn't fit anywhere right now. I'm seriously considering shooting more work like this. I LOVE this look.... 1)It's moody as hell. 2)This is the look I get when experimenting. 3)It feels like I'm actually working my ass off to try new things. I really think my photos are awful, but when I hit this type of stride it feels like I'm batting .100 instead of striking out. Grounders to Right Field anyone?

The point is: I don't know what to do with work like this. I don't know where it's going to fit.... but I have this insatiable desire to shoot more of it. More stuff you don't see all the time. I hate the Smiley-Cute-CookieCutter shit. Everyone shoots that. If you hire me to shoot it, I'll totally do it for you and work my ass off for great photos to make you happy...but my soul needs more than that. This work is simple to pull off... but it makes me happy... I'm working at being happy.... and that's so freakin hard.

Do you understand?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photo 101

I've had a few requests here in Denver to teach a photo workshop. At first, all I could think of is me in a room full of people blabbering endlessly about things that bore the tar out of people. Then, I thought about how much I don't know that I don't know. What I do know is that I have so much further to go. I constantly look up to those further up the food chain that I am in order to learn more. I fired my first off-camera flash to The Strobist Blog. I've watched my copy of the Zack Arias creativeLIVE videos every week since May when I got back from that workshop. I've been relatively diligent about watching Scott Kelby's - The Grid every week as well. Information that David duChemin gives out I eat up like candy on Easter. The truth is I know that I need to give back to newer photographers what's been given to me. I'm not an expert photographer; WPPI hasn't left me a voicemail saying they'd like to have me teach a workshop, but frankly there are people around me that are asking for my help.

That's when it occurred to me: All photographers are looking up for help. The further up they get... the fewer people they can look up to for help, but they're still looking. Secondly, anyone who is teaching a workshop is saying something profound whether they realize it or not. They're saying "This is what I've learned.... so far." I'd bet money that Zack's One Light Workshop was less inclusive and less intensive 5 years ago that it is today. The quality of the workshop has gone up, which means it's increasing in value even as he increases the cost of the workshop. Can I show up and charge $1600 for a photo workshop? Hell No! What I can do is show up and share what I've learned. If it's useful to people than I did something productive. If I share opinions for a few hours I probably should have just had a Google Hangout and talked shop for a bit. (FYI: No one listens to the Pentax Guy while talking shop; I just look weird and antiquated.) I probably know more than I can explain back to someone right now, but I gotta start somewhere.

(Get to the point, Jeremy)

Okay, so I'm writing an outline of what I'd like to teach during a Photo 101 workshop:

  1. Photo 101
    1. Camera handling
      1. What are these stupid buttons for?
      2. "P" is not for "Professional"
      3. What is necessary versus What is nice to have
    2. Exposure Triangle
      1. Aperture
      2. Shutter Speed
      3. ISO
      4. Reciprocals
    3. Evaluating Exposure
      1. Your LCD is not a good tool to evaluate exposure...
      2. The Meter
      3. The Histogram
    4. Glass handling
      1. DOF
      2. Expansion/Compression
      3. Follow rules now, break rules later (aka Don't be Jeremy Corbin)
    5. Application
      1. How can we put this information into practice?
      2. I just assigned you to shoot X, how would you shoot X?
      3. Good, now go shoot X and see if your solution worked.
        1. Like... right now.... GO!
      4. Rinse and Repeat
(Dude! You just gave away your entire outline! Now I'll go start my own workshop!) Sure! Do It! Help People! ... If you really know what you're doing!

As you can see, the target audience is a complete newbie in photography. It makes no assumptions as to the student's level of skill and brings the student up to a knowledgeable but incompetent level. ("Incompetent?" Dude, that's pretty harsh...) Yes it is harsh. You can give someone the technical information about photography but unless they go out and practice the snot out of it (ew... gross visual) the information won't sink in and it'll blow away like a seed in the wind. The seed needs planted, fertilized, and watered for it to become anything productive. Without practicing it's not possible to really understand what the information is.

When I got back from Seattle I completely trashed my portfolio. Zack tore me to shreds... I sucked. I cried. I got home. I made plans.... I shot more... went back to the drawing board.... and repeated that process. Now, hopefully I suck just a little less. In 10 years I hope to not suck anymore. In 20 years I'd like to actually be a good photographer. This whole thing reminds me of a saying I know from a former life:

"The Warrior is a man that dedicates his life to the cause which made him what he is. What governs the Warrior is the foresight that he has to see beyond the present and into the future, beyond the capabilities of those who follow him...."

The saying continues on from there... the "he/she" thing aside what I've been thinking about is substituting the word "Warrior" with the word 'Photographer" so I can apply it to myself in my life now:

"The Photographer is a man that dedicates his life to the cause which made him what he is. What governs the Photographer is the foresight that he has to see beyond the present and into the future, beyond the capabilities of those who follow him...."

I'm looking forward to my teachers just as they are looking forward to theirs. Whose to say that someone can't look forward to me while they're just getting started? The whole cycle sounds like a Win-Win to me.

Anyway, I'm done rambling. I've got to make a shot list so I can show some examples during the class. Models don't usually like to hang out first thing in the morning while I figure out what I'm doing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I find it to be incredibly important to know what is going on in our country.

For those of you that don't know what the Occupy Wall Street movement is... watch the video.

For those of you that believe that Occupy Wall Street is a bunch of whiners asking for a handout... watch the video.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Create. Share. Sustain. NSFW

One thing that Chase Jarvis has always seem to promoted is this: Create, Share, Sustain. I have an easier time with the "Create" part than the other two. I don't share well with others and I'm barely sustaining. I struggle this all three ideals in some way.

Create: Since I've baby-stepped into photography this past year I've been working on getting a TON of personal work done. I've been shooting the things that I've been wanting to shoot and planning the stuff that I think I want to shoot but haven't worked the details out yet. I have a little notebook that sits at my bedside that I scribble notes into on a regular basis. I sketch out drawings or ideas that I'd like to see done but I haven't figured out how to do them yet. The ideas have problems that stand in the way of completion, but they are still viable. Maybe I'll take a photo of it sometime if someone is interested.

Share: I'm always ALWAYS nervous about sharing. It's not that I don't want people to see it. Quite on the contrary: I want people to see my work, but critique is hard. You know what's worse than critique? Apathy. I would rather someone tell me that my work is worthless and I'm never going to make it as a photographer than have someone look at something I've created and just say "meh" or even worse: Move on without saying a word. It's half the reason I barely show my work to my wife: She says nothing often. I have to coax and goad her into commenting on my work, but often I only hear something about the photos she likes, but she's quick to tell me when something in the photo is distracting. It's helpful since she gives me the perspective of a potential client. I have photo buddies that can tell me what's wrong technically, but the client perspective is just as important to me.

Sustain: This is barely hanging on for me. I'll put together a shoot and I'm getting better at logistics, but only because I'm trying to take bigger and more complicated projects. I used to be able to barely hang on with just me and the subject. Now I've worked up to the occasional Location scouting, booking, MUA+H scheduling, client confirmation, and managing to throw some personal work in the mix of all that while I have everything lined up. But I'll be honest: It's exhausting. I can see why the bigger guys have crews and teams and indentured servants to take care of some of this for them. I exhausted myself so thoroughly leading up to and during a shoot that I made myself sick. Not Cool. It's hard to feel free to create when it feels like someone mixed concrete in your gut. The photos turned out great, but I was definitely in need of some down time when the job was done.

So what should I do about this stuff? If my ideas I want to create are viable I need to plan them out and shoot them. I need to get over my fear of everyone ignoring my work. I need to take better care of myself while I'm ramping the stress from these jobs up.

The first step I can take right now (like... NOW now) is to start sharing some of the work I've created. I'll quit hiding behind the newbie rating and just throw stuff out there. Please, if you like my work: Tell me what you like. If you hate my work: Tell me why. If you simply feel nothing for my work: ....okay. I'm my own worst critic, but hey.... I'm sharing.

Speaking of sharing: More from this shoot (NSFW) is on my site. Oooh look at me! Sharing! <fingers-crossed>