Does Image Quality Really Matter?

What matters more: photo content or picture quality? What photo has more intrinsic appeal: a grainy photo of a person getting shot in the head at point blank range or a crisp medium format photo of an apple sitting on a kitchen counter?

People seem to prefer interesting content over visually appealing picture quality. Actually, having both at the same time can be a detriment….

Before I begin I must admit: I’m far more shallow and superficial than I might have hoped….

Let’s take the internet for example, which consists of 3 things: photos, video, and text. That’s it. That’s the internet.

With laptops and PC’s declining in sales and tablet sales becoming stagnant, the main way folks consume the internet these days is by using their phones. Phones have made people highly tolerant of inferior photo quality, especially if the photo features a juicy ass, a nice set of boobs, or a cat, in no particular order. This is because people use their phones to record video and snap photos of the above things, often times in bad lighting or with less than professional level cameras mounted on their phones. Actually, there arguably has never been a professional level camera mounted on a phone…

Come to think of it, amateur porn is the reason this is a debate at all. Every time a chick sends you a photo of her rack and you whack off to it you are taking a side in this debate….

Meanwhile, the internet gives us high quality porn and photographers offer their services for top dollar. Premium porn sites sell content that later gets bootlegged and iPhone photo geeks scoff at paying 5000 USD for a wedding shoot. What the marketplace, both the internet consumer and iPhone shooters are saying is that image quality essentially doesn’t matter.

….and we wonder why our basic friends are simply not impressed by our nice, sharp, well composed DSLR photos, and instead like grainy, drunkly composed iPhone St. Patrick’s Day pictures….

Actually taken with the Fujifilm X100F and ruined in post….

This is why Instagram models are so successful. For every person surfing the web on their phones looking for art there are 2600 men searching the hashtag #tittytuesday. Art is secondary to porn, and in turn, image quality is secondary to content. In fact, many men are suspicious of well lit, professional photos on an Instagram models feed. They suspect a sell is coming, and nobody likes “the sell”. We, ahem, they are more amenable to poorly lit bathroom and bedroom photos where the model is wearing her often worn night clothes…

A nice painting is probably not as desirable as a nice blowjob I suppose, even though the painting normally costs more….

We photographers spend thousands on our cameras and even more on an array of sharp lenses and we only have 900 followers on Instagram and 300 on twitter while some chick in her moms basement using a Galaxy Note has 200k followers on IG and a respectable 24k on twitter, even though she never does more than post photos….

Everything here works besides the Black 4k, which is crap…

Why the fuck are we buying all this gear? Are the camera companies mind fucking us? If you shoot weddings or funerals or school photos I get it, but most of us don’t shoot shit besides street photos and our reluctant family members who we are afraid to tell how much we paid for our gear….

This is a micro-struggle. The debate over image quality vs. image content will not determine whether or not your city legalizes prostitution. This is small shit in the scheme of things. Still, think about how much grainy amateur porn you whack off too compared to over-produced West Hollywood porn…..



Some people are never satisfied….

This is normal to me. I don’t expect to ever be fully satisfied with anything.  I mean, I can find temporary satisfaction at any moment I want to, and I can adopt a realist mindset and be content “in the moment”, but in my humble opinion, long-lasting satisfaction is impossible. 

Many husbands and wives are content with their spouses of course, though I suspect true contentment is evasive and is replaced at some point by filial piety and duty, despite what the contents of the secret mind are. In other words, people may want something better or something different than what they have, but are deeply motivated to resist any and all temptation. This is perhaps the definition of loyalty…..

What about us however? What about our photography and being satisfied with our work? Is there ever a point where we should feel like we have taken enough photos? Probably not. What about gear? Is there a point where we have the perfect kit for our photographic needs and should stop looking at gear forums and adding items to our Amazon wish lists? Probably so…..

Im never satisfied with anything, as I said before. In fact I reject the premise of being satisfied and embrace instead the reality of constant evolution. Sure, it is fruitless to divorce your spouse randomly or to sell all your gear and buy a new camera each year. Still, our kits must evolve and our marriages must grow and both partners need to try to be the best partner they can be, and avoid stagnation and complacency. No matter how good the last photo you took was, you’re only as good as your next photo. Excellence is being able to reproduce results, and there is no hard limit as to the number of results required before you consider yourself excellent.

I am insatiable. I’ll never be satisfied with anything. Well, besides my motorcycle…. and a dozen jumbo steamed crabs…. and a Hasselblad X1D…..


The Polite Street Photographer

I get it. You’re a nice person. As a photographer, you have great skill and charm but you don’t want to offend people. So instead of taking bravely composed street photos featuring human faces, you shoot the backs of people’s heads, which just doesn’t sound right in general, and if a person offers a mean gaze after you’ve taken their photo you offer to delete the photo and you cry. You have violated their privacy in public! Everyone deserves to be invisible if they so desire, especially if they are on city streets! How dare you do that you creep! You shouldn’t do that ever! Instead of shooting candids in the streets you should ask permission first! Be polite and have some goddamn manners!

I’m being sarcastic here because really you’re not being polite. Really you’re being a bitch.

Here is a quote which encapsulates my attitude:

“No one deserves to be praised for kindness if he does not have the strength to be bad; every other form of kindness is most often merely laziness or lack of willpower.” ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Maybe calling you a bitch is too harsh. Perhaps it is more accurate to call you lazy. Put simply: bravery requires effort. 

No person is born brave. Having a set of balls is a choice. Some make the choice to be brave early in life. Many of us develop bravery after becoming frustrated with the way life plays out when you mask your cowardice by calling yourself polite. I’m not suggesting you should be rude to everyone you meet, or even rude on occasion, but I’m convinced that in street photography, which is a form of direct-contact photojournalism, it is better to be an asshole and get the shot than to cower and pass up the shot….

We all are negligent. We all are bitches from time to time. I’m as guilty as anyone. When my inner punk-ass bitch flares up, I stay mindful that I should be brave as opposed to polite, and am able to correct my behavior when out shooting. Approaching a pretty woman in a tavern, with romantic goals, is a different set of circumstances altogether, but similar rules of bravery vs. politeness apply. Closed mouths don’t get fed. It’s far better to get shot down by 100 pretty women than it is to settle for and ruin the life of an ugly woman with your contagious cowardice, passed down to your seeds and their seeds, in perpetuity…

The best I can say about street bravery is: fuck it. Fuck the world. That’s a reliable philosophy to adhere to. Curse the entire world to hell and then raise your camera to your eye and compose your masterpiece. People on the streets have no right to privacy. They are in public. Did the men who pulled off the Boston Marathon bombing have any right to privacy while carrying bombs through the public streets that day? Wouldn’t the earnest, more photojournalistic thing to do, in hindsight, be to take photos of the perpetrators, even if they objected to having their photos taken? How is a camera a more substantial recorder of events than my own eyes? Both a photograph and testimony backed my the memories of what I saw can be used to convict a person in a court of law. Who is to say that one is right and the other is wrong, between my eyes and a Leica rangefinder?

Do what you want of course. You are under no obligation to be good at anything. If you want to take photos of people walking away from you and of hedges and homeless people who are in a daze, do your thing. Don’t be offended, please, if you spot another photographer watching you, mouthing the words: “What a pussy….”

I’ll leave you with one more quote:

“Sometimes in life there are events that you need to be a little foolish to handle.” ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld


Sobriety and Street Photography II


I recently quit alcohol, cigarettes and staying up late at night doing nothing….

I dunno, one Sunday morning after having sex with some random chick, hungover, depressed,  I decided that I’d had enough….

There were other reasons…. the dark circles around my eyes seemed like permanent fixtures on my face, I had been drinking and staying up late for so many years….

I smoked maybe a pack of cigarettes per week. Hardly a major habit, but I rarely if ever smoked unless I was drinking coffee or alcohol….

So here I am, sober and taking more magnesium so my mood had been a lot better lately. I’m once again the scarred kid I was 25 years ago before all of this rock star madness initiated. Oh yeah, I bought a new camera too. You might have heard about that….

Many of us connect our drug and alcohol consumption to our art, as if the two are richly interrelated. It’s not as simple as that. It’s more “quantum”. Our art is influenced by drugs and not influenced by drugs at the same time. The dark places many of us call to when we generate art remains, drugs and alcohol just changes the lens we use to examine those sources of inspiration….

I never used to drink before going out to shoot anyhow. It would suck if I dropped my camera because I was drunk. Weed is a different story. I don’t consider weed to be a drug really. It’s more like a vitamin to me….

Going to sleep earlier, sober, has reconnected me to all the dreams I missed before, or maybe I can just remember them now because of my newfound clarity. I also realize that I held on to sources of pain for no better reason than to milk them as convenient sources of self-pity. I’ve made steps to clean that up….

I’m not saying I’ll never drink again. I am saying that I’ll never drink alone again. Fuck that shit. I’m not going to drink in public either, particularly at bars and taverns. I already have one fairly recent DUI and will never have another. Also, all those trendy bars and taking silly ladies out on dates can get expensive…

Street Photography has not changed for me. Well, maybe I think I like it more now….


When You Have No Control…

Let me just state for the record that control is an illusion. We never have control over much of anything in our lives. We have responsibility and we have authority, but we seldom, if ever, have control. This applies to street photography as much as it applies to day-to-day life.


I’m not a handsome dude. It’s a shame because my mother and my youngest sister (my mom’s daughter, I have 2 other sisters besides) are drop dead gorgeous. As for me however, I’m unattractive, and this is made painfully clear by the number of failed dates with women I have had in my life. I’m just not impressive I suppose. I used to be a skinny guy and I thought that women didn’t like me because I was skinny, so I started hitting the gym 5 days a week and still do to this day. Now I’m pretty buff but I get the same results: I get passed over like the glasses-wearing fat chick at a sophomore ring dance. Currently I’m thinking I need to be rich and famous and maybe then women will flock to me. Hmmmm…..Familiar logic. I sense that life has laid out a an obviuos pattern for me….


As for being rich and famous as a photographer and internet personality I still wouldn’t have any control. In that circumstance I’d be an easy target for ridicule over my looks or my lack of formal education (I never finished at Morehouse college). I’d be roasted on twitter every time I misspoke or posted a poorly composed photograph. This was once a scary prospect until I realized that the control I fear I’d lack then is the same control I lack NOW. The only difference is at this point I have no support. No fans. No one is in my corner and everyone thinks I’m just some uneducated nigger with a big mouth and an expensive camera. Perhaps they are right. I’m beginning to realize that what people think about me, and what I think about myself largely does not matter. Only my actions matter.


There will come a day that I will have authority. I will be the best at what I do, perhaps the finest ever. I will have the power to help others and the discretion to obliterate any enemies that may emerge. Until then I’ll keep grinding, day by day, and try my best to keep things under control….



Random Thoughts on Street Photography and Life….

• I ordered these today on Amazon in advance of buying the Fuji X100F next month or     whenever its available (I pre-ordered the camera). Anybody use these things?

• Part of me wants to enter a few Street Photography contests but I’m always suspicious of the photo judgement process. It may be that I never trust authority in general. In addition to my innate suspicion I also don’t want to spend 25-50 dollars (or more) on entry fees. I’m not really a cheap bastard but I’m not a gambler either. These contests feel a lot like gambling.

• I’m still on a break from shooting street. I have been shooting sports a lot lately and I hate it as much as usual. I love the high school sports environment and the on-court access, but there is no creativity involved in shooting live sports. All I do is track and shoot. In fact, I usually feel some shame that I missed a killer dunk or something because I was chimping or chatting with a fan….

• My dating life still fucking sucks. If you know any good looking single women between 29-52 in the Baltimore/DC area hit me up…..

• Having used back button focus for years when framing street compositions and while shooting sports photography, I think I’ll try using the shutter button to lock focus with my Fuji X100F when I get it. There’s no real reason. I just want to see how it feels.

• After the success of my decision post I’ll likely compose a real life review of the X100F. Don’t worry, I’ll curse up a goddamn storm just like you’d expect me too. Fuck that….

• I have been torn between curvy fat women and smallish fit women my entire adult life and am no closer to determining which I prefer than I was at 26 years old. This decision isn’t helped by the fact that no woman wants me anyhow.

• Does everyone check their order status on Amazon every 7 minutes like I do? Why hasn’t the shit shipped already? It’s been 25 minutes since I ordered it. Come on! Do your fucking job!

• My social media blackout has been extended indefinitely. You people are going silly shit nuts over Trump, especially women of a certain ilk and hue.


Everything looks normal here….

Thrift Store Dating

Many of you are older married fuckers. You got married when telephones were connected to wall jacks and gas was 87¢ a gallon. You did not have to deal with the nightmare of modern dating an in particular: Online dating sites. I swear to skinny jean Jesus that my experience is just like sifting through used dinner jackets at the local church thrift store. I may find something that looks decent but there is always something wrong with what I find, and I forever get the sense that if only I could afford to shop retail, I’d fare far better.


Dating is expensive. Dinner and a movie will run me maybe $120 bucks. This would be fine if I was taking my girlfriend out but I don’t have a girlfriend. All I have are 30-50 year old women who are looking for a free meal and to be treated like a princess for an evening. That shit adds up. For example, 5 dates in a month and I’m already in luxury car payment territory. For all my expenditures I still am home surfing porn at 1am on a typical Saturday night as opposed to being inside the chunky woman who I spent an AT&T cell phone payment on earlier that evening. I always suspect a woman is just using me for a free meal when she repeatedly says “Thank you” during the date. I know women have it hard in some ways when it comes to dating, and it must be nice when a guy takes them out and shows them a good time. To be honest though, I don’t give a fuck about being a nice guy. I want results and 600 bucks a month on dates with no ROI is not a maintainable situation.


Online dating is meant to find relationships for women and not men. If you see the commercials, the main marketing push is towards women. So marketing, combined with the natural interrelation between the sexes, results in a typical attractive female receiving hundreds of overtures per week in her inbox, while an equally attractive male will maybe get three messages per week. This disparity is magnified by the dating conduct of modern women. There is a zero tolerance policy pervasive on these dating sites. A prospective man is not allowed to have any discernible weaknesses or flaws. If he does then he is easily replaced by another potential suitor. There is no “trying on outfits” at the thrift store. All they do is rifle through the for-sale rack, looking for the perfect deal.


I could go on but nah…..fuck it. I’ll write more about this later. These are my micro-struggles. Enjoy your day…


What Am I Looking For in Street Photography?


Street photography is a search. What one searches for depends on ones personal outlook on life and overall temperament. Some people search for structure. They may shoot buildings or inanimate objects. Others search for festivities and random action. They shoot people smiling and dancing or reacting in a unique way. Me, I search for the unobtainable. I search for happiness and love.

3 quick tips for street photography2.jpg

I’m not saying I treat street photography like In fact, I don’t like to speak to anyone who doesn’t themselves have a camera when I’m out shooting. What happens when I’m in my zone shooting and walking the streets is I am confronted with overwhelming sadness. This is juxtaposed to the general joy I feel when composing and snapping street photos. The sadness I feel stems from how active and engaged people seem out in the world, versus how distant and lonesome my life has always been. I’m a loner of the highest order. I’m edgy and gritty and often overbearing. I don’t readily take to friends, and my romantic life is a runway junkyard of crashed passenger planes. Nothing has ever really taken off.


When I’m shooting, part of me is trying to unlock some secret as to how I can overturn this self inflicted penalty of isolation. I’m not looking for verbal cues or to feel included or welcome. I want to find my epiphany through art. I want the God of street photography to give me that eureka moment where my affairs thin out and all becomes clear. Until that day comes, and even after, I will stay low and keep shooting….

The Penalty of Possession

When I’m out shooting I’m also out thinking. Sometimes however, I’m dreaming. This is why I aim my lens at women primarily. My dream, at least a summer-dress wearing representation of it, is across the street from me. I shoot. No more dreaming but instead, action. Click. After the photo is taken and the moment has passed, I look around. If there is not another subject nearby I move to another area. Between areas the dreams come back unless I spot another beautiful subject. If I do I am at once sad and excited. I snap another photo, and at the same time I feel both hopeless and hopeful.

I feel like if I can just snap a photo I can study it later and figure out how to get a woman this lovely for myself.

I suspect that I’m unfit for romance. Natural selection. Darwinism. Just call it science, basically. Despite this I dream every day of my comeuppance where I get the girl, the money and I utterly crush the spirits of my enemies. I dream of magic, basically.

the penalty of possession 2.jpg
Their form gives me emptiness and my emptiness gives them form.

I see many couples during my street photography shoots, especially during the summer. These couples range from younger hand-holding couples to old best-of-enemies couples. New love and tired love. I see them and I shoot couples that catch my eye artistically. I rarely post photos of couples on my social media, however. The reason is simple: I harbor envy towards them. There they are, together and not lonely. Here I am, pointing a camera at them and later cropping the guy out of the photo, always lonely.

In the eyes of the men whom I normally crop out of photos I see an annoyed look that I rarely see when men are walking by themselves. This annoyance is likely, I suspect, because men cannot have their normal wandering eye when strolling with their snuggle bunny, and this creates a subtle-yet-visibe angst. Even men with world-class women whom I’d have to ask for credit line increases on all my cards just to afford to date, there is that look in their eyes.

the penalty of possession 3.jpg
The best of enemies.

I know time can do this to a man. A woman is a man’s hot little mama for a while, and then she becomes an actual mama and has his babies. Now she is not his hot mama, at least in the household, as much as she is “mommy” and he is “daddy” to the kids. The man has everything he ever wanted, but now peers at other women when his wife is not paying attention, and momentarily contemplates throwing his treasures away to start something foolish and new.

The man misses his passion for the future. He used to seize the bull by the horns, but now he is a protector and a father and a husband. Everyone tells him he should be happy with what he has: his dime-piece wife, his children, his house and toys, and indeed he is thankful. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t feel blessed. His micro-struggle is that he no longer gets to hunt. His hunt has ended. The world now tells him, “You have your prize now enjoy your life.” This is pacification through achievement. This is the penalty of reaching your dreams, especially those pre-defined by your birth-family and society. This is the penalty of victory. When you had nothing you were free. You possess so much now but you are no longer free. This is the penalty of possession.

My normal hunting grounds are Mount Vernon, which is in the heart of midtown Baltimore.


I’m not saying it’s a bad deal. I can trade lonely Friday nights which are normally followed by spirited rides on my Harley the next morning to anywhere I choose, for Friday nights hanging with my wife’s weird friends followed by Saturday morning soccer games with the kids? Sign me up. 🙂

In a sense I have all but given up the hunt for love and romance. I instead hunt for beauty through photography and I hunt for explanations about why life has to be this way for me. I also hunt for sex, I mean lets be real here, but I will admit that over the course of my life romance has been my main micro-struggle. I suppose until black magic happens and the universe suspends the laws of physics just so I can be happy, I will most definitely stay low and keep shooting… you should.

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Street Photography is Rejection

I walk up to a pretty lady. In my hand is a $3000 DSLR with a $1500 lens attached. I raise the camera, smiling the whole while, and begin to focus….

I’ve shot this spunky lady on several occasions and she lets me shoot my photos with no problems. Her Chuck Taylor game is interplanetary….

This is the moment of truth. Sometimes the subject poses and smiles. Normally when this happens I’m so shocked that I screw up some part of the exposure triangle trying to make the photo perfect, and curse myself when I check the view screen after she walks away. Sometimes they let me do my thing. “Just go on with it” their eyes say. They don’t slow their pace or give me more than a soft smile, however. They see what I’m doing and have decided that it is harmless.

As you can imagine, some women reject the idea of having their photo taken in public. They wont cause any sort of scene or say anything mean to me, but will instead wrinkle their noses, raise their hands over their faces, or scowl looking straight forward into space. Or all 3……

In other words they reject me.

I know I seem to be trending towards “ridiculously dramatic” with the above statement. I counter that notion, of me being dramatic, by offering the following scenario: What if I were Brad Pitt circa 1998 holding a camera walking around, and I mean actually Brad, not just some guy who looks that famously handsome??? If I were Brad Pitt I wonder if any woman would ever reject my photo request. I imagine they would happily stop and take at least 7 seconds to smile for a photo, instead of seeing me holding 5 grand worth of camera gear and deciding: NO!!!

Beauty is danger. There is nothing more frightening, life-altering, or intimidating than a beautiful woman. This one smiled when she got a bit closer to me.

That’s why I think it’s me. Being a perpetually single guy, I have opposite sex PTSD that is hard-wired to rejection and dating. I’m also an aggressive lad, some would say, and typically aggressive lads receive many rejection letters as a result of that aggression. I suppose I’m more used to rejection than most fellas. It still stings though. Every time I ask for that photo it’s like I’m 15 years old asking a pretty girl to the sophomore ring dance. If she says yes I’m far too excited. If she says no I’m far too defeated.

As I said before Street Photography is about balance. In reality all I’m doing is snapping a photo. In reality she is NOT Kim Kardashian and I’m not the paparazzi, despite how deludedly healthy her self-image might be. In reality she isn’t rejecting me as much as she is rejecting the idea of me suddenly and suspiciously taking her photo without asking. In reality she feels she controls her image and likeness as captured in public, even though the law disagrees strongly unless the image is used for business purposes. Native Americans once believed that a photo steals a portion of the soul. I think there is an instinctive belief similar to this in many people. I also believe that on some level, people just like saying NO whenever possible.

This is the same lady from the first photo. Normally when she realizes it’s me she gives me a little “business” for the camera. She is subtle when she does it, but it’s there.

Welcome to street photography. Welcome to the art of acceptance or rejection. By engaging in classic street photographic behavior, you are setting yourself up for rejection. To avoid being rejected I have started to use a makeshift zone focus technique, where I set the aperture between f7.1 and f11 and shoot from the waist. At those apertures most things will be in focus anyway. Using this method I sometimes get a reaction like: “Did he just take my picture?” but my shutter was in silent mode and the camera never went up to my eye so there is no stank face or eye rolling from the subject. They have no idea what just happened. I win! I beat rejection! I overcame yet another micro-struggle, even though I did it by cheating. 🙂

As always, stay low and keep shooting.

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