Every time I see a majority of old white men in one place I get uneasy….
It’s a power thing. It’s a “my great-grandparents were lynched” thing. It’s a money thing, meaning I’m broke. It’s a racism thing, they don’t want me there and it’s obvious.
So when I walked into a local photographer/model meet at greet at a semi-popular warehouse last Saturday, I was immediately put off by the number of silver haired white men with big cameras I saw.
The problem with photographer/model meet ups is you get maybe a 40:1 ratio of photographers to models. You get huge “mines are bigger than yours” lighting setups popping off constantly. Randomly. You get a bunch of leery men rushing over to photograph an amateur model who just switched to her racy mini-dress, fishnet stockings, and heels number….
You get paparazzi practice basically. This is how TMZ should train their photogs. Send them to local photographer/models meets and greets.
How is it a meet and greet when the models are wary and hostile and the photographers look at me, a black man, as if I’m there to steal their gear or something? If I want to get rejected by a model I’ll go on Model Mayhem thank you very much. No need to get dissed in person after I paid an entrance fee. If I want to know where I stand with old white men I’ll check our President’s Twitter feed….
I will never understand why these photographers clamor to get the exact same shot 32 other guys are getting….
My homie said when he goes to these events he doesn’t even bring his camera. I see why. Next time (as if I’ll ever go to another one again and waste $25 bucks)…. next time I’ll bring a blunt and a beer and maybe my business cards.
I’m not saying global warming is wrong, but back in the 90’s I recall consecutive summers in Baltimore and Georgia where the thermometer read 100 degrees or above.
The current/past summer was muggy yes. Hot? Not really to me.
I switched companies that I shoot sports for. (If you want to know to whom I switched check my Facebook page or something) Shooting sports is fun but the money is drying up pretty quickly. Fewer and fewer parents are willing to buy prints of their kid once he or she (the parent) leaves an event, and those photo tents you see at tournaments aren’t as lucrative as they once may have been. Couple that with newspapers and magazines dying slowly, and there really isn’t a major demand for sports photos. I see parents and high school students with semi-pro gear on the sidelines now all the time. They may not have the passion and skill to produce high level sports compositions, but that camera and lens they now hold represents the money they would have spent on professional photos perhaps…..
Sports are in full swing though. I’m booked to shoot every weekday afternoon (after my main job) up till probably the first week of November. I’m also shooting models now until kingdom come, and will probably miss many Sundays in front of the tube watching the Redzone channel because of it. Sundays are great to shoot models for that reason however. It’s a dead day in the city for foot traffic and that’s a perfect environment to shoot in….
MICROSTRUGGLER is nearly a year old. I mainly like to shoot women and that’s what this blog will be about moving forward: photos and women…..
I like this little camera. Model Ana Rivera ain’t bad either.
So it has been 6 months since the Fuji X100F debuted and I of course purchased the first one sold in my city of Baltimore. In fact, I have yet to see another X100F in Baltimore, but I digress. Since I bought the camera I’ve shot ~5000 photos and spent untold lunch breaks going through the menus. I’ve shot sports sidelines, pretty models, and I’ve shot and killed streets. I’ve hooked up an external flash, more on that later, and have fallen in love with using the LCD only to shoot.
WHAT I LOVE
I started out with this camera thinking I could shoot jpegs using those cute film simulation modes. I really tried to make it work too. My favorite one is ACROS (followed by Classic Chrome). I used ACROS a lot. I knew though, that sometimes I needed to record a scene in color so I quickly started shooting RAW + Jpegs to my card, which slows my Lightroom flow down, but it was manageable. Then, at some point, I downloaded the fuji film simulation plugins from some damn place on the internet and installed it in Lightroom. That way I could change a Fuji (only Fuji) RAW file to the Classic Chrome look if I wanted, or whatever. After a while I figured there really is no fucking difference between the in-camera jpeg film simulations and the Lightroom plugin camera conversions, AND I noticed that Fuji RAW files have a shit ton of dynamic range. I shoot all RAW now. Fuck it. Those in-camera film simulation modes are too cute for me…
I never understood or cared about having a leaf shutter until I started shooting sidelines at sporting events. I normally shoot 1/1000 F5.6 and auto ISO range 200-800 during the day for streets. When I’m shooting events I turn on the built-in fill flash just for shits and giggles. This is when I discovered that I could overpower the sun and create these hauntingly half dark images. I continued this trend later shooting models using an external flash….
The image quality beats the unholy fuck out of my Canon 5d Mark III, even when the DSLR is coupled with the world class 70-200 2.8 IS II lens. This little Fuji point-and-shoot compact beats it handily as far as micro contrast and sharpness is concerned. RAW to RAW the Fuji wins handily when it comes to dynamic range for both shadow pulling AND highlight recovery. Colors are more of a taste thing, but I find Fuji colors to be more accurate than Canon, even though Canon’s colors are warm and lovely.
The face detection works reasonably well, and it will even detect a models eye (left or right depending on your chosen setting) when it feels like it.
This is most likely the finest street photography camera ever made.
Models and subjects smile at this camera, as opposed to my big ass Canon which makes folks get all serious or run away.
THINGS I HATE
The afl/ael button is useless and positioned horribly. I have reassigned it to change my focus type.
The control ring concept is so horrid that I try my best to never touch the lens unless I’m changing apertures.
What the fuck is up with Fuji and off camera flash? Nothing works right. I can get my Canon (actually a Pixel Mago) flash to fire in manual using a chord that I have to jiggle and pray to get it to work. When it works the results are good though. I’m getting the X-T2 and some lenses soon as well as this new Godox flash trigger and flash unit that’s supposed to work with Fuji TTL and HSS and do it all wireless. We shall see…
I hate the view mode button. God forbid you ever hit that bitch by accident and spend an hour thinking your camera is malfunctioning. Perhaps I’m just an idiot but still….
This camera is a nice intro into the Fuji universe and also has a leaf shutter. That’s the deal. The jpegs are good but overrated. The RAW files are superb. It’s compact yet made of steel. It’s sharp as fuck. It’s silent. The autofocus is good in single shot mode. If you’re a street photographer this camera is superior to almost any camera you can buy besides a manual focus Leica and maybe my beloved Leica Q. None of those cameras have a fill flash though. This one does….
The more I carry a camera around the streets, the more I realize that some people think it's weird that I'm carrying a camera around on the streets.
It's not my fault really. My little Fuji X100F is small enough to not intimidate folks. The true reason carrying a camera in the streets seems weird is because it is implied that every person ALREADY has a camera on them in their iPhones.
Of course the quality of an iPhone image is not on true par with a raw file from my Fuji or my Canon bodies, but that's where the disconnect happens for most folks. Many people are completely satisfied with their cell phone cameras and, unless they are a parent photographing youth sports, they feel no need to use a bulky old school traditional or post modern traditional style camera. Thus, an old man walking through the streets with a camera around his neck looks stereotypical and creepy to many millennials. Oh well.
Keeping my camera at my side helps me to avoid that "are you a creep?" glare from folks. Looks more professional that way anyhow. In the winter I can stick the Fuji in my jacket pocket. It's all about stealth out there and if people are long-spotting you and they know you're creepy their guard goes up and you lose the ability to capture a true candid. Strategy….
Do you dangle your camera around your neck? Let me know in the comments below.
Here is a list of 10 random things I like ❤️ love about my Fujifilm X100F…
🔘 The X100F autofocus is accurate and fast. I was worried it might be a bit sluggish when compared to the Panasonic/Leica Q. No worry needed though. It’s zippy fast!
🔘 The X100F is quite useful to me for sideline shots when I shoot sports. So useful in fact that I prefer using it over having a standard two DSLR setup. No need for a 35mm lens on my 5D mark III when my X100F has a great 35mm equivalent lens and a filler flash to boot!
🔘 I love having analog style dials for my ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. It beats having to dig through menus in my humble opinion.
🔘 The 35mm 2.0 lens itself is pretty sharp to my eyes, even wide open. RAW files are particularly awesome.
🔘 The ACROS film simulation mode (jpeg only) is maybe the best thing about the camera to me. You can shoot almost anything in ACROS and it looks surreal and historic.
🔘 The flash is useful in a pinch. I use it a lot for sideline shots as I mentioned earlier.
🔘 I almost exclusively use the EVF. It’s so good that my original reason for buying this camera, it having an optional OVF, is a non-issue.
🔘 The camera fits in my pocket and is extremely portable. It’s also so light that I can scarcely feel it dangling around my neckbone.
🔘 The Fuji X100F is 100% silent when the shutter volume is turned off. Dead ass quiet.
🔘 Lastly the little focus knob is swell. It works about as good as the ones on the pro DSLR’s I’ve had the fortune of using.
Thinking of purchasing this camera? Don’t do it! Lol. I want to keep all this bananas awesomeness for myself.
Please support me by buying my classic street-fiction novel available here.
Street photography probably isn’t for everyone. It is risky to some degree both physically and emotionally, and there isn’t a whole lot of money in it, to be honest. Most of the guys like Eric Kim who are making paper from street photography are doing it hosting workshops and touring, not from selling prints at gallery shows or to fashion magazines.
With that being said, here are 3 reasons to try street photography if you haven’t already…
Street Photography is for introverts
To be hyper-transparent for a moment, I strongly prefer working with large corporate or mid to small business clients. There are a billion reasons why this is so and I may address them as this blog evolves, but that’s my personal preference as far as booking gigs goes. Of course I would book gigs with any client if the paper is right, but I particularly don’t like working with clients one-on-one where I’m expected to perform miracles. For example, amateur models sometimes have unrealistic expectations about how a shoot will turn out. As my friend and mentor puts it: You get skinny potential-runway models who want to look like print models and 5 foot 2 curvy models who want to be on the runway during fashion week.
Besides portraiture, weddings are emotionally draining work and most of the wedding photographers I see when I shoot street photography on Saturdays look a mixture of terrified and depressed. They look like chicken zombies, seriously. In street photography there are no clients to worry about. Unless you’re on a photo walk there are no other shooters to compare yourself to or distract you. There is only you and the world, and it’s you versus the world….
Street photography is for extroverts
Even if you are a go-getter, extrovert, life of the party type who books 50 weddings a year and has the maximum number of Facebook friends, street photography is still viable for you. Many extroverts spread themselves too thin and need solo time to redirect and work on the subtle nuances of their craft. Street photography gives a person that opportunity as well as giving a popular shooter some “artsy” shots to add to his or her portfolio. I am not by any reasoning a go-getter type. I am more brooding and badass, so I really don’t like seeing these jazzy attention grabbing types shooting art on my streets. But, if you must be a complete douchebag and bring your Nikon D5 with a 70-200 2.8 VR to shoot the streets then I can’t stop you. Street photography doesn’t always have to be counter-culture and dark. There is room for winners as well as losers.
Street Photography doesn’t have many rules
You don’t need to master flash or filters or use a tripod or carry all sorts of backup gear when you shoot in the streets. Actually, if there is one rule Eric Kim frequently harps on that is brilliant it’s his one camera and one lens rule. That’s the only rule I can think of that matters. No need to switch bodies every few shots like you’re shooting college field hockey, or worry about comparative corner sharpness between the 6 lenses you brought with you. Street photography is very forgiving as to what is accepted as a decent street photograph, and after a few outings and postings on Facebook you’ll have all your friends and family calling you some sort of artist, when all you really did was apply a grainy preset in Lightroom.
Well that’s it. That’s the list. Put down your phone and go shoot 10 street photos with your big ass D5 or 1DX II before nightfall. If it’s night when you read this then do it the next day. When you’re out there do not hesitate or falter. Stay low and keep shooting!
Please like, follow and share…..(I know I ask a lot of you folks)
Winter is coming but it isn’t here quite yet. The leaves are turning and the morning school children waiting for busses blow steam though upside down peace signs, smoking imaginary cigarettes. The commando business women of summer are now wearing hose with thick black lines of thread down the back of the leg. The trash men on Reedbird Avenue are…….hold up, before I get all poetic and shit let me introduce myself.
I’m Ric Ray. I take street photos with a 5D Mark III, normally of attractive women, and I shoot sports photos with a 70D (though I’m transitioning to using the 5d Mark III for sports as well) for a growing national website that I find myself having to repeat the name of twice when I tell people about it. I don’t know for sure if the reason I have to repeat myself so often is because I mumble when I talk, or if the website name is too alliterative, but I digress. The sports photo site pays me on time each week, and because of them I am finally able to bring this hellish blog to you unwilling victims. Trust me, never have you clicked on a blog authored by such an individual as me. Subscribe whenever I figure out how to allow you to do so. Keep reading this blog because I can tell you better than I can tell you.
Why the girl in the photo above? Why do I capture women in my photos primarily? More on that later. Way later, as in another post. Winter is coming, but I wont rip off corny lines from Game of Thrones any longer, at least until I’ve told you the reason why this blog exists in the first place.
What is my motivation when I call my blog “micro struggler”? Am I bitching about my life? Am I saying that I’m out in these streets grinding like a 1989 drug dealer in Harlem, you know, as if “micro” is slang for the tedious day to day process? Am I being purposefully cryptic and vague to create some silly aura of mystery about me? None of the above….besides maybe the grinding part.
We all struggle at times in our lives, and indeed many of us define ourselves by a general outline of struggle. We are “cancer survivors” or we “did 5 years in the bing” or “started from the bottom” or “stayed with her even though the kid wasn’t mine”….stuff like that. Some of our struggles are harder to grasp or relate to such as “I swear to God Starbucks is using a high gluten extract to flavor my latte” or “The street sweepers are coming through this afternoon and I have to move my car two blocks away from my house” or….. “I can’t find a condom that fits me”….that’s where most of us find our day to day self-definition. Most of us don’t have monster, life-altering, wickedly unfair struggles to define ourselves by on a weekly basis. Most of us have silly little micro struggles.
That’s fine on the surface. Who cares if I feel honest rage about having to listen to a 30 second commercial on Pandora during the middle of my workout? It’s no big deal right? Even if it is a big deal to me at the moment, I know that’s it’s not a fatal STD diagnosis or getting pulled over by the police when you have a half-emptied bottle of Patron nestled between your knees and a smoldering blunt in your mouth. Compared to that my micro struggles are nothing. However, even though they are meaningless to the world, my micro struggles are mine. They are a part of my story. Taken in totality they are my inner badge and they constitute my life reference points. They are not comparable or related to YOUR micro struggles, that is unless your micro struggles are congruent with mine. If they are, then we have bonded, because to be human is to relate to others and bond through struggle, and together hope for that impossible moment when all struggles are absent. But in addition to co-micro-stugglers, there are people in our lives, on our social media timelines, in our local and national political offices and especially on our 24 hour news channels who will take the momentary gorilla rage one feels when having a “micro-struggle” and turn that into a national crusade. I don’t know how I feel about that in a historical sense but I suspect I disapprove. This blog will, over time address when that happens in our various medias, and will also be deeply intimate as I relate my micro struggles to you, and give you the forum to relates yours. I’ll also share my random photos, which are perfect of course. 😉
My name is Ric Ray. I’m a photographer and I guess now I’m a blogger. I’m NOT a father or a husband though I’d like to be those things I suppose. I suppose I’m a sex partner to lonely old ladies until that lady grows sick of my shit. I am a self-proclaimed lifelong or “career” bachelor of sorts, but I’m no keeper. I don’t know when I was sentenced to be forever single or by what authority, but here I am, doing my bid and hoping for parole.
Recently, while going about the business of offering my “forever single” micro-struggle for consumption I heard the phrase, “You ain’t missing much” from a lovely chatty patty. I hear this often. This particular lady was a career-minded married woman and was tired of being the one who took the kids school in the morning while her unemployed husband slept. Once upon a time he was a big time drug dealer, she said, but now he was a full time visionary. After hanging up with the married lady I logged onto Facebook and the first post I saw was from a busty beauty complaining that she is single because all men are crazy, as if beauty isn’t the root of all insanity.
I can’t cover all that I have to say in one blog post or even one billion blog posts, but I will try. At least I will if I don’t drink heavily and ride my Iron 883 at unlawful speeds across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during a rainstorm.
I don’t know what is wrong with people these days as much as I can’t tell you whats wrong with myself. We are all humans and thus, it is impossible to be “objective” about our lives or even the lives of others. We are all trapped within the human experience, and the only way to truly gain an objective vantage point is to die. All Ricky Ray can do is bitch about my little micro-struggles, and heckle yours, and thank you for reading my blog, even though you don’t give a shit about me anyway. 🙂