7 Random Thoughts Before Summer….

I’ve been busy launching a new business venture, settling into a new relationship, and generally shooting less lately now that spring school sports has ended. I have some potential gigs lined up to shoot over the summer, but besides that let me give you 7 random things from my brain meat….


▪️ Sony has made their move to take over the professional photography market. You may not notice it now, but I think the modern DSLR is dead….

▪️ This might be the worst allergy season I’ve experienced in my life. Brutal….

▪️ After sniffing around I’ve discovered stock photography is not worth the time, money and effort required to make a decent bit of coin from it. 


▪️ Even though my current boss at my day job is cool as fuck, I hate nothing more than having to answer to a boss in the first place. I really want to work for myself.

▪️ I am not at all interested or excited about the newest iPhone coming in a few months, despite the fact that it’s near time to upgrade my phone. I love apple of course, but I’m not excited in the slightest. 

▪️ No GAS for me lately. I’m still getting the Leica Q and the Hasselblax X1D though, but there is no real timetable set. 

▪️ My birthday was May 2. I was born the same year as the former twin towers in NYC. Do the math. 


Talk to you soon folks! Enjoy your week. 

Exit. 

Stock Tips Needed (The Photography sort…)

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Being a blogger, I am well aware of the need for stock photography. Not that I need stock photos for what I do, I normally use my own self-taken photos, but I can see how non-photographers might be in a tight spot without access to stock photos. As for myself and my eternal desire to earn more green fabrics, I am contemplating shooting stock photos and posting them to one of the sites that play middle-man between we shooters and potential buyers. My main question is: do people still make money doing this?

Oversaturation has smashed almost every online money scheme imaginable. Do you want to sell sneakers? If you do then be prepared to compete with hundreds of already established sneaker sites doing the same. Do you want to sell arts and crafts? ETSY.com has thousands upon thousands of folks already selling all types of shit, with mixed to poor fiscal results on average. Even more involved processes such as app development have ferocious online competition. This is especially true for modern photography as a whole, including stock photography, the competition part. There are millions of stock photos already available online with thousands being added each hour. For every person reportedly making 50k annually on GettyImages there are thousands of poor guys and gals earning somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 bucks a month or less on some lesser site. It’s savage out there…

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Still, something about the prospect of passive income has always attracted me. I am paranoid monetarily and only feel secure when I am able to earn a living from multiple streams of cash. I do not like to load all of my income eggs into one basket, so to speak. Thus, even though I’m not terribly excited about the prospect of uploading 10k images on istockphoto, I would appreciate say…. an extra 200 bucks per month or so, especially if I didn’t have to book clients, drive to and shoot sports, or deal with diva models. I could make a lot more of course if I am lucky and good, but I’m trying to be bearish here.

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Do any of you folks shoot stock? A Facebook chum of mine shoots stock for Getty and she claims to be doing nicely. She even earned enough to buy the mirrorless Hasselblad X1D and a 45mm lens (around 12k worth of gear). Nothing beats a good try right? I’d appreciate some good stock tips here…..

Exit.

PHOTOGRAPHY: A Disorganized Mess….

Why don’t photographers have unions?

I get it: photographers are not thought to be as “important” as electricians or bricklayers, nor are they generally thought to be as valuable as teachers or meat cutters, but has anyone ever attempted to organize photographers into anything more than an elitist collective like Magnum?

My thoughts on this are as follows: most photographers are petty and despise the work and success of their contemporaries. It’s pretty hard to organize into a brotherhood when you think that way. You cannot be petty and small-minded if you want to unionize. It would be nice to, for example, have standard levels of apprentice, journeyman and master photographer, and to have wage scales commensurate with said levels. This would make shooting for a major publication a straightforward process financially speaking, and may add clarity as to what an apprentice should charge to shoot a wedding as opposed to a journeyman.

Let me pause and say that I’m a political moderate AKA a registered independent. I’m not typically the guy who has strong opinions about labor unions. There are all sorts of counter-argumentative things to consider when organizing a photographic union, and price undercutting and scab behavior would be rampant, but this is just a thought exercise, not a proposal….

Actors and screenwriters have unions, so it’s not like you have to just build or fix or teach something in order to unionize. There can be artists (if we are indeed artists) who form unions. Many photographers would be utterly terrified of being blacklisted or denied work, but I also think many of us on the street photography side would consider joining such a union. Street photographers don’t get paid anyhow and most of us earn a living through conventional jobs. It’s the wedding, portrait, sports, magazine and commercial shooters who would bitch up and cross hypothetical picket lines in all likelihood. I understand that we all have families to feed, but a union would be beneficial to all of us in the long run and provide a much needed hierarchy and eventually structured payment to the whole genre. Of course, as I said earlier, most photographers seem resentful and jealous of other, more accomplished photographers. That is unfortunate and is part of the reason, along with affordable amateurism, that the whole of the photographic profession is drying up money-wise….

This is no micro-struggle. This is real shit that I’d love Peta-Pixel or one of the big dog blogs to address. We are dying and we need to band together in order to survive. Of course I could be wrong for caring about this, being that nobody else seems to….

Exit.

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: The Art of Disrespect 

Nobody respects us. 

The minute you tell a so-called “professional” photographer that you shoot street, they immediately think you’re an amateur. Of course they might be right, but never mind that. The thing that so-called and especially “wanna-be” professional photographers fail to grasp is that most of us shoot street because it’s fun. We know it doesn’t generate income. We are fine with that…

I’ve been challenged by many photographers who swear they know composition, shooting strategy and have mastered editing. Most (and by most I mean none) don’t know that I also am sports photojournalist and have been doing it for years. My editing and delivery standards for my “pro” work is worlds apart from what I generate in my personal street projects. This leap in logic is apparently beyond the old film guys and young hustling coons I run across in various Facebook groups. They refuse to believe that people can enjoy being liberal in their artistic persuits, but be very conservative in their professional persuits. People do it all the time. Eddie Money was an honorable NYC cop before he became an 80’s radio rock overlord. It’s called balance.

Maybe I’m just upset that photographers love playing the critic role way too often, as if their own work is more than marginal or derivative. If you like shooting black and white photos of flowers 🌺 then that is entirely up to you. If I don’t like it I don’t feel the need to be critical of you. It’s your shit. Do you. I don’t have clairvoyance to be able to predict what great art will be. All I know is the rules and that I should break them whenever the fuck I feel like it….

Exit. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Meaningless Struggle

Nobody cares about your photography.

Of course people enjoy glancing at your photos, or maybe they just enjoy “liking” photos on various social media outlets. Hard to tell. It’s very simple to “like” a large number of photos in a short span of time if you want to. In fact, you barely have to know what you’re liking. You scroll and like, all the way down the feed until you get bored, and maybe if you’re lucky somebody will “like” you back….

We sure would like for our photos to be liked, and I don’t mean social media liked…. I mean deeply liked. I know I would like that.

Well…. I think.

Would you like that? We spend a lot of money on gear and time on social media pumping our brands. I know I do. Maybe I should do more. Hard to tell. Will I ever get people to like my photos or will I simply get people to “like” my photos? Hard to tell….

Am I even good? That’s not hard to tell. I haven’t been shooting for very long and I don’t have any formal training so my guess is I’m average at best. Does that even make a difference? I see photographers who are definitely not good have wild success due to their networking skills and personal charm. Is being good overrated? Hard to say….

Delilah Jean never goes outside they said….

We struggle so hard to get a foothold in this business but for what? I could rob an NYC subway train car at gunpoint, demanding each passengers cell phone, and I’m certain that 100% of those phones have cameras on them. Everyone is a photographer these days to some degree. In fact, many folks with cell phones shoot more photos per day, thereby getting far more practice, than art-school bred professionals. An Instagram model may have 2000 photos on her page while an artist might think he’s one of the best in the world having an online portfolio of 20 photos. Both may have thousands of followers but for different reasons, even though the reasons intersect at the corner of brand popularity and photographic content….

This is a micro-struggle indeeed. The fate of our great nation does not hinge on the need for a person to buy a better lens to take better portraits. Still, sometimes I wonder if any of what we do in photography is worth it when nobody gives a fuck about our photos anyhow. In fact, if you let art-school geeks tell it: most people don’t know how to give a fuck about photography. We lack the necessary education and refinement to do so. We’re photographic savages basically…

Well, I won’t give a fuck if you don’t. Let’s keep posting photos we snap and maybe I’ll slap the shit out of an art-school nerd just for fun. Sometimes it feels good to bully the bullies….

Exit.

THE INSATIABLE STREET PHOTOGRAPHER 

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…..

Exit. 

ARE YOU A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER? (WHY IT DOES NOT MATTER)

As I have said before, talent is no longer a requirement for success in almost any venture, and it applies especially to photography, music and the arts.

Cutting straight to the heart of the matter, I offer a quote from a famous luminary:

“The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.” ~ Niccilo Machiavelli

To put it in laymens terms: “It is far better to spend all of your energy making folks BELIEVE you are good than it is prudent to spend time trying to actually become good”

This is a sinister yet clearly though out realization once it is deeply embraced, though the implications are not as straightforward as they may seem…

It is not wise to forego all of your practice with studio photography, for instance, including buying equipment that will help you achieve the look you desire. It is better to not believe that becoming some “master of light” will make your career any more substantial than a person who spends far more time video blogging and gaining followers on Twitter than he or she does shooting practice photos. Actually, the shameless self promoter will probably be able to charge more per gig than the hermit-like light master, simply because clients are more impressed with fame than they are impressed skill, all else being equal. In fact, many clients resent the term “skill”….

Skill (and people who profess being skillful) can come off as being elitist or as saying:

This shit is too deep for your simple ass mind to understand

That can be very counterproductive, as one might imagine, and part of what makes some photographers famous and others obscure is simplicity and accessibility. The genius of pop culture success lies in ones ability to do fairly complex things with such magical simplicity that it draws in the uninitiated, as opposed to alienating them.
Rap music especially has suffered from this. Many old school (90’s era) rap aficionados abhor modern rap as being unskillful bullshit. These old school rap fans prefer the wittier and more poetic (debatably) rap of old. They feel like cultivating ones lyrical skill is better than hiring ghost writers and becoming internet famous. This is untrue. Balance is the key in everything, and when the goal is selling to the public the balance should shift healthily towards marketing. What good is it if you are a rap God if you, after a year, only have 7 subscribers on your YouTube channel while the mumbling rapper you hate has 700k subscribers and is averaging 7 new subscribers per hour….

Skill comes naturally with repetition in most things (besides perhaps a golf swing, where repeating poor mechanics can damage your game beyond repair). If you shoot enough photos and look at enough good photos taken by others you will achieve any level of skill you desire. Mix in a bit of innate talent and you could become a legend. Be less concerned with getting better at using your flash and buying a bunch of crap you don’t need, and more concerned with sharing your photos with other humans and letting folks know what you do, as well as being interested in what they are doing. When you think about it, it’s so easy to sit in our studios drinking wine with contempt in our hearts and no business rolling in. It is much harder to get out of our studios, put down the wine bottles and pick up our lives before our lives go the way of the 90’s lyrical Emcee….

Exit

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.

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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….

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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.

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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….

Exit.

 

Jpegs vs RAW in Street Photography

Honestly, I don’t give a fifth-of-a-fuck what people do inside their little cameras.

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Jpeg.

If you shoot jpeg exclusively then more power to you. If you like shooting RAW and go nuts over pulling up shadows and scream about Sony sensors and dynamic range all the time thats fine. I don’t do that. I don’t care about dynamic range much, never have. I also don’t care about file sizes, even though I used to before I got my new iMac setup.

I do care about white balance but I don’t like to SET white balance in the camera unless I absolutely have to. I normally trust Canon’s auto-white balance feature, and sometimes it nails it, sometimes it doesn’t. Shooting RAW enables myself and others to rescue a terrible auto-white balance choice by the camera without having to say fuck it and change the photo to monochrome. Shooting jpeg robs me of white balance flexibility for the most part.

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RAW

I hear shooting jpeg is a lot like shooting film. I’ve never shot film, at least not since I was maybe 15 years old, so I wouldn’t know. Aside from in-camera profiles that increase or decrease sharpening and contrast, I suppose shooting jpegs is indeed a bit like shooting film, as far as finality is concerned. As a shooter you definitely have to be prepared to get it right “in camera” (a phrase that made me want to slap the banana bread out of people when I first started shooting) or live with the results. All of my sports photos are shot in jpeg, for example. One reason is the client demands this for their storage purposes. Another reason is because burst mode is a lot friendlier to jpegs over RAW files, especially when I’m shooting fast moving action like hoops or soccer. A third reason is processing files. Even though my new iMac can handle RAW files pretty well, jpegs are previewed and processed a bit faster.

As for my street photography I am most comfortable shooting RAW. As opposed to sports, where I shoot between 250-1500 shots depending on the number of games, I normally shoot between 15-60 shots when I’m on the streets. With that few photos I don’t mind spending extra time post-processing. Also white balance is so crucial with my shadow-rich style of street photography (part of my top-secret editing workflow when the photo is in color) that I need to be able to rescue a poorly white-balanced shot. I know some guys who shoot jpegs for EVERYTHING including weddings and formal events. Their excuse is that they spray and pray too much to shoot RAW. They also (I could name names) bitch about the editing process and say they have much better things to do with their time and have NO time to edit a paying bride’s photos to perfection. God-for-fucking-bid. These guys also think simple shit like straightening a photo is some sort of goddamn crime apparently, but I digress. Basically, I think shooting a wedding in jpeg-only suggests that you are some manner of idiot…..

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RAW

What do you guys and gals shoot: Jpeg or RAW? Why? Please subscribe, like and comment below…

EXIT

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.

Exit…..

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Everything looks normal here….