The 2017 Summer Has Been Boring AF

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This summer, for some reason that goes beyond me being an old shut-in, has been boring.

I’ve ridden my motorcycle as much as makes sense given the Seattle-like climate that seems to hang over the mid-Atlantic region each summer. Still, there is no place to ride. Nothing is happening. I can’t ride to go shopping. I need a trunk for that. Shopping isn’t really fun unless you’re rich or maniacal anyhow….

I have an advertising shoot with a young Puerto-Rican model for my line of T-Shirts coming up next weekend. I’ll keep you posted on that. Still, even though I love taking photos, it’s work. It’s not guilty, ignorant fun. I want THAT. The ignorant shit.

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I’m getting old. My romantic engine is showing it’s age and struggles to get started most days. My sufferance of fools and friends is at an all time low. Despite this, my overall temperament feels jovial. I’m not brooding.

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I need activities. I’ve taken some pretty neat photos this summer. A handful of winners maybe, but thats all that can be expected. My X100F remains a solid choice of mine. It’s the greatest street photography camera of all time perhaps.

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As I’m trying to transition into being a full-time photographer and do it MY WAY, I find myself treading water most months financially. A monetary breakthrough would be nice. With my checkered past, age, and tendency to be self reliant we shall see….

Exit.

 

…ABOUT FORM VS. FUNCTION

I used to want every pro lens Canon makes, a thousand dollar Gitzo tripod, and two of the latest and greatest Canon camera bodies. Now I want to sell my Canon gear. Now I believe:

“The less gear you own the better. “ ~ RIC RAY

Do not get shit twisted with me. I love gear. I also love women with big boobs and fat asses. A man shouldn’t have too many of those types of gals in his life either, if he is so fortunate to have one at all. In fact one gal is more than enough….

Similarly, one camera and one lens will suffice for most general photographic purposes, unless you are doing professional work. If you own a compact camera like my Fujifilm X100F that’s all the better. 

God save the poor fuck staying up late nights dreaming of gear….

At the end of months of gear research, the prospective gear buyer arrives at the sterling conclusion that he MUST buy camera X. He has studied many online gear forums and has read and watched dozens of reviews. He has developed a budget so he can reasonably afford the camera. In fact, he has applied reason so thoroughly that reason has given way to a passionate, almost scientific defense of his camera choice. When challenged about his choice, he speaks as if he already owns the camera. 

There is nothing wrong with this, but in truth nobody should buy a camera or lens because of rationality alone. How the piece of kit looks, feels, and how it makes you feel is as important as burst rate, 4K video, and image quality. Indeed any camera will take a fine photo theses days much like any gun can kill a person, but since that is the case I think it is better to buy something that inspires you as opposed to the “best tool for the job” if these two criterion don’t intersect. This is partly why I detest Sony as a camera maker, because however great their cameras may be, they seem to hoist function over form. 

I understand that a pro sports shooter needs something that focuses swiftly and shoots a lot of photos equally as fast. I get it that wedding shooters need low light champion cameras that can focus in near darkness reliably. These shooters may choose function over form. Still, there are plenty of shooters tackling weddings with elegant yet hard to use digital rangefinder Leica’s and film cameras….

I can honestly say I don’t want another piece of camera gear right now. I’m good. Maybe if Leica drops the price on the Q or if a new similar camera comes out from them or a full frame Fuji compact then I’d start planning my budgets again. I still have my Canon 5d3 with the 70-200 2.8 IS II to shoot sports with. Between my two bodies I could probably cover a large number of paid events but fuck all that. I’ve been on that train of thought. It is too easy to surrender to gear lusting. It is way too tempting to put off shooting photos now and surrender to watching gear porn on YouTube while mentally assembling a kit you will hopefully complete a year in the future. 

I know I often defend GAS. This is a bit of a departure from that. I’m not being passionate or speaking from a lectern here today. These are more random thoughts than anything. In fact, let me get the fuck out of here like this: 

“It is man’s natural sickness to believe that he possesses the truth.”  ~ Blaise Pascal

Exit. 

What Do You Love? Paper Chasers…

My dream is for all photographers who only shoot photos to make money and not for personal enjoyment to sell their DSLR’s and retire.

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This includes bored moms, intrepid self-starter entrepreneur hustlers who shoot everything they can for a buck, tireless wedding warriors, and sports shooters who only bring out their massive cameras to shoot games and don’t even have photos of their kids to share. Just fucking quit. All of you.

Fortunately (unfortunately) photography isn’t the cash cow it once was. These days it’s amazingly hard to earn a living as a photographer  and this situation will not improve. Ever. The record business was blindsided by Napster and has never recovered. The once incredibly lucrative DVD porn industry was crippled by tube sites and file sharing, and has not recovered. Cell phone technology, particularly cameras, will not worsen. Consequently, people can effortlessly take photos of themselves and others with decent resolution and quality.

Girls on Instagram don’t hire pro photographers. They snap selfies in the bathroom mirror with an iphone and drum up hundreds of thousands of followers. They don’t need you. It doesn’t matter how good you are with speed-lites or flash portraiture. In the years to come nobody will care enough to hire you. In the coming years you will quit because you don’t love photography. You just love what it can do for you.

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The financial world is becoming tighter and less of a wild frontier. As a result, most of the historically “easy money” streams will dry up as economic 2.0 takes over, led by ideas such as Uber and social media, where the lines between amateur and professional are sketchy at best. If you love something enough, you may become what’s known as an artist and find yourself able to make some extra cash selling artsy photos or instructing others who want to learn the industry. Everyone else will be kicking rocks while complaining how the world is changing before their eyes. I look forward to this because many of you are only here for there paper. Fuck off. Maybe you can change careers? I hear that there is always a need for nurses….maybe you can try that instead.

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Exit.

 

Where is the Money?

Money is vanishing.

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In photography, the money is drying up. It is happening in every photographic genre.

Street photography never paid shit so lets just clear that up firstly. I’m not delusional here. I know that shooting candid photos of people having brunch at a hipster cafe in Denver isn’t the roadmap to making 200k per year….

Wedding photography is changing however, and that genre is one of the holy trinity of cash cows in photography (the other two being photojournalism and portraiture).

Firstly, I blame Canon and Nikon. They have been engaged in a nuclear war for quite some time, and the fallout has been nothing less than the annihilation of the wedding photography market. Both camera and lens makers have been churning out high quality entry-level (consumer) DSLR’s for over a decade and a half, and have placed them at a price point that tempts a casual shopper into trying his or her hand at photography. This in turn leads to casual shooters who realize early on that they can make money from these high resolution images they are taking. Unfortunately, the nubile shooters don’t have much skill, but most of them are not foolish enough to ignore this fact. To compensate they may charge bargain basement prices to shoot a wedding, as low as $250 or even lower, as opposed to the $5000 a reputable and seasoned wedding photographer charges on average. Thats a huge fucking disparity.

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It would seem logical that the seasoned photographer’s photos would be qualitatively better than the nubile photographer’s collection and this is indeed the case. The problem is the photos aren’t $4500 better normally, at least not to the casual observer. This is blatantly obvious to price-conscious brides when viewing competing wedding portfolios, and will influence her decision. Thus the bride, not wanting to have a tacky amateur photographer but also not wanting to be financially raped, will settle on a happy medium: a photographer who charges between $1000-$2500 dollars. No problem right? Wrong.

People have mortgages, car payments, gambling habits and all sorts of fuckery to support with their photography. There are only a precious few brides getting married per year in a given community so the competition is horribly fierce EVERYWHERE. This will drag that $1000 down to $750 when an “early booking discount” is factored in or whatever. What follows is a buyers market, where brides have shooters tripping over themselves to book a wedding, as opposed to a sellers market where brides pay no less than premium for the services of very competent artists.

Photojournalism is dying because the print media is dead. Not really much to say about that. Sports Illustrated fired their ENTIRE staff of photographers a few years back, and then fired the department that fired the photographers a year later. Nuff fucking said….

The portrait market suffers from nearly the same woes as the wedding photography market. There are a lot of amateurs with capable gear who undercut the shit out of the masters of light…..

Of course cell phones getting better and better doesn’t help pro photographers earn more money….

Where is the money then? I shoot sports but basically the clients are parents who want to buy photos of little Davon or Tyler playing football and soccer in high school. I see more and more Canon 6D’s with 70-200 2.8 lenses on the sidelines these days, as moms have decided that its cheaper in the long run to invest in gear than to spend hours combing through photos only to buy one or two per season. Also, taking photos is fun so there’s that……

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Stock photography doesn’t pay a lot unless you go all-in. If anybody makes a shit ton of cash from that then comment below please.

Selling fine art prints is…… some bullshit unless you can maintain the “mysterious artist” persona constantly. I am indeed a mysterious fucking artist but I’m too lazy to try to sell prints of my shit. That could change though…..

If you’re making good money let me know what you do……

Exit.

 

3 Reasons to try Street Photography

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…

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Washington DC

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.

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If I could feature these types of shots I’d shoot 6 weddings a month…

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….

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Rain is probably my favorite street condition besides maybe HEAVY snow…
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I love it when the bored bridesmaids spot me.

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. _47A1580-Edit-2.jpg

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!

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