Friday, August 29, 2008

Some more blogs for the weekend...

I have to admit to being slightly photography obsessed. OK, not slightly, extremely. I really do love everything photography and I'm guessing many of you are the same.

And the photography blogs I love are the ones that not only teach me something but show me new places to find things out.

So in the spirit of giving I wanted to share with you some blogs and web pages that I love and invite you to visit them and, I hope, enjoy them as much as I do.

I'll start off by following my Blog List on the right hand side of this page. From the top, as they say in Bollywood:

What The Duck is a really funny comic book all about photography, in particular the business of photography. It has some hilarious insights into the crazy things we do in this job and is a great read.

Next we have Photo Attorney which is a great blog about your legal rights as a photographer. What you are and aren't allowed to photograph. It's US based so not everything may be relevant to your part of the world but it's very interesting.

Burns Auto Parts is not a blog about car maintenance but marketing and self-promotion by the wonderful photo consultant and author Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua. She's about to start a law degree so the blog posts may get a bit thin but they're always very insightful.

Welcome all Bloggers is the strangely named blog of amazing wildlife photographer Andy Rouse. Andy is my all-time favourite nature photographer, seems to be a pretty funny guy and is always very entertaining. This is a must for those of you who love animals.

Rob Galbraith has all the latest updates on what's happening in terms of new equipment and gear. He also has a great compact flash card database on his site which lets you see which CF card will be the fastest in your camera. A definite must-read before you buy a new card.

PDNPulse is all about what's happening in the big wide world of photography. It has a lot of posts on who's doing what at US magazines and general interest photography stories.

Black Star Rising
is for you photojournalism junkies. Articles on newspaper photography, war photojournalism and documentary photography. A lot of the information is very relevant for travel photography.

A Photo Editor is the blog of former Men's Journal photo editor Rob Haggart. It's a great insight into how photo editors see your work and pick photographers for certain jobs.

What can I say about Strobist? Just go there and have your life changed forever. You will find yourself buying lots of new equipment but it's worth it! One of my all-time favourites.

David Tejada's is a blog from a professonal photographer in the US who does a lot of industrial work. He posts great videos on how he works, including a lot of information on using small flashes.

Now Chase Jarvis is the man! Even if youdon't aspire to do big advertising shoots his blog is amazing. The videos alone are worth spending hours drooling over. He is a lot of fun, very motivated, self taught and a great inspiration.

This one's not photography related but Andrew Griffiths is a wonderful man, a good friend and his small business blog is a must-read for anyone in business for themselves, no matter what your line of work. He is an incredible mentor and one of my most inspiring friends.

I often like to pop by this one just for a few new hints. Photopreneur is aimed at people who are just starting to dip their toe into the world of professional photography. Those who want to make a bit of income from their images but aren't quite sure how to do it. It has great ideas on little ways to make money from your hobby (read:obsession!)

John Harrington's Photo Business News is the bible for everything about the business of photography. If photopreneur gives you some ideas on how to start out, John shows you how not to go bankrupt in the first year!

Magnum blog. Need I say more? The best documentary photography from the best photographers in the world. Priceless.

And one of those Magnum dudes is the inimitable David Alan Harvey whose road trip blog is full of rich musings on photography and life.

So those are my blogs. I have them all in my Google Reader and I spend the first half hour of every day having a read. Not everyone posts every day but when they do I have an information-packed start to the morning!

As for websites, the first place I head to to find out when Canon is finally going to release the new 5D is dpreview, once I've discovered that it ain't yet I head across to the Luminous Landscape to see what beautiful pictures Michael Reichmann has been taking.

For inspiration I head across to Bob Krist. He is my all-time favourite travel photographer. And for the God of all things documentary photography head to Steve McCurry's page. I have everything he's ever published and love it.

Well I hope you enjoy reading some of these blogs and websites over the weekend. You'll also notice I've added a slideshow just to the right hand side above my intro. All the pictures I've ever posted here will cruise by.

I'm off to the Tropical Writer's Festival tomorrow to sit on a discussion panel about freelance journalism so for those of you in town feel free to drop by the Pier Marketplace from 12.30 till 1.30pm. It's totally free and no bookings are necessary.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What is travel photography?

Last night I was asked to think about something I had, surprisingly, not given a lot of consideration to before. Southside Camera Club here in Cairns asked me to judge their monthly photographic competition - and the theme was travel photography.

Now I've judged a few photographic competitions in my time, and won one, the Australian Society of Travel Writers' 2003 Travel Photograph of the Year. But I'd never actually judged one where the theme was travel.

So I'll be honest, when I was presented with the entries it actually took a fair bit of thinking about what constituted a travel picture. I ended up coming the following conclusions.

A travel photograph can be taken anywhere. What may be local for you would be a travel destination for somebody else. On this blog we have readers from all over the world, and no matter how boring you may think your home town is, and how much you long to travel to distant lands, you can fine-tune your travel photography skills by trying to look at your local area through new eyes. Imagine what a visitor from another country would want to see if they came to where you live.

So even though there were entries taken locally, and some from overseas, the location they were taken didn't matter. What did matter to me was that the location was suggested, or was even obvious, in the picture. In other words a picture of a single leaf wasn't going to do it unless that leaf was obviously from some part of the world - a cactus for deserts, a big tropical leaf for the rainforest or something along those lines.

We had a picture of a large her of elephants bathing in a river. Elephants in such a big group like that suggests travel (not too many of them in Cairns!) but what made it even better were the palm trees in the background. It was somewhere tropical - my mind immediately guessed Sri Lanka and it was right. Had it just been a photo of elephants I wouldn't have known where they were but the addition of other visual clues made it into a travel photograph.

There weren't many entries of people photos in last night's comp but people can be perfect travel photographs not necessarily for their faces alone but for their clothing. The women above are the perfect example. Put them in business suits and they could be in almost any city in the world but put them in their lovely colourful saris and it screams India.

So even though there were some wonderful photos in last night's competition I actually gave the most points to those pictures which actually showed me the spirit of a place and came to the conclusion that that is probably the most important element of a travel photo. Spirit of Place to borrow a phrase from my colleague Bob Krist.

A few additions...

Hi there everybody,

in case you hadn't noticed there's a couple of new additions to the page on the right hand side. If you scroll down there's a place to subscribe to both the posts and comments. Subscribing means you don't have to come back every day to see if I've posted something, your reader will tell you when I have!

Underneath that is a list of the blogs that I read on a daily basis. There's some tech ones as well as ones about the business of photography, and some that are just photography fun. Have an explore of them and see if you find any you like.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Playing favourites

Yes I do know that the photographs you create are like your children. You're not supposed to love any of them more than the others. I have two little boys and they both have moments where I want to strangle the living daylights out of them!

But I'll admit it. I do have favourites and this is one of the all-time loves of my life. This fleeting moment. In some ways it was set up, but in most ways it wasn't and that's why I love it.

I was photographing a book on the Japanese cherry blossom festival for Weldon-Owen Publishers in New Zealand. It was a great project and a bit further along I'll post a series of images showing how the assignment took shape.

Anyway I had been to the park to photograph my family (my wife's sister and her kids) under the cherry blossom trees but I needed some more shots of my niece Haruna by herself.

The cherry blossoms happen in Sapporo in May, which coincides with the Children's Day Festivities - marked by giant carp flags put up by many municipal councils. I took Haruna down to a local river across the road from her apartment with the idea of photographing her in the groves of cherry blossoms.

We did some lovely stuff in amongst the flowers and I had left my backpack down the path a bit. While I went to retrieve it I turned around and there was Haruna jumping up and grabbing at these flags flying above. There was a really strong wind so these flags were flying all over the place, forming different compositions.

I started photographing Haruna from where my backpack was on the ground, with a telephoto lens and gradually swapped to shorter lenses as I got closer. Eventually I ended up photographing her from the bottom of a small bank, looking up at her, with a wide-angle lens. Again this was in the days of film so I shot a lot, not really knowing what I had captured.

As it turned out this was the only one of the photos were the flags were lined up so perfectly. In a line up around the top of the frame above her head. Serendipity. Chance. Good luck. Call it what you will but it's a documentary photographer's muse.

Even though I had set up the situation by the river, Haruna had been inspired to jump for the flags and the wind had kept them in the right position for me. A simple moment that expresses so beautifully a child's joy to be alive.

And that's why I'm not ashamed to say that this is one of my all-time favourite images.