Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Conrad Louis-Charles: Brazil

I met Conrad Louis-Charles at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City, he briefly described his background, but it wasn't until I returned that I discovered his work, and that the adage that still waters run deep is certainly true in his case. Conrad is an independent photographer and cameraman currently based in Philadelphia and Sao Paulo in Brazil. He worked with various corporate clients, and he specializes in travel, documentary and editorial photography...making him a perfect candidate for the pages of TTP. He's represented by Getty Images. His website showcases work from mainly Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. However, I was impressed by his Work-In-Progress gallery, which has a large number of his sensitive photograph of religious rituals and pilgrimages in northern Brazil. I'm not too fond of mixing color and black & white photographs, but Conrad kept the color photographs bunched together on his gallery, so it's not really mixing. Explore his other galleries as well, and compare his Haiti work to that of the earlier post.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Business Day Thursday: Is Professional Wedding Photography Dead

Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis have just about had it with wedding photographers - that is - since the advent of digital. Last week, we were having dinner with a group of photographers from the Lexington, Kentucky area. The subject of weddings came up, and then things really took off. One of my buddies made a remark about many of the churches in the area were instituting much stricter guidelines for wedding photographers because of the gross miss-conduct of so many of the new breed of shooters. Folks, those are their words, not mine.

Let me also be clear at this point, that I am not referring to the majority of shooters out there. Most of us know what we are about and are constantly trying to do our best job for our clients. I'm referring these comments to a much smaller element of wedding photographers whose non-professional roar is having an impact on our businesses.

Here is the story - it's scary, makes me embarrassed for my profession on one hand, and angry on the other. The photographer shoves the minister out of the way to get the shot of the bride and groom exchanging rings. Another minister sees a wedding photographer crawling along the floor on his elbows "marine like" getting in position next to the wedding couple to get his shot from the floor. Rabbi's are complaining about obnoxious behavior from photogs at wedding ceremonies. Photographers dressing in a less than professional outfits. These are not made up incidents. I have personally been told these stories from clergy I have worked with here in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What is happening these days? In so many cases it's a total lack of professionalism from a newer crop of so called professional photographers that think it's more important to get the shot at the cost of total disrespect and irreverence to the location, the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis, the guests and wedding clients. Well, they've got it all wrong. They should be kicked out of the church and in many cases the churches are setting policies that will cause that to happen. The down side is that the clergy are lumping true professional photographers into this same insidious group of non-professionals.

So many of these photogs see themselves as the "artiest" and heck be darned if they can't get their shoot. What's the problem here? The problem is clear - it's about the photographer and not about the client, the event, or the location. My suggestion to those photographers - leave your arrogance at home and perform your job with the professional manner it demands. If that's a problem for you, change jobs - we don't need you or want you in a profession that always has demanded the best professional demeanor possible.

We need to interact with all sorts of personalities on the wedding day - from a stressed mom, frazzled bride, nervous groom, etc. and it behoves us to be the physiologist of the day helping it be a wonderful occasion for all concerned. If we take on a self-centered attitude like we are the most important person of the day, we are taking the non-professional approach to the shoot.

We always need to be looking at the big picture and working diligently and pro-actively to make the day go the best for all involved. And, wait there's more, we need to leave the affair with the most positive impression of ourselves with all other professionals in which we interact with during the wedding day. That means no arguing with the bridal consultant, no removing of floral arrangements, no flashing of the videographer, no removing of the church lady into the closet...... Is there anybody other than me that thinks that might be good for business? I hope so.

I once had an event in a church only hours after another photographer had worked in the same location. As per my custom, I checked in with the priest at the rectory and when I met him, I was "reamed a new one" if you get my drift. He proceeded to tell me how the previous photographer had brought his little dog into the church to accompany him with the shoot. I was horrified. The minister was fit to tied.

I wish I could find the issue of Cincinnati Magazine featuring the wedding pros in the city. Florists got a good wrap, jewelers got a good wrap, but wedding photographers were referred to as overbearing and obnoxious. Can anybody else see the writing on the wall? It's too bad we have this "element" operating in our profession. We must constantly guard against it in our own behavior, and continue to remain a true professional to the core.

How does the true wedding professional counter such an ugly wedding photographer's impact in our market. I suggest being totally pro-active in approaching the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis in your community. When we book a wedding in a certain location, then let's contact the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis and coordinators, and notify them that we are going to working there in the upcoming months. Send a PR packet guaranteeing your professional behavior/decorum. It should list who you are, your list of credentials and references - be sure to include references from other priests, ministers, and Rabbis, too. It should spell out your commitment to working with and respecting the location where you are working and the people you will be working with. You get the idea. This assures and relieves the churches of some of the angst they have built up against some of these "jerk" photographers.

Folks, this is an important issue and we all need to stay vigilant in stemming the negative tide of what is happening in our recent times in wedding photography. It's always about being a true professional all the time - no exceptions. Take a peek at this nicely written article on the same point with many suggestions on how to conduct ones' self during a liturgy. Here is the link right here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Uraguay Here I Am

Uraguay--what a place. My perceptions of this country--one where I've always wanted to go--are vastly different than how this country really is. Getting there in a ferry was a comfortable snap. I rode from Buenos Aires to Colonia, a quaint little town just an hour away. When I walked on the boat a huge lobby with a fully supplied duty free shop shocked me--this was by far the most luxurious ferry I'd ever seen. I felt like a passanger on Carnival Cruise line when my feet were cushioned as I walked on the red carpet. When I lined up for the full course meals from which you could choose in a large serving area, it was not the sight of the food, but the smell that made feel I was in a country kitchen. After I saw Colonia and now that I'm in Montevideo, I've found out my perception of places I've never been aren't usually valid. I can confirm that my mind was full of it. It being sterotypes of South Americans and false assumptions of modern South American life. My Perceptions of Uraguay 1. Third World 2. Poor People 3. Cars from the 50s and 60s like they drive in Havana. 4. No good coffee or coffee shops 5. Rough-and tough neighborhoods noone would want to walk through The Reality of Uraguay 1. Awesome colonial architecture 2. Mid and early century cars, but not used for driving, instead, they are used as flower pots and outdoor sculptures. 3. Food as good as, if not better, than any European country 4. Cheap, but not as cheap as Buenos Aires. 5. Beautiful landscaped downtown and neighborhoods (okay, not all of them, but many)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Frederic Courbet: Lamu (Kenya)

To highlight the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop starting in Mexico City this coming Monday, I will focus this week's The Travel Photographer blog posts on various photojournalists and their work. I start off with the work of Frederic Courbet, a Belgian freelance photographer currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. His biography tells us that he started work in Africa 4 years ago, and had had ihis images published in The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, Der Spiegel, The Observer and other international publications. He has also worked for various NGOs including CARE in Nairobi. Courbet is represented by the London-based Panos Pictures. I liked Courbet's imagery...and his galleries are well worth spending time on. For instance, look out for the wonderful image in his Somalia gallery of a multi-colored tent and clothes hanging in the wind. However, my favorite are his photographs of Lamu in Kenya. I didn't know that Lamu is Kenya's oldest living town and port, and was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. It has existed for at least a thousand years, and was an important center of the slave trade. The town's architecture is a mix of African and Islamic styles with inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors.

Kate Orne: Pakistan Brothels

To highlight the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop starting in Mexico City this coming Monday, I will focus this week's The Travel Photographer blog posts on various photojournalists and their work. This is the second in the series. Kate Orne is a New York-based photographer who worked amongst the neediest people in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past seven years. Her mission was to use her craft to fight against indentured slavery and to support the wellbeing of women, children and animals. She worked on several essays on indentured laborers in South East Asia, on victims of domestic abuse, on Kabul orphanages where children lack basic facilities, maternity wards without basic care and imprisoned women. Her website has a number of galleries, documenting the brothels in Pakistan, the maternity hospital and orphanage in Kabul, refugee camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the red light district in Mumbai. I thought her work on the brothels in Pakistan as her most powerful and thought-provoking, as it highlights the paradox that exists between the sex industry and Muslim fundamentalism in this part of the world.

Succulent with Light Purple Flowers

These purple flowers can carpet areas near the beach all over California. They're flowers of a succulent plant, which I don't know the name of. Some of these succulents have bigger flowers that are yellow. If anyone has more info on these succulents, please comment. This photograph is part of a larger one that I cropped out. The picture was taken with a Canon 5D with a Canon L series 24-105mm lens.

"Starry, Starry Night"

"Starry, Starry Night"
This image is a variation on a theme from Wednesday post. The late evening, a cool breeze, crickets chirping everywhere. It's getting late, almost time to turn in. What does the image say to you? Read the post below to see why it was made. Be sure to view the image in it's larger version by clicking on it to see the stars in the sky. Camera specs - same as Wednesday - Nikon D1X fitted with Tamron 24-135mm lens at 24mm, F4.5 @1/60 second, ISO 400.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Fabulous Friday - I Feel So Inspired

It's Friday already and I have to say, "Inspiration Friday" is one of my favorite days to post. It's really the culmination of all the cool stuff . At least I think its cool . It's subjects or photographers that I find on my Internet travels through out the week. As I've said in these posts before, Friday is about creativity. It's about getting those brain juices flowing in ways that let us look at our art from a different perspective. It's from that different perspective, they we conjure up new ideas for our own photography. I've found a couple of links that really impressed me. I hope you enjoy them too. Also, I've done something a little different this week. Since this is "Inspiration Friday" please read my thoughts and mental preparations on how to stay excited and inspired about your wedding photography -or any kind of photography for that matter. I think you will enjoy it. Anyway, let's get to it, Ive got to get ready for my wedding tomorrow. So off we go...

Just Fishing

There's something relaxing about fishing. You cast out your line and ... wait. The pier the fishermen are standing on was built in 1928. So what are fishermen catching? Here's an answer that describes what one can catch on each part of the pier: "Inshore, anglers should expect to see corbina, spotfin croaker, yellowfin croaker, a few sargo, barred surfperch, guitarfish, various rays, and small sharks. The mid-pier area will yield all of these (but in a lesser number) and, in addition, offer white croaker, queenfish, halibut, sand bass, silver and walleye surfperch, sculpin (California scorpionfish), salema and jacksmelt. The far end of the 1,296-foot-long pier will see all of these but also yield up more bonito, mackerel, jack mackerel, barracuda and, in some years, even a few small yellowtail."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Under the Boardwalk

Hmmm, I know that tune...but what are the words? Picture is under the boardwalk at San Clemente, CA. The Drifters "Under the Boardwalk" Season 5 "The Good Fight" Oh when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof. And your shoes get so hot, you wish your tired feet were fire-proof. Under the Boardwalk, down by the sea On a blanket with my baby, is where I'll be. (Under the Boardwalk) Out of the sun. (Under the Boardwalk) Man, we'll be having some fun. (Under the Boardwalk) People walkin' above. (Under the Boardwalk) We'll be falling in love under the Boardwalk, Boardwalk. From the palms you hear the happy sounds of the carousel, and you can almost taste the hot-dogs and french fries they sell. Under the Boardwalk, down by the sea on a blanket with my baby, is where I'll be. (Under the Boardwalk) Out of the sun. (Under the Boardwalk) Man, we'll be having some fun. (Under the Boardwalk) People walkin' above. (Under the Boardwalk) We'll be falling in love under the Boardwalk, Boardwalk. Under the Boardwalk, down by the sea On a blanket with my baby, is where I'll be. Under the Boardwalk, down by the sea On a blanket with my baby, is where I'll be.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NY Times: Gnawa Festival in Essaouira

Photograph © Ed Alcock/NY Times-All Rights Reserved
The New York Times brings us a slideshow of photographs (and narrated by photographer Ed Alcok) featuring the Gnawa Festival of Music in Essaouira, which is scheduled for June. The Gnawa are the descendents of slaves originating from Africa who established brotherhoods throughout Morocco. They are made up of master musicians, metal castanet players, clairvoyants, mediums and their followers. They are at the same time musicians, initiators and healers, blending African and Arab-Berber customs. Despite being Muslims, the Gnawa base their rituals on African cults of possession...a sort of sufism merged with voodoo rituals. During the celebration the master musicians and his group call on saints and on supernatural entities to take possession of their followers who eventually go into deep trance. The accompanying article in the NY Times is written by Steve Dougherty. I'll be putting Essaouira and the Gnawa music festival on my list of possible destinations for a 2009 photo expedition. I've been to Essaouira when traveling in Morocco...only as a day trip, so the prospect of a photo expedition scheduled for the festival, with all the visuals and ambient music is irresistible. The NY Times feature seems to me to have been produced half-heartedly, with no background on the Gnawa themselves. Since the festival is an annual event, these photographs and audio must've been available for almost a year and I would've thought that with all that time, the NY Times could've produced a comprehensive multimedia feature. On reflection, I'm too harsh...the NY Times is not the National Geographic and I shouldn't expect much more from what is essentially a travel feature.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Anthony Kurtz: India

Photograph © Anthony Kurtz:-All Rights Reserved
Anthony Kurtz started to photograph in 2003, and went on from there to garner over a dozen photographic awards, and has exhibited his work in numerous galleries in the Bay Area. I've discovered his remarkable work from Px3: Prix De La Photographie in which he won 2nd Place for "India: Beautiful Struggle"in the Book Proposal category. Here's his website, which I encourage you to explore in full. Apart from his work in India, Anthony has lovely (and unusual) photographs of the back streets of Thailand, and of the world of Today and of the Future. It's possible that some may view his photographs are depressing, but his style is certainly distinctive. As he himself says, he finds beauty in the texture and decay of urban landscapes. This is the work of a photographer who will continue to impress us.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

John Stanmeyer: Malaria: NG Award

Photograph © John Stanmeyer-All Rights Reserved
The National Geographic magazine won three National Magazine awards; the general excellence in a publication with over 2 million circulation (the top honor), as well as the awards for reporting and photojournalism. This was more than any other publication, and the most that the magazine has won in a single year. The awards, presented during a ceremony at New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center, are the industry's most prestigious honor. The general excellence award is based on NGM's June, August and December issues. The photojournalism award, which honors John Stanmeyer's photographs in the "Bedlam in the Blood: Malaria also names Senior Editor David Griffin, Deputy Director Susan A. Smith, Design Director David C. Whitmore and Senior Photo Editor Sarah Leen. The article ran in the July 2007 NGM. I'm pleased that John's photographs were recognized with this prestigious award. His work is consistently superb, and he is -in my view- among the best photojournalists/photographers in the industry. I chose the above photograph from the many in the Malaria gallery to highlight John's compositional 'eye'. There's also a section Field Notes which shares John's best, quirkiest and worst experiences from the Malaria assignment.

"A Walk In The Park"

"A Walk In The Park" © David A. Ziser
This photograph is probably one of my favorite images of the week. It was late Tuesday when we decided to head up to Ault Park for one last shooting session with the class. The weather had not been the best for the last two days but it seemed to be clearing and warming up a bit. I thought there might be an outside chance for a sunset. Bridal portraits in sunsets especially at Ault Park are gorgeous. We arrived about 30 minutes later and indeed the sky was clearing. Near the end of the shoot, the clouds took on a wonderful design that swept across the sky. I placed Sarah, our bride, in the sweep of the clouds, repositioned the camera in order to position her head in "Nodal point #2" and shot away. Because my exposure necessitated such a fast shutter speed and small aperture to get the density of the sky where I wanted it, my flash had to very close to Sarah to get the dramatic lighting on her . The flash was actually in the shot. A quick hit in Photoshop solved that little compositional aberration resulting in the final image. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 10mm, F 16 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"A Mother's Love"

"A Mother's Love" © David A. Ziser
This image is from the same session in which I featured the baby in "Tomorrow's Child" - last Wednesday's post. I like the composition of the photograph. The hinting at the mother's visage in the dark shadows with the baby's face pressed against her shoulder. All we really see in this image is a mother's expression of love. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with my 24-105mm lens at 105mm, F11 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rubin Museum of Art: Kevin Bubriski

Photograph © Kevin Bubriski-All Rights Reserved
From March 14 to October 13, 2008, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York is featuring "Nepal in Black and White", an exhibition of photographs made by Kevin Bubriski. The photographer arrived in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, and spent about 4 years working in remote villages. He returned in 1984 as a photographer, and with a 4” x 5” view camera, a Nepalese photographic assistant, and two porters, he traveled the length and breadth of the country for the better part of three years. “The realization that not only my camera but also the modern world was making ever-increasing intrusions into even the most remote areas of Nepal compelled me to document a time and way of life slipping inexorably into the past.” — Kevin Bubriski 1993. I intend to go to the Rubin to see the exhibit, and will report on it when I do. From the little I've seen of Bubriski's work, his photographs of Nepal are extraordinary. The exhibition is well-timed, as Nepal is currently in the news with its first election taking place since 1999. The landmark election is for an assembly which will re-write the constitution, and the new body is likely to abolish the 240 years-old Nepali monarchy (which pleases me enormously!).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Rockin' On"

"Rockin' On" © A. Ziser
I made this image late into the reception evening. The band was hot, the crowd was fired up, and the bride was lovin' the music. The band had just started playing her favorite song and she was one with the music. The low angle, lighting decor, wide angle lens, and motion of the bride made for a very cool action candid. I was very nearly on the floor for the shot. The camera was my Canon 5D fitted with Sigma's 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F5.0 gave me plenty of depth of field at that focal length, 1/40 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Palani Mohan: Vanishing Giants

Photograph © Palani Mohan-All Rights Reserved
Vanishing Giants - Elephants of Asia is a collection of images by Palani Mohan, who devoted 6 years and traveled to 11 Asian countries to create this intimate glimpse into the world of the Asian elephant, a creature which (even as its African cousin flourishes) is threatened as never before. It's been described as "a tale of two species; that of the elephant, and the humans with which it shares its abodes. It's a love story, and a war story, a history of animosity and attraction, a study of shattered symbiosis. For all through Asia, it seems, a love-hate relationship thrives where elephants and humans co-exist. Palani was born in Chennai, India, and moved to Australia as a child. His photographic career started at the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, and since then he has been based in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and now Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia. Palani Mohan's Vanishing Giants slideshow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photo of the Day 176

Cloud-Shrouded Skyline, Chicago, 1978 Photograph by Steve Raymer A blanket of clouds shrouds the Chicago skyline in the metropolis that poet Carl Sandburg dubbed "the city of the big shoulders." The "stormy, husky, brawling" Chicago of Sandburg doubled and tripled in population after 1850. It saw the first skyscraper rise in 1885 and the tallest in 1974. Once known for its meatpacking industry, the city today runs on finance, shipping, and iron and steelworks. (Photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, "Chicago!" April 1978, National Geographic magazine)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Latest Toy - The Singapore Flyer

There had been a lot of buzz in Singapore recently, upcoming events, new buildings on the way up, new attractions. One of the latest addition to Singapore's attractions is our Singapore Flyer. It was opened earlier for corporate entities before officially opening to the public not too long ago. The giant flyer stands out in Singapore's CBD and Marina Bay landscape, especially in the night, when it lights up the dark sky. Moreover, it would be a great photo spot/location/background for the upcoming Formula 1 coming to Singapore in September 26 - 28.
I was inspired to go walk down and take a look at our new giant toy and I was blown away just by standing beneath it. It's really huge and I look foward to be up at the top of the world, enjoying a moving experience, enjoying a bird's eye view of Singapore and taking lots of photos.
Ready for a ride ? Hope you folks enjoy the ride and share your photos and experiences !

"Fantasy In Lights"

"Fantasy In Lights" © David A. Ziser
Here is another image from this past weekend. The country club had these "twinkle lights" throughout the trees and they looked really beautiful in our pre-Spring setting in Cincy. I used my "Zoom Flash" described later in today's post to isolate the bride and groom within the "twinkle lights" without over powering or compromising the surrounds. My assistant was behind the couple with the Quantum flash at 1/4 power. I thought the image turned out really well. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 10mm, F5.6 @ 1/8 second hand held at ISO 800.
Enjoy! -David

Ami Vitale: NGM: Kolkata Rickshaws

Photograph © Ami Vitale-All Rights Reserved
"The strategy of drivers in Kolkata—drivers of private cars and taxis and buses and the enclosed three-wheel scooters used as jitneys and even pedicabs—is simple: Forge ahead while honking. There are no stop signs to speak of." And so starts Calivn Trilin's essay on Kolkata's rickshaws in the April issue of National Geographic. I thumbed through my fresh-off-the-press National Geographic magazine, and stopped slack-jawed at pages 92-93...a double spread of Ami Vitale's magnificent photograph of a rickshaw puller, S. K. Bikari, who regularly pulls a pair of girls to school in Kolkata, yet rarely sees his own five children back home in the state of of the poorest states in India. Although this photograph may be partially posed, I frankly don't care. I just find all its elements to be just right....yes, even the woman intruding on the scene from the right. The two schoolgirls, in their pristine uniforms, look bored (or uncomfortable) while Bikari is on the verge of overtaking some obstacle on the left. Ami Vitale's is a wonderful photographer, and the rest of her photographs live up to her reputation...but it's this one that I prefer. Naturally it looks better in print form. I had already posted on TTP on Kolkata's rickshaws, and it seems from the National Geographic article that the city hasn't yet been able to ban them from its streets. Again, the great performance of Om Puri as the rickshaw puller in City of Joy comes to mind whenever I come across such photographs. The National Geographic did a great job with this subject...however I must say that the video with Ami's narration could be improved upon. Ami Vitale's Kolkata Rickshaws Photography

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tender Kisses

"Tender Kisses" © David A. Ziser
I love this soft portrait of the mother with her 4 week old baby. The mother's lips against the baby's cheek elicits such a warm, gentle emotional response from the baby. This is one of several images I made during the session of the mother and child - this was my favorite. The lighting accents on the baby's face were fine tuned in Photoshop. Camera specs; Canon 20D fitted with 17-85mm IS lens at 85mm, F 5.6 @ 1/200 second, at ISO 800. Enjoy! --David

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Transporting Rabbits

Asian markets fill my head with questions. Take these bunnies on a bike, for example. The first thing that comes to mind is where are they going to be taken on that bike? Are they going to be people's pets?
After thinking about the above niceties, It comes to my mind that they are going to end up in some rabbit stew. Now I don't want anyone to think I'm cruel, I mean by talking about killing and then eating rabbit. But it's done all the time. Back in 1990, the New York Times published an article that contained the recipe for rabbit stew. As my train of thought moves to the next level, I recall when I ate rabbit. It wasn't in a rabbit stew, though. It was braised like a chicken. It looked like a chicken. It even tasted like chicken. But the bones, they were weird. It's like they were smaller than chicken bones--more brittle. The thought gives me goose bumps (or should I say rabbit bumps). To this day, my pals tease me with the line, "you ate da bunny."

Kloie Picot: Hidden In Plain Sight Benefit

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: A Benefit for Iraqi and Palestinian Refugees is put together by Kloie Picot, and is a worthwhile benefit for Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, one that she hopes will raise awareness of their plight. All proceeds will go to CROSSING LINES, a non-profit Ms. Picot is establishing to provide language, job training and other skills to refugees. The important worthwhile event opens March 15 at the River Bar and Restaurant in Chung Li, Taiwan and will feature an exhibition and silent auction of photographs donated by several well-known photographers. For further information: War Shooter (Hidden In Plain Sight) Bravo Kloie!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

American Barn

About two hours east of Minneapolis just inside the Wisconsin border, there's a town called Luck. It's charming, but even more charming are the barns around it. Now I know barns have been overdone in photography, but there just so stately when empty and left to the elements, you can't help but get out of the car and trudge thorough the snow to talk to them with your camera. They fill a frame so nicely. And when you take a peek inside the light through planks of wood illuminates right down to the small knots inside.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

World Film Photography Day

March 20th will be the first World Film Photography Day and I intend to participate. Although I have a Pentax DSLR, I still use my Pentax SLR as often for black and white photos with an Ilford FP4+ or HP5+ film. I applaud initiatives like the WFPD even though I don't think (or hope!) that film will disappear completely. Surely, the family and vacation snapshot has moved over to digital almost completely but some die-hards using film for black and white and cross-processing will hopefully keep film alive and gradually bring it back when people start to realize the differences between film and digital. A World Film Photography Day is a good start for this.

A drawback of the collapse of film is that it is almost impossible to buy black and white film in the shops or get it developed. I use to develop the films myself, but got lazy and nowadays use DSCL which will get me the negatives back within two days while High street photo shops like Jessops take two weeks and return the negatives with fingerprints and calcium deposits :-(

See also:

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO + Ilford FP4+

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Speaking of Mexico, I Found These Ten Tips For Travel Photography

Here are the quick bullet points from a really good piece by Andrew Gibson over at JPG Magazine. 1 - Go somewhere amazing - like Mexico. 2 - Go somewhere ordinary - like your home town, maybe. 3 - Shoot the people, especially if you're somewhere exotic. 4 - Don't shoot the people, especially if you or they are uncomfortable. 5 - Take photos of the kids - most of them will "ham it up" for you. 6 - Research, research, research - hit the Internet before you go and see what's cool to see after you get there. 7 - Search for magical light and I don't mean between 10a.m. - 5 p.m. It really gets pretty before 8 - 8a.m. and after 6 p.m. 9 - Be alert for opportunity - maybe you can buddy up with a fellow traveler. 10 - Look for inspiration sunsets, sunrises, close ups, colors, shapes, etc. 11 - Never be satisfied - you always want to do do better. Here is the complete article right here. It's a nice read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thoroughly Marvelous Monday

Good Morning Everybody, After 6 months of blogging, I think DigitalProTalk is starting to hit it's stride. I wanted to share with you my plans for how the blog is shaping up and getting organized. Let me explain;
  • Monday will be an Open post day with any posts pertinent to photography falling into Monday's line up.
  • Tuesday, of course will be Technique Tuesday featuring tutorials on lighting, photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
  • Wednesday has morphed into "As The Photo World Turns Wednesday." I got the "Oldies But Goldies " series starting this week for 12 weeks - so you get the idea.
  • Thursday is shaping up nicely as B(Business) Day Thursday and is becoming one of my favorite days to post. I love this business, sales, marketing tips and information.
  • Friday will continue to be "Inspiration Friday" and feature photo stories on creativity and the creative process, photography, and design. It's about getting your "brain juices" flowing.
That should be a pretty darn good week of diversified posts that helps us all stay informed and excited about our art, our craft, and our profession. Hey gang, we are off to a good start today. I've got a few cool stories lined up for today, got a brand new Technique Tuesday - "How To Shoot The Wedding Cake" about ready to go for tomorrow, and peeked at a few negs from Ziser's Oldie but Goldie Files for Wednesday, so the week is shaping up like a really great one. I hope you will stick around. Anyway, off we go...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Joakim Eskildsen: The Roma People

Image © Joakim Eskildsen -All Rights Reserved
Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer who trained with the Royal Court photographer Rigmor Mydtskov. Moving to Finland, he learnt the craft of photographic book making and graduated with an MA degree in photography in 1998. To complete "The Roma Journeys", a book which he and writer Cia Rinne recently published, they traveled in seven different countries to photograph and document the life of the Roma and their living conditions. According to Joakim, "these Roma journeys were by no means meticulously planned, and instead the product of a number of coincidences that enabled us to come into contact with the Roma." Joakim's photographs are wonderful...and give us an insight into the lives of the Roma, or Romani, an ethnic group widely known through folklore and literature. I started off this post by describing them as gypsies, but discovered that it's sometimes considered pejorative, based on a mistaken belief of an origin in Egypt. The Roma have their origins in India, with genetic studies showing that they came from a small population that emerged from ancestors in India around 1000 years ago. Joakim's photographs of the Indian Roma feature the Sapera who are known to be snake charmers in Rajasthan. I came across a band of wandering Sapera when I traveled in Rajasthan, who were quite distinctive in their dress and demeanor. I encourage you to explore his web site beyond The Roma's well worth your time.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Bas Uterwijk: Burma

Image © Bas Uterwijk -All Rights Reserved
Bas Uterwijk lives in Amsterdam, and has just returned from Burma with wonderful photographs made during his travels. Although he recently got interested in photography, he's been telling stories with images for most of his career as a computer graphics artist for a video game company. His Burma portfolio contains lovely photographs of Burmese novices, monks as well as depictions of everyday Burmese life. The photograph I chose for this post and the rest of his gallery are proof that we'll hear more of Bas. Video games and photography...what else could anyone want in life? Bas Uterwijk's Burma

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"You Gotta Have Heart"

"You Gotta Have Heart" © David A. Ziser
This image is a real "blast from the past." With all the light painting articles today though, I thought is was an appropriate post. This image was made in 1980 - almost 28 years ago, but I still remember taking it. It was a 4th of July wedding and the couple wanted me to capture the spirit of the day in a photograph. Heck, they even brought the "sparklers." That's all I needed.
We found a safe place in the parking lot away from cars so no sparks would fall where they could do harm. I had the couple rehearse the motion of making the heart shape a few times till we all thought it looked good. We were ready, I had my Hasselblad cable release attached and fitted with an 80mm lens positioned on a tripod and ready to go. The game plan was to light the sparklers, have the couple start the heart at the bottom, tracing up and coming together in the middle pointing the sparklers down, and kissing at the end. At that moment, my assistant fired the flash manually and I released the cable release - presto! we had it. Camera specs; Hasselblad fitted with 80mm Distagon lens, F8 @ "bulb" exposure, Kodak Vericolor 400 film. Enjoy! -David
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Updated Websites For TTP

I've announced this through my monthly newsletter, but I've finally updated my websites, including 16 photo galleries. I used an overall design that is simpler and easier to navigate. The short cut for the photo galleries is Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer The main portal page is The Travel Photographer, and leads to my 2008 photo expeditions, previous itineraries, the 16 photo galleries, the slideshows and the TTP blog. I will be in Oaxaca, Mexico for about 10 days...and will intermittently post from there.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sarah Caron: Alliance Française-NYC

Image © Sarah Caron-All Rights Reserved
The French Institute in New York City is hosting a couple of events for Sarah Caron's work. An exhibition of her photographs, a documentary film on her by Patrick Chauvel and a panel discussion. Sarah Caron is a French photographer, who travels the world, working both in journalism and on projects. Her assignments have taken her to Thailand, Cuba, Burma, and Mexico. In 2006, she received a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography to complete The Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades– The Balata Sentinels, a series exploring the martyrdom culture in Palestine. Her work has been published in international publications, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Elle. Sarah Caron has also photographed the Indian widows in Vrindavan, titling her gallery "Les Veuves Blanches" or "The Widows In White". The gallery is of black & white photographs, and seems to have been photographed very recently. In fact, I believe I recognize a few faces amongst the widows which I photographed for my own work White Shadows. The French Institute's events on Sarah Caron Sarah Caron's Veuves Blanches UPDATE: I dropped by the French Institute/Alliance Française today (February 14), and I must say that the exhibit was disappointing. Three of Sarah Caron's photographs were large enough, but the remainder of the exhibit were of photographs not much larger than 8x10 at most. The three large photographs were intelligently chosen. Since there were no captions, I'll describe the photographs as best I can. One was of was I believe is of 3 men and a woman carrying rifles and handguns...probably belonging to some sort of militia in Arizona which patrols the border between the US and Mexico. The middle one was of Pakistani mustachioed bodyguards (possibly those of Benazir Bhutto) holding Kalashnikovs, and the third is of a masked Palestinian insurgent loading a RPG unto a rifle. The juxtaposition of these three photographs was obviously done on purpose.

1 on 1: Justin Mott

Image © Justin Mott -All Rights Reserved
The Travel Photographer blog will occasionally post interviews with both travel and editorial working photographers. This interview is with Justin Mott, a photojournalist working in South East Asia, currently living in Hanoi. His work is seen in the New York Times and Time magazine, among others, and he recently published photo essays on mysticism in Indonesia and Vietnamese orphanages. He's represented by World Picture News. 1) TTP: When did you decide to become a photographer? Who or what influenced your decision? A: I used to be a bartender in the financial district of San Francisco for 7 years. I was taking some journalism classes at SF State and I just kind of fell into a photography class when I was registering for classes. I was really into Kerouac at the time and I use to escape the city life with little weekend road trips by myself. I started bringing my camera with me and I never really put it down since. 2) TTP: Do you have any formal training regarding photography? A: I studied under Ken Kobre at San Francisco State University and participated in a few workshops that have had great influence on my life as a photographer. I didn't learn anything in school about being a freelancer or working in a foreign country: that process is ongoing, and from every assignment I learn something new about myself and about being a working professional. 3) TTP : If you had the choice, where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the world and why? A: I personally felt I had a choice so I'm living and working exactly where I want to be: Hanoi, Vietnam. I love the smiling faces, the adventures, the landscapes, and the cost of living is helpful. 4) TTP: Describe your own favorite image, and describe how you went about creating it. A: My favorite image is a really simple image that I took one day wandering near the Red River of Hanoi. I slowly approached a child standing in the frame of his new house being built next to the tiny tent he was currently living in. He was just standing in the doorway of this shell of a house and I had to be stealthy approaching it (needing to get close because I had a fixed 35mm). Most of my personal projects are related to children's issues and about children living in isolation for a variety of reasons. That image represents a lot of my stories and has the lonely feeling to it that my stories have. Not many people compliment the image and some have even suggested that I remove it from my portfolio, but I dig it and I open my web portfolio with it. 5) TTP: Describe a day in your professional life. A: It depends on whether it's an assignment or a personal project. I'll give you an example of a typical day of a personal project I recently finished up in the outskirts of Hanoi. I would get up at my shanty hotel before sunrise and untangle myself out of my mosquito net. I manke sure I have my battery off the charger and my memory cards, then I pack my Domke. Slam a coffee and then wait for my moto taxi to the orphanage. Wave at the random people on the sides of the streets wondering why an American is way out there. I would spend the entire day at the orphanage observing and photographing. In the afternoon I look for any quiet place to take a nap, unused office, tree, etc. I would typically leave when the orphanage closed down for bedtime and head back to my hotel. After dinner I backup my work on my tiny portable hard drive and go through the days take. The following day I will do the same exact thing. 6) TTP: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photoshoot! A: The funniest thing that ever happened to me came in Jamesport, Missouri while attending the University of Missouri Photo Workshop. My story was about an Amish teenager and his coming to age as an adult. His father was quite liberal and had allowed me to follow his 16 year old son for the week. On my last day while exchanging pleasantries with Pops I asked him one final question about his son John. I said "Jacob, what do you want for John" meaning for his future. Jacob glanced over at his son working away building furniture and without a smile on his face said" Justin, I'm not really interested in selling any of my children." I couldn't help but laugh out loud and rephrase my question. 7) TTP: What types of assignments are you most attracted to? A: The last few weeks I have been to Indonesia and Malaysia for the NY Times working on a variety of stories ranging from palm oil, mysticism, feuding princes, and the death of the former Indonesian president Suharto. Each story fascinated me and each story presented problems that needed to be solved to tell the writers story with visuals. I love the challenge of solving those problems. 8) TTP: How would you describe your photographic style? A: I shoot very loose and I love empty space. At the Eddie Adams workshop Magnum Photographer Eli Reed cropped my whole portfolio really tight and I got a good laugh out of it watching him mutilating my images. I respect his style and obviously he is a legend, but I like shooting with my fixed 35mm and I struggle with a 50mm. 9) TTP: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven't already? A: I want to expand to shoot in a studio more and learn how to work lighting equipment better. I want to learn on my own creative freedom and just have fun with portraits. 10) TTP: Describe the photo gear, as well as (if digital) your computer hardware and software you use. A: I have a simple setup. One 5D (best purchase I ever made), Macbook Pro, a Canon G9, 35mm 1.4, 24mm 1.4, and a 100 F2, 580 Flash(never really use it because I shoot at 1.4 a lot). I love my fixed lenses even though it can be scary sometimes on one day breaking news assignments.

NY Times: "A Genocide In Slow Motion"

Image ©Jan Grarup for NY Times-All Rights Reserved
Jan Grarup is an award-winning Danish photographer who traveled the world documenting many historical events. From the fall of the communist regime in Romania to the current occupation of Iraq, he has covered numerous wars and conflicts, including the genocide in Rwanda. He's a member of the Noor agency-collective. Here's his latest work out of Africa, which The New York Times chose to title as "A Genocide In Slow Motion". The feature is in slideshow motion, with Jan Grarup narrating.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Fountains of Hotel Zoso

Hotel Zoso's a pretty cool place, lots of modern furnishings and plenty of conference rooms downstairs from the lobby. I went to a Dwell conference there last year. The food at the conference was good, too, but it was only finger food, sandwiches and whatnot. If you're looking for a quiet place under Mt. San Jacinto, this is not the place. The Hotel Zoso is located on Indian Av., which is a block from downtown Palm Springs' strip. You can walk to coffee shops (Starbucks, Coffee Beanery) and many restaurants. For a great small-town, urban resort getaway, then Hotel Zoso is the hip and cool place .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wish for do overs

With WebShots still down, I was thinking about a subject brought up by SheyMouse on his blog about wanting to retake some photos given the chance. Going through my portfolio, I have loads of missed opportunities: beautiful locations and subjects, but a badly composed photo or no photo at all as I didn't even see the chance. Composition doesn't come naturally for me and I have read a couple of books about it without grasping the fleeting notions described in them. It is not until I read "Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography" by Bryan Peterson that things started to make sense a little more. If you have some money to spare, I would also recommend his excellent "Understanding Exposure", even for the advanced amateur photographer. I have pre-ordered his "Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second" and I'll let you know if it is of the same quality.

If Bryan Peterson has a Google Alert on the use of his name and comes across this blog, please eave a comment for a devoted fan :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tripod Resolution

Every now and then when the moon is almost full I grab my camera. I think it's because I love the phrase "waxing gibbous moon." Waxing is the opposite of waning; it means it's getting bigger. And gibbous is the opposite, or the complement, of crescent; it means a partial moon larger than a half moon. I've always wanted to title a picture Waxing Gibbous Moon. Two nights ago I took the camera out by the garage and took this. I tell myself in those situations that there's no time for a tripod. For this shot, I turned on "Anti-Shake" (actually, I never turn Anti-Shake off) and jammed the camera up against the garage door. When I saw that the exposure wasn't totally sharp and the moon was still blown out (this would be a good application for two quick exposures blended with one of those actions that combines two exposures for extended dynamic range—I'm not just imagining that those exist, am I?), I had one of those "tiny epiphanies" of which my days are full—I realized I dislike tripods on principle. That is, I don't think of myself as a tripoddy kind of person, all finicky and particular. I'm an anti-tripodite. Real Purple: This unsharp waxing gibbous moon Kind of Blue moon —a detail from the shot above—is also one of the few times I've ever actually seen bonafide purple fringing from my 7D and 28–75mm lens. I have a friend named Christopher Bailey who was once a house painter. I remember keeping him company once four stories above Georgetown. I couldn't leave the window, but Chris was scampering around on boards laid on scaffolding with nothing under him but sidewalk, dizzyingly far below. Now, I'm scared of heights, dramatically so, so just watching him had my stomach in knots. At one point I said, "Chris, aren't you afraid of falling?" At that, he started jumping up and down on one of the boards, which flexed beneath him and then flung him upwards. He jumped on it like it was a trampoline. "Oh, I don't know," he said, "I just feel like if I fall, I'll get my hands on something." Bingo. That's how I feel about steadying the camera. I'll use anything and everything to brace the camera on or against—mantelpieces, car windows, someone's back, whatever. I like to extemporize. More than that, I like to think of myself as someone who can extemporize. Even when I do use a tripod, I just jam the camera down on the top plate with my hands—I seldom actually attach the camera to the tripod head. What I realized the other night is that I avoid tripods just because of this self-conception I have—even when they're called for, and would be appropriate and useful. There was really no reason at all not to grab a tripod when I went inside to get the camera the other night. So here's my resolution. The next time I shoot a waxing gibbous moon (granted, the shot above is another miss), I'm going to get the tripod out, and use it properly. In fact, I'm going to try to use my tripod more often in general. I don't care for "tripod snobs," but being an anti-tripod snob is no better.

Rainbow on the Ground

Last Sunday in Southern California was a freak day of numerous rainbows--double rainbows, rainbows on the ground, full rainbows across the sky. For more about my great photography day, go to my blog entry on

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mai Thao: Fairview, MO

Here's a few highlights from the Senior Session of Mai Thao (say it like "towel".) I love Senior Sessions! These kids are fun, energetic and easy to work with; they have awesome outfit variety and they're game for anything. I really love to see the surprise on their faces when they come back and see their portraits, and they're like, "WOW! Do I really look like that??" and I'm like, "Yeah. That's you." Word of note: Book your senior session with us by Valentine's Day, and we'll put your name in a drawing to win a free iPod shuffle. Odds are determined by how many '08 Seniors book between now and then, so yeah, you might actually win. We'll post the winner on our blog. As if you needed an excuse to have incredible senior portraits taken at Calotype. :)

La Concha Motel Sign is a Wreck

I've been photographing signs for years. Many of the signs that I have photographed have either been torn down or a total wreck. I took this picture of the La Concha Motel sign about 6 years ago. Today the sign is a sight for sore eyes, still there but barely recognizable. The motel itself was made up of four swooping shells below which contained floor to ceiling glass. The motel was designed by Paul Williams, the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects. His work included more than 3000 buildings including million dollar estates for Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Filling the Silence at the Heart of Things

This week I had occasion to go to Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. It is a large and beautiful treasure which includes a formidable old world glass plant conservatory, the Asian Art Museum, lovely grounds for strolling, and a large round tower. As I was looking at the view, a woman climbed into the "Black Sun" sculpture by Isamu Noguchi (or as Soundgarden titled this inspiration on their song "Black Hole Sun") to see what the view of the reservoir and Space Needle might look like. Don't let the sunshine fool you; the reservoir she's peering into was partially frozen and gulls were walking and sliding on the ice!

Asian Art Museum

I thought you might like to see the art deco era exterior of Seattle's Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. It was designed by Carl F. Gould, the head of the University of Washington's school of architecture and opened in 1933 as the Seattle Art Museum.The building was privately funded by Art Institute of Seattle president Richard Fuller and presented as a gift to the city. When the Seattle Art Museum moved to new digs on 1st Avenue downtown in 1991, SAM rededicated this building as its Asian Art Museum. One year ago this month SAM dedicated its third campus, the Olympic Sculpture Park. All three sites are wildly popular. For a photo of the shadows cast by the interesting metalwork you see on the glass panels of the entryway, click on my More Seattle Stuff site.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Photo Exhibit at Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida

I am very pleased to announce that 24 of my photos (a mix of of landscapes, still lifes, and abstracts) will be on display 7 - 31 Dec, 2007 at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida. For those of you in the area with an interest in my work, please stop by for the opening of the exhibit on Friday, December 7, from 7 to 10 pm. Since Books & Books also has an in-house cafe, there will be ample - and free - (courtesy Dr. Rosa Abraira) munchies and drinks! :-) This wonderful local bookstore was founded by (current, and two-term, American Booksellers Association president) Mitchell Kaplan in 1982, and has since grown to become one of the best known and well-respected independent bookstores in the country. I am honored, and humbled, at having been given this rare opportunity to display a few of my works at this venue.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Thought this sign from Japan was amusing, maybe something to do some creative mind-tripping with. Hmmm, should I make generalizations, use a little linguistic thinking? There's a part of linguistics called kinesics, which is nothing more than body language. In Japan they bow; they also don't smile as much as Americans do. My best guess about why they included the English word "smile" on this sign is that they wanted to do something "American," something brash and daring. People in Japan don't always smile when they're happy. Sometimes they smile when they are covering up shame to save face. Saving face is very important in Japan. People there just don't like to lose their dignity, especially in public.