Sometime in early November, Florida photographer Chip Litherland will load five 35mm cameras with color film, carefully pack them into shipping cases, and mail them to five different photographers around the globe. Each photographer who receives a camera
What’s the point? The photography business can be a rat race. There are tens of thousands of photographers out there doing exactly what you and I do. Everyone has one unique thing – a vision. That vision can be driven by ego, competition, passion, fear, curiosity, artistry, adversity, and talent. What drives yours? It should be you.
Sometimes feeding the beast is easiest when that beast is you.
Working as a staff photojournalist has its challenges. How do you stay inspired, happy, and passionate about photographing a white guy in a suit standing in front of a building? How can you make compelling images that give your photo subjects a voice in their own community when you can only stay for only 10 minutes? Why am I photographing this plate of food that barely resembles food? How do you make a picture that says “ribbon-cutting” without literally shooting the ribbon being cut?
You just do. Here’s how
Color is just as important to photography as composition, light , and moments. I generally rate it higher than any of those just for the pure fact that it is the common thread throughout all of them. Color evokes mood, emotion, visual responses. It helps add contrast in certain situations. It can make a photo sing. It can make a photo sink. I promise you’ve I’ve edited out a better moment out of a series of photos, just because an “off” frame has better color. It is that important.
I spent the weekend in Saint Martin/St. Maarten (depending on which side of the island you are on) for an amazing wedding shoot. Dear God, that place is gorgeous. This is coming from a guy who lives on the beaches of Florida.
I was in Houston, Texas, to shoot a wedding this weekend for a quick 36 hours. On Saturday, I took advantage of being a father and not being able to sleep in for the life of me. I woke up early, grabbed a 5D Mark II, a 50mm f/1.4 and just wandered with no direction. No ambition. No list of things to shoot.
Obviously, the newspaper and magazine world is in flux. Photographers are ducking for cover and holding onto staff positions when they can and others frantically preparing exit plans when they finally pull the eject lever. Some have that lever pulled for them and are left floating through the air with a “What now?” look on their face.
“I’ll just shoot some weddings.” Sounds easy enough, right?
What I’ve learned from the last month of blogging and saying what I feel is that all of a sudden I become the bitter, cranky photographer trying to suck all the fun out of photography and make people quit their jobs. Trust me, if anyone did something because I said it, then I would be first in line to kick my own ass.
There is a fine line between work and play being a photographer, which is what is so amazingly wonderful about our job. A client calls and asks you to spend a couple days in “X” city, making whatever photos you want as long as they somewhat fit the story. In general, that is all the 36 Hours series The New York Times is: tip-toeing that line.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about shooting at fairs that makes it difficult. Honestly, it has to be visual overload. Sometimes there is just too much going on to really concentrate on a particular moment - carnival workers yelling at you, a big vat of teen angst and love, unreal smells, ridiculous clutter - it all just messes with me.
I was sweating out a prep football practice here in Florida when ESPN the Mag called with a cool last minute assignment. Always fun to see their name on the caller I.D. I was to jet off to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the weekend to cover the University of Alabama Crimson Tide take on their bitter rivals - the University of Tennessee Volunteers. It got even better. I didn’t need to cover every-down, game action - just wander the stadium making pictures of what a true megafootball college program is all about.
This one game provided a few outs for me…luckily my chance of shooting with a wider lens from directly behind home helped me land the home plate leap. He was called safe. It was one of those moments where I felt the lens snap out of focus for a brief milli-second – spurring a frantic chimping session.
I’ve been staring at this photo by Florida photojournalist Chip Litherland for a few days now. I kept a browser window with his blog open, intending to post it. His blog always has something cool on it.