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  • Ways not to ruin your photography workshop experience

    I love teaching photography workshops. I get to help others improve their photography. I get to see the world through their eyes. I get to see new and interesting ways to see and photograph the world. I get to go all sorts of interesting places. I even get paid to do all that. Along the way though, I see people make the same mistakes over and over which ruin their workshop experience.

    28

    Dec 16

  • Situational awareness is the key to better photography

    I teach workshops overseas and domestically. I photograph overseas and domestically. In both cases there is one skill that I practice over and over that makes a huge difference when I photograph. It is the one thing that every photographer should master, whether or not they are attending one of my workshop (or anyone else’s.)

    28

    Nov 16

  • Road Warrior 102 for the photographer (part two of two)

    In the first of this two-part blog posting, I wrote about all the non-gear related things that make my life easier as a photographic road warrior. In this posting I will talk about the gear related technologies that do the same thing for me. On my educational web-site, The Wells Point, I have a podcast showing all of the contents of my traveling camera bag. It is now slightly out of date, since I recently switched to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras, from the larger DSLRs. But the gear that I take with me (besides my cameras and lenses) has not changed at all. You can see exactly what that includes here. The logic behind switching to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras was the subject of a recent blog entry.

    29

    Jun 15

  • Cultural concerns every traveling photographer should know about

    Photography requires gear. Duh. That’s a given. Yet, the most important tool any photographer has is their mind, their eye, their humanity and their adaptability. Those are priceless, both in the fact that you can’t buy them and the fact that they are what will help you make exceptional photographs whenever you travel. Before you leave for any other culture, smart photographers prepare by reading up on cultural concerns they may encounter on the road.

    27

    Jan 15

  • Jurying the Far Away Places competition

    I was asked to be the juror for a photography competition on the theme of Far Away Places. As I reviewed the work, I tried to keep in mind the summary of the call for entries: From the far corners of your backyard to the far away country it takes weeks to traverse to, we want to see where you end up when you go “far away”. As I was editing, I was thinking how could I explain to those photographers who did not make the cut, why that had happened? So I kept notes as I went, which make up this blog entry, one that ideally would serve as the answer to those photographers who did not make the final cut.

    10

    Oct 14

  • The last film project

    Old projects seem to have an odd way of circling back to haunt you. Sometimes that is economically, other times stylistically. An old project is back in mind right now which has prompted me to reconsider how, sixteen years ago I started an informal collaboration with two other photographers, using a primitive imaging technology called “film.” Almost two decades later, that project is coming to fruition, which prompted me to look back on one of if not the last projects that I worked on using film.

    08

    Aug 14

  • Why listen to me?

    I write a lot of blog entries, teach a lot of classes and give many presentations. Those are NOT why you should listen to me when I write something or say something. You should listen to me because you think I know what I am talking about. The question is how do you know that and by extension, why listen to me?

    14

    Mar 14

  • Looking at web sites

    Many photographers ask me to look at their web sites to give them feedback. When I review web sites, I think back to when my web site was reviewed by someone in a position of authority. His review reshaped my web site and still influences how I look at web sites. This podcast explores that initial review, which serves as a springboard for me to look at a series of other web-sites.

    19

    Feb 14

  • Another round of morality vs greatness

    At this moment, part of our collective cultural discussion is focused once again on the question, “should the personal life of a creative person impact how we judge their work?” Over time, the moral failings of certain creative geniuses have been viewed according to a different moral code. This is not a new question by any stretch, though, in my mind, it has taken an interesting turn recently. The accusations of child molestation against Woody Allen is the most obvious case, but I am actually more interested in the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

    14

    Feb 14

  • What I hate about online camera reviews

    I rarely look at online camera reviews, unless I am trying to answer a very, very detailed question about a specific setting, button or control an a given camera. While some of the reviews can be useful, a lot of them are garbage. I am still trying to figure out who to blame, the reviewers who write the junk or the end-users who put too much faith in the same reviewers.

    31

    Jan 14

  • How a liberal arts education saved my career again and again

    College graduation season is upon us and with it discussions about the importance of educating young people for the so called “jobs of the future.”  With a daughter half way through college, I have plenty to worry about in terms of her future. Yet I am here to make a last stand for a liberal arts education, the one thing that has saved my career again and again.

    07

    Jun 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part two)

    In last week’s blog entry I parsed an e-mail from a “soon-to-be graduate” The two questions that he raised were: “…what are your favorite aspects of your work” and “…how someone could break into a field like this.” I suggested the real question to ask and answer was “…what are your least favorite aspects of your work.” I answered that question last week so now I can turn to the “…how someone could break into a field like this.”

    04

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part one.)

    With a subject line like the title above, how could I not reply to the e-mail that recently came in from a “soon-to-be graduate” and how could I not turn my reply it into a blog? I have been sitting on this for awhile trying to figure out how to answer without turning into some cranky old man talking about the ”good old days.”

    28

    Dec 12

  • A word to the wise for interns and teaching assistants

    In the general media and especially the business press there has been a lot of discussion (yelling and screaming) in the last year about internships. Most of that noise revolves around the question of paid vs. unpaid internships, which can also be thought of as job stealing (unpaid) vs job making (paid.) I have blogged a lot on internships in the past and I can argue both sides of the paid vs unpaid question. What I am blogging about this week is what interns should be doing once they have internships, paid or unpaid.

    03

    Aug 12

  • Some good questions

    A high school photography teacher wrote me recently with some questions. As part of her ongoing credentialing for teaching photography, she needed to “…gather information/advice from those in professional photography community.” She went on to ask me a series of great questions from her students drawing on having asked them “What questions they would ask a professional if they could.”

    17

    Feb 12

  • The future of photography is women

    Among the classes that I taught while I was recently in Singapore, at the behest of Objectifs – Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, was a class on street photography. At the first meeting, I scanned the room like I always do. I saw Singaporeans of all ethnicities, a few Europeans and two people from India. What I did not see among the many eager faces were any men. The class went really well with only women and it set me to thinking about how, I could argue, the future of photography is women.

    03

    Feb 12

  • Adapt or die

    Recently, while I was working on a project, I had a bit of a surprise. In that project, Foreclosed Dreams, I am exploring the ongoing foreclosure crisis by photographing inside houses as soon as possible after the actual foreclosure and before they are cleaned up.   That is when I can see and photograph what I think of as the “ghosts” of the families that used to be there.  During a recent shoot, I had two surprises that got me thinking about how I work as a photographer. One lesson came out of all of that, adapt or die.

    16

    Dec 11

  • Lessons learned judging a photo contest

    I spent time in early October judging the annual Pollux Awards, which are given out by the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards. The juror’s statement, which I wrote after the judging, was recently posted along with the winning work. The whole process was an education for me. I thought that turning my experience into a blog entry would enable me to take others on the same educational journey that I recently undertook.

    04

    Nov 11

  • Lessons from six weeks on the road

    Six weeks on the road, ping-ponging between the first and third world left me with lots of time to think. As I moved between Singapore, being the former and India/Vietnam, being the latter, I kept a running notepad of lessons I “learned” this trip. Learned is relative. What really happened was that during one long, twelve hour car ride, I had the opportunity and inclination to write down and flush out some important lessons I had learned in bits and pieces during hundreds of previous journeys to a myriad of places.

    27

    Jan 11

  • Introducing Photo Synesi!

    Photography has been one of the constants in my life since I fell in love with the medium back in high school.  In the nearly forty years since then, I have been continually experimenting with different ways to both photograph just the way I want while making a living at it.  Along the way, I have worked selling cameras, done portraiture, weddings, studio work, fine-art photography, university teaching, etc. Of course, I have also done a lot of the editorial photography that has sustained me for the last decade.  During the last couple years I have finally come to appreciate the upside of what once looked like an helter-skelter, ever-changing career path.  

    27

    Nov 10

  • Akka (the movie)

    My daughter and my niece spent the summer of 2010 volunteering at the Parikrma school in Bangalore, India. This short movie explores their experience living and working in India.

    17

    Nov 10

  • Late summer snippets

    After six fascinating weeks in India I flew home and I plunged right into a workshop in street photography at ICP (International Center for Photography) in New York City. Then I returned to Providence, to complete the sale of my house, move out of that and into a new apartment. Next week I am off to the Maine Media Workshops to teach another workshop. So, I have been busy! I have also been gathering snippets to share as the summer nears its end.

    20

    Aug 10

  • Gear and old gear

    My last blog entry, exploring gear and goals left me thinking about my own gear acquisition history. I have written before about how, these days, I tend to be slow to adopt new gear. I only displace technology that works well for me if the newer technology is a notable improvement. (DSLRs that capture video are one example of a notable technology shift.) I will be first to admit this was not always the case. In college and during my first few years as a freelancer, I churned through different sets of gear. I was trying to figure out who I was as a photographer (and which technology would help me make the photographs I wanted to make.) In looking back, I have noted that certain pieces of gear have stayed with me throughout over my career, including some that have been with me a very long time.

    14

    Jun 10

  • Goals and gear

    A friend wrote me with a variation of the most common question I am asked, “What gear should I buy next?” In a technology-based pursuit like photography, the question appears to make sense. This is doubly so in a creative pursuit which is largely shared through advertising driven media. Before I answered him, I grilled him with a few more questions. Then I came back to him with a suggestion for the one thing that every photographer should be spending more time and money on, especially these days.

    11

    Jun 10

  • Pictures, purges and process (part one)

    I recently wound up a series of blog entries exploring my experiences with and thoughts about technology. The non-technological process of spring-cleaning prompted all of these posts. In the process of that cleaning (or more accurately my massive archival purge,) I looked at thousands and thousands of my old images. Some scared me, some impressed me and some surprised me. Though it was not my intention, it turned out to be a great way to consider the arc of my evolution, as a photographer and as a professional.

    30

    Apr 10

  • Learning how you learn, photographically and otherwise

    I recently finished my annual class built around photographing the Tucson Rodeo. The weather was great and the pictures were even better! Most everyone we encountered was happy to be photographed. The class was a small group, so everyone got lots of attention. Because it was such a small group, I had time to analyze how each person learned. By the time the class was over, events had reminded me that in some ways, the most important thing ANY student should learn is exactly how they do learn.

    12

    Mar 10

  • Thinking points for any photographer

    I was recently catching up on my reading of photography magazines and enjoying one of my favorite magazines. I remembered what great a resource it was and how much I had learned from the recently started publication. Then I also remembered it was free, which made it all that much of a better “read.” I am assuming they make their money via advertising because they are not making it via subscriptions. I think one reason they are so successful (and get lots of advertising) is that they do a good job of staying “on message.” They focus on their one area of interest and largely ignoring the rest of the vast world of digital photography.

    19

    Feb 10

  • My favorite part of my favorite class

    I recently wound up my time in Asia with a stop in Singapore, where I gave a few short presentations to large audiences as well as some longer workshops for smaller audiences. Everyone I worked with seemed happy with what I did, so I will be going back next year. So keep an eye on the workshops page of my website to see exactly when I will be going back and what I will be doing.  The very last thing I did when I was there this year was to teach my favorite class.  I ended that class with my favorite teaching exercise.

    25

    Jan 10

  • Thoughts on getting feedback

    The class that I was teaching in India ended on the same note that many of my classes do. The students had made good progress and wanted to keep their creative growth going, after the class ended. I teased them, saying that about a week after the class they would all be “master” photographers. I say that to almost all my classes, because the things learned in a workshop take about a week to become an innate part of any student’s photography. The follow-up point is that about another week later, the skills they had learned in the class would start to diminish. The end of the joke is that about a month later, they would still be better photographers than when they entered the class, but no longer the “masters” they had briefly been. So what did I tell them to do to try to hold on to the “mastery” they had briefly achieved?

    21

    Dec 09

  • Singaporeans and Creativity

    I just finished classes in Singapore and India, two countries that could not appear to be more different. In Singapore I taught evening seminars, while in India, I taught a class over four days on “light, shadow, twilight and night.” Regardless of length, all the classes were journeys of sorts, physical and/or intellectual. On all of these “trips,” I was accompanied by different groups of Singaporean photographers. Working in such divergent countries, just a few days apart, got me thinking.

    18

    Dec 09

  • Learning the language of photography

    Besides teaching workshops around the world, I run a few small on-line critique groups. These usually arise out of workshops where the students in the group have bonded and do not want to end the critiquing/dialogue that is at the core of any good workshop. So we meet in a conference call approximately every six weeks, catch-up on photography happenings and review work together on-line. Some interesting dialogues are born in these meetings. One particular thread of discussion from one meeting is well worth sharing.

    19

    Oct 09

  • Learning how to learn, photographically

    When I went to college, in pursuit of a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, my mother encouraged me to put my energy into what she called “learning how to learn.” I just finished a workshop where a student told me the best part of the class was that he had “learned how to learn the way to make the best photograph possible of a given situation.”

    27

    Feb 09