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  • My particular choices for video gear

    I am on my way to mastering video as a way of visually telling stories. A student asked about the gear I have chosen to use during that evolution. That question prompted the following answers, which became another blog entry. Keep in mind that MY answers to these questions are unique to my process. Every videographer / photographer solves their problems differently.  With that in mind….

    18

    Jul 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 It is now slightly out of date, since I recently switched to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras, from the larger DSLRs.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

  • Road Warrior 101 for the photographer (part one of two)

    I have been making photographs seriously since 1972, when I fell in love with photography during an intro to photography class in high school.  I have been taking pictures for money since 1980, when I graduated from college after studying the history of photography.  I have been traveling around the globe to make photographs (and to teach classes) since 1986.  In all that time, I have used hundreds of different cameras. Along the way, I have picked up a few things that have become constants in my tool kit as a photographer.  They are part of my process, regardless of where I go, who I am working for, or what gear I am working with.

    15

    Jun 15

  • What I am carrying in my camera bag and WHY

    Photographers love gear. I love gear. But, in the end, my gear does ONE thing. It solves my problem(s.) Usually that problem involves getting something in front of the camera recorded for a publication, exhibition or web-site. The gear I use is constantly changing. Every couple years I create a new podcast to show what I NOW carry with me when working. This record of my gear is accurate for late summer of 2014. In a year or two it will be outdated, as will my cameras and I will have to do this all over again.

    15

    Oct 14

  • Melded Arts: The sculpture and photography of Abigail Gumbiner

    Abigail Gumbiner is a photographer and sculptor living on the Central Coast of California. Combing her passion for the two media, she produced her Melded Arts work, which has been exhibited at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and the Art of Photography Show in San Diego as well as being featured in “The Handmade Photograph” magazine.

    17

    Sep 14

  • Real Exposures Interview

    I recently sat down with David Brommer, the force behind the Real Exposures interview series, to discuss what Brommer describes as my “visually striking and highly moving photo-essays for magazines and non-profit organizations, including a project on the pesticide poisoning of California farm workers that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” We also discussed my more recent photo-essay depicting homes that people had left behind during the recent foreclosure crisis.

    20

    Aug 14

  • Sampling my CreativeLive workshop

    I recently gave a class on personal projects and the photo-essay that was recorded and broadcast over the web by CreativeLive. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of a photographer’s work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. You can get a sample of the class by watching this preview segment.

    16

    Jul 14

  • Tiffinbox interview: Creating Powerful Photo Essays And Personal Projects

    In advance of my CreativeLive course called “Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects” I sat down to talk with Seshu Badrinath of the tiffinbox site to discuss the class and how photographers can create photo essays and personal projects as well as publish them on their own.

    28

    Jun 14

  • The best the world of photography books has to offer

    Spring brings with it the awards season, be they the Oscars or Pulitzers. Never having been nominated for (or a viable candidate for) an Oscar, I don’t follow it all that closely. Having been nominated for a Pulitzer once (by the Philadelphia Inquirer) I have a bit more of a stake in that game. The older I get, the more I wonder about the judging of many of these competitions. The recent announcement of two such annual awards left me more bewildered than usual.

    23

    May 14

  • Thoughts on pricing video projects

    Regular readers know that I am making a big push into video work. I find video an interesting way to tell stories, I like the fact that multiple senses are used in that story-telling, and of course, the publication photography business is moving that direction. I have had very positive reaction to my video “Cafe,’” which shows a locally owned and operated coffee place. One such response was music to my ears and lead me to write this blog entry.

    09

    May 14

  • Video Hardware That Works For Me

    I recently blogged about the software that I use when making my narrative videos. Here, I will be talking about the hardware, the cameras, lenses, microphones, recorders, tripods, etc., that I use. My technology choices (whether hardware or software) are very specific to my process, my workflow and my budget. The gear I use solves my unique set of problems and nothing more. Every person making videos should ask themselves, does the gear I have (or the gear I am considering) solve my problems?

    25

    Apr 14

  • Why would anyone do stock photography

    In the last couple weeks, my nephew and a long time student both asked me if they would be wise to start producing stock imagery to be licensed through agencies or photo libraries. Though reusing existing imagery is a part of my business, I worked pretty hard to discourage them. In the process, walked them through the question “why would anyone do stock photography.” In doing so. I realized the form of my answer would be useful to any one considering getting involved in stock photography.

    28

    Mar 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

  • The hidden scandal in photojournalism’s award season

    The award season for photojournalism is upon us, like the Oscars or the Grammies. Unlike in the cases of those televised awards, the commentary will not likely focus on who attended which awards ceremony with who as their date. Nor will their be much commentary on the costumes worn, since nearly all the competitors will be dressed in black, the artist’s de rigueur clothing. If the last few year’s post-award scandals are any indication, the commentary will likely focus on digital manipulation, a topic certainly of importance. But, I am guessing the scandal-of-the-month club will again miss the real scandal in the world of photojournalism.

    28

    Feb 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

  • Clearly crossing a fuzzy line

    Last week I blogged about intellectual property in general and the theft of photographs in particular. The line between the borrowing of ideas and concepts, verses actual stealing of intellectual property can occasionally be fuzzy. But the thefts I was writing about were clearly over that line. In writing that blog, I was prompted to think about my own borrowing/appropriating/reusing.

    03

    Jan 14

  • I was wrong but they are even more wrong

    Throughout my career as a commercial photographer, I have had a fairly consistent attitude about copyright theft (and its impact on my imagery.) This was based on my world-view of the photography market and my ability to realistically respond/control that. A recent experience has shown me that my attitude was, to put it bluntly, wrong.

    31

    Dec 13

  • Lighting Workshop with Victor Rodriguez, Jr.

    In November of 2013, I took part in a lighting Workshop with Olympus Trailblazer, portrait and fashion photographer Victor Rodriguez, Jr., at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA. During the three hour workshop, I gathered video clips, which I then made into this short, three minute video.

    24

    Nov 13

  • Four minute travelogue to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

    In August of 2012, I traveled across the Indian state of Gujarat. As I went I gathered video clips, which I made into this short, four minute travelogue. Click to find out about my next photo workshop in India!

    18

    Sep 13

  • How do I use my time?

    A professional photographer is perceived as someone who has the pure pleasure of getting paid to snap pictures all day. Though I have been a professional for over thirty years, my working life has never been that simplistic or idyllic. So, earlier this spring I tracked EVERY thing I did for seven days. I do mean everything. For anyone considering “going pro,” a few minutes spent looking at my detailed list of one week’s labor will be real eye opener.

    16

    Aug 13

  • Three minute travelogue across Northern India

    In March of 2013, I traveled across Northern India leading a photo workshop. As I went I gathered video clips, which I made into this short, three minute travelogue. Click to find out about my next photo workshop in India!

    14

    Aug 13

  • Seven Questions You Should Ask Every Accomplished Photographer

    I have been taking photographs for almost four decades—mostly for money and always for myself. Over those forty years, I have slowly figured out what I wanted to ask the many photographers I encountered along the way.  I have distilled this down to a list of questions that I would ask any photographer, knowing that the answers will help any photographer.

    02

    Aug 13

  • How and why I use Tumblr

    A wise student asked me:”Tell me about your Tumblr. How it works & how it serves your purposes.” I thought it was a brilliant question, that if I answered it fully, would benefit many photographers. So, I made a podcast answering his question(s.)

    17

    Jul 13

  • 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

  • Being interviewed via Google plus

    I had the pleasure of hanging out on Google plus (and being interviewed by) Frederick Van Johnson, the ball of energy behind many interesting photography projects including This Week in Photo. I enjoyed the hangout immensely wanted to share it.

    25

    Jan 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

  • Information that got me thinking

    Next year will be ten years since I “went digital.” That fact prompted me to think about the next ten years. Yes, I have been using Photoshop for editing and printing my images for more than ten years. But when it comes to digital capture, I am nine years (and counting) into that technology. I recently came across information (including a nine year old quote that predicted where digital imaging was going to lead.) The great thing about that nine year old clairvoyant quote was how far away it was from talking only about technology yet how spot on it was in terms of predicting the impact of that same technology.

    09

    Nov 12

  • Why go pro

    In a recent blog, I wrote about my experience presenting my work to a group of photographers in New Delhi (India.) I was particularly interested in figuring out which concerns are unique to Indian photographers and which are universal among photographers. This week, I am thinking about a universal question I get no matter where in the world speak, which is “how do I become a professional photographer.” Pondering that question among Indians made me wonder if something about their experience, their culture and their economy might spur a uniquely Indian answer.

    19

    Oct 12

  • Egregious rights-grabbing photo contests

    There are some days I feel like I live in some parallel universe. I use neither of the two major camera brands. I watch almost no television. I take public transportation rather than owning my own car. I could go on listing the ways that I am slowly ebbing out of the mainstream. A new and insidious trend has developed among photo competitions which looks like it will push me further and further into that other, parallel universe.

    05

    Oct 12

  • Lessons from the newest Olympus Visionaries

    I have been using Olympus cameras pretty much since I “went digital” in 2003. I have formally been a member of the Olympus “Visionary” program for 18 months, although I have been working with them informally a lot longer.  Olympus recently announced an expanded roster of Visionaries. I read the list of the photographers who are newly affiliated with Olympus and like any good teacher I said to myself, is there a teachable moment in there?

    28

    Sep 12

  • Judging the Wedding Photojournalism competition

    I was recently asked to to be one of four judges to pick the winners in the quarterly competition of the The Wedding Photojournalist Association. As I was looking at the work, I was reminded how I had judged the same competition six years ago, before I was blogging regularly. During this round of judging, I was keeping notes to share with the organization and the competitors. Naturally, I thought of turning those notes into this blog entry.

    24

    Aug 12

  • The business side of workshop teaching

    In my last blog entry, I wrote about how interns/teaching assistants can maximize the opportunities that such professional opportunities can offer them. Since then I have received a few comments and queries based on what I wrote (including two that are at the bottom of that blog entry.) This week I want to answer another professional development question, in this case about photography workshops, which I saw posted in a forum. It was one of those rare questions that I see on line which I actually feel qualified to answer.

    17

    Aug 12

  • Two dogs

    I was on the other end of the camera recently, for the first time in a long, long time and it was a fascinating experience.  Being “on camera” is not something I do very often, so I was bit wary. Although the resulting images looked good (at least to me,) the entire process from start to finish was as interesting as the final result. A photographer being photographed! If that’s not the start of a good blog entry, I am not much of a blogger.

    16

    Mar 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 old fashioned way….

    I am well aware that the media world as we know it is moving to the web and that social media is fast becoming THE media channel of choice. Something popped in my e-mail box recently from the web, via a social media channel that nearly knocked me out of my chair. It was not some incredible image or fancy animation, though I see plenty of those on the web these days. It was actually a text-based promotion and what it said left me dumbfounded. It was a reminder that words and especially the message are more important than the delivery channel.

    13

    Jan 12

  • Surviving and Thriving as a Professional Photographer

    In last week’s blog explored how I came understand and even embrace a couple guiding ideas about making a living as a photographer. The first of those is to accept (or even ideally embrace) the fact that what I do as a professional photographer exists within an ever changing, constantly shifting framework. Change is a constant and so I simply have to accept that. The second insight is that, for me, institutional affiliations, external validations of my skills and conventional certifications are not that much use in my own photography. That works for me. It may not be the same for other. With those two ideas in mind, this week I will offer some thinking points for any professional photographer (or professional photographer in the making) who is looking at the current business of photography and asking themselves, where can I fit in?

    11

    Mar 11

  • Should I become a Certified Professional Photographer

    I have worked in and around photography almost my entire working life. I took a few short detours away from my beloved medium, but those went nowhere fast. A recent email prompted me to look back over my career for insights to share with the photographer who wrote me. Looking back, I noted two important trends, lessons I wish I knew way back when I was starting out, but I did not. I am heartened by the thought that at least I can explore and explain those ideas now, for others to learn from.

    04

    Mar 11

  • Does the photography world need more ‘pros’

    I tell my students, especially those who ask me questions outside of the classroom setting, that there are group questions and there are individual questions. The former being something that when answered in front of the whole class will benefit the entire group, especially those students who will learn from my answer, even if they have yet to articulate the question. The latter usually are more individual queries and are often best answered one-on-one. They are more typically “what is the meaning of life” kind of questions. One of the students in my photo-essay class in Singapore recently asked me what seemed like an “individual” question. As soon as I started thinking about (and writing to answer her, I realized it was really a group question (and this blog is the overdue group answer.)

    31

    Dec 10

  • Open sourcing the business side of photography (part two of two)

    In the first part of this two-part entry, I explored old and new models for information sharing information on the best practices in the business of photography. Last week, I “framed “the question and gave some useful examples of open sourcing of business information. This week, I will do my part by going into my business model, making my own small contribution to the process of open sourcing the business side of photography.

    05

    Nov 10

  • Open sourcing the business side of photography (part one of two)

    A friend recently posted a thought-provoking comment about one of my September blog posts on The Wells Point site. The blog entry was titled: “Going pro vs doing photography for love, not money.” One question he raised in his comment was so good that I wrote him back, saying I would answer him in a blog post. So here goes.

    29

    Oct 10

  • Why photograph for money?

    I have been reading many recent blog entries, across the web, talking about the changing business of commercial photography, now that digital imaging has “democratized” photography. Most of the blogs are talking about things like the wisdom of “going pro,” the hurdles to overcome in order to do that and various important thinking points in building a photography business. These are all VERY important questions and I am glad to know someone is pondering them in order to spur a much-needed dialogue on the subject. I have yet to read the blog post I have long wanted to read on that same subject. That would be titled something like: “Why photograph for money?” Since no one else has written that blog, I am going to try to do that myself.

    08

    Oct 10

  • Defining my own place in photography

    It is mid-September, which for me means the beginning of my working year. During the summer that just ended, like most recent summers, I certainly worked hard, but I also relaxed a good bit. So, now I am starting my busiest season of September to June. That is when I travel the most for work, teach most of my workshops, give most of my presentations, make most of my stock photos and do most of my assignments. I have been planning out the next nine months or so for the last year and a half. I am aware that in this age of last minute planning, this much advance planning seems counter-intuitive. But for me, such long-term planning allows me to get as close as possible to achieving most, if not all of my goals. Defining those goals has been a long process, as has been learning to manage my time in order to achieve them. That long (and continuing) journey is the subject of this week’s blog entry.

    24

    Sep 10

  • Going pro vs doing photography for love, not money

    I make my living as a professional photographer. I initially believed that the designation “professional” meant that my photographs were so good that people would part with their hard-earned money to own, publish or see my work. Digital photography has prompted me to rethink that idea a good bit. Today, millions of new images are created weekly and the perceived value of those images is spiraling downward. A couple recent e-mails from student and the democratization of photography caused by the digital imaging have contributed to that reconsideration. The thought process that I went through as I pondered this question is the heart of this week’s blog entry.

    17

    Sep 10

  • Hastening the demise

    Regular readers know that I often write about how rapidly changing technology is killing off various markets for professional photographers. I am concerned about this for selfish reasons, since I am a commercial photographer. I am also concerned for the next generation of photographers, wondering which photographic disciplines will be left for them to actually make money working in. If my recent experience is any indication, the future, with fewer and fewer financially viable market for pros is already here. I should know since I personally just hastened the demise of one viable market for commercial photography.

    05

    Jul 10

  • The end of the photography world as we know it

    The philosophical riddle, “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” has become the starting point of many jokes. It also raises important questions regarding observation and how we establish/define reality. While a physicist can empirically (and easily) prove that yes, a noise is made, the philosopher is less sure about what is thruth. A recent article in the New York Times, and especially the reaction to it, reminded me of this philosophical question.

    02

    Apr 10

  • November grab bag of resources

    November is upon us! With October ending, I have new web resources to share. The way I work is that as I see something on the web that I find interesting, I drop it into a Word document titled “New_In_Process.” When the end of the month rolls around and/or I have enough items to share it becomes a blog entry, like this.

    06

    Nov 09

  • Philadelphia vs New York in baseball (and photography)

    Professional baseball’s World Series is underway and the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the New York Yankees. Having lived in both Philadelphia and New York, I know just which team I am rooting for! My experience in each place, as a resident and as a photographer, strongly shapes my team loyalty.

    02

    Nov 09

  • What can the assistant bring to the photographer?

    When I wrote the recent post on “Group questions versus individual questions,” I was obviously writing about that topic. But, I was also using the process of writing to clarify my own thinking on that subject. As I started to answer a query from a student in the Fotovision class that I just finished in California, I ended up similarly clarifying my own thinking on another topic.

    25

    Sep 09

  • The executive portrait, a.k.a.,”the five minute drill”

    This podcast goes on location with me as I make an executive portrait.

    23

    Sep 09

  • Why photographers need editors

    There are numerous aphorisms about what separates the serious/successful photographer from the amateurs/posers. Great quotes, such as: “Hobby photographers worry about equipment; Professional photographers worry about money; Master photographers worry about light” are already out there. In this blog entry, I propose to add one more to the list.

    18

    Sep 09

  • Inside the travelling camera bag of one photographer (me!)

    This podcast goes inside my traveling camera bag to show you all the gear I carry when I am traveling

    26

    Aug 09

  • A big, what is the meaning of life, kind of a question

    A former student/intern wrote me with a big, “what is the meaning of life” kind of a question. The process of answering her ended up becoming something of a dialogue within myself about photography and “meaning” for me. After I sorted things out in my own thinking, I wrote her an answer I could also use as a blog posting.

    24

    Aug 09

  • A poignant reminder of the brevity of our lives

    In my last blog post, I was responding to an aspiring photographer’s query on how to advance his career. That got me to thinking about the career paths of photographers, including, but not limited to my own. I went on to update my knowledge of the career path of another photographer that I started out working along side of a couple decades ago. Reading about him, I was poignantly reminded of life’s brevity….

    03

    Aug 09

  • An aspiring photographer wrote me…

    An aspiring photographer wrote me: “What advice might you give me on how to find opportunities (no matter how small), where I might find some interest in my work, or how to best focus my efforts.” Such a question leaves me wary because answering it takes away from what little time I have left between earning a living as a photographer and nurturing this site. As I pondered how to answer him, I realized the answer was really another blog post in the making.

    31

    Jul 09

  • Outsourcing and Cost-Benefit Analysis

    Before you skip this entry or fall asleep trying to read it because those two economics terms, please read on. Both of these are things all of us do every day in our ordinary routines. When it comes to their businesses, serious photographers, whether established or aspiring professionals, definitely need to think clearly about outsourcing and cost-benefit analysis.

    26

    Jun 09

  • Frequent Flyer (Part Two:) Commuting for personal and creative purposes

    I fly a lot for work, like most photographers.  I initially commuted for personal reasons like most people do. I wanted to be with my family as much as possible, while I was working on projects that seemed to always be “somewhere else.”  Eventually commuting became an integral part of my creative process as a photographer. This blog post is an argument for the idea that most photographers who work on long-term projects should consider building commuting into their creative processes.

    19

    Jun 09

  • Frequent Flyer (Part One:) Before and After Digital

    Like most photojournalists, I fly a lot for work. My experiences flying (both good and bad) can be divided into two periods, pre-digital and post digital. “Going digital” has had obvious benefits technologically, but also unanticipated benefits socially, especially when I am traveling.

    15

    Jun 09

  • Photographer’s Daily To Do List

    I wish I could say I wrote the following photographer’s daily to do list, but I did NOT. The Ohio photographer, George Remington, wrote it. You can see his work at: http://www.georgeremington.com Read the list carefully, to begin to get a better sense of all the things involved in being a professional photographer.

    08

    Jun 09

  • Thoughts on web sites for photographers

    A friend asked me about web sites and I got to thinking about my own web site.  I considered how it evolved from a coding disaster, to a nice try, and finally to the real thing.  My path, with all its ups and downs, may be instructive for other photographers thinking about their existing (or) future web sites.

    30

    Mar 09

  • My “brief stint” as a fashion photographer

    I was reading an interesting article in The New York Times about the Presidential dress code.  Barack Obama’s recent choice to be photographed without his suit jacket in the Oval Office was front-page news. It rang a bell and then I remembered how another President’s fashion choices changed my life as a photographer.

    02

    Feb 09

  • One photographer’s career path

    This podcast explores my career path, from student photographer to established professional. As I tell my story, I show photographs from the many phases of my career.

    28

    Jan 09

  • The questions I would ask any accomplished photographer.

    If I could corner an accomplished photographer in a bar and ask them anything, the questions I would ask are not the ones you might expect. They have little to do with the camera brand they use, the paper they print on or the bag they carry.

    05

    Jan 09

  • Important things to know about the business of photography

    If it seems like I am obsessed with the business of photography, I am.  That is mostly because I make my living as a photographer so the general state of the photography market interests (and impacts) me directly.  However, I am also interested on a more philosophical level.

    29

    Dec 08

  • The Internet is grand, isn’t it?

    I was struggling as I tried not to write one more blathering post along the lines of “Ain’t the internet grand?” After pummeling myself about that for a while, I gave up, so here goes.

    22

    Dec 08

  • What every photographer should know about model releases

    Model releases seem to be the source of more confusion than almost any other aspect of photography for aspiring (and established) professionals. I am asked about them during every class or presentation that I give. The irony is that model releases are remarkably simple.

    05

    Dec 08

  • Doing it for money

    Here are a few more great resources on the business of photography for those interested in “doing it for money.”

    13

    Oct 08

  • Model Release issues

    I am regularly asked when a Model Release is needed.

    26

    Sep 08

  • Lists of awards, prizes or grants

    There is a new blog attempting to “bring together a listing of all the awards, prizes or grants which are given in the various fields of arts.”

    22

    Sep 08

  • Business Resources

    Probably because I make my living as a photographer, I talk a lot about the business side of photography.

    01

    Sep 08