Allen Mowery is a lifestyle photographer, pseudo-philosopher, and wannabe documentarian killing time amidst the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him. You can check out his work on his website or follow along on Facebook, Twitter (@allenmowery), and 500px.

Documenting War: Matthew Brady on the American Battlefield

While the American Civil War was not the first armed conflict to be photographed, it was by far the most bloody and gruesome up to that point. Considered by many to be the father of photojournalism, Matthew Brady was a studio photographer in New York who began cashing in at the outbreak of the war by specifically marketing portraits to families whose sons were leaving with no guarantee of returning home.

"Havoc". Effect of a 32lb. shell from the 2nd. Mass. Heavy Artillery, Fredericksburg,Va.

“Havoc”. Effect of a 32lb. shell from the 2nd. Mass. Heavy Artillery, Fredericksburg,Va.

Eventually, Brady secured permission from President Lincoln himself to travel to the battlefields with the express purpose of documenting the conflict. Armed with a daguerreotype and portable darkroom, he set out to immortalize the realities of a war that not only shaped the course of American history but, de facto, the course of modern history. Brady’s exhibits and galleries, often filled with graphic images of rotting corpses on the battlefield, brought the realities of war to the home front for the mostly-untouched North. [Read more...]

The Misconception of Perception – Documenting the Gap Between What We See and What Is Real

It began with living in the real world, a place that drives me to perpetual curiosity. Humans are a fascinating study, even for the layman like myself. These subservient minions of biology seem hardwired for utter chaos, and, like receiving an ambulance dispatch to a freshman sorority at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, not even God Himself can predict what you will see next.

Little-known fact: In a previous life (before a wife and kids), I was one of those people they would call out to pick up the drunken pieces after a college bash. But, it wasn’t all fun and games…there were also those times of trying everything in my power to revive a loved one who just died in my hands as their family screamed in anguish around me. But that all seems so long ago…

The cynical phrase, “Nothing is as it seems,” rings especially true. As humans, we naturally perceive what we want to perceive, and, no matter how much we sometimes like to convince ourselves we’re being truly objective or non-judgemental, we are constantly making subconscious judgement calls throughout our daily life. [Read more...]

Capture First-Person Video of Your Shoots with a DIY Hot Shoe Adapter

diy-hot-shoe-adapter-titleI am slothful. I am impatient. And, above all else, I am cheap…a beautiful trifecta that led me to this little project.

For the longest time, I have been wanting a way to easily capture point-of-view (POV) footage of my shoots as a way to document the exact moment an image is taken. This serves a variety of functions ranging from satiating my own vanity to allowing me to show others the “big picture” that eventually became a final image.

Essentially, I wanted something like this adapter from B&H that would allow me to attach a small camera to my hot shoe for documenting a shoot. However, I never really felt like buying one, buying one would require me to wait for it to arrive (like it was going to be THAT much longer than the year I’ve already sat on this), and, why buy something you can make yourself, right? So, I set about pulling odds and ends I had laying around to make my dream finally come true! ::snickers with excitement:: [Read more...]

Fast & Curious: GoPro captures biker’s near-death collision

jack-sanderson-bike-crash-titlePerhaps it can be said that I simply like to toy with death a little less than the average person, but you can never accuse biker Jack Sanderson of that. While out for a relaxing, spring-time ride (okay, so he’s weaving across both lanes of traffic at high speeds on very winding roads, and I’m totally confused as to which vehicles are coming or going), the 21-year-old Knutsford, Cheshire resident passed two other bikers, dropped around a turn, and missed a potentially-deadly 60mph head-on collision with an oncoming car by inches, flying off the road and tumbling 40 feet down an embankment. [Read more...]

Freelensing: Un-Focus To Tell a More Dynamic Story

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So often we are distracted by what we see, sucked in by that which is right in front of us. Each day can be a battle of not missing the forest for the trees, and losing track of the big picture, both metaphorically and literally, is a demon to which we frequently fall prey. But, life is as much about the unseen as it is the seen…it is more honest to say that it is what’s lurking in the shadows that truly defines us rather than what the world around us seems to see.

This concept, when considered in photography, is as much philosophical as it is visual. There are thousands of tutorials on how to maintain a sharp focus or isolate a subject or achieve that perfect image. But, life, which is the literal reflection of art, is not sharp or clearly-defined or nice and perfect. It’s not! What if more contemporary photography chose to focus on the imperfect, the beauty in the flaws, and creation by suggestion rather than destruction by defining? [Read more...]

Automate your creative life with IFTTT Actions

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We all love automation throughout our daily lives. Like, we LOVE automation…in everything. The less we have to actually do, the happier we tell ourselves we’ll be. (While I would love to digress into an ongoing monologue about human psychology, this is neither the time nor the place…) In the busy world of photographers, artists, and creative professionals, automation can, indeed, be a huge asset in allowing us to better manage our time, get more accomplished, and geek out a little along the way.

IFTTT.com (standing for “IF This, Then That”) is the perfect (and FREE) solution for a variety of facets in our lives, whether it’s just managing our day-to-day activities, streamlining our creative process, or super-charging our social media effectiveness. As the name suggests, IFTTT is a cause-and-effect, trigger-based platform for accomplishing more with less effort. [Read more...]

Facing the Demons of Camera Shame

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He is one of the most iconic American photographers, an innovator in his time responsible for aiding in the awareness that led to the preservation of some of our most spectacular natural treasures. He has left millions awestruck by the imagery he captured and inspired millions more to aspire to follow in his steps. His skills were commissioned by government agencies, and the value of his original prints stretches well into the millions. He is Ansel Adams, and his camera was an outdated, antiquated piece of rubbish.

I am certain most, if not all, photographers have experienced it at one time or another: the feeling that you and your skills are made inferior by the equipment you are using, a condition commonly known as camera shame. We shrink back into the shadows around other photographers with “more-pro” gear than us, we avoid conversations with photographers who are knowledgeable about equipment, we miss or turn down opportunities out of embarrassment, and we find ourselves tripping over ourselves in the pursuit of “the next great thing” in hopes of being able to hold our heads high in public. [Read more...]

6 Photography Lessons From a Combat Sniper

6 Photography Lessons From a Combat Sniper

We see them in movies, we watch History Channel specials about them, and they are the things of which legends are made. Surprisingly, no, I’m not referring to UFOs. We’re talking about combat snipers, those lethal ghosts in face paint shifting in the shadows.

I began contemplating the possible parallels between photographers and these men of mystery, and, as I have rarely ever fallen into a category that the military deems as useful for more than civilian life, I sat down one evening with a friend and former U.S. Army sniper to get the lowdown on what life as a precision shooter is really like. As we sat around a crackling campfire beneath a mesh camo canopy, I was intrigued and somewhat surprised as Andy (because heroes literally care that little about protecting their identity) recounted stories of combat missions in the mountains of Afghanistan. But, as we continued to talk, I began to see more and more the applicable parallels between these elusive soldiers and those of us in the metaphorical “trenches” of photography. (There’s really no comparison, I know…) [Read more...]