Let’s face it– there is a LOT of photography education out there to be had. Some of it’s great. Some of it’s good. Then some of it– a lot of it, unfortunately– is simply sub-par and not worth your time. Some of the best, though, is currently coming from a company you may not have heard of. Founded by former Monte Zucker assistant Jeff Medford, MZed (formerly Monte Zucker Photographic Education) is bringing together some of the biggest names in photography, in an effort to provide some of the best photographic education available– in person or online.
Every profession has its jargon. Each has its own language that only those within it can truly understand. Photography is no different. Part of our lexicon comes from the technical aspects of what we do, while an equally significant portion springs from the artistic side. In either case, photography is definitely one of life’s activities where it’s not just a matter of walking the walk– you also have to talk the talk. A word of caution, though, because it’s important to know that things photographers say can often mean something completely different. Choose your words carefully. Time for a short disclaimer– I’m going to be poking fun at a lot of people with this post– myself included. Every one of us has uttered at least two or three of these expressions at some point in our photographic lives. If you claim otherwise, I salute you– and have a bridge to sell you. [Read more...]
It pretty much goes without saying that virtually everything about the photography industry has gone through major changes in recent years. The cameras, the lenses, the lighting– even the bags– we are using today would seem like technical marvels to photographers from even just ten years ago. ISO capabilities have us shooting in the lowest of light. Developments in lens technology have brought the term “tack sharp” to a whole new level. Don’t even get me started on the advancements in off-camera flash. It really is an exciting time to be a photographer.
It happened again about a week ago. The Conversation. You know the one. It starts innocently enough.
“You’re a professional photographer?”
“Yes. I am.”
“Wow! That must be so exciting.”
“No, I bet you go to all sorts of cool and exciting places, and meet lots of interesting people.”
And so on and so on.
I think I feel a bit of a rant coming on.
First a little background. Something you should know about me. One of the many reasons I decided to leave the practice of law almost ten years ago was the constant adversarial nature of the beast. I thrived on it in the courtroom, but the daily incessant back-and-forth bickering was just making me miserable. Of course there were exceptions, but not enough of them to sustain my collaborative spirit. My initial reaction when I switched to full-time professional photography had me excited in a way I hadn’t been in years. I was fortunate enough to meet and get to know some truly amazing photographers– generous, creative, collaborative people who were willing to throw open the vault and share so much of themselves. The breath of fresh air was as amazing as it was refreshing. To a certain extent, however, it was also fleeting.
Let’s take a look at three photographers almost all of us know.
If you have ever shot film, you know it – the feeling you get when you sit down with that stack of prints that just came back from the lab.
The nervous anticipation: Is there anything good in here?
The initial disappointment: Flipping through the first bunch of mediocre prints….meh, meh, ohhh…nope…meh…
Then you see it – its like getting a new bike for your birthday when you’re 10: The killer shot! Yesssss!!!
If you began your career with digital, you still know it – the feeling you got when you didn’t really know what you were doing and just when you were about to give up: Bang – there is a fantastic photo staring back at you from your screen.
I have noticed recently that I don’t get that surprise of a completely unexpected great photo very often any more, or the joy that comes with it.
I mean, I have a pretty good idea how any photo I take is going to look before I take it. Sure, I still produce a massive amount of duds compared to keepers, but it is rare that I capture something completely unexpected.
So, I though I’d share the stories behind a few of my favorite accidental photos.
In the world of photography products, there aren’t many surprises. We see variations on themes. New strap styles may seek to innovate (and sometimes succeed), but when you get right down to it, they’re straps. “New and Improved” sensor cleaning systems may improve on those that came before, but it’s still a blower or a swab or an electro-static stroke of marketing genius aimed at convincing you that this next purchase is the one that’s going to put your photography over the top. I know…this all sounds a bit jaded, and maybe it is. A little. So, you can imagine how happy I was when something truly different found its way across my desk recently.
One of the questions I get a lot comes from new photographers wanting to know whether they should be working in Photoshop or Lightroom. I particularly enjoy their deer-caught-in-the-headlights look when I reply, “Both!” While it’s true that either of these incredibly powerful Adobe tools could, in theory, provide photographers with everything they need to edit their images, I really am a firm believer that a strong workflow rests on a solid foundation of both PS & LR. Having said that, though, learning just one of these applications can be a daunting task for even the most dedicated photographer. Learning two can seem insurmountable.
About a year ago I received an email with some bad news from a client.
“Dear Jeff– I just wanted to let you know that Gwen and Peter have called off their engagement and will not be getting married in September. The news comes as quite a shock to us, but Gwen claims it’s for the best and we’ve always trusted her judgment. I apologize for the short notice, but we just found out less than 48 hours ago. I would like to stop by later this week and pick up a refund of our deposit…”
There was a bit more after that, but it was just a blur. My attention was focused squarely on four words– “refund of our deposit.”
I don’t know about you, but I got into photography so I could spend my time taking photos. What I did not get into photography for was the post production, the marketing, the meetings, the consultations, the pitches, the proposals, and the networking. Or the countless hours away from my family. For that I could have kept practicing law and left photography on the shelf as a hobby. The things we do in life always look different to those on the outside looking in. Just like my non-lawyer friends were convinced that all of my courtroom appearances were worthy of a “Law & Order” script, I find that many of the non-photographers in my life have a totally warped view of what those of us who make a living with our cameras do every day. Realistically speaking, I’d have to say that maybe only ten percent of my life as a photographer is about shooting. The other ninety percent is the stuff that makes me wish I could afford a full-time assistant. For me, it comes down to the best use of my time. Does “insert activity here” take time away from shooting and/or family? If so, what I can I do to switch that around?