BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘photographers

Books for Your Library: ‘Seen Behind the Scene’

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Photo books are a great addition to any library. As photographers, we are constantly searching for new ideas and are always interested in seeing concepts-done-well. Here’s a suggestion to add to your library …

Mary Ellen Mark has the ideal job for those who love both still photography and movies. Since the 1960s, she has worked on more than 100 film sets as a special stills photographer, making thousands of documentary photographs of life behind the scenes rather than the posed and polished photographs used for marketing.
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Her book, “Seen Behind the Scene,” is a collection of the best of those images. Her photography has taken her to the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” She has also photographed behind the set of “Tootsie,” “Gandhi,” and “Showgirls.”

She continues to work documenting life behind the scenes. She has worked on “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and worked on “Moulin Rouge.”

Her work also documents the rising power of “celebrity.” In her early career, she had full access to actors on the set. Now, with actors surrounded by an entourage of publicists, agents and assistants and a schedule that is airtight, her portrait work has become increasingly more difficult.

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Q&A: Answering Viewer Questions

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I have received several e-mails asking various photography-related questions since the beginning of this Website. Here’s a few of the more common questions and my best answer. Thanks for submitting and I hope this helps.

Question 1: Which is better? Nikon or Canon?
This is one of those great debate topics some photographers like to get into with one another. It’s probably akin to the great Ford-Chevy, Toyota-Honda, Yankees-Mets (Yankees, no doubt) arguments heard at any watering hole in the U.S. So here’s the lowdown truth: Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sigma all make good products. It’s up to YOU to decide what you want from your camera and how much you want to pay. Are you a student who aspires to go pro? Then may I suggest starting out with a Nikon or Camera body and start building a collection of quality lenses. Are you a hobbyist who wants a great camera without breaking the bank? Olympus, Pentax and Sigma may be the way to go. It’s all about assessing your NEEDS and your WANTS then factor in how much you want to pay.

Question 2: Should I Consider a Career in Photography?
The short answer is, unfortunately, a resounding NO. It’s a tough market out there and it’s only going to get tighter.
If you’re a student, let me make a few suggestions. First, major in field in which you stand a better chance of finding employment. Computers aren’t going out of style anytime soon and neither is the folks who program, install, troubleshoot, repair and network them. Also, the healthcare field is booming. Registered nurses, respiratory therapists and X-ray technicians (sorry, I’m old … radiologic technicians) are great careers where you can make very good money.

You can ALWAYS take photography classes to help build your knowledge and experience but by majoring in another field, you’ll have a pretty good safety net for the fallback.

Here’s another tip: Schools that specialize in art education, while they offer killer classes and great opportunities, are VERY EXPENSIVE.
Here’s a scenario to ponder: If you enroll in a community college in your hometown and major in one of the allied health fields, you can expect to pay an average of $3,000 per year for school if you live and eat at home. For a two-year degree, that’s $6,000, but let’s be real generous and say $10,000 to cover everything. Once you graduate, say with a degree in respiratory therapy, your average starting salary will be in the $30,000/year range.

Now, tuition at a particular school of design I am well acquainted with, for ONE YEAR, is about $33,000. It’s a 4-year program leaving you with a bill of $132,000 and who knows if you’ll get a job.

If you’re serious about a career in photography, that’s great and by all means pursue it. But unless you’re living off a trust fund or mommy and daddy are willing to foot the bill, then be wise and have a safety net in place. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did. And here’s a rule of thumb: If you’re making more money from your photography than you are your day job, then consider making the switch to full-time pro.

Question 3: Should I Spend More Money on the Camera Body or the Lenses?
This is another one of those age-old questions. OK, probably not “age-old” but at least one that gets batted around quite often.
My opinion? Spend more on glass. Lenses aren’t going out of style. A good piece of glass is a good piece of glass and I have lenses made in the 1960s that are still needle-sharp today. Camera bodies, especially now in the digital age, come and go out of style. More megapixels, better buffers, better sensors, are always going to outdate your current camera body. A good lens, however, isn’t very likely to become outdated after you purchase it.

Question 4: Manufacturer Lens or Third-Party Lens?
This one, for me, is a tough one. As a rule, I always say go with the manufacturers lenses. Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus all make great lenses.

On the other hand, I’ve been quite pleased with the Sigma lenses I’ve used. The pro-level lenses are very nice and I can’t complain about any Sigma lens I’ve ever shot with.
So, I’ll adapt my philosophy to this: Manufacturer or Sigma.

Question 5: Do I REALLY Need to Know About Shutter Speed and F-Stops?
Well, the short answer here is “it depends.” Are you just interested in making snapshots? If so, set the camera on automatic mode and go have yourself a ball. If you’re interested in getting more polished or “professional-looking” images, then yeah, you need to know a thing-or-two about how a camera works and what all the settings do.

The good news is, it’s easy to learn. Photography is about more than shutter speeds and f-values. It’s about composing images and being creative. Once you learn the mechanics of photography, you can easily learn to apply them to make images that shine.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Thanks for your questions. If you happen to have a question I can kinda-sorta answer, drop me an e-mail at questions@brickhousephotoschool.com. I hope to hear from you soon!

Written by jeremyparce

May 2, 2009 at 5:15 am

Places to Go on the Web – Great Photo Sites Issue 16

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I love photography. Not only do I love to take photographs, I love to talk, teach, and explore photography. I also like to look at great photographs to get ideas on how I can be a better photographer.
If you have any interest in digital photography, then a visit to some of these sites is worth your time. Looking at great photos will help make your own photos better because you can get ideas, tips and see what and how others are photographing their subjects. As your cruise Cyberspace, spend a few minutes looking at these Websites:

Roy Toft: If you enjoy wildlife photography, the Roy Toft’s galleries are sure to please. Toft’s images focus on not just the wildlife specimen, but the characteristics that make the subject unique. His images have been featured in National Geographic, Audubon, and Discover magazine. In addition to his photography, Toft conducts photographic workshops in the area of wildlife imaging.

Shen Wei: Shen Wei’s project “Almost Naked” employs a great use of composition to convey emotion. In his artistic statement for the project, Wei says, “growing up in Mainland China, I was brought up strictly and conservatively, any untraditional and unconventional ideas of life-style can sometimes lead to misconceptions. I was numbed about the ideas of intimacy, sexuality and love. Since I moved to the United States, my needs for self-expression has grown. However, my curiosity about how others deal with their identity in what is a fairly open society like America has increased. As a result I started to photograph people and life in America. The goal of my projects are to raise the question about human nature, about emotions, feelings, desire, instinct and identity, to reveal things that you can feel it, that are unexplainable but yet still solid. I am fascinated with exploring the complexity of emotional nakedness and psychological connection/disconnection, as it is often expressed not specifically but explicitly.”

Carlos and Jason Sanchez: The Sanchez brothers have a unique way of photographing the world. The Montreal-based photographers have worked on numerous projects utilizing their unique – and sometimes shocking – use of composition.

The Great American Influence: Roy Stryker

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Roy Stryker may not be known for his camera work, but he is probably one of the most influential people in documentary photography.

Roy Stryker

Roy Stryker

Stryker, an economist by training, was the head of the Farm Security Administration’s Historical Section – a U.S. government department that was created during The New Deal. The FSA employed such noted documentary photographers as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and John Collier Jr. to name a few.

Born November 5, 1893 in Great Bend, Kansas, Stryker was the son of a farmer. He served in the infantry in World War I and when he returned home, he studied economics at Columbia University. He was asked to stay at the school once he graduated to teach economics with his mentor, Rexford Tugwell. The two collaborated on a book, “American Economic Life,” which used an extensive amount of photographs to highlight topics. Even in his lectures, Stryker used photographs from his collection to help bring a “real face” to the theories he was teaching.

Stryker followed his mentor to Washington D.C. as Tugwell was serving on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Brain Trust. Tugwell was appointed as the head of the FSA and made Stryker the head of the Historical Section – the section appointed to document the FSAs initiatives.

Stryker assembled one of the greatest teams of documentary photographers with a single task: document the effects of the Great Depression on the people in the hardest hit areas of the United States.

Although not a photographer himself, Stryker understood the importance of photography as a tool to both document and to influence. With his work with the FSA, Stryker was a singular figure in building one of the greatest collections of documentary images in U.S. history.

Books for Your Library: ‘African Air’

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Photo books are a great addition to any library. As photographers, we are constantly searching for new ideas and are always interested in seeing concepts-done-well. Here’s a suggestion to add to your library …

“African Air,” a photo essay by George Steinmetz, offers a unique, bird’s-eye view of Africa through the lens of an award-winning National Geographic photographer.
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Steinmetz, who has been a contributing photographer to National Geographic and GEO magazines for more than 20 years, takes to the air in this book, flying sometimes thousands of feet in the air with the aid of a motorized paraglider (think parachute with a motor).

This book features amazing panoramic photos taken in more than 14 African countries. From urban sprawls to remote villages and miles upon miles of seemingly endless desert, Steinmetz offers the viewer a unique look of the African landscape.

Since 1986, Steinmetz has completed 18 major photo essays for National Geographic magazine and 25 stories for GEO magazine. Born in Beverly Hills in 1957, he graduated with a degree in geophysics from Stanford University. He began his photography career after hitchhiking through Africa for 28 months.

Places to Go on the Web – Great Photo Sites Issue 15

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I love photography. Not only do I love to take photographs, I love to talk, teach, and explore photography. I also like to look at great photographs to get ideas on how I can be a better photographer.
If you have any interest in digital photography, then a visit to some of these sites is worth your time. Looking at great photos will help make your own photos better because you can get ideas, tips and see what and how others are photographing their subjects. As your cruise Cyberspace, spend a few minutes looking at these Websites:

Jehad Nga: Jehad Nga’s use of light and shadow is simply amazing. Born in Smith Center, Kansas, he discovered photography while a student at UCLA in 2002. Between 2001-2002, he traveled the Middle East taking medical volunteer positions and eventually trained to be an EMT while interning at Magnum Photos. In 2003, he traveled to Iraq to cover the U.S.-led invasion and in the summer of 2003 he began working in Africa. Since 2004, he has been based in East Africa. His client list includes Marie Claire, Newsweek, Time Magazine and Human Rights Watch.

Chris Rainier: Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His photography of sacred places and indigenous peoples have appeared in Time, Life, National Geographic publications, Conde Nast Traveler and publications of the International Red Cross. He was included in the American Photo Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People Working in Photography Today” list.

Michele Laurita
: LA-based photographer, cinematographer and director Michele Laurita started in photography more than 10 years ago shooting for music groups and album covers. She has photographed – to name a few – Ben Affleck, Selma Hayek and Nicholas Cage. Her client list includes Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Rolling Stone and Modern Bride.

Books for Your Library: ‘Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux’

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Photo books are a great addition to any library. As photographers, we are constantly searching for new ideas and are always interested in seeing concepts-done-well. Here’s a suggestion to add to your library …

Stuart Franklin’s book, “Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux,” is a classic look at the impact humans have on the environment. The landscapes featured by Franklin, a photographer who also is the current president of the Magnum Agency, documents Europe, which is in the middle of an economic crisis and a growing environmental crisis.
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This book brings together images that offer a true testament to the growing environmental challenge that faces the world. The images aren’t “pushy” or “preachy” but offer irrefutable proof that a solution to environmental issues needs to be found.

Franklin, born in 1956 in London, left school at the age of 16 and went on to study photography at the West Surrey College of Art and Design. His photographic career started with work for the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph Magazine.

In 1989, he took his widely-recognized and acclaimed images of the freedom demonstration in Tianenmen Square, which ended in a massacre. His photo of a lone man defying a tank is an iconic image of that short-lived revolution. Between 1990 and 2004, he photographed about 20 stories for National Geographic Magazine.

In addition to his photographic career, Franklin earned a doctor of philosophy degree in geography from the University of Oxford. He has won the World Press Photo Award, the Tom Hopkinson Award and the Christian Aid Award for Humanitarian Photography.

This book is available at Amazon.com.