Lack of Inspiration

17 02 2009

Winter Walk, originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

It was somewhere around 15-22 degrees Fahrenheit that day. I was planning on doing some portraits in Central Park, but my “date” couldn’t make it. I decided because it was such a well lit day to hang out anyway and see if I could catch some good shots.

It had been awhile since I had just tried to capture landscapes and scenary, and I won’t pretend like it was easy. I felt mediocre at best, couldn’t put anything into frame – it was just rough on my ego. Couple that with the frigid temperature, and well inspiration was clearly absent. I may have taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 shots, and luckily I did walk away with a few I could be proud of.

The picture above happened when I was really justt rying to capture some depth by focusing on the shrubs with the majority of the frame lending itself to the walkway. However, a group of young people walked onto the ice and started to trek down the path. I snapped about 10 images making sure i blurred the passerbys on purpose. I thought it would add to the effect. And it did – I have a picture that served its purpose – wintery imagery, depth, and a cool feeling reminiscent of the cold climate.

I learned two lessons from this adventure. 1) When you don’t see anything you want to take pictures of – take the pictures anyway. Frame and re-frame just keep taking pictures until your brain kickstarts or you get a lucky moment. 2) Never ever choose to not shoot just because of a cancellation. I was already on location with gear – worse thing I could have done would be do go home after complaining to myself how cold it was. Keep shooting and never cancel on yourself, a sure fire way to come out with at least one photo to smile about.


Poetry and Photography: Take #1

27 01 2009

No More., originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

I’ve have decided to start writing again, poetry, prose, whatever moves me when I finish processing a shot. I used to write a lot more, and it only seems write not to abandon the craft…especially when the arts are incredibly interwined and touch the human emotion centers in many of the same ways. Here is my second poem but first blog posting to start 2009:

“No More”

There is a calm before the storm, but a calm follows swiftly in its wake,
The lull of destruction swirls with the unknown reality of limbo…
Will it end, will I move on, what do I do,

A tongue-tied heart and a teeming kettle of a brain,
an inability to silence the hurt, nor to communicate the joy…
yes, joy — jealousy brought about this pain,
never again and no more — I will not feel like this.

The world may ignore, but I weeped for you,
to have witnessed, was to have felt,
to have listened, was to have fallen with,
and to have recovered was to love…one day they will weep too.

The Subjectivity of Art/ Photography

10 07 2008

Subjectivity can work for you and against you. Photography is a passion of mine, love it with all my heart. It releases me, teaches me, helps me appreciate the everyday things many pass by…it does so many things that let’s just leave it at that. And part of this art passion is the ability to share with others.

I have always been a competitive guy. From varsity basketball in high school to pumping weights in the gym…even trying to date girl after girl as a young man in college. One thing about photography is that it has allowed me to be decidedly competitive. By that I mean, when I want to compete, I kick the gears in motion, and when I don’t a state of humility shrouds my mind. Humility has been my natural state for this hobby because I started “late” in the craft, and because hey, skill is relative anyway, why not appreciate the beauty that other people are experiencing through their eyes.

However, none of what I’ve said actually prepares you for all of reality’s twists and turns., the photo sharing website, has given me a chance to share my art with others, receive feedback, get rated, and discuss techniques and ideas with a multitude of talented photographers around the world. This is a blessing of technology, but it also can present some real challenges.

The picture of above is one I took of a friends tattoo. Using my 50mm f/1.4, I was able to capture the tattoo in great clarity, while blurring the surrounding picture. I got the picture home later for editing, and moved one slider in Adobe Lightroom, and this is the end result. I was instantly happy with the conclusion. It reminded me of an oil painting, illustrating some singer in a jazz night club some decades ago. When I moved that one slider and stopped, all I could think was ART! and I was happy to share this creation with the world.

After adding the photo to Flickr and dropping it in a couple of groups, I awaited feedback and ratings. Unfortunately, the reception was lukewarm. So I was instantly pissed, but not in a bad way…just didn’t understand how some people considered what they considered “Art” and then this piece received the comments it did. “The DoF is too narrow,” “I don’t get it”…etc, you can click the picture and read. I even spelled out my thoughts in the caption, but to know avail I guess.

My point in writing this blog post is not to whine or complain, but to share with the public something that you all probably realize but never think about. It is quite vexing actually…as teens we walk in to a gallery or museum, look at masterpieces and say “What the hell is that, I don’t like it.” Then we turn around as full fledged adults, walk into the same places and stare at a piece for 15 minutes, examining every angle, until we are at least confident enough to understand why people consider something a masterpiece. For the Flickr users out there reading this, there is an embedded message within this paragraph. As practitioners of our craft, we owe it to our fellow artists to think more about what he/she is trying to deliver. Don’t spend 15 minutes analyzing a piece, but also don’t be that teenage kid in the museum speed walking past art that makes you think so you can get to all the undisputed fun stuff at the end of the museum.

We live in a world where there are a lot of things that are indisputable, but those things exist only at the ends of the spectrum…and everything else is debatable. For instance, you know an ultra conservative or a neo liberal candidate, and you end up spending no time on politicians like that. All the debate happens around the candidates in the middle of the spectrum. And this is what subjectivity is made of, stuff that is in the middle of two or more varying viewpoints. Our art form yields millions and billions of new images a year, and of course, a majority of those images will be scattered amongst the middle of the spectrum where we will have fun debating and discussing. But be aware of what you are getting into and always be responsible with how you approach. Different from politics, ART is connected directly to the heart, and you never know when a certain view will hurt a fellow photog…tread lightly. Nevertheless, don’t hold back either because there is always something to learn and ways to be better…this process is just as important individually as it is collectively.

Don’t Focus on the Subject

25 06 2008

Brotherhood & Music, originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

There are tons of reasons to take portraits of people. Money and for fun rank among the highest if I had to venture a guess. This blog entry actually applies to all reasons though. I have titled it “Don’t Focus on the Subject” as an approach to becoming more artistic and creative during your portrait sessions. No matter what, you will always have a “subject” or else you won’t have an area of focus. But who is to say you can snap a couple extra photos during a job to grab some artistic photos for the portfolio.

Recently, I did a individual/group portrait session for a group of friends trying to break into the music industry. The photo above is an image of my Fraternity brother – Qui-Juan Jones. During the shoot, I was of course trying to capture all of my subjects in ways that would show who they are as musicians and people. Often times, when we have a specific intention in mind, our brains get bogged down trying to hammer out pictures within only one realm of creativity. That may have sounded confusing so I will simplify. We have a job – portraits. So we concentrate only on the face, because, well heck, the face is an important part of the portrait don’t you think? Well here is my call to shoot some extra shots and avoid the face as your subject.

Qui-Juan, as you can see, has a tattoo. I decided why not get creative with that as well. There are tons of things that one could emphasize, and you could probably snap the photo while your subject thinks you are still focused on their face. Don’t let your creativity be silenced by what you think you are limited by based on the purpose of the shoot!

Think about shots you’ve seen on sites like Flickr. Many wedding photographers take pictures of the hands (focus the big diamond ring of course!). Photographers focus on the stomach for pregnancy photos…the limbs for mom/dad and newborn…and those are just the themes that I’ve seen. All of our minds work differently, so find other things to focus on based on your subject’s individuality and unique physical characteristics. Keep the creativity in your flow, even though sometimes things seem a bit mundane.

Here are some great examples of portraiture without a clear shot of the face involved! Now get out there and try!

Reflection is a 2-Way Street (B&W) Day 45 - One Vodka down, three beers to go How to get your child to pose... Bad habit

Explore the photostreams of these photographers by clicking the pictures.

Runaway Graduate

4 05 2008

Runaway Graduate, originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

It’s that time of year – GRADUATION!!! I recently went back home to Atlanta, Georgia to see a best friend of mine graduate from Georgia Tech. We happen to both be graduating within weeks of each other, so it is definitely an exciting but bittersweet time. But what better way to save this “historic” time in our lives than to go digital and freeze some moments in time.

After the ceremony, I had my friend come by my house, and set out to take some candid graduation portraits. This is one of my favorites. I did a b&w conversion to the photo and I think it turned out great!