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January 20th, 2015

5 Fundamental Photo Tips for Aspiring Wedding and Portrait Photographers

Sponsored by NYIP

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Photos courtesy of NYIP

For wedding and portrait photographers who want to sharpen their skills, but already have a full schedule, The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) offers an online course for each specialty that covers both technical skills and business smarts. Each course is 150 hours, divided into four units, and can be completed at the student’s own pace over 18 months, with an additional six-month extension easily available as well. Instructional materials span a variety of levels of experience and creative talent, and every student is paired with a professional photographer as a mentor for personalized technical support and artistic development throughout their studies.

Lead photo mentor Chris Corradino says working with NYIP students has been “one of the most rewarding experiences of [his] professional career.” We asked him for some fundamental image-making and photography business tips:

1) To enjoy long-term business success, a strong foundation is crucial. This starts with a solid knowledge of manual exposure, the important camera features, and the language of photography. Buying more expensive gear won’t result in leap frogging the competition. No matter what piano an untrained musician sits at, they still can’t play it.

2) Don’t get bogged down in equipment. What distinguishes your photographs can’t be purchased in a store. It’s your own unique vision and perspective on the world that makes all the difference.

3) Learn the rules of composition, and then break them. Good art doesn’t necessarily come from a textbook, but rather a blend of technique and creative vision.

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4) Avoid categorizing yourself as “professional” and “amateur” or engaging in debates that seek to define these terms. A good photographer focuses on craft, not labels. The actual definition of the word amateur is “to do something for the love of.” This is the spirit that all professionals should strive to retain throughout their career.

5) Simplify your composition by eliminating distractions from the frame—unless showing more of the environment actually strengthens the overall impact of an image. For example, instead of eliminating the wedding party as the couple exits the ceremony, include them in the image.

NYIP’s wedding and portrait photography courses delve further into these key topics, as well as: setting up a business; defining your brand and visual signature; developing packages, building an online presence and marketing techniques; working with vendors, planners, videographers, and clients; the history of photographic portraiture and current photography trends; posing individuals, groups, children and pets and putting them at ease; setting up a studio; using backgrounds and a variety of lighting and lenses; working on location, and more.

Visit www.nyip.edu/courses for more information on the wedding and portrait photography courses.

January 20th, 2015

Behind Cosmo UK’s Honor Killings Protest “Cover” Photograph

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This mock-up of a Cosmopolitan UK cover features an image from a series of photographs created by artist Erin Mulvehill.

Last week a mock Cosmopolitan UK cover that sought to protest honor killings drew attention and praise online. Honor killing is a horrific practice in which family members kill one of their own, often a daughter, who is perceived to have brought shame on a family.

The Cosmo UK mock cover depicts what appears to be a woman suffocating. In images of the cover circulated by the magazine and Leo Burnett Change, the agency that designed the cover, the issue is sealed in plastic bags, completing the impression that the woman on the cover is being asphyxiated. The cover was inspired by the 2004 murder of 17-year-old British Pakistani teen Shafilea Ahmed; Ahmed’s parents suffocated her in front of her siblings for perceived offenses that included refusing an arranged marriage. Ahmed’s parents were later convicted of murder.

After several outlets reported that the design would appear on the February issue, Cosmopolitan UK clarified that the cover was just a mock-up, created as part of a campaign the magazine is working on with UK women’s rights organization Karma Nirvana. (The actual February cover featured Khloe Kardashian.)

The provenance of the photograph depicting the suffocating woman is also interesting. The black-and-white photograph used in the mock-up is part of “Underwater,” a fine-art series created by Brooklyn-based photographer Erin Mulvehill in 2009. The images in Mulvehill’s series depict women who appear to be floating underwater, many with their hands pressing out towards the viewer. (more…)

October 7th, 2014

FREE Travel Photography Video Tutorial

If you missed Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Brian Smith’s live presentation on travel photography at B&H Photo in New York City last month, you can now see it online for free. Brought to you by Sony, this inspiring and educational one-hour video is filled with stunning images, practical tips and technical advice to help you capture better travel photos. Take it from Brian, he’s traveled six continents, taken thousands of photos as a Sony Artisan of Imagery and built a stunning collection of travel photos that will motivate you to get brave and creative with your camera, especially when you travel.

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Brian Smith with the Sony a7R

Sponsored by Sony, creator of Sony Alpha-series mirrorless and DSLR cameras

September 3rd, 2014

Photojournalists Launch “Selfie Against the Death Penalty” Campaign

Documentary photographer Marc Asnin and VII Association, a non-profit organization founded by VII Photo Agency, have launched a social media campaign that advocates for the abolition of the death penalty.

The “Photographers Selfie Against the Death Penalty” campaign is part of a collaboration between Asnin’s Neverland Publications and VII Association on Final Words, a book and traveling exhibition that presents the final statements of 515 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. The aim of the project is to focus on “the humanity at the center of the death penalty in America,” the organizers said in a statement.

To participate, photographers are being asked to upload an image to the Final Words site, and to finish the statement “I stand against the death penalty because….” Among the photographers who have participated so far are Larry Fink, Rudy Archuleta, Anthony Barboza, Sim Chi Yin, and several members of the VII Photo Agency.

For full instructions for how to participate in the campaign, visit the Final Words site here.

August 22nd, 2014

Yale Research Group Launches Fascinating Search Platform for 170k FSA-OWI Images

Image caption: Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

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An image of the Photogrammar’s map tool, which visualizes the quantities of images FSA-OWI photographers made in regions around the country.

A group of researchers at Yale created “a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”

The platform, which they’re calling Photogrammar, allows people to use visual tools to search through the digitized photographs from the FSA-OWI archive, which is housed at the Library of Congress. The map tool, for instance, allows users to see the quantity of images made in regions across the United States. One can also use the map to trace the work of individual photographers such as Dorothea Lange, John Collier and Marion Post Wolcott, and see where they worked and produced the most images.

The Treemap, another visualization, uses colored blocks of different sizes to show the number of images of different types FSA-OWI photographers produced in different category topics. Users can drill down into subtopics of the category topics.

The Photogrammar also features a more traditional keyword-driven search function.

Explore the Photogrammar site here. But fair warning: it will suck you in.

Related: 14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA-OWI

May 21st, 2014

Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students

Classes in photography can be a leg up to landing a job as an assistant or getting started in the photography business, but real-world experience often teaches practical lessons not taught in photo schools. What are the important lessons photographers didn’t learn in school, that photographers found themselves scrambling to make up after college?  We recently rounded up some advice for recent graduates (published on PDNOnline). We also asked photographers David Brandon Geeting, Cody Cloud and Andrew Burkle for their perspectives.

Geeting, a Brooklyn-based editorial photographer, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and worked as a photo assistant and did other jobs before going into business for himself in 2012. Burkle, a food photographer shooting advertising for national brands, graduated from Ohio University in 2009, and worked as a photo assistant in Chicago before opening a studio last year in Cleveland with photographer David Hagen. Cody Cloud shoots fashion in Los Angeles with his partner, Julia Galdo. He earned his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2005.

Here’s what they told us about the things they wished they’d learned in school, and their advice for new graduates.

What skills do you wish you’d learned while you were in school–but didn’t– that would have helped you most when you got out?

David Brandon Geeting: I wish I would have taken more studio classes and learned more lighting techniques. I shoot a lot of work in the studio now, and everything I do is totally self-taught. When I was in school, I just walked around with a 35mm point-and-shoot camera and made C-prints of off-kilter moments and funny trash on the street. I had no plans of shooting commercially – I thought I would make a living as an artist. I thought I’d be having solo exhibitions and publishing weird books. That is still the goal, but in the meantime I am doing the best I can to survive with self-taught techniques that I could have learned before graduating.

Andrew Burkle: I really wish I had gotten more input on how to price myself and bid on jobs. The problem was that we learned invoicing but not bidding, [which] is a hard skill to teach and standardize. In the beginning I was probably under bidding and getting work, but vastly under valuing myself as well as inadvertently lowering the standard cost for other bidding photographers.  I think that is a common young photographers mistake though. It is an important step to start pricing yourself correctly.  Even if that means losing out on some work.  If you know your work has value, you have to stick to your price.

Cody Cloud: I wish we would have learned more technical lighting and more Photoshop. Where I went to school they didn’t emphasize the technical side, and coming out of school, my [Photoshop] skills weren’t up to par for jumping into the real world. I assisted a long time. That’s how I learned to light. Julia [Galdo] does the Photoshop so the partnership works out good.

What advice do you wish you had gotten (or heeded) before you graduated?

Geeting: The best piece of advice I got in school was from Joseph Maida, my junior seminar teacher. The thing he said that stuck with me was, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” which is actually a Robert Frost quote, but it applies so well to photography. I didn’t pay much attention to these words at that time – I was too busy being a self-righteous college kid – but they were always in the back of my mind. Today, I might have a pre-conceived idea before I start shooting, and even if that idea is illustrated exactly as I had imagined in my mind, there’s a good chance that it won’t be very interesting to look at. If you are not surprised by what you are shooting as you are shooting it, no one else will be. Being able to adapt is so important. Leaving room for change and happy accidents is something I have built my practice on.

Burkle: I learned this eventually on my own: Very few [people], if any, will appreciate you. You have to work hard, work often and keep your head up. You will most likely be poor for a while. However, once you’ve proven to people that you are hard working, persistent, talented and easy to work with, the world will start to take notice.  This process can take a few months or even a few years.  Unfortunately, your degree in photography is for your own peace of mind.  The photo world estimates your worth in real-world experience.

What professional advice do you have for students who are just graduating?

Geeting: GET A BLOG. And update it every day. Make something every day. If you really love what you’re doing, it shouldn’t be a chore. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a leather portfolio or promo cards or whatever people think will get them noticed. Just make the work. And then get up the next day and make it again. If you are putting in the work, good things will happen to you. That’s just how the world works – the energy you exert will come back to return the favor. I really believe that.

Burkle: Keep on top of your technology–cameras, capture software, photoshop, new equipment and techniques, archiving software, etc.–and shoot as much as possible for yourself.  The latter seems obvious, but I fell victim to this early after graduating. When you start working 60 hour weeks for someone else and you don’t have much access to studio time, shooting for yourself becomes a struggle  very quickly.  FInd the time.  Work on weekends.  No one will hire you for the portfolio you “want” to create.  Clients hire photographers, not assistant with potential.

Cloud: I would tell students to work on talking about their work. In every meeting, you have to pitch your ideas. Clients need to hear exactly what you’re going to do and the reason for it. You have to articulate it so they can get it. That’s going to help you get jobs.

Related stories:
So You’ve Just Graduated With a Photography Degree. Now What?
What I  Didn’t Learn in Art School: Life Lessons from 10 Photographers (for PDN subscribers)
Creative Pitches That Land Advertising Clients
The Money Issue: Estimating 2.0: Bidding on an All-Media Library Shoot (for PDN subscribers)

April 2nd, 2014

PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

Jim Estrin: 6 Tips for Emerging Photojournalists from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

James Estrin, founder and co-editor of Lens, the popular New York Times photography blog, talks about how to launch a successful career as a photojournalist. His tips and insight cover how to choose meaningful projects, the importance of photojournalistic process, and practical advice about portfolios, mentors, and relationship-building with editors and peers.

Related:
PDN Video: Is Your Photo Project a Contender for Lens Blog?
PDN Video: How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
PDN’s 30 Photographers Provide Career Tips to Aspiring Photographers
PDN’s 30 2014: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch

March 7th, 2014

Eddie Adams Workshop, Smith Grant, Other Grants Accepting Applications

Earlier this week The Eddie Adams Workshop began accepting applications for its tuition-free, four-day photojournalism workshop in upstate New York. The Eddie Adams Workshop brings together top photography professionals and 100 students each year, and its alumni include many of the top photojournalists working today. Applications for the 2014 Workshop will be accepted through May 31. Students are selected based on the merit of their portfolios.

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is accepting applications through May 31 for the 2014 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, which carries an award of $30,000. In addition, the jury will also give out an additional $5,000 in fellowships. There is a $50 fee to apply.

The nonprofit arts advocacy organization Crusade for Art is accepting proposals for its first-ever Engagement Grant, a $10,000 award given to a photographer or group of photographers who submit “the most innovative plan for increasing their audience and collector base.” There is a $20 fee to apply.

The Photographic Museum of Humanity, a digital photography museum, is awarding a grant of $4,000 for photographers. Applications are due March 12, and judges include Alec Soth and Diana Markosian. There is no fee to apply.

Related: Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Joseph Rodriguez on the Audience Engagement Grant (PDN subscription required)
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Minnesota’s Artist Initiative Grants (PDN subscription required)
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Jon Lowenstein’s Guggenheim Fellowship (PDN subscription required)

November 18th, 2013

Pro Tips for Photographers with Jake Stangel

Colleagues know San Francisco-based photographer Jake Stangel as a person who is open with information, advice and encouragement for his peers and aspiring shooters.

Occasionally over the past few years Stangel has answered questions and offered “Pro Tips” on his Tumblr to younger photographers who are wondering how to go about building a career in today’s market.

Stangel gave us permission to reprint a couple of our favorite of these pieces on PDNPulse, and has also agreed to field questions from PDN readers for some new installments of his “Pro Tips” columns.

To submit a question for Jake please send an email to editor@pdnonline.com with the subject line “Pro Tips.”

On When to Work With a Rep and When to Just Work Harder

Question: So I’ve worked with some editors and worked for some companies doing small time shoots and small editorial things. My relationship with editors/publications is kind of going much too slow and I don’t feel confident in sending them promo or emailing them and expecting results. Would it be appropriate to find an agent? I feel confident in my work and abilities but I’m wondering if ever there’s a time to search for representation, would it be now?

What exactly should I be looking for with representation? And what should I be prepared to send them?

Answer: By and large, the appropriate time to search for representation is when you literally can no longer manage shooting and client requests and calendars and making estimates and negotiating various licenses and shoot deliverables all at once.

The other time an agent is helpful is if you’re extraordinarily talented but a recluse, and want someone to be your “face” and leave it up to you to just make photographs. But the key thing here is that you need to be extraordinarily talented. Extraordinarily. Talented. (more…)

October 10th, 2013

Part Art and Book Fair, Part Photo Fest, Unseen Delivers Energy, Mixed Reviews From Sellers in Second Year

© Amber Terranova

© Thijs Boontjes

In its second year, Unseen Art Fair drew an international audience to Amsterdam to view previously un-exhibited work from established artists and emerging talents. Set against the industrial backdrop of a repurposed nineteenth century coal gas power plant, the “art fair with a festival flair,” as organizers dubbed it, featured plenty of energy and excitement, but drew mixed reactions from gallerists, with some noting that combining an art fair, book fair and photo festival, with artist talks and other programming, distracted from the business of print sales. (more…)