July 29th, 2015

Video Pick: Rep Maren Levinson: Being a Good Photographer Isn’t Enough

Seattle-based photographer John Keatley recently posted a video interview he did with his rep, Redeye’s Maren Levinson, in which she touched on several changes to the photography industry. Her frank assessment of the market in which professional photographers and their reps operate has earned the video nearly 30,000 views on YouTube. Read the rest of this entry »

July 27th, 2015

The Perfect Portrait Formula: Peter Hurley’s Flex LED Lighting Setups for Men and Women

Sponsored by Westcott

Portrait photographer Peter Hurley has become famous for his headshots. His YouTube tutorials for posing have gone viral thanks to his simple, effective tips for photographers—and those who just want to look great in photos.

Hurley’s lighting style evolved from a penchant for natural light, so he prefers a continuous light source on location in the studio. When FJ Westcott came out with their line of Flex LED panels, Hurley quickly added them to his gear bag. The pliable, dimmable panels provide continuous light in daylight-only, tungsten-only and bi-color options. “I now have flat panels that I can roll up and take my entire lighting system with me,” Hurley says.

Hurley’s lively style of directing are key to making a subject come alive in front of the camera, but his lighting expertise is equally as important. Typically, he sets the lights, layered with diffusion panels, between 60-80% power for headshots (for subjects who are extremely sensitive to light, he can go as low as 20%), which gives him an exposure setting of about 1/100th second shutter speed at f/6.3-f/8 at ISO 200. Hurley has his technique down to a science, and one of his methods has been to develop a different approach to the way he photographs men and women.

The Feminine Side

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Photo © Peter Hurley

When photographing women, Hurley uses either a three- or four-light setup. For the former, he arranges a trio of Flex LED panels in a triangle with 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, facing each other. A 1 x 2-foot Flex LED panel is placed underneath to illuminate a little detail under the chin. This configuration provides more definition around the jaw line and a little more detail in the skin tones. While Hurley prefers the catchlights—the cornerstone of his work—created by the triangle setup, it’s best used when the subject has flawless skin.

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Square lighting configuration with for Flex LED panels

A square configuration is more flattering for the rest of us whose skin isn’t quite perfect, and is also a better option when shooting more than one subject. Reminiscent of window light, positioning 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, with 1 x 2-foot panels above and below creates a gorgeous, clean, shadowless beauty light. He’ll sometimes strobe the background to create a kick from behind that wraps light around the jawline and provides a little highlight on the cheekbone (Tip: have subjects with long hair pull it back into a ponytail so the hair doesn’t block the kicker light).

The Masculine Side

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Photo © Peter Hurley

When it comes to men, “I like to shadow up guys,” Hurley says. “I like to show wrinkles, lines and details, and I especially like to accentuate men’s jawlines.” He sets up two 1 x 3-foot panels on either side, about two feet away from the subject. These panels are positioned even with the center of the earlobe, then Hurley varies the lights’ intensity until he gets the shadow density on the cheek the way he wants it. Two 1 x 2-foot panels are positioned in back as rim lights and are used to create a reflection off the skin in the shadow area for a more dramatic look.

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Hurley’s go-to lighting set up for men.

See Peter Hurley’s personalized Westcott Lighting Kit at  www.westcottu.com/peter-hurley-kit.

July 24th, 2015

6 Photography Tips for Your Next Trip

Sponsored by NYIP

Ah, summer! When life is sweet and vacations are (hopefully) a plenty. Whether you’re going for a short jaunt to a nearby locale or traveling for an extended stay abroad, you want to make pictures that show the region in the richest, most interesting way.

Art Wolfe2

Photo © Art Wolfe

But how do you do that? New York Institute of Photography’s (NYIP) online travel photography course can teach you how to take better photos of the people and places you encounter on any trip. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Travel lightly and stay organized. Bring only the gear you need: a camera, lenses and portable lighting. Make sure you have more than enough memory cards (you may also want to consider a portable SSD to transfer your files to at the end of each day) or rolls of film so you can shoot freely. And use a bag that is lightweight and has plenty of compartments for you to use so you can stay organized as you photograph.

2) Know how to use your equipment. If you’ve got some new gear, test it ahead of time so you’re not fumbling with settings on location.

3) Research the place you’re visiting. Before you touch down, map out the points of interest you’d like to visit. But don’t feel pressured to stick to a schedule—serendipity is your friend. Strike up conversations when you can to learn about places you might not have found in your initial research.

4) Assess how much exposure locals have to cameras. Look around. Be curious. But approach people slowly if you’re unsure. Photograph objects and travel mates while at times also turning the camera on strangers. Move around a lot, so no one feels particularly singled out by your camera.

5) Treat your subjects with respect. Be upfront about your intentions, and don’t photograph people who don’t want to be photographed. Also, make good on your word: if you said you would send your subjects photos, do so. Being forthcoming and honest is a mark of professionalism.

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Photo © Peter Guttman

6) Make formal portraits first and candid pictures after. If you want to make fly-on-the-wall images, it can be helpful first to ask someone if you can take his or her picture (doing so nonverbally, with body language, when there is a language barrier) and at some point, after taking those pictures, make candid images of them. Chances are people who give their okay once don’t mind when you photograph them again.

For photographers interested in learning more about travel photography and taking their skills to the next level, the New York Institute of Photography is a perfect next step. Their online photography classes teach students the skills needed to advance a hobby or start a new career. Learn online, anywhere in the world, and at your own pace with their fully accredited training programs.

July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”

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Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.

©EricaKellyMartin-SharonatIndianCanyon

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

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Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit www.us.ricoh-imaging.com/645z/ and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit www.ericakellymartin.com

 

 

July 22nd, 2015

Alec Soth Offering Free “Winnebago Workshop” To Teen Artists

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Photographer Alec Soth and his Little Brown Mushroom (LBM) publishing imprint recently announced a hiatus from bookmaking to pursue a new initiative: The Winnebago Workshop, “a mobile classroom that puts artists with teens to create multimedia stories.”

The first free, weeklong workshop is coming up during the week of August 17–22, and Soth and LBM are currently seeking applications from artists age 16–18 who’d like to “drive wherever the wind blows us” and work on storytelling projects.

According to LBM’s Galen Fletcher, Soth’s own teen experiences with art were part of the inspiration to launch the workshops, which are supported by a Knight Foundation grant. “[He] wants to offer an experience that could make that significant of an impact on other teen artists,” Fletcher said in an email to PDN.

Another factor was the success of LBM’s “Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers,” which invited photographers, writers and designers to exchange ideas about storytelling in a setting described as ‘more summer camp than classroom.'”

The Winnebago Workshop application asks applicants to submit artwork, a self-portrait, a story that gives a sense of their personality and a description of their “dream field trip.”

Applications are due by August 3.

Related: Collaborative Duos: Alec Soth and Brad Zellar Explore What Community Means Today
Alec Soth on Wandering, Storytelling and Robert Adams vs. Weegee
The Great American Songbook

July 22nd, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Casey Brooks and Acre Creative for Aéropostale

In a new 30-second spot for Aéropostale set to appear on a video billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square, Casey Brooks directs a squad of midriff-baring female dancers to illustrate the extreme elasticity of the brand’s new jeans. Creative director Brad Shaffer at the agency Acre Creative brought in Brooks to make the spot for Aéro, giving her a brief to capture an “appropriately sexy” vibe, evidenced by sweeping steadicam closeups of the stretchy jeans hugging the dancers’ curves.

“It’s not provocative, more positive,” Brooks says. She credits choreographer Mishay Petronelli with bringing an abundance of energy to the screen, choreographing seven different 30- to 45-second routines to seven different songs for Brooks to choose from when assembling the final cut with editor Manuel Barenboim. “It’s better for editing,” Brooks says of the music selection. “It gives you different energies to pull from.” The final spot features the Angel Haze track “New York.”

The dancers rehearsed for three days for the two-day location shoot in New York City. One took place on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and another in a warehouse in the Bronx. Petronelli, who has served as Beyonce’s stand-in on a recent world tour and will tour with Janet Jackson later this year, also appears in the video (you can catch her freestyling in front of a giant window). Brendan Stumpf was director of photography, and Ruy Sánchez Blanco the post producer.

The spot will run online as well as on a video billboard.

July 22nd, 2015

The Photographer Who Rocked Taylor Swift: Open Letter Helped to Expose “Hideous Terms” Concert Photogs Face

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There’s a neat symmetry to the Taylor Swift photo contract saga. It all began with an open letter, penned by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon on his Junction10 blog, lambasting Swift for exploitative contract terms for her 1989 World Tour.

Sheldon’s open letter was sparked by Swift’s own public scolding of Apple for not paying artists during the three month free trial period of Apple music. And while Swift’s letter provoked a quick (or is that swift?) mea-culpa and an about-face from Apple, Sheldon’s appeal drew force more gradually from repeated media mentions, protests from news organizations and criticism from the National Press Photographer’s Association.

Shortly after the news broke that Swift’s team had altered its contract to appease critics, PDN reached out to Sheldon via email for his thoughts on the affair. What follows is an edited transcript.

PDN:  I’m wondering if you had any comment regarding the changes [Swift’s] team has made – do they go some (or all) of the way toward addressing your complaints?

Jason Sheldon: I’ve not had chance to examine the revised contract in detail – had a quick look and it appears to be a very positive step in the right direction. I think there are some minor points which I’d be happier tightening up, but I’m happy they’ve shown willingness to appreciate our rights a bit more.

PDN:  Are you surprised that your open letter has had the reaction and impact that it did?

Sheldon: I’m certainly pleasantly surprised it went viral.. It was good to have the support of publications like the Irish Times as well, who picked up on it and refused to agree to the terms of the contract.  It’s helped expose the hideous terms music photographers are sometimes forced to agree to (under economic duress) in order to carry out their jobs, and that is what it is – a job.

PDN:  Have you experienced any negative reaction (loss of work) from concert promoters or management teams because of your open criticism? 

Sheldon: Generally the feedback has been extremely positive on the whole. With various PR [reps] and promoters saying publicly that they agree with me – a few saying it privately as well. Of course, there has been some negative feedback which is to be expected, but most of it seems to come from people who have not read and understood the point of the open letter. These are usually the people that think we’re getting free concert tickets and living a parasitic existence off the back of the artist talent, which is certainly not the case. I haven’t lost any work from my stance, yet. But then, I’ve yet to apply for the Foo Fighters shows later this year.
July 21st, 2015

Taylor Swift Changes Photo Contract in Response to Online Outrage. Will the Foo Follow?

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Evidently Taylor Swift doesn’t want there to be any bad blood between her 1989 World Tour and photographers. After an outpouring of internet outrage over her tour’s restrictive photo contract, Swift’s team has apparently relented.

Writing for Poytner, Benjamin Mullin notes that Swift’s team has removed elements that photographers had found objectionable:

According to a source who has seen the revised contract, Swift’s representatives are no longer empowered to forcibly remove images from the cameras of photojournalists. In addition, a stricture preventing photojournalists from using images taken at Swift’s concerts more than once has been loosened, allowing for some negotiation. And Swift’s representatives have agreed to credit photojournalists when the artist uses their photos.

Mashable has gotten a hold of the new contract and republished it here.

The changes were spurred by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon and later by Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National  Press Photographer’s Association, who has been speaking out against Swift’s contract since Sheldon’s open letter to Swift went viral.

Swift is not the only high-profile musician under fire for restrictive contracts.

The Washington City Paper refused to send a photographer to the Foo Fighters’s concert after writing that the Foo’s contract “sucked.” Instead, they commissioned a cartoonist to draw the band during the show. A Quebec paper, Le Soleil, followed suit.

Related: One Simple Way to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

July 16th, 2015

Panasonic GX8, FZ300 Deliver 4K Recording, Faster Processing While Company Eyes Focus-Free Future

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Panasonic continues to expand the number of 4K cameras in its arsenal with the introduction of the new GX8 and FZ300. Beyond the new models, Panasonic said it was prepping a Lytro-like “post focus” capability for its new cameras that would leverage 4K recording and touch screens to allow users to adjust the focus point after capture. New lenses, too, are also in the works.

Let’s start with the cameras.

GX8

In addition to 4K video, the Micro Four Thirds-based GX8 is the first in Panasonic’s lineup to offer a dual image stabilizer–one for the camera body, the other for the lens–that work in tandem to combat camera shake at all focal lengths. According to Panasonic, most of its image-stabilized lenses will be able to work with the new dual stabilizer system in the GX8. When filming videos, the GX8 will employ a 5-axis hybrid stabilization that combines sensor shifting and digital corrections and is similar to the system used in the company’s video cameras.

The GX8 features a new 20.3-megapixel image sensor and quad-core Venus Engine CPU to drive continuous shooting at 8 frames per second in AFS mode and 6 fps in AFC mode. Dynamic range has been improved by a 1/3 stop over its predecessor, the GX7.

Like most recent Panasonic cameras, the GX8 will record 4K video (3840x2160p30) as well as 1920x1080p60 video in either AVCHD Progressive or MP4. Similar to the G7, the GX8 features a 4K Photo Mode that lets users shoot 4K video in any aspect ratio and isolate an 8-megapixel clip from a 4K video file during playback. According to Panasonic, the virtue of using 4K Photo Mode versus simply grabbing stills from 4K video is the ability to change aspect ratios and the faster shutter speed of 1/500 sec. that keeps 4K Photo Mode stills in sharper focus than 4K video frame grabs. The color range is also wider in 4K Photo Mode than it is during 4K video capture.

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There will be three new 4K photo modes in the GX8.

A 4K Burst Shooting mode captures frames at 30fps for the duration of your shutter press (up to 4GB worth of data). A 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it with the second press. Finally, a 4K Pre-burst mode automatically records 30 frames before and 30 frames after your shutter press for a total of 60 4K video frames to choose from.

Other features of the GX8 include:

* a tilting OLED Live Viewfinder with a magnification ratio of 1.54X and a 100 percent field of view

* a free-angle 3-inch OLED touch screen display

* 240 fps Contrast AF system with DFD (depth from defocus) technology that calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating 2 images with different sharpness level while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens to deliver a .07 sec. AF speed

* 49 AF points

* 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed and a 1/16,000 sec. electronic shutter

* improved low-light focusing down to -4EV with a Starlight AF mode to help users shoot stars in the night sky using autofocus by narrowing the AF zone

* Wi-Fi and NFC

* weather proof magnesium alloy die cast frame

* in-camera RAW processing

* focus peaking

The GX8 is due to ship in mid-August in two versions: all black and a model with a silver top with a black bottom for $1,200 (body only).

The FZ300

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Panasonic also rolled out the successor to the FZ200. The new FZ300 delivers a similar optical package with a 25-600mm f/2.8 built-in lens with optical image stabilization and adds 4K recording and a new Venus Engine image processor to improve ISO sensitivity to a max of ISO 6400.

The FZ300 features a 12-megapixel image sensor, 4K video recording and the same 4K Photo modes as the GX8 above.

You can frame your compositions through a 1,440K-dot OLED LVF with a 100 percent field of view when shooting in 4:3.

Additional features of the FZ300 include:

* 3-inch, free angle LCD

* 12 fps continuous shooting in AFS mode or 6 fps in AFC

* .09 sec. AF speed with DFD technology

* low light focusing down to -3EV

* Wi-Fi

* 5-axis hybrid stabilizer for HD video recording

* focus peaking

* in-camera RAW processing

The FZ300 will ship in mid-October for $600.

Coming Soon: Post Focus Mode

According to Panasonic, a new Post Focus mode will leverage a 4K burst mode to compile multiple exposures which a user would then use to freely determine a focus point in the frame using a touch screen. Post Focus mode will come to both the GX8 and FZ300 later this year via a firmware update as well as future models not yet announced by the company.

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Beyond the focusing capabilities, Panasonic also said it was working with Leica to develop a Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 telephoto lens for its Micro Four Thirds lineup. The lens would offer a 35mm equivalent focal length of 200-800mm and a dust and splash-proof build. Panasonic said its light weight and image stabilization would allow for handheld shooting out to the very end of the focal length.

The company is also prepping a Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 prime lens. Release date and additional specs for both lenses are not yet available. Product photography is preliminary.

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July 13th, 2015

Pulitzer Center Announces $1 Million Fund for Multimedia Journalism Projects

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has announced the Catalyst Fund, a new initiative that will support “as many as 40” multimedia journalism projects in the next two years with $1 million in grants made to journalists working with major news outlets.

In addition to supporting the production of multimedia reportage, the Fund will also support journalists in their efforts to disseminate projects to students through presentations at schools and via the Pulitzer Center website.

The Fund is supported by donations from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, and from individual donors.

“The Pulitzer Center is a leader among a growing field of nonprofit news organizations bringing creative models of production and dissemination to a disrupted news industry,” said Kathy Im, Director of MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media program, in a statement.

The Pulitzer Center says it has already committed Catalyst Fund support to projects that will be published by The New York Times, National Geographic, MSNBC and other outlets.

Journalists interested in applying for Catalyst Fund grants are encouraged to apply through the Pulitzer Center’s grants portal, here: http://www.pulitzercenter.org/grants

Related: Q&A: How to Get Funding From The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting