Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Curate This!

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I guess I have a different approach to photography education than some others out there who author ebooks or other sorts of training programs. (No. I'm not going to name names.) My #1 peeve with some photographers' educational efforts is that  their ebooks (or other training materials) come off exactly like they're specifically designed to teach others to shoot photos that look like the photos the books' authors shoot. (Mostly cuz they are. And that's because a lot those  authors apparently think their shit is just "amazing!" You know, "the shit.")

And you know what? Sometimes, their photos are amazing. But if they are,  they probably belong in a coffee table book rather than a photography how-to book. Me? I don't encourage anyone to shoot pics that look like mine, not that mine are all that stellar, and I mention that in my books. I mention it often.

For one thing, blue-printing images that look like the authors images provided in a photography how-to book is, IMO, rather egotistical and arrogant. Especially since there may be factors contributing their photos' awesomeness that "just learning" photographers aren't going to be able to duplicate. Instead, I try to provide photos in my ebooks that are realistically do-able by readers. Images that say, "This is the kind of work you can achieve using these techniques." Images that, whenever possible, are the sorts of images a large percentage of the books' readers will likely be shooting.

Also, I always encourage readers to take the info I provide and run with it, capturing images that are their own; in their own style, that is. And I hope, after learning the techniques and more that I offer up in my books, readers end up practicing those techniques and, at some point, shooting pics that make mine look like a rank amateur snapped them.  Again, not that my pics are amazing. They're not. They are, for the most part, simply what my clients want me to shoot.

I also try to avoid putting images in my ebooks that aren't do-able for a variety of special reasons. With a a fair amount of my work, I get much help from people like MUAs, stylists,  and others. Their contributions to the images sometimes go beyond what I would have created without those contributions. In fact, often enough, their work "makes" the images what they are. In other words, I generally try to provide images that anyone can shoot without counting on the help and contributions of a crew, especially a crew of gifted crafts people. At times, taking that approach to my ebooks doesn't necessarily help me sell my ebooks. I had one re-seller recently decline to promote my last two ebooks, telling me their "curators" thought the photos in my ebooks aren't all that good. That they are rather commonplace. That they don't have enough "wow!" value to them.

Excuse me assholes, curate this! (My middle finger if you need a clue to what I'd like them curate.) My ebooks aren't exercises in patting myself on the back for some of the pics I've snapped. They're not designed to be coffee table books containing images that most people learning to shoot won't be able to come close to matching simply because they might not have certain resources or opportunities that I'm given as a result of my day job as a photographer, and certainly not the years of accumulated experience I have. Rather, they're about teaching people the things that will help them grow and develop as photographers. My ebooks aren't vehicles to show off my work. Most of my ebooks are aimed at beginner to intermediate photographers. As such, I always try to keep that in mind and I offer up techniques and more that aren't too difficult for them to achieve. I'm all for setting high goals but not for setting unattainable goals. (You know, given where most of my books' readers reside on the photography learning curve.)  By the way, my last two ebooks have been my personal best-sellers and no one, not one person, has emailed me to complain about anything. Not the pics in them or anything else. Like I said, "Curate this!"

Lately, I've been a bit mentally focused on landscape photography. I haven't as yet gone out and shot anything, but I'm putting together some things in my kit to help me do just that whenever I do manage to kick myself in the butt and get out there. I've looked at some ebooks about landscape photography and, with many of them, it would be a waste of my time and money to purchase them because, for the most part, those books are more about the author-photographers showing off their best images rather than doing a whole lot of teaching. Worse, some of them show off with pics they've snapped in some very exotic locales and, frankly, there aren't many, if any, exotic locales within an hour or two driving distance of my home. Yeah. I'd love to go to Bali or some incredible rainforest to shoot, or maybe the dramatic coast of Cornwall in the UK or the Himalayas or somewhere equally awesome and visually stunning, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

Obviously, I could take off for somewhere like Yosemite which is semi-exotic, certainly very picturesque, but even Yosemite, which is in the same state where I reside, is quite a long drive in itself. It sure ain't a day trip unless I suddenly have an airplane at my disposal. That's not likely to happen anytime soon either... me having an airplane at my disposal, that is.

Well, that's my rant for today. I feel better. Time for another cup of Joe.

The pretty girl at the top is Nikki. There's a lot of things going on in that image: stars and stripes, more stars, ribbons and bows, freckles, fish net, ginger hair, she's half-naked... It's quite a hodge-podge of shapes, colors, lines, and more. I have mixed emotions about that. But hey! My clients put the girls in front of my camera the way they want to see them and I shoot what they want. (What the clients want, not necessarily what the models want.) As long as the check clears, all's good in Jimmyville. Assuming the models' checks clear as well -- and I'm confident if mine clears, their's do too -- I assume all's well in Modelville too. It's a one-light portrait if you didn't notice. I used a 5' Photoflex Octo, set camera right to produce a "short lighting" portrait style . It was snapped on a set in a studio.  I used a Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on my 5D classic. ISO 100, f/5.6 at 125th.

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