Monday, June 28, 2010

Shoot some film!

I've recently rediscovered the beauty of film. It's exciting. I learned on film and shot it for 6 years before finally going digital (honestly, never wanted to go digital, but it has its advantages). There's a look, color, and tonal rendition that are tough to come by digitally. Shooting film also requires great care and discipline with each shutter click. Film and processing cost money so I try not to waste any shots. It makes me think even harder about a composition and makes me more patient, too. I had these shots processed recently and finally purchased a good scanner to go along with it. I wanted to share the product of a week and 36 shots around my house with my boys. I used Portra 160NC, a professional, natural color film. Iso 160 is pretty slow, so these had to be outdoors. Hope this inspires you to pick up your old film camera or buy a used one (you can get them for less than $100 and they'll work with your current lenses).

If you decide film isn't for you, try this: limit yourself to 36 shots for an entire week or even an entire outing to the zoo, park, etc. Don't delete any shots or even review them. Try to get it right in-camera. The discipline and skill it takes are invaluable to good technique and will help you further your technical skills. Hope you try it out. Here's a sample of those shots.

About shooting color film: there's no "auto white balance" so shooting in different types of light will not produce the same color renditions (i.e., shooting on a cloudy day will produce cooler images, etc, when shooting with a daylight balanced film). You'll notice this in the color casts throughout this set. Here is a sample of that roll:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ASSIGNMENT #1: From Above

As The Family Photojournalist grows, we will continue to add features to assist in your journeys in documenting family life!

Our latest addition will be The Family Photojournalist Assignment. The rules are very simple. We will provide you with an assignment and a deadline. You shoot, edit, and send us your favorite photo from the assignment. Photos must be resized to 800 pixels on the longest end (I crop my images to 8x5.33x100ppi in Photoshop). We will feature some of the exemplary examples in a blog post.

The Family Photojournalist Assignment #1 is called "From Above". This is an exercise in composition. All too often we take photos while standing up or on our children's level. This assignment requires you to look at things a little differently. You must take the photo from an above perspective. So get out your ladders, climb balconies, or peek out windows in order to get your shots! Your examples should be sent to thefamilyphotojournalist @ by June 22, 2010.

Below are two examples (which happen to be two of my favorite all time images):

1. Ocean City, New Jersey. Neither my wife nor I vacationed as children. So we made a pledge that every year, we would do some sort of vacation with our children. This particular year we did a long weekend stay at a hotel in Ocean City NJ. My wife and oldest child were swimming in the pool as I was lounging on a chair taking photos. I only had a 35mm lens and I wanted a wider shot of them, so I started looking for options to back up. The only option I had was a balcony above me. So I climbed the stairs, observed the scene, and waited for the 'decisive moment'.

2. Ocean City, New Jersey II. We rented a very small 1BR apartment (about 400 square feet) that was ocean front. Our thinking was that we wouldnt spend much time in the house and loved the idea of being on the beach. Well, it rained almost all week! And we were stuck inside more than we hoped to be. This was one of the few moments where my boys were outside. I was sitting in the empty chair snapping shots as my children played in the sand. Again, I thought an above perspective would tell a better story. So I climbed up to the second floor and snapped the photo. I decided to leave the chair in the frame to illustrate where I was sitting.

Have fun with the assignment! We cannot wait to see what you all come up with!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Critiquing Chuck

Thought it would be fun to pick two of Chuck's images that I really love and talk about WHY I like 'em. It helps to be able to analyze a shot (that you like or are inspired by) and know what you like about it. If you're able to break a shot down, it will help you to use the same techniques in your own work. I would encourage you all to think critically about the photography you love and use those images to grow your own photography.

Back to Chuck. Here are two of my favorites and my critique of them.

First up: "Five"-chuck has composed the image beautifully
1. the children are nicely spaced, good separation between layers (children, houses, etc)
2. i love how carefully he included aspects that tell us something about the neighborhood such as the stop sign and street signs, houses, cars, etc-he didn't try to hide some of these elements and it adds character and back story to the image
3. the timing is perfect-the bat is cocked back, ready to swing-his little brother is waiting behind him, eager to see candy fall out-chuck snapped at the height of anticipation and it's palpable here
4. the composition is simple and very effective-it places the pinata on the right third, the birthday boy close to center but just to the right and the other children on the right third-there's great spacing around everyone in the frame
5. the wide angle exaggerates the distance between the birthday boy and the other children, an isolating effect, though the shot contains a lot of warmth

next up: "peepee"-the composition uses the urinals to frame the scene very effectively and doesn't cut into any of them
1. the tiptoes are part of what makes this shot so perfect-it highlights the smallness of his son compared to this adult sized bathroom
2. shots from behind can take on a conceptual quality such as "slices of childhood" that a shot from the front can't do since it becomes a shot about a specific child rather than the idea of childhood things (if that makes sense)
3. he uses the 35L so well here (which is really the best PJ lens every manufactured-so versatile)
4. this shot is wonderfully humorous as well-you can't help but smile at the situation because it's very true to life-that's the beauty of capturing these kinds of unique family images, they're universal and personal at the same time

try this type of analysis/critique on another photographer's work some time-try to figure out what you like about it-is it the composition, the lighting, the timing/moment, or is it just the person who was photographed? or all of the above, of course? have a good one, guys-hope you enjoyed this