Archivi categoria: photographer

4 Lessons for Photographers from the Story of Desiree Genera

On Wednesday night, a developing story kept popping up on my feed featuring Katrina Ortiz (a photo client) and Desiree Genera (a photographer). Initially, Katrina posted positive feedback regarding her hired photographer after receiving an edited image in digital format.

Like most clients excited about their most recent professional photography session, she made it her profile picture and couldn’t wait to see the rest.

Desiree had posted on Facebook that the rest of Katrina’s maternity session would be complete and available for viewing on Tuesday (3/14/17), 2 weeks ahead of the photographer’s initially-stated timeline.

At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Katrina checked in via Facebook messenger to see if her photos were complete.

Clearly, from the exchange, Desiree was not happy to be interrupted while trying to do the editing. For her, this meant Katrina would now have to wait the full 4 week turnaround time instead of receiving them 2 weeks early.

Despite this news, Katrina politely backed off and apologized for the interruption. Katrina thought it was over until just a short while later she noticed she was a topic of discussion on Desiree’s personal Facebook page.

Desiree was openly discussing the altercation with her audience and even went live on Facebook, expressing her annoyance with the interruption. In these live videos, Desiree described the need to fix her client’s wig, stretch marks, fat, cellulite, etc. You can view the videos below (warning: there is plenty of foul language):

After seeing this happen right on her own news feed, Katrina’s opinion of the quality of service offered by Desiree changed. She began recording the live videos and sharing them on her page, as well as explaining to her friends what took place.

The story then quickly spread across Facebook. Some people expressed sympathy and suggestions to Katrina given the rudeness she had to endure, others began attacking Desiree’s photography business.

Desiree seemed to welcome the traffic, spending the day uploading new videos, as well as sharing old ones related to her business. Perhaps she was holding on to the adage, “all press is good press” because, despite the incoming negativity, her videos and posts were racking up views and interactions.

She went as far as to suggest that she would soon be “cashing in” on all the viral attention.

Katrina then requested on her Facebook for those following the story to report the images on Desiree’s page to get them taken down.

Many went a step further, leaving nasty messages, comments, and negative reviews on her brand’s marketing accounts. Others were tagging local and national news outlets in an attempt to bring an even bigger spotlight on the story.

Now, I didn’t bring this story up to tell you that it’s not a good idea to conduct business in this manner — if you were considering doing so there probably isn’t much hope for your business’s future. However, I found so many things in this story that have huge implications on our industry.

#1. Mixing Business and Personal Life is Dangerous

Whether you are deciding to go live on Facebook, or determining if you need 2 separate Instagram accounts for the various aspects of your life, it’s always worth considering your audience.

Most importantly, who you choose to discuss the quirky and infuriating intimacies of our industry with can always come back to bite you in the butt. This is most dangerous on social media, where…

#2. More than Just Your Friends are Watching

Curated feeds are designed to promote posts that get the most interaction. All of Katrina’s phone videos on this altercation now have tens of thousands of views. Even Desiree’s videos completely unrelated to the exchange have had a dramatic increase in traffic.

If it’s interesting enough, your message (positive or negative) can quickly spread around the world. Despite the fact that all the live videos Desiree shared are now deleted, along with many of the associated posts, screenshots and other people’s recordings live on. Remember, every time you post you are starting a fire that you may not be able to put out.

#3. Beware the Tribe Mentality

Katrina has every right to leave a negative review if she is dissatisfied with the photography service she paid for. Like all of us, Desiree has to accept the possibility of negative feedback with every image she delivers. This is all part of a single transaction.

However, as soon as the story spread the tribe mentality took over. When people are acting as part of a large group, they are far more likely to exhibit hatred. One commentor even offered to push this story to her Facebook group of over 20,000 mothers to help punish Desiree’s business.

While I find Desiree’s response and videos unprofessional, I do not think she should be at the mercy of a massive group that was uninvolved in the transaction.

At the same time, her continued defiance and traffic-relishing tells me she’s not very upset by the negative attention. After all, our society has been known to catapult people to fame simply by hating them enough. How bout dah?

#4. What’s Obvious, Isn’t.

In this instance, Katrina felt she had every right to stop Desiree from using the images to promote her work. Some commenting even suggested that “if you already paid for these (photos), they don’t belong to her anymore”.

While the photographer here may have made some questionable decisions, she does still retain the right to the images she captured.

When our entire day-to-day is based around a specific industry, we tend to assume that the standards of our industry are glowingly apparent to the public. Back when I waited tables at Chili’s, I scoffed when a guest was unaware that the salad garnish in the Quesadilla Explosion Salad had onions in it. Those guests were not chefs.

Your clients are not professional photographers. It is our job to educate clients on all aspects of the photography service, as well as outline it within contracts. Failure to do so leads to incorrect assumptions by those hiring us, as well as the general public.

Conclusion

It’s never a good idea to go off on the struggles of our industry on a social media platform, regardless of how infuriated you are. Be wise to any message that you put out to the world, even if you think just your friends are listening. Educate your clients on the specifics of both the industry as well as your brand.

As photographers, we are trusted with people’s memories, personalities, and passions. We also carry the weight of their imperfections. It’s best to treat them all delicately.


About the author: Robert Hall is a wedding, portrait, and commercial photographer based in Michigan. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Ren Hang, Famed and Controversial Chinese Photographer, Dead at Age 29

The art of photography lost one of its most influential and controversial voices today. Ren Hang, a renowned and oft-censored Chinese photographer whose work has been displayed around the world, died this week. He was 29 years old.

Ren’s subversive nude photography—racy and provocative images of friends, and later fans, captured mostly in his high-rise apartment in Beijing—earned him recognition around the globe, but only censorship and several arrests at home in China. He was hailed by many as one of the greatest photographers of our time, and China’s answer to Ryan McGinley.

“Ren is a poet and photographer,” the Klein Sun Gallery wrote, describing Ren in a release for a solo show in May of 2016. “Splicing imagery of urban and rural environments as a metaphor for the increasingly citified millennials of today, he arranges the naked limbs of his friends in his hide-and-seek photographs.”

Ren’s death was confirmed last night by a representative of the gallery, although the details are still shrouded in mystery. The young photographer chronicled his struggle with depression on his website, and his last post on the Chinese social media site Weibo has led many to speculate that Ren took his own life.

Posted last month on the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year, it reads: “Every year, the wish I make is the same: to die earlier.”

No matter the circumstances of his death, one thing is certain: Ren Hang was an incredibly talented and brave photographer, poet, and artist, who passed away far too early. May he rest in peace.

Are You a Photographer, or Just a Camera Operator?

When I go to a photography exhibit or show, I find myself looking at similar work: photographs made from an inkjet printer that are just stylized archives. Be it a photo of a bird, a dress, a subject or event. Whatever it is, it’s just a photograph. A photograph that can be easily duplicated with the simple press of a button. A print on a piece of paper, nothing more, nothing less.

Where is the artist’s brush stroke? Where is the photographer’s unique thumbprint, aside from on top of their shutter button?

What makes a painting beautiful and unique is that the artist made it by hand, the brush strokes were all individually placed onto the canvas, the artist used their emotions or surroundings for inspiration. A painting is hardly ever a true representation—rather, a physical expression of the artist’s mind through their hands onto the subject matter.

What I believe photography is sadly missing is this raw, artistic expression.

When people think about photography they think of cameras. They look at a photo and say I could have done that. If they were in that exact moment, they wouldn’t be wrong. That is if they had the technique and knowledge, with a few dedicated days to learn it, which amazingly anyone can get in just a few clicks on the Internet.

But what makes a photo historic is its ability to capture a moment.

Photography is mainly used as an archive medium. That’s all well and good if that’s all you use photography for. Many people love photography for this aspect alone. But for me, that just makes you a camera operator, not an artist.

I’m not trying to rag on National Geographic or publications like TIME. There is a time and a place for everything, photography is a great medium to showcase stories and events. I’m just wondering what makes a photograph special… what makes a photo so deserving it belongs up on a gallery wall or museum.

Would it still be special if it didn’t have historic merit? Take away the camera, can you still have a photograph? There are very few photographers that think and work outside the box, and I wish more of us did, me included.

I’m struggling to put my own thumbprint into my own work. I have a style, a vision, my own unique view of the world. I have my own post-processing style and methods. But if someone came along and watched me, I’m sure they could emulate it, or even replicate it, within a few hours.

Pablo Picasso spent his lifetime perfecting and experimenting with his art. The same can be said for Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock—the list could go on forever. Aside from their technical skills in their craft, what made them different was their ideas, the concepts that pushed outside the standards at the time.

It’s dangerous when everyone starts thinking in the same way—there is no controversy, no friction between peers. Without friction, we all become static and boring. I feel that the collective group of photographers out there aren’t putting their own brush strokes into their work. We aren’t capturing an idea, rather just a moment.

The majority of us are camera operators, obsessed with settings and techniques instead of focusing on concepts and our own unique vision. So what’s the meaning behind your work? Where does your camera end, and your idea begin?


About the author: A.B Watson is a New Zealand photographer based in Auckland. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.

Jarob Ortiz, the Next ‘Ansel Adams’ of the National Park Service

In December 2015, the Internet was abuzz with a National Park Service (NPS) job listing that was considered the search for “the next Ansel Adams”: a position for a black-and-white large format photographer with a salary up to $100,000 per year.

The full-time photography opening called for large format experience to document both features within the National Parks as well as “outside in the communities around the parks, sites that aren’t under the umbrella of the National Park Service but are still significant in American history,” according to Dr. Richard J. O’Connor, Chief of the Heritage Documentation Program.

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) – all parts of the NPS’s Heritage Documentation Programs – require large format photography for inclusion in their respective collections in the Library of Congress. In addition to providing much higher resolution than 35mm photography, large format allows the photographer to use shift and tilt controls to control the rendering of perspective, and the polyester-based large format film is more durable than the acetate used in 35mm roll film.

In July 2016, NPS announced that Milwaukee native Jarob Ortiz edged out nearly 5,000 applicants for the position, and Ortiz soon drove to the Washington, D.C. area to begin work.

Photographer Jarob Ortiz.

After spending time getting his darkroom in order, Ortiz went to work. He traveled around the country documenting landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Schwartz House in Two Rivers, WI, the Bloede Dam in Maryland, and the Baggage and Dormitory Building on Ellis Island, which led to a profile on CBS This Morning.

We spoke to Ortiz via e-mail.

There was a lot of buzz on social media when the Parks Service posted the job opening. I suspect a lot of people were interested but deterred by the large format photography requirement. What background did you have with this increasingly rare analog format?

My background in large format photography started at my photography program at the Milwaukee Area Technical College. There I was formally trained on how to use the view camera. I was taught what each camera movement is responsible for and how they can be utilized effectively to solve different photographic problems. I instantly fell in love with the system because I recognized how versatile the camera was for photographing architecture and landscapes; my two favorite photographic subject matters going into the photography program.

After graduating in 2013, I continued to regularly use the view camera for personal work and for a few commercial architectural jobs. During this period I was shooting a lot more color transparency film than black and white. I did this because I found color transparency to be much more challenging to work with than both b&w and color negative film. The limited exposure latitude constantly keeps me on my game and forced me to find a creative approach when capturing scenes with extreme contrast (deep shadows and bright highlights). It taught me how utilizing fill flash in a number of different situations – including some of my landscape shots.

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

While most of the world has gone digital, what are the reasons for the Parks Service to continue shooting film? Have there been any discussions about using equipment like the Phase 100MP system?

Here at the National Park Service we are still shooting film because the Library of Congress likes to have a tangible record of each documentary photograph. The negative serves as this tangible, unaltered record. If properly processed and stored, a negative will outlast a print by a few hundred years. It’s quite remarkable.

With that said, we have begun discussions with the Library of Congress to move the Heritage Documentation Programs into the digital era. I’m currently giving the 100MP Phase One system the most consideration for our transition, but before that can happen, we need to iron out the guidelines and standards for born digital photography as they relate to documentation photography. We are currently working hand in hand with the Library of Congress to have these ready by the end of 2017.

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

What type of gear are you using?

The cameras I use are a 5×7 Linhoff camera and a 4×5 Arca-Swiss F-Field C View camera.

The lenses I use are Schneider, Nikkor, or Rodenstock lenses. 72 mm; 90 mm; 121 mm; 150 mm; 240 mm; 300 mm; and 480 mm on the 5×7 camera. 65 mm; 72mm; 90 mm; 150 mm; and 210 mm on the 4×5. I always fit the lens with a b+w contrast filter (typically yellow).

For lighting I use two 1000ws Profoto D1 Air heads and two 500ws Profoto D1 Air heads fitted with various different sized Profoto softboxes and umbrellas.

The tripod I use is a set of Gitzo Moutaineer Series 3 Carbon Fiber Legs with an extra industrial head made just for the 5×7 Linhoff. To be honest, I have no idea where the NPS got this head. I think it may be an older, more robust version of the Manfrotto Deluxe 400 head, but not 100 percent sure on that. There’s no label on this thing anywhere. For the 4×5, I use a Manfrotto 410 Junior Gear head that’s been modified for exclusive use with the Arca-Swiss rail system.

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

I think many people think you spend your days shooting Yosemite or Yellowstone, but what has the reality of the first six months been like?

The reality of the first 6 months has been nothing but architecture. It’s what I shoot the most and it’s why I was hired for this job – because I was the only candidate in the pool that submitted a strong architectural portfolio comprised solely of large format images.

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

The average photographer traveling to a National Park or monument is probably thinking of taking a photo that will get the most “likes.” How do you conceive of an image, and what do you want your images to accomplish?

When I approach an area to photograph the first thing I consider is the most important historic element that needs to be recorded. I typically walk around the subject matter and analyze it from every visible side. I like to see how the natural light interacts with it and then determine whether or not that subject matter is fit to shoot at that moment or if I can complete another task while I wait for the light to shift.

Not every photograph is an eye-catcher. Sometimes the end photo can be quite mundane, but not any less important. The photo still serves as a historic record and must showcase all relevant information to help supplement the rest of the historic report (i.e. measured drawings, written history, laser scan, etc.).

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

Your career path didn’t include attending “name brand” schools with renown photography departments, yet you have scored what most photographers would consider a dream job. With all the discussion around the affordability of college, the demise of for-profit schools like the Brooks Institute, etc, why do you think you have been successful?

I think I’ve been successful because I knew exactly what I wanted from my school and from photography in general. Before I just jumped into a program, I researched all the photography programs in Wisconsin and the Chicago area. I wanted an affordable program that taught large format camera techniques in conjunction with the application of a working analog zone system. Thankfully that program was located right there in my hometown of Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Also, I definitely give my instructors a lot of credit for instilling an enormous amount of discipline into my everyday workflow. I really think that is the ultimate key to my success – the patience and discipline I need to exercise in order to execute large format film photography properly. Everything is very process[-oriented] with these kinds of cameras. The way you set up the camera, focus an image, set up lights, measure light, take notes, develop film, printing – every step has its own rules and they must be addressed in a certain order. It’s really all about patience and discipline.

Photo by Jarob Ortiz/National Park Service

You’re obviously still new to the job and relatively early in your career, but what sort of legacy do you want to establish with your photography with the National Park Service?

As far as my legacy is concerned – I’ve never really given it much though other than I want history to show that I did this job the best I could and with all of my heart day in and day out. Words cannot express how absolutely grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to work for the National Park Service. This is a dream come true.


About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter, which regularly publishes resources for photographers. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article was also published here.