Near Los Alamos New Mexico is a great American national treasure, Bandelier National Monument. The place is much like it was when Native Americans lived there and not far from some reservations where native Americans still live in the style of their grandfathers. A great place to hike and see the natural treasures of the area where you can visualize the life style of three hundred years ago. You can buy a print of this image at my commercial site by clicking here.
Photojournalism usually refers to a type of journalism where the picture is used to tell a story or express a position. Photojournalists frequently work with writers who are assigned to a “story” by a media editor. Sometimes the journalist writes both the story and takes the pictures to support the story. Photojournalism is different then celebrity paparazzi photography. Paparazzi and other celebrity street photography are a subset of photojournalism but are more about celebrity than photography.
You don’t really need Press Credentials to be a photojournalist, but it sure helps. Since the assassinations of the 1960’s it is more difficult to get close to people and stages. Even in the 1970’s, I could never have gotten close enough to get this photograph of Senator’s McGovern and Kennedy at a Pittsburgh presidential campaign rally without Press Credentials. Today you can use a camera on a tripod with a telephoto lens to take pictures like this from further away. However, you will need Press Credentials to be able to set up a tripod and gain access the to pool area where photographers are allowed. You will need to develop a Photographic Portfolio to show to editors to get them to put you on their freelance staff. You will need to be able to work at first as an Independent Contractor and if you are lucky, you may some day get a full time job at very low pay. In the old days, freelance photographers were called “stringers”, today they are called underemployed. You may be required to have a background and security check before getting Press Credentials.
To be a photojournalist you need to be able to work strange and long hours. Like a news reporter you have to be willing to do anything for a story. In 1978, film director George Romero made “Dawn of the Dead” in a local Pittsburgh Shopping Mall. I was assigned to cover the story for Pittsburgh Magazine. Since it was being shot at a shopping mall, it was filmed from 9 PM until 8 AM. I would shoot at night and develop the film and make the prints during the day to be able to make the magazine deadline. This is a shot of George Romero listening to one of the movie’s Producers and trying to stifle a laugh.
Sometimes the story is not right in front of you. I was assigned to cover the One World Festival of Music in 1972 in Pittsburgh. I was sitting in the stands trying to figure out how to sneak on to the stage. I noticed some people sitting behind me and figured out it was Dino Valente and Gary Duncan from Quicksilver Messenger Service. The band was one of the headline acts that would perform later. I clicked this picture of Dino Valente kissing some unknown blonde which was the best image of the day.
Capture the moment. Henri Cartier-Bresson was the famous French Photojournalist which developed the idea that for each image there is one correct moment of capture and only one. This picture illustrates the point, a moment earlier he was standing, a moment later he had fallen. I call this image Stop the World! and it is the title of my first book. It is available on iTunes by clicking here.
Finally, always take pictures of the weird stuff you may see. One might think that this is some sort of worker in a radiation suit involved in some nuclear or chemical accident. The reality is quite different. This person was participating in a race that used to happen every spring at Penn State University. People would have to run a mile and drink six beers at six different bars along the run. Participants would dress in weird costumes and the money was donated to charity. The event was eventually cancelled because the University and the town councils thought in promoted public drunkenness.
Nothing means summer more to me than seeing sunflowers in bloom. Sunflowers are right up there with boston coolers, watermelon and ball games. These are Canadian sunflowers that I captured wile visiting the Jardin botanique de Montréal which is a wonderful place to visit while in Montréal. In addition to the many different gardens their is a large Insectarium which many people love. I will stick with the flowers. You can buy a print of this image at my gallery by clicking here.
Capturing a photographic moment requires light, object and observer, What makes photographing fire so interesting is that the object and light are the same thing. However the flame is in constant change as the fuel is consumed and the flame interacts with wind and other elements. The shapes created are almost a Rorschach test contain hidden images and creating familiar shapes. You can buy a print of this image on my commercial site by clicking here.
Summer is the hottest time of the year but made a whole lot hotter by people. Think of all the things you do in the Summer that involve lighting a flame. Campfires,barbecues, fire pits and Tiki Torches all require a flame. So here is my first flame of Summer…flame on Johnny! You can buy a print of this image at my commercial gallery by clicking here.
I love the art of street photography. I think I like it because if you do it right, the photographer is only recording and not impacting the emotion or action of a scene. Ever since I learned about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle I felt an obligation as a photographer to minimize the observer effect when shoot on the street. This was taken while waiting for my family while they were shopping in Chicago. Had the young lady seen me, I doubt if she would have reacted so strongly to the Wicked Advertisement. You can buy a print of this image on my commercial site by clicking here.
Students sometimes ask why are my pictures blurry? It is really simple, either the camera moved or the object (subject) moved. There maybe times that you want an image to be blurry to express motion. This image of a running doe and fawn was taken on a tripod and the tripod was panned during exposure to add a sense of movement to the image. In most case though, you want to freeze the action of an image to define the ultimate moment of the scene. There are a number of reasons that images are blurry but the most important factor is the movement of the camera during exposure. If the camera moves, the image will blur. I know that most of like to think we are as steady as a rock, but we aren’t.
When shooting with a hand held camera, try leaning against a rail, building or tree to steady your body during exposure. It is actually more difficult to steady the camera when holding it at arms length and using the screen of a digital camera. It is easier to steady yourself while looking through the viewfinder during exposure. The exposure of an image is caused by light, shutter speed and aperture. Aperture is controlled through iris, the smaller the iris the less light strikes the sensor. However, smaller apertures provide an increased depth of field. Make your decision about aperture first. Shutter speed controls the amount of time the shutter is open and letting light strike the sensor. The faster the shutter speeds, the faster the action you can freeze. When photographing sports, you should have a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second minimum. Faster is better for freezing action. Adjust the ISO sensitivity so you can achieve the faster the shutter speeds.
Use a tripod whenever you can. Get to know your tripod, have a relationship with it. I believe a serious photographer needs two tripods. A large sturdy tripod used for scenic views and portraits at the best ISO sensitivity to capture the detail. This may require a slow shutter speed and small aperture and even the use of a cable release to make sure you have no camera movement. The second tripod is a mini tripod that you can pack up in your camera bag. Sometimes I just can’t carry a big tripod with me.
Take the time to know your lenses. Longer focal length lens are great for sports but very heavy. I can steady a 200mm lens at a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. The more zoomed in you are to your subject, the more difficult it is to steady the camera. Larger lenses have image stabilization systems but they can be very expensive.
Test your own ability at each different shutter speed. Take hand held pictures of an object that doesn’t move. Take a picture at each shutter speed with each lens. Review the images and see which ones are blurry. This will give you a personal guideline of when you need to get out the tripod. Blurred motion can be great way to photograph moving objects but only if you can control it. Take the time to learn your own limitations so you can make creative decisions of when to use slow shutter speeds with bodies in motion.