I don't remember when time seemed so abundant to me as it is today. I'm somewhat of an philosopher without words. What I mean by that is i think and overthink a lot without ever voicing my opinions, thoughts and ideas. Although i don't voice them as much as i should. I do show them through my images. Photography as an art form is more powerful than any words i could ever speak. The recent change in my life has given me even more time to think and reflect. While i was in philosopher mode I fell into a project of some kind. It sort of started as a challenge to myself, the challenge was to photograph just inside my grandparents house. Obviously i am still making photographs around the orchard when I am out there, but for the sake of the challenge any free time I had was spent finding things in the house that I could photograph in a more interesting composition.
This week has been such a gorgeous week. I recently came back from a good friends wedding in Michigan. I've only been gone for about a month and half, but it was good to be home even if it was just for a little bit. It's astonishing how quickly things can change with-in a weeks time. The orchards are in full bloom with fruit buds everywhere. The landscape has turned so green compared to how it was only a few weeks ago. All of the trees have started bearing groups of fruit buds, some more so than others. Thinning season just started here and we're putting all hands on deck to eliminate competing buds from the king buds. King buds is the term used to describe the dominating bud in a bunch. Its not hard to to tell which one it is because it will always be the biggest one in a bunch.
I've mainly stuck to written form on this blog and have shied from video and audio. While i don't really consider this weeks format audio since I'm pretty much silent the entire time, the video does have some audible sounds to it. I wanted to keep it this way instead of adding music in order to immerses you in what i was doing and basically how i work. Please bear in mind i included every photo i took for the sake of keep it real and raw. I wanted to show you everything i took and not just the fluff of a curated video.
In the following video, I decided to record myself photographing during the end of the work day. Everyone here starts work at 6:00am (including me) so everyone is off at about 2. well without further ado... P.S. look away during the fast forwarded parts if you get motion sickness.
I failed this week. Every night before i go to bed, I set my alarm. I tell myself mentally, I'm going to get up early and I'm going to photograph during sunrise on the orchard. Yet every morning i wake up at 6:30am, I grab something quick to eat and take a look outside to get a glimpse of the light, the clouds, the shadows and if there is enough buds on the trees that have bloomed yet. Then i start procrastinating. I go back to making breakfast. I end up taking longer than i should. I say to myself eh i'll go take a shower first and then come back down and check it out again. My concept of time is pretty out of wack to be honest, sometimes i get lost in other things i do and all of the sudden its lunch time.
Most people think you need to be in a big city to be a "street photographer", but that’s just not true. You can take me, currently out in bumble-fuck nowhere, and I still feel the urge to roam, explore, and photograph whatever I find interesting. Coming from Chicago, where there are absolutely endless possibilities and opportunities for great photographs, to a couple of rural towns within a fifteen-minute drive, that house about one to three thousand people combined, it's almost a complete 180° from what I'm used to… but you know what? That doesn't change you and how you photograph. You might just have to look a little harder, and spend more time finding photographs to make.
“Spray and pray” is a phrase you don't want to be associated with in the photography world. When it comes to orchards, and farming of fruits and vegetables, it’s quite necessary to ensure a good crop. We've only had two days this week when the weather was good enough to start spraying the trees. It has either rained, or was too windy, for spraying, and if this doesn't get done early in the season, it could ruin a lot of fruit once harvest comes around. Thankfully, we had a gap in all the bad weather. We had little-to-no rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Despite the fact that it was a holiday weekend, for those who celebrate it, the guys that handle spraying were more than willing to work and help us get a jump on getting this done.
Here we are: Week one is in the books! So far, so good, and life out here is pretty much as I expected. It’s still very early in the season, with lots of rain and gloomy weather. A perfect time to sit, reflect and relax. I've started reading some training documents on how the orchards run. I can't say that I'm overly fond of reading training documents, but I made my bed, and I'm going to lie in it. Also, if I really want to live and experience everything there is about working/running an apple orchard or farm, I gotta do it, I guess.
If you were to tell me 10 years ago that i'd be living in a small remote rural town doing a self funded project with no intention of making a dime on said project. I'd would have probably thought you were crazy, but then secretly steal your idea and shelve it for a long long time.
I can't quite remember when i first started taking pictures, but i do know i've had a camera with me since i was 7 or 8 years old. I started with those little disposable cameras and eventually started playing with my parents old Polaroid SX-70( i wish i knew what happened to that camera). As soon as the digital age of photography became more affordable, I jumped right into a point and shoot. Then there was camera phones which i think is one of the most revolutionary advancements in photography. Making cameras available for the masses is right up there next to the invention of pizza. At some point everyone that likes taking pictures starts to think about buying a DLSR and so i did. I went through G.A.S. (Gear acquisition syndrome) for quite a few years. i bought a giant pro body, lenses, flashes and modifiers and so much more. I kind of got lost in the gear and forgot about making photographs for awhile.
That winter rut... Let me tell you one thing about it. Its REAL. It happens to the best of us. I'm pretty sure it applies to the non creatives as well. What is it about the winter time that slows down the creation process? Is it the extremely long months of dark and dreary weather? Is it the sub arctic temperatures(if you live in Chicago)? Or is it because you've consumed an obscene amount of comfort food and just really don't feel like getting off the couch? What ever the reason is, it happens to everyone at some point. I've felt like this for the last 5 months and i couldn't find a way out of it. I was almost at the point to where i wanted to say fuck it. Maybe this is just a hobby and It's not meant for me?
That was my mind set for quite some time, At least until i left for Vegas to see the rest of my family for Christmas. I knew i had a long day ahead of me. for some odd reason i decided to book a flight for Christmas eve and had a 4 our layover in Denver. What do you do when your stuck at airports for pretty much the entire day? Most people would probably say grab a beer and start enjoying vacation? No no, my first extinct was to walk around look for things to photograph. An hour or so went by and i had nothing. I was still completely depleted and finally ended up at the closet watering hole and grabbed a beer. I sat there for awhile and thought, whatever I'm just not feeling inspired. Its feels like its something i've just gotten used to the past few months.
I sat there and started to read some other people talk about what inspires their art. There was one blog that i read from Zack Arias. He posted a blog titled "Get the fuck to work" . If you haven't read it, i suggest you do. It's great to see someone strip themselves down and find the very core of who they are. One thing that Zack mentions is that inspiration happens in the process and what he means by that is, Sometimes you're not meant to just sit there and wait for lighting to strike you. You need to go seek out the thunder storms. So i finished and paid for my beer and started roaming around again. This time camera in hand and just started snapping. No thinking, planning, or preconceptions of any sort. I just started making photographs.
I'm typically not the type of person that likes to spray and pray. I typically live by the concept of quality over quantity, But then i thought more and more about it. Mediocre work or content is better than ZERO work or content. Do you wanna hear something crazy? Something so outlandish that it'll make you slap the person sitting next to you? It really does work. What an insane concept huh? Working sparks more work? The process of creation can spark inspiration. Now I'm off to go make more work. I don't know what it'll be just yet. I don't know where it'll be. I just know i have to go do it. I HAVE to create work. So i'll leave you with that. Stop reading this blog and go create something.
I'm sure some of you, even people that are not photographers have heard someone say or have even said this themselves. "Thats a nice camera it must take amazing pictures" or "I could take great pictures if owned a professional camera"......
I'm not mad though... its just ignorance really. People that don't know what actually goes into making photographs assume its someone just clicking a button and so i decided to do just that. Does anyone remember point and shoot cameras? The days prior to camera phones? They came in a ton of varieties. There are still a ton of them out there today.(probably not for much longer though). Queue the thrift store anthem(you know which one I'm talking about), its where all the latest tech in film technology is sold these days. It really didn't take me very long. I actually got to one store where they had tons of little cameras and and the best part was that they only cost $2-3. They were wrapped up in little baggies and some of them even had film in them. Now the problem with film is you really don't know how the picture will turn out until you develop them, So i wasn't sure if any of these cheap cameras would actually work. Well there was only one way to find out. So i grabbed a few of them and took them home to make sure all the functions still work. Luckily the first one i picked up worked perfectly. I grabbed a roll of Kodak Gold 400 and i was off and running.
I'll be completely honest, I had almost zero hope for this camera when I first got it. So many odd things about it. First off obviously there are no settings at all, I can turn the flash on/off/auto. I'm still not quite sure on how the auto focus works on this camera. Typically on most camera you'd hear some type of whining or whirring sound. This is actually dead silent. I searched google for a manual or something and from what I read, all I have to go by is a small little green led right by the viewfinder and when it turns green it's good to go. Well I threw I roll in and went with it. Aside from lack of focus assurance, you have your typical lack of settings that come with a point and shoot, no apeture, shutter speed control. Now with film point and shoots you can hack your film rolls DX code to fool the camera(Read this article about hacking DX codes). So you can have some control of what ASA/ISO to shoot at. There is one thing that comes in handy at times and thats the 90mm zoom this P&S has. Yes you heard right 90mm!!! It maxes out at an f-stop of 5.6 or somthing but i've never been a big bokeh whore. I'm usually shooting at f8 and up when photographing on the streets.
For all the lack of features on the camera it's still a camera. It takes pictures as it was built to do and when its put in the right hands, it can produce great images. I actually learned a lot using this cheap camera. I was no longer worried about what my exposure was cause i really didn't have control of any exposure settings. What i was able to do was train my mind and eyes to see photographs better before taking them. I learned more about light, composition and emotion in a photo before clicking the shutter. I also quickly found out what my limitations were and i'll add some examples at the end of the blog. There are tons of situations where i knew this camera would not work, but i took pictures any way to see what would come out of it.
For anyone else out there that has struggled with two many options on modern cameras i urge you to try a point and shoot challenge. You don't have to go and buy a film camera although its a pretty cheap options. You can use an old digital point and shoot lying around at home or The camera that's always on you(your phone).
Limiting your choices will free your mind.
Who are you photographing for? I often times find my seeking the approval of other people, whether it be from friends, other photographer, or social media likes and follows. I know I've sat at a coffee shop a few times just after posting up a new picture on Instagram or Facebook and incessantly refreshing the browser or phone for new likes. i mean who doesn't like admiration from others? I don't want to make accusations but i think anyone who says they don't like appreciation or the approval of others is lying.
I recently had an image featured on an Instagram account and boom 1500 likes later i was obsessed. I started posting up more images to try and repeat my so called success. Success... What does that mean to you? The word is most commonly correlated to your financial status, the brand named cloths your wear or the the type of car you drive. I don't want to sit here and say i never yearned for any of these things, because i did. There were times when i used to put all the money i had from working at my 9-5 into car parts for my car. I would buy the newest phones and electronics.
This last year as been different though. I've spent a lot of my time reflecting and trying to understand myself better. Part of this process i've found one thing i really desire the most. My own happiness. As selfish as this sounds, I think you need to be happy for yourself first before you can pass this on to other people you interact with. The one person you should aim to impress is yourself. So i decided to go through ALL of my images. I'm not sure if people understand how many images i actually have that no one has ever seen. lets just say its nearing the 50k(not including film negatives) . I'm still in the process of narrowing it down to my favorite images but it's going to take some time.
I'm slowly whittling down my collection of images, but its taught me something in the process. I'm starting to learn and see a common theme between them all. I'm getting a better handle at who i am and what i enjoy. Before i end this blog post, I'll leave you with this. Do things for yourself, Create to make yourself happy and everything else will follow.
What goes through your head right before a shoot that you either set up or were commissioned for? I recently set up a quaint little shoot with a small production. I had a make up artist (Nathalie) and a model (Lulu). The day started of like any other, only i was frantically cleaning,arranging and moving things back and forth until the location was perfect.
As soon as you think you're all done and everything is where it needs to be, you always find one last thing that needs to be moved... At this point i just stopped and said to myself its perfect the way it is. Sometimes things should be imperfect. Although i am a bit OCD when it comes to certain things. I can honestly say i don't like my images overly polished and perfect. I love the small little imperfections in someones face or body. It adds a great level of personal character to an image or person.
I think what i'm ultimately trying to get at is, be careful with trying to over fluff your images with too much. One of the things i think helped me create better images was taking things away from it. No extravagant location shoots, no off camera flashes, fewer lens options, and 1-2 film stocks (if shooting film). The saying "less is more" Hits true to my style of shooting. When your mind has less to worry about while shooting, you can put forth more of your creativity into the actual photograph.
Next time your getting a shoot ready or venturing out doors to photograph the public, Test yourself. Remove some comfort items from your camera arsenal. Try only using 1 or 2 lenses, or only rely on natural light. you'll be surprised at how much you can create with less in your way.
I can't remember my very first birthday, but I'm almost certain it involved several dozen of family members. First cousins, second cousins and the rest of their families gathered around a dinner table full of food. It was almost always a lined up buffet style, with barbecue pork on skewers, pancit palabok, lechon kawali, and so much more, i'd rather not think about because I'm already hungry as it is. We didn't reserve these extravagant food arrangements for birthday parties. We'll get together for holidays, any sort of sporting event championships, karaoke night (when someone just so happens to have a magic mic). As I look back at all of the parties we had, I recently started to realize and appreciate the idea of having a strong supporting network.
I want to go back to the word family for a little bit. What does it mean really? Is "family" someone you have a traceable blood relation to? Sure, that's the most direct answer. The word "family" to me means a person you have built a long and meaningful relationship with. Anyone that quickly takes a look at my collection of photos will clearly see that my family is what is photographed the most in my life. It's kinda hard not to when you have such an eclectic bunch of friends from so many different backgrounds. You'll also notice how much they've gotten used to having a camera in their face at all times. I'm usually completely ignored now which is great for me. It's so much easier capturing all the genuine candid moment we have.
"the most important thing right now is self awareness...knowing your strengths and weakness(es)". So i sat down, thought about it and here we are. Writing a blog about something I consider a strength of mine. I know there is so much talk out on the interwebs about introverts and extroverts. I don't really know which side I live on. What do you call a half and half? (closet introvert?) Some days I'm perfectly fine sitting at home binging on Youtube videos while thinking if I should order an entire large pizza for myself. Other times I'm up and about networking and meeting new people. I can honestly say I've made it through the majority of my life by the help of friends and family. Anytime I've needed help or just needed people to talk to, friends and family have always been there. It kind of baffles me how someone can go through life with out this type support.
I don't want to sit here and say i got by in life using the connections i have, but i certainly would not be the person i am today without the people I've surrounded myself with. Isn't is just human nature to want to be around other human beings? Is it crazy to think some people out there find a better connection with Cats, dogs, manbearpigs? Whatever or whomever it may be that you deem as your inner circle of friends and family. I only hope they help you keep your sanity throughout your life. I know mine has so far.
“The more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be.” – Fritjof Capra
"the most important thing right now is self awareness...knowing your strengths and weakness(es)" - Gary Vaynerchuck
It's been awhile since i wrote a blog post so i thought it would be about time to start this back up. A little over a year ago i started shooting film again. Its slowly taken over alot of my personal work. I still shoot digital for Jobs that require a quick turn a round time, but i find my self grabbing film and film cameras more often when i venture out to shoot.
It's crazy to think how much more time i can spend on creating images without the fuss of post processing. Alot of the work is done by a lab called Indiefilmlab. I'll put up a link to their website below, but they do an AMAZING job.
If you haven't noticed, for some reason i've been using a lot of black and white film. Everything so far has been shot on Ilford HP5 ISO400. The first shot in the series was pushed to 1600. I really do love this film stock but i'm still in my experimenting phase. I actually have a bunch of different types of films on its way and can't wait to test them all out.
Here is the last one for now. I have so many shots that won't fit even in a 2 part blog post. Check back soon for part three of the Analog life.
Please check out www.indiefilmlab.com for all your developing and processing needs! Full disclosure i am not paid or given any free services, I just love what they do so much.
"Wind, Wind, Click". Gone are the days of manually winding film, clicking on a shutter button and not being able to instantly see the results on the back of the camera. Or so i thought. I bought a hasselblad 501c about a year ago and shot a few rolls. I love the camera, I love medium format. Especially the 6x6 square. It gives you a different perspective on compostion.
Despite how much i love shooting with the hasselblad, There is one big issue. Its the size of chipotle burrito stuffed with every topping you can imagine. So the search began for a smaller film camera, But i didnt want to shell out more money i could use to buy film, pizza or beer.
Cue the Thrift shop song by MACKLEMORE. I must have walked into 5-6 thift shops in the same night and it wasnt till the last salvation army that i walked into when the camera that would soon be mine. A Pentax K1000 sitting on a shelf with a 50mm f2 lens on it. I was skeptic at first, Because of the weird smudge on the lens.(looked like melted chocolate) The inside of the camera looked clean and the shutter operated perfectly.
Then i saw the price tag sticker crudely put on the bottom of the camera. $8.99?!?! i was confused and thought there had to be a catch. I mean ebay sells a body alone for $50. and this was $9 for body and lens. So i thought what the hell? I'll skip a day of binging on fast food to pay for this camera.
I've shot about 10 rolls on this camera and have developed about 2 of those rolls. I currently have 8 more mailed out to a lab for processing and am paitently waiting to receive this back. Which brings me to one of the reasons i wanted to start shooting film again. Digital is great, Don't get me wrong. I love all the Fuji cameras i have, Especially the x100T! With that being said, There is a completely different feeling, thought process behind shooting film. I'll explain more when i get my 8 rolls of film back in a part 2 to this blog. To be continued.....
I want to start this off with the typical "It was a beautiful sunny sunday afternoon Blah blah blah...." But in reality it was just a typical sunday. I was bored sitting on my ass watching some type of cooking show and thinking to my self "Hmm, I could make that". (but really I'm not that great of a cook) After about 4 hours of cooking shows i couldnt sit there anymore. I had to get out. So i started driving aimlessly into the sunset so to speak. Eventually driving into what some people might call a shady neighborhood. I stumbled across a few pretty cool locations, And by stumble i really mean i got lost was trying to find my way out.
I know everyone has GPS on their phones nowadays. I refused to use it. I intentionally wanted to lose myself in an enviorment i wasn't familiar with. I wanted that feeling of not knowing where I'm going or who or what i'll find. In the midst of trying to find my way back on to known territory, I found i little of myself. I found a bit of my personality in areas i wouldn't ever imagine i would. So if you're ever sitting around, bored to death. Get up, Get lost in your own city and explore. you'd be surprised at what you find in your own backyard.