Pushed to make a photograph, I often find difficulty. I need time to think. To compose. To envision the photograph so that I know what I am working towards. Some people just want a memory captured. Sometimes, art needs to be set aside and the photograph just needs to be utilitarian. Today I was tasked with taking a memory of a man and his friends. He did not care about lighting, or mood, or composition. He just wanted the memory captured. Him. His friends. In their place. So I made the picture. Basic lighting was employed. It is not art. But sometimes that doesn't matter. Up until this moment, it was difficult for me to understand this. Not every photograph is a stepping stone to a better portfolio. BUT a photograph can be a happy memory, and I guess that that matters more.
I am thankful for the people who allow me to photograph them. Without them believing that I will be able to produce an image they would be happy to have, and to hold on to for longer than the time it takes to make a selfie, I would be entirely without subjects to patiently work with me as I slowly compose, and focus...
In a general sense, I have a pretty good idea of what it is that I am doing, and what it is that I like. I think we all get to that point eventually. It just takes time. More importantly though, it takes focused practice. I am lucky that those around me allow me to photograph them as regularly as I do.
Though my subject matter is varied, I have few qualms sharing the assorted images and characters that I photograph. I think that it is important that a photograph communicates a story, and that is what I try to capture. We all have stories. I do not photograph weddings. I photograph people in their environments, and as they are. My hope is that though the majority of my photographs are posed, and lit, that they are none-the-less honest to my subject, and a window to who they are to the viewer.
I have been, and still do, mostly consider myself a handheld photographer... Tripods were used for long exposures at night, or for use with a timer. Over the past two months though I have come to appreciate the importance of a photograph's background; it being the scene to which we place our subject within.
One of the aspects of my handheld photography has been that I have "worked" my way around a subject, largely ignoring my backgrounds as I did so. In so doing I found that sometimes my photographs would be lacking in some aspect. The light may be right on the subject, but the background no longer 'worked' as it had at another angle. Potentially good photographs have been lost because of the subject not fitting the background as the camera's angle changed.
And so my recent epiphany of the importance of a tripod to fix a scene. I have come to realize that it is better to set my scene, and then have my model move and position themselves within it to the light that I am using. To keep moving about without consideration for my background disjoins my subject from my background, thereby only creating half an image.
I have taken to the streets again. Not regularly, but enough for my introverted self to feel as though I am putting forth an effort to do so. Slowly my style is starting to shape itself, a combination of both classical studio and street portraiture.
As I update these pages with new images, I am modestly impressing myself as I can see the lessons that I have learned from a previous night applied to the next. It is invigorating so see growth within my work, and a compass point develop before me.
As a strange side note, I have come to enjoy the process of deleting old images from this page as I have new ones to display. I am yet to truly go through my archive and pare down all the images that I would like to display upon these pages. Hopefully sooner than later I will do so.
As the previous post stated, I have been taking pictures of bugs for a while now. My efforts have been focused intently on that, which can drive one to insanity if you take it too seriously (which perhaps I did at times). The aim of perfection is an unattainable goal, yet is one which continually caused internal turmoil as I pursued it.
Sometimes I take photography as more than a hobby, or even a passion. When I have a subject before me, drive pushes me further, and I can lose myself to trying to capture a fleeting moment of time that represents the quiet nature of a life. I know, it's crazy. As long as I do not have a camera in hand, nor a subject before me, I am okay.
Much like hunting, there is a pursuit to capturing a photograph, as well maneuvering and stalking the image. A game of strategy and wills at the worst of time. To find an elusive photograph that is worth sharing with others can sometimes take hours of work,... and sometimes it just happens. When the first shot taken is "the one," the next photos become the "just incases," and fun photographs to see other perspectives that might be hidden. The stress is off.
I have found portraiture of people to be (usually) easier than that of insects. The work is certainly cooperative, and the pursuit is sometimes a leisurely stroll (once the technicals have been worked out). Street portraiture is nice because it involves little set up really. Natural light, and the right person within it. A few moments shared, then a departure. I just wish more of the people who I met along the way contacted me so that I may share with them the photograph that we had made together.
I will be taking a small break from insect photography. Perhaps one or two captures every few days. My focus will be on relaxing a bit, and making portraits of people when the opportunity presents itself. I need to keep my stress levels lower. I want to contribute to the art of photography, more so than driving myself insane in micro-perfection.
I promised someone that I would have this page updated by 10pm tonight: in time for them to get off of work and (hopefully) remember to check this page out.
The main page is a collection of many of the photographs that I have submitted to Canadian Geographic for their "Photographer of the Year" contest. Last year I was a finalist. I would like to finish in the top five this this year.
During the summer, I like to spend some of my free time photographing bugs. Their world is a fairly interesting one, as they go about doing whatever it is that they do... And generally, unlike small mammals, they tend not to scurry away as I approach. It does not make the work any easier though, and I challenge anyone to try macro photography. It is both a continual joy and frustration as your plane-of-focus is a mere millimetre or two in depth. But when you get "the shot," the stress and mosquito bites that came along to get it are worth it.
I truly hope that you, the viewer enjoy these photographic portraits of the insects that I capture.
As I walk the woods that sit at my back yard, or walk the streets of downtown Toronto, I have come to find that my ability to "see" has changed. I feel as though I am missing things that would have been once so obvious; yet am now seeing other things that I had once over looked. The seasons seem to dictate the type of photography that I am doing at the moment. Or the mosquitos.
The woods are a beautiful place for me to walk and relax, and I love to photograph the small things within it that do not necessarily make for a good photograph. I think that we all do these things. I wonder if I should show these photographs upon these pages. My "Random Adventure" photos. Are they even interesting enough?
Street has become more interesting to me, particularly as I am starting to be able to "see" a very special type of light, that in all honesty excites me. The shimmer and glow that comes with it before the golden hour is special, and I seek it out earnestly. I am still learning to handle the light. It has its own properties that are simply different and special.
As I take more photographs, I think that I am learning to see and change my past-held perspectives to ways that are starting to show a maturity in my photography. At least let's hope so.
I have been a bit of a photographic funk for the past few weeks. My grandfather recently passed away, and so I have not really been in the mood to make many photographs as of late. One of the quick portraits I made of him six months ago during my grandmother's funeral was the one that we used during his. The night after his funeral I sat on my bed in the hotel room and stared at his photograph...
It hurt to know that he had passed. I did feel some pride in knowing that my grandfather had liked that photo of him. I also recognized the importance of having a proper photograph of yourself. Not just for you, but for those behind you. Who are you? There is something to be said of a photograph that is able to communicate your essence to future viewers. Yes, that was my grandfather in the picture. A wink. A smile. A little bit of hurt.
I have resolved to photograph my entire family. One person at a time. This may take me three years. Proper portraits. My first image will be of my uncle at the outboard of his fishing boat, the sun setting behind him. These will be clean and simple portraits. I will make our family's book.
I am always nervous when I am go out and taking photographs on the street. Sometimes I try to emulate other street photographers, only to fail miserably. I can't be them. Not that my photos are great, but I am slowly starting to recognize my style, and the kinds of photos that I am successful taking. This is reassuring to me; I feel as though I am making progress.
The 'street portrait' is something that I have come to enjoy. Asking someone to take their photo is easier for me to do than to simply sneak the photo. I look for the people that are already contemplating, then ask them to keep doing whatever it is that they are doing.
Night is the easiest time to shoot, as the street lights act as giant grids. I love grids. Black and white, at night. I am in heaven.
I am trying to find myself artistically. Where it is that I want to go. How it is that I am to overcome the insecurities that I have regarding this art form. I see what they are doing, and wonder why it is that I am not producing like images. But they are not me. Our perspectives are different.
I feel as though I lack the creative side that is needed within this art. I simply see and take. How do I return and give back? My images feel stolen from time, and I am the thief that took them. But are they good? At what point is one able to say that they created the image, rather than simply captured an image? Perhaps I have begun to refine capturing a moment...
Sometimes I know when a photograph has been captured. I am thankful for having been there to have to do so. A moment in time preserved. Often I am lost in my framing, and composition, and then wait for things to come together in the world trapped within my viewfinder. The shutter is then released, and I slowly move onto the next moment...
I like the intimate photo. The photograph that brings the viewer into space of that which is being photographed. Perhaps to quietly observe.
I am still learning how to make a picture. When I press a shutter release, I am usually lost in that tiny space inside the viewfinder. When the image feels right, I gasp, knowing that my work was for that single photograph.
As stated before, I am a slow photographer. My camera does not allow for me to shoot haphazardly in hopes of getting that special moment by accident. Much patience is required, and my camera and lenses make me work for nearly every shot I take... and honestly, I would not have it any other way.
I have been taking pictures for twenty years now. Starting out on a Vivatar 110, I eventually moved up to my dad's Minolta x-700. I was learning. In high school I developed negatives, and took pictures of friends and things of little consequence. Shapes and forms. I occasionally captured something worth noting, but most of the time there was a lesson to be learned. My university life was captured on an Intel digital camera. 0.3MP. Rarely art, but always interesting.
Thinking back now, those photos that could have been considered "successful" were primarily portraits; and it is that which I photograph now with greatest vigour.
If I was to describe my shooting style in one word, it would be "slow." Even my street photography is slow. I like to observe moments of time, and then decide how I can capture it in a manner that does it justice. Some shots are quick, and "on the fly," but for the most part, you can hear me say "Don't move... You've got great light," as I slowly come up and move about you, working various angles within my mind. If the light is not right, then I take the time to set up the flash(es) that I may need to capture that moment...
... For most of my photographic life, I have had an irrational fear of flash. As has been said may times, "You fear that which you do not understand..." And I did not understand how to use a flash. Even up until a year ago, I was a "natural light" shooter only. Things have changed; mostly in an effort to hone and improve my craft. Wanting to take the next steps in my photography, I have tried to learn and experiment with flash. It is still a learning process, and control of the light is starting to come. With each photo shoot where I use a flash, I feel as though I have come away learning something new.
I still shoot ambient for most of my personal work. I like it. It feels like a nice warm pair of slippers to me. I feel comfortable in the warm glow of the sun, and the cool rays of the spring, summer, and fall nights. During winter... my photographs become more measured, and I want to get back inside as quickly as I can. I regret that my winter photos are not nearly as plentiful as all the other seasons, but one day I may take that challenge on with greater vigour.
I hope that with this helps you know me a bit better as a photographer. I love this art. I know that I am not 'great,' or even 'good.' At this point I consider myself to be mediocre by measure against those whom I hold in high esteem. But I have my vision of the types of image I wish to capture, and I slowly, always slowly, am working towards an endless pursuit of beauty.