What’s In Your Bag?

Over the weekend I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the Canon 70-200 f4 USM telephoto lens. The choice came after almost a year of researching, second guessing and ultimately deciding on purchasing a much more budget friendly and lighter version of Canons 2.8 version, which retails at around $1,950.00. 00. It will be my first zoom lens since I purchased the Cannon f 2.8 28-135 (Not pictured here) some years ago. Adding it to my other lenses. The EF 85mm 1:18, EF 28mm 1:18, EF 50mm 1:1.4, EF 50mm 1:1.8, 40mm 0.3m/0.98ft (also not pictured here) and my trusted 15mm 1:28. And while it might seem like too much. Each lens has served a purpose and more than justified the money invested. As the lens is due to arrive on Thursday of this week. I hope and plan to use it as early as this weekend. Here’s to new glass.



Testing, Testing

TestLast night a friend and fellow photographer visited to give me a lighting tutorial using just one hot light and a couple of flags. Having someone just down the hall from me who’s more than happy to stop by to talk shop while sharing his experience and knowledge keeps me inspired and appreciative. No matter where my journey as a photographer takes me.    I need to learn and grow in order to keep that passion alive.

TestIIAs we were shooting, he mentioned how this style would work well with my artist and musician portraits. Adding dimension and drama to my images. As we viewed each image as it was shot. I was reminded of a shoot I did with Brooklyn’s Cinema Cinema at my old home studio in Hoboken. This image was also shot with one light that was fitted with a soft box. At the time, and still to this day. Both the band and myself loved the results.      It seems that this was the direction I was hoping to move towards for some time now.

Having all the space I need to shoot and the tools to help my work grow. I can only hope to continue doing what I love.       To quote the late, great Joe Strummer “The Future is Unwritten.”

Headshot or Not.

While I’m not 100% sure I’ve ever done a poll on this blog in the  years I’ve been doing this. I’d like to get feedback on a number of things as I hope to create some dialogue with the people who tune in from time to time to see what I’m up to. CloseIn the past and in recent months to be more accurate. I’ve somehow managed to gain some regular traffic here on the blog. Something that means a lot considering photography is one, if not my greatest passion. Comments, messages and dialogue are both welcome and appreciated. As I decide on whether or not to spend good cash on an intensive headshot course.    I thought I’d reach out and ask some of you for your input. Please take a moment to choose one of the options below as well as share with anyone who might have an opinion on the matter. Thanks.

An Unenviable Task

Ensign @ CBGB’s

As a budding photographer in the mid to late 90’s I went through countless rolls of both negative and slide film accumulating boxes upon boxes of slides, negatives and prints. I had a neat linen closet in my one bedroom Hell’s Kitchen apartment filled with my photographed history. Everything in a separate, marked envelopes with negatives intact. I was really anal about it and why not. One of the first things I was taught  was to keep your negatives with your prints and keep them in pristine condition.

Christy Front Drive @ ABC No Rio

However, at one point all of that changed. I got a job at a photo store on University Place and B&H opened it’s Super Store within walking distance of my apartment. My organizing obsession started and my simple, organized hobby went haywire. One day I had this genius idea to separate my negatives from their prints and put everything into binders. I spent lots of money and time making complete nonsense out of my once perfect system. A few years later my girlfriend moved in and that converted linen closet turned photo library became my girlfriends converted personal storage unit. Negatives and Pictures soon separated before legally becoming divorced and despite supervised visits, rarely saw one another.

Helmet @ Maxwell’s

Years later I’m happily married to the woman that took over my closet, living in another town in another state. I’ve begun the unenviable task of going through about sixteen years of newly digitalized negatives putting names to bands I may have only seen once or twice at CBGB’s, ABC No Rio, Maxwell’s or perhaps Connecticut’a Anthrax club. Most are immediately recognizable while others draw a complete blank. It seems I attended my share of crappy Thugcore shows at CBGB’s in the 90’s along  with a few Jersey Metalcore shows. Add to that I’ve started the process of putting names to the bands I’ve shot since going digital. A task that has been a tad easier since I’ve labelled each folder with at least the nights headliner. One thing I have gone as far as doing is tracking down the names of the band members. There are so many bands I’ve enjoyed over the years. Many of which I never had the opportunity to get personal with. So I’ll continue digging, archiving and shooting. Putting names to the many faces whose music continues to add to my loss of hearing. Back to work…

Welcoming the New Year

In case you haven’t noticed we’ve entered a new year and decade. I’ve been feeling particularly creative as of late and have my eyes on new projects, new adventures and new avenues for exhibiting my work. As the new year rolled in I signed up with a few networking sites and groups including Smug Mug and Model Mayhem. I mention these important networking tools because this week I had my first face to face experiences with both. Attending my first Smug Mug workshop at B&H and working together with my first Model Mayhem contact Diana. My first experience with Smug Mug and Rob ‘Ninja’ Nicholson was excellent. Entertaining, informative and completely reassuring at the same time. Listening and watching Rob made me better understand why people join cults and believe in alien abductions. I wanted to stay and meet everyone but there’s something about crowds that sometimes give me overwhelming anxiety. The room was so packed that all I could think of was fresh air and how close I was to the door.                                                                                                   The very same week I had my first meet up with my very first Model Mayhem contact Diana Lo. What drew me to Diana’s profile was the simple beauty of her pictures on the site. A lot of the work I had seen on the site was a combination of sex, raunch and endless hours of Photoshop. Her photos stood out to me. After a couple of emails and a phone call we chose a date and time. I’m always a little nervous before a session. I admit that after all these years I still get the butterflies before every session. Working with someone and trying to capture their essence five minutes after you meet some one for the first time definitely has it’s challenges. But Diana and I had instant chemistry. During our phone conversation she told me how much she liked the location work I had done. So I promised her we’d visit some of my favorite spots before we went back to the studio. She had never been to Hoboken before so I was more than happy to give her a tour.                                                As we talked and took pictures Diana became more and more instinctive. I almost immediately noticed that the pictures on her profile, although beautiful, didn’t even scratch the surface. I meet a lot of beautiful, unique and special people in my line of work. Diana however took it to another level. She reminded me of someone who was very special to me a child. Someone who opened my eyes to the beauty the world has to offer. Whenever I think of that particular person I have so many special memories. To this day I get choked up just thinking about her.      As we went from one spot to the other Diana would thank me for showing me these new places, explaining my approach to each photo and making her feel included. She told me about growing up in Hong Kong and living in Manhattan. What was scheduled to be a two hour session went past five hours and I can honestly say that not a minute was wasted of forced. We both loved the shots we took and enjoyed the whole process. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be doing what I love. I’ll go back to this session and this blog post whenever I need a reminder.

Building relationships and trust.

Last week I attended my first event at B&H photo. I had stopped their a few days prior to purchase the Gary  Fong Light Sphere II Cloud and a monopod. My bad of goodies included a calender of events ….. “Portraits with Conceptual and Emotional Significance” was right up my alley.  As I sat there listening to Tom (the guest speaker) I felt both inspired and connected on a personal level. What I fully expected to be a short talk followed by a massive sales pitch turned out to be reenforcement of everything I believe in. Here was this guy who was an award winning photographer. Had traveled the world and shot for the Associated Press who I had shared so many of the same experiences with. All these accolades and awards yet he wasn’t there to speak about shutter speeds, apertures, or the latest product that will make you the greatest portrait photographer in the world. Here was a guy talking about relationships and building trust. Something I strive on. I’ve worked hard on learning lighting, proper exposure and getting the most out of the tools I work with. But I’ve worked a lot harder on building relationships and trust with the people I work with. How can I possibly get a telling image of someone if they don’t trust me? It’s not possible and I’ve experienced it first hand.

A few days later I worked with someone I met a little over a year ago. In a short time we built a trust and a friendship that has allowed me to take my photography to another level. I guess it goes both ways because I notice how at ease I am when I’m photographing her. She also has this uncanny ability to sometimes know what I’m going to ask her to do before I do it. I mentioned it to her and she just answered “It’s because I trust you.”  To sum it all up. I learned a lot from that event. I learned that you can’t succeed without trust and a good working relationship with your clients. I learned that making mistakes is all part of the learning experience and making them does not doom you to failure. I also learned that you can never give up. I was also reminded why I love what i do.