May 162013
 
Waves of Change

“Waves of Change,” Ecola State Park (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Almost eight years ago to the day, Craig and I celebrated the end of our first temporary stay in Oregon by standing on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach.

Sunset at Indian Beach

“Sunset at Indian Beach” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

I remember that evening in 2005 so vividly, I can still feel the memory today:  The gentle ocean breeze.  The smell of the tide change.  The warmth of the setting sun.  Two of the photographs I captured that evening – with my Contax 645 medium format film camera – now rest above our bed in our Arizona home to serve as a daily reminder of one of our favorite places and moments along the Oregon coast.

Months ago, as we prepared for our second temporary stay in Oregon, a rush of thoughts overwhelmed my mind based on our first experience.  Where to go, when to go, what to see, who to see, and how to record such ample and different beauty in Oregon. As they say, “So many places to see, so little time.” The list of places to see and things I want to do became longer than a child’s Christmas list.

Sea Stack Sunset

“Sea Stack Sunset” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Despite the seemingly endless new photographic opportunities this transition presented, I decided to start my photographic journey in Oregon in the same place I left off:  on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park.  It’s a place I’d been countless times before, and yet when I arrived on Tuesday morning, nothing, nothing, looked the same as 2005.

Upon coming to the realization that nothing, nothing, had remained the same, I smiled as big as the little girl who got everything she wished for on December 25.  In that instance, I mouthed the words as the wind whispered, “No man ever steps in same river twice, for it is not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  ~Heraclitus.

(Turns out Heraclitus’ quote applies to oceans and women too!)

I couldn’t have been happier to learn that in eight years, everything, everything, has changed.  Mother Nature altered the landscape such that I can no longer stand in the same place as I did before, thanks to landslides.   Those landslides pushed new rocks into the ocean, and each wave crashed a little differently on those new sea stacks.  It’s not possible for me to re-create the same compositions I did in 2005, even if I wanted to-I didn’t.

On top of significant natural changes and differing light/weather, I’m thankfully not the same person, photographer, artist that stood on that headland before.  I replaced my film camera long ago with two generations of digital cameras.  I now know what to do with a graduated neutral density filter.   I’ve embraced my love affair with the coast, despite living in the desert.  Endless experiences – conversations, readings, successes, failures, travels, and other inspirations – have challenged and changed my perspectives over time so that when I look at a scene I’ve seen before, I’m looking through an entirely different lens.

Ansel Adams summed it best:   “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

Hang On!

“Hang On!” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Whether we know it or not, as time passes, we and the world around us are constantly changing.  But, neither change nor creativity needs to be a passive activity.  If we seek to create new images in the same spots, we must change as a person.  Simply buying a new lens won’t cut it.  Oh sure, new gear can help execute new visions, but we need to start with new ideas and make different associations among the knowledge we already possess to see, and ultimately photograph, something new in places we’ve already been once or a hundred times.

Consciously and subconsciously, we can gain fresh thoughts everywhere and anytime, not just while photographing.  Some ideas how:

  • Reverse engineer photos you like to understand the process they used to achieve a specific result.  How’d they do it?  Then how would you do it differently?
  • Keep asking “what if.”  What if you used a different lens?  What if you climbed the hill for a more aerial perspective?  What if you saw the ocean as the desert, metaphorically speaking?
  • Devour books.  Not just photography books, but anything that tickles your passion and stimulates your brain.
  • Listen to music, watch movies, attend plays.  And then think about how you can incorporate the concepts and ideas you hear, see, and experience into your photography.
  • Talk with and exchange ideas with others.  Not just other photographers, but also those who know nothing about photography, who explore other activities and fields you enjoy, and think differently than you.  Surround yourself with people who know more than you.
  • Screw up.  Often.  Then learn from the experience to develop even more new ideas.
  • Engage with your environment.  An experience you have in one location can help trigger ideas in a different location.  Ride a bike, go for a hike, take a field-based class – whatever gets you closer to your subject.

So last Tuesday, I brought with me to Indian Beach all my experiences from spending 90+ days in Acadia National Park in Maine over the last four years, every critique I’ve conducted during all the photography workshops I teach, the entire process of writing a book about Arizona wildflowers, and more simply, even the songs I heard on the radio as I drove to Ecola State Park, among so many other things.  And as a result, my photographs look nothing, nothing, like they did in 2005.

What other tips do you have to see the same place with fresh eyes?

Spring Emergence

“Spring Emergence,” False lily-of-the-valley at Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

May 152013
 

Sailing Your ShipAre you ready to run away from your mundane 8-to-5 job and start sailing your own ship as a freelance photographer after reading our blog post at the end of February, “Independence Day…in February” and our April post advising “Don’t Jump Ship Yet!  Start Your Own Photography Circus Before You Leave Your Job!“?

Whether your glorious Independence Day has already arrived or you have circled the big day boldly on your calendar – in both cases, congratulations! – before you start to think, “Oh sh*t, what have I done?!” consider these points to ensure you enjoy much success in your new life as a freelancing photographer:

  • Sell your work…without selling your soul.  Mortgages, car payments, and utility bills do not disappear when you start your own business.  As a new entrepreneur soley responsible for gaining income for your business, look for work that gets you out of bed in the morning, as your passion will show not only in the products and services you deliver, but also in the relationships you build with clients.  If your new career starts to feel too much like work (yay, aren’t taxes fun?!?), keep your love of photography alive by working on challenging personal projects in your free time.
  • “Just Say No.”  It may sound illogical to turn down business opportunities as you begin your new career, but heed these wise words from Nancy Reagan.  Once you’ve defined a niche for yourself, be comfortable turning down short-term money-making endeavors unrelated to your path to instead build your brand and skills within your area of expertise.  For example, if your focus is wildlife photography, build your body of work by photographing elk or eagles on the weekend, not the “wild life” of weddings.  By investing your limited time to find lucrative outlets within your domain, your sales will be greater in the long run.
  • Update your online portfolio.   No one wants to visit a website that you have neglected to update since 2010.  As your perfect your work and style, showcase your newest and best photography, as well as published tear-sheets and clips, on your website and social media outlets to keep your existing customers coming back for more and to attract new clients.
  • Keep the “unity” in your community.  Friends, supporters, experts, connections – literally anyone! – can turn into a paying client so it’s important to keep building your relationships and awareness within your circles. Ask “What can I do for you” instead of “Isn’t my picture pretty?  Do you want to buy it?”  Consistently deliver educational presentations throughout your local community, stay active in professional organizations, and engage with others in social media conversations.  Because of the snowball effect exposure can have in increasing your sales, even the smallest opportunity could transform into your future signature work.  Never underestimate the value of exposure (pun intended!).
  • Shut up and listen.  To gain business, don not rely upon the movie Field of Dreams’ motto, “If you build it, they will come.”  As you connect with members of your community, listen carefully to the comments, complaints, and questions they have related to their world to gain ideas for content in your next assignment, upcoming show, book project, or otherwise.  Proactively create your own sales opportunities by delivering solutions to them based on their input.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize.  Round up a couple trusted family members, friends, or mentors schedule frequent “Bored Meetings” (also referred to as “Board Meetings”).  Regularly reviewing your business plan with outside advisors will help you gain a renewed perspective on your direction, celebrate your successes, and gauge your progress against your defined “S. M. A. R. T.” – specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and tangible – goals to stay on track.
  • Learn; there is no “fail.”  If you are blazing your own path and testing new ideas through a wide variety of experiences, inevitably you will have moments when things don’t go the way you hoped.  No matter how much mud you feel is covering your face, hose yourself off, and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?  How can I improve next time?”  As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Working 24 x 7 does not equal success.  Though tempting, resist the urge to work day and night to keep your business moving forward.  Take time to step away from the juggling act to avoid burn out and refresh your creative soul.  As you would schedule vacation time in your previous job, set aside time to relax and enjoy activities unrelated to your profession, leaving the camera and laptop behind.

If you’ve started a new career or independent business, what tips and tricks have you utilized to stay afloat as you charter new territory?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

And of course, no matter where you are in the transition, I wish you the very best of luck in your journey as a professional photographer!  Go forth and conquer! And keep us updated with your progress and learnings along the way!

<shameless plug>If you would like more hands-on guidance in planning your successful transition to a photography career, join me for the Arizona Highways Photography Workshop “There’s No Business Like the Photo Business” on June 22-23, 2013.  Visit the Arizona Highways Photography Workshops website at www.ahpw.org/workshops/2013/Phoenix-Arizona-No-Business-Like-Photo-Business-Workshop-2013-06-22 for more information and to register.

If you’re content with keeping photography as a hobby but would like more information on how to sell the photographs collecting dust on your hard drive, then  join me for the 1-day Arizona Highways Photography Workshop, “Selling Your Work Without Selling Your Soul” session on June 1, 2013.  For information and registration, visit www.ahpw.org/workshops/2013/Phoenix-Arizona-Selling-Your-Photography-2013-06-01. </shameless plug>

May 032013
 
NAU Guest Blogger Project

Introducing the 35 NAU students who will act as Guest Bloggers on this blog starting today through early May: (In alphabetical order)
First row (left to right):First row (left to right): Evan Atwood, Tiffany Bociung-Bodtke, Heather Brick, Alyssa Burkett, Niko Chaffin, James Dean, and Anthony DeAngelo
Second row (l to r): McKenna Edwards, Sherese French, Daniel Garcia, Alex Gaynor, Mark Goodger, Tom Heger, and Shelby Irons
Third row (l to r): Rebecca Kooima, Emily Larsen, Kristyn Lechwar, Jenna Lyter, Clark Malcolm, Grant Masters, and Christine McCully
Fourth row (l to r): Marissa Molloy, Takashi Okunda, Jordan Patton, Jennifer Radke, Amanda Ray, Karen Renner, and Colby Rycus
Fifth row (l to r): Stephanie Sherban, Jessica Silvius, Quinn Tucker, Keenan Turner, Tracy Valgento, Margaret Whittaker, and Kimberly Yip

Whelp, gang, there you have it!  Since April 15, thirty-five students have posted their heartfelt and insightful “Behind the Image” stories and shared their wonderfully creative images with us.  Congratulations and a high-five for a job well done to all the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Intermediate Photography students who participated!  Let’s give them a round of applause as the students take a well-deserved bow!

What I appreciated most was the diversity of work displayed.  Though some of the subjects were similar, the presentations and visual messages differed and often directly reflected the individual photographers’ passions and specific interests.  I also found it refreshing to hear honest stories about how the image finally came together.  Sometimes things worked out perfectly, sometimes they didn’t right away.  The important thing is that they kept trying, and I admired these students’ persistence and commitment to achieve their unique visions as well as their willingness to openly shared their trials and tribulations with us.

At the risk of this blog post turning into one of those endless Emmy Awards speeches, I also want to once again thank NAU Photography Instructor, Amy Horn, for coordinating this assignment – no small task!  Thank you, Amy, for being so easy to work with and for enabling this partnering opportunity.

And thanks to YOU, especially those of you who have not only taken the time to enjoy the images and stories, but also have offered comments and constructive critiques on them.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to review them (and I personally haven’t with my messy travel schedule, but intend to comment on each and every one), there’s good news!  All thirty-five entries will remain live on our blog, so when you do have time, you’ll still be able to offer your input moving forward.  To find them, simply click on “Guest Blogger” in the Categories box on the right-most column on your screen.  Then, feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below anytime that’s convenient for you.

While we’re at it, since this was the first time we’ve offered our platform to Guest Bloggers, I’d also welcome your thoughts on whether or not this is something you’d like to see more of in the future?

To the NAU Photography students specifically, what did you think of your blogging experience here?   Would you do it again?  Would you do anything differently in hindsight now that you’ve completed your assignment?

Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment on this post, as I value your opinions tremendously.  Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks again everyone!  It’s a wrap!

May 022013
 
McCully_Christine_

Photograph copyright Christine McCully

This image, taken November 6, 2012, is one of my personal favorites. While I love taking all sorts of pictures in general, this particular one was a milestone for me. It reminds me, and will continue to remind me, of this highly challenging senior year at Northern Arizona University. It also reminds me that even when stressed to the limits, I can go out on an assignment and take something so stunning, and it will bring me back to Earth and ground every aspect of my being.

I hope that any viewers of this particular panorama see in it what I do, or something equally as wonderful, and enjoy every golden detail, every hill and tree, every flare of the sunshine as it begins to set behind the mountains and valleys beyond Flagstaff, Arizona. This view, for those who are interested in catching their own version of it, is taken just before the ascent to Snowbowl. From town, I decided to go North on Humphreys merging through onto Columbus (left turn), and then I continued my journey until I reached Snowbowl road. Here, I made a right turn and maintained my course up the mountain until I found this perfect spot. Parking on the right with this view on the left, I hurried to grab my gear and ran out there with my hiking companion, a boxer mix named Dozie. Luckily for me, while Miss Dozie was off running in the wilderness like grass and wind were going out of style, I managed to capture the last few shots of the day. I captured trees and stumps, boulders and far away wildfires, and of course Dozie, running around with her tongue trailing behind her like Taz, the Tasmanian devil.

Just before the sun began its descent into the sky the golden hour of the day hit and the only way I could capture it just they way I wanted was to make a panorama. Dozie resting at my side, I shot. At ISO 100, using only 50mm of my 300mm lens, and f/4.2 at 1/320 second, this photograph is what came out. Before I had a chance to shoot any other photographs my batteries all died and the golden light of this day was drifting away into darkness. The wind picked up with a cold November chill in the air, so Miss Dozie and I called it a day.

About the Photographer:
My name is Christine McCully and I am a Public Relations major, photo minor, at Northern Arizona University. I have loved photography since childhood but my most important photographical influence or inspiration is my godfather. He travels the world and photographs images that should be in National Geographic, in my opinion. I enjoy shooting a variety of subjects, not one is my favorite. I have shot models and landscapes, children and macro, pets and events, yet all of them thrill me. What makes my work so different is that the shots really encompass the feelings of that moment captured. I think Photography is my passion, it defines me and it grounds me.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.

May 022013
 
Atwood_Evan

Photograph copyright Evan Atwood

Coming from my own experience with film & media, this image was very cinematic to me. Cinematic in the sense that there is a story behind whom the subject is, the significance of the yellow jacket, and why are they in the middle of a river. The most I hope to get out of people is to know that there is some lost subject in the river. I am absolutely sure that no two people will have the same meaning by it, just as I have my own personal connection to the photo and my past experiences. I wanted to capture the shadows so that the light on the subjects face would really show. I also knew that I wanted to be in the water for this and to have the waterfall in the background. For me, however, having such a cinematic shot is exactly what I wanted and it’s exactly what I got.

I knew I would be able to capture it once I got in the water with my tripod because it was just deep enough that I could leave my camera on my tripod without being worried.  Then I took a couple of test shots, figured out what I wanted, put the drive to timer & used my remote shutter release to capture the images of myself. Since I put the remote on 2 seconds that’s how much time I had to get rid of it. Each time I put the remote in my mouth to conceal it.

I shot this with my Canon 7D, with my 30mm f1.4 lens. So the focal length was 30mm at ISO 100, 1/1600, and f1.4. I had a UV filter on my lens, but it was an overcast day so there wasn’t much use out of it other than protecting my glass. I did use special post-processing: I used the brenizer method to compose my shot of several that I took after I shot my own. This means that I shot the picture with the subject inside of the frame along with the reflection so nothing would be missing and then shot several shots around in order to have a wider shot in the end. By using different layers in Photoshop, this was easily obtainable.  Of course, one must be careful to shoot in manual mode in order to have the same settings for each shot you take. I hope that someone is able to make up their own story about what this photo means.

About the Photographer:
My name is Evan James Atwood & I am a primarily self taught photographer from New Mexico. My inspiration for photography first came through film, cinema, and music. This started when I was about 14 & it has only escaladed from there. I have since been published in a few local magazines, some photography websites, and have reached over 53,000 followers on Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook. Primarily, I am a portrait, fashion, and fine art photographer and prefer photographing people because of the amount emotion that can be captured in the most beautiful moments. I hope that my work can differ from others in technique, subject and emotion. As for the future, I hope to be able to either be a freelance commercial/magazine photographer for a multitude of ideas/subjects with a job within marketing or be able to have a stable job as a photographer.

May 012013
 
SONY DSC

Photograph copyright Jennifer Radke

I chose to create this image because I enjoy being outdoors, seeing nature and water. I did not plan to capture this photograph until I came upon it while walking up the trail at one of the waterfalls in Oregon, and happened to look down to see where the water was flowing below the bridge. The main thing I was trying to say with this scene is that we may know where the waterfall starts, but we never truly know where that water ends up even if we follow it all the way down the stream. While taking this picture I was just walking around and taking as many pictures as I could before my parents said they were ready to walk back down toward the truck to leave. I actually took the UV filter off the camera lens to capture a lot of the pictures I took that day because the sun glare streaming from the rain clouds was creating hot spots throughout the first few pictures, and I did not like or want that aspect within my photographs of the falls.

This trip to the waterfall in Oregon happened because we made a family trip to Bremerton, Washington, for my cousins wedding in April 2012. After the wedding we were driving back to California which means we have to drive through Oregon. Halfway through Oregon my dad sees a sign that says “waterfall 30 miles.” So he proceeds to ask everyone if they want to go to the waterfall and says that it is only thirty minutes away, therefore everyone says “yeah, sounds like a fun adventure.” About two and a half hours later we finally arrive at the falls and exit the truck to stretch and get prepared to walk up the bridges for the waterfall. I am using my mom’s Sony DSC DSLR-A 100 camera, so I ask her if I can take her camera up the fall with us so I can take pictures and she said I could, as long as I took care of it, although she knew I was going to because I had been using it for classes for three semesters by this point. I promised I would take care of it and then we started toward the fall and I keep stopping at random points trying to get different angles and different viewpoints of this magical place. Then after walking what seemed to be forever, making it halfway, we stop because of it being a long walk in the cold, rain, and wind. I happen to glance down, while I was looking anywhere and everywhere, and I see this small stream on the side of the bridge next to the main waterfall stream because it is in its own area between the trees and foliage. I take some pictures standing up and then kneeling down and at one point I was almost sitting down trying to get a right angle while adjusting the settings on the camera to get different lighting and perspectives. I achieve this shot and quickly put the camera back into my sweater and run to my parents to show them to see what they think and wipe a few water drops off the camera. The final image had the settings of ISO 100 and 1/15th of a second at f/5.6, which caused the water to stay flowing in the picture. The post-production steps that I proceeded to do happened in lightroom and it is simply bringing the saturation back to add more contrasting colors within the greens and the stream with the darker rocks below the water.

About the Photographer:
I’m Jennifer Radke. I started photography classes’ junior year of high school and have been intrigued with taking pictures since and would rather be behind the camera than in front of it. I have worked with my uncle to take pictures of fundraising events they plan. I enjoy being outdoors and capturing photographs within nature, because it is a simple place to relax and inspire me by what is around daily. What inspires me is being able to break my routine and have adventurous walks without knowing where they lead, while enjoying the breeze, clearing my mind, and giving me a new look on life.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.

 

May 012013
 
The Outcast

Photograph copyright Niko Chaffin

I do love the winter in Flagstaff, even though I have to remove the frost, snow, and ice from my car. I’ve always wanted to take a close-up photo of ice, snow or frost. One day, I was getting into my car and I noticed there were larger flakes, so I immediately grabbed my camera from my apartment. Often I’ve been angry about having frost and snow on my car, but this photo has helped me realize I don’t need to get upset, and just appreciate the phenomenon that occurs. The image brings me a touch of calmness. Now,I feel a connection to appreciate rain, snow, frost, ice.

When I got the idea of the photo, I grabbed my Canon T1i with my Canon 50mm Prime lens to shoot, but I thought it would be better to get my macro extension tube. So, I ran back to my apartment and grabbed the tube. I knew Auto Focus would be useless, so I switched into Manual Focus so I could freely focus. I took a lot of photos. Trying to get it balanced. I thought it was quite irritating. After that, I had to search for a prime target. But I had no luck of getting a shot I enjoyed. But then I found this snow flake within its “personal bubble” I thought it would be fantastic to get a shot.I really like how the blur looks as if the strong blur is a tidal wave about to attack the snow flake.

So I finally got an exposure of 1/90th second, F/2, ISO 800. Using the macro tube, I had an amplitude of ideas for a subject. For this shooting, I used an UV filter, and an ND8 filter. My primary focus point was the lonely snowflake even with a slightly blurred flake, it makes me feel that it is starting to melt. After taking multiple shots, I took my favorite and brought them into Lightroom. I decided to add more clarity so it was smoother; I also made a slight color change and a tad shift to the exposure. I shot various photos that gave different formations and details. Even though I had a variety of favorite photos, this one is a personal favorite.

About the Photographer:
My name is Niko Chaffin, I have a creative mind. I tried drawing and sculpting, but, I didn’t feel satisfied in such media. When I got my first digital camera, it was cool. That basically shot off my interest of photography. I could evoke different moods. Photography was my hobby. When I switched to the photography major, I found a possible career path. Since my minor is criminal justice, I am thinking to become a crime scene photographer, and possibly try to come noticeable with various Medias. I’ve taken photos at my high school during prom, dances, or expeditions. I loved doing it. Photography is my passion, I love photographing family vacations, macro or shallow depth, and cityscapes.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.