Archive for June, 2009

Looking ahead.

June 27, 2009

MotherDaughter

I turned 28 the other day. For me every birthday since my 21st has brought mixed feelings. I rarely celebrate ‘getting older’ these days. It’s exciting to become an ‘adult’, but once you are one, well, the excitement pretty quickly wears off. Every birthday becomes a reminder that the clock is ticking, time isn’t standing still and your days on earth are limited. As if I wasn’t conscious of it all already, the death of that rather famous pop-icon was yet another reminder that we are all indeed mortal.

That sure is a morbid way of looking at things, especially for a young person, many of you will think. Hey, just stating a simple fact that no one can escape. I figure that since I realize this, I can at least try to make the most of what time I do have.

The life I’m currently living is the life I chose after finishing university. It’s the life I wanted. A 9-5 job just never appealed to me. I have done it (though not for long) hated it; and what’s the point of doing something we hate most of our lives?

I am very curious and I always feel the urge to express myself creatively, so, to put it simply, I chose to travel around the world, explore it, experience its different cultures and people and photograph some of what I see along the way.

It’s not a life for everyone and it’s not even entirely perfect for me, there’s the constant financial uncertainty that’s attached to this lifestyle and as I work on it, I have to compensate for months of fun with months of pretty full-on work in front of the computer, sorting out through images, emailing publications and agencies (something I don’t like so much) all that in hopes of getting rid of the financial uncertainty completely, some time in the not too distant future.

But the life I have is great, no complaints for most part :). There’s nothing better than the feeling of being alive, of being so present in the moment that you don’t need to reflect on the past or the future, just see/feel what’s in front and around you right now. That’s how it is most of the time, while I’m on the road. What’s even better is the fact that I share all my experiences with the one person that really matters – my wife Tanya.

What’s the point of all this? Why am I posting these thoughts on the blog? Well, I simply want to share a bit of my philosophy, it’s relevant to any people not doing what they want with their lives and it seems like there are a lot of you out there. We often say to ourselves – “Tomorrow”, but one day tomorrow becomes yesterday and you missed your chance.

Whether it’s a dream photography project you’ve been putting off for years or whatever else, the window of opportunity eventually closes. We have to seize the chance or regret things for eternity.

I’m going to seize my own chance, a chance to see some of my family members on the other side of the world this August. I haven’t seen my grandparents for far too long and they won’t be around forever, one grandfather has already gone and neither me nor my father had a chance to say good-bye . I wouldn’t really be going to Eastern Europe at this stage of my life and my career, if it wasn’t for my desire to spend time with them, but I will make the most of this time photographically. Hopefully I can scrape enough cash for a used car (reason I’m not getting a 5D MKII yet) and explore Belarus, Ukraine and perhaps Poland and Moldova, and of course photograph a few things along the way.

Though my mind wants to go to Africa, South America, some place new or at least back to the warmth and familiarity of Asia, my heart is telling me to go see my family and to take Tanya to see her family (they live in the same country). I guess sometimes, and this will sound very cheesy, you gotta follow your heart. I feel like spewing after using such clichéd phrases, but that’s the truth and there isn’t any better or simpler way of saying it.

Above is an image of a mother and daughter from the Palesie region of Belarus. The the mother was 93, the daughter 73 at the time the photo was taken. The region is quite famous for ‘producing’ people who live long and productive lives. Both, the daughter and the mother were still working in the garden, planting things and doing house chores. Palesie is one region which I want to revisit and explore in depth during this trip.

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Social Media Madness!

June 19, 2009

Twitter Bird

First of all, I want to thank all the people who bought my ebook tutorial over the past few days and thank you everyone who spread the word about it. While I am not ready to head off on a cruise to the Caribbean just yet 🙂 the great response has certainly made the time I put into this little project worthwhile, heck I may even make another one on a different topic in the future. For those who haven’t yet got it, it will always be available through my WEBSITE and this blog (side-bar on the right).

I want to thank one person in particular – David duChemin / Pixelated Image. I met David a few years back on the ‘Travel Photographers Network’, since then we’ve corresponded over the internet and while I have never met him in person, I feel like I can really call him a friend.

If you’ve never heard of this duChemin fellow, well then I really can’t imagine where you’ve been. Over the past few months David duChemin has become one of the hottest names in photography. It seems as if on any given day he could be giving an interview on a popular photography podcast, meeting up with top photographers like Chase Jarvis or Joe McNally, or launching his BOOK at B&H, New York (probably the largest photography store in the world). The fact that amidst this busy schedule David managed to find the time to spread the word about that little ebook of mine just shows what sort of person he is. The dude is about as genuine, friendly and helpful as they get. Add those qualities to his success and you have one of the most inspirational photographers out there. So, thanks a lot David mate 🙂 – for helping out and for being a continuous source of inspiration for God knows how many photographers now.

Now to the social media business, well it was also David duChemin who gave me the final kick up the butt to start ‘twittering’, ‘tweeting’ whatever the heck you call it.  It’s not like I wasn’t aware of Twitter, I was, just as I’m also aware that it’s become much less cool, since all the ‘stars’ started using it.

I couldn’t care less about the ‘coolness’ factor. What I do see is that Twitter has turned into a really valuable tool for businesses and I can certainly see the incredible potential in it from a photographer’s perspective. David wrote a great blog post about social media stuff and photographers a while ago – “You 2.0 – Photographers and Twitter” and if you want to delve deeper into what the whole Web 2.0 thing can do for photographers it’s worth checking out Jack Holligsworth’s Site. From what Jack is promising, it will be a valuable source of information.

As far as my opinion – in short, I think Twitter is very useful for photographers marketing their work and services. It can also be an important tool, along with a blog when it comes to building your brand. But even if you aren’t into brand-building or marketing your photography, you can get a lot out of Twitter. If you ‘follow’ the right people, Twitter can be a tremendous source for learning things you never even knew were extremely useful for you – latest tech news, industry trends, free resources on the internet. If something has value, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across it on Twitter.

So yeah, I’m on it now, as some may have noticed from the ‘My Twitter’ update thingy on the side bar. You can all FOLLOW me if you like, I’m ‘mitchellkphotos’. I promise that I won’t tweet whenever I take a crap or eat something, only useful information for photographers, travelers or simply like minded folks.

Now to a somewhat different topic. As if I didn’t lust for the 5D Mk II enough already, not long ago I discovered this blog – Planet 5D.

Look around for 5 minutes and you’ll come across some amazing videos created with the camera. Some of you may be photography purists and don’t want to even touch that video button, but me, well I started off making films, so this bloody camera is making me drool. The price-tag, which is still a little ridiculous in Australia and the fact that for the same amount of money I can probably live and travel in Asia for half a year have prevented me from getting one, but man, could I do some great things with that video function :).

If anyone important from Canon ever reads this – please send me a free 5D Mk II, the stuff I’ll shoot with it will be a very worthy return for your ‘investment’. 🙂

Understanding Post-Processing – The Tutorial

June 9, 2009

ebookcoverforweb

Well, it’s finally here. I’ve spent the last couple of days finishing off the tutorial that I promised what seems like a long while ago now.

The preview PDF (1.5mb) is HERE.

You can buy it HERE.

The idea behind the tutorial was born from countless e-mails where people would ask me what I do to my images in Photoshop/Lightroom. Although how I post-process images is no rocket science, it is not necessarily something that can be described briefly in an email.

And so I have come up with a fairly comprehensive e-book, which goes right to the heart of what I do to my images in post. The instructions are detailed and should enable even a beginner with some basic knowledge to achieve the same results as I, with some practice.

I think that the content of this e-book may change the workflow for many photographers. The techniques are simple enough, yet they enable you to achieve dramatic results without spending too much time on each image. To me that’s important, as much as I enjoy the post-processing, I love shooting much more. Less post-processing equals more shooting.

I mentioned some time ago how much I loved Capture One and I still do, but I have found myself using Camera RAW in Photoshop CS4 and achieving great results much, much quicker than before. Apart from some interface differences, Lightroom is identical to Camera RAW in what it does. As a result I ended up writing this e-book tutorial for Lightroom and Photoshop users. The instructions for working with the RAW files are for Lightroom (I do provide screen-grabs from Photoshop, for parts where the interface is a little different). The instructions for work that can’t be done in Lightroom and additional touch up work are for Photoshop (CS3 and after).

The e-book is priced at $US12, but I feel that it will give infinitely more value to those who use it. 🙂

If you like the e-book or know photographers who may find it useful – spread the word. Any income from this will be used for good 🙂 – i.e. photography and more travel, which will also result in more photography and more viewing pleasure for the readers of this blog. 🙂

Everything you need to buy the e-book is HERE.

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Digital SLR Photography Magazine

June 9, 2009

Digital-SLR

A real quick post. As you can see above, my image is on this month’s cover of UK’s Digital SLR Photography Magazine (well actually it’s next month’s issue, but it’s out now, go figure). It seems that ‘cover people’ like to flip my images, this is the second time my photo was flipped to accommodate the text. Oh well, the pleasant feeling of seeing your work on the cover of a publication you really like, far outweighs any frustration.

In the same issue there’s a 12 page feature on my work and some text about my photographic adventures around India. I guess it’s fitting that they put it in the “Photo Adventures” section.

You can obviously buy the magazine in UK and I have also seen it at a few News Agents in Sydney (it will probably get here in a few weeks though).

Some quick news

June 3, 2009

website

I have finally rebuilt my website (click image above to see it), some things might still be tweaked/added, but for most part this is it.

I wanted it to be simple, elegant and easy to navigate. I limited the amount of images on there – just enough to provide a taste of my work. You can get to the images quickly, in two clicks, which I feel is important.

You can also find workshop information now, under ‘Learn’, more on that in a future post soon.

I’ve had my hands full with all this work that doesn’t necessarily pay off right away – doing the website, the PBase site, more photo sorting, photo article proposals to magazines etc. But I did set a few goals for myself, which I would encourage anyone in the early years of their career to do, same probably goes for the experienced photographers, the goals, of course would be different, but the idea is the same – making sure that things done.

Having at least five months at home, in front of a good internet connection and a fast computer I felt that I really needed to make the most of this time. It’s one thing to shoot photos and it’s another thing to sell them, get them in front of people. Some of that is done by Getty Images, but not as much as I’d like at this stage.

Sending your work to magazine editors is exciting, nerve-wrecking and frustrating all at once. I haven’t been spoon-fed any ‘connections’ nor have I been told what the right and wrong ways to approach magazine editors are. In some ways maybe that’s good, as I don’t want to be limited by previous failures of others. I keep it simple, maybe even a little naive and I have managed to get myself into a few publications which I like (more on that soon) so I guess my approach has worked, at least to an extent.

In theory you’d think that if you’ve ‘got the goods’ you can just cold-call/email, get your photos in front of the right people and ‘voila’ you have a feature on your work or of a story you shot. In reality that’s not always the case, at times you don’t even know whether your email was read or not (that’s the frustrating part) and a week later you may find out that some magazine does actually want to feature your images (that’s the exciting part). Then, when you have to give them what they need before their deadline, the nerve-wrecking part comes.

That’s about it for now. The tutorial, which I promised what seems like a long time ago now is in the making, it will be available before June 10th.