Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

5 Great Photography Podcasts

June 16, 2010

Whenever I do a lot of post processing work in front of the computer monitor I tend to go a little insane, by a lot I mean something like 10 hours a day for a couple of weeks straight. I’m sure that I’m not the only one on whom this has an “adverse” affect.

To minimize the “pain” I often listen to music, but I feel that a more productive thing to do is to listen to certain podcasts, specifically podcasts that relate to the industry which I am a part of. I already mentioned a few months back that I listen to a lot of tech podcasts, which are all very relevant and keep me in the loop, as far as what I need to pay attention to. Through these I know what new technological developments may either make my life easier as a photographer (and now as an eBook writer) or what new developments are game changers and need to be considered in order to keep growing. (think iPad)

Of course the great thing about Podcasts is that you can listen to them while doing other work, you absorb information and often learn new things without losing time. And so without further-a-do I  want to mention 5 podcasts which are very relevant to almost anyone working in the photography industry or wanting to make a living in it. The podcasts are not ranked from best to worst, but rather alphabetically.

Note: I haven’t figured out how to link these directly to iTunes, so you’ll have to search for these podcasts within iTunes yourselves.


Matt Brandon’s “Depth of Field” is without a doubt one of my favorites. Most of his guests are professional photographers with a lot of wisdom to offer to the listener. I love his casual interviewing style and the fact that he often asks the less typical questions. Matt also doesn’t just agree and play along with the people he interviews, but frequently questions them (without coming off as overly critical) and this generates interesting discussions. In short – great stuff in this podcast!


“F-Stop Beyond” has been a solid podcast for some time now, it’s been renamed to “F-Stop Beyond – The Experience” and it seems like the quality will remain high. There are some successful, big name photographers from various parts of the industry that make appearances on this podcast. I feel that it’s always valuable listening to anyone who has succeeded at something that I’m interested in, so “F-Stop Beyond” is definitely in my iTunes library.


Brooks Jensen’s “Lenswork” podcasts are an extension of Brooks’ beautiful photographic magazine of the same name. The podcasts are monologues of Brooks’ thoughts on photography, the creative process and random things in life that offer valuable lessons to any creatives. While listening to one man speak his mind is not everyone’s cup of tea, I love listening to Brooks’ stuff. For any aspiring photographers in particular there’s a whole lot of wisdom in what the man says.


“The Candid Frame” is a podcast by Ibarionex R. Perello. It’s similar to “F-Stop Beyond” except that I feel that Ibarionex often digs a little deeper and reveals more of the inner world of the photographers he interviews. This is sometimes really fascinating and beneficial to the listener, as those who are particularly keen will learn a lot from hearing what drives and inspires some of the world’s most interesting and successful photographers.


“This Week in Photography” of “TWiP” is another favorite of mine. The podcast is hosted by Frederick Van Johnson and a panel of a few photographers (they sometimes change quite often). The focus of this show is on the photography industry, the panel discusses the latest news, developments, talks about gear and there’s usually an interesting and often very eye-opening and insightful interview with a pro photographer or someone from the industry. For those who are working in the photo industry, this podcast is an absolute must.

Well, that’s all for now folks. If you have any other great photography podcasts to suggest, please do so.

On David duChemin and his eBooks

October 26, 2009


I feel that David duChemin is one of the best photography writers out there today. Perhaps some may think we’re conspiring by praising each other on our blogs every now and then, but what can I say – I respect the man as a photographer and I absolutely love the way he writes. Is that so wrong? 🙂

One of the things I love most about David’s writing is that while he talks about the philosophy and theory behind photography, he always keeps things very practical. After reading David’s stuff you can go out and apply the knowledge to actual, real life situations.

When I first saw the title of David’s latest eBook “DRAWING THE EYE – Creating Stronger Images Through Visual Mass” I thought, “Geez that sounds a bit heavy and abstract” but I was pleasantly surprised. Well, perhaps not surprised, because I have come to expect at least a certain amount of brilliance from the man and the last eBook is certainly no exception.


I won’t go into a detailed explanation of what the eBook is all about, I’ll simply direct you to David’s BLOG, where you can read David’s own description as well as what other people are saying. I will mention this though; if you’re ready to step it up a notch and to really begin creating images with impact and some thought behind them, rather than simple snap-shots of exotic places and faces then “DRAWING THE EYE” is a must. As David says: “It’ll change the way you look at your craft”. Agreed. Even if like me you already look at your craft much the same way David does I always find that David’s eloquent and humorous writing really hammers home whatever thoughts I had in the back of my mind. He’s able to express his ideas so well and so clearly, the final message, along with the images just inspires you to push yourself a little further each time you lift the camera to your eye. For that I gotta thank the man. 🙂


Before I go, I absolutely have to mention David’s earlier eBooks “Ten” and “Ten More” . Again, read about them by clicking on the hyperlink titles. These two eBooks are particularly useful for those in the early stages of their journey into photography, but as is the case with all of what David writes about, anyone can get a surprising bit of inspiration and food for thought from his words. The best part about it all, these eBooks are knowledge that is accessible to almost anyone around the world. At $5 a pop, the price is something that you simply can’t complain about.

You can get all of David’s eBooks RIGHT HERE.

Now a brief word about me. I’m back in Minsk, getting over an annoying cold and finishing some of Tanya’s paperwork to go to Europe. I’ll make one more trip to the region of Braslav for a week or so, finish off some logistics in Belarus and if all goes right, in early November I’ll drive towards Romania, a country, which I have been curious about for too long not to visit it.

Critique, Advice and Mentorship

March 26, 2009

The-Wrestler A few days back I came across “Photo Critique” videos on Zack Arias’ Blog (thanks to Matt Brandon). These videos are surprisingly entertaining, they have that reality TV talent show feel to them, but much more substance. The critique is really insightful for those interested in “making it” in the photo industry. Zack is witty and sarcastic, and he’s got a real gift – he is able to say that an image sucks and the “photographer” shouldn’t quit his day job without ever sounding like a condescending asshole.

Besides the entertainment value of Zack’s videos I found something that reminded me of my own photographic path and led to some related thoughts, which I think may be worth sharing.

In one of the critiques Zach talked about his photo-school teacher as a mentor of a sort, he said that the things this teacher taught him still echo in his mind every time he lifts the camera to his eye. To me this is interesting and important stuff.

It’s really helpful to have a mentor at some stage of your career. The way I see it, a mentor is someone who inspires you and puts you on the “right” path, the stuff he/she tells you may be so powerful that it’ll forever change the way you photograph.

I’ve been lucky enough to have come across two such people. Two very different photographers and even more different human beings.

The first is an amazing B&W travel portrait photographer by the name of Eugene H. Johnson. I met Eugene by chance, I saw him taking photos of life by the river in the holy Hindu town of Varanasi. He had an old film camera and was shooting from a tripod, this made me curious enough to approach him and ask “Why?” What transpired was a lengthy conversation which forever changed the way I took photographs of people. Prior to that, I hadn’t planned my shots or consciously spent time with those who I photographed. Hearing Eugene’s poetic tales of interaction with his photographic “subjects” made his way of photographing sound like the most romantic and rewarding thing in the world. After our conversation I felt compelled to see his work online and after seeing the work I realized two things –  Eugene was indeed an incredible photographer and the stuff that I had been shooting was child’s play, too “raw”, too dependent on chance and luck.

I spent less than a couple of hours in person with Eugene, but even a moment with a wise man can amount to a lifetime of thoughts and ideas. Since then our interaction has been rather sparse, though I have received a few encouraging emails from Eugene over the past few years. In one of the later emails he told me that he was following my progress online and had become a fan of my work. I knew that I had progressed a lot since I first met him, but it was very encouraging to have my own opinion “validated” by the person who influenced me so much.

I feel that Eugene planted a seed that would enable my photography to become something bigger and the next mentor has helped me nurture and grow this seed, albeit in a rather unorthodox way. Unlike Eugene, who doesn’t seem to have a cynical bone in his body, this fellow could be the most cynical person I’ve ever met. I won’t even mention his name because I am sure that if he ever reads my blog he’ll have a good cynical laugh at this post, (so, I won’t give him the credit:)). Well, I guess that’s what years of war photography can do to you and that’s what this man did for a large part of his career. These days he seems to be done with war and shoots for Russian National Geographic, as he journeys around the world on his motorcycle.

As was the case with Eugene, I crossed paths with the Russian, motorcycle riding, Nat Geo photographer by chance, in Nepal. I rode there from India and he from Russia, we met in a roadside restaurant in Pokhara. My question “Why do you have that photographic bag?” began our friendship, the ongoing criticism of my photography and the never ending smart-ass comments such as – “Oh, yes this is the sad eyes of a crapping dog photograph, very good.” Such comments can break one’s heart when they are a response to something you consider strong work, or they can make you think – If my image is as strong as I thought it was, then why has the impact not overshadowed any such remarks?

The Russian mentor is old-school. He’s used to dealing with top people in Russian press, they are economic with words and praise. You got a great shot – good, it’s going in the paper and if you didn’t, then; why the hell are you not out there shooting? That’s his approach. No fluffy compliments. But he has also offered me countless bits of photographic wisdom. It’s like Zack says in his video – you hear those words every time you lift the camera to your eye. “This is boring! Get down, shoot from a different angle! What are you trying to say with this photo? You know what it is, I don’t! Show me, make it understandable! What’s really important here? Why are not showing anything about the person you’re shooting! I want to see emotion!”

These two mentors have played a big part in who I am as a photographer. There is no substitute for having a knowledgeable person critically look at your work and give you advice. The way Zach Arias does on his blog and the way those two individuals have done for me. So, in the end I guess I just wanted to share my own experiences. Perhaps the seasoned pros will be reminded of their own mentors from the past, while those who are starting to get serious about their photography may simply run out the door and find a photographic mentor for themselves.

(Above is a mud wrestler from Kolhapur. It’s one of the images that I’ve recently “played around” with in PP.)

Back from the Desert and some Street Photography

December 2, 2008

Fluff Lady PortAmidst the madness surrounding the Mumbai bombings it is hard to imagine that there could be a place where people wouldn’t be aware about the tragedy that took place. Well, we have just come back from what is probably just one of many places like that, right in India, about 210 km from Jodhpur, but more like the middle of nowhere. We went on a little camel ride with the old cameleer we met at the Kolayat fair. People in his village are quite oblivious to anything outside their area, no TVs or computers there yet. I was curious whether the cameleers that accompanied us had heard the news, so I asked Hardik to find out. – “We watch, the news…on TV…sometimes” was their answer. The journey itself had its share of madness and adventure, but more on that in the next post.

Before we went off into the desert I did some shooting in the streets of Jodhpur, not much really, however in Jodhpur you can’t help but come across at least something or someone photogenic in a day’s shoot. The old city is full of people who go on about their everyday work in the most photogenic of environments, surrounded by wonderfully textured, stained walls, rusty tea-pots and pans or some strange medieval looking machines. I wanted to capture some of these individuals doing what they do and went out on a little search.fluff-ladyThe lady at the top of the page (and above) was taking the stuffing out of mattresses; she would put it into the machine which turned the stuffing into what seemed like huge snowflakes. My guess is that this is some sort of cotton recycling; the ‘snowflakes’ would be collected into a bag, weighed in another room and shipped off somewhere. It was a little challenging to photograph in this particular environment, the floating flakes/stuffing goes directly into the nose, eyes and wherever else. I covered my nose with the top of my shirt and shot for a few minutes. By the time I got out I looked like I had a furry hat and Santa Claus eyebrows. For the first shot Tanya helped me with an off-camera flash in a portable soft-box to accentuate the natural light and to give a bit more depth/shape to the face. In the second image natural light is penetrating the woman’s ‘office’.chai-wallahSuraj is a tea maker at a tea-stall just by the first gate (from the outside) to Sadar Bazar. He has worked at the stall for 25 years, while the business has actually existed for 50. Suraj had an almost royal quality about him, the way he went about his work gave the impression that he wasn’t simply making chai, he was running the business, filling up hundreds, maybe even thousands of tea-cups every day and doing it with tremendous dexterity. Again an off-camera flash in a soft-box to accentuate the natural light and sculpt the face.mithai-wallahI couldn’t resist taking a few shots of this man making traditional sweets. He would boil the oil with some strange gadget and then unload the content onto the large metal plate. I was attracted to the textures of the scene, but it was getting dark, so once again comes out the flash. Same as in the images above. I find the flash increasingly useful these days, of course I would probably not use it at all if I had to have it camera mounted. I thank God that my wife isn’t sick of carrying it, sometimes in a soft-box around the streets. Surprisingly it hasn’t drawn much attention. When she instinctively put the soft-box on her head in a crowded area some local women had a bit of a laugh.