If you happen to be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, fighting your way through a stiff current of people like a spawning salmon returning instinctively to your home waters, you may find yourself sitting for long periods of time, wondering: “How did I get here? What should I read?” For help with that second question, look no further!
Below, we’ve gathered together a list of long reads about photography from our archives to help you pass the travel time. These are some of our most-read stories from the past several years, full of insights about photography and living a creative life. Happy Thanksgiving!
Chris Patey says he learned from Art Streiber how to make portraits of large groups that appear lit by big, beautiful window light from the side. The technique, he says, is to “push” light from several sources so the overall effect is even, consistent light across the entire group of subjects.
Patey places the light sources to one side of the camera (and above it), directing them across the set, perpendicular to the axis of the camera lens. That sends light across the front of the subjects, spilling onto their faces as it spreads, rather than hitting them directly. “I’m feathering the light off the subjects,” he explains.
To get consistent lighting on all the subjects across the frame, the set-up usually requires two or more light sources, arranged in steps. “It’s like a staircase on its side,” extending from one end of the group toward the camera, Patey explains. The primary light is furthest from the camera, positioned to one side of the group and several feet in front of the plane of subjects. Because that light falls off, Patey positions additional lights progressively closer to the camera and the center of the frame. Each throws feathered light further down the row of subjects. Place flags between the light sources as needed to control spill and eliminate hot spots, he advises.
Obituary: Wally McNamee, Veteran Washington Photographer
Photojournalist Wallace “Wally” McNamee, whose career at The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine spanned more than 40 years, died November 17 in Virginia, the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) has reported. McNamee was 85. The cause of his death was not given.
In addition to covering major news events including the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, McNamee covered presidential administrations from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. He was named Photographer of the Year four times by the White House News Photographers Association, which also awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
McNamee began his journalism career in 1950 as a copy boy at The Washington Post. During the Korean War, he joined the Marines and trained as a combat photographer. After serving in Japan and Korea, he returned to The Washington Post in 1955, working again as a copy boy before joining the photo staff in 1956.
In 1968, he left the Post to join Newsweek magazine, for which he covered Washington politics, as well as the Olympic Games from 1976 through 1996. McNamee photographed celebrities including Willie Nelson, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger, according to the WHNPA. He was also part of a Newsweek team that won a National Magazine Award for a story about Vietnam veterans a decade after the war, called “Charlie Company: What Vietnam Did to Us.”
In addition to his various awards from WHNPA, McNamee won the National Press Photographers Association’s Joseph Sprague Memorial Award in 2005. His archive of more than 300,000 images is at the University of Texas.
McNamee’s survivors include his son, Win McNamee, who is the chief photographer for news at Getty Images.
Meet Breelayne, The Designer With a Fresh Take on Eco-Friendly Fashion
Breelayne, the designer of her eponymous fashion label, houses her profoundly beautiful designs in a brightly lit studio in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. The airiness breathes life and energy into her sustainable and eco-friendly designs, which seek to empower women through the way they dress. As it stands, the fashion industry is a high octane fueled machine that continues to leave a colossal carbon footprint by pumping out clothes through inefficient production processes that waste energy…
DxOMark says the 51.4-megapixel camera has extremely good image quality scores, and the large pixels on the sensor gives the camera the best low-light ISO scores ever recorded up to this point among all cameras.
“It’s clear from our testing that the Pentax 645Z’s sensor is extremely capable, coming within a whisper of matching the performance of the Hasselblad X1D sensor (our highest-scoring sensor to date),” DxOMark says. “The 645Z’s high dynamic range and color sensitivity make it ideally suited for capturing the types of scenes that are traditionally favored by medium-format photographers — landscapes, weddings, portraits, and still lifes (commercial).”
The camera is interesting to compare against the Nikon D850, DxOMark says. The Pentax has a sensor that’s 1.7 times larger, but the D850 is about 3 years newer. The Nikon D850 actually stacks up well against the medium format camera thanks to Sony’s sensor manufacturing prowess.
“While the 645Z beats the Nikon sensor in our tests, the Nikon comes closer than you might expect, given the size difference,” DxOMark says. “If Sony made a medium-format sensor with the same design as the D850, it would beat the sensors in both the Pentax 645Z and the Hasselblad X1D-50c.”
If you’d like a medium format camera that has the look and feel of a 35mm DSLR and fantastic image quality, the Pentax 645Z is one option you may want to take a look at these days. It costs just $5,500 new now, which is a significant discount from its original retail price of over $8,500.
The Photographer Behind Windows XP ‘Bliss’ Shot 3 New Wallpapers
Bliss, the photo used as the default wallpaper on Windows XP, is considered to be the most-viewed photo in the history of the world. The photographer behind that iconic photo has just published three new photo wallpapers, this time for smartphones.
Charles O’Rear captured his famous photo in 1996 in Sonoma County, California, using a medium format camera while on his way to visit his girlfriend. The photo was sent to Corbis before Microsoft purchased the photo rights in 2000, the year before Windows XP was launched.
Now, 21 years later after Bliss was shot, the airline Lufthansa recently recruited O’Rear to shoot “the next generation of wallpapers.” The project is titled New Angles of America.
“I am turning seventy-six and realize how much the Microsoft Bliss photograph has meant to my life,” O’Rear says. “As the photographer of the most viewed photo in history, I have enjoyed every minute of the fame.
“Likewise, I am thrilled to create for Lufthansa a sequel to the ‘Bliss’ photo on smartphones so that my views of other beautiful places can continue to be enjoyed by millions of people. After all, smartphones have become the primary place for the world to see new and interesting photography. And, I’m glad to be part of it.”
Here are the three new photos O’Rear captured while visiting famous landscapes in the United States:
Maroon Bells (Colorado)
Peek-A-Boo Slot (Utah)
White Pocket (Arizona)
Here’s a short video about this project that shows O’Rear shooting the Bliss sequels:
Man Finds DJI Customer Data Exposed, Gets Threat and Rejects K Bounty
Security researcher Kevin Finisterre recently found a flaw that exposed private customer data of the Chinese drone company DJI to the public. After reporting the bug to DJI’s bug bounty program, Finisterre received pushback and a legal threat. So instead of collecting his $30,000 bounty, Finisterre is now going public with his findings (and experience).
Ars Technica reports that DJI developers had left private keys for the company’s web domains and cloud storage accounts within source code hosted on GitHub.
Using the keys, Finisterre discovered that he was able to access private data uploaded by DJI customers — not just flight logs and aerial photos, but also government IDs, drivers licenses, and passports. What’s more, some of the flight logs appeared to have been sent from government and military domains (as a side note, the US Army ended its use of DJI drones earlier this year due to “cyber vulnerabilities.”
After reporting the vulnerability to DJI, Finisterre was initially informed that his report qualified for the top bounty of $30,000. He then engaged in a lengthy conversation with a DJI employee who both confirmed the existence of the exposed data and showed a striking lack of cybersecurity know-how.
“This was the first in a long line of education on basic security concepts, and bug bounty practices,” Finisterre says. “Over 130 emails were exchanged back and forth at one point in one thread. At one point days later DJI even offered to hire me directly to consult with them on their security.”
As he continued his conversations with DJI, however, Finisterre soon found that DJI wasn’t readily agreeing that its servers were part of the scope of the new bounty program. Finisterre was also turned off by DJI’s refusal to provide him with protection against legal action.
What’s more, DJI itself sent a threat of charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), accusing Finisterre of “unauthorized access and transmission of information.”
Still, Finisterre went ahead and negotiated a “final offer” from DJI for the contract in the bug bounty program. After consulting with lawyers, however, Finisterre concluded that the terms were horrible.
“[N]o less than 4 lawyers told me in various ways that the agreement was not only extremely risky, but was likely crafted in bad faith to silence anyone that signed it,” Finisterre writes. “I went through various iterations to get the letter corrected. It was ultimately going to cost me several thousand dollars for a lawyer that I was confident could cover all angles to put my concerns to bed and make the agreement sign-able.”
DJI is investigating the reported unauthorized access of one of DJI’s servers containing personal information submitted by our users. As part of its commitment to customers’ data security, DJI engaged an independent cyber security firm to investigate this report and the impact of any unauthorized access to that data. Today, a hacker who obtained some of this data posted online his confidential communications with DJI employees about his attempts to claim a “bug bounty” from the DJI Security Response Center.
DJI implemented its Security Response Center to encourage independent security researchers to responsibly report potential vulnerabilities. DJI asks researchers to follow standard terms for bug bounty programs, which are designed to protect confidential data and allow time for analysis and resolution of a vulnerability before it is publicly disclosed. The hacker in question refused to agree to these terms, despite DJI’s continued attempts to negotiate with him, and threatened DJI if his terms were not met.
Finisterre says that DJI has since given him “cold blooded silence” after his last messages expressing disappointment and offense over DJI’s bug bounty program.
I’ve been a photographer for almost 20 years now, and have tried just about every form of promotion to get my work in front of potential clients. We are talking printed mailers, ads in sourcebooks, email lists and campaigns… even just personal letters and phone calls. But lately, one of the cheapest things you can do… an Instagram profile… seems to be outperforming just about every other type of promotion at our disposal.
When I first started, every professional photographer at least did the printed mailers once or twice a year, and a combination of various sourcebook advertising. It was the go to standard, and if you had a photography rep it was mandatory.
The printed mailers could be very simple, for instance a basic post card sent out to 500 hundred potential clients that would cost you in the neighborhood of $2,000.Generally it was recommended to do that 6 times a year.And generally 99.9% of those mailers ended up in the potential client’s trash.
Or they could be extremely ambitions (and expensive)… entire 40 page magazines of a single photographer’s work, or giant gallery quality prints. This was a once a year promo at the most and I saw photographers spend over $30,000 on just one mailing! It’s a huge investment not just in money but also the time to put it together. But I suppose if that photographer got one big advertising job from it, well then it was totally worth it.
But if you didn’t think it through, it could be a disaster.Like the photographer that sent out a stainless steel saw blade with his logo and contact information printed on it, buried underneath sawdust inside a raw wood box…a nice presentation and it fit his construction product advertising niche.Sounded like a great idea…. until art directors all around the country dug their hand into the sawdust only to rip open the tips of their fingers on the extremely sharp saw blade!
Sourcebooks were another expensive but ubiquitous option.Every fashion photographer advertised in LeBook, from the most established and successful to the brand new and ambitious. For a young photographer it felt almost prestigious to be in it…. even though you were paying a hefty fee for the privilege at around $5,000 for a two page spread.And if you weren’t Meisel or ripped by the biggest agencies you could pretty much be guaranteed that they would bury you in the very back of the book.
Later in my career the next big thing was email promos.It’s from around $150 to $450 a month for an email list service like Agency Access depending on which client lists you sign up for and how many emails you send.One of the nice things about the service is that you can see who clicked through your emails… but the numbers were abysmal and have only been getting worse and worse through the years.If you sent 1,000 emails and 10 people clicked through to your website that was considered a success!But we all know how much we love getting spam and I guess art director’s are no different..
I put a profile on Instagram around 2012 and really didn’t do much with it… some behind the scenes photos, lots of vacation pics.. I didn’t really know what it was all about so I didn’t pay too much attention to it.It seemed like it was more a social place to share with your friends and I just didn’t want to put any time into it… I was busy shooting, and retouching and doing all the other things photographers have to devote their limited time to.
But then things changed… it started to become an important outlet for discovery, and the whole influencer thing took off… nothing has been the same since.
I saw that clients more and more were talking about Instagram constantly… how they discovered new models, or photographers, talent of every kind… even locations, and props… everything!
About this time I removed the vacation snapshots, all the superfluous crap that had migrated there over the years, and just concentrated on displaying my latest fashion work.
Quickly my profile went from a couple thousand followers to 10,000. And then I got a booking directly from a client that found me through Instagram… a 3 day catalog on a beach in Mexico!
I wanted more jobs like that so I started to invest more time and effort into Instagram.I tried a couple apps that allowed you to more easily search and follow people that had an interest in photography, and my following grew a bit more.I researched other techniques to grow my following, and it grew even more.
But when I signed up for a social media growth service, things really caught on fire.It wasn’t buying fake followers or likes, and it wasn’t magic or some super secret sauce.It was just hiring someone that really knew how Instagram worked, how to research the right audience, and then could make my account active 24 hours a day.
My following went from 15,000 to 80,000 in less than a year!And more importantly, I was getting regular bookings from clients that never heard of me until they saw my work on Instagram.Those jobs took me all around the world… Moscow, London, Armenia.And all from a $100 a month investment..
The service I recommend is called Liked Lab.They have a great promotional and research system, and they are more involved in the process than any other service I have seen… they provide me with analytics so I know the best days and times to post, and what kind of posts work best, what are the strongest hashtags to use.They even give me advice on the look of my profile.It’s been a big help, saved me time, and really helped my career.
chris hunt studio recommends social media growth service called Liked Lab
So at the beginning of 2017 I wanted to try an experiment… I stopped all other forms of promotion and only used Liked Lab for Instagram.No emails, no sourcebooks or printed promos.What happened? I didn’t see any drop off in activity.In fact, just the opposite. Not only was I getting more work from client’s noticing me on Instagram, now my following and engagement on Instagram was getting so strong that I was getting offers to promote products as an influencer. Ok, that’s not something I am interested in now, I am still busy shooting. But it’s definitely something I can think about for the future or as a side hustle.
So what does it mean?I think the entire photography industry is changing, and the old ways of getting noticed don’t work anymore. You don’t need to spend $5,000 on a sourcebook ad, or $400 a month on emails, or $12,000 on printed promos. I haven’t cracked open a sourcebook in years, all the spam emails I get go automatically to the trash.I think the best thing you can do as a photographer now is just shoot as often as possible, get your work in every magazine or website you can, and then promote promote promote on social media.
What do you think?I’m still experimenting with the best promotion methods so I want to hear what works for you!
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