“On the surface, BIG RED is the story of one man’s unique photographic process in today’s world of digital gratification,” writes Taproot Pictures, which created the film. “It’s also a timeless story for anyone who grew up feeling out of place.”
I’ve been thinking about photography and personal style and the different ways to teach it. I’m trying to help, share and guide people along their way in finding their unique photographic style. Seeing if I can find that quick fix, that beaten path someone else has already made for us. Sadly over the many years of reflection and research, I’ve found that there is no blue pill.
Coming to terms with this, I’ve been looking inwards on how I found my own style. I’ve been sharing my experiences and how I came to it in hopes it will help someone else out there, but that is only one aspect of the puzzle. Teaching one person, myself is one thing, but teaching others is another.
Taking into consideration that we are all different, we are all unique in our own way with different personalities, religions, political views, sexuality, beliefs, morels, the list could go on till the end of time. What I’m saying is there is no one else like you. You are one in infinity.
So my dilemma is if you’re unique and I’m unique, how does one share with the other a way to find their own uniqueness? It’s almost a conundrum or paradox. But here it is, I’ll try my best to share with you how to be unique in your photography work.
Step one be yourself. Step two… there is no step two. The only way to find your own unique style in photography is to be yourself. Find out and know who you are down to the very last aesthetic and moral grain. I almost wish it wasn’t as simple as this, but it is.
The hard part is the slow grind, from the day in and day out. Making minor adjustments and changes to what you like about your work and developing it slowly over time. And that time self-reflecting on your work isn’t a weekend or in one workshop, it’s over a lifetime. Yes, you heard me right, finding your style in some respects takes a lifetime to develop.
This is because your style is a reflection of yourself. As an individual, you will slowly change and develop from experiences and interactions with the world around you. These experiences will ever so slightly or drastically change your photographic aesthetic. And through attention, practice and time your own unique style will slowly shin brighter and brighter.
There comes a point in time where you will have to stop looking at other peoples work and start looking at your own, and focusing on the things you like and dislike about your process. The hard part and will definitely deter people from being unique is diving deep into self-reflection. Understanding yourself and who you are, what you like, dislike, believe in and are attracted to.
Trust in yourself and all the decisions you make, because everything you do, try, and disregard will contribute to finding your style. Once you know yourself and all the positive and negative attributes you can start putting what you know about yourself into your work. I can’t tell you who you are, that’s up to you to determine and figure out. It’s one of the greatest things about being alive, the journey of self-discovery. Take your time, remember it’s the journey, not the destination that makes up our story.
What I’m saying is at this very moment, time and self-reflection are the best steps, methods, and magic pill that you can use to find and develop your own style. Because what makes your photographic vision unique… is you.
About the author: A.B Watson is a New Zealand photographer based in Auckland. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.
Bella Hadid’s Boldest Bikini Moments
Whether swimming in LA or vacationing in St. Barth’s, supermodel Bella Hadid always makes sure to snap incredible bikini shots that give us major beach outfit inspo (and FOMO).
Click through our slideshow below to see ten of Bella’s greatest Insta bikini looks.
The Summer Solstice: 24 Photos of 24 Hours in the Longest Day of the Year
For some time now I’ve wanted to do a project which follows the light over this period. The longest day. The shortest night. To sit in one spot and photograph a simple composition of sea and sky as the light changed.
I knew that I wanted to shoot looking north, I didn’t want the sun in any of the images and also it had to be on a cliff above the sea with a clear, empty horizon. There were a few spots that I thought of — the north of Lewis, Durness/Cape Wrath, or the coastline near Peterhead. All miles away from me.
So, using Google Earth I found another spot which was reasonably close: St Abb’s Head. I’d never been there before but it looked ideal. Big dramatic cliffs and a clear view north over the sea to, well, nothing. Just a horizon. Perfect!
They say it never really gets dark in Scotland at the summer solstice. It does when it pours with rain at about 1:30am. Very dark and somewhat spooky, as the lighthouse beam swung round, cutting through the lashing rain. I was planning to camp, but on reaching the lighthouse it was so windy that I decided camping next to a cliff wasn’t a very good idea. So I tried to sleep in the car. A small car which shook in the wind like the back legs of a sh*tting dog.
Sleep didn’t come. The light gradually faded, the dark tucked in around me. The rain stopped, the clouds barrelled into the distance. Red sky glimmered in the north. A cargo ship slid by. The lighthouse beam began to illuminate less. The land lightened. The sky cleared. Night was over. A creel boat pitched on the waves. The birds awoke and noise surrounded me. The wind remained constant.
And every hour I went to the same spot on the cliff edge, pointed north and shot a frame. As the day rolled on the light began to change, hardening and flattening out shadows. Wave tips silvered and the horizon sharpened. Birds flew out to sea and returned. The clouds rolled back in, a grey lid over a grey sea. Then they began to break, finally relenting to the wind. Dissolving into smaller and smaller pieces until they were gone and all that was left above the horizon was color.
About the author: Christopher Swan is an award-winning professional photographer from Glasgow, Scotland. Swan shoots architecture, landscapes, interiors, events, and weddings. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
This is the story and all the messy details of how I lost my photography business’ 8-year-old website at Bludomain, a hosting service “for the creative professional.”
Last week was busy! Along with a regular schedule of newborn sessions, family sessions, and maternity sessions here in my studio, editing, album design, and ordering appointments. I had a workshop coming up over the weekend that I would be teaching here in the studio, then a quick flight to Florida for a beach session, and then a couple days later a short, much-needed vacation with my husband.
And then the bottom fell out. I was driving home from the studio and received an Instagram message from a photographer friend of mine that my website was down. Okay… slightly annoying and instead of running inside from work all day to see my babies and eat for the first time that day, I would have to park myself at my computer and send off a help ticket to my host and domain owner, Bludomain.
After being with them for 8 years, this was nothing new and happened occasionally, but thankful I had been one of the lucky few who they seemed to address quickly and fix such problems. A wrench in my day, but nothing horrible. I had actually just paid my yearly domain renewal fee a week or so before, so I knew it was nothing I had done.
This was the email response I got back from them.
We are so sorry for the continued downtime. The RAID array has failed on this server and we are in the process of restoring it at this time. We are acutely aware of the inconvenience this has caused you, and we are doing all we can to ensure it is resolved. We would like to provide an accurate timeline as to how long it will take to resolve this, however it is difficult to estimate that with this type of issue. Please rest assured that our entire team is doing all they can and we will update you as soon as we have news. Due to high ticket volume please do not respond to this message. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience.
Okay. Again, I get that crap happens. And then the magical website people fix the technology and we are on our way again. A day or so out a website being down is NOT the end of my world.
A day goes by and nothing happens. I write:
I saw on the FB page to ask for an update through a ticket… is there any news? Are there back up servers the sites can move to, to be up and running?
The accounts on the server are still restoring. We will notify you as soon as cPanel is available. Our priority is to get cPanel and mail functioning ASAP.
We will update you when that is done.
Apologies again for taking so long. This is an unprecedented occurrence for us.
Again, nothing I can’t handle. I do get most of my new inquiries from my website because I am #1-3 on the first page of Google for every single search term (which I spent 8 years working my tail off to become), so any more than a couple days of this and it could begin to affect me, but at this point they are acting as if they are working to fix the issue and all will be well soon enough.
I don’t know much about technology, but I do major companies have backups, etc.
Another reply from them:
We are so very sorry for the continued inconvenience this down time has caused. Our first priority is to get email back up and running but to do that the accounts first have to be restored. As you can tell this is an extremely time consuming process. Without getting into details that are too technical, this is a simple case of where a machine has failed us, with catastrophic results. All we can do, given this scenario, is to work as diligently as possible to get the content back up and running.
Moving forward I would like to offer some options, unfortunately neither option is ideal:
1: Wait for the account to get restored; you would have your email back within the next 24 hours or so but the website and content will take a bit longer to restore. This process could take several days.
2: As a second option we would like to offer you the choice to move to a new hosting account with a blank site of your choice. We can reconfigure email for you and assist you with uploading your content – content from your previous site is not accessible at this time, however. Please let us know if you want to move forward with this option.
Unfortunately, in retrospect, this is not an issue anyone could have predicted, once we resolve this we will do all we can to ensure that it does not happen again.
I don’t use my email through them because all of a sudden on Jan 1, 2015, I started going from 0 spam emails a day to about 500 a day. So I basically had to shut that down and move to Gmail. At this point I don’t really care about anything, I just need them to put my site back up. And I don’t use their templates. I am basically using only their hosting services.
Here’s my response to that:
I don’t want to make a whole new website…is it guaranteed that when it comes back (within a couple days) all of the content will be just the same as it was before this?
We can expedite the restoration of your account and email and images should be restored. We would need to set up a blank new site and we can assist you in uploading the images to your site. All the text content would have to be re-entered… sorry.
It was this email where I started getting nervous. Wait, alllll my content is gone??? 8 years of blogging 2-3 times per week, all of the copy I had stayed up til 2 am some nights creating and tweaking, 8 years of links to where I was published with my work, interviews, etc. Reviews from clients I had put up. Just gone???
My reply to him:
I’m so confused. So if I want to do something now I’ll lose everything and have to basically start from scratch or if I wait it out I’ll still have to do that? I don’t use your email, I use Gmail, so I’m not worried about that. Is my prophoto site going to be gone either way???
Unfortunately that is correct. I am so sorry. We can reconfigure a new site for you but we cannot restore the external site. So sorry.
WHAT?! So in 24 hours we went from it will take some time but we are getting sites back up to basically we lost all of your work over 8 years, but we’ll give you a new website template (remember, I don’t even use their website templates!!). Ummmmm this is becoming a nightmare at this point. And remember, they own my domain name. When I was new and didn’t know better I purchased everything from them, so www.jennycrugerphotography.com lists their name as the owner (until today!)
At this point, I asked about backups, etc. He offered to initiate a domain transfer (this is still Thursday, June 21st) and I am just in disbelief this is happening. I’m about to lose everything. I know right away that losing that site and content my SEO will disappear.
We do have back ups… the only issue is that the folder that contained the mySQL databases became corrupted, and those cannot be restored.
And so I said yes, do that and give me my domain back and I will just start again. Because I sure as hell was not willing to work with them anymore or have their hand it anything of mine. So that night I started over with www.jennycruger.com completely, which cost me about $500 at the time. At about 11 pm I hired someone to help to me do the things I couldn’t figure out in building the new site for a couple hundred dollars and at 2 am I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep.
To the Internet (which, remember, is how almost all new clients hire me!) it was like I was completely GONE and a brand new business. I had poured so many hours into my website to get a high Google ranking over 8 years and it was wiped out completely.
Friday: At 6 am, my 4 hour old woke me up and I continued to spend my only day ‘off’ in weeks with my children working on getting my new site up and running.
I taught a workshop all day on Saturday and Sunday. Monday morning I left my house at 5 am for a flight to the beach to photograph a family. At this point, I hadn’t heard anything from Bludomain about giving me my domain name back so I began sending emails.
4 days later I don’t have my domain back and email them and get this from Aundrea, the owner.
She has NOT emailed me whatsoever and even so, it makes no sense for me to ask to have my domain transferred to me on THURSDAY and then on Monday she is writing “I’m going to unlock it”. It should have had that done days ago.
I continue to write you that we can’t point your domain name if you are transferring it, I’m going to unlock it so you can transfer it and then have your new hosting company do what is needed.
Over the next few days, I heard NOTHING from them. I am sending her an email or two every day being over-the-top patient.
I’m checking in again to see the process and timeline on this. Maybe you have sent an email but haven’t gotten anything since your first one to me and it looks like the domain is still in your hands. I went from #1 to completely dropped off Google already so getting this sorted is a pretty urgent matter.
Nothing. Finally, I sent an email that my website (the one she owns and lost) is still down and I kid you not, her response is:
What site is down – the site below is live?
Ummmmmm Oh. My. God. She is looking at my signature in my email of my NEW site I probably spent a good 30 hours on over the past 4 days thanks to HER company. Of course it’s live.
Cue more tears and outrage. HOW is this happening.
At this point, other photographers who have lost everything are finding me and we have started a Facebook group for those of us in this position to help each other and figure out what we can do.
It took 2 more days after that (and tons of back and forth, more separate help tickets submitted to Bludomain) to finally get my www.jennycrugerphotography.com domain BACK in my hands and pointed to my new site.
It really should have been a quick process for them. So much for being willing to ‘help’ me in any way to get THEIR mess fixed.
And really, it’s not at all fixed. I own the domain now, but every link is broken so the SEO is completely gone. Had they gotten it to me right away when I asked on Thursday and actually helped me, I could have set up the brand new site on the old domain and not completely dropped off Google.
About the author: Jenny Cruger is a photographer based in the Nashville, Tennessee area. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Cruger specializes in family photography in Nashville and also specializes in maternity, newborn, and baby, and family photography. You can find more of her work on her (new) website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Right now is the best time ever to be a photographer, so why all the long faces?
Professional level cameras are selling for less than what we paid for one in 1980.
Lower priced lenses are so much better than they used to be it is astounding.
You can do all your development in the light, in a chair, without breathing life-threatening chemistry.
There are more possible ways to show your finished work than you can list at any given time.
A $1,000 laptop takes the place of a 12×12 darkroom and thousands of dollars of gear.
Need an answer to a question? Hit Google and it is there for you. Ditto for YouTube.
Need an answer on location? Hit Facebook and your friends can help you from all over the world.
Most still cameras have better video capabilities than stand-alone video cameras costing thousands of dollars only a few years ago.
Gear is faster, lighter, and more compact than it has ever been.
Lighting has made such great strides that you can set up a multi-light studio for under $4,000… the cost of a pack and head only a few years ago.
If you’ve never had to haul around a Honda Generator in the back of a pickup, you may not realize how incredible it is to have lights with built-in batteries.
Built-in Wi-Fi lets us transfer images across the room or across the world, in an instant.
We no longer have to carry 3 different bags of film (100 ISO, 400 ISO, 800 ISO) and hope to hell that they cover what we need.
Speaking of ISO, some cameras are shooting great images at 24,000 ISO.
In fact, high ISO excellence is now expected in even entry-level cameras.
Automatic settings are so good they can make sure your images work in even the strangest conditions.
Instead of being limited by how much film you could carry, a few stamp-sized cards will hold more images than you can shoot in a day.
The technical learning curve has been shortened from years to months.
Where it used to cost us $20 for 36 images, they now can be captured on re-usable devices.
Want to share that image with someone special? Push a button.
Instead of FedEx-ing our work all over the country, we can now share a link in an email all over the world.
We don’t have to spend $500 to $600 on a portfolio anymore, just stick them up on a website we can get for less than $12 a month.
Want to publish a book, publish a book – no need to argue with a publisher.
More people than ever before can see the work we do.
And yet to read the blogs and social media, the woe-is-me club is bigger than ever.
We are worried about competition from GWCs or MWCs. Craigslist shooters are hated. We go apoplectic about free stock agencies. There are doom and gloom stories about this or that being the end of photography ‘as we know it’. And they are everywhere.
If you want a reason to not be a professional creative, they are out there in droves. Everywhere you look.
Stop looking at that stuff and concentrate on what YOU CAN DO with your photography.
About the author: Don Giannatti is a photographer, teacher, and mentor. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Giannatti has worked with hundreds of photographers to help them understand and work in the field of commercial photography. He has been involved with photography and advertising for over 40 years, and he wants to share as much as he can about this wonderful, challenging, and constantly changing photographic landscape. You can find more of his content on his website. This article was also published here.
Major Lazer is Creating Major Vibes
At the forefront of Major Lazer’s acclaim is the DJ-trio’s buoyant beats and vibrant rhythms, materialized by dynamic collaborations that marry Caribbean sounds to electronic dance music. Though the group’s inherent affinity towards island influence is undeniable—with Jillionaire being from Trinidad and Walshy Fire from Jamaica—they, along with member Diplo, claim that the influence for their music can be further reduced to a common denominator that transcends ethnography, geography or…
When low-quality photos or videos are posted online, people often say that they were shot with a “potato camera.” But if you actually want to shoot photos with a literal potato camera, how would you go about doing so?
The production studio Corridor Crew‘s creative director Niko recently decided he would try his hand at creating a real, working potato camera. His journey in making this unusual custom device can be seen in the 14.5-minute video above.
After finding that potatoes aren’t particularly good at keeping light out, Niko spent time creating a light-sealed chamber (using 3D modeling and printing) to insert into the potato.
Once he carved out openings and a chamber in his potato, Niko’s next challenge was figuring out how to expose the potato camera’s photos properly. He set the lens to f/11 and then used a DSLR to figure out how long the shutter speed should be at ISO 100 (the speed of the film he chose).
The film was then loaded into the inner potato chamber in pitch blackness. Advancing the film after each exposure also required retreating into the darkroom.
When the developed film was returned, the crew was surprised and delighted to see that blurry “potato quality” photos had successfully been captured by the camera. You can see some of the best resulting photos starting at 12:47 in the video above.
“Our potato camera does exactly what we thought it would do, which is take crappy but still visible pictures,” Niko says. “It kinda worked. We got these weird ghostly figures, which was exactly what I was hoping for.”
Watch the video above for the full walkthrough of how Niko’s camera was built. You can also find more of Corridor Crew’s content on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I found an image that I don’t want to see. Too familiar, and so, too hurtful. But as the Internet meme jokes, “What has been seen can’t be unseen.” In that context, such images are considered shocking, graphic, violent. The image I refer to, however, is far removed from any of these labels. But for me, there it is, that Punctum that Barthes spoke of. As I write, Google Chrome suggests the correct spelling is ‘puncture’ — how appropriate.
A source of what could be considered ’emotional pain’, and I can only speak for myself, comes from the lack of answers to unspoken questions. And this is exactly what hurts about this image. Questions that conflictingly, I don’t want to ask, and I don’t want to care about the answers. Yet I’m continually driven by the lack of answers. Perhaps if I had the answers, I wouldn’t care, but if I didn’t care, I’d feel nothing. I care, because I feel.
What does the image become then? Torturous, no, (in this case, such a word being too extreme) but rather, frustrating. Frustration driven by myself, and so self inflicting, serving as a form of what I would call ‘visual self-harm’.
As a recovering self-harmer (In this context, I refer to the deliberate means of self-harm as an act of cutting) has to ‘look’ and ‘see’ their scars, so too, I have to ‘look’ and ‘see’ this image as, after all, ‘what has been seen can’t be unseen’. The scar it leaves not physical, but rather it remains within the matter of the brain – beyond what an MRI scan could visually represent, beyond the understanding of neuroscience – so only I alone, can attest to the existence of such a scar.
A self-harmer can cease the act of self-harming, but I can not cease the act of either looking or seeing. Were I to be as extreme as to rip out my physical eye, the visual scar within memory remains. Hence my skepticism with regards to, for example, Shapiro’s Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy.
To be scarred by something visual, the act of ‘forgetting’ or ‘moving on’ from such an image, seems far more complex. An ex-self-harmer could wear certain clothes to hide a scar, from themselves or from others, offering the luxury of choice, and therefore, a degree of control. What choice, what control, do I have, as a ‘visual self-harmer?’ We could consider that I ‘found’ this image, that is, I stumbled upon its existence perchance. To offer a solution such as to never ‘look’ at or ‘see’ an image again is entirely unrealistic.
One could perhaps say to a drug abuser for example, that they should remove themselves from an environment where drugs are prevalent, one can not suggest to a ‘visual self-harmer’, to simply remove themselves from an entirely visual world. With this in mind, what possible solution can I offer myself? I will always look, and so I will always see.
Even if I were to cease searching for images, I will always look at images, and I will always see images, this is wholly unavoidable. Were I to, as previously suggested, rip out my physical eye, I will always be left with the eye deep within my brain at both the conscious and subconscious level. At the absolute extreme, one could conclude that the only solution, is the ultimate one; to destroy the brain, that is, suicide. I have no desire for this, my will to live too strong. I enjoy the experience of being alive far too much.
The image, it seems, is therefore destined to forever remain. However, I find myself experiencing a strange respect for the frustration that it brings. It confirms to me, the existence of self, of empathy, of love, of hurt, of pain, of joy, of suffering, of sadness, of happiness, of what it is to be human. To live, to breathe, to exist, to be.
About the author: Danny Day is a photographer based in the UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Day graduated from the Cleveland College of Art and Design with a degree in photography. You can find more of his work and writing on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.