Thoughts

WELCOME

Since running this website in 2016, I thought I should keep this medium updated by incorporating my thoughts about photography. Not only will I focus my writing and thoughts on photography, but in this blog, I will include Instagram and social media, life, music and possibly dive into politics, as I consider myself an avid voice in politics. Unfortunately today, my hearing of the opposing side is becoming limited, but I still entertain the thoughts from those with intellect and common sense. I will sparingly share thoughts that may diverge attention from those who have become fans of my art, to no longer being a fan. But with this being a blog, although not so personal (that can be found elsewhere on the web), I will cover topics that have substance, complexity and thoughts that matter.

For those who know me personally, I am a very strong-willed man, with a loud voice. I may not be the most liked by those in the local community, and I'm happy with that. So my words here may draw negative attention, but only from the weak and feeble-minded. Coming from a more unique and tough upbringing that involved experiences most others will never witness or fathom, I've looked at life in a more divergent perspective.

I'm happy to incorporate a blog on this platform, as I hope to communicate better with those who have supported me and become fans throughout the past 16 months.

Welcome to my thoughts.

How I Capture People / BLOG POST 4: 08/17/2018

Since 2016, I've ventured into various genres and sub-genres within the realm of photography. Learning photography from the very beginning in March, 2016, I was inspired early on by the work of Kosten, Ryan Millier and 1st as they would be the first accounts I would discover from my new days on Instagram. Over the summer of 2016, I spent most of my days photographing landscapes and city elements and trying to make both myself and those who see my work, think of design in a different way.

When I first started off on Instagram as a portfolio to display my new hobby, I also realized the power of instant gratification and those who cheer on my overly-saturated and purple skies, and following the basic structures of popular feature accounts. As time went on, I realized that I enjoyed soft portraits and simple landscapes that utilized a  single undeniable principle - simplicity.

Anyways, enough with the backstory, let's get into how I photograph. I will cover the gear I use, the settings, the time of day and weather conditions, and lastly, my preferred way to tilt the camera.

Gear

I keep it light. Listen, we're not hunting zombies, in combat or a mountain survival situation. If you're taking photos of people, you don't need to look like you're about to invade Russia. I carry my camera, and that's it!

Currently, I photograph with a Sony A7, with a 28mm f/2 Sony lens. I also have a 50mm 1.8 Sony, but I prefer or more realistic focal point than too narrow (Yes, I want the 35mm).

Weather Settings

My settings depend on the weather, light and time of day, but I have a golden rule that applies to nearly all day shooting situations. When I photograph a portrait that utilizes some form of composition, either on the left, or the right of the subject, I don't photograph ay my lowest aperture setting (f/2), but move it up to 2.8 or 3. Because of the slight increase of the aperture, it helps make the subject sharp, and eliminates the possibility of those awful blown-out highlights. I always think to myself, I'd rather have an entirely sharp subject with a slightly clarified background, than blurry body features. 

Of course, the exposure and shutter speed matters as well, so once you figured out the aperture that makes your subject or image sharp, you adjust the shutter speed to tighten it up. On a bright sunny day, I typically photograph with an 1000-2000 shutter speed, 50-100 ISO and f2.8-3 for portraits - landscapes 5.6-9ish. 

Get Your Settings Right

When I'm looking at a subject through the viewfinder, based on my creative direction, I want to adjust the shutter speed and exposure to show my subject in the most realistic light possible. In the end, it's better to be under-exposed than over-exposed, and increasing shadows in post-production creates the natural look you're looking for. No highlight bleeds around the body, and no over-exposed facial bone features. Everything is already soft, so the only skin touch-ups you will mostly encounter are spot checks. 

Alex, what're you talking about? 

Okay, so to break this down, I'll use a 2000 shutter speed, f/2.8 and 50 ISO and demonstrate with the following image:

 

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You might be able to see, that Miranda is exposed in the direct sunlight. Typically I wouldn't shoot a photograph, unless the light is somewhere behind my subject, but with the right amount of light peaking from the city-scape, Miranda avoids over-exposed features. This image in particular is the main reason I prefer golden hour (late evenings), over bright afternoons. 

 

Below, I have another great example where harsh light was a factor:

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As you can see, her face is too exposed, due to the harsh light on that side of her body. This portrait was shot at ISO 50, 28mm, f/2.8, but 500 shutter speed. This is much slower than I typically shoot, which is why I compensated with my own method.

I have the image sharp with my current aperture of 2.8, but need to tighten the shutter speed and ISO being as low as my camera allows me, so that means shutter speed is the remaining factor. Looking through my viewfinder, I bumped it up to my typical low setting of 800, and this is the result a few seconds apart: 

Now, there are only two separate photo areas where light was both on our side (orange garage door photo), and an enemy (two images above). Being knowledgable of your light and camera settings can make an blotchy, unnecessarily bright image, be more controlled with the proper settings. 

Tilt

I love to add angles to a lot of my portraits to add depth. I believe that you can make a portrait 10-times better if you simply put something in the image. From the image below, I didn't apply much of this methodology:

Even though part of Miranda's leg is there, we all know it's her knee and her hands are cut off. And to be honest, this photo just looks weird. When incorporating body parts as a form of creating this depth, I have a 50-percent rule - try to utilize a body part(s) 50-percent or more. I applied my method to the below image:

While having Miranda's full arm in the image to compensate for only part of her leg, I was able to create the depth I'm looking for, while also drawing a more subtle appeal to her hand with a funny gesture that you'd only notice if you were looking throughout the image. 

Lastly...

the more you practice with your camera, rather than learning post-production, can make the world of difference in how you progress as a people's photographer. If you take the right RAW image, the post-production process becomes easier. I hope to write a sequel to this post incorporating my Lightroom process. 

Until then, be inspired.

DON'T BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF / BLOG POST 3: 09-03-2017

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This post can be act as a sequel to one of my previous blogs titled: Photograph Your Friends. For the reasons I expressed previously, photographing your friends can create more candid, beautiful and intimate moments compared to a random pretty face you discover through Instagram. I'll admit, I have asked some random people to pose for me through Instagram messages, but the number is on one hand. Some of those few people I've met through Instagram, I've actually retained friendship with them, so now those images we create are even better. If you do follow me on Instagram, you may be aware of my blunt and sometimes brash personality. I don't undermine my personality as much as others might, due to the confidence and pessimistic traits I embody that hold truth, rather than fiction.

That leads me to my next post topic.

The term 'model' can be found on Instagram when you dive into the photography community, especially as a portrait photographer. Recently, I went on a small tirade, yet appropriate for the situation via Instagram, when I asked a girl to pose for me recently. She replied back stating that she would love to, but needs to be compensated $50 for gas coverage's. She then declared that she will take the reigns of the shoot, even though I'm not paying her and my services are free. This is a perfect example of being taken advantage of. Along with many other dilemmas with us portrait photographers looking to create art, while the 'model' gets free exposure and services, it's easy for 'models' to take advantage of us photographers.

To break it down, 'model' is a term used so loosely that it creates an egocentric personality trait with those who claim the title. Of course, we all know that a proper professional model is someone who is signed to an agency by contract, paid commissions for work and usually go through an in-house photographer for photo ops. As well as those bullet points, professionally signed models only receive a small portion of images taken, if not, any.

Being taken advantage by those who you ask to create with, aka, collaborate with, isn't fair to us as photographers. When a photographer asks you to collaborate, it's either a 'yes' or 'no' response, with knowing from past experiences on what to expect, how to credit, etc. 

The proper way to credit a photographer on Instagram, a website or other platforms of media/social media, it consists of:

Photo: Future Suspect.

Credits are important to us as artists as it gains us exposure and fans. Much like us tagging our models, it's only appropriate to reciprocate back with a proper credit and tag. When inconsistencies like these occur, it causes friction between the photography and 'modeling' communities. As I stated earlier, photographing your friends is easier as time changes and other non-punctual possibilities don't rattle us as much, because communication between friends is greater and deeper than a random person. Once you feel as if you're being taken advantage of, either charge for your formerly free services, which will most likely lead to that relationship being diminished or cut off, or void thementirely and focus on people/friends that credit you, respect your time and know how to create a long-working and professional relationship.

Also, one last tip: unless you're being compesnated, stay away from fashion blogs - they use you the most.

ATTACH A WORD TO YOUR ART / BLOG POST 2: 08-16-2017

When I first started photography, I declared myself a photographer, although I didn't know anything about photography. As for many people that declare themselves that today, without understanding the fundamentals of light, aperture, ISO or shutter speed, as well as angles and subject. As time went on, I found myself more as a photographer, but it wasn't until last fall when I officially told myself I'm knowledgeable enough to be a photographer. Since last fall, I've grown as a photographer more than I've progressed at other hobbies or times in my life, as I no longer was just a photographer, but an artist.

More recently as I stopped taking generic photos of Detroit or landscapes in Michigan, with over saturated colors and high contrast in hopes to make it on the feature hub page, Moody Grams, I became inspired by a lot of East Coast photographers as they bring a certain aesthetic to their images. Much like music, and how Kanye is Chicago hip-hop with that distinct sound; the guitar plucks and swingy musical progressions of Dr. Dre and West Coast hip-hop; and the New York hip-hop that brings you classic and the refined lyrics of early Biggie Smalls, followed by melodies piercing your ears in the most pleasant way possible - the same can be said for photography.

Many musical artists have a specific genre they follow, and for most of their careers in music, they sometimes never change. As of today, I've been diving more into The 1975 as I put "Somebody Else" on repeat, with this song having a deep and profound history in my life. From the earliest stages of listening to this song, I used to be unable to contain myself as it brings back many memories of love. Since I began my new image of photography, I adopted a word so close to me that I try my best to attach it to my art in a way that makes me think of that word.

Love.

For those that know me personally, I can come off as rash or blunt, but inside, I have a truly warm heart for affection. I'm obsessed with love, and everything that encompasses that word, even the bad times. I've written a book, although not finished, yet; wrote poetry, and much like the song "Somebody Else", I have a vision in my mind when I'm taking photos: When I stare into my lens, I see you.

From this perspective and thought process with love being so engraved in my creative vision, I have progressed more as a photographer and artist this summer, and more importantly, have captured moments that I love.

Many photographers attach a word to their art, like photographers calling themselves landscape, portrait, minimalism or other forms of photography. And although I'm considered to be more of a portrait photographer these days, in which I love as all my images are very different from the next, and can be sometimes hard to replicate, to me, I call my photography love, as I photograph my friends that I love so much.

Eventually I would love to express myself through music, but until then, I will express love through photography and visual art. Whether you attach words like: happy, sad, angry or candid to your photography, you will encompass those feelings through your photography.

Find that word you embody, and apply it to your work - you'll be stunned by the difference.

 

PHOTOGRAPH YOUR FRIENDS / BLOG POST 1: 07-19-2017

Since I began my creative journey of photography last spring, I focused heavily on emulating photographers @RyanMillier and @Kosten, but realized overtime that It's not possible to emulate those who are outside of Detroit. Having a girlfriend last year, I would practice my portrait photography, but was never considered a portrait photographer. My love for portraiture didn't arise until early 2017 when I realized how universally different a photographers work can be when your create art that isn't easily replicated. Of course, a great looking sunset shedding it's last light between the One World Trade Center and the rest of the New York skyline may be a candid shot with the addition of post-production, but the chance of witnessing that last light is inevitable.

Besides photographing my girlfriend at the time last summer, since January, I would be cruising Instagram profiles to find new "models" to utilize in my creative field. After limited success, I developed a love for photographing my friends.

COMMUNICATION

Contacting others who were featured on local photographers Instagram portfolios may be the way to go, but the communication is limited. The situation of communicating to someone you don't know is equivalent to receiving a text message from a someone you met at the bar, while sipping more than a few drinks, exchanging phone numbers and receiving the text the next morning only to be limited in motivation to text back.  Maybe you don't know what he/she looks like, or realized how unlikely it is the situation would amount to anything. You ignore, and move on. Others aren't as receptive to establishing a set time and date to create, and therefore, waste your time with the constant back and fourth. I don't waste my time anymore, and neither should you. If a "model" replied back, and she agrees to a date and time, but changes plans last minute...ditch the Instagram "model" and photograph your friends instead.

My friends that I create with are easy to talk to, understand and communicate with, due to creating a comfort with one another, and just, well...being friends.

 

COMFORT

Working with "models" I don't know can be draw a sense of nervousness. First of all, strangers don't know your creative levels, and therefore, can be frustrating to direct in a photo op. Being with friends, I tell them all to be themselves. Capturing candid and organic moments of my friends' smiles, sadness and neutral facial expressions is what I believe makes my photography unique from those who create with strangers, or people you're somewhat familiar with.

 

PRIDE

I feel more prideful when giving my friends my edits so that they can share them with their friends, rather than a stranger sharing their photos with more strangers. I believe in keeping a small social circle, as it creates a more unified and dynamic way of approaching scenarios. Of course, photographing a "model" from Instagram that has thousands of followers might be the better option for your own expansion, but for me as a photographer, it doesn't capture the aura when I'm with my friends.