In June 2009, Sigma Pro director Dave Metz contacted me, requesting some wildlife images for full-page Sigma advertisements. He knew that I had been working on my first book, Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools (Kent State University Press, July 2011), so he figured I could send him images fairly easily. He then made an interesting—and at the time slightly disconcerting—request: would I please photograph the animals not within their natural settings but against white backgrounds?
Since the development of photography in the early 1800s, there has always been a strong tradition of photographers using their work to promote conservation and social justice issues. One need only to look at the development of the National Park System in the United States to see the impact early photographers had on conservation. William Henry Jackson, with his 1871 Yellowstone photographs, helped push through legislation that established Yellowstone as the world’s first National Park. Another well-known example of a conservationist photographer was Ansel Adams, whose tireless efforts both as a photographer and as a 37-year member of the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors led to the establishment of Kings Canyon National Park in 1940.
What I want to capture in my photography can be expressed as the character of a place. I have to aim for images beyond “this is what it looks like here” because in my business photos have to tell stories, have to illuminate, even educate; my images should always reveal something of the culture, the history, and, most important, the lives of the people.
The majority of articles written (and classes taken) about wedding photography focus on taking better pictures of the bride and groom. By now, every photographer knows at least 20 poses they can compose in 5 minutes or less, plus several clever ways to make a plus-size bride look slimmer and her mother younger. But what about the rest of the wedding, such as taking better cake-cutting, bouquet-tossing, first-dancing, or champagne-toasting photos? It is at the reception where a photographer’s technical—and anticipatory—skills are most likely to come into play. Working in banquet rooms with poor lighting and questionable architecture are just two of the many challenges photographers face. With that in mind we talked with three top pros, Lisa Lefkowitz (www.lisalefkowitz.com), Cliff Mautner (www.cmphotography.com), and Kate McElwee (www.katemcelweephotography.com), who offer their experience in helping you make great wedding reception shots.
In his new book, Wes Kroninger’s Lighting (ISBN: 978-1-608952-54-0, Amherst Media, $34.95 US), the author and photographer draws on his experience as a portrait, commercial, and editorial photographer to present strategies that will help photographers bring out the beauty and character in all of their subjects—from kids, to businessmen, to fashion models.
High school senior photography has changed dramatically in the last few years. With looser yearbook standards and the ability to see what you get with digital cameras, many photographers who previously did major business in the senior market are now seeing sharp declines. With this in mind, I decided to ask four of the top names in the business about how they maintain a strong presence in the senior market. All have their own style and way of doing things and all are exceptional photographers.
Andy Marcus and son Brian are second- and third-generation portrait and wedding photographers. Their New York City studio, Fred Marcus Photography & Videography (www.fredmarcus.com), continues a tradition of dedicated service established by Fred Marcus back in 1941. “Back then my dad would use a 5x7 view camera for studio work and could be seen shooting portraits in bridal salons in the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, among other venues,” Andy recalls. “When he shot weddings, he’d bring a Speed Graphic to the event—and flashbulbs.”
Portrait photographers are responsible for a lot of happiness among a wide variety of people, because well-done family pictures grow more valuable yearly. They usually portray infants, seniors, friends, and relatives, though sometimes portraits are interpretations of unusual subjects. Thomas Balsamo knows this because he has 30 years of experience photographing families and children. His work has also led him to a personal project that originated when his good will and curiosity were extended toward individuals or groups who found their portrait sittings emotionally and psychologically unusual, as well as uplifting.
“Our family came to America from Vietnam in the 1960s. When I first came to America, I came with fear. I was unsure of what I was going to find, my family had to be broken up. I had no clue if they had made it to America safely.”—Khanh Duong (Excerpt from Liana Bui’s student photo/oral history project.)
Mar 13, 2012
Published: Feb 01, 2012
“Earlier this year, I was invited by JIB TV in Tokyo and Olympus, Japan to help document the recovery taking place after the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast part of the country in March 2011. I agreed to do it even though I knew it would be a traumatic experience.
Cristian Movila, who was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1983, has four sisters whom he says taught him all about “emotions,” a trait he’s been able to successfully incorporate into his work. He also says he was drawn to the arts early in life. In elementary school, he learned to play the piano and the trumpet. Later, in grade school, he became interested in journalism while hosting a children’s radio program. Although he studied electronic engineering at the University of Polytechnic, Bucharest, over time he found himself increasingly concerned with social issues, and so he decided to become a photographer so he could capture the complexities of life “in a snapshot.”
I don’t have to light up rooms or freeze fast action very often—travel photography doesn’t usually call for that, and, besides, I really prefer to shoot in natural light. Fortunately, most of the time I can, but there are instances when a flash will make the difference in a picture by narrowing the scene’s contrast range, making it possible for the camera’s sensor to capture the details in shadow and highlight areas. Often flash is the only way for me to make a picture, as I don’t have the luxury of coming back when the light is better.
Chase Jarvis is one of a new breed of successful young photographers who’s at the top of his game. His use of social networking has brought him an enormous following while his exploration of radical business models is opening new markets. Best known for his lifestyle and sports images, the creative and financial success of his personal projects has earned him top corporate clients like Nikon, Reebok, and Microsoft.
Shutterbug: You have no formal training as a photographer, yet arguably you’re one of the top photographers working today. How’d you get there?
Chase Jarvis: I wish I could answer that in a sentence. I think maybe the shortest description is by being incredibly curious and very hardworking. And throw a whole bunch of luck in there, too. There’s a lot of timing and luck involved in anything I do.
Jeffrey Totaro (www.jeffreytotaro.com) didn’t plan on becoming an architectural photographer. After graduating Drexel University in 1991, he became an architectural engineer. In his job, he found himself working alongside architectural photographers and was soon assisting them, until finally he found the allure too great and switched careers. Now he runs his own studio near Philadelphia.
After almost 40 years of making platinum prints, chemical fumes had harmed Tom Millea’s lungs to a point where he could no longer go into the darkroom. He says, “Closing my studio was traumatic in the extreme.” He didn’t believe that anyone else was capable of printing his work as he envisioned it. He liked computers but had no desire to try to make digital prints look like his platinum prints. “One technique could not replace the other,” he says. He selected prints from his inventory to sell in gallery shows and considered himself retired.
But by 2004, when the color palette of digital inks had changed, Millea thought his prints were beautiful, and comparable with his darkroom images. He began making digital color photographs full-time using an Epson 2200 printer. Over the next five years, he says, “By myself, step by step, I learned to use the computer to make images I felt were uniquely my own.” He eventually put together a complete digital studio with Apple computers and two Epson printers, the 4800 and the 9800. He could then make his own prints up to 40x60”.