About Nepotism and Misplaced Hate

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In my career I’ve worked various jobs for different sized organizations. I’ve worked for a mom & pop shop to a major global corporation and everything in between; office politics were always a part of the day to day. Whether it was management with questionable credentials or outright hiring family members, nepotism and cronyism are such a part of the business world that you’re bound to come across it at some point or another and the Photography world isn’t any different.

Earlier this week, Brooklyn Beckham, spawn of former Spice Girl turned designer, Victoria Beckham and football star, David Beckham, announced the release date of his first Photobook published by Penguin. It wasn’t long before the Internet was up in arms about how “unfair” and “unjust” it was that Brooklyn was “given” a book. It was yet another toll in the death knell of Photography as an art form – after all, Brooklyn has no formal training; he hasn’t paid his dues like every photographer that’s come before him. The Internet in it’s collective wisdom had decided that this one of the worst cases of nepotism in the history of modern art. Truth be told; we’re all full of shit.

As of this post, Brooklyn Beckham as over 10 million followers on Instagram – which is to be expected of a celebrity account. His followers (from my quick 5 minute glance of his page) are engaged and though mostly not art critics, many can appreciate his interpretation of Photography. While Brooklyn may not have a day’s worth of formal training under his belt he not only practices the craft but has managed to carve out an audience for the images that he’s creating. Would he had gotten his Burberry spread had his parents not been the internationally known Beckhams? Probably not, but he still needed to take the opportunity.

And that’s what we’re really talking about here; we’re not upset that Beckham has a book but he got an opportunity. Consider this: his being born of rich and famous parents has garnered him various opportunities that those of us who weren’t born with such privilege might never see. It’s a privilege that many Photographers abuse when we look at new Photographers of non-famous backgrounds; denying them the opportunities to professional practice their craft because they’re not a part of inner circles. Friends, we’re not mad at nepotism, we’re mad at privilege.

How many times have we overlooked privilege when it’s benefitted us? As long as it’s been good to us, we’re likely to turn a blind eye. Too often we allow our own conceit to trick us into believing we’ve earned every opportunity presented. It’s never about the connections that some of us were born with or the financial circumstances that allow us to pursue the work that we do. Before passing judgement let’s try to remember the last time we’ve extended an opportunity to someone just getting started in this industry. Maybe, just maybe, the next generation of photographers will be discovered based on talent alone.

If you’re looking for a photo book with black and white images of daily life but Brooklyn Beckham isn’t quite your speed; consider picking up A Beautiful Ghetto by Devin Allen. A Beautiful Ghetto beautifully displays the spirit of Baltimore through the stories of its residents, their struggles and the beauty of their resistance against racism in America.  Allen’s work has been featured in on the cover of Time, New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and may other print and online publications.

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Last Call: Your New York Minute 2016

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Photo by  Andrew Hetherington

With the PhotoPlus Expo coming up in a little over a month, expo organizers, PDN, are looking for both professional and amateur submissions for their first PhotoPlus Expo photo contest. PDN and PhotoPlus Expo are looking for slice-of-life images captured in New York City. To sweeten the pot, PDN is giving away over $13k in prizes to the winners including a Nikon D500 with 16-80mm lens (pro division) and Nikon D7200 18-140mm VR lens kit (amateur division).

The contest is straight forward, enter in one of five categories within the pro or amateur divisions; the categories each reflect one of the city’s five boroughs and outlying islands. There are no limits on the number of entries you can submit however there is a fee of $30 (pro) $25 (amateur) per submission. Aside from the chance to win some great gear, Grand Prize and First Place winners will have their work featured at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo where an estimated 25,000 people will see it; best of all, photographers retain all rights to their work.

The contest deadline is today so be sure to hit up the link in the featured image for full contest details and registration info. I hope to see you all at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo.

Growing Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

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SAMSUNG CSC 

When I first started getting serious about photography, I shot everything. It was all new and there was just so many new concepts I wanted to try out. Shortly after, I had a very expensive DSLR sitting in a closet collecting dust. The camera was originally bought because I was trying to build my first blog (an Apple-related blog if you’re curious) and I convinced myself that if it was to be successful it would need original photos. Never mind I didn’t really know anything about photography beyond making sure it wasn’t blurry. My original failure in the world of photography didn’t come from lack of interest of passion or even time – I never respected the fact that simply trying a technique isn’t the same as learning a technique. 
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Shortly after my first blog fizzled out I found myself writing for another tech blog – The Noisecast. I ended up there with a fib, I said I had a camera and took great pictures. See where I’m going with this? Unlike the first time I tried to learn photography, this time I focused on a couple of key styles of photography. These became the building blocks for truly picking up the camera for the first time. I was covering live events and press conferences; it’s fast shooting in variable conditions. It’s a lot harder than you convince yourself it to be but it is a true trial by fire. I became competent shooting events for journalistic purposes but I couldn’t practice event photography without events to shoot – and so I learned about Street Photography. 

  
Learning a very specific style of photography pushed my creative limits. It forced me to relearn everything I had already become comfortable with. I had to go through the ups and downs of starting fresh. Mistakes were made, shortcuts taken; in the end I saw it through and became better at the craft. Learning about new compositional techniques, learning how to capture the emotion of a scene or the energy of a place. 
Commuters//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I’m not going to say I’ve mastered any of this – fooling ourselves into mastery of this craft leads to stagnation and conforming. I’m however ready for my next challenge. I want to be better at what I do so I decided that I’ll be taking on not just film photography but learning to shoot medium format 120 film. It’s going to be an on-going challenge in conjunction to my daily digital photography. I’m looking forward to this next step and I encourage you dear reader to step outside of your comfort zone. Portrait photographers go out and shoot some landscapes; nature photographers head into the city where the wild things are. You get the idea.

Everyone is making great cameras… What now?

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The Whole Family is here


At this very moment if you walked into the nearest camera specialty store and walked around the latest gear for you to try, chances are you couldn’t walk a few feet without running into a really good camera. Whether it’s a Samsung NX3000, Olympus’s E-PL7, Canon’s T3i, or various other interchangeable lens camera systems, chances are that you’ll be able to produce quality images at a relatively inexpensive price-points.

So where does this leave us? Well, the old arguments about which camera system makes the best photographs are now by and large just a matter of personal preference and/or justification of spending lots, and lots, and lots of money in the gear you’ve chosen to buy into. Make no mistake, photography remains an expensive profession and even more expensive hobby once you get to a certain point but when you’re starting out there’s almost no wrong choice.

Getting started – Why there’s nothing wrong with the “kit lens”

You’ve done your homework and now you’re ready to make a big purchase – your first interchangeable lens camera. Whether you go DSLR (I’ll be explaining in another post why you shouldn’t) or one of the mirror-less cameras, if you base your purchasing decision solely on the opinions of Internet forums and your “almost pro” friends you’ll often hear that you shouldn’t buy the camera bundled with a cheap lens. They’ll often point you to a camera body and make a suggestion as to which “prime” lens to buy, but the truth is that even the kit lenses that many manufacturers have greatly improved the quality of their kit offerings.

Carnival in Brooklyn

and Q Standard Zoom 02 Lens (kit lens for Q system cameras)

Make no mistake, a prime lens will give you better image quality than you’re typical kit lens, but if you’re just getting started the average kit lens on the market will be able to handle most situations. The kit will provide you with the flexibility of a zoom and the added benefit of knowing that you didn’t spend the additional money on a “good lens” in the event you have second thoughts.

Breaking the bank: buying the best body or splurging on a lens

Online debates often revolve around the latest and greatest camera bodies manufacturers can offer. Whether it’s the flagship Canon 5D Mark II, Samsung NX30, or Olympus OM-D E-M1, a flagship camera is almost certain to cost you a pretty penny. Often times a flagship camera body is usually sold as a body-only meaning you’ll be dropping even more coin on  picking up a necessary lens. It’s a costly endeavor for sure but does it have to be? Not really. 

Circle of Fire

If you’re gonna splurge; I definitely recommend you do so on a great lens.

Unless you’re a high-level enthusiasts or working professional, chances are that you will not be using all the features of a flagship camera. If you’re just getting started in the world of photography, consider picking up an entry-to-mid-level camera body and use the balance of your flagship budget on picking up an additional lens or two. If you choose to go this route you can easily pick up a great, fast prime lens that will serve you for a variety of uses. Best of all, learning to shoot with a prime lens will help you make the most out of an included kit lens or other zoom lens should you choose to pick one up at a later time. So before you’re swayed by all the bells and whistles of a flagship camera, find capable middle of the road camera body and consider getting the best lens your budget affords. 

Finding your a camera that fits your style

  
Now that the secret is out and there’s no such thing as a bad camera these days, where does that leave you? Well if this generation of gear is indicative of what the future of photography may bring, then we’re all in for a great time. For seasoned pros or experienced hobbyists, great cameras will make it easier for them to create the images that they see in their mind’s eye. They’ll be able to capture the decisive moment with even more accuracy, capture landscapes with an even higher level of sharpness and clarity. For those who have recently caught the bug or may be just starting out, the improved processes in camera manufacturing and wide availability means that it’s even easier to get started. Though the learning curve may still be there, there’s never been a better time to find a camera that offers plenty of control to the photographer while still being technologically advanced enough to guide them as needed. 

It’s a truly great time for photographers of all stripes; who knows maybe some day soon we’ll no longer be as concerned with what we’re shooting with and what we shoot. 

Reflections on 2015

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  As 2015 draws to a close I’m sitting in a hospital room reflecting on where this year started and where it has ended. As I sit here I’m reminded of opportunities missed; mostly out of pride and opportunities that I have not put enough time or effort into. This isn’t a post about all the things wrong with the year, in the midst of this storm, I choose instead to be grateful for being able to share this story.This story isn’t about photography per se, photography was a big part of my life in 2015. I don’t think I officially stated that I was doing a 365 project at the start of the year, I definitely approached the year with shooting and sharing every day in mind. This year I’m very grateful to Allison + Partners and Samsung for continuing to believe in me and my photography and for continuing to keep me on as an Imagelogger in 2015; being an Imagelogger is the single event that has pushed me to my creative limits not just as a photographer but as a writer/journalist as well. Becoming a better photographer forced me to become a better storyteller. Understanding how the emotional weight of an image can tell a story has made me rethink the way I tell stories with words – make them more visual. 

  
This past year has also made more keenly aware of the impermanence of life. Where you are today is not necessarily where you’ll be tomorrow; the last four months of the year have shown me that this isn’t an omen but a hopeful promise. I truly pray that no one has to live through a time like that but knowing that it is temporary has kept me and my family pushing forward. Don’t allow the impermanence of your current successes lead you to becoming prideful, boastful, or cocky. Don’t allow the fleeting trials or bad hands color your judgement going forward and keep you from living a joy filled life. There’s beauty to be found all around you; capture it in your memories and learn to look back but not live in them for too long. 

  
I’m not sure what 2016 will have in store for me or any of you. I encourage all of you to learn something new. Get out of your comfort zones, don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re scared of making that next move; it’s probably worth it. I’ve been blessed with a network of support that extends from close friends and family to an extended family that I’ve never met in person. To my colleagues on the verge of launching new endeavors and businesses I wish you much success; may we continue to be collaborators, competitors, but above all, continue to push one another to greatness. 

  

Samsung’s Beast Mini aka the NX500

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The NX500 is a 4k shooting Beast that's easy to carry all day.

The NX500 is a 4k shooting Beast that’s easy to carry all day.

It’s been a little over two months since I first got the NX500 in my hands. After long NY winter shooting with the NX1 on a near daily basis it was refreshing to have a camera that was light enough to drop in my messenger bag and forget it’s there. Just because the camera lost some of its size, it by no means lost any of its power. Read on for some of my impressions on the NX500 and some sample images.

Disclosure Notice: I’m part of Samsung’s Imagelogger program in which they send me shiny new cameras to try and take many, many pictures with. This is not a paid placement; all opinions from here on are my own. 

NX500 ProductWhen I first took the NX500 out of the box I was absolutely floored by how light it is. Sure, I absolutely get that it is a (relatively) tiny camera but I still can’t get over the technology that powers it. Inside the small and svelte frame is a 28-megapixel back-side illuminated APS-C sensor and DRIMe 5 image processor – the very same sensor and processor combo found in the larger (more expensive) NX1. The NX500 is capable of capturing 9fps in full resolution and comes with a gorgeous 3-inch AMOLED touch display and boasts 209 auto-focus detection points. When combined with the NX500’s Hybrid Phase Detection AF system, those 209-phase make for speedy changes in focusing that make shooting 4k video on the NX500 a dream.

NX500 w/ NX-45mm f/1.8 2D-3D at ISO3200

NX500 w/ NX-45mm f/1.8 2D-3D at ISO3200

Ultimately the biggest reason that I’ve fallen in love with the NX500 is that much like the NX300, the NX500 has allowed me to disappear into the background and capture those fleeting moments of city life without drawing too much attention to myself. For my style of shooting, I’d gladly give up a viewfinder for a chance to capture my subjects without drawing too much attention to myself. The NX500 is my current favorite camera for my street photography and it’s clear to see why; you don’t have to take my word for it, check out the gallery below for more photographs made with the NX500 and be sure to leave a comment. NX500 

If you’re ready to dive into the world of 4k video and pick up one of the best APS-C cameras under $800 consider shopping via the link below. It helps me keep the lights on and writing more posts like this one. Thanks again for your support.

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