Secrets of the Pro Photographers: Video Tutorial Series, Part 2

Welcome! I’m photographer Matthew Jordan Smith, and I’ve worked as a celebrity/fashion and beauty photographer for the last 29 years, capturing subjects from Samuel L. Jackson, to Britney Spears, to Aretha Franklin, to the Future American Presidents. If you’d like to discover how I’ve created a career working with some of the top celebrities, advertising and fashion clients, come check out this FREE 3-part photography training series. I guarantee you will learn something new that can help you on your journey of being a photographer. If you’ve ever wondered if you can make a career as a photographer, or worried about the competition, then this video series is just for you. Happy holidays! Part 2: 5 Rookie Mistakes Photographers Make (and How to Avoid Them) When I first started my career as a photographer, I did what most photographers do: went out and purchased as much gear as I could afford. The problem with that is that I didn’t know exactly what to buy, so I wasted money buying the wrong gear, then had to buy some things over again. In this video, I’ll share more of the mistakes I made so you can avoid them, and have success faster in your career. Click here to… Continue reading Secrets of the Pro Photographers: Video Tutorial Series, Part 2

This Artist Uses a UV Lamp to Sunburn Photos into Pale Skin

We’ve featured artists before who produce fascinating twists on this whole painting-with-light thing — projecting portraits on the rainforest canopy, for instance, or growing them from living walls of grass. But French artist Thomas Mailaender took the practice to an entirely new, wince-inducing level with this performance art piece, Illustrated People: using pale skin as stand-in for photo-sensitive paper, he deployed a strong UV lamp to literally burn in a camera negative image. Like Victorian-era sun prints, only pre-cancerous. Sunburn photos. No darkroom, we can assume, required. The negatives were borrowed from the enigmatic Archive of Modern Conflict, a London-based organization as opaque as its collection is eclectic. These sunburn pictures, which Mailaender published in a book alongside other non-dermal images from the Archive, are so meta you may need a whiteboard to map everything out: photo portraits of photo portraits, subjects ‘printed’ onto other subjects, then printed onto paper, here now ‘printed’ into pixels. And then…healed. And gone.  

Secrets of the Pro Photographers: Video Tutorial Series, Part 1

Welcome! I’m photographer Matthew Jordan Smith, and I’ve worked as a celebrity/fashion and beauty photographer for the last 29 years, capturing subjects from Samuel L. Jackson, to Britney Spears, to Aretha Franklin, to the Future American Presidents. If you’d like to discover how I’ve created a career working with some of the top celebrities, advertising and fashion clients, come check out this FREE 3-part photography training series. I guarantee you will learn something new that can help you on your journey of being a photographer. If you’ve ever wondered if you can make a career as a photographer, or worried about the competition, then this video series is just for you. Happy holidays! First up: Benefits of Photographic Lighting When I look back at my career, the one thing that has made a big difference is learning how to master working with lighting.  Simply putting a light on a stand with a softbox and making a decent picture is not enough. We all need a competitive advantage, and in this video I share tips to help have greater success in photography. Also in this series: Part 2: 5 Rookie Mistakes Photographers Make (and How to Avoid Them)  Part 3: Tools to Help You Excel in… Continue reading Secrets of the Pro Photographers: Video Tutorial Series, Part 1

18 Junk Food Portraits That Will Either Amuse or Terrify You

These arresting (intriguing? Disgusting? Humorous?) portraits are from the Wotsit All About project by UK artist James Ostrer, “feverishly and painstakingly created tableaus with layers of sweets and foodstuffs being applied to a human subject.” (How many foodstuffs can you identify? Frosting, sprinkles, candy, burgers, fries, sausages… Those with extra-special powers of insight might even be able to identify the artist himself among the portraits). And while these photos have an absurd exuberance to them — representing, say, a six-year-old picky-eater’s imaginary friend — Ostrer’s intent is decidedly darker. For him, the images are “icons of contemporary sugar worship, the imagined result of a corrupted globalization and increasingly dangerous methods of food production.” Yum. Ostrer’s photographs of sugar adorned subjects allude to the history of primitive art, synthetic dietary sugar intake, and an irreverent twist on the absurd in which societal practices of ingestion oscillate into a nightmarish world of abject effrontery and nutritional disillusionment. —From project/gallery statement, Gazelli Art House Enjoy!  

What Stories Are Coded in These Things Confiscated at the Border?

This post features an ongoing personal project by photographer Tom Kiefer, whose images can take hours, and sometimes weeks to assemble. In his own words: Working as a janitor from July 2003 until August 2014 I was greatly disturbed by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings thrown away at a single U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility. For many of those years, I was allowed to collect and take the food transported by migrants, that was discarded during the first stages of processing, to our community food bank, an estimated sixty tons by the person who managed it. The personal effects and belongings were another matter: Why would someone throw away a rosary or bible? Why would someone throw away a wallet? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purpose “brand new”, be tossed in the trash? El Sueno Americano (the American Dream) is a photographic essay of the discarded personal effects and belongings of migrants and smugglers apprehended by Border Patrol agents, discarded while being processed at a U.S Customs and Border Patrol facility near the U.S./Mexico border in southern Arizona. My intent is to explore the humanity of the migrants who risk their lives… Continue reading What Stories Are Coded in These Things Confiscated at the Border?

Here’s What the Best of 50,000 Photos from 130 Countries Look Like

Winners of the Siena International Photo Awards (SIPA) were recently announced, chosen from a pool of 50,000 entrants from 130 countries, in the categories Storyboard (photo essay), Wine, Sport, Architecture, Wildlife, Nature, People & Portrait, Travel, Open Monochrome, Open Color, and Student. You can see galleries of top entrants in each category here, with a spotlight on the Grand Prize winner and Open Color category below. The competition is produced by the non-profit Art Photo Travel, and is part of the month-long Siena Art Photo Travel Festival. In their own words: Art Photo Travel creates cultural initiatives aimed at spreading, promoting and enhancing art, monuments, traditions, cultures and natural beauty from all around the world. Initiatives and projects address not only at those who love art and culture, but also to those interested in the most unknown and less touristy spots of various worldwide locations. An approach focus to mature awareness towards a culture mainly orientated to support the understanding of places, of populations and of people. Art Photo Travel holds every year an international photography contest, the Siena International Photo Awards, in order to set up a new opportunity to favor the gathering among people, photography lovers, art and culture… Continue reading Here’s What the Best of 50,000 Photos from 130 Countries Look Like

In These Sly Photo Mashups, Gods and Angels Take the Bus

People who do a lot of thinking about the creative process have described it as the alchemical ability to take seemingly unrelated things and turn them into something new. When you can’t see the seams, the results feel fresh; when you can see the seams – like in mashups – the results feel simultaneously new, sly, and knowing. The work winks at you. The Art History in Contemporary Life series winks at you like that. Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov’s ongoing digital collage project takes the gods, seraphim, and mythic critters of classical master paintings out of the museums, and puts them into modern-day urban Kiev. There’s Apollo, busking on the subway platform. There’s Diana, grabbing a Red Bull at the convenience shop. Are these divine creatures brought low, or is the gritty environment elevated? Either way, this is magical realism at its best. Images via deMilked and Contemporary Art Curator Magazine  

If You Organized Everything You Touched in a Day, It Would Look Like This

There’s something really…clarifying about objects organized in a single view. It brings a sense of peace that can elude us in our fast, over-thingified lives. We can see an appetite for this peace of mind in the decluttering movement popularized by Marie Kondo, and in the success of Austin Radcliffe’s Tumblr. Paula Zuccotti, an ethnographer, trends forecaster and designer with the creative consultancy the Overworld, has tapped into this impulse through her book Everything We Touch: A 24-hour Inventory of Our Lives. The project captures, in a single frame, every object a person has touched – chronologically — within a day. Zuccotti’s intent, in part, was to play archaeologist for future generations, documenting our relationship to objects (including those she started to notice were becoming extinct, like calendars, alarm clocks, and cash money). She writes: “from a toddler in Tokyo to a cowboy in Arizona, from a cleaner in London to a cloister nun in Madrid, Every Thing We Touch is their story told through the objects they own, consume, need, choose, treasure and can’t let go.” “I was amazed at the honest X-rays from our everyday lives that emerged from the photos. As a result, the participants find the exercise very… Continue reading If You Organized Everything You Touched in a Day, It Would Look Like This

Before-and-After Street Portraits 40 Years in the Making

All through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, paramedic and amateur street photographer Chris Porsz roamed Peterborough, England, capturing images of working-class locals who caught his eye. “My favourite style is candid, that is natural and unposed where possible. Mainly people, old characters with weathered faces, walking sticks up against the elements and adversity. I would mainly roam the city centre, where there was lots of activity… this great cosmopolitan mix, rich with characters that make great photos.” –Chris Porsz Without meaning to, Porsz had been documenting a social record, and in 2009 decided to see whether he could track down some of his subjects, and see where the arcs of their lives had taken them. Which sounds like an impossible task: find subjects from hundreds of candid street portraits, persuade them to pose again – in the same location – then tell their stories. It took seven years. The result: his new photo book Reunions, which includes the stories behind the pictures as channeled through writer Jo Riley — stories of growing up, growing apart, and, above all, change. “It has been enormously satisfying to do so many reunions and seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they met up… Continue reading Before-and-After Street Portraits 40 Years in the Making

It Took Nearly 10,000 Photos to Make Just One of These Images

In 2006, Danish photojournalist Peter Funch set up his tripod on a Manhattan street corner and started photographing people going about their day. One scene he captured showed someone reading, someone on the phone, and someone smoking. Not particularly interesting. But wouldn’t it be great, Funch would later tell an interviewer, if everyone in the shot was smoking? And so was born his Babel Tales series: 40 composited panoramic images of curated, synchronous moments (including one where everyone is smoking) that took five years to produce. As with other photographers we’ve featured that play with concepts of time, Funch’s series was incredibly labor intensive. After choosing a promising location, he’d shoot for three to five days, then decide if he’d continue. If he did, he’d shoot another five to ten days, producing between 1,000 to 10,000 images for the final composite. “Composing the images is a lot like painting where you build up the images and keep looking at it again and again. For me, this is where photography is heading, less of a method of passive documentation and more of a means to produce images.” –Peter Funch Funch chose wide aspect ratios for several reasons, all of them relating… Continue reading It Took Nearly 10,000 Photos to Make Just One of These Images