Dec 10 2018

Productivity

Photo by Zane Grant

What does productivity mean to you? I feel crazy busy these days but not productive at all. And when I am not productive is when I start feeling annoyed with myself. 

For me, making stuff is productive. Shooting photos is the input and showing them is the output. This feels like the machine of productivity that I am used to and want to be part of. 

Getting rid of massive amounts of stuff feels productive. Clearing space for new ideas feels productive. 

Running around town doing errands does not feel productive, but laundry does. Social media does not feel productive, but blogging does.

I don’t even know where I am going with this. I think prioritizing what is most important is what productivity is. In our case, photography. 

Warren Buffet said something along the lines of, “Write down 20 of the most important goals and things you need to do and accomplish. Spend a lot of time on it. Then take the top 3, and throw the rest away.”

Dec 03 2018

Edits

This is Ed Templeton signing copies of his latest book at Arcana Books. One of the best photo books stores on the planet and it happens to be 2 minutes from my house.

I was blogging about how different editing for books is vs. editing for zines, prints, and internet. Each seems to have its own dialect, boundaries, and obstacles. As you get older you find out that you may be more fluent in some of these languages than others.

It’s easy to say that a “winning” photo would translate on any medium, sure. But that is the short game. The long game isn’t about 1 photo, it’s about all of your photos and how you choose to set them free into the world. Maybe one will end up on a wall in a mansion in Malibu, maybe a big group of them will end up in a book on a shelf at the thrift store.

When you are making these things you get into the subtle dimensions like paper texture, ink texture, stiffness of cover, etc. Then you have the literal dimensions of the book and the spine width. Then you have the 4th dimension of time, the physical flipping of the pages and the sequencing of photos.

On the other hand, on a blog there is scrolling. And it is infinite. There are screen dimensions vs website dimensions. There are your resolutions vs their resolutions. And there is a built in attention deficit disorder meter running.

I am probably over thinking it, but all this is part of the craft. If we are to be called photographers, then we are to be called craftsmen I think.

Nov 27 2018

Down by the Hudson

Photos by Caleb Stein
Text by Amitava Kumar

I don’t know what post-industrial decline means. It is a vague notion in my head. Boarded-up homes, the husk of dead factories with broken windows and overgrown grass, businesses gone to seed. And the people? The people are missing in this picture of decay in my mind. When I first came to Poughkeepsie fifteen years ago, I was told by an academic that while there were pockets of prosperity in Hudson Valley, this town had suffered from post-industrial decline. I’m not a sociologist and I cannot say with certainty if such a statement is even true. But what draws me to Caleb Stein’s images is that he provides us the people missing from my mental picture. And what’s surprising about these images, no, what’s honest about them is that instead of people, we get faces. Individual lives. Their wealth of stories and secrets are shielded from us—mysteries that we cannot part—but we wonder and ask questions because that is what I think the photographer himself is doing. Hello? How are you? How is your day going? I imagine him asking this over and over again with the same people who then begin to treat him as a neighbor that he undoubtedly is. The photographer as everyman. On the street, in parks, and at the watering hole where we see that his eye is as clear as the water. Consider the remarkable image of the Prom Boy, a picture taken on the street on which I live. This image does fill me with wonder. Such a fine, even tender, mix of contradictions: the large flower in the buttonhole, the bandage on the nose, the slightly askew bowtie, the bruised eye, the stubbornly dignified gaze… I could go on. I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong in saying any of this about the young man. All I can be certain about is that this is what living is about, this tussle with the real, this strange encounter across divisions of race and class, in a rectangular visual space. This is life.

http://caleb-stein.squarespace.com/

Nov 22 2018

Everybody Street

This is from Chris Leskovsek

I still remember when I landed in NZ back in 2011 and I took my camera out (the studio) for the first time as a sole means to make sense about this new world around me. I was homesick, depressed, and wandering but it quickly became a form of self expression about my fears, what I like and dislike about society, document new places and meeting new people.

Yet it wasn’t until sometime in 2012, while talking to a creative director, when he mentioned to me that some of my photos reminded him of Daido Moriyama. To whom? I said. Then, after reading about this graphic designer turned photographer, the term ‘street photography’ came about. Google didn’t offer much at the time, other than Cartier-Bresson and Magnum, however ‘Everybody Street’ came up as a Kickstarter campaign. I clicked and thought, how interesting.

Fast forward to 2013 when the movie came out and luckily for me it was immediately available to purchase online, so I bought it right there, the whole deal you know with the extras and what not, through Vimeo. Hit ‘play’ and I still remember the opening line from Joel Meyerowitz when he says, “…some photographers go to the street and other photographers go to the studio… some people want to pretend its a movie and some other photographers step into the world and say ‘show me'”.

It clicked with me on so many levels at the time and still does in many ways. I think this is a movie that celebrates photography in it’s pure sense. A bunch of NY photographers, young and old, from different paths in life that photograph the odd, the funny, the bad and anything in between about our everyday life and celebrate the importance of telling our stories not just as photographers/artists, but as human beings and using perhaps one of most democratic mediums we have at our reach, a photo camera.

If you haven’t seen it, well now it’s free and I think its a must regardless if you are or not into the whole label of ‘street photography’. I think there’s something in there for everyone simply interested in the act of photography itself.

So now you know the drill… get some snacks and drinks, don’t forget those one… yeah… no… the other ones, yeah those cheeky ones!… and play it even if you have seen it already, just do it! Now it’s free!

PS. I found about Hamburger Eyes through this movie while researching more about Cheryl and Boogie, true story!

Nov 20 2018

The Shot

Photo by Arthur Pollock

I got a few messages about, “How do you get THE shot?” I believe this is what the life long study of photography is all about. We tried to answer that HERE and HERE and HERE and come to think of it, the entire existence of this blog and our photo zine is the exploration of this question.

A couple variants also came in, “How do you get into these certain situations?” and “How do you get these portraits?” The questions weren’t directed towards me, they are referring to the photos we publish.

I think, my opinion, that you are shooting 1 of 2 things. That is your story OR someone else’s story. It is up to you how detailed you want to tell that story. Some of the most detailed descriptive stories you see in Life Magazine or National Geographic or New York Times took months or years to photograph.

But how? For your story, I say shoot everything. Edit later. Figure out what it is you are trying to say. Even though it is fake as fuck, you could argue that the Kardashians are simply just master story tellers. Something in their story, not sure what, resonates with millions of people.

On the other side, in journalism they call your contact person the “fixer”. So find a story and find the person that will fix you up deep into that story. Figure out where the story begins and where it ends and shoot it.

How do you get the portrait? Ask politely. Or don’t. Either way, shoot and move on.

Nov 19 2018

BEINGS

Photo by Caleb Stein

Thinking about being today. I think for a while we are “trying” photography then “doing” photography, but sooner or later you start “being” photography.

Your camera and body and computer with internet become a single unit set to record all thoughts and actions. Mostly because you don’t know what else to do.

It’s ok. Everyone must have a task. That task is to be yourself at all times.

Nov 14 2018

How To Make A Zine

Photo by Nick Jones

There are 100 ways to make a zine. This is the way I do it. 90% of this catalog was produced this way. And if you wanted to make a book, it just a matter of adding 1 or 2 more steps. I’ll write that up too in a future post.

Ok. This is how to make a black and white 40 page zine on 8.5″ x 11″ paper, folded in half, and stapled. You should know what you want the final outcome to look like. Look at other zines. In fact, grab some blank paper and fold it and play with page count and you can start to see it happening in your mind.

It is just a very simple 3 step process.

** If you don’t have a computer, then this way of making a zine will not work for you.

1. Photos.

I use Adobe Photoshop. You don’t have to though. Have all your photos at 300 dpi, at around 11″ on the long side. I like jpg better than tiff. It’s mainly because they preview quicker on my old ass computer. If you are doing 1 photo per page and you know you want 40 pages, I would actually get at least 50 photos ready so that I can have room to play with sequencing more.

2. Layout.

I use Adobe Indesign. I know people that use Word or any PDF editor as well. But for this we are going to use Adobe Indesign. If you need to, look up tutorials on the internet. I probably do this on almost every project because I forget things or am trying something different.

Open a new document and in the size area choose “8.5 x 11 – half”. This means you are making a stapled booklet on standard size paper which is what we are making. Enter “40” in the page count area. Your page count must be divisible by 4.

I only use 1 tool really when making a layout. I don’t even know what it is called. I think it is called the “frame tool”. Use that to draw boxes of where you want to drop your photos into. It helps to have some margins set up so the boxes will be easier to draw. I start with the cover and start drawing these boxes on every page. 1 by 1.

Now I wanna add photos to these boxes. I open Abode Bridge which is a separate program bundled with Adobe Indesign. I find the folder of where all my prepped photos are. From there I just drag and drop my photos, 1 by 1, into these boxes I just drew in my layout. Your photo might not look right in the box. There are different auto-resize tools in the control panel. In particular there is one for auto-horizontal fit and one for auto-vertical fit. Hit one of those depending what your doing.

** The reason I prepped all my photos at 11″ long is just in case I want to do a 2 page spread, then the resolution will be already all good to go.

3. Output.

After you have laid out all your pages, you are ready to print it. The easiest way from here is to output a PDF. You can just find “export” and then export a hi-res PDF. From that PDF, you can now upload to a website where they can print it and mail it to you. Or you can take it to any Kinkos or any local copy shop or print shop and have them make copies. It will be cheaper for you to staple it and fold it yourself, but it is convenient to have it all done and ready to go.

But for this we want to print it at home. Find a double sided laser printer. When shopping for one, look for a feature called “Duplex tray”. That means it can print on 2 sides of a piece of paper. It does this by printing on one side, then that print chills in the duplex while the machine prepares to print the second side. I use the HP P3015. It is a little older but you can find them for cheap. You can find ink for cheap on Amazon and Ebay.

So once you got your printer set up you can print from the PDF that you just made, or you can print it out directly from Adobe Indesign which is what I do. There is a print setting called “Print Booklet”. Hit that, chose landscape, chose double sided, hit print.

Once it is done printing, use a booklet stapler to reach the middle of the page. Put 2 in the middle, then fold the whole thing in half. Done.

That’s it!

You just made a zine. Print out a few more and give them away to friends and family. Maybe they will like it, maybe they won’t get it. Either way you are now a publisher.

Nov 07 2018

5 Phases of Photo

Photo by David Root

** This article is a re-edit and re-package of a previous article. **

I was thinking about how every photographer I know has a completely different path then the next. But what makes them similar? I was thinking about “modes” or “gears” that we shift into. But “phases” might be the appropriate word. “Phases” are stages of development. But you can refer to a “phase” as a “state” or “cycle” as well.

Here are 5 phases that we all shift into, cycle through, and/or embody simultaneously. Maybe there are more.

I. Learning.

Books, teachers, shutter speeds, apertures, etc.

II. Developing.

Experimenting, “developing” your style.

III. Working.

Productivity. Shooting and processing.

IV. Obsession.

There is nothing else. There is no back up plan.

V. Break.

Burnout. Brakes. Rest. Reflection.

When I say, “Working” I don’t necessarily mean being paid. I mean working on your craft. That goes for “Obsession” too. Some of the most obsessed guys I know have a regular day job and shoot after work and on the weekends.

What phase are you in today?

Nov 06 2018

Averages No. 2 : Quality Vs. Quantity

Photo by Zack Canepari

In the article AVERAGES, we talked about feeling average about your photos. We talked about getting your numbers up and thus becoming “above average” but I think we can go into those numbers and distinctions a little more.

The idea is let’s say you are averaging 1 good photo out of 10 photos, then you are hitting at 10%. My suggestion to get those numbers up was to edit better, develop better skills and technique, and have more purpose. But I left out an obvious and crucial one, that is to shoot more.

If you want 1 good photo per day, then going by your averages, you need to shoot 10 photos per day. We know some days are better than others. Bad weather, bad attitude, boring scenario and many factors can lead to a boring day shooting. So if we bake those days into your average, then you need to up your shooting number on those days where everything is flowing properly. I say shoot 20.

Well what if you just shot 1000 photos and they all suck? I say shoot 19,000 more. This is about “clarity through action.” A quote I heard somewhere that applies here. If you want clarity, you have to take action. You have to learn photography. You have to shoot.

You have to hunt for that quality of photo that resonates truth for yourself and all of mankind. If you didn’t know, this is the search for magic beans path that we are all on as photographers. If you are reading this, you are on this mission. If you are reading this, you are part of the resistance.

Nov 04 2018

DATA RESULTS : INCONCLUSIVE

Photo by Bill Burke

While we got over 500 hits on the site only 10 votes came it. I was surprised but I do know some people were having problems on some mobile browsers. I am actually going to leave the poll open and see if further analysis is required. But I don’t think that will be the case.

As I suspected, “All of the Above” got the most votes. Which means a good amount of you agree that there is not one most important ingredient to making a great photo. And since that was the purpose of this poll, then the results are inconclusive.

“Emotional Content” got the second place. This topic was also the majority of the commentary. While it is essential in a great photograph, we as a group have found that it is only 20% of the pie.

There was 1 vote for “None of the Above”. That means 10% of you believe that none of the candidates listed would make a great leader. That is just as valid and important to consider too. When I listed “None”, I didn’t mean “Nothing”. So from that we can infer 10% of a great photo could be a nameless magic ingredient. To keep it glass is half full I marked it in the pie chart as “Unknown”.

There are different ways to interpret the data. If we divided the “All of the Above” votes into mini votes for everything, then we would add a .4 % vote for each candidate. Therefore “Emotional Content” would win while other ones like “Timing” would make the scoreboard. Although “Unknown” would still be scoring higher.

But that wasn’t the goal of the poll. We wanted to find out your number 1 ingredient and a vote for “All of the Above” is not 1 ingredient. We could’ve left it off the poll but this gives us useful info too. According to a strong and united 40% of you, a combination of all these things is what makes a great photo.

On the other hand, 60% of you disagree. If we go by the numbers then “Emotional Content” is the leader, but the majority is not united. We cannot ignore the voices for “Mystery”, “Energy”, “Composition”, and the X factor of the “Unknown”.

Could it be impossible to create a formula for a “perfect” photograph? I think we need more data.

This was fun. More polls in the future.

Nov 02 2018

DATA

Photo by Troy Holden

Ok I downloaded a poll plugin. I’m a nerd’s nerd and I like DATA. After the discussion in the last article, the comments became about the magic ingredients for a masterpiece level photo. That’s what I was getting out of it anyways. If we at least know the ingredients, maybe we can figure out how to bake these cookies.

After thinking about it all night, I do not think there is a magic formula for a photo that can ring truth spanning across all generations and cultures. But, if you are looking at this website and you know what we are doing over here, then you know that we are all in the same general type of genre/category/aesthetic or whatever you want to call it. So maybe we can have a formula for our little section of the photo universe.

Also, I think there might exist 2 ways to look at a photograph. One as a photographer. And one as civilian. For instance I think I look at photo books as a photographer, but I view the newspapers and commercial magazines as a civilian. This might not be true in every case, but generally I think I operate this way. So I made this poll to contain aspects of both types of viewing.

Vote here for what you think is the most number 1 important aspect of a great photo. What connects you most? What engages you as a viewer? We know it is a combo of all of them, but if you had to choose just one. What would it be?

If you choose “None”, then leave in the comments what you think I might have left off. Thanks in advance.

** Poll not responding on some mobile browsers. Not sure why.

Best Ingredient For A Masterpiece Level Photo

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Nov 01 2018

New Questions

Photo by Elmo Tide

Getting awesome feedback! Thank you all for reading these things and glad my random thoughts and ideas are resonating. If you have any questions that you think I should write about, leave them in the comments section or feel free to email me :

ray@hamburgereyes.com

This came in from regular photo contributor Reuben Radding:

Here’s what I’m having a hard time with: new questions. When I started grad school I dedicated myself to finding new questions to replace the outmoded and fully answered ones like, “Is it documentary or fine art?” “Why black & white vs color? digital vs film?”, etc etc etc… And the idea was that if we accept these issues as a waste of thought, what is next? What are the next big questions?

I have spent two years busting ass, growing, learning, questioning, and I’m not sure I know what the questions are other than, “What is the specific energy or quality or whatever that makes a photograph really sing out when it obviously doesn’t depend on “correctness” or “important content”?

We all know this quality when we see it. And we all chase it. And different photos are strong for different reasons, but what is this elusive aliveness that no one can put in a lens review or a guide to composition? I’m only scratching the surface to find an answer for this yet, and I’m still looking for more questions that aren’t “Canon vs Nikon” or “Wide angle vs Normal.” Maybe, “How can I put everything I am into a frame?” or “Who the hell is Elmo Tide?”

Thanks Reuben. Firstly, I think this might be the impossible question. Let’s try it. I have mentioned story telling in other posts. I say if you can tell a good story then your photos are “good”. But that involves multiple frames and editing much like making a feature film. And I think you’re saying, “What makes 1 particular frame really good?” To me that’s almost like saying, “What is art?” Let’s look it up.

art
noun

1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
“the art of the Renaissance”
synonyms: fine art, artwork
“he studied art”

2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.

Ok we have some clues. Look at the first definition. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We know about beauty so let’s scratch that one off. “Emotional power”. That’s the nectar right there. You touched on it when you said “aliveness”. The viewer is feeling something looking at the photo. Maybe a “good” photo steers them in a particular emotional direction.

This is a list from Wikipedia :

Robert Plutchik’s theory says that the 8 basic emotions are:

  • Fear – Feeling of being afraid, frightened, scared.
  • Anger – Feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
  • Sadness – Feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief.
  • Joy – Feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
  • Disgust – Feeling something is wrong or nasty.
  • Surprise – Being unprepared for something.
  • Trust – A positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker.
  • Anticipation – In the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.

Looking at this list it is no wonder why joy is favored as such a premium and why bad news dominates every tv channel. People need to get charged up emotionally in either direction.

This makes me think of Robert Frank’s “The Americans”. While 100s or 1000s of photographers have traveled across the country and made books about it, his became one of the most celebrated photo books of all time. And it’s because it had a darkness to it. A sadness. And in the 1950’s that kind of emotional exploration was new and sophisticated.

I don’t know if this is theee answer, but it’s an answer. Emotional content. Maybe if you can shoot something in a strong emotional state, and somehow that emotion transfers over to the viewer, then maybe you have just made a “good” photo.

Second. I don’t know who is Elmo Tide. But what a great example of no social media, no website, just Flickr and epic photos. I feel lucky that he somehow found Hamburger Eyes and decided to submit photos, a few rounds of photos actually. If you are reading this Elmo, we are huge fans and can’t wait to see more.