Not Fashion Forward from Guest Blogger – Kosuke Okahara

Kosuke Okahara is a celebrated documentary photographer best known for his in-depth work on Colombia and Fukushima, Japan. He is the recipient of several awards and grants including the 2010 W. Eugene Smith Fellowship, Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass, PDN’s annual 30 Photographers, and the Pierre & Alexandra Boulat Award. His photography has been exhibited at museums, galleries and international photo festivals around the world.

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Last February, I received an assignment for a kind of job I had never done before. It was from a fashion brand called Comme des Garçons. I haven’t done fashion work so I read the email again. It wasn’t a mistake; Comme des Garçons was asking me to shoot their Paris Fashion week show. They asked me to shoot as I always shoot because the designer, Ms. Rei Kawakubo, wanted to document the day of their collection from the beginning to the end.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

It was surprising that a big fashion brand asked me to shoot. I was curious so I said yes. When I asked them how they found me, they said they were looking for a documentary photographer for their show and eventually for a direct mail campaign. Comme des Garçons’s direct mail is widely known for its artistic concepts. They had seen my images and liked what they saw. This was a completely new experience as a photographer and I was excited to give it a try.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

Comme des Garçons’s asked me to shoot as I always shoot. So I ran out to get enough Tri-X for the day. My guess was that it would be quite dark but I could push the film.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

The directions I had from Ms. Rei Kawakubo were quite simple. She wanted to express intensity but she didn’t want ordinary fashion pictures. Some people would expect backstage access when shooting a fashion show. But another condition from the designer was “absolutely no backstage”. She didn’t want any disruptions with the models. So for me, that wasn’t much of option. It was challenging in a way, but sometimes limitations allow you to push yourself further and to be more instinctive.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

As a first timer going inside a fashion show, I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived I found a large runway that took up most of the space. This was where most of the action would take place. As a documentary photographer, though, I began to see possibilities beyond the runway. I loaded my camera and started shooting.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Once the show started, it was impossible to move – there was a huge crowd and the place was packed. So I focused on everything else; the people coming and going, team members setting up, and the environment itself.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

When I shoot, I believe that anything and everything can be a part of the story. Of course sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, I just keep shooting. That is the most important thing for me when I do stories. It may sound basic but focusing all the time is both difficult and exhausting.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

One of the greatest things of this assignment was that they allowed me to take my time in the darkroom. As they said they wanted me to do it my way, I printed all the pictures on fiber-based papers. I developed the many rolls of Tri-X according to my development recipe, then spent 10 days in the darkroom to print the images. These days in the world of photography, things move very fast but sometimes it is good to take time. Shooting film makes me think more. It forces me to look at images over and over while making contact sheets, choosing images, and then printing images. It gives me more time to understand the pictures during the process. I am not sure if this kind of assignment will happen to me again but it was quite interesting for not a fashion photographer.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

Start your travel adventure with a passport photo at CVS

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Travel is exciting. Traveling outside of the country is extra exciting. Last year I had the opportunity to visit South Korea.

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The year before that I was able to go to Switzerland.

There is a lot to prepare for when you are traveling abroad. Way before you start to pack your bags, you need to get a passport or check to make sure your existing one is current.

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Did you know Kodak Alaris and CVS can help you check “passport” off your travel checklist? You can have your passport photos taken and printed while you wait at your local CVS. Find a Kodak Picture Kiosk at a nearby CVS. Then you can get on with the business of planning a trip of a lifetime!

Social Media – You need to go fish where the fish are.

Wednesday Works post from guest blogger and professional photographer, Kenny Kim.

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Kenny Kim has always been fascinated by the visual arts, especially the connection between art and photography. This passion led him to study graphic design at the University of Illinois where he also became a Web designer.  But he eventually realized that the greatest outlet for his artistic expression and technical skills would be through his passion for photography.

With the launch of Kenny Kim Photography in 2006, his vision instantly resonated with his audience, and Kenny Kim Photography very quickly grew into a nationally recognized studio. Kenny has captured over 150+ weddings in locations throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and in Italy.

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I recently got back from a trip to The Big Apple. While wandering through the familiar streets of New York City, riding through their elaborate subway trains and walking through the familiar halls of airports, I couldn’t help but to notice something that all these difference places had in common: Almost everyone was looking down at their smart phones! Without glancing at their screens, I could probably guess that the majority of them were either on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and/or another form of a social media application. It was a good reminder to me that we are now living in the social media era. Use of mobile technology has transitioned from an option to a necessity. It has become the main channel for communication, news, advertising and even building relationships.

Wedding images of Bethany Scheuerman & Matt Whipple

When I got into the wedding photography industry nine years ago, social media was just starting to scratch its surface. I recall talking to many of my colleagues who were on the fence about joining the social media bandwagon at that time. Even just a few years ago, during my classes and workshops, I informed everyone about how having social media was a nice addition to incorporate into your business. Times have now changed and my message has evolved. It is now ESSENTIAL to integrate social media into your business.

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As a destination-wedding photographer, social media has played an integral part of my business in helping me get the ideal clients. Aside from traditional referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, it is now the biggest form of marketing for my studio. The best way to define marketing is that you need to go fish where the fish are. Most of the brides are using their smart phones to plan their weddings. They spend time looking at Pinterest and wedding style blogs for inspirations/ideas. They are viewing and sharing photos on Facebook and Instagram. Social media is now the ocean where your clients are swimming in. This is where you want to go fishing.

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Kodak Alaris has always been the leader in the photography industry. They also recognize the importance of social media as one of the essential steps in sharing and preserving the images we capture for our clients. I am thankful that they have given me the platform to share this message at WPPI Conference in Las Vegas next week. Please join me on March 1st for my Master Class about Destination Weddings. Then on March 2 & 3rd , I will be at the Kodak Alaris booth from 11am to 12pm, where I will dive more in depth about this topic and share some practical social media tips with everyone. Can’t wait to see you there!

Are you on social media? Let’s connect!

Facebook: @kennykimphotography / Twitter: @kennykim / Instagram: @kenny_kim

Guest photographer blogger: Thea Dodds

What a great time of year to be a wedding photographer: tradeshow season.  Wedding photographers are incredibly busy people, so we pretty much have just a few winter months to rest, recuperate and educate ourselves.  Every year I make the trip out to Las Vegas Nevada for the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Expo.  Vegas is just about the most unlikely place you would find me otherwise, but this conference is the “gold standard” in wedding photography education. I owe much of my growth and development to the education I have found at this one conference.

This year I have the privilege of my name being listed next to many of the world’s finest photography instructors and I also have the responsibility of offering the first presentation on same-sex weddings at this show.  Yes, 10 years after marriage equality began it’s journey across the nation, we are on the brink of a Supreme Court ruling which could bring legally recognized same-sex weddings nationwide.  So it is mighty time that us professional photographers start talking about how we can best serve the fastest growing, emerging market in weddings.

In my 15 years as a professional photographer, I’ve photographed more than 200 weddings, so you could say that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable working as a wedding photographer. I have an established routine to meet and exceed my clients’ expectations, and I’m able to offer guidance, based on my extensive experience, to better create beautiful and lasting wedding photographs for them. But in 2005 I photographed my first same-sex couple’s wedding and realized that although I had plenty of professional experience to lean on, in many respects I felt like a beginner.

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That first gay wedding represented many firsts for me. In fact, it was the first same-sex wedding I’d ever attended. It was the first wedding I’d ever photographed where neither member of the couple was wearing a wedding gown. And it was the first wedding where the ceremony kiss turned out to be the first time this couple had ever kissed in front of their families.

This couple was fantastic, two beautiful people who truly and deeply loved one another, but capturing their love on camera was challenging. My “regular bag of tricks” was no help when I tried to convey the level of intimacy I usually capture at a wedding. Even simply posing this couple, because they were so similar in height and weight and couldn’t physically dip or lift each other, made the “standard” images difficult.

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Flash-forward to today, and I’ve learned a lot, namely that love is love and that gay and lesbian weddings have a lot in common with straight weddings. However, there are some key differences that a photographer must understand, and I wanted to do something more to share my experience with other photographers.
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That’s why I called Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com and together we wrote a groundbreaking guide, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Photographing Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography.  Now I am taking the tips and information included in Capturing Love on the Road to the WPPI Wedding and Portrait Photography Conference and Expo: Kodak Alaris Booth #1319 on March 3 at 10am.  Hope to see you there! – Thea Dodd

The New Art of Capturing Love from Forget Me Not Media on Vimeo

Guest blogger: Pro Photographer Elisa Bricker

“Film allows me to book more and spend less time at my desk!” – Elisa Bricker

Elisa Bricker

Elisa Bricker

Most photographers I know didn’t get into our field because they love spending time in the office. When I talk with other photographers, they share their love of people and stories, of documenting and sharing their work – not their love of editing! I share my love of film because I want more photographers to know how inviting the process is. I want to share how I was able to leave my desk to shoot more, without needing to reinvent my business.

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When I started photographing my clients using a digital camera, it was easy to over commit. My workweek was a mix of business tasks and hours spent at my desk culling and editing digital images. I loved the work I was doing, but I needed a better process, and I wanted to spend more time doing the work that really mattered to me – shooting!

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Film photography is an invitation to create with your subject. It’s an opportunity for thoughtful and intentional creativity, and it’s a way to streamline your workflow. The move back to film was an obvious one for me. It allowed me to book more work because I was spending less time at my desk. It freed my schedule for more personal projects, and simplified my week – meaning I had more time and energy for my clients and our work together.

To start 2015 we have an exciting opportunity to share our work, our lives and our love of film. We’ll be at Imaging USA, in the Kodak Alaris booth (#726). I’ll be in the booth twice: once on Sunday, February 1 at 2 pm and again on Monday afternoon at 1 pm. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

If you can’t make it to the Kodak Alaris booth, then Edward and I (my husband and owner of Contax Rental www.contaxrental.com) are teaching a workshop in France.

This workshop is designed specifically for film photographers because we recognize both the allure of film photography and how intimidating it can be to try shooting on film without training. Learning film on your own can be a tedious and frustrating experience. Learning to use film with others is a liberating one.

For more information about our upcoming workshop in France this coming fall visit: http://elisabricker.com/workshop/

I cannot wait to meet you at ImagingUSA.

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So Much More Than Survival: Achieving Sustainability in Professional Photography

Guest blog post from Tim Kelly, M,Photog., IE, Cr., Fellow-ASP

I love the art and business of photography.

Photography was and still is “magical”. Running a business was, is and always will be a challenge. The rewards are both personal and professional, and often extraordinary for those who are serious and diligent.

The digital revolution took its toll on many of us and many studios could not survive because they didn’t adapt quickly enough. I began experimenting with digital a full decade before it really hit our profession even though I was told that digital would never be good enough for anything serious. It was so expensive! Because I wanted my business to have a future, I was willing to work, experiment and invest. Still, there are things I don’t love about digital, but it is the language of our industry, and for the most part, we must accept it.

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I say this as a film lover – understanding that many reading this may have never known the excitement and wonder of what can be created on film.

If you’re in Photography now, you’re likely shooting digital and 97% likely to be using a lab to print your orders. This has been one of the industry’s biggest changes and challenges in the last twenty years.

While most don’t print themselves, it’s imperative that the digital photographer understand profiles, color space, and the importance of calibration to produce a decent file for the lab to print. Serious photographers need to stay current with the latest techniques for shooting and handling image files so that we get the best images possible from digital capture. ‘

I’ve been a Kodak Mentor for more than twenty-five years and I’ve witnessed the positive effect that companies who train and educate can have. Largely speaking, our vendors want you to succeed and Kodak Alaris is providing products and software systems that help you get the most for your clients and from your lab. Take advantage of the support they have to offer.

Being the photographer is just one of the hats you wear. If you own your business, a lot more responsibility comes your way and good business practices and policies are just the start. You’ll need to work towards mastering sales and marketing too, another necessary cog in the machine. You’ll need to be the visionary for your company, bringing in new products and services, motivating clients and employees.

I’ve always felt there is a balance between what needs to be done now, and what I want to do next. Everyone’s list is different, but real growth comes from the extra hours you put in proof of the passion that you have for your craft. I hope that if your camera work needs improving, or your retouching skills need work, you’ll put that ahead of buying new studio lights. If your studio lighting or posing could be better, you won’t jump into digital painting just yet. I also hope that you go above and beyond for your clients, always bringing them your very best work. Bring new services and products forward once they are fully tested – once you’ve proven that they work – and when you have your pricing, delivery, and all your other ducks in a row. It’s good for you and good for our industry.

This is a fantastic business, as individual and unique as you want it to be. Take the time to develop as an artist and as a businessperson. Change is constant, adaptability is a must and enthusiasm is the fuel! Photography is equal parts art and science and disregarding either is a mistake.

As a Professional Photographer, I’m always looking for new ideas, things to get excited about, and that’s why I’ve started producing large format film portraits again. This format challenges me, and revisiting film, large format film in particular reminds me why I’m in this business. Learning and growing helps sharpen my skills so I can continue to offer new and fresh ideas to my clients.

In fact, I’d love to get your feedback, meet you and talk about the future of film and digital capture. I’ll be making a special appearance at PPA’s ImagingUSA 2015 in Nashville, and Amherst Publishing will be releasing my new book on B&W portraiture there. I’ll also be sharing ideas from my new book at the Kodak Alaris booth #726.

This is an invitation. Come on by – Kodak Alaris #726.

– Tim Kelly, M,Photog., IE, Cr., Fellow-ASP
timkellyportraits.com

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Staying in the Moment By Michael Turek

The last time I was in a dark room was probably 2002, and the last time I shot film wasn’t too long after that. By the time I graduated from photo school I had switched to digital with a lot of conviction. I remember debating with some of my more reluctant classmates about it, and my argument was that I felt I could ultimately provide a better image with digital. It gave you more options, I said. Then around the middle of 2012 I started shooting film again, mostly out of boredom. After nearly a decade of digital, I found the experience of shooting on film to be a revelation.

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People ask me why I prefer to shoot film, expecting me to say something romantic about the way film looks, the texture of it. Instead, I completely stay out of that subjective and tired debate of whether it looks better than digital (off the record, I do prefer the way film looks). But what I discovered when I returned to film was that it had more to do with the absence of the LCD screen on the back of the camera than anything else.

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Putting any camera up to your face takes you out of the moment, but taking a picture and then looking at the screen on the back of the camera really takes you out of the moment. The disconnect is at its worst when making portraits of people. It’s uncomfortable enough to have your picture taken, but it’s even more uncomfortable to be snapped, and then seemingly judged by the photographer as he’s reviewing the image. The temptation to check the screen is way too strong.

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I’ve tried to turn it off. I’ve put gaffers tape over the screen. But these efforts are no better then a New Year’s resolution that I’ll never keep. Invariably, the subjects want to have a look for themselves and unless you’ve just shot a Pulitzer Prize winner, they’re probably going to feel less spectacular about themselves. Often subjects, assuming I’m shooting digital, will point to my camera and ask “can I see?” and I’ll respond, “No, but neither can I.” They then seem to be reinvigorated by the equality between us.

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I find that if I’m shooting with digital, I’ll be tempted to over-perfect any one shot. The instant feedback from the LCD allows me to make tiny adjustments, which many times are not imperative. Most of my best work is reactive, and when I start spending too much time on one shot I’ve only succeeded in making myself less open, less creative. Whereas with film, I may take two or three pictures of a scene, then say to myself, “OK, this is getting expensive, time to move on,” and then I change positions drastically, or take the subject to an entirely new location. As a result, by the end of the shoot, I’ve come away with true variations rather then just 75 versions of the same image. As it turned out, I was wrong about what I thought ten years ago; it’s actually the process unique to shooting film that seems to help me make a more creative image. Shooting film is a constricting parameter, and it’s well known that sometimes it’s easier to work when confined.

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Of course I still shoot digital for certain jobs, and for some applications, it’s the way to go. I can’t find an underwater housing for my Pentax 67 and I get seriously wet on a lot of my shoots. I can imagine digital is great for shooting tabletop still life with the client in the studio. For me, however, most of my best work comes on location assignments after I’ve had a day or two to get into “the zone.” Without trying to sound all metaphysical about it, shooting film seems to lessen the time it takes to get into the zone. I know I’m there when I’ve stopped thinking about the equipment, even stopped thinking about the composition. I only know I’ve been in the zone after the fact. You can’t be in the zone and recognize it at the same time; if you do, you pull yourself out of it. Digital, which makes so much possible, ironically causes me to be occupied by distracting technical options. Too many options are bad.

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It’s counter-intuitive but film makes me care less about getting the right exposure. (It must be said; the dynamic range of film is an amazing and forgiving thing.) Perhaps it’s because I’m preemptively measuring the light more often. Constantly taking meter readings, I have greater faith that my next shot will be properly exposed. In any case, I feel more present and more in tune with my surroundings, and I don’t have to spend much thought on operating the camera. I make do with what’s loaded in the camera, knowing that I can push process the next roll if I have to, and that’s that. Yes, it’s more challenging to shoot film but it’s less distracting then digital. Ironically I find shooting film to be more peaceful, almost meditative, and all I have to think about is where to put the viewfinder’s rectangle.

Carmel, CA, Coastal Living job

Michael Turek is a New York-and London-based photographer.

He first fell in love with photography on family trips to England and his high-school photo teacher urged him to pursue the medium. Four years later, he graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a photography degree and moved to Manhattan to assist prominent names. He soon began accepting his own commissions from publications on both sides of the Atlantic.

For Turek, photography is a way of experiencing life; it’s suggestive of a memory, but the immediacy forces him to move past the pictures he has taken to the images he hasn’t yet made. He is the recipient of accolades from American Photography, Communications Arts, and PDN; and he maintains The Turek Atlas, an online travel guide featuring his images.

Michael shoots with a variety of cameras but he is particularly fond of his Pentax 6×7 and KODAK PROFESSIONAL PORTRA 400 and 160 films.