Writing On Photography – Geoff Dyer

June 4, 2017 | Filed Under Art, Documentary Photography, Geoff Dyer, Photo Book, Photographers, Photography, Photojournalism, Photos, Street photography, The Ongoing Moment, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing, Writing on photography | Leave a Comment 

 

I find Geoff Dyer one of the most interesting, and idiosyncratic, writers around. He’s written a great deal about photography and photographers, much of which is found in two of his books ‘The Ongoing Moment’ (seen here) and a section of essays in  ’Otherwise Known As The Human Condition’.  His descriptions and thoughts on photography are both  insightful and entertaining. Here’s his description of the photographer William Eggleston’s work ” Eggleston’s photographs look like they were taken by a Martian who lost the ticket for his flight home and ended up working in a gun shop in a small town near Memphis.”. What a wonderful descriptive (and accurate) sentence. The cover image is a section of a photograph by the late British photographer Michael Ormerod who  is discussed in the book (Ongoing Moment) as well.dyer-book



Luceo Images – You Are Here

July 8, 2012 | Filed Under Collectives, Photo Book, Photojournalism | Leave a Comment 

The photographer’s from Luceo Images, the American photo collective, are the photography world’s (or at least the photojournalism world’s) current IT girls, the stars of the scene. It’s with good reason too. They have taken up the challenge of working in a world that is often seen as falling apart, no work, no venues for display and no money to be earned, and found new ways to get their images noticed, make a living from it and take things in often new directions.

One area that is old school, service, they still pay attention to. I ordered, or tried to, their new handmade catalogue You Are Here off heir website and kept getting a message that the item couldn’t be shipped to Canada. I dropped an email to Luceo and quickly received a message back from member Matt Eich who arranged for an alternate way for me to pay and for shipping. The catalogue arrived last week and what was most impressive upon opening was a small detail, a signed note saying thanks.

The catalogue itself is small with photographs printed on to Moab paper and then bound simply between covers with clips. This might be my favourite image from the book, a combination of  lots of visual detail inside the road and then the man disappearing into the light outside, it’s as though a Bill Allard image was combined with an old Duane Michaels image.

I like this one too, very different look and feel.

A fun touch is the garish orange envelope at the back that has fragments of prints inside.

One sad and/or amazing thing is that the catalogue, printed and/or assembled in an edition of 100 and on sale at the recent Look3 festival for a special price of $15 did not sell out there. Here’s a chance to pick up a book of 10 photographs and more by a group doing some of the most interesting work in North America and it didn’t sell out. Good news for you as you can order it, at a slightly higher price, here and check out more of Luceo Images here.



Recent Vancouver Island Newspaper Work

May 23, 2012 | Filed Under Daily Work | Leave a Comment 

A few images from recent issues.

Vet checks pup at a local street clinic she organized

Rugby 7s championships

Grads arrive for block party

High school girls’ soccer

Ryan Cup girls’ soccer



Micah Escamilla, interviewed by Jeff Bartlett

June 12, 2011 | Filed Under Photojournalism, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment 

Former student Jeff Bartlett has posted an interview with his fellow former Western Academy of Photography classmate Micah Escamilla. Jeff is in Argentina and Micah is in California. You can read the interview here. Micah mentions former instructor, and now Luz Gallery maestro, Quinton Gordon as an influence for the classes he taught, she mentions me for inspiring her to set up drink nights for photographers. Who’s the better influence, hmmmmm.



Mike Drew – Interview

November 28, 2010 | Filed Under Photography | 3 Comments 

1) You are unusual among newspaper photographers in that you have your own weekly column. Describe what your column is about.

Basically, I go and have an adventure and write about it. The adventure can be anything I feel like doing. Most of the time I poke around southern Alberta – the best place in the world – but I also write about my trips to other places as well. I’ve done stories from every continent except Australia and Antarctica but I expect to knock those two off pretty soon.
Most of the time i just pick a direction and go. My natural tendency is to head east and south because those wide open, unpopulated, treeless lands are what I prefer to explore. The mountains are okay, too, but they just don’t speak to me like the prairies do. I photograph the land, the sky, the plants and animals and absorb the ambiance of wherever I am. I’m not often around other people when I’m at these places but I don’t try to avoid them. I like chatting with folks and quite often those visits get mentioned in my yarns but most of the time I have the world to myself.
All of this is done on my own time, on my days off from my regular newspaper job.

2) How long have you been producing the column?

I started doing these stories in 1991 so I’m coming up on 20 years. At first I travelled everywhere with my dog Ansey and it was him who made the stories popular. In the pre-internet days we got mail from as far off as Saudi Arabia and Australia from people who had the clippings sent to them by friends in Alberta. Ansey and I rode the rails together for nearly 16 years but since he ran ahead up the trail back in 1997 I’ve been rolling solo. I miss him every day and I still keep his bandana hanging from my rearview mirror. He will always be with me.

4) Describe a typical day out for the column.

My favorite time of day is the early morning so I’m often up at around 4 a.m. in the summer to make sure i’m somewhere interesting when the sun pops above the horizon. I’ll look for birds and animals and stop to shoot whatever catches my eye. These days I shoot video along with still photos so I look for situations will work as video clips as well. I thoroughly enjoy the video aspect. It adds a whole other dimension. Come wintertime I’ll go wherever the weather takes me. On a cold, sunny day I’ll head to the grasslands. if it’s snowing I’ll swing through the foothills or hit the mountains. A typical day any time of year runs about 12 hours, most of it spent driving with a couple of hours of walking thrown in. When I’m writing about a fishing trip it might be the opposite with just a couple of hours driving and more time spent walking.
Most days, though I just cruise and keep my eyes open. I always see something and every time it’s something new.

5) You do a lot of driving for the column, what sort of mileage do you accumulate in a year?

I average about 400 km per trip but I’ve had several days where I’ve driven 1000 km or more. Last year I took off to New Mexico and drove over 6000 km in six days. I drive a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser that’s just about to hit 250,000 km.

6) Do you carry a lot of photo gear with you or do you travel light?

I always pack at least two cameras which these days are Canons that shoot both still and video. On one is a big-ass Sigma 50-500 and the other usually has a wide-angle zoom. When I hike around I pack a carbon-fibre tripod with a video head, a microphone, extension tubes and a hand-held audio recorder. I always have a flash with me but I rarely use it. When I’m shooting to please myself I have the luxury of looking for good light. When I’m shooting for the paper I often have to use the flash to make up for the lack of good light.

7) What is it about Southern Alberta that continues to fascinate you?

Here’s my favorite example of why Southern Alberta is so awesome. The Bow River runs from the Rockies down through the foothills. It bisects Calgary before heading out onto the plains where it meets the Oldman River to form the South Saskatchewan River. For its first third its a tumbling mountain stream. The middle is one of the best trout streams in the world. And the lower stretch is a wide, warm, slow-moving prairie river.
In the space of a single day you can photograph mountain goats, bighorn sheep and grizzlies at the base of a glacier, catch and release trout as long as your arm right in the middle of a city of a million people and poke around sagebrush flats photographing cactus, rattlesnakes and scorpions and never be more than a quarter-mile away from that one ribbon of bright water. I don’t think you can do that anywhere else in the world.
And that’s just one watershed. the Red Deer River cuts through the badlands and exposes massive dinosaur graveyards, the Milk River has sandstone cliffs covered with petroglyphs and is the farthest north branch of the Mississippi. You can paddle a canoe from the town of Milk River all the way to New Orleans. The Rockies run along the B.C. border and no one has to tell you how spectacular they are. But the sand dunes and near-desert country along the eastern border are every bit as amazing.
Then there’s the Milk River canyon where you can find yucca blooming and watch elk and antelope mingle on the sagebrush-studded plains.  Over by Waterton there’s sandhill cranes nesting on the same ponds that trumpeter swans raise their young. Drive up into the Porcupine Hills and see Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a World Heritage site, and continue on into the best ranching country in the world. Find the shade of a cottonwood tree to get yourself out of the 40C summer heat over by Medicine Hat and pack survival gear for a winter drive drive west of Caroline in minus-40C cold. Or wait a couple of days for a chinook that you can smell as it blows in across the mountains and watch the temperature rise 20 degrees in the space of a few hours. God, I love this country!

8) Is there one area of southern Alberta in particular that you enjoy more than another?

I far prefer the plains to the mountains but there are places in both that draw me back. In the mountains there’s the upper Oldman River valley – great cutthroat trout fishing – and Smith-Dorrien Trail that runs up the Spray River behind Canmore. And Waterton, of course, that gorgeous gem of a forgotten national park that sits in the southwest corner of the province. Almost no one goes there and that’s all right with me. The Porcupine Hills south of Calgary should be a national park run entirely by ranchers. I enjoy the wild horse country west of Sundre and on up to Ya-Ha-Tinda.
On the prairies, well, I like pretty much everywhere. The top spots would be Dry Island Buffalo Jump, the north side of Dinosaur Provincial Park, the Red Deer River valley from Jenner down to Empress and the Saskatchewan border, the Milk River Ridge, the Pinhorn Grazing Range and the Milk River canyon, the Cypress Hills – especially the south-facing slopes – and the irrigation lands between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Gotta give some love to the parkland country, too, up around Stettler and Buffalo Lake and on east from there.

9) You have a close connection with your readers who seem to relate very personally with your columns. Can you talk about that?

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy people coming up to me and introducing themselves. It’s just so cool to know that there are folks out there who get a little joy out of what I do. Not to sound too cynical but when you work in the news business you tend to pay far more attention to all the worst parts of humanity. You cover far more deaths than births, you rush to a house burning down and forget the ones being built. You shoot millionaires playing games and pass right by the working poor on your way to do it.
So when someone seeks you out to shake your hand or takes the time to write you an email or send you a card, well, it’s like taking a deep breath of prairie air after a thunderstorm has passed. Every time it happens I know that I have been blessed.

10) You are out in about in all manner of weather. You drive through areas that are sometimes remote and/or isolated.  Have you ever had a negative experience as a result of weather conditions or human/wildlife confrontations?

I have done many stupid things while adventuring around. I got struck on the hand by a rattlesnake because I got too close with my camera – it didn’t bite, fortunately – and came mighty close to running out of gas in the middle of Nevada trying to follow a Pony Express trail. I’ve fallen into numerous creeks and rivers – cameras and all – and driven fish hooks into both hands, both arms, my back and nailed my hat to my head a half-dozen times trying to cast heavy flies on windy days. Fishing in Argentina I drove a hook into the end of my nose.
But the worst was getting lost among the steep coulees that run down into the Milk River Canyon. I’d spent the night out on the prairie and lit out first thing in the morning to hike down to the river about 600 feet below on the canyon floor. i followed a coulee down to the river and then hiked upstream thinking I’d just find another coulee and walk back up to the truck. I left my water jug behind thinking I’d only be gone for maybe an hour.
Nine hours later I still hadn’t found the truck. I’d forgotten that the coulees weren’t running in straight lines and the one I’d picked followed a long curve that took me way past where I thought I was. The temperature out in the sun was pushing 40C. There was no shade and I had no water. My vision was starting to tunnel and I was thinking very seriously of just lying down and going to sleep. The nearest human habitation was more than a 30 km walk away and I had just sat down on a rock to try to think about what to do next when a glint about a quarter mile off caught my eye. It was my truck and in my delirium I’d walked right past it. I staggered over, opened the door and grabbed the water jug but my throat was so dry I couldn’t swallow. I let the water sit in my mouth until my throat opened up and when that first swallow hit my stomach every pore opened up on my body and I was suddenly drenched with sweat. I was so dehydrated that my systems were shutting down and I hadn’t even realized that up until then I hadn’t been sweating despite the heat. A rough lesson to learn but I got lucky. I’ll never let that happen again.

11) You shoot video now, as part of the online presentation of the column. How has that affected the way you work?

Shooting video has changed quite a lot of things, the biggest being that about all you use from your stills background is framing. All the rest is different. For example, say you’re shooting a story on a toy maker. For stills you shoot all the standard stuff – the tools, the hands, the parts being put together, the finished product. But for video you shoot ten seconds of the hands, ten seconds of the tools, ten seconds multiplied by as many angles as you can think of of the toys being assembled and various angles at ten seconds each of the finished project. Then you have the interview with the toymaker, maybe something of kids with the toys. And all of this has to be framed properly in a horizontal format. There’s no vertical in video and cropping options are limited.
Basically, video is a whole separate job from the stills.
When I do my On The Road stuff, though, I kind of have the opposite problem. Because wildlife opportunities are generally quite fleeting, I concentrate on video first and hope for stills. Yeah, video has changed my workflow a lot. But it has made me more aware of the visual opportunities all around me.

12) Do you have any plans for a book based on the columns?

I’d sure love to do one but I don’t have the slightest idea of how to get it done. So no, no plans but if I can figure out how it’s done I’ll go for it.

13) What else do you cover for the Calgary Sun? What have been some of the highlights of your ‘regular’ newspaper work?

I cover all the usual news and sports and shoot the things other news photographers shoot. Unlike most, though, I’m not a big sports fan. Sure, I like getting the peak moments and the story-telling photos of the games but really, I can take it or leave it. I’d really like to do more documentary photojournalism but newspapers don’t seem to be doing much of that any more. I had high hopes for a bright future in newspaper photography with the advent of the internet but no, so far it’s just more of the same. Editors are far better at finding ways to say no than to say yes. Thank God I have my column to do on my days off.
Having said that, though, I’ve done some pretty nifty things. The 1988 Winter Olympics were a lot of fun because there was so much more going on than just sports. There’s been some spectacular fires I’ve covered and it’s a blast driving around in a blizzard looking for pictures. And one time I was presented to the Queen.
But the best one was a trip to China to look at illegal immigration. The story was a bust but the pictures were great. It was a perfect lesson in how to get along in a foreign country. Just before we were about to leave an earthquake hit Taiwan and since we were close the reporter and I were sent to cover it. It was 48 hours of travel, shooting and sending photos over telephone lines – 45 minutes per picture! I remember watching the TV bounce across the cabinet and a picture swaying on the wall of the hotel room as the place shook with aftershocks.
The devastation was amazing but the people were so kind and unfailingly polite. Some day I want to go back there and see how everything has healed up.

You can follow Mike Drew’s adventures here



Della Rollins – Interview

November 19, 2010 | Filed Under Careers, Interview, Photography | Leave a Comment 

1) Photography is a second career for you. What advantage and/or disadvantage did that create for you?
I’ve actually found it quite to my advantage that I had a previous career in public relations.
My PR background gave me some solid skills that I have found to be quite useful, namely:
-    Networking:

I hate this term since it sounds so phony, but it really is important. In my previous career it became evident that there were people who were quite good at what they did. I would make every effort to get to know them and learn what I could from them.

In photography I was able to quickly size up the industry – who was who, who makes decisions, who is good at their job and is well respected – and then seek them out to meet them. That alone has helped a ton.

I’ve found that if you’re eager and willing to listen, people are more than happy to help.

-    Expectations:

I think I was pretty realistic about what to expect when starting a business. I knew it would take time, that I’d have to work hard and put in my time at the bottom and that the work ethic I had applied to my previous career would carry me through in this new job.

-    Marketing:

The basics of getting myself up-and-running were easier. I was familiar with invoicing (as I managed clients I knew what I liked/disliked in invoices I received). I know what clients expect from suppliers. I was not nervous about creating a business plan, how to find clients and how to keep clients happy. I knew how to sell myself.

-    Writing:

Some projects I picked up this year involved writing. I’m able to market myself as a writer and photographer, a skill that a lot of my clients appreciate.

-    Service:

Having worked on the client side of the business, managing suppliers (in PR) I knew how I wanted people to manage my account. I instinctively knew what newspapers and other clients were looking for in a photographer beyond just technical skills.

I took editors to lunch and for drinks, I dropped off thank you cards to anyone who spent any iota of time with me, I brought Christmas gifts for the editors who gave me work, I did pro-bono work on small projects for corporate clients who gave me large chunks of business. All these small things really make a big difference. People want to work with people that they like.

-    Clients:

I had a base of clients immediately upon arriving in Toronto. I did a quick tour of all the major PR shops in town and picked up work from them. I also checked in with some of my PR colleagues working at companies (e.g., pharmaceutical companies). Building up a network like that would have been challenging otherwise.


2) You are now a few years into your career as a photographer so what are your thoughts on the photo education you received before embarking on this career? What mattered and what didn’t? What do you wish you were taught that you weren’t?
I did a commercial photography course but ended up going into photojournalism. Looking back, I wish I had done strictly a photojournalism program. Some of the skills I learned in the commercial program were great, but took up a lot of time that I could have used to hone my photojournalism skills (e.g., all the printing courses and some of the high end photoshop courses).
Also, it was that much more of an uphill battle to find a job since the program at Loyalist seems to provide students with more contact with the newspaper industry than other schools.
I wish I had been taught more on-site lighting skills. We mostly did studio lighting and while the principles are the same, the actual technical details of using your speedlight got skimmed over. To this day I’m still not 100% comfortable with my speedlight.
I wish we had done some multimedia. The commercial program didn’t do this at all but it would have been nice to have at least a basis in it.
As much as I enjoyed the film component of the course at WAP, I felt that it took away time from learning the ins and outs of digital photography.
I wish we’d learned more about managing your workflow and backing up your work. I had/still kind of have an ad hoc process. It’s getting better but a firm foundation to work from would have been helpful.
I also wish there had been more emphasis on finding out your style. I found that on the photojournalism front (and Loyalist is guilty of this as well – I was a judge of this year’s NPAC student of the year portfolios) there is too much emphasis on producing the portfolio of a well-rounded wire-shooter or at a daily.
Everyone produces a portfolio that has three features, three sports shots, three portraits and three news images. It created a generic look and everyone’s stuff starts to look the same. People need to learn to shoot these things, but I’d really emphasize the importance of shooting work to stand out.  Shoot what you love. I’d really like to see more documentary work from students – from a project they are working on – than the crappy university rugby shot that they needed to round out the sports section of their portfolio.
To be honest, the best education I got was actually working on the job and meeting with working photographers. My internships at papers were invaluable.


3) What lessons have you learned from actually working as a photographer that you wished you knew when you began shooting as a pro?
I wish I had known just how stressful assignments would be. I spent my first eight months freelancing for the Globe and Mail thinking I was going to throw up every time my phone rang.
I would sometimes go to assignments and think to myself, “How am I going to turn THIS into a photo?” (I did a lot of R.O.B assignments early on – generic, boring offices). Now I’m calm and know that I’m always going to produce a publishable shot (and more than one).
There’s so much technical know-how to absorb in school that I didn’t know how to deal with people when I first showed up at assignments. Now I have a little bit of a routine. I ask them if they’ve had their photo taken for the paper before. I explain that it’s not like having their photo taken by their friends for facebook, that I have to provide at least six different shots for the paper, that it’s not going to take five minutes. Giving them some context for this really helps.
People don’t like ambiguity. They want direction. They want to feel like they know what’s going on all the time when they’re having their photos taken. They need to be told to relax when you’re taking a few seconds to adjust something with your light or with the camera. They want to know when you’re going to start shooting.
This is obviously different for a documentary style shoot. In those cases people need to be told to “just ignore the camera – just do whatever it was you were doing before I showed up.”

4) How important has your website and blog been to your career?
I think having a web presence is essential. However, I’m finding that having a blog is more important than a website.
The blog has an ongoing evolution that I enjoy. You can post pics from assignments, from your day-to-day living, from trips or anything you find interesting.
The web site is more fixed and I keep meaning to update it but never seem to find the time. I’m thinking of possibly transitioning to a hybrid site/blog where I have a portfolio posted but the bulk of the content is constantly new on the blog portion of the site.


5) Do you use social media for work at all? If so how?
I find my facebook to be an important photography networking tool. It’s become a virtual community for me. It’s how I find out about photography events going on in Toronto and how I keep in touch with other photojournalists.
I don’t have a “fan” page up on facebook yet, but I’m considering doing that next. I think it’s just one more resource for people to find you and the work that you do. It’s just another way to share what you’re doing with friends, clients and other photographers.
I used Twitter for a while, but found eventually that I was just using it to pick up information from others. I haven’t used it in over a year but I’m considering picking it up again.
6) Is video a part of the photo services you offer. Why or why not?
Right now video is not one of the services I offer. When I met with John Lehmann from the Globe he told me to focus on being a better photographer first.
I recently took a course with Brent Foster at Pikto on multimedia. However, it seems super expensive to get into and if I’m going to go that route I want to be sure I’ll make money off of it. Recently a number of freelancers have sold off their audio and video gear. No one is asking them for it.


7) What types of photo assignments are you doing these days?
I’m shooting mostly for the Globe and Mail and very occasionally for the Post.
I shoot a lot of portraits, but not traditional portraits. The Globe wants to see more of a documentary approach – people doing their thing as opposed to a posed environmental portrait. I much prefer this type of assignment.
I also shoot a lot of concerts. Lots of late nights, lots of weekends and lots of last minute requests.
Finally, I’ve been shooting a ton of “Society Page” events for the Globe. These are parties where I literally hunt out famous or attractive people at exclusive events (where the Globe is usually the only photographer allowed inside) and ask people to stand together, like for a facebook picture. It’s not super challenging but it’s great for contacts and I’m starting to make the most of it by shooting interesting things that I see on my own since this type of access is usually pretty limited.
I shoot very little “news” (that tends to go to the staffers but I’m occasionally at press conferences or outside courthouses) and have not shot any sports since the fall of 2008 when I shot the Senators pre-season exhibition games for the Ottawa Sun.
8) What has been your most memorable assignment so far?
Easily the work I did for an NGO – Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) in Uganda and Tanzania. I spent the month in refugee camps in Uganda and on rural farms in Tanzania. It was absolutely incredible.
Editorially, the assignments I remember most were spending the day with Canada’s youngest breast cancer survivor (four-years-old). I also spent an evening with a family in Regent Park (a social housing project in Toronto). Finally, one day the Globe sent me to photograph cows that had been set up outside the ROM. It was so fun!


9) What are the advantages for you of working in a large city like Toronto?
The sheer amount of work available in Toronto is staggering. I cannot believe how much work there is! So many stories originate from Toronto so there is a ton of editorial work and most companies are based here so there are a lot of corporate clients to pick up as well.
In fact, it’s been almost a burden for me because I’ve spent the last year and a half constantly taking assignments and haven’t really taken some time to figure out exactly what it is I want to do next or what I want to shoot myself.
There’s a huge photo community in Toronto as well. Photo festivals like Contact are inspirational and allow you to meet other photographers. It’s a lot to wade through but it’s wonderful.
10) Are you working on any personal projects?
I’m ashamed to say that I’m not right now. Since landing in Toronto in April of 2009 I’ve been so busy chasing work with clients that I have not left myself an iota of time to work on things I would like to.
Every time I decide to start on a personal project I get derailed. So the goal is for January (when it’s quiet) to work on one personal project, get my website revamped and set a course for 2011. I have a book where I keep a number of project ideas and I know which one I’d like to start with.

You can see more of Della Rollins work and read her blog  here.



What Makes A Professional A Professional?

November 4, 2010 | Filed Under Blog, Featured, Photography, Photojournalism | Leave a Comment 

A few months ago Neil Burgess caused a stir with a posting on the EPUK site when he declared that photojournalism was dead. His comments created quite a debate in the world wide journalism community.

This included the NPAC site where debate ranged back and forth between agreement with Burgess and others who felt the opposite was true, that photojournalism had never been healthier.

I joined in that discussion with one post. I started that post with two recent quotes from photographers Louie Palu and Stanley Greene.

This is what I wrote then:

‘Louie Palu -NPAC site – “I rent a room in a house, own no real estate or vehicle, I have an old bike and take transit. I own no furniture except a cheap IKEA desk. Right now I am living out of a bag in Kandahar.”

Stanley Greene -NY Times Lens blog – “let’s be real here. I don’t own an apartment. I don’t own a house. I don’t own a car. I don’t have any stocks and bonds. All I own are my cameras. That’s it. And some cowboy boots.”

There are almost two directions to this discussion. Yes there are lots of places and spaces to display photoj, probably more places than ever, but it does seem to be harder to make a living at it. A good living meaning the basics like being able to buy a house, a car etc. The two guys above are success stories, well respected, great shooters and they’re not 19 year old rookies, they should be able to afford more than a bus pass from their work.

If guys at the top of the profession struggle to make a living what kind of a profession is it?’

I’ve had some time to think about my comments and I’ve changed my opinion somewhat.

I do think this is a wonderful time for the creation of photojournalism. There are incredible photographers creating amazing work. The internet, through news sites, photography sites and photographer’s sites, is a cornucopia of photography, displaying more photojournalism than magazines ever did.

Photographers can create their own books at a reasonable cost. There are lots of  venues available  where images can be displayed, from high end galleries to local cafes and community centres.

At the same time there are less staff jobs and many of those still around now pay less. Many online sites pay nothing for the photos they display.

I do believe that a professional at the top of their game should be able to make a good living.

What I believe though and the reality of life may be two different things.

Sometimes the chance to work at what we want is what counts. That work, though it may not bring us what would be considered even a mid range salary, may be enough to pay our bills and allow us to work at what we think to be important.

The real downside to that though is that it means that many young photographers will tire of funding their own projects, tire of trying to attract an online audience that looks but doesn’t pay and move on to other careers.

I‘ve always joked that I’ve never had to work for a living and it’s true. I’ve never felt that what I do is work in the sense that I’ve never felt like a wage slave. Not like the days when I worked in sawmills when time crawled so slowly that I didn’t look ahead to the end of the shift, that was too far away. I just waited for the next coffee break. While I’ve had bad days in my photography career I’ve never felt like that.

It may be enough for photojournalism that there will always be committed photographers for whom only the imagery matters not the pay cheque.

In the end though there’s still one thing that bothers me. It seems to be the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

It’s generally understood to be a professional at anything, you have to get paid for what you do.

In any career, certainly at the beginning,  you may work at improving your skills  by practicing or volunteering, work that you’re not paid for.

However, eventually if you do something you enjoy a lot for no pay then you are simply a hobbyist. If you pay your bills by taking photos of weddings and in your off time travel to international hotspots to take photographs on your own nickel you’re not a photojournalist  you’re  a wedding photographer who takes cool holiday photos.

Not that there is anything wrong with any of that. It just seems people are avoiding the obvious, that there are a lot of people (talented people) calling themselves professional career photojournalists who are in reality nothing of the sort.



I Keep Forgetting The Blog Is Just The Delivery Platform

October 20, 2010 | Filed Under Blog, Personal | 1 Comment 

Why am I blogging?

Well,  the common wisdom when I had my website built was that you had to have a blog with your site. Everybody was doing it.  If you wanted to draw attention to yourself and your work then you had to blog. Just having galleries of your photos wasn’t good enough. A blog however, if you posted at least twice a week, would have editors flocking to your site.

The reality is , of course, different.  Posting a few photographs on your blog is no guarantee of anything especially if you start losing interest and only post now and then. Which is what had been happening here.

It was important to realize that the blog wasn’t was was important, the blog is only a platform for delivery, the content is what is important ( repeat to self Content is King,  Content Is King).

I wasn’t sure what to do about my blog so I did a little research, mainly going back to blogs I like and taking a closer look at what it was that I enjoyed. I also checked out bloggers who blog about blogs and blogging, some of the more interesting ones anyhow and a couple of trends did emerge.

One was the advice that it wasn’t enough to just post a new photo, or piece of art or an update on what you ate for breakfast, that’s not enough to hold your readers interest, at least not very often or for very long. The other was that you should post on topics that you are interested in because you can usually find a group of readers who are interested in the same topics you are. If you write about those topics, in a manner that’s entertaining, controversial, timely and/or at the very least well written, you’ll pull in the people who have that common interest.

It all sounds obvious and it is, the challenge is in the doing, on a regular schedule and for a long period of time.  The time part is especially important because that’s how you start to keep the readers that enjoy the same subjects you do and enjoy whatever it is you’re posting about them.

So, what am I going to do?

I’m going to keep blogging but on a far more regular basis (he says with fingers firmly crossed). I’m going to post on topics I find interesting. There’ll be lots of stuff on photography and photographers.  I enjoy when I teach photo classes so I’ll try and make sure some of the posts are educational, maybe lessons learned from my assignments. I’ll write about other subjects I find of interest,  things like the media (all of them), blogging and bloggers, public relations and marketing, travel, hockey, music, coffee, scotch and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

I’ll post photos too. Sometimes connected to the article, sometimes just because I like the image. I’ll keep posting the odd punk photo too because I know there is a group of people interested in those and because I am too.

Let me know how I’m doing.



Photojournalism Sells As Fine Art

June 15, 2009 | Filed Under From the Newspapers | Leave a Comment 

The Independent has a story about how photojournalism images are being sold as fine art.  British photojournalist Jason Fraser has an exhibition of limited edition prints that are being sold for prices ranging from roughly $9000 to $50,000.