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Photito

I enjoy looking at other photographers work and every now and then I like to share a website or blog of a photographer who I find inspiring. It has been a while since I last did this. Partly because I’ve been too busy making my own photographs to look at those of others (a good problem to have) and partly because it has been some time since I’ve come across anyone who I think really stands out.

That was until I stumbled across Photito, the website of Spencer and Vibeke, a husband and wife travel photography team. On their blog “A Travel Journalist Confesses” they state that they have a soft spot for the people they meet along the way, and it shows. Some of the environmental portraits in the many galleries are simply stunning. Empathy and respect for their subjects are apparent in each and every image. I found myself drawn back time and again to the Cuba gallery, however any one of the many galleries is worth a look.

Incidentally, the blog has also been included in Lonely Planet’s Blogsherpa Program, a collection of travel blogs dedicated to wanderlust.

Click HERE to jump to Phototito.

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photographytherapy

I read an inspiring interview recently on PetaPixel with a photograher by the name of Ryan Muirhead. Ryan spoke about first picking up a camera at the age of 27 whilst struggling with some health issues. It could have been any artistic persuit, but Ryan found a way to express his thoughts and feelings through photography to find some kind of peace.

In its most pure form, photography, or art in general, is something we do for ourselves, for expression. Its a way of saying something we may not necessarily be able to put into words but need to get out all the same. A release. In this context, the end product of photography is not a photograph. It is the healing that comes with unburdening. The photo need not even be seen by anyone other than its creator. It is not important whether the image is “good” or “bad”. Technical considerations are discarded. The photo becomes just a by product of getting something off our chest.

People make photos for many different reasons, for profit, to record memories, for news, to raise awareness on issues. However lets not underestimate the value of making a photo purely for the creative process.

Take a few minutes to read the Ryan Muirhead interview HERE.

 

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SunHeraldCover1999

I’ve written before on the potential power an image to help effect change, and came across a newspaper article recently that reinforced this like never before.

In the late 1990’s Sydney was in the middle of a heroin epidemic. Low priced heroin from South East Asia was widely available in metropolitan and suburban areas and extremely popular. The NSW government’s reaction to this, amongst other measures, was to hand out free injecting kits to combat the likelyhood of contracting illness while injecting. Naturally, there was widespread media coverage.

In January 1999, the Sun-Herald newspaper published the above front page. The public reaction was one of shock and horror and prompted what was to be known and the NSW Drug Summit. From this summit came the approval for a medically supervised injecting centre, the first in the western world.

Then State Premier Bob Carr, who had final approval of the centre, describes in the article how he agonised over whether to allow it to go ahead but was persuaded by the image of the boy shooting herioin in an allyway.

Unfortunately for the boy in the photograph, there was to be no happy ending, however the resulting injecting centre and other measures implemented that arose from the 1999 summit continue to save lives. To date the centre has supervised over 5,000 overdoses without a single fatality.

Photography has many purposes. Some, such as described above, have obvious significance and impact on our lives. Others, while seemingly trivial can still benefit us. Even the photo fo the cute kittens can powerful enough to brighten a stressful day just by making us smile for a moment.

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TPOTYTimothyAllen
Young boys working on replastering of the mud mosque in Djenne, Mali. (c) Timothy Allen

TPOTY have announced the winners for the 2013 photo contest, and congratulations to all entrants and winners. This year’s overall winner is UK photographer Timothy Allen. Timothy has had a distinguished career so far, having worked for London’s Daily Telegraph and BBC and is known for an ability to engage with people and produce engaging human stories.

Travel Photographer of the Year is one of the industries’ most respected photography competitions and draws entries each year from some of the most well known and respected photographers around. What I also like about TPOTY is that although big names are always involved, it is by no means an eletist competition, with as much respect and consideration given to the entries of relative unknown and ametear photographers, the quality of whose entries are always exemplary. The competition also encourages young photographers to be involved with categories dedicated to under 14’s and 14 to 18 year olds.

Click HERE to check out this year’s winners gallery. It is also worth a look at past winners galleries as well.

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PhotoPhilanthropy
PhotoPhilanthropy is a leading non-profit who’s mission is to bring photographers together to drive action through social change

Photography can be a selfish pastime. We often spend long hours searching for images for our own experiences and hard drives with little regard for those who donate their time to make that image possible. Even the phrase to “take a photo” reflects the selfish nature of what we do.

Photography can also be much more important than this. An image can help those in need by making people take notice of a cause. A good image can make people take action and therefore help to advance the cause.

There are an increasing number of organisations being created to assist photographers in giving back either globally or to their local community through their images.

Photoshelter Blog recently published a list of non-profit groups assisting photographers to use their images for the good of others. If you’re a photographer wanting to make a difference, this list is definitely worth a look HERE.

In addition, there are many ways to put your skills to work for the greater good. You may contact a local charity and offer services for free, donate proceeds, curate en exhibition that highlights a cause or teach free photography classes.

Whatever the cause, there is always something to be done in creating social awareness and photography is possibly the most effective way to do this. It will make you feel better and even help to improve your photography as well.

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Steve McCurry Kodachrome

If you’re a photographer or at least somewhat interested in Photography, chances are you are familiar with both Steve McCurry and Kodachrome film.

When Kodak announced in 2009 that it would stop producing this film after 75+ years, McCurry asked the industry giant for the last roll ever made. He had 36 frames to work with, all needed to be exceptional and he had the photography world watching. Needless to say, he was going to be working under extreme pressure.

This video tells the Story of how McCurry shot this roll of film and gives a great insight into  the process of exploring to find “that” image, then working to bring it to life. Click on the image above to view.

McCurry’s personal website is also well worth a look for a bit of inspiration. It includes a gallery of all frames taken with the very last roll of Kodachrome film.

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InspirationEric Lafforgue is a French photographer who’s images have been used by Time Magazine, National Geographic, New York Times and BBC amongst others. Eric has had a facination with travel and far away countries since a young age, but only began photography in 2006. As with the best photographers, Eric’s images give you the feeling that the experience is the foremost priority, while the making of the photo itself is almost an afterthought. The focus is on capturing the moment and telling the story. The technical stuff follows this.

Eric’s images, focusing primarily on cultural portraits, show an intimate association with his subjects. You may have never met him, but you sense that this is a photographer who spends time with those he photographs, affords them the appropriate respect and strives to give something back.

Apart from having one of the coolest landing pages ever produced for a photography site, Eric’s website showcases images from many regions and populations in danger of extintion today and less visited countries. Well worth a look. Click HERE to visit.

 

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I spent a frosty but enjoyable evening recently with the gang from Photography Night Walks here in Melbourne, and was reminded of the value of being involved in the photography community. Whether this is the world wide community via the internet, your local camera club, or an organisation such as Photography Night Walks. It was fun to bounce ideas of each other and share what we each saw in a particular location and why we focused on the particular subjects we did. Everyone had a different take and I definately got some good ideas on how to look at things a little bit differently. And hopefully gave some out too.

The best thing about the evening though, was everyone involved making pictures for the pure joy of it. No worrying about shooting something saleable, not too much concern over “correct” exposure. Just see picture, shoot picture. Some were completely new to photography and it was wonderful to see their joy in learning something new like how apeture affects the look and mood of an image, while others were experienced photographers who were happy to share their knowledge. No one was trying to out do everyone else or be the “alpha photographer”, no gear envy. Just a bunch of people endulging a common passion.

We spent a couple of hours exploring various locations around St Kilda that night and it was a welcome break from the stuff I usually shoot. I had no goal on what to shoot at each location since I didn’t know what the next location was until we got there. I ended up with some images that were much more abstract than what I would usually make and I think that was the influence of the people around me.

The images here are a few from that night. Some turned out pretty good, others not so much. But in the end, it wasn’t really about the end results.

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I’ve posted quite a bit lately on inspiration and how to go about finding it. Lately I have been finding it in the work of others. Landscape photographers mostly. This can be a useful way to gather ideas for future shoots. Of course there is always the chance that by studying other photographer’s work you could unwittingly copy their ideas. But looking at an image and trying to reverse engineer how it was shot is also a great way to lean a new technique. So in the name of furthering my own photo making skills, I unashamedly admire and study the work of other photographers.

So here are a few that have been inspiring me recently.

Mike Leonard photographerMike Leonard’s panoramic images of iconic Australian scenes beautifully show the variety of it’s landscape. Mike photographs many locations that I visit regularly and are dear to me, much more eloquently than I ever could, but that is something that drives me to return to these places time and time again.

 

 

Ben Pipe photographerBen Pipe is a UK travel photographer with a wonderful eye for catching the moment. His images burst with life.

 

 

Evegni Dinev photographerEvgeni Dinev’s work shows an extraordinary patience to wait for just the right moment and great respect for the landscapes he photographs.

 

 

 

Hougaard Malan photographerBeautiful images of South African landscapes show Hougaard Malan’s connection to his homeland.

 

 

 

 

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Williamstown, Melbourne

This image doesn’t have much to do with this post, other than it was shot just a few kilometers from my house.

Because we are essentially visual people who look for inspiration in the things that are around us. When these things are more familiar, inspiration becomes harder to find. This is where we tend to get a bit lazy and lose enthusiasm for making pictures. Often the solution for this is to change your surroundings, giving the jolt needed to start seeing again. It’s a heightened state of awareness that we tend to go into when discovering something new.

Certainly travel is an excellent motivator to open our eyes, but it’s not always necessary or possible to pack our bags and set off for weeks or months in search of new inspiration. Often learning to look at what is around you in a new way is all that is needed to get the creativity flowing again.

I live in Melbourne. One of the largest cities in the country and well known for its parks and gardens, cafe culture and unique architecture. A city hundreds and thousands of people travel from around the world to. And many of them travel to photograph. So if all these people can find something worthwhile here to photograph, why can’t I?

Whenever I find myself in a visual slump, I like to work through it by either looking at publications like tourist guides and local papers that use imagery of Melbourne to find parts of the city that I woudn’t usually consider photographing, and then trying to capture it in my own way. Another option is to simply wander the streets until something leaps out begging me to shoot it. Often, in fact more often than not, the pictures I make on these occasions end up in the recycle bin, however that isn’t important. In these cases its the act of making the photos that is important rather than their end use. If they also turn out to be marketable then that’s a bonus.

It is usually just that one half decent image that sparks enthusiasm and gets the ball rolling again. After that ideas tend to flow.

 

 

 

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