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Join Me! LIVE in a Google Hangout from Aspen Talking Photography, Music, SXSW and more…. with Robert Scoble & Chris Davenport.

UPDATE: here’s a recording of our chat…above! Thanks to all of you who watched live.
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LIVE today at 9:30 PDT, 10:30 Aspen, 12:30 NYT, 17:30 London right here on the blog or on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/chasejarvis.

I’m smack dab in the middle of shooting next year’s campaign for Aspen (last years BTS video here with octocopers and wicked visuals) but had the morning off and managed to wrangle a couple friends for a live Google Hangout to discuss a bunch of questions that have come across my desk in the last week about the Aspen/Snowmass campaign (helicopters and photography), my new favorite music, the democratization of technology and a few other odds and ends that you will find of interest. Joining me is one of the key talent for my Aspen shoot, one of the world’s best skiers, Chris Davenport, the tech guru Robert Scoble (fresh outta SXSW) and the digital maven here in Aspen, David Amirault.

Transparent Cameras – Photo Gallery of X-Rayed Cameras

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

In the shuffle of airport security I like to sneak a peek over the shoulder of the TSA agent and catch a glimpse of my gear as it moves through the X-ray. Shaving kit, headphones, a book, my ipad and usually a camera or two. It’s cool to see a quick view of the inner workings of the things we carry. Even cooler when it’s your camera’s hidden internal magic.

Photographer Blake Billings has created an entire series of that moment with his X-rayed camera photos. Here are the things that are moving around inside the magic light box.

Can you identify the model/make of these transparent cameras? Any of your favorites in the series?

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

Original story via our friends at PetaPixel

What You Need for Your Photography Business – [Guess What? It's Not a Camera]

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Put bluntly, if we creatives want to make a real livelihood with our work – we need to realize that the business end of the stick if we’re holding. And while you know I’m always up for the occasional rant on this topic, I today decided to save myself a few blood vessels and some hot air, and instead passed the baton over to my homie, best-selling business/finance author and master of psychology, Ramit Sethi. I’ve said this before in public – Ramit taught me more about the business side of art in 30 minutes than I’d learned in the previous 5 years. As such, if you listen to one person about this shiz, I suggest you listen to Ramit. – Chase

Thanks Chase.

Let me start by asking you a couple questions.

Do you need the latest camera or software? Will it help grow your business?

Or is it more likely that the latest shiny equipment is distracting you from finding clients who will pay what you’re worth?

Today, as in right now, creating a framework to think about whether buying the latest equipment will actually help you grow your creative business and earn more money. Here’s how this came up: I was in San Francisco, shooting a day of video, and on a break I overheard my crew talking about whether they should buy a $70,000 camera to grow their business.

My ears perked up. I asked them why they would buy it. Their answers were wishy-washy and vague: “Well…it’ll help us get exposure…” So on the spot I suggested a framework to use when deciding whether to purchase new equipment for your creative business.

You might be surprised to hear what I suggested.

1) There’s a time and a place when buying the right equipment will help grow your business
2) But surprisingly, most clients don’t care about your equipment
3) If you can figure out what they value, you can save tens of thousands of dollars on equipment and actually make your clients happier — at the same time.

Put another way: I’ve hired many photographers, videographers, writers, and designers in the last 3 years. Can you guess how many times I’ve asked what camera or software they use? Answer: Zero. I’ve spoken to Chase about this as well. How many times do you think he’s been asked about his equipment unless it’s a super elite, over the top shoot. His answer is the same: zero. Put simply… buyers simply don’t care about that. And usually that equipment won’t help you make the thing you need to make.

Now, there is a time and a place to invest in the right equipment. You can become the ‘specialty guy or gal’ at this or that, but I bet dollars to donuts that we’re not talking about what you need NOW. When you’re growing your creative business, here’s a little video to guidance how to know whether you should invest in new equipment…or decide to first focus on other areas of your business….

By the way, in the video I mention deeply understanding your clients to figure out what they value. (This is how you can find better clients, charge more, and work with the people you want to.) If you’re curious how I study my own clients, here’s the actual survey I’ve used to generate over $100,000. Feel free to use it for your own business.

I now return you to your regular programming. [Thanks Ramit! - chase]

Canon EOS 6D Hands-ON — Canon Giveth, Canon Taketh Away

Canon EOS 6DIt seems our exploratory swim in the waters of full-frame DSLRs is far from complete. With the ink from his recent reviews of the D600 and the mirrorless Panasonic GH3 still drying, I asked my homie Ben Pitt to put the Canon EOS 6D between his microscope plates and share his findings here. As you’d expect with a lower-priced semi-pro camera, the EOS 6D is a mixed-bag. It’s light and boasts integrated GPS + Wi-Fi, but a couple notable omissions are enough to yank this camera from the “obvious choice” list. Scrutinizing consumers have come to expect a catch with the $2,000 price point products. Does the EOS 6D have a big one? I’ll let Ben take it from here. – Chase

A year ago, a full-frame camera meant a professional camera. They were simply too expensive for the majority of amateur photography enthusiasts. But with the Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D, the landscape has changed.

Last month I wrote about the Nikon D600, and whether the inevitable compromises it makes compared to the pricier D800 are worth living with. I concluded that – for me at least – they were. Given the choice of a D800 or a D600 plus an extra $800 to spend on glass (or more realistically, household bills), I’d happily go for the latter.

This month, it’s time to ask the same question about the Canon EOS 6D.

There are no nasty surprises regarding image quality. The 6D’s 20-megapixel full-frame sensor is new, but quality is hard to distinguish from the EOS 5D Mark III’s 22.3-megapixel output. Details are marginally lower, but so too are noise levels. Incidentally, detail and noise levels are very similar to the D600, too. Canon and Nikon each has its distinctive colour processing but there’s nothing much to separate these three cameras’ image quality on an objective basis.

1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm (click to enlarge)

1/60s, f/5, ISO 100, 32mm

1/125s, f/2.2, ISO 320, 50mm (click to enlarge)

1/200s, f/2.2, ISO 12800, 50mm (click to enlarge)

Their video modes are more varied. The 6D’s videos lag a little behind the D600′s for detail levels, and it lacks a headphone out to monitor the microphone input. However, unlike the D600, its aperture setting can be adjusted while recording. Overall, I’d class that as a draw, but both come a distant second to the Panasonic GH3 for video.

As with the D600, the 6D takes its design cues from a cropped-sensor sibling – in this case, the EOS 60D. The 6D is only fractionally larger and heavier than the 60D, although the lack of an integrated flash and articulated screen possibly account for the minimal weight gain. The layout of buttons is very similar, with a generous number of single-function buttons but a few less than on the 5D Mark III. It’s great to have the AF-ON button included – something Nikon chose to omit from the D600. The lack of direct access to white balance settings is disappointing, though.

Some people will lament the single SDXC slot, which compares unfavourably to the D600’s dual SDXC and the 5D Mark III’s SDXC and CompactFlash slots. I can live with a single slot, but it seems that this particular one hampers performance. Testing with an SDHC card rated at 94MB/s, burst mode set off at 4.2fps but slowed to 2.3fps after 26 frames. When I tested the 5D Mark III (which uses the same DIGIC 5+ processor), I found that the 6fps burst rate lasted indefinitely with a 90MB/s CompactFlash card but slowed to 2fps after 28 shots with a 94MB/s SDHC card.

Still, 4.2fps for 26 frames isn’t so bad. If you’re looking for a fast camera for sports or wildlife photography, you should be more wary of the 6D’s autofocus sensor.

As with the Nikon D600, its points are bunched towards the centre of the frame – it’s as if Canon has taken an APS-C SLR’s autofocus sensor and plonked it into a full-frame camera. But whereas the D600 has 39 AF points, nine of which are cross-type, the 6D has a much simpler 11-point autofocus with just a single cross-type point in the centre. That rules out the automatic subject tracking that’s available in the D600 and 5D Mark III – there simply aren’t enough AF points to track moving subjects. It’s also a pretty big drawback for portrait work, where you want to be able to focus on the eye without having to focus and recompose the shot. Then again, the 5D Mark II had a nine-point autofocus system, and it sold by the bucket load.

So far, the D600 is coming out on top for features, but the 6D’s trump card is integrated Wi-Fi and GPS. GPS worked without a hitch in my tests. The GPS radio stays on when the camera is switched off, so it needn’t spend ages recalculating its position when you want to take a photo. An icon on the passive LCD screen reminds you to switch it off (via the menu) at the end of the day – shame there’s no hardware switch.

The Wi-Fi implementation is one of the most sophisticated I’ve seen. With the help of the EOS Remote app for iOS and Android, the camera can be remotely controlled from a smartphone or tablet, complete with live view, touchscreen control over the autofocus point and full access to exposure settings. Image browsing is well catered for too, with responsive full-screen previews, detailed EXIF data and the ability to apply star ratings. There’s no option to transfer photos to the app at the full 20-megapixel resolution, though.

The EOS Remote app running on an iPad

The 6D also supports wireless tethering to a PC or Mac, which worked flawlessly once I’d jumped through various hoops to set it up. There are various other features, such as uploads to Facebook and YouTube over a local network and the ability to stream slideshows to a Smart TV via DLNA.

Overall, the EOS 6D is a heady mix. Image quality is outstanding. Video capture has its limitations but picture quality is certainly flattering. Its controls and performance are decent enough, the autofocus is disappointing and the wireless features are spot on. That might sound like a fair compromise considering the breakthrough price, but it’s very much a case of taking the rough with the smooth. To me, the D600 feels more balanced.

As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Are 11 autofocus points enough, or has Canon misjudged its market here? Bear in mind that Canon wants the 6D to appeal to people who are ready to move up from a cropped-sensor SLR – it’s not designed for potential 5D Mark III owners who are looking to save some cash. Are the Wi-Fi and GPS must-have features, tempting extras or a waste of space? And putting any allegiances to one side, which company do you feel has made the best cut-price full-frame camera?

3 Undeniable Reasons To Pursue Personal Work — Why Being The Guinea Pig Pays Off…Bigtime

I have been a long-time, huuuuge proponent of taking time to pursue personal work. Its in fact my pursuit of personal work to which I attribute a good bit of my success. In short, it’s by taking time to investigate your personal vision that you will be rewarded. My homie Joey L., has been finding time to uncover personal gems throughout his career. And you’ll see in his guest post below – it has paid off for him bigtime. Take it away Joey. – Chase

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UPDATE: Joey is actually giving a free, LIVE class right now on creativeLIVE. Check it here…
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Thanks Chase and greetings Chase Jarvis readers. I am humbled to be able to post here, and speak to you directly.If you’re familiar with my photography and behind the scenes blog, you probably already know that I’m a huge advocate of photographers spending time on personal work.

Although I’ve shot many commercial photo shoots you may or may not have bumped into on the street or on a magazine rack, I’m glad to say I’m actually most associated with my portraits of people from Southern Ethiopia, and the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia.

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The Image above is a Panoramic image of Hamar Women at Sunrise, Southern Ethiopia. Photographed with Mamiya 645DF with Phase One P65+ Digital Back. Lit with 1 Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octa and a Profoto 7b power pack.

When I say “personal work”, I’m referring to any body of work that wasn’t paid for by a client; work you created out of sheer passion. Now, I’m not saying I am not passionate about my commissioned jobs! Lately I’ve been fortunate to work on some truly interesting stuff that keeps me wired all day long. However, what I am talking about is a project that comes 100% from your soul. While your commissioned work may be an artistic collaboration with a brand or product, your personal work is an extension of yourself.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share how committing to personal projects can directly benefit your portfolio and career as a whole. Even if a photographer has never done a commercial shoot before, it doesn’t mean they can’t get hired off a body of personal work that relates to a brief. Whether you like to shoot landscapes, beautiful women, quirky characters or still life, there is a client out there that is looking for this type of work. For me, its environmental portraits. Images of humans in their surroundings extends to everywhere around the globe, not just the endangered cultures in remote locations I choose to focus on. There is a market for this type of photography, as well as many types of photography you like to work with, I’m sure.


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The movie poster above, shot for National Geographic’s “Killing Lincoln” just came out the other day. I think it’s a perfect example of my personal style extending to a commissioned job. The lighting is actually quite simple. A Briese DP90 camera left, high above eye-level of the actors, angled in such a way to get dramatic shadows on the opposite side of the face. Inside is a 5K bulb, which allowed me to get an exposure ideal for my Phase One back- which only really shoots up to ISO200 before the grain is terrible. There are 3 constant lights on the background set- 2k Arri fresnels at the left and right side, and a 5k Arri fresnel in the middle. A hazer machine brought in a thin layer of “fog” to help the light feel more painterly. The microscopic particles of the haze catch the light trails. To view more information about this project, check out my blog post here.



Now, I realize a lot of you are like me, and enjoy nerdy gear-related technical information too, so I’m dropping some of those goodies below each one of the photos.

Okay, let’s start with the 3 main points:

1- Personal Work Keeps The Portfolio fresh
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Above you will see me half submerged in Lake Turkana, Ethiopia, photographing a man named Shallowgo checking his fishing nets. The final image is below. I’m shooting with Mamiya 645DF with Phase One P65+ Digital Back. Assistant is holding Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octa and a Profoto 7b power pack.



You’d be surprised at how many artistic people there are out there who reach a certain level, then simply give up on improving their craft. Even photographers with extensive client lists who were once busy can find themselves going through dry periods because they forgot the value of progressing their work to even greater heights and creating something new.

In the past, I have absolutely been guilty of this. Sometimes I work myself into a creative funk and it takes months to realize I haven’t been pushing myself hard enough. Then all of a sudden, a storm of new ideas hits me, and I start experimenting and trying new things I’ve never done before. Sometimes these new shoots work out and provide valuable pieces to my portfolio, but sometimes they don’t work at all. Even if I spend a week in pre-production, a whole day shooting, and walk away with one new picture that is portfolio worthy, I’m happy. I recommend a photographer’s portfolio to not last over 30-50 images, so a single photo every once and awhile is going to build this body of work in no time.

The best thing about testing new ideas in a personal setting is that there is no pressure to deliver. A real commercial set where people have paid you to deliver a certain amount of key images is not exactly the place to be testing new wonky ideas you aren’t sure will work. So, you start a guinea pig project on your own time to try new things, and hopefully you can implement what you learned on paid gigs later.

Failure is okay. After all, as photographers and filmmakers we don’t even have to show the world the work we failed all. In our portfolios, all we show is a pretty little selection of where we succeeded. The rest can stay hidden on a hard drive forever, (which you can decide to keep or destroy with a sledge hammer, depending on how bad it was.)

















2- Passion Draws Eyes
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When he was young, Lal Baba’s parents arranged a marriage for him. Uncertain about his future, he ran away from home in Bihar Siwan and took up the lifelong task of becoming a sadhu. This was taken in Varanasi, India.



I like to show people updated portfolios. Whether I meet new potential clients, or co-workers who have known my work for years, I always like to start the meeting with new personal work. This way, these new images become a conversation piece, since there are usually some interesting stories behind how the images came to be. “I got a flat tire in Ethiopia and was stranded for days” can be an interesting conversation.

Passion doesn’t lie. When other photographer’s show me their work and I can hear an undeniable sense of excitement in their voice, it gets me interested in what they have to say. Instead of pretending to be excited about work that’s several years old, it’s much better just to go out and create something new that keeps your blood pumping.

Sharing personal work is one simple way of showing passion. The last person someone wants to hire is someone who doesn’t care about what they do, and only creates when they’re on a job. There is a way better vibe, and it is easier to be productive around motivated people.

3 – Personal Work Gets You Hired To Shoot What You Like to Shoot

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The above portrait I took of Robert De Niro was for Screen Actor’s Guild which has light reminiscent of my personal portraits. 


When you photograph a subject or in a certain style that interest you, it’s usually the same style you end up getting hired to shoot. An art director has a lot of confidence in hiring a photographer who has already shot something that vaguely matches their vision for the project. Personally, a lot of the times I am hired because of what’s already in my portfolio. I often hear something like “we used this photo of yours as a reference, and we’d love if you could create something similar for our photoshoot.” This doesn’t mean you should do the exact same thing you’ve already done, it just means that you’re being hired for what you’re most passionate about! Now it’s time to apply those skills for other purposes. I’ve developed a lot of skills I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for keeping myself busy. For example, I’ve found that working with foreign subjects who aren’t used to photography has really boosted my communication skills in every aspect of my life. Another example, is that I use a lot of the same lighting styles first developed in a safe, controlled studio setting when shooting in the field.

Another key thing I’d like to mention here is spreading your photographs by using the power of the internet. With todays technology there’s no excuse for your work not be seen. With social media, blogs and photography contests such as PDN, if you do good work, someone is going to see it and share it. This doesn’t mean that these tools do the work for you, but it does give you a platform that spreads your work instantly. The more eyeballs on my portfolio, the more likely it is that a single one of those pairs of eyeballs can translate into a real job.

So now a plan of action. Ask yourself these question: What’s something you’ve always wanted to photograph that excites you? How are you going to photograph it differently, and make it yours? And most importantly — how are you going to make it happen?

My Next Personal Project

I want to share my next kickass personal project with you. It’s overly ambitious, and recently keeps me up at night with extreme jolts of both fear and passion. (A good sign- this means it’s something worth doing.)

People of the Delta is my first major film project, which was written in collaboration with the tribes I’ve photographed in Southern Ethiopia while working on my personal series “The Cradle of Mankind.” This video pretty much sums up everything I could write about the film in this post, so if you’re interested, take a gander here:

Kickstarter Campaign for: “People of the Delta” Film Project from Joey L on Vimeo.

You can check out everything about the project on the Kickstarter website here:
I’m not going to ask you to back this project unless you can get something valuable in return. I’ve set up a bunch of interesting rewards geared at photographer’s to help this project happen. On the Kickstarter site, you’ll find all sorts of rewards. There are downloads of the final project, a complete lighting and production tutorial on the creation of the film, gallery prints, gear with my photos on it, and even portfolio reviews where I’ll sit down with you on Skype to have a one to one chat.

Another reward I just launched is an NYC photography workshop with me, and spaces are quite limited. If you’d like to meet me and see me ramble about Lighting, Photoshop and other stuff related to our industry, this would be a good chance.

I’m guessing that if you’ve sat there and read this whole article, you’re passionate enough about what we do to go out there and start your own project. You don’t need fancy tools or a plane ticket to some remote place, all you really need is a vision and a strong desire to make it happen.

Joey L.

People of the Delta Kickstarter:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joeyl/people-of-the-delta-film-project
Portfolio Website: http://www.joeyL.com
Behind the Scenes Blog: http://www.joeyL.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joeyldotcom
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joey-L-The-Photographer/166804470002802

Get Photo Fit — How to Properly Maintain Your Body: Interview with Dr. Kelly Starrett

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I originally met Kelly Starrett through my pal Tim Ferriss (cjLIVE episode here) – who had nothing but amazing things to say… Kelly is a coach, physical therapist, author, speaker, and creator of www.MobilityWOD.com, which has revolutionized how athletes think about human movement and athletic performance (and he’s teaching a workshop with our friends over at creativeLIVE today btw…..) In fact, I remember that Tim told me he thought that Kelly could really “help me”. I was curious. “wadaya mean, help me? I’m fiiiine I thought to myself…I’m fit, healthy etc etc.” But it turns out he’s right. Most of us (me included) experience body pain that is the product of not treating ourselves right. So I started listening to Kelly. He’s amazingly articulate and enthusiastic, his deep knowledge, combined with the energy behind his words, have the effect of making you sit up straighter – even over the phone. And guess what. It’s not cool anymore to be unhealthy. It sucks. Especially for us photographers and filmmakers who have to be on set for 12-15 hours per day, holding heavy sh*t, in extreme environments. So, in anticipation of his cL workshop, I caught up with Kelly over the past two days on the phone as he was driving back and forth from a special training session: Taking a ride in the backseat of a F/A – 18 Hornet with the Blue Angels (US Navy Demonstration Squadron). On his trip down he shared that his goal was to pass out as a result of the G-forces….

CJ: Did you achieve your goal of passing out in the back of a F-18?
KS: Yes! It was awesome. My vision closed in and suddenly I looked down and my hand was twitching a bit. ‘I think I just passed out.’ It makes you realize that [the movie]Top Gun is such bullshit. When Goose is moving his head all over the place, ‘I lost him Maverick,” You cannot move your head like that at 7x gravity! It’s impossible. I have a whole new understanding of that the real test of skill in a dogfight is so much about the physiology of the pilot. The force these guys are under is extraordinary. To be concentrating on multiple things while piloting the plane and coping with the physical stress is crazy. I came close to blacking out 8 times and I was just along for the ride. And…I went SuperSonic. Which I think is very cool. I sort of feel like I’m going supersonic in life right now.

CJ: That’s inspiring. What the single most important piece of advice could you give photographers about their body posture?
KS: Well the first piece is – it is impossible to be photographer and be in a great position all the time. Photography is a physical art. You have to accept the physical compromise in order to perform the art. So you must have some sort of physical practice to withstand this compromise. Or eventually, something fails. You blow a tire. You need to have some sort of physical practice. How can you train to sustain to be a physical artist? You need to be in some strength training, yoga, something that will make it a more robust platform. You need to have the basic principles of support. If you know how to organize yourself physically – you can make the most of the weird positions you have to put yourself in. Part of this is dedicating 10-15 minutes a day to ‘undoing’ the bad positions. You absolutely need to do some maintenance. if you’re spending 2 hours a day all hunched up peering through a viewfinder with a 9-pound weight at the end of your arm – you’re going have to undo that posture. Let’s be honest, photographers are not known for their health, right? With the artists and creatives – we tend to see some of the same basic errors. Bad nutrition, smoking, drinking, poor sleep habits – this makes us more susceptible to the problems. Which really makes us less efficient and less optimal in all things. I remember thinking how sexy photography seemed. Then I went with my friend on a few all-day, all-night shoots. The glam is the grind. Don’t fool yourself kids. You have to have the process in place to support the hard work. We’ve already run this experiment 100 million times. We know how to fix it. And it’s easy fix. Figure out what works for you. You don’t have to be an Olympian. You just have to have a practice. Guess what? It’s difficult to take good pictures when your hands are numb. Anyone at the top of their field. What ends up happening to them – is that the work ends up feeling just like that – hard work. It doesn’t feel transcendent. It feels like work. When Chase is working not the most glamourous job in some great location with models and helicopters… I’m betting it still feels like hard work. The highest expression of art is really craft. And it is hard work. Embrace it. Organize for it. If you’re spending more time cleaning and maintaining your equipment, wiping your lenses and stuff, than maintaining your body… you might want to consider that the ultimate camera support is not that fancy tripod – it’s your body.

It’s really three things to remember:
1) Can you be robust enough to maintain positions? This comes down to doing some sort of training.

2) There are some principles that can really help you. So you have to have an understanding of the best positions possible within your daily movement. How to stand, how to sit, how to shoot.

3) Do you appreciate that you have to do some preventative maintenance? You must understand how to fix yourself when you are forced to compromise your best posture and positions to do your job

CJ: Should creatives work out more? Get bigger muscles?
KS: No. Everyone should train for peak physiological health. Look, you’re actually designed to be 110 years old. You need to plan to have the type of function you want when you’re 100. So we train for position and the expression of good human movement. The side effects are: you’ll have bigger muscles, look better naked, have more efficient lungs. These are side effect of being a better and more efficient human. You have to be doing something with progressive loads, something for your cardio respiratory system – there are a lot of ways to skin that cat. Until you have a practice – this is all minutia. People say bigger muscles – I say bigger lungs. You have to have your cardio respiratory system in good condition. There needs to be some heart exercise in your practice. In fact, for the proper expression of human genome you need to exercise hard. For your whole system to organize and work efficiently you must exercise. So what’s your practice? Do we want just functional? Or do we want optimal? The brain evolved to move the human organism through the environment. Cognition and the higher creative processes are actually boot -strapped onto the movement brain. Better movement – better cognition. It’s not an accident that the Yogis understood that better mind practices were linked to better body practices.

CJ: What practice should people do to be better creatives? Meditation? Crossfit? Yoga?
KS: I think meditation and your physical practice can be one in the same. When we speak to artists and creative, it’s also important to note that the creative process in-and-of itself can be a very focused mediation. If you need to meditate on top of that – that’s up to you. Very dedicated exercise is a deep practice. Intense creative work is a deep practice.
So as a creative, if you’re getting that creative focus and finding dedicated exercise that trains, organizes and “undoes” the damage – you’re going to feeling good. What practices should people do to be better creatives? It turns out – eat right, drink enough water, exercise. It’s the same solution for the Olympian as the creative. It simply varies by degree – not kind.

CJ: I hear you drop the phrase, “Practice Makes Permanent.” What does that mean?
That we understand specifically how you can move and organize your creative practices, your craft, so it becomes a wired biological habit. Bring mindfulness to how you move, how you behave. Develop best practices – if you are texting and hunched over on your computer…this might be how you look when you talk to your spouse or your client. Bring awareness and cultivate these practices. If your camera is with you all the time – all day everyday – then how do you organize your posture around it? And when you start to develop better mind and body practices – these patterns of behavior are really skills in the brain. The pathway that you light up most of the time is the pathway that is reinforced physically in the brain. It is important that you realize that you are undergoing practice all of time. Look, I should never be able to identify you by the fact you are photographer – by the fact you are bent over and hunched and look like quasimoto. Finally, search for info graphic “sitting” see the increased risk of heart disease, these are NOT biologically compatible to being an efficient human being. Sitting for two hours is the physiological equivalent of smoking two cigarettes. The health detriments are no different.

chasejarvis_infographicSitting

CJ: Thanks for your time Kelly. I know I’m thinking a lot more about how my brain and body are organized. Where can we send people to find out how to better manage these things?
KS: Check out my creativeLIVE workshop [happening NOW right here]. Go to our site MobilityWOD.com.

Fat versus Tall: Why Wide Design Is Catching On

Knowing how to deliver images that play nicely with the current design trends is paramount for any working photographer. But why does one orientation work better than another? My friend Sohail breaks it down in the article below: Horizontal versus vertical and why wide design is pervasive and catching on. Take it away Sohail. – Chase

Thanks Chase. Changing habits is tough. I used to, for the most part, use my iPad in portrait orientation. Now I’m trying to break that habit.

Ditto for things on the shooting side. At one point, I used to leave a vertical grip on my DSLR and shoot in portrait mode. Most of what I shot was vertical, and I loved it.

Now? Not so much.

The obligatory iPad Hero shot

The obligatory iPad Hero shot

 

I’m shooting more horizontals. I’m consuming more content in that orientation too. And, like any self-respecting geek obsessed with the underlying reason behind things, I wanted to know why.

I think I’ve figured it out.

Continue Reading →

Hands-On Camera Review with the Panasonic GH3 — [Side By Side Comparos + Can it Beat a $250 eBay Bargain?]

Given the response and discussion around last week’s post on the D600, I invited pal Ben Pitt back to share another hands on review of a camera that has been competing for eyeballs: the GH3. Since the introduction of the Lumix DMC-GH1 back in 2009, the GH-series’ has been gobbling up mindshare for photographers looking for some great technology in a tightly sized and affordable package. I’m a big ol’ fan of the mirrorless category of cameras of late…seems that all the manufacturers are making massive leaps to give us astounding quality in small packages (I’m currently playing with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and loving it…and did a run-down on the mirrorless category — Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Fuji — a few weeks ago here). But now, let’s let Ben do a deep dive on the Panasonic GH3 below. Take it away… -Chase

Thanks Chase. Panasonic has long been the maverick outsider of digital cameras – consumers have long been not quite sure where it fits into their lexicon – but with the GH3 it looks like it’s lining up to join the establishment. Reviewers have been falling over each other to heap praise on this camera, and it’s easy to see why.

The GH3 is bristling with the right sockets, buttons, levers and dials, an articulated screen and a large, high-resolution electronic viewfinder. Autofocus is startlingly quick, and being able to place the autofocus point anywhere in the frame via the touchscreen is a major advantage that conventional SLRs can’t match. There’s 4fps burst shooting with continuous autofocus, rising to 5.6fps with fixed focus, and a large buffer for sustained quick-fire operation. A PC sync socket and optional battery grip demonstrate that this is a reasonably serious photographer’s tool.

Image quality is a big improvement over previous Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras, and broadly on a par with the Nikon D7000 for noise and details. However, it’s the video mode that really shines. Its videos are incredibly sharp, and there’s less moiré interference than from Canon and Nikon’s SLRs. They can’t match the GH3′s smooth video autofocus, either. With full exposure control while recording, bit rates up to 72Mbit/s and frame rates up to 60p (50p in Europe), nothing else at this price comes close for video.

Nothing, that is, except its predecessor, the GH2. The GH3 makes big strides for photo quality and ergonomics, but a lot of reviewers have found that improvements in video quality compared to the GH2 are relatively subtle. That’s not a criticism of the GH3 but praise for the GH2, which has been a big hit among independent filmmakers.

I’ve been using the original GH1 since June 2009. I’ve reviewed a wide range of cameras since then, but I haven’t used anything that has tempted me to upgrade. Admittedly, the GH1 is showing its age for photo quality, particularly for noise levels. But for video, it’s very similar to the GH2 and more capable than anything else I’ve used.

However, I’ve recently been shooting with the GH3 (on loan from Panasonic), and I’m seriously tempted to upgrade. But then, the GH3 costs around $1,300 (€1,200, £1,200) and the GH1 is only fetching around $250 (€200, £170) on eBay.

That got me thinking… the GH1 is currently a phenomenal bargain for video producers. Glass tends to keep its value much longer than cameras, so are video producers who are considering the GH3 better off picking up a GH1 and spending the rest on lenses? And should I stop pining over the latest model and be content with what I’ve got?

Frustratingly, the answer isn’t as clear cut as I’d hoped.

In many of my tests, the GH1 and GH3′s videos were hard to tell apart. The GH3 had a slight advantage for sharpness and its colours were a little punchier, but there wasn’t much in it. Here’s a frame from each camera’s 1080p output, split into three to show the GH3, GH1 and Sony’s NEX-5N – another excellent camera for video, but clearly trailing here for sharpness and colour response (click the image to enlarge it and type F to expand to actual size).

 

Next, here’s the GH1 and GH3 again, this time set to minimum contrast in an attempt to capture as much dynamic range as possible. Both cameras excel for detail but neither of them have managed to capture anything in this over-exposed sky. Having said that, the GH1′s murky grey sky isn’t much to look at – I’d prefer to settle for the GH3′s bleached out white.

 

The GH1′s handling of skin tones has always bugged me, with a strange habit of vein-like bands of desaturated colours along the edge of highlighted areas. It’s pretty subtle, but having noticed it, I keep spotting it again and again. It’s just about visible in the example below, but there was no sign of it in the GH3′s output. Otherwise, there’s not much to choose between them here. If anything, the GH1′s colours are generally more flattering and noise is less pronounced.

 

The GH3 really starts to prove its worth in this high-contrast shot. The sky is well exposed in both cameras’ output but the GH3 has captured lots more detail in the gloomy foreground.

 

Boosting the shadows in editing software shows just how much more detail there is in the GH3′s output. There’s no contest.

 

Finally, here’s one more example, with the Nikon D600 thrown in for good measure. The D600 trails slightly for detail in the rushes at the bottom of the frame. However, the GH1′s lack of detail in the dark trees on the other side of the lake brings it to third place here. Then again, I wouldn’t consider the D600 for video because of its moiré problems, fixed aperture while recording and lousy video autofocus.

 

So what’s it to be? I think it’s clear that the GH3 is worth the extra for those who want the best. No other mirrorless or SLR camera can touch it for video quality. As for me, I think I’ll stick with the GH1 for now. It may struggle in high-contrast scenes but it still packs an incredible bang for its buck. And that new Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens is pretty tempting too.

You can buy the GH3 at B&H Photo here
You can rent the GH3 at Borrowlenses.com here

How to Raise Your Rates, Deliver Better Work & Get Paid What You Deserve — [Guest Post by Ramit Sethi]

Photo: Mike Folden

No one has single-handedly given me better insight about the business side of art/photography than New York Times best-selling author, Ramit Sethi. As artists, if we want to make a living with our work, we – like it or not – must foster our business/entrepreneurial skills, we must realize the value of our work, and we must know how to get paid. In this tight little guest post, I asked Ramit to share one of his favorite tips on finding high-quality clients. I’ve used his strategies, and they work. A worthy read. – Chase

When Chase asked me to come on chasejarvisLIVE a while back talk about the business side of photography, I decided to share some material I’d never shared before.

One of the most popular segments was the Briefcase Technique, a way to hook clients into your work, “wow” them, and differentiate your approach from most other creatives.

Hop into the interview below and skip to 34:00 to hear me and Chase talk about the “Briefcase Technique” – or in this case, let’s call it the “portfolio technique”.

This technique allows you to:
• Instantly increase your rate and get paid what you deserve
• Filter the serious clients apart from “looky-loo” prospects who waste your time and never pay
• Stand out from the bottom-barrel competition, who will offer their services for $200 and a ball of yarn

Best of all, using the Briefcase Technique, you’ll actually deliver a better service to your clients — one they’ll be thrilled to pay for.

If at all in the past you’ve wondered why clients didn’t select you, or why they argue with you about your rate, there is a way to sidestep that entire conversation.

I’ve hired many photographers, videographers, editors, writers, and designers, so today, I want to give you a peek inside your client’s minds — and share the truth that many clients won’t tell you:

• Clients are rarely interested in art for art’s sake. They’re interested in business — usually the bottom line.
• That means if you go to them talking about your camera equipment, or how long you spend on copywriting, they will stare at you and get confused. When you speak the client’s language — how you can save them time, cut costs, or best of all, earn them more money — they will instantly trust you as “one of them.”
• The most successful photographers are NOT necessarily the most classically “talented” ones. They’re the ones who understand their clients’ hopes, fears, and dreams best — and articulate it in the client’s language. Once you can do that, money is a mere triviality.

The Briefcase Technique will show you how to speak your clients’ language. It seems simple, but the video masks the deep research that goes into knocking your client’s socks off.

When you can do this effectively, you can triple your rates, negotiate $10,000+ raises, and land clients that previously demanded 10+ years of experience. My students have done each of these things using the Briefcase Technique.

Here’s the video on exactly how to do it:


If you’re still curious about more details on how to raise your rates, I put together a free mini-course for you:
http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/earn1k/chasejarvis-raise-your-rates/

Good luck.

The Best Camera — The Everyday, Can Do No Wrong Camera Kit

One of the most common questions we hear from all of you is, “What is your everyday kit?” Our digital cinema guru, Erik, wanted to take a minute to chat gear with you and answer that question from his perspective. Please give him another warm welcome… This post is another installment of a series that our staff is doing about the gear that we consider essential for our work…the stuff we don’t leave home without. -Chase

Thanks Chase. As I sit here on my couch writing this blog post, I’m surrounded by no less than 22 cameras in my living room alone.  Some are decorations, some are used on occasion, some are only used for video shoots, and one gets used every. damn. day. I’m a collector [read: junkie] and I can’t get enough cameras, so when one becomes a regular fixture of my daily creative arsenal, it’s worth taking a moment to recognize its greatness.  Right now that camera is the Olympus OMD E-M5.  I picked mine up last may, and have since taken it around the world and shot the hell out of it.  My kit consists of the E-M5 camera body, an Olympus 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lens and a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens, all wrapped up in a Think Tank Retrospective 30 shoulder bag. It’s a simple setup, but it’s yielded results good enough for me to keep bringing it out of the house while my bigass DSLR kit stays on the shelf.

There’s a lot to love about the E-M5.  It’s weather sealed, it’s got a slick retro design, and the image stabilization is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  But for me, the camera really shines in two categories: speed, and low light capability.  Everything about this camera is fast, from the startup time to the autofocus to the frames per second it can fire.  Even the layout of the buttons and dials make for a brisk shooting pace.  In regards to low light, the image quality holds up quite nicely at high ISO’s.  I don’t like to use a flash, so this is a huge bonus for me.  ISO 3200 on the E-M5 looks like ISO 1000 on my Canon 7D, it’s crazy, and everything shot at ISO 1000 or lower looks the same, so grain and noise are rarely a concern.  Throw the cameras insane 5 axis image stabilization into the mix [which allows for shooting at slower shutter speeds] and you can shoot in the dark with results like this [click to enlarge]:

This picture was shot at ISO 3200, f/1.7 at 1/13th of a second. If you can't do the photo math on that, trust me, it was dark.

Now let’s talk lenses.  Keeping my kit lightweight is important to me, so I’ve paired it down to just two lenses; the 14-150mm zoom, and the 20mm pancake lens.  The zoom lens keeps me covered for just about everything I want to shoot as long as there’s enough light.  With the 2x crop factor on the E-M5′s sensor, it’s effective focal length is 28-300mm.  That’s some range.  Check out these shots from our recent trip to Villefranche for an example.  They’re shot from the same spot using the same lens zoomed all the way out on the left, and all the way in on the right.

The only drawback to this lens is that its aperture is a little “slow”. The widest aperture on the lens is f/4, and f/5.6 when zoomed to 150mm.  While that’s fine and good for bright landscapes, it doesn’t lend itself well for indoor or night photography.  This is when I switch to the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens.  This was the first lens I picked up when I started using a micro four thirds camera 2 years ago [the Panasonic GF1], and it might be my favorite lens of all time.  It’s super sharp, it’s tiny, and it can see in the dark [as shown in the above photo of Mike Horn holding the giant wine bottle].  Its focal length is a sweet spot in my opinion.  At 20mm, or 40mm equivalent with the crop factor, you can take a few steps closer to your subject and take a portrait with no weird lens distortion, or take a few steps back and get a wide shot with no lens compression.  Here’s a portrait of Norton looking like a baller on Fancy Friday, shot with the 20mm:

And here’s a landscape from the Guardian Peak Winery in Stellenbosch South Africa, also shot with the 20mm:

The final component of this camera kit that I think is worth mentioning is the oh-so-classy Think Tank Retrospective 30 shoulder bag.  Think Tank nailed the design of this bag with one simple characteristic that ALL other camera bag manufacturers need to take note of; it doesn’t look like a camera bag.  There are no bigass logos anywhere to found, no hideous bright green interior, no giant awkward straps for securing tripods or trekking poles or whatever else you wanna weigh yourself down with.  This bag looks like something your cool grandpa handed down to you after he retired from chasing his secretary around.  The bag is smart too.  I love the deployable “Sound Silencers” that cover up the velcro so you’re not the noisy photographer swapping gear in and out of their bag.  The Retrospective 30 is my preference since it holds my camera body, lenses, batteries, and the occasional iPad with room to spare, but they make them in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so check out their website to see if they have what’s right for you.

I hope you found something useful from this minimalist approach to photography.  If you’d like to try any of this photo gear out, it’s all available to rent from BorrowLenses.com.  Feel free to tell us about your walkaround kit in the comments section and, as always, keep snapping.

 

Top 6 Orchestra Flashmobs — Acts of Robust Hit-and-Run Culture in Public Spaces

There’s one thing about classical music that I’ve always believed: it is far better to see it performed than to hear a recording of it. While this is true for just about all kinds of music, the multi-layered nature of classical compositions (especially pieces that call for large orchestras) make it even more suited than normal for in-person performance.

And when those performances take place in public, the experience is all the more radical. Breaking out of the confines of concert halls with perfect acoustics and controlled environments into the chaos that is a flashmob, these are six of my favorite classical performances from all over the world.

Ode to Joy in Catalonia

One hundred people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs came together in a square in Catalonia, Spain, to perform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The whole thing was beautifully filmed and as flashmobs go, ranks up there with the best of them.

Peer Gynt on a Metro

The Coopenhagen Philharmonic surprised metro passengers with a performance of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt in a fairly crowded compartment. The looks of sheer pleasure on many of the passengers’ faces is just as entrancing as the music.

The CPHPHIL strikes again

The Coopenhagen Philharmonic apparently likes this sort of “art in the public sphere thing. Here they are again, with a performance of Ravel’s Bolero.

Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi in Indy

Lest you think all good things only happen in Europe, we present a string company from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, rendering a masterful performance of pieces from Tchaikovsky and Vivaldo in the Keystone Fashion Mall in Indianapolis. Classical music in the midwest? For. The. Win.

The Canadians Handel Business Too

North of the border, our Canadian cousins got a nice surprise when a bunch of vocalists jumped up in a mall food court and belted out Handel’s Hallelujah chorus.

… and back to Europe

Those Europeans may not have all the classical flashmobs, but they seem to have some of the best. We close this list in Vienna, Austria, where Solistinnen, Chor und Orchester der Volksoper Wien renders an absolute stunner performance at the Westbahnhof Wien. Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has been performed often before, but I doubt those performances had dancers who went undercover as janitors or rail officials.

Do you have a favorite performance you’d like to tell us about? Sound off in the comments, let us know!

DSLR Killers — Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Best Mirrorless of Them All?

UPDATE: if you dig mirrorless cameras or want to find out why everybody else loves them, you’re in luck. creativeLIVE has courses on mirrorless cameras by the talented John Greengo. Go here to check it out, learn more, enroll, etc.
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I like to shoot with the newest, biggest, baddest DSLR as much as the next guy. And I’m lucky enough to do so on the regs for my commercial work; however, when it comes to my day-to-day shooting (when I’m not snapping with my…ahem…iPhone) I’m having fun with Olympus OM-D’s and E-P3′s. I’m blown away with the images these little beauties put out. There are a whole gaggle of new cameras in this category that beg a look. So I called on my camera review pal who has used most of what is out there, Sohail Mamdani, to do a breakdown of the latest cameras in this category. Read on for what might be best for you in this category -Chase

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware of a new class of cameras. This class goes by many names – the Large Sensor Compact (LSC), the Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Compact (MILC), and Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) are a few of the labels that have been used to describe this generation of cameras, but most of them seem to fall short in one way or another. The collective refers to this category as “Mirrorless”, as that is the one thing they all have in common.

Today we’ll take a look at five cameras that are leading the charge in this category.

Olympus OM-D EM–5

The OM-D EM–5 from Olympus.

The OM-D EM–5 from Olympus.

Back in the film days, Olympus made a 35mm SLR camera called the OM–2. It was a neat little camera, and was pretty successful in its time. Looking at the OM-D, with its new Micro-Four-Thirds body from Olympus, it’s pretty clear that this little baby is of the same design pedigree as the OM–2. In fact, if you look at it from the front with a lens on, it’s not hard to imagine the OM-D as a film camera itself.

Flip it over, though, and the 3-inch OLED touch-capable screen dispels that notion completely. The OM-D may carry forward the retro look that Olympus pioneered for its digital cameras with the E-P1, when it brought back the venerable PEN moniker, but the insides are cutting-edge tech all the way.

DNG from Olympus OM-D, with Lightroom edits. © Sohail Mamdani

DNG from Olympus OM-D, with Lightroom edits. © Sohail Mamdani

Reviewers of the OM-D have been almost gushing about this little body – and with good reason. It seems to have breathed new life into a brand that’s been hit by scandal over the last several months. The image quality of the OM-D is superb, and I’ve taken to using this camera as my carry-round body with 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 lenses from Panasonic. (Chase shoots this body with the 12mm fixed 2.0…) With the OM-D’s in-body image stablization, I’ve gotten steady shots at down to 1/6th of a second, and the details captured by this compact body are downright impressive.

From its fast autofocus (Olympus claims it has the world’s fastest AF system at the moment) to its impeccable low-light performance, the OM-D hits enough hot spots that some pros are switching to this diminutive body as their primary camera.

The Good: Fast Autofocus, excellent low-light performance, fantastic in-body 5-axis image stabilization.
The Bad: Not much. Continuous Autofocus tracking is a bit on the unreliable side sometimes.
Who it’s Ideal For: Outdoor enthusiasts and photojournalists. You can use Panasonic’s 12-35mm and 35-100mm lenses and have an effective 24-200mm range covered. And in a package that is much smaller and weighs much less than, say, a Canon 5D Mark III body with 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses.
Buy it: $999 (Body only) from B&H Photo
Rent It: From BorrowLenses.com, starting at $44

Fuji XE–1/X-Pro1

The Fuji XE–1

The Fuji XE–1

Okay, this is really two cameras, but they’re such close cousins that you can go with either one.

Fuji began its foray into the mirrorless market with the highly-acclaimed (yet quirky) X100. This was a remarkable camera in many ways – it featured a large APS-C sensor, a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) f/2 lens, a leaf shutter system, and a fantastic retro design that was every bit as eye catching as the images it produced. Fuji eventually followed up that single-lens model with the X-Pro1, which, while suffering from many of the same quirks as its predecessor such as slow autofocus performance, was a sellout on launch.

The XE–1 is similarly back-ordered, and with good reason. It keeps the sensor of the X-Pro1, which has managed to wow many folks with its color and detail reproduction, but packages things into a smaller size. It ditches the hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder found in the X-Pro1 in favor of an all-electronic viewfinder. Like the X-Pro1, the industrial design drips with retro finesse, and it maintains full compatibility with all of Fuji’s X-Mount lenses. There’s also a Leica lens adapter, so your manual focus Leica lenses will work with the XE–1 as well.

Fuji X-series of cameras definitely have some kind of special sauce in them. Fuji packs in a number of effects that emulate their classic film stocks like Velvia and Provia. Photographers who have worked with the X cameras, like Zack Arias, have been repeatedly blown away. Here’s what Zack had to say after taking a particularly striking image with his X-Pro1.

And I was sold. I’m in. I got it. It’s worth every effing rupee, peso, penny. I don’t care. I’m not in Bombay any more. I went somewhere else and once this light was gone I woke up with the X-Pro1 in my hands and yes. Ummm… maybe? No. Ummm… Yes. I zoomed in on this image to check focus. “Hot Damn.” It was one of the greatest personal moments of my professional life.

Honestly, if you can handle the X-series’ quirks, there is something pretty satisfying about the images coming from these cameras.

The Good: Fantastic image quality, cool retro design.
The Bad: Weird sensor design means RAW compatibility with Lightroom/Aperture is slow to arrive and doesn’t work as well.
Who it’s Ideal For: Portrait and landscape artists will love the high image quality, rich colors and the Fuji film profiles like Velvia and Provia baked into the JPEGs. Street photographers will like the retro rangefinder look and feel, which seem to put people more at east than a large DSLR and bazooka-sized lens.
Buy it: $1399 (X-Pro1 body only) or $999 (X-E1 body only) from B&H Photo
Rent it: The X-Pro1 From BorrowLenses.com, starting at $59

Sony NEX–6

The Sony NEX–6

The Sony NEX–6

Sony’s NEX series has been getting a lot of great press, and with darn good reason, too. The company has been making good on its promise to commit to the photography market, and its NEX compact cameras have been extremely well-received.

What’s remarkable about these Sony cameras is that Sony isn’t afraid to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. That leads, interestingly enough, to features being included in mid-range models like the NEX–6 that aren’t in the higher-end NEX–7. WiFi is now included in the NEX–6, so you can do things like view the images on the card in the camera on your smartphone.

You also have improved autofocus performance due to the inclusion of a hybrid system that uses both phase-detection and contrast-detection sensors. Most of the time, mirrorless cameras use only contrast-detection sensors, which are slower than the phase-detection sensors used in DSLRs. Low-light performance is also improved over the NEX–7, and to my surprise, is pretty awesome for a camera this size. I expect to see angry red, green and blue dots at ISO 3200, but instead, the noise that is there is more reminiscent of the big, fat grain you’d see in ISO 3200 film.

High-ISO (3200) image with the NEX-6. © Sohail Mamdani

High-ISO (3200) image with the NEX-6. © Sohail Mamdani

There is an entire ecosystem of adapters that allows for the use of Canon, Nikon, Sony Alpha-mount and other lenses on the NEX cameras(I’ve written more about that here). The stable of E-mount lenses is still growing, but is doing so rapidly.

What’s Good: Great image quality, low-light performance, small size.
What’s Bad: Needs more native E-Mount lenses.
Who it’s Ideal For: Pros looking for a small, compact shooter with performance to spare. Also, anyone shooting Sony’s DSLRs who wants to leverage their existing lenses via adapters on a smaller body.
Buy it: $848 (body only) from B&H Photo
Rent It: From BorrowLenses.com, starting at $50

Panasonic GX1

The Panasonic GX-1

The Panasonic GX-1

Panasonic is the other primary partner in the Micro-Four-Thirds standard (with Olympus), and its cameras have received excellent reviews as well, including DPReview.com’s Silver Award. The GX1, released last year, marked a departure from the single-model lineup of Panasonic’s Micro-Four-Thirds camera into two separate lines, the GF series and the GX series. The GF series was marketed more for beginners stepping up form a point-and-shoot, whereas the GX series was intended more for advanced amateurs or pros looking for a more pocketable camera.

There’s a lot to like about the GX–1. It’s smaller and lighter than many of its competitors, and has a touch-screen for added controls. One thing I found was that due to fact that you can do things in more than one way (physical control or touch-screen), you often find yourself hesitating and wondering if you should use the physical knobs and buttons or the touchscreen to accomplish a task. This kind of sorts itself out as you keep using the camera, and the touchscreen is useful for some tasks.

Where Panasonic really shines is in their lenses. The standards for most photographers are the 24–70mm, 70–200mm, 50mm, and perhaps a Macro in the 90–105mm range. Panasonic delivers soundly with a 12–35mm, 35–100mm and a Leica co-branded 45mm Macro, as well a 25mm f/1.4 lens. Because of the smaller sensor, you experience a crop factor of 2x, so the 12–35mm f/2.8 becomes a 24–70mm f/2.8, and so forth.

What’s even cooler is that the 12–35mm and 35–100mm zooms have optical image stabilization, which neither Canon nor Nikon have included in their 24–70 f/2.8 zooms yet. Moreover, Panasonic also offers a 7–14mm (14–28mm equivalent) f/4 zoom, which is particularly useful for landscape users.

And of course, since Panasonic is part of the Micro-Four-Thirds consortium, it can use MFT lenses from Olympus, Sigma, and other manufacturers.

What’s Good: Excellent lens selection, small, relatively cheap.
What’s Bad: Controls are cramped and a bit clumsy, not the most innovative industrial design.
Who it’s Ideal For: Beginners looking to step up to a camera with room to grow. Also, given the plethora of adapters for MFT cameras to adapt everything from recent Nikkor lenses to ancient M42-mount optics, it’s a nice step up to give that old glass a new lease on life.
Buy It: $449 (body only) from B&H Photo

Leica M9

Leica M9

Leica M9

If you’re surprised to see the Leica here, don’t be. People tend to forget that before the trend towards mirrorless cameras started, Leica was already there with their digital rangefinders. The legendary camera of legendary photographers, the overall design of the Leica M series hasn’t changed much since the film days, keeping an emphasis on classic elegance that has become the German company’s trademark and has inspired at least three of the models I mention here.

Leica DNG, treated in Silver Efex Pro 2. © Sohail Mamdani

Leica DNG, treated in Silver Efex Pro 2. © Sohail Mamdani

In the digital world, Leica has really scored with the M9. It’s a big step up from the M8 (and the new “M”, with no number after it, is apparently even better), and adds some interesting features like a first-rate bracketing option (though it feels weird to try and shoot HDR with a Leica) and better high-ISO performance. Here’s what I had to say about shooting with a Leica for a few weeks a while back.

Using a Leica distils the experience of shooting down its very core elements, and when you’re used to the photographic equivalent of driving a loaded Lexus LS with all the amenities, being dropped into the equivalent of a 1970′s-era Porsche 911 is a shock.

A pleasant shock in many ways, but a shock, nonetheless.

Leica’s lenses are another reason for its reputation. I keep using the word “legendary” here, and with good reason; these optics have some kind of magic that, in the right hands, deliver an image that is almost three-dimensional in nature.

Is it expensive? Yep. But if you can get your hands on one (rent one, if you can), it’s worth experiencing this little bit of history.

Leica recently refreshed their “M” series line, introducing the “M” (no numbers now) and the “M-E”. The new “M” camera sports a CMOS sensor in place of the old CCD and adds a number of features that bring the Leica series further in line with modern-day cameras. These features include 1080p video, Live-View, an optional EVF, and improved ISO performance.

Those looking to keep the spirit of the old bare-bones Leica alive will love the M-E. The M-E strips the camera down to its essentials – no video here, or Live-View, or EVF. You also have the old CCD sensor instead of the new CMOS, which is not a bad thing at all.

What’s Good: Built like a tank, fantastic image quality, remarkable glass.
What’s Bad: It’s a Leica. I’m not allowed to say anything bad about it (but if I were, I’d say the high-ISO performance isn’t good and the buffer is tiny).
Who it’s Ideal For: Besides Henri Cartier-Bresson? Well, surprisingly, a number of types of shooters. From street photographers (natch) to landscape and portrait artists, to travel photographers and photojournalists, the Leica can work for just about anyone looking for high-end optics, tank-like construction, and a camera with a deep and formidable history.
Buy it: $6400 (body only for the M9), $5450 (body only for the M-E), $7000 (body only for the new M)
Rent it: M9 from BorrowLenses.com, starting at $225

Conclusion

Mirrorless cameras are coming on strong, and they are rapidly gaining ground as people stop thinking that a great camera with a large sensor has to look like a DSLR. The image quality from cameras like the Leica, the Fuji and the Olympus are allowing the classic manufacturers to come back with a vengeance, while the newer kids on the block, like Sony and Panasonic, are putting out some incredible technology into the field of photography.

Will mirrorless cameras become the predominant cameras out there? I don’t know. There may be certain types of photography that these diminutive devices will always be unsuited for (sports photography comes to mind). But for many of us, mirrorless cameras may well become de rigeur for all kinds of everyday shooting. Just as the iPhone and other phone cameras are slowly replacing point-and-shoots for many uses, so too might the NEX–6 replace the D7000 for many uses. The cameras listed above are just the start; the product pipeline in this class promises to be even more exciting in the coming years.

 

Gear provided by BorrowLenses.com - where still photographers and videographers can rent virtually everything.

Top 10 Tips for Success for the Fine Art Photographer — Exclusive Interview with a Collector

Elizabeth Avedon

Photo: Elizabeth Avedon

W.M. Hunt is a champion of photography – A collector, curator and consultant who lives and works in New York. He is the author of “The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious,” published in 2011 by Aperture. He is on the Board of Directors of the Eugene Smith Memorial Fund and The Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York, where he was the recipient of their Vision Award in 2009.
Founding partner of the prominent photography gallery Hasted Hunt (now Hasted Kraeutler) in Chelsea, Manhattan, Hunt has been collecting photography for almost 40 years and has been profiled in The New York Times, PDN, Art on Paper, Modern Painters, The Art Newspaper, PBS’ “EGG, the Arts Show”, as well as BBC’s “The Genius of Photography”. Our good friends at the Photo Center Northwest sat down with Bill and he dropped some serious knowledge – including his Top Ten Tips on how to get in front of a curator, collector or dealer. My buddy Rafeal and the PCNW will be dropping by the blog from time to time to bring a unique perspective on fine art photography.

You have a rich history working with world-renowned photographers, many of whom you represented in your gallery. Many of these artists have walked the commercial and fine art routes simultaneously quite successfully. Can you give some examples of artists who have done this successfully?

I love this question because I love working with photographers who have successful commercial practices. There are a number of reasons. One is happiness. Photographers who have a financially successful career are a pleasure to deal with. They eat lunch regularly. When money is not an issue, we can do the show and make stuff happen. It can be a problem when a photographer is very, very, busy – but there is more of a problem if the collaboration and the dialogue isn’t respected. If I say I don’t like something, I won’t say it lightly so we should listen to each other. Absolute single mindedness doesn’t help either the artist of the dealer. I can really finesse an artist’s situation. That has value. The fuller a photographer’s practice is, meaning commercial, editorial, exhibition, publication, etc. the better the work will be. This imagined separation of church and state is blind. Get the money. Don’t whore yourself out, but make stuff happen. Also this kind of artist is a better editor without self-indulgence. They work coherently, they challenge themselves, and they keep moving. If I am asked if I would like to see someone’s personal work or their commercial work, I would rather see the latter because it’s hard to be your own client.

But also, what’s the difference? How many heads do you have? I am suspicious of someone’s work that is totally schizophrenic. Who are you? A successful contemporary example of this is Erwin Olaf, whose work is completely consistent, and the one practice feeds the other.

Photo: Erwin Olaf

Photo: Erwin Olaf

The commercial work challenges him technically, and the other work allows him to develop his eye and his imagination. Ed Burtynsky? Brilliant. He works like a corporation, and I mean that as the ultimate praise. He has vision and politics. He wants to change the world, and he is being effective.

Edward Burtynsky

Photo: Edward Burtynsky

Phil Toledano. The best. He has an imagination that is in overdrive, and he works as a completely contemporary artist, in an analogue and digital world. He works in project form with a beginning, middle and end. He is a total sponge for knowledge and experience, for life. I would have loved to have had a chance as a dealer with Steven Klein.

Photo: Phil Toledano

Photo: Phil Toledano

The example of Irving Penn is worth emphasizing, a singular artist whose style was unique and immediately recognizable, whose technique was virtuosic, and whose drive to constantly reinvent himself artistically was daunting. Brilliant.

Photo: Phil Toledano

Photo: Phil Toledano

Can you provide any insight as to how someone can make the most out of work they have been assigned commercially to pursue also an art path?
Erwin Olaf speaks about how technically the one practice informs the other. He gets to play with new tools when the client is paying, and the client gets to take advantage of Erwin’s genius, which he has been exercising with his personal work. I am still using terms I disavowed in the preceding paragraphs, these annoying genres and abstract vs. real. What is real anyway? The photograph is real but nothing in it is.A good trick though is to sell a photographer’s commercial work, which I have done. Great work is great work.

Photo: Erwin Olaf

Did any of your artists ever have an assignment that later became a successful exhibition, book or body of work?
Editorial, sure. Luc Delahaye was a huge success for me, and it was all work he had done while on assignment. I am sure the magazines might have some argument with him about whose clock he was on, but that’s not my concern.

Photo: Edward Burtynsky

Top 10 tips for photographers who are looking to get their work in front of collectors, dealers and curators like yourself?
Figure out why you want to meet me. Work out if you want to realize something from the meeting. It’s fine to be introduced, but don’t be a jerk. Be smart. I WANT to like you, so help me. Make it worth MY while too.

1. Be talented.

2. Be smart. Think. Don’t be a jerk. Be engaging. If you are determined enough, you can meet anyone at least once. Take the situation seriously; don’t blow it. Take stock of yourself. Is the work fully realized and are you ready to approach museums or dealers?

3. Be focused. Be single minded. Be ambitious. Think in terms of the long haul and the full arc of your career.

4. Be clear. Be able to articulate what you are doing, not so much why you are doing it but literally what it is. Rehearse what you are going to say. Keep impeccable records about your work.

5. Be ready. Have prints, have disks, have a resume, have business cards. Don’t tell me, ‘they’re at home’ or that you are ‘still working on them.’ Give me something to remember you by. Send a thank-you note, even consider mailing it.

6. Be full. Have a life. Teach. Get commissions, commercial work, stock, whatever. Get money, make love, be happy. It will inform the work positively.

7. Be active. Be your own primary dealer. Take responsibility for museum and magazine drop-offs. Approach collectors yourself. Develop a mailing list. Market yourself. Send postcards. Donate prints to charity auctions. Go to openings. Make friends with your contemporaries. Use them. Always ask to be referred. Publish or get published. Get patrons, mentors, advisors. Use them. Bear in mind that if you set your mind to it, you can meet anyone … once. It’s that second meeting that proves difficult. When you do meet that person, be prepared.

8. Be receptive. Take notes. Bring a pencil and paper to appointments. Do your homework. Know what sort of work galleries show before you approach them. Go look. Say hello, but be sensitive to a dealer’s time demands (unless you’re buying something). Have a sense of what’s out there.

9. Be merciless with yourself. Edit, edit, edit. Edit, edit, edit. Take out anything marginal. Make me hungry to see more of your work.

10. Be patient. Please.

Interview and additional reporting by: Rafael Soldi of Photo Center Northwest
The mission of the Photo Center NW is to strengthen the community by elevating the art an appreciation of photography. The Photo Center is a non-profit organization offering a nationally accredited photography program in fine art photography taught by many accomplished teaching artists. They also offer professional facilities rentals (studios, high-end printing, darkrooms) as well as emerging artist support in the form of scholarships, fellowship and artist-in-residency programs, exhibition opportunities, membership and networking events.

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