Stop Taking Photos

Nestled within the Seto Inland Sea in Japan sits the island of Naoshima, population 3,583. The island would be otherwise unknown to outsiders except that in the mid 80s, publisher Testuhiko Fukutake and Naoshima mayor Chikatsugu Miyake dreamed up an idea of making the island a cultural center. Over the next few decades, the vision was realized with the creation of an art museum, site specific works, and a veritable explosion of art and architecture by the likes of Tadao Ando, James Turrell, Walter de Maria, Claude Monet, Rei Naito, Ryue Nishizawa and more.
Yayoi Kusama “Pumpkin.” Photo by
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My Camera Died at the Beginning of a Shoot, So I Used My iPhone Instead

Imagine you turn up to a portrait shoot and meet your model. You’ve scoped out the location, organized outfits and the weather is perfect. Only thing is, you pick up your camera and it isn’t working… something’s wrong with the lens. You’re a hobbyist, so you don’t have any spares. You should’ve checked before you left home, but you forgot. Normally this would mean you’d have to cancel or reschedule the shoot. Then you remember that RAW shooting was recently made available on your iPhone 6s with iOS 10! Could that be enough for a sunny day? It was worth
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Leica M3 vs Game Boy Camera: The Comparison You’ve Been Waiting For

Inspired by a list that I saw some time ago made by “gadget experts” (whatever those are) who chose the Leica M3 as the top gadget of all time and the original Game Boy as one of the top five, I decided to compare them. My first conclusion was that the Game Boy is probably a better videogame than the Leica. The M3 doesn’t run any games, as far as I know. Guess I should compare them as cameras, then. I bought an original translucid Game Boy a few months ago. Lovely thing with its green-and-yellow-ish screen. I then decided
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Playing World War II: Photographing an Ultra-Realistic Reenactment

Have you ever wondered what World War II was like? Last month I got a little closer. I was one of three photographers invited to cover a semi-live fire reenactment. There were times everything looked very real and other times it looked like a bunch of older kids in the woods playing war. It started one night last year when I went to a singles party at my friend Tim’s house. No one else showed up. I forgot what he said but he put a VHS tape into his VCR and hit play. He had told me about his World
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How to Shoot Minimalist Photos, or: Stop Ripping Off Michael Kenna

The aesthetic of minimalism is very hard to achieve in a world that is full of content and never ending clutter. As photographers, how do we capture a scene in a minimalistic style without blatantly copying artists like Michael Kenna or Hiroshi Sugimoto? First, know the difference between copying, plagiarism, remixing, and inspiration. Take from the artists you like and make it your own. Personally, I think making a photographic style that is minimalistic your own is very hard without someone else saying that looks like so and so. Over time, however, your own voice, views and ideas will shine
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The Real Behind My ‘Pretty’ Instagram Feed

Today, while casually scrolling through someone’s perfectly curated Instagram feed (#FeedGoals for sure), I all of a sudden had to fight the urge to hurl my phone against the wall. I wasn’t annoyed at the Instagrammer with perfect hair (although why mine never falls remotely like hers is infuriating). I was annoyed at the cultural pressure so many of us choose to succumb to when snapping away and editing our latest photos for Instagram. Look, it’s not like I’m going to start posting pictures of my boring lunch in my dimly lit kitchen — I’m not that against Insta-culture. And
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A More Critical Look at Sony’s #2 Claim

Sony sent out a press release a week ago that went immediately viral within the photography community: “Sony Overtakes #2 Position in U.S. Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera Market.” Instantly you saw commentary on this press release everywhere from DPReview to PetaPixel to all the various brand-specific sites. Cheering, jeering, and leering ensued. Unfortunately, the devil is always in the details, and I’ve seen quite a few misstatements and guesses about what the press release means. Indeed, even within the short press release there is information that appears to be contradictory. One common theme going around is that Sony
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How NOT to Approach a Photograper If You’re an ‘Influencer’

I really dislike it when photographers aren’t treated with respect for their time and talent. Sadly, it happens way too often. Photographer Justin Rosenberg recently fell into this situation. He was recently approached by a media personality that wanted to take advantage of her position. The funny part is that she had less online engagement than he did, so there was legitimately no value to the over-inflated claims produced in the beginning. The conversation below is exactly how NOT to approach a photographer when you want someone to produce content for you. I do wonder if she just moved on
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Copyright & Censorship on Instagram: How Marie Claire Stole My Photo

Yesterday I found out that one of my photos was misused, stolen if you ask me, by a major international company. Sadly this type of thing is so common that it’s almost not worth writing about. However, it’s what happened during my quest to call-out the company that really captured my attention. I was contacted by a friend who asked me if I’d seen that Marie Claire posted my photo to their Instagram feed. I knew nothing about it, so I went to Instagram to see. I soon discovered that my photo had been picked up by a few other
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Take Better Photos by Breaking the World Down Into Elements

Today I want to share a super-simple idea that, if you can grasp it and put it into practice, I guarantee will really help your photography.

Break the scene down into elements

What we are basically doing as photographers is looking at the world, identifying interesting subjects, and organizing them accordingly. I think the best way to approach this is by breaking the world down into elements. If you think about the traditional rules of composition (leading lines, natural framing, etc.) what they all have in common is that they are encouraging you to break the world down into
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ISO 12,800. Huh! What Is It Good For?

Absolutely nothing? Ten years ago, a Nikon D3 saved me while shooting a gig in a dimly lit club. It’s expansive ISO range of 200-6400 allowed me to shoot with a 24-70mm f/2.8 at about 1/20th of a second. Good enough for jazz as it was. As technology has progressed, ISO has gone from being a huge point of stress for photographers to a secondary thought. Even with compressed dynamic ranges, it’s pretty typical for sports photographers to shoot at ISO 2000 or higher while still extracting solid image quality. At some point, you have to ask what is
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In Defense of Post-Processing

Post-processing has become part of the trade for photographers. Whether it’s something as seemingly innocuous as tweaking the white-balance, or something much more involved like cloning out distracting elements, it’s a powerful tool in the photographer’s utility belt. Yet it’s still a dirty word for many, associated with cheating and deception. On one end of the opinion spectrum, there are the purists who treat Photoshop as unseemly trickery. Then there are the ignorant observers in the middle asking, “What filter did you use?” And on the other end are the apologists, pointing out that film has been retouched in
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Which Sony a9 Feature Will Make Pros Switch?

Sony’s recently announced full-frame flagship a9 is a game changer for mirrorless systems. Designed to compete directly against the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 DSLRs, Sony has seemingly solved some of the major complaints of the a7 series and mirrorless systems in general. Here are a few notable features:

20fps shooting without blackout

Very few shooters will ever need a frame rate this fast. But for those who do (e.g. sports photographers), having no blackout with continuous focusing is damn impressive. Both Nikon and Canon have mirror lockup modes, but they are both slower and
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Where and How to Shoot Tulips in The Netherlands

Spring came early this year. Almost one month earlier than last year in fact. The tulips in my country are currently in full-bloom, and now is the best time to see and photograph them. As a local and sort of “known” Dutch landscape photographer, I get bombarded with questions on where to find them via social media. I figured it would be easy to write a quick guide for all of you ‘tourists.’

Where

As most of you probably already know, the most famous place to find flowers in the Netherlands is ‘de Keukenhof.’ One of the most
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Is Photography the Best Educator? Here’s Why I Think So

It’s been said that in 2017, everyone is a photographer, and from the unrelenting firehose of pictures that fill every inch of digital real estate and social media these days, I can see why folks would think that. Of course just taking a picture doesn’t make you a photographer any more than microwaving a bag of popcorn makes you a chef. So while everyone can (and does) take pictures, actual photographers are a rarer breed.
Burn it. Burn it all. Vancouver, 1997.
In my time, I have made a good living as a photographer, and no matter what my job
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Be Warned: Shooting with the Leica M240 is Addicting

A word of advice: if you don’t intend on buying a Leica, don’t play with one. The feeling of shooting with one can be quite compelling, and before you know it you’ll do what I did. In my defense, I was never interested in shooting with a Leica. I always saw them as overpriced and impractical, although one can’t deny the beauty and excellent mechanical construction of these cameras. Then I made the mistake of walking into a Leica store in New York out of curiosity, and playing around with the cameras and lenses they had on display. I was
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How to Shoot Cosplay Portraits at Comic Con with Just One Light

Back in December my brother asked me if I would be interested in going to Comic Con in Indianapolis, IN, and I immediately said “absolutely!” He was excited to see what comic books he could find or possibly a GI Joe collectible; me, I knew I was going there to photograph people in their costumes. These couldn’t be just any images though… I mean come on, the lighting at the event is going to be gross, the crowds will be huge, I’ll have to fight for space… it’s 360 degrees of complexity. So, I started thinking to myself, “How
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A Floating Cab, or: The Joy of Getting the Unexpected in Photography

There’s just something about shooting New York City at night. While the city is intriguing and beautiful in the day, there’s something about it when it’s lit up at night. The assortment of lights truly jolt the city into existence. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the gratifying feeling of capturing a 30-second exposure of electrified traffic beams streaking between a wall of skyscrapers. I rarely find myself shooting under daylight anymore, as the darkness has much more to offer me (maybe it’s just the relative lack of tourists). When shooting Gotham in the darkness, you never know what
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Use Deliberate Practice to Find Your Photographic Style

There are many aspects that make up a ‘personal style’ in photography. It could be the gear you use, the type of light, your post processing style or film choice. Your style could be determined by the stories you are trying to tell, the philosophy behind your work, your concept or message. These are a few of the things that can contribute to a unique style. But are you deliberate with your style? Do you go out of your way to get a consistent look with your photography? I’ve been reading many books focusing on ‘practice.’ From books like
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I Smashed My Nikon D4 — Here’s What I Learned

My name is Brandie Sunley, and I’ve been working full-time as a portrait and event photographer for nearly eight years. It’s been a massive learning curve getting into this industry, and a lot of things had to be learned the hard way. The following story is one of those hard lessons… I’m hoping that as I share my experience, there are photographers who can learn from it and possibly prevent their own heartache and headaches. This is the story of how I smashed my camera…

The Accident

Last month, I was working a wedding with my business mentor and
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