Shots and Thoughts

Photos and comments as I explore my passion for photography. Written to and for myself as a journal to track major moments and minor observations as I continue to evolve my visual art. 

Gesture Trumps All

I was lucky enough to start my photography education seven years ago by spending a week with Jay Maisel in NYC. An amazing experience and helped me immensely in understanding not only how to shoot but also what makes a great photo: Light, Color and Gesture.

Palo Alto | 2017

Palo Alto | 2017

Pro tip: Here is light was poor so we moved around in the house until we found a spot under the ceiling sunlight. ISO needed to be 3200 so the colors were pretty washed out. But the gesture was super! Just a reminder that gesture trumps all in photography.

IG Post #700

Now 700+ B/W posts on IG. I have mostly dropped off of FB as the political and paid advertising is just too much for me. IG is much cleaner and full of awesome photographers (for now!)

Honolulu | 2017

Honolulu | 2017

Pro tip: I have been very conscious on keeping my IG feed consistent with content and post processing to maintain an integrated portfolio. All kinds of shots but proud of each of them!

Practice

I have been practicing shooting with a strong foreground, middle image and background to give the photo more depth. 

SF | 2017

SF | 2017

Pro tip: When starting off I find a stationary stable foreground object that is easier to work with. Set this up and see how the scene develops. Looking for foreground, middle and background.

Honolulu

It was a family holiday but I made some time to get in a few new images. Ruby ended up sick with a head cold for several days so I had some extra hours to shoot. Love the sunrise and sunset shots in Honolulu. I also caputred some awrsome B/W shots posted over on IG.

Honolulu | 2017  

Honolulu | 2017

 

Honolulu | 2017

Honolulu | 2017

Pro tip: Go low, go wide, go early, stay late to help find unqiue images. Shot on the Fuji X100F this trip.

Holiday Photos

Kids and dogs are always a challenge to shoot, but this crew was easy and fun. New pup Rookie was adorable with beautiful coloring and fur.

Los Gatos | 2017

Los Gatos | 2017

Pro tip: For any group shot take a lot of photos and use 5+ locations to get the best results. Keep it light and fun, but there is also a practical limit of about 30 minutes to keep everybody's energy and attention focused.

Polaroid

The new Polaroid OneStep Two is fun, a throwback to the original Polaroid instant camera.

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Pro tip: Fun! Fun!  Kids love it, seniors remember it, just plain fun.

Looking Up

I never get tired of this type shot, can’t help but shoot it!

Honolulu | 2017

Honolulu | 2017

 Pro tip: I should move on from these shots or at least stop posting, but I just dig the look and vibe!

Strong Foreground

After the typhoon passed, the Kamo river was running fast and wide. Trying to capture an interesting image, I positioned this guy in the immediate foreground to help anchor the viewer. I shot 20+ frames to get the right composition. I posted this to IG but sadly the limits of photo size cut off a lot of the image.

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: I need to take this strong foreground approach more often as I think it really makes an image pop as it sets it apart from a "snapshot".

Fishing

I saw this cool scene in Kyoto with the merging lines and wet streets, with the 28mm lens I knew it would be an interesting image. The "fishing" starts with light and scene, then waiting for it to develop. 

Kyoto| 2017 

Kyoto| 2017 

Pro tip: The human element, a sense of gesture all help make an image standout for me. Waiting for the scene to develop, then shoot a lot!

Street Portraits

With my love of studio portraits and passion around street photography, I shot some street portraits in Kyoto. For each of these I spent a few minutes with the subject, a lot of fun.

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: Having a personal connection sets these shots apart, unlike a quick street snap. I think it shows in the image.

Typhoon Arrives

Heavy rain and strong winds arrived in Kyoto last night as the typhoon made shore. Hopefully little damage as there was much warning, but flooding and mudslides are inevitable.

The rain makes for a fun photography stage, although you have to be prepared to get wet. Color seemed to be the play today.

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: People are completely pre occupied in the rain with getting to/from, so feel free to get close on shooting.

iPhone Shots

Sometimes the shot appears and the iPhone is the answer. 

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: All the above shot, edited and uploaded to the blog via mobile app on phone. Some obvious limits, including sequencing of photos as I don't see how to reorder them. The image quality from the iPhone 6 is fine for this format.

Family Shots for the Holidays

It's holiday portrait time and a delight to shoot this Bay Area family again. This year was a studio session along with some great images captured on the studio deck. The had great creative ideas including costumes for the kids!

San Jose Japantown Studios | 2017

San Jose Japantown Studios | 2017

Pro tip: We scheduled holiday photos but also captured some super individual portraits of both the kids and parents. A little out of scope for the shoot but I am delighted to support long term clients. 

Creative Portraits

I had a fun time this week shooting marketing/promotional material for a local musician. The fundamental portrait set up along with a creative twist made for a cool set of shots. It didn't hurt that Mitchell was laid back, handsome and a delight to work with.

San Jose Japantown Studios | 2017

San Jose Japantown Studios | 2017

Pro tip: This shoot went well as I had a capable assistant to help with the lights and creative design. Shooting tethered works so well in the studio. We did three set ups in the studio and two location shots, all good. Having a variety of shots is important when shooting creatively.

Gesture

Trying to shoot more gesture,  this senior was soaking up the sun in the afternoon outside our local coffee shop.

San Jose | 2017

San Jose | 2017

Pro tip: Nothing special here, but a favorite of mine as I shot it with the Leica MD, 28mm 5.6 lens. This Leica is unique as it is digital with no digital display on the back. So you can't see what you shoot, much like film. This image was taken with zone focusing and it worked! All the above make it a memorable image for me, but unremarkable to any one else. That's OK!

Slice of Light

Working the light at Kyoto Station today, just a slice coming across the commuters leaving the train.

Kyoto | 2017

Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: This image works from a color and light perspective, but overall fails as there is no gesture. Not a compelling shot without some emotion or gesture.

Matt Stuart in Kyoto

A fun evening at Leica Kyoto last night as Matt Stuart held a student review of the images taken during his five day Japan workshop. Eight students with all shots from Kyoto except one day in Osaka. Matt also took the audience of about 50 through some of his best photos.

At the end he took questions from the audience and the best one was last: What is the most important thing in street photography?

Matt had a direct answer: Be relaxed, being on no time frame as you are shooting, which makes him happy. This state lets him blend into the scene with no drama and he can shoot away. Great advice I think, as I notice a similar vibe when in the zone shooting. Happy, chilled and relaxed.

When I look at Matt's work, it seems fun and light, just like him. His color work is really super but it is the capture of gesture that really makes his shots come alive. Reminds me of Jay Maisel: color, light and gesture.

Matt also talked about editing, sequencing and selecting photos to be sent to Magnum, as he applied for membership. When asked about how to do this his advice was to make sure the portfolio flows together, shot to shot. How to do this: by gut feel. 50 shots submitted.

As a bonus Matt signed his book for me and I got to see Chloe again from the Magnum Tokyo office, nice!

Kyoto | 2017 

Kyoto | 2017 

Pro tip: I need to get back into shooting more gesture. As I have been in the black and white world for a year + it is easy just to look for light, contrast, shadows, etc. Adding some color and gesture to this light work would be good.

Framed

I enjoy seeing how colors and textures are presented in window frames, especially in the small houses around Kyoto. I imagine they look beautiful inside the homes also.

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Kyoto | 2017

Pro tip: I try to shoot a tight shot and also a wide shot to share the contexts of these city images. 

Pro tip: I try to shoot a tight shot and also a wide shot to share the contexts of these city images. 

Window Portraits

Window light is often good for a simple portrait. When you are shooting with a wide 28m lens it can be tough to get a "standard" look due to the distortion.

Kyoto 2017

Kyoto 2017

Pro tip: Go wide, low and tight for the portrait work with the 28mm. Put some creativity into the composition and framing, push it. Watch the edges and shoot a lot.