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#18. Weekly photo assignments

Back when I started shooting digital, I thought photo assignments were awesome. The concept is kind of exciting, isn’t it? You get a topic to shoot, usually just a word, maybe two. Just like a real grown-up photographer! Then at the end of the week, your peers vote on the best pic and people go, “everybody turned in amazing work!” or some other crap nobody really believes.

The fail is two-fold with this one. First of all, there’s pretty much only one kind of photographer who works this way: the stock photographer. If you want make a career of taking boring pictures with no budgets of TFP models, then this is perfect for you. It is a great way to figure out how to illustrate simple concepts, like “failure” and “despair”, in a banal and obvious manner.

It keeps getting better, since your weekly contest jury is made up of people who thought that this shit was a good idea in the first place. You know that’s who I want rating my work, the dude I’ve been voting down for 3 weeks because he keeps posting color-toned flower macros.

Instead of shooting a weekly assignment, consider shooting one that last a month, three months, a year. Consider getting more than one shot out of it. Consider making it a coherent series of images, like one you’d see in a book, a magazine, possibly on the walls of a gallery. Or just spend another week trying to illustrate “boredom”.

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Filed under: thelist

Recommended: The Bride Was Beautiful

Over the past month or so, you dudes have read 30 or so posts where I’m either insulting people, making dick jokes, or declaring the death of god. I will continue to do so, as men do, but today I’m going to do something different.

This is probably all over the internet, cause that’s where I found The Bride Was Beautiful by french photographer Romain Blanquart. Now, the site sucks and his bio makes me want to choke a dude, but whatever. Look at the series, it’s amazing. No gimmicks, no discussions of bokeh, bullshit effects or all that other crap I talk about here. Every picture tells a story, it’s good, honest, straight photography.

It’s so obvious that this is it, this it what it should be like, and so infuriating to see dudes trying to run scams with bullshit tricks. Take a hint.

Filed under: aint hatin'

Dudes from the Znyata forum

Льстите мне переводами – спасибо что читаете журнал. P.S. Беларусские девушки прекрасны.

Filed under: whorin'

The revolution will not be photoblogged

Today I went through my RSS reader and trashed about 30 websites I never read, either the subject doesn’t interest me anymore or they just suck. It was looking a bit empty, so I decided to find some interesting photoblogs. Let me just say that blowing up a railroad bridge would’ve resulted in less of a train wreck. It has been said that the internet is where art goes to die, and while I don’t agree, photoblogs aren’t helping my case.

Photoblogs are pretty natural. You take a blog, post photos instead of writing, and there you are. And like many blogs, a lot of photoblogs try to post a picture a day. An organic 365 Days Project, if you will. As I have said before: the best way to kill creativity is to force it.

(Don’t get me wrong, there are good and even a couple of excellent photoblogs out there. The Rip is one.)

Most photoblogs exemplify that rule. What I found, in my two hours of suffering, was: gimmicks; p&s telephoto pics; cityscapes; pictures of empty streets; ass-ugly photoshop manipulation; pictures of walls; hundreds of pictures of clouds; pictures of trash; pictures from photo-walks. What I couldn’t find was: photography with vision; photography of people; photography of events. What was missing was photography that, in a word, looked like it was done on purpose.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Time Magazine and doing it wrong

Mainstream media scares me a bit, in that 90% of the articles I’ve read on topics I know pretty well are just complete trainwrecks. Tthat’s why I don’t believe man has ever actually been to the moon.

So when I saw that the latest (?) issue of Time, has an article about “10 things to buy right now” and at #3 you can find: Cameras, I knew there were luls to be had. Cause seriously, I’d rather buy a McMansion in California than a camera right now.

The reasons are numerous, and through the magic of HTML, they are numbered below:

  1. Nikon just raised prices by like 10-20%, lifting price pressure off Canon. Just look at the D5000, that’s not much of a deal.
  2. DSLRs are in transition to supporting video right now. Neither Nikon nor Canon’s implementation is perfect yet, but can’t be beat for the price. Treat it like an Apple product and wait for the second generation.
  3. The megapixel race is coming to an end and picture quality, tonality and high ISO quality will be the new battlefield, and that’s just awesome.
  4. Full frame cameras are falling in price but they still have a way to go. Crop cameras are a cruel joke, run away.
  5. Micro 4/3 is getting going. That stuff looks pretty awesome, especially if you’re in the market for a compact that will beat the shit out of any compact currently available. I hope.

And look at the examples in the article: Pentax K20D is “new technology” now? It’s only been 15 months since that bad boy came out. Or the General Electric P&S? Yeah, that’s a brand I go to for my imaging needs.

So, yeah… market is in transition, prices really aren’t that low, not the best time to buy. besides, buying a camera as an investment is just stupid, unless you’re buying a classic Leica which you’ll never use and just keep in climate controlled case for the next 50 years. Which would make you like most Leica owners.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Nikon D5000 Press Release Review

Right on Canon’s heels, where they’ve been for 6 of the past 7 years anyway, Nikon released a brand spanking new DSLR last week. To be honest, I don’t really get it. Looking at ye olde list o’ functions, the tilt and swivel LCD is pretty much the biggest change over it’s life partner, the D90. And it seems to be the only change for the better.

Before I go on, I would like to give Nikon a special medal for fucking with version numbers, even more than camera makers usually do. The scale goes something like this: D3, D700, D300, D90, D5000, D60. Canon has its shit messed up, with the Rebel thing, but at least I know that a small number means a more expensive/feature packed camera. With Nikon I need a little list or a photo nerd to tell me. Good thing there’s so many of them. Photo nerds, not lists.

When this little bad boy came out, I thought Nikon was following Canon’s lead, putting video into a low end body. Surprise, surprise, they didn’t. What they did was they took a D90, made it a bit smaller and lighter, put in a darker viewfinder, removed the AF motor so all the non-AF-S or AF-I lenses wouldn’t auto-focus, added a swivel LCD display – a shittier one than in the D90 mind you – then cut the MSRP by about $100. According to dpreview, that translates to a retail price difference of nothing dollars and zero cents.

I’d like to also thank dpreview for comparing the D60 with the D5000. A comparison between a camera that retails for $470 and one that’s sold for $850 is obviously the best one to make.

So, yeah, it only took a year for tilt-swivel LCD. Otherwise, check out the D90 press release review that I’ve never written.

Filed under: reviews

#17. Travel photography

Every now and then your average shooter will be bored by their photography. We all know how it is, you’re tired of shooting your surroundings, you want something new, something exotic. So you take a photo trip, pack some gear and head out, be it by plane, train or automobile, to uncharted (by you) lands.

In India you shoot the colorful characters standing outside the colorful churches and shrines. In Moscow it’s the Kremlin, Red Square and the subway stations. The Golden Gate bridge in California, churches in Spain, Sydney’s Opera House and a Tokyo bullet train. Like a goddamn international pokemon of fail, you collect the whole set.

The problem with your global Magic The Gathering game is that you’re not photographing, you’re documenting. See, every single major tourist attracting has been photographed better by dozens of other people. You’re there, outside Notre Dame at 11am on a June day. The sun is high, there’s crazy crowds all over the place and you’re pulling out your goddamn ultra wide and getting the same shot everybody else is getting. Guess what: a nice day to go out and a nice day to take pictures, not the same thing.

Please also remember that, no matter where you go, you’re still going to be the one there there taking those pictures. All the stuff you do wrong at home, you’re going to do it wherever you’re paying $250/night for a hotel room. The lack of vision, discipline and creativity is coming right along with you.

So fuck collecting monuments. Travel for the fun of traveling, meeting new people and embracing other cultures. Stop shooting pictures like you have to prove that you saw the Colosseum. Everybody knows what it looks like, enough already. Shoot pictures of people you meet, people you’re with. Use them to tell stories and make your photography something people actually want to see.

Filed under: thelist

Photography lists suck and so do you if you follow them

Every time I see a photography list on the internet, I think “that must be easier than actually learning to write, you fucking hacks.” One like this, titled 12 photography gimmicks to keep your lips off the barrel of a gun, I think, is a great example. This is some serious grass-is-really-clay-but-the-bulls-are-eating-it-anyway bullshit, for lack of a better term.

I’m talking about the first 10 points, cause the last two are bullshit squared. I have both sold images and had pictures that made a difference. It’s just a matter of making your definition tight enough. Like, grandma, can you give me a buck for these pictures I brought here for you?

First off, the list assumes everybody is a general interest photographer. Ya know what, a lot of people specialize. Some dudes won’t shoot a person to save their lives, others shoot nothing but people, dudes specialize in babies, pets and product shots. They’re worthless as human beings, but they’re still around. Think about it. Why would a dude like Helmut Newton be shooting the northern lights or a blue iceberg. Or why would Ansel be shooting portraits. I mean, he did, but he sucked at it. For fucks sake, dude spent the second World War hanging out in California, smoking pot under the half-dome and eating udon with all the blz azns that got locked up.

Only a douchebag would think there’s only one kind of photographer. That’s the kind of thinking that devalues every photographer who’s trying to do more than be a flickr whore, licensing his pics out under Creative Commons for use in Olde Paedophile Weekly. Look at all the incredible, life changing photographers that never shot war, and all the incredible war photographers who’ve never shot a landscape. Or Minor White, who never shot any of this shit, but pretty much helped to define expressive/abstract landscape as an area of photographic art.

So fuck a list, even mine. I mean, my list is awesome, right? But fuck it, you’re the one taking pictures, shoot what you want. Just do it better than anyone has ever done it before.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Creative Commons and why you’re getting railed

You see them all over the place, CC licensed images illustrating articles on all sorts of topics on blogs and online magazines. And why not? or the publishers it’s the best kind of content: free. For the photogs, it’s easier to license your image under Creative Commons then it is to find girl-on-girl porn these days. Both flickr and deviantart (more on dA later) offer it as an option when you upload an image. Getting hit by a car is also easy, and makes just as much sense.

If you’re a photographer, CC is pretty much a large latex dildo in your ass. Some people might like it, but most of us are just getting screwed. Photographers get the short end of the stick with CC, we don’t reuse other people’s content. Well, unless you’re Richard Prince. A musician might use sampled drum sounds to create a new beat, a writer might use a photograph to illustrate a story, a graphic artist might use text for body copy, whatever. A photog isn’t doing any of that, all we can do is give shit out for free, or at best for credit.

The problem with credit is one Derek Powazek covered, but it’s more relevant now than ever. Let’s say I shoot some kids, get some model releases, release that stuff with one of those slick attribution CC licenses, right? A non-profit neo-Nazi group takes it, publishes in its newsletter. So not only have I given them the right to use those pics, I’ve also linked my models to them and – thanks to google – every time someone searches for me they get shown results from a neo-Nazi website. Awesome!

To summarize: fuck that CC noise. If someone wants to use your pic they can get off their ass and fire you off an email, like men do. And if you think you’re getting exposure by giving away your photography, that’s a business model without much of a future. Like most of the internet.

Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

Now with email!

You can email the fine staff here at This Picture Sucks via the magic of internet mail: thispicsucks@gmail.com.

Filed under: whorin'