Working Photographer looks at the turbulent world of editorial photography through the eyes of someone been working at it for forty years -- and hopes to stay active for a lot longer. A quarter of a century at National Geographic has taught me to stay nimble and keep growing. That's what this blog is about.
Worth reading today is Mike Johnston's post over on The Online Photographer about photographer Judith Fox.
Her new book, I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer's, chronicles her ongoing life and love with her husband who suffers from the disease that steals our loved ones a little bit at a time.
Working Photographer is also about working pictures. I'm always interested when I see someone putting pictures to work in their life and Judith Fox has done just that. But I'm also drawn to this work because of the long goodbye we had with my own father. So I know it's hard.
So good luck Judith. And thank you Mike for bring worthy things to our attention, day after day.
Photographers like me are a weird bunch. Are you like me? Does your heart race when you hear about a new dual flash stand adapter that will hold two SB-800's in perfect alignment with the shaft of an umbrella? Does finding the perfect sync chord make you salivate? If so, you are are a sick puppy, too.
And if so then you should know about Michael Bass Designs. Finding this site is like walking into a great hardware store that has every bolt and nail you could ever want, plus a few brand new kerosene lanterns and horse collars left over from 1892, the year they opened. (Didn't SNL do a skit about one of those places?) It's a fun place to poke around, even if it's only to marvel at some of the semi-arcane stuff that some genius thought up. Then you have to put on your thinking cap and wonder "Now just how does that work?" and "Now when is it that I want to do that?" But mostly it's just good because Michael Bass has a whole lot of stuff that is "just what I needed." One last note. This is not a highly automated e-commerce site. It's Michael Bass himself and it's very personal. He'll try to help you find what you need. Read through his welcome to understand what he can do. And be nice! Find it here: http://michaelbass.blogspot.com/
With any luck our audience in Atlanta tomorrow won't look anything like these poor, bored schoolgirls in Ireland.
Catherine Karnow and I will be at it again in the morning, teaching our Passion for Travel seminar for National Geographic Traveler at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. It will be a full day loaded with travel photography tips, one of those days where I feel like I'm preaching to the choir because everybody in attendance already loves travel and photography. Which means we can get down and grovel in f-stops and shutter speeds all we want and never have to apologize to bored spouses. And if anybody starts nodding off or their eyes start glazing over I'll just launch into a rousing discussion of copyright law or a detailed explanation of relative merits of aperture vs. shutter priority. That'll keep 'em awake, by golly. If any of you are in attendance tomorrow, be sure to come by and say hello. (Wish I could figure out some scheme to get back to Ireland!)
Well, there's luck, good luck and then there's just plain dumb luck. (And, by the way, I'll take all the blind dumb luck I can get if it looks like this.)
We got the latter when we turned the corner in Kirkwall, Orkney a couple of weeks ago and saw the poor bloke wrapped up on a light pole by the harbor.
We'd just picked up David Schloss at the airport to begin a few days of shooting. David had never been to Orkney and wasn't exactly sure why we had brought him all this way to a tiny band of islands out on the far northeast edge of Scotland. ("Couldn't we do some great photography a little closer to Edinburgh?", he seemed to be thinking.)
Then we saw the "blackening". This uniquely Orcadian (as Orkney folk call themselves) tradition takes the bachelor party to bizarre extremes. The lads collar the hapless groom-to-be, drench him in treacle or some other gooey concoction and ride him around town for several hours on the back of a lorry (that's a truck to us) with scant respect for his dignity. Strapping him to a light pole with package wrapper seems to be an innovation of breathtaking brilliance. The lads are clever, even if they are drunk.
I'd seen a blackening years before when I photographed Orkney for National Geographic. But this was over the top. His fiancee was putting on the public face of sympathy but I suspect she was having an inner laugh all the while.
And David was instantly convinced! We had come to the right place. He's a full blown fan of Orkney now. He couldn't get enough video and I had the trusty D3X cranked up. (Nothing like capturing scenes like this in really high resolution. When you see something like this is 24 megapixels really enough?)
It was a great way to start our travels. You'll be able to see more of our trip through Scotland and Whisky Country when David has his soon-to-be-posted Aperture workflow video posted on MacCreate, here: http://maccreate.com/
And keep your eye for the next blackening you see. You should be so lucky. But then you'd have to be in Orkney.
The Working Photographer has been out on really tough duty: traveling Whisky Country in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. I know, you really feel for my plight. (I'm thinking of forming some sort of support group for others who have to endure this sort of abuse.)
Actually, we had blast. Traveling with Jim Turner my neighboring gallery owner, arch photographer (alas he had to leave his 5x7 at home), and budding single malt fan, we started in Orkney and headed south, crossing on the car ferry from St. Margaret's Hope to Gill's Bay, then down into Speyside, the heart of Whisky Country. Along the way we stopped at Balblair distillery, seen here under a brooding Scottish sky, where we were given a warm welcome. Up in Kirkwall we shot ourselves silly in Highland Park and down in Dufftown we had a great day at Glenfiddich. We fell in love with the Lynnfield House hotel in Kirkwall, where Malcolm Stout shared his great collection of Orkney whiskies, as well as revealing his favorite of favorites (to be revealed later.) Then in Craigellachie, where we stayed at the cozy Highlander Hotel, we had the run of Duncan Elphick's great collection, not to mention the delight of going across the street to the Craigellachie Hotel where their legendary collection has grown to over 700 single malts! Between these two there may well be more single malt whiskies in this town that there are people. But the meat of all this for the Working Photographer is that distilleries are not an easy place to shoot. They tend to be a bit dark in all the best places, they guys are busy at work, and there isn't a lot of time to do elaborate lighting. So in the coming entries I'll bring some of those images to these pages and share a bit of the on-the-fly solutions Jim and I came up with. And I'll share some of the great events that just dropped into our laps along the way. Like the "blackening" in Kirkwall. A nod of the Working Photographer's head to any reader who knows what a blackening is. Later, Jim