After nearly 4 months of traveling the country working on my Occupy Wallstreet project, “Portraits of the 99%” I have finally taken a bit of a break to recharge and get the body of work seen by the world. Upon doing some non-occupy wallstreet work, I’ve noticed something has happened: I’ve become REALLY good at making portraits.
Now, I’ve always considered myself a portrait photographer so of course I MUST be good at making portraits, right? Since working on the “Portraits of the 99%” series I’ve become much more observant of the nuances of the human condition within the confines of my frame. Gesture, facial expressions, body language. When I was on the road I had to work really fast because more often than not I was working on limited time and with people who were on the move so I became very sensitive to all of those things. Now that I’ve got the time to slow down and work with my subject things are much different. It’s hard for me to call my 4 month long and counting occupy project “practice” but I think photographers are always practicing while on the job or off. It’s really worth the effort and has made me much more aware of what I am photographing.
I’m taking a break from my Occupy wallstreet posts this week, there will be more of those images for sure because I’m going to LA tomorrow. I wanted to show some images I shot last week, more for myself than anything;
Nic is a 20 year old concept artist who lives in San Diego, CA.
His father, a digital consultant, was the primary bread-winner in the family. His mother worked as an administrator at a low income school. Last year, his father passed away and due to the loss of a larger income Nic was forced to drop out of school and move back in with his mother. There wasn’t enough money however, and their nice SoCal home was forclosed on. After a few months Nic’s mother got a job at a private school that came with a large paycheck and a nice pension. After some negotiation with the banks, they got the house back. The house was empty however, because they had sold off all of their furniture and electronics. The yard had grown weedy, their pool had been drained and their deck is all rotted out. Nic’s mother had a several hour commute each day so he was given the responsibility to take care of the property, quite the load for one young, 20 year old.
The tragedies and stress in his life has forced him to go to therapy but he seems to be managing. He hopes to go back to school in San Francisco because San Diego “Just doesn’t suit me,” he says.
I wish I had more time with Nic, the home he was caring for is beautiful on two acres complete with an orchard and a little creek. I’ve found that some of the best imagery comes from the hardest times, despite the discomfort that may come from holding a camera to your eye in the situation.
After a few back and fourth phone calls and some meetings, on Saturday November 19th the SF Chronicle dedicated not one, but 2 whole pages to the “Portraits of the 99%” (even though they didn’t use that title) and a story about me and the project. The datebook is the Chronicle’s most popular section where it features gallery openings, movie reviews of course, the comics. The Chronicle has a circulation of 1/4 million and is distributed all over California. After it was published I received a slew of emails, phone calls and donations to the IndieGoGo fund. The feedback on this project has been so wonderful and now with the fund raiser in full swing I can do this project right. I’m going to San Diego on November 29th, LA in December and New York in January. I’ll be setting up meetings with various big name publications in New York and LA and I’m talking with galleries about doing a show.
I’m so thankful that this opportunity has come to me and that I’ve been able to do just the things I have done already. But now, I get to take it that next extra step. Thank you, everyone who has donated, everyone who has been spreading the word and everyone who reads this blog. These photos are about you guys, not me. Thank you.
The little portrait of me on the upper left corner of the 2nd page/image was shot by my friend Bonnie Rae Mills. My favorite part of the article was the mention of how cool I think Dinosaurs are and that I wanted to be Indiana Jones.
Today I made my to the Occupy Wallstreet protests in Santa Rosa, CA. It was a HUGE event, well over 1000 people showed up for it. It was a little overwhelming to say the least. I shot as many people as I could before the march started. Tomorrow we make our way to San Jose…
Note: This project is beginning to span all of California and possibly all of the US so if you want help out in the form of a donation, you can do HERE. Thanks for the support!
For those of you who live in San Francisco who haven’t yet been to Adobe‘s Photoshop & you event at 550 Sutter St: Shame on you. Even if you’re not big into photoshop, or still shoot film – you should go. The event takes place over the course of 2 weeks from July 23rd to August 6th. They offer classes, lectures, demonstrations and raffles – all for free. You can view the full calender of Events at their website.
I’m really busy over the next week because I’m working on 2 films that are being submitted to Sundance, but I was able to make it to some of the weekend events – WOW.
Scott Kelby, if you don’t know who he is, is an educator, photoshopper, founder of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and an excellent photographer as well. He also tours the world giving his famous “Light it, shoot it, retouch it” seminar which he normally charges hundreds of dollars for. At the Photoshop & you event, he gave it to a room full of people for free.
It was an amazing talk, he worked with 2 models and did exactly what the name of the seminar says: He lit it, shot it and retouched it, all live. What was different about this session was he was working with continuous lighting so he let the crowd photograph the models as well. Personally, this is not something I did because I like to create my own things rather than work on something that has been done for me but it was still a blast.
After each shoot he demonstrated some retouching techniques in both Photoshop and Lightroom, and in the end did an amazing composite with the above model by placing her into a grungy alley and making it seem like she was really there, all in a matter of minutes. It was very educational and entertaining, Scott is a great presenter and a pretty nice guy as well.
After his seminar he agreed to do an interview with The Candid Frame’s Ibarionex Perello, which should be coming out next month.
Like I said, even if you’re not a photoshop junkie you should go. Go check out the calender of events, there are some great things happening there until August 6th. There’s some great people there who are happy to meet other photographers or retouchers and the chance to see and experience all of this for free is a really great opportunity.
I’m a photographer who’s afraid of taking pictures. There, I said it.
I’m afraid of missing that moment. Of not being able to recreate that light, or that expression.
I’m afraid of failure. Of not being good enough.
But every day, I pick up that camera and shoot. You have to, fear is a part of being an artist, a photographer.
Practice makes perfect, and if you practice enough, maybe you won’t be afraid any more. Or maybe you’ll
simply get used to photographing while you’re afraid.
We’re all afraid of something, and pushing your limits is the only way to over come your fear.
What can I say? I was feeling colorful.
Anyone who has brought a camera in to a hospital knows how this feels. Guilt and shame, from taking photos of the sick or injured. But it’s something that has been done since the inception of photojournalism, and it has become integral in opening people’s eyes not only to the horrors of the world, but also the strength that people have. Recently my mother was diagnosed with Cancer, and shortly after flying home I found myself in a hospital, with a camera in my hand. And as difficult as it was to photograph my own mother who was going through the most difficult time of her life, a part of me knew that something amazing, beautiful and inspirational would come of the photographs. I was not disappointed.
And after taking these and not being able to look at them for almost 3 weeks, I realized what else photographing the sick does for people: It helps them deal with it – at least it did for me. I did something similar when my father’s mother died, and to this day people still tell me that the portraits of my father are some of the strongest in my portfolio.
She pulled through great, by the way. Was in the hospital on Dec. 23rd for surgery and was home on Dec 24th. She’s expected to make a full recovery and is a very strong woman.
These are a few shots from an ongoing editorial project I am working entitled “Eclectic shopkeeps.” They are a series of portraits of the owners of unusual stores from around San Francisco, and I’m looking to expand to other territories as well. Check em out and let me know what you think in the comments!
Shot with a 5D MKII in one morning. About the stillness of life.
Our job as photographers is take our subject matter and make it as beautiful as possible. Of course it helps if your subjects are already inherently beautiful.
These are photos from my just-for-funsies shoot in Sonoma on Saturday.
Remember to always shoot for yourself. It keeps you happy, healthy and loving what you do.
You know what the difference is between a professional career photographer and an enthusiastic hobbyist is? Patience. I learned how to shoot originally with film, and when photography was a multiple-cost process of buying film, shooting and then paying for development you made your shots count. I love digital. I love how it’s finally maturing and how it’s bringing out a lot of talent in a lot of people. But as far as shooting goes, I hate how fast it is. People will shoot hundreds of photos and then dig out “the one” from this pile of what’s otherwise junk. When I shot film, I made each shot count. When doing portraits I would talk to my subject, get to know them and photograph them as they got comfortable. When I did still life I would study what I was shooting carefully and study the light and make it perfect before I even took a single frame. Ask anyone who has shot with a 4×5 camera – when it costs you about $8.00 per picture you slow down and work meticulously to make the image the best it can possibly be before you take that picture.
My advice to you is to put that digital camera away for a day and shoot some film. Pick up a Holga. There’s something very organic about loading, winding, spooling, developing, washing and printing your film by hand. You will learn a lot from this process and it may make you enjoy your digital photography even more so.
I’ve been going through my photo archives lately, for nostalgia’s sake, and I came across this classic gem of a photo that was sort of my trademark image back in my gallery days:
So I’m offering it up as a free print give-away. 11×14, signed by yours truly. You can be entered to win it simply by linking to this blog post in your blog, or re-tweeting my tweets about it on twitter. Be sure to email me (Robschultze@gmail.com) if you blog about it, otherwise I may not know you did so. The only rule is that you MUST tell your friends and link them here, so if you don’t have a blog post it on Facebook or something and send me a screen-cap. The winner will be announced on March 1st, 2010 and I imagine you would receive the print within a week or two. Good luck everyone!
I have a bit of a history with photojournalism and documentary photography. I enjoy telling people’s stories through photographs, but it’s more of a hobby and not really something I would consider doing as a full time job. It has been a benefit to my editorial and portrait photography, and I am quite happy with that, however.
I recently had to fly home because my Grandmother had died. It was sad, but it’s hard to feel too sad about someone who traveled the world and touched many people and overall lived a wonderful life. It was a cloudy day after the funeral, and my father was sitting in the front room (he calls it his “study”) looking at old photos. He is very interested in our family’s history, and has countless old photos and books and trinkets from when his great grandparents came from Germany to this country.
As he was paging through a photo-album and smiling my photojournalism instincts tingled. I knew that I had to photograph him NOW, as my father is usually rather stand-offish and awkward about being in photographs. He was in an unusual place, a place mixed with sadness and relief, memories and thoughts.
I got a chance to shoot one of my favorite bands of all time at the Great American Music Hall last week – The Japanese quartet Mono. They are on Temporary Residence records who were gracious enough to provide me with a photo pass.
Absolutely fantastic show. If you get the chance to see Mono, do it – you won’t regret it. They are veterans in the post-rock music scene, with 13 releases and a DVD under their belts. Bring ear-plugs, they are extremely loud.
So this week, I’ve had 3 studio shoots, 1 event shoot, post-production on all 4 shoots, 2 articles to write, (one for Saddle Stitch, one for the ol’ blog) all while trying to have some semblance of a life.
Working for yourself, as most photographers do, can take up a lot more time than some people think. They imagine that you spend a few hours on a set with glamorous models during the day and spend the evening with cocktails, but they are leaving out the book keeping, post-processing and client contact that goes along with that morning shoot.
Many times I will work on a shoot or several for 7 days a week – no time off. I eat, sleep and breathe photography. And I love it.
Sure, you have to make time for your friends or family or significant other. But there are times when you are on a roll, weather it’s your flow of steady work or a firestorm of creativity – those are the times when you have to – need to – work as a photographer. You will push out your best work, because you’re feelin’ it and it feels good.
Photography is all about love, you have to love it for when you have those busy weeks. And like most jobs, the more you love it the better you will be at it. If you love it enough, you may never have to work a day in your career.
Studio lighting or lighting you control can be a beast. Some of you may already know this visually, but are unaware of the technical way of things. So this will serve as a basic introduction to the qualities of light. Todays topic: Light Source sizes.
A small light source, such as a single light bulb or a high lamp post will give you very harsh and contrasty shadows. This may sound familiar to some, and they may be thinking of the noon sun. The sun is billions of miles across, so how could it be a small source?? The answer is because it’s a million miles away. You can setup any light source at a great distance to give it a “Small” light source effect.
Notice the sharp shadow that her nose makes, and how the shadow is very distinct and has hard lines.
If you are using a single light bulb, you can simply move your light source closer to your model, effectively increasing it’s size and softening the shadows… but I wouldn’t recommend this. You would have to have a lightbulb only about two to three feet away from your model, and it might make them hot or uncomfortable. If you are using a clamp lamp, the kind you can purchase at a hardware store, you can simply put the reflector dish on it, which increases it’s size.
Notice that the shadows on her nose and arms get softer at the edges. It’s very important to not simply write off what I said about moving your light source. While moving your single bulb two feet from your model is inappropriate in this situation, the distance of your light source to your subject is *ALWAYS* the key, and should be first in your checklist when you are trouble shooting.
A large light source will give you shadows that are very soft on all the edges, and barely noticeable all together. A large source can be a small light source that is very far away, or a strobe with a soft box attached or a clamp lamp reflecting light off of a large flat surface.
If you are reflecting light, your light source will effectively take on the size of the surface you are reflecting it from, which will give you soft gorgeous light complete with soft shadows.
Something that’s a lot of fun to do is to “Paint” with a light source. Turn off your lights, set your camera to a long exposure (at least 10 seconds) and “Paint” your subject with a flashlight or other source.
Doing this will not only give you a cool looking photograph, but it actually gives you complete control over your light and shadows. While it is difficult to master, you can sculpt some very interesting light using this technique.
The important things to remember are this: A small or far away light source will give you sharp shadows and brilliant highlights. A large light source will give you soft, soft, soft everything. A medium size source is in between. Distance from your light source to your subject is always a solution. Keep your models happy.