GOING TO VIETNAMMMM!Read More
Manipulating light on a gloomy Saturday morning to make test images of a pastrami sandwich.Read More
As I have been working on test shoots, to improve on my lighting manipulating and styling, I have forgone mentioning something else. Lately I have been buying more heritage clothing and shoes. My dad would be shocked if I told him how much each item costed. The way I see it that I am spending a lot up front, but over time these clothing and shoes will be with me a good 20 years or my entire lifetime. I am not a fan of fast fashion which majority clothing industry is at right now. I know that some of my clothes, like my Levi jeans and dress shirts have come from overseas, but I am slowly moving my wardrobe to be Made in America. If you want to see the human costs of fast fashion here are some youtube links to watch.
Give them a watch.
So these brands that I have been buying? Wolverine boots, Filson and Allen Edmonds. So while I do admit that the cost of each item is a little hair raising, e.g., just one pair of my allen edmonds costed me $395. Thankfully I am done buying dress shoes, or shoes in general. I previously owned some shoes that I bought from DSW a year and a half ago that broke. I spent $120 on that one pair. If I had to spend $120 every year and a half for shoes, that would be more costly if I bought them every year and a half at about the same cost compared to buying a pair of $395 allen edmonds that is recraftable. What I am trying to say is just buy smart when buying clothing for your wardrobe.
Because of these new wardrobe purchases my own personal style has evolved from the put whatever comes in my hands or college dressing to a more refined and heritage look. The three businesses, Wolverine, Filson, and Allen Edmonds have been making their products for a very long time. I think Filson is the longest lasting one of the three. Having three of their items, a Mackinaw Cruiser, Tin Cloth Short Cruiser, and their Magnum camera bag, it is suffice to say that I have a great love of their products.
I am pretty close to finishing my wardrobe now. I might pick up a pair of Redwing boots...
At this point, how this fits with my food work.. is that I am drafting up story pitches that combines those pieces and brands with food work. For example, since I am in the city often, one story is a couple guys wearing allen edmonds shoes going to get cocktails and tapas. Another is of an outdoor shoot, with filson gear and wolverine/redwing boots cooking food over a campfire. I am trying to iron out those ideas and finding people who would be up for that. I don't mind if they have to use my items, provided they fit and don't be abusive to them.
While I was mulling over story pitches and ideas, I did some test shooting. Check them out.
Then I read a story from Bridget Eldrige Photography about her time with Foundation Workshop. And thought about some thoughts that were passed around, while I have been pursuing this photography work. One thought was, "be yourself." Now everyone says, "be yourself" which is all well and good. But not entirely good if you are a photographer. Well specifically, an introverted photographer like myself and Bridget, in the provided link. One of the key non-technical things that make or break photography is connection. I don't mean the subjects in the photo, but that in itself also makes a stronger and compelling photograph. But I mean between photographer and subject, specifically live beings- people and animals. Food? I don't know photographer and subject is relevant for that.
For introverts, it is hard to open up and just talk to people, let alone allowing them to open up to you as a photographer. So that's what I mean by being yourself as a photographer doesn't necessarily cut it. If you are wondering what Foundation Workshop is, it's a workshop on wedding photojournalism. They throw the students into an in depth situation for them to document, which doesn't have to do with weddings. The goals of Foundation, as the name implies, is to create a foundation of strong visual story telling. You need to know all the technical aspects of photography prior to come out of it better. But then again, why would you be spending $4k or so of hard earned money if you didn't know how to use your camera?
Creating a connection with the people, or animals, that you are photographing is one of the top traits that need be able to conjure up in seconds. That is if you want to be a successful photographer.
Knowing that this is an issue for myself, I have been since trying to strike up small talk and discussion with anyone. So far it is going alright. I do realize that I am much more talkative to strangers, if I am traveling. I have to say that, that while I love the in the moment photographs, but those in the moment photographs are stronger and freeing if there was a connection made between the photographer and people you are photographing.
But, man, it is hard! I just want to go in make some photographs and head on out of there. Just like with my realization with my personal project, in order for me to make a story more compelling is to get them to open up about themselves.
That's what I got when I read Bridget's blogpost, talking to people really helps make your images better. Being serious here.
Anyway, as mentioned, I recently came back from California. Still beating myself up here for coming back. I was out there babysitting my nephew Vincent for the week. As with every time I am out there, I ponder to myself what am I doing. Or well, what am I doing staying in the East coast?
So what do you think? What areas do you think you are falling short in being whom you want to be?
Ummm... my last blog post was in October? Really sorry, blog, that I didn't give you love. The problem of having two options of sharing stories, is that one is most likely going to be left aside for the other. That combined with being in a writer's block surely doesn't help. Or maybe that's an excuse.
So I guess a recap story of the year to help me get back into writing is in order?
This year I didn't spend much time traveling around as much as I wanted to, but instead I spent a lot of time exploring the nuances of Philadelphia. So much so that I created a food and guy's guide around Philadelphia called "Treat yo'self." And born from that was a series of explorations of shops, "Portraits of Food in Philadelphia" which caused some major dents in my wallet. So with that, I put a little pause on that. Can't eat myself into debt, right? No matter how delicious. Well along with the shops I went to majority of the night markets that The Food Trust held, as well as Ye Shi's.
Since I have been accumulating my vacation days since the new fiscal year at work, in July, I am back in the double digits of vacation days to go travel. I know I have been saying I am planning on going back to Vietnam. The lack of necessary vacation days did put a crimp on that. I am not going to quit my day job to do so, as that is my source of income since I am not a full time photographer. But fear not, I do plan on returning.
What I have accomplished this year was one note worthy story and two documentations for my personal project, "In Search of Little Saigon in America." As well as two shoots for a rowing magazine and one for Edible Philly.
The first was a story I wrote and photographed about South Philly Barbacoa called, "Illegal Food." I write about Cristina's life as an "illegal" immigrant in America, while being one of many who form the backbone of America's hospitality and agriculture industry. Considering doing a follow up story, or stories, in 2016, since I am attending right to work meetings in Philadelphia. As long as the participants are willing to share their story and allow me to take their portraits.
Then, for my personal project, "In search of Little Saigon in America" I realized that I couldn't just go to different shops to photograph their dishes and nuances, but also write about them and their lives. These were the two I was able to document and photograph.
As I said before, it is really a tricky thing to get shops to agree to both interviews and to take their portraits. Especially on refugees from the Vietnam War, bringing back memories of tragedy is always difficult. But as this is a long term project, I am just going to continue to press forward to get these interviews and portraits.
One of the shops I photographed for Edible Philly was Gavin's Cafe. The shop, and owner, were definitely a delight and highlight from that shoot.
In mid September I photographed chef's apparel from D370.
In terms of gear and services, I continued my subscription to Exposure (I hope you are a subscriber to my feed), purchased a Sigma ART 24mm, bought some lighting tools, lots of cards for mailers to send to publications, and I purchased a spot to go to Penny De Los Santos' workshop in NYC in January of 2016.
In summation of 2015? It was a year of constant pushing, evolving, and being around Philadelphia. I recognize the areas where I have done much better compared to 2014 and before, but also areas where I need to improve. I also got to meet Mike Solomonov!
My hopes for 2016 and the future? To get back to traveling internationally, get more stories for "In Search of Little Saigon in America," more paid work, and further my confidence.