February 27, 2013
your personal photography – aiming for more than just snapshots
This just might be my most favorite photo of my daughter, Janine. It’s from 10 years ago (2003), and she was 9 years old at the time. I was trying out my new Nikon D100, reveling in being able to instantly see any photos I took. We were outside in the garden area of the apartment complex we lived in at the time. With a long focal length, I concentrated on capturing her expression, and a little some of who she was at the time – that interesting blend of confidence and shyness … and a fortunate dose of just indulging her dad with the new toy.
Simplifying the composition, the photo is all about her expression and those soulful eyes. She still has that. But she has grown into a confident young woman.
She’s currently studying to become a Chemical Engineer and doing very well at university. Yup, she’s bright. That obvious intelligence is also blended with an amazing confidence now. She always was independent; even more so now as a young adult. There’s an individualism there that I can see others are drawn towards. Magnetic. It’s astonishing at times to watch her interact with other people with an assuredness I didn’t have until much, much later in my life. I’m very proud of her, and in a large way also in awe of who she is. She’s an incredible person to know. Even more so as her dad.
It’s interesting to look over the older photographs now, trying to recognize traces even then of who she is now.
And if I sound a little nostalgic, I am. She moved out of the house when university started last year, and she has gained momentum with her own life. So we see much less of her now.
While all the memories are intact, the photographs I have of her have an even more powerful resonance now. And I wish I had more photos of her.
Like any new parent, I shot rolls and rolls of film of her as she grew, but this tapered off as she grew older. In a way , as the “newness” of the baby was shed, we became more used to her as being part of the family. She’s just *there* with us; part of us.
Now I wish I had many more photos of her taken during later stages. And not just camera-phone snapshots, but more carefully crafted portraits like this image.
I think there is a danger there – if danger is the proper word – that we reach for our camera phones more readily than before, instead of using a “proper” camera to record events. Make no mistake, I do value having a camera and video-camera as capable as the iPhone on hand, everywhere. In fact, this weekend I surreptitiously recorded a 10 minute video clip as she railed about something. The gestures are amusing. Not that I’d show her now, but to her mother and I, this is an incredibly endearing thing to have. It’s very much her.
While having an iPhone / camera phone on hand is just dandy, I think that as photographers we easily become a little too lazy over time. We gradually start to neglect to properly photograph those who are dear to us with better cameras than just our phones.
So this post is a touch self-indulgent as I reminisce, it’s also a gentle reminder to everyone that there is real value in taking the extra bit of time and effort. We shouldn’t stop taking careful, meaningful portraits of those who touch our lives. With time, we’ll be ever more glad we did.
To counter-balance the sweetness of the photograph at the top, here are a few anecdotes from the past year …
November 27, 2012
what are your personal photography projects for 2013 ?
This photo shows me setting up to shoot a time-lapse clip of the New York skyline from Brooklyn. The bride is a model being photographed by someone else. She just looked good as part of the composition of this shot. (photo by Peter Salo) The motive behind shooting time-lapse is no more than it’s just to do something creative. You know? Something for the soul. Something to keep the interest in photography alive, and to remain motivated to create something new and interesting.
For those very reasons, I think it is essential for any photographer – in fact, any artist – to keep exploring ideas and avenues.
As this year winds down, and my workload eases up a bit, I’ve decided that 2013 is the year where I want to devote more time to personal projects of various kinds. I do want to explore HD video further and shoot some short clips. In fact, I’ve been talking to Anelisa (my favorite model), about doing a video clip centered around her, in a music video / Fashion style. I’ve also discussed with a friend who does boudoir photography, to do a promotional / instructional clip with her.
I have this intention that during December, I’ll figure out a plan – a schedule for 2013 to be posted in my calendar – where I work on several projects during the course of the year. That’s the grand scheme. To do more stuff!
let’s make it interesting …
With that, I’d like to hear from others what they have been contemplating or are planning to do as personal photography projects for 2013? What has caught your interest and what has intrigued you enough that you’d like to get into? What themes or ideas or techniques do you want to explore?
So let’s make it fun, and inspire each other.
July 24, 2012
Amsterdam – a short travelogue shot and edited on the iPad 3
Visiting Amsterdam for a few days with my daughter, I decided to see how well it would work to shoot and edit a video clip on the iPad 3.
Even though I had my Nikon D4 (B&H) with me – a camera which is far more suited to shooting video – I decided that it might be fun to shoot and edit on the same device. While I could’ve shot the video footage more easily on my iPhone 4s than the clumsily large iPad, I wanted to edit on the same device, and the iPad offers a lot more real estate when you edit the clips in iMovie.
The iPad 3 was … interesting to use as a video camera. Even though it offers stabilization of the image, I think the shape of the iPad just means it will be more prone to camera shake than a D-SLR that you can cradle in your hand. There’s no easy way to brace the iPad.
Then also, I think I looked a bit of a dork shooting the video on an iPad. Especially with the Nikon D4 dangling off my shoulder.
The real limitations of the iPad came in that you can’t control exposure or focus. Also, you have a single focal length. Even with that, it was a fun challenge to work around these limitations to come up with a short clip that stands on its own. And for me, it is a wonderful reminder of the few days during which my daughter and I explored Amsterdam.
related link: workshop view: Amsterdam, July 22
January 15, 2012
My friend Chuck Arlund mentioned Instagram to me earlier on last year. Instagram is an iPhone app which allows instant sharing of images, but with a unique way of doing so. I briefly had a look at it then, and uploaded a photo of Chuck … and then promptly forgot about it again. That’s just how it goes with dozens of photo apps on the iPhone, nevermind the zillion things clamoring for our attention every day.
Then over the weekend another friend nudged me again to check Instagram out again, and this time I more carefully looked into it. I then realized it wasn’t just a stand-alone photo app, but rather a photo-sharing social media cosmos based on the iPhone. Interesting. Of course, you can share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr.
You may well say that I’m late to this game, but here I am if you’d like to follow random images that I will post on Instagram in future. I should be easy to find – neilvn
November 24, 2011
finding that photo opportunity
We stumbled upon this opportunity for this portrait of Jessica, my infamous assistant with an attitude. The reception room for a wedding we were photographing had several large boxes of lights against the walls as a kind of light mural, with baubles inside that were lit up. And the back of each of these displays was a mirror …
April 11, 2011
personal work – Manhattan cityscapes
It’s been a long cold winter without much chance to roam around and explore with a camera. The past weekend it seemed like the weather was finally relenting and becoming warmer. Taking to the streets to shoot for myself a bit with no purpose in mind, I ended up with three images that I liked – all deserted New York city scenes. Or in the case of the image above, nearly deserted.
It felt good to let my thoughts roam for a while, getting some exercise and listening to music … looking for anything that visually appealed to me in the camera’s viewfinder.
April 8, 2011
November 15, 2010
portrait using a gridded softbox
It’s been about a year since I last took a more formal portrait of my daughter Janine. Last year it was her with the steam-punk goggles, when I used a beauty dish (with a sock) as lighting. During a restaurant dinner last night I noticed Janine had ‘LOVE’ scribbled on both her forearms with a felt marker. I asked her about it, and she explained the idea behind ‘To Write Love On Her Arms‘. So I decided to include this tonight in the portrait of her.
Lighting her and the words on her arms was a slight challenge. I wanted a moody portrait, instead of just flooding it with even light from something like bounced flash …
October 10, 2010
favorite image from the weekend – trampoline jump
Another photograph from the PDF event this weekend where I photographed the fire performer, is this one from earlier in the afternoon. I noticed some event-goers taking turns at a trampoline. I decided to shoot into the sun for dramatic effect .. but also to make the image more anonymous and therefore more about the feel of the day. More about the mood than a recognizable portrait. Shooting at high shutter speeds, I was able to freeze the action completely, and caught this guy in mid-tumble … as if mysteriously floating by. Slightly surreal.
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October 8, 2010
After I was so thrilled with watching and photographing the fire performers at their wedding, Katie and Nathan managed to get me a ticket to the PDF event this weekend. Due to work commitments this weekend, I was only able to visit tonight (Friday), and take in the activities and spirit of the event, and chat to random people. Magical.
Of the fire performers (and other participants) I photographed, I really liked the few images I got of Nichole .. and thought I’d show them here as a small glimpse of the event.
Shot with the Nikon D3, using the Nikon 85mm f1.4D lens
1/125 @ f1.4 @ 3200 ISO