Thursday, 24 May 2007

Don't Shoot the Messenger

I just finished reading another article by David Leeson of the Dallas Morning News on Sportshooter.com .

Unfortunately, it seems that David finds himself defending his views on HDV. It seems that although his work, with stills, and HDV, has been quite successful, and groundbreaking, some people resent his "push" into this new medium.

I have to say, that although I haven't yet picked up a video camera (for work at least), I know that I soon will. I actually find myself somewhat excited by the idea. although I hate to think of the day when I will no longer carry my EOS.

What has happened to prompt David to write this letter I do not know, but I do know that he is a pioneer in an industry that needs pioneers. He has always been successful in our industry, regardless of how he has gathered his images, and I for one, am, and will continue to look to his experience as I delve into this new medium.

The bottom line is that too many photographers, or their organizations are diving into video, and audio slideshows for that matter, without enough research, training, and/or the desire to maintain a high standard. Just look at some of the Soundslides productions we've all been experimenting with of late. How many are filled with images that really merit such a presentation?

We all need to strive to maintain the highest standard we possibly can, no matter which medium we use to collect, and or display our images. David Leeson, agree with him or not, is only helping in this regard.

I'll continue to do what has always worked for me. I'll try to learn from those around me, and I'll try to adapt what I learn to my own environment, and my own assignments. I'll take what I believe in, what works for me, and what will help make my message stronger. Some information I may discard, but not without first considering it. In the end, hopefully, I will be a better visual journalist for it, with a wider range of skills, and a broader audience. I will continue to make still images, but I will also produce "moving" images, and dynamic sound, that should continue to be effective, and hopefully "affective" regardless of the medium they are published in.

If any one wishes to resist progress toward HDV, good for you. That is your choice, but what does it say, when a leader in our industry feels that he needs to defend the fact that he is sharing information that we may all benefit from?

Take it or leave it folks, but don't shoot the messenger.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Shoot It When You See It

I'm sure many of you out there can relate to this. I was reminded today of some of the images that I have NOT taken in my career.

Oh there are many I have not taken, and many I will hopefully yet take, but what I am referring to are the ones I have seen, but for whatever reason, have fail to stop and explore when first I had the opportunity.

This came to mind today when a request came to the photographers for an image of construction cranes in the city. Doh! There is an image of cranes in Toronto that I have been looking to make for some time now, but the light has just never seemed right. I wanted the image to be what was in my mind, so I held off making the frames. Well today another photographer went off to do the assignment, and I shouted a brief description of the location where I thought a photo might work. What he ended up doing I won't know until tomorrow, but it got me thinking....

Again, on my drive home, I headed up onto the Gardner Expressway from Jarvis Street. I don't know hoe many times I've headed up that same way, with the CN tower splitting the ramp just perfectly. Not a fantastic image, but a good one....and one that is no longer possible because of a new condominium. Another image I will never have, but perhaps should have.

Hopefully I haven't bypassed too many really good images. "Bird Lady," was one of those cases where I did stop, and it was well worth it.

This was another lesson I have learned through the years from some veterans of the business. During my early days at The Star, we would all lay out our "enterprise" images, as 8x10s, or 11x14s if we really wanted to sell it, on a table near the photo editors' desks. I know that on several occasions I would see a print of something I had seen earlier that day, or earlier in the week. It would usually be on the way to something else, and I would put it in my memory, or even into a small notepad I keep ideas in. But not Boris! He would stop more times than not for these little gems, and in so doing, captured more than his share of winners, and taught at least one young photographer a good lesson.

Shoot it when you see it.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

"Occassional" .....and OSX to XP.....

When I named this Blog, I knew I wouldn't be able to update it on a regular basis, so I thought including "Occassional" in the name would be appropriate. Well that was an understatement!

My apologies to any readers, if there are any, who have checked back out of interest, or curiosity, and have not found any updates. I'm hoping that as I fully adjust to the changes in my life - as a result of my move to The Globe and Mail, I'll have a bit more time and energy to write more.

The learning curve for me at The Globe and Mail, has not been steep at all. I'm getting to know more of the editors, and writers, and am adjusting to the system, and how to make the best of it. Boris Spremo taught me years ago, that you have to understand the paper you work for to best make use the space available for stories and single images. I had that down to a science at the Star, and I'm making progress at The Globe and Mail. So far I'm extremely happy with the level of cooperation, the enthusiasm for strong images, and the willingness to allow the photography department to work on stories. All things I'd hoped I would find in my new role, and am being reassured of daily.

I have to admit, that even as a twenty-year veteran of this business, I still found myself thinking differently on my earlier assignments. I fully knew this was not the way to go, and was quickly able to return to my usual approach to making images.

What has been a trial for me, has been the switch from Mac to PC. I knew when I accepted the job offer that we may be heading in that direction, and as with everything new to me I've tried to approach the change optimistically. I still have the Mac that I was originally given, but I've locked it away to force myself to become PC-literate. Twice already I've reverted back to the Mac, while "adjustments" were made to my PC, but I've decided that the only way I'll become proficient on the new machine is to use it. So far so good, and this week has been a good one - technologically speaking, although my work-flow has been slowed somewhat. That is improving with time as well.

It will take some time to fully adjust to the look of the PC, and especially the "quirks" of the filing system and folders. I soooooooo want to install something like
FlyakiteOSX to at least give my PC the Mac appearance, but I know that just will not be allowed. I have to face facts....

I know John Lehmann has been using a PC for years, as have many of our colleagues with the wire services. They seem to have no issues with using PCs so I simply have to get my head around the idea, and push forward. I NEED to get my head around the idea and push forward, because there is no doubt that when the rest of the staffers in Toronto begin making the switch, they will have many, many questions during their first weeks.

The bottom line, as always, is that no matter what type of machine we use to edit, caption, enhance and transmit our images, we first need to concentrate on making strong images. If we're not gathering the effective story-telling images in the first place, it really doesn't matter what other tools we use to get them to the office - as long as we can, and in a timely manner.

For that matter, the same goes for multi-media, video, and slideshows. Everybody is racing to produce all of the above. It doesn't matter how we communicate with our visuals, or what technology we use, but what is in danger of getting lost, is that the images themselves have to remain strong. More on this later.

And not too much later, I promise.