Friday, January 22, 2010

Shooting Strangers by Bill Tracy

I received an email a couple of days ago from Bill Tracy, a California photographer who read my recent post, "Photographing People in Public Places." I receive email regularly asking me if I ask for permission from the people I shoot, and if so, “how do I ask?”  It can be intimating for many at first, but Bill Tracy explains how he overcame his initial fears and went on to shoot strangers with confidence and a passion, never looking back! The following images and story by Bill Tracy.

"I just read a blog entry you did about shooting people in public places. That reminded me of one of my most important photo lessons."

Back in the early 1970s I was trying to learn to take pictures. I read books, was the editor of my college paper, etc. After a year or two I sat down and went through all the pictures I had taken, and I was startled by what I saw. There was not a single picture of a person. There were pictures where people were present, but not a single photo where the person was the subject. And I realized I was scared of taking pictures of people.

When I find something I'm afraid of I tend to go right at it, so I went on a tear. In parks, on streets, shopping malls, parking lots, wherever -- when I saw a person I started shooting them. Well it got me over my fear, but it also taught me something very interesting. If you're a young guy and you want to meet a woman in public, all you have to do is start shooting her. When she asks why, tell her you can't resist because she's so pretty! I ended up with more women that way!!!     

Anyway, I have never since been afraid to shoot people in public. And while I'm armed with the knowledge that I have a legal right to do it, I'm also armed with enough sense to back off if someone takes offense!

I also spent a lot of years in and around the trucking industry. I wrote and shot for several trucking magazines and spent 10 years in Washington with American Trucking Association. Now I've been put out to pasture by the California economy so I have some time to work on taking some pictures. And I'm looking forward to it!

In the first image a large sailing ship was docking in Philadelphia when Tracy saw this old guy who was lending a hand. "It's the kind of thing I can imagine was the highlight of his day. The way his hands hold the line have a lot to say."

In the second image Tracy says, "It was on one of those boat tours of San Francisco Bay. I was sitting next to this man from France and his daughter. Given the exchange rate in Oct. 2007 he had just bought that high-end Canon Pro DSLR for not much more than pocket change to him. The expression on his daughter's face is great, especially when you know that he has a new camera and wants to shoot non-stop." Tracy's title for this one would be, "Dad, please!" You can find Bill Tracy on JPG Magazine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breach of Copyright - The Independent

Since I jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon, I haven't looked back! Twitter continues to be a fountain of relative information I find both entertaining and educational. A recent tweet I read was titled "Breach of Copyright - The Independent" and led me to photographer Peter Zabulis.

Peter Zabulis, also known as PeteZab on Flickr, claims the "Independent", a national and commercial newspaper in the UK used the Flickr API to search for and display images of snow scenes, which included one of his images marked as “all rights reserved" on his Flckr site. He also includes his dialogue with the Editorial Director for Digital at The Independent. For a fascinating and lively read of this discussion as it is was unfolding, with currently over 21,000 views and 184 comments, check Peter's Flickr site at

I mentioned in his comment section how images of mine from Flickr have been used commercially without my consent or knowledge at the time. Personally, I upload only low resolution images but do grant permission to the 'search feature' on the Flickr API. I do not upload images I have sold to clients or any other work I wouldn't want to be reproduced.

I'm not a lawyer and don't claim to know much about copyright law, but in the very least I would like to be asked if one of my images could be used and credit given to me as the photographer, which I have obliged to before. Kudos to Peter Zabulis for engaging what must be one of the most interesting and debated discussions I have read on Flickr!

A special thanks to Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries for his recent inclusion of my image "Respect" in their "Best Photos of 2009" list! There are some very good images to be viewed here and I am happy to be included!

Update link posted by Peter Zabulis via Twitter

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Power of Influence

"Be careful of the photographers you choose to follow or you may become like them." I'm not sure if that was exactly how Clement Stone phrased it, but I believe it could be close. Do you think it is possible to be heavily influenced by the images and shooters we follow and not even know it?

Through the past years, I have added many photographers to my online networks, but actually find myself following a much smaller crowd these days. It's still a large number, but I do find myself returning to my favorite photographers and spending much more time studying their work. I am also a bit more selective in adding to my followers list, however it seems I find new and exciting photographers every day now!

What amazes me is that some of the shooters I follow have such a different style than I do. For instance "John Adams" (aka) ThePres6 on Flickr, is a wonderful example. I've been following John's abstract and HDR custom motorcycle work for a good time now ( he was recently published in Easy Rider Magazine) and I can only hope something rubs off on me. So much so, I'm planning a trip to Daytona Bike Week next month!!

I also enjoy following the work of some of Canada's finest photographers, who shoot (amazing) landscapes of which are more in common with my style. Shooters such as CowgirlStraightup, Altamons, and Napaneegal do some impressive work! They are always worth my time and I return to their images at Flickr often for inspiration and to compare notes. I have no doubt my work would look very differently today if it were not for this special and talented Canadian trio! I aspire to the best and have long lost my glass ego the day I purchased my first DSLR.

I've read with any interactions, that we are all unconsciously trying to find ourselves in the others we interact with. I'm not sure, but feel my photography has been greatly influenced by my social network of photographers. Do you feel like your images reflect the work of the photographers you follow?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Statistics

Statistically, even the most thought out and sincere New Years' resolutions fail. It does appear that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions. 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions opposed to less than 15% of those over 50, according to Belonging to the latter category, I am making an extra effort to succeed with all the photography goals I have set  for the year 2010.

At the top of this list, I have committed to increase the number of my digital images to prints. I created a  portfolio years ago from my film negatives but have added only a relatively small number of new images since I started shooting digital in 2006. Many of the printed enlargements I've made within the past few years I have given away without making any back up prints.  My thinking has been I'll always have the digital file and will one day make the additional prints necessary to compliment my portfolio. But I rarely reprint these images.

Another resolution I've already begun is to reorganize all of my work including the deletion of images I should have already. This is not easy, as many of my images are spread across multiple disks, cd's, dvd's, online storage, etc. This is not the most enjoyable task and is time consuming but liberating and I have already seen the effects this discipline has produced. As Florida has been experiencing unusual cold temperatures it has been a great excuse to stay inside!

Hope everyone has gotten a good jump into the new year and happy shooting to all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Twitter and the Photographer

Back in the old days, when dirt was still rocks and I was a young man exploring the wild west frontier of the internet, I would daily telnet into my local BBS. It was costing me a fortune, was very very slow, (and frustrating many times) but was a small price to pay for this brave and experimental new world behind the keyboard.

There were only a handful of users at the time who would leave messages, mainly about modems and other computer related hardware, but it was new and exciting. Who could have imagined how successful networking giants such as Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few, would become as they are today.

Recently I joined Twitter and have found it to be invaluable in resources regarding photography. Twtter can be overwhelming, but it can also be whatever you want it to be as well. More or less, and with out many rules, it provides me with a steady and relevant flow of information that I continually find both useful and entertaining.

For anyone who might be considering the advantages of using twitter, here is a link to a short article by Martin Perlin at Black Star Rising titled "Six ways to focus your twitter strategy and grow your photography business." Also, I can now be followed on Twitter at

Bottom line: Once you’ve learned to build and nurture the right kind of network, the possibilities are endless!