Down in Mexico City on assignment, shooting in an amazing gritty boxing gym and in walks a cool little shaver with his dad and threw down some punches.
Contests are a great thing to enter, but a hard thing to get into. I've entered the Commarts Photography annual contest for the last couple years now, and this is the first time I was lucky enough to win. This plays on the "making better images" part of the game, so I would encourage you to enter contests. Not only to push yourself creatively, but publications like this are seen by all the creatives. It's some of the best exposure.
You can pick up the annual right now, which I also recommend you do. There is so much inspiring work in it. If you have a commarts online account you can see it here, but otherwise, here's a screenshot. The image is from a campaign I did for Nike in Mexico City last year. You can see more on the campaign here:
Hoppipolla means puddle jumping, and after going to Iceland, I can see where Sigur Ros got the word from. Plenty of puddles there to jump in. With the help of my new Icelantic friend, we were able to pull this lifestyle shoot off in and near Reykjavik.
Lighting: As you can see, this is all naturally lit. When you're traveling over seas and bootstrapping a production, you don't always have the luxury of many assistants, lights and reflectors. Know your light. Especially when shooting on the fly.
Here is the full story:
A video and a few Behind the Scenes shots by Jeff Holt(The Viking Warrior):
There's something to be said about film and the way it feels. Shot a few rolls with my Diana(square aspect ratio vignetted shots) and Pentax 67(rectangle aspect ratio images). The Pentax 67 has an amazing depth of field, and you can really see/feel the organic grain of the film. I still have yet to see digital capture/create process this feeling.
"You must give up the way it is… to have it the way you want it."
In digging through inspirational quotes for a special promo project, I came across this quote, which really resonated with the way I see life, and have seen it over the years. I touched on this idea in my Transitions, Passions and Sacrifices blog post, but I wanted to expand a little and make it a bit more generic across whatever you may want to do or apply it to.
It's so true that there is a lot of sacrifice to do what you love and get paid for it ultimately. It's something I've lived by most of my adult life. I think we've come to know a generation of people that are starting to value free time, enjoyment of life and loving what what they do as SUCCESS as opposed to money. Don't get me wrong, we all need money to live and to live decently to whatever your standard of living may be, but our new definition of "success" changes that ball game drastically. If you really want to do what you love and make a decent living that takes a lot of time, hard work, and sacrifice to get to a stable point.
What does that mean? We all know it takes money to live, but how much? I've always seen the end goal of "Success" being achieved by putting the right puzzle pieces together. Some people have greater responsibilities than others at the time of their decision of pursuing their passion, so the puzzle pieces are different for everyone. Some people live in bigger, more expensive cities than others. Some have relationships and families. Some have full time jobs where the salary is great with consistent/stable pay and they're used that standard of living. Obviously there are more, but if you have an ultimate goal of doing what you love, it's about moving the puzzle pieces around and cutting things/overhead that needs to be cut in order to create more time and/or money that can be invested back into your business of creativity.
To me it has always meant making those small decisions to save money, and the sacrifices of taking the jobs that aren't that creative for a higher pay/less time ratio. Success for me is defined by working a job I love, enjoying life(the biggest idea I took home with me from my living stint in Paris), having great people around me, and making enough money for a decent living. To get to point means to design your lifestyle to get there. What have I sacrificed along the way? Money, stability, relationships, eating out, loads of possessions, etc. What have I received? Much more free time to enjoy life, and pursue my passion of a career, travel, etc.
I recently read a book called the 4-hour work week which, in my opinion some of the ideas in the book are a bit extreme, but the basic idea is great. I recommend it: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/ As much as I talk about branding and design, this book is about applying those concepts to your life. Designing a lifestyle that in the end brings you happiness and fulfillment.
It ultimately comes down to how bad do you WANT this version of success? How bad you WANT it will dictate how much you will sacrifice to get there. How much will you give up? If you're working a full time job with great steady pay but you hate it, are you willing to give that up along with the financial stability that goes with it to give you the free time to create a business of your passion? The amount of work it takes to get to that position is a hefty amount and you got to WANT it enough to be motivated to hustle for it.
Food for thought.
The thing I love most about this job is being able to sit down and dream up whatever photographs I want to create. Naturally, what I like creating is newer and better images. I’m always looking into how I can make better images and expand my default of my photographic vision and skills to then show more people, and THAT is the name of the photography game. (if you want to be successful that is.)
Part of my agenda this week is to dream up some new tests that I want to do, and part of that dreaming requires research and drawing inspiration from other photographs. It’s a bit of a love/hate part of the creative process. As I’m sure you can relate to, looking at the work of those that inspire you also gives you the feeling of being schooled.
One thing I do is when I find imagery I like, (inspiration board) is to break down the image and decide what it is I like about it. Is it the lighting? the moment? styling? Location? Models? What are the production elements that went into that image? How can I integrate the things I like into my own work?
Lets take this image by Dewey Nicks shot for Tommy Hilfiger a while back:
What elements do I like about this?
•The Location. Probably a lovely exotic place that is hard to get to
•The movement of the models.
•The moment that is happening between the models
•The simple lighting. Probably one overhead angled strobe in a beauty dish. Something of that nature.
•The styling is great. Poppy colors, flowy dresses, in a sophisticated fashion
•The props: cabana setup with lantern and pillows
•High end models($60K/day models). Casting can make or break your shoot.
The overall vision of this image is what I love. The feeling that is created by those elements. When you break down the elements, you can figure out what you want to integrate into your own work and tests to develop your own style. How do you make that happen? You gotta be a hustler. You’ll never get anywhere in this business if you don’t hustle.
So lets bring it back to my point. Looking at other imagery and breaking it down should school you and inspire you to create better images, in turn causing you to raise the bar in your own work. Let good work inspire you to create rather than get you down. Keep aspiring to close that creative gap between what you envision and what you actually produce.