The Great Photo Drought of 2015

So...haven't had a "new" photo for my 365 in a few days, so I've remedied that by creating double exposures by combining old images.  Here are a few:

It's possible that I appear to be breaking the rules of the 365, however, I've been spending each day exploring and tooling with past images, finding uses for ones that have fallen away.  I'm enjoying it very much; it's teaching me what I love about the medium in the first place.

That said, I've had a shortage of subjects to photograph (due to my busy schedule and having to move to a new house), and I've been working hard on my podcast.  I'm also planning out some more photo projects (post-365), which are going to be really exciting and possibly some of my best work yet.  You'll hear more of that in the coming months.  

I do still have quite a bit of film to develop, so hopefully you'll be able to see that soon.  Don't forget, if you want to keep up with my stuff day to day outside this website, you can follow me on Snapchat/Twitter/Instagram: willmalone365 (same for all of them), my podcast page is the365podcast.tumblr.com, and my personal Instagram account is still just @willmalone.

The mission of my book "Everyone Can Be A Photographer"

I've encountered a common attitude among many professional photographers, one that discourages beginners from the art.  After my latest brush with this attitude problem, I had to write this book to encourage beginners and prove that you CAN be a photographer no matter what walk of life you come from.  Maybe this book could even serve as a reminder to professionals that you can't just sit on your haunches; it takes creativity beyond the act of taking pictures because the medium is so accessible now.  Having technical skill with the camera doesn't make you stand out, but that doesn't mean you can't find ways to have your work be seen.  Be an active photographer as opposed to a passive, defensive one.  

Since I came from a "zero-art" background, I know becoming a photographer is possible.  I still have a long way to go before I become the photographer I want to be, but I can see improvement and a greater understanding of the medium developing through my years of photo taking. I want to share the knowledge I've gained with others who feel like they "aren't creative".  Everyone is creative, some just need to be shown that they are.  Not everyone is in it to make money, some may just want an outlet, a hobby.  

Photographers wouldn't be photographers if they didn't love the art.  Why not share our love with others?

Look for the book in September, and sign up for my newsletter (to the right in the sidebar) for updates.     

Miami art district

Today, based on the awesome recommendation of a friend (Chris from Episode 2 of The 365 podcast), we got to check out the art district in Miami, Wynwood.  Galleries were everywhere, but what really struck me were the murals.  There were TONS of murals, in fact, there was an outdoor exhibit made of walls and doors with some awesome art on them.  After today, I fully believe every town should be riddled with murals of different styles.  Chattanooga has a couple cool ones, but we need to up our game there.  

Let's be honest. The Paul Walker mural immediately won my heart.  We can only have so many founding fathers and Steve Jobs murals.  Let's honor someone who left us far too early, who didn't necessarily leave a huge legacy, yet they encouraged and excited people through their work.  RIP Paul Walker

Pretty cool wall. If this was in Chattanooga, I predict a bunch of hipsters and tween girls would regularly have photoshoots in front of it.  Speaking of which:

from left to right: Sam, Woody, Jeremy (Woody's brother)

from left to right: Sam, Woody, Jeremy (Woody's brother)

My beautiful wife

My beautiful wife

(Not pictured) My visit to Panther Coffee within this art district.  Delicious coffee, so I bought a pound to take home.  Really glad I got to explore Miami a little deeper this time around.  I'm a big SoFlo fan.  

I'll have about 5 rolls of film to develop after this trip. Excited to see what I got.  You'll probably see more Wynwood when those are developed.

Palm studies

I've always had a fascination with palm trees growing up. They grow in the direction of the wind, they bend, they grow insanely tall at times, they shed, they can grow coconuts, and they have a very distinct shape.  There are people who's jobs it is to climb them and cut them back so the branches don't crush your car.  Palm trees are really crazy if you think about it, and they are also a sign of paradise.

I don't live in a place where I see them too often anymore, but when I do, they are all the more special.  During this week, I've been using the fiery branches for double exposure "experiments".

Taking the 365 on the go

Today My wife and I head with a couple friends to South Florida. We had a lot of downtime at the airport, and I hadn't taken today's photo of the day yet. Had to get creative. 

The theme is "Double" so I figured I'd do a double exposure via the iPhone (as to not get tackled for wandering around the airport with my huge DSLR)  Decided against doing a true double exposure and just stuck with the idea of double through reflection instead.

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 Here's some other shots via my iPhone:

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Woody took this one. Neck beard to the max  

Woody took this one. Neck beard to the max  

ADORABLE  

ADORABLE  

via Snapchat

via Snapchat

Gus

Gus

Double Exposures Part III

Here are this week's Double Exposures.  I'm quite pleased with this batch.

Here's a quick one when I just snapped two shots one after the other.  I liked how I managed to capture movement while avoided the whole blurry photo look. I think I was lucky and the dark wooded background was flat enough so only the subject was blurry.

Here's one of my wife. I took a photo of her, then took a photo of the trees out of focus as the second image.  

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I did the same thing with my usual guinea pig, Woody. (below)

I think the key to making more original double exposures is to almost completely avoid making it look too clean.  The overly clean style looks like it could be made in photoshop, which instantly makes people less interested in the process of it.  

The "clean" double exposure is the look I feel like is most often striven for, since that's the typical idea of what a double exposure is.  I think I'm beginning to prefer the more subtle look, where "double exposure" isn't the viewer's immediate guess.  

I'm beginning to make moves on what my original "Locus" project was meant to be.  Once the 365 ends, I may bring that project back, this time, performing my original vision for the project.  I don't quite know how I'm going to go about that yet, but that will be a new challenge for 2016.  For now, 2015 is for re-tooling, reinventing, practice, and experimentation.  

I'm about half way through this 365 project, and it'll be my last for a little while.  Hopefully, out of that decision comes a bunch of more focused projects, maybe even attempts at gallery work.  We'll see what the next 6 months hold.  

Summer Favorites 2015

Christmas and summer are the two times of year I really get through some movies, books, and television.  With it being the summer movie season, tons of new films come out every week.  When I get a vacation, I get to read a bunch of books.  Then, of course, there's summer television, where the lesser known shows get some spotlight.  Here's what I'm checking out now:

Movies:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road- Amazing practical effects, stunning cinematography, amazing soundtrack. Best movie of the year so far for me, hands down. 

2. Jurassic World- a lot of dumb stuff in it, but it was just so satisfying. You can't help but like it.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron- It's the biggest superhero movie ever made, nothing will touch it for years to come.  

4. Harmontown- documentary based on my favorite podcast and one of my favorite writers 

5. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief- scary

. Face Off- I watched this years ago, but didn't realize it was the greatest movie ever made until recently

Television:

1. Halt and Catch Fire- lesser known show about the "computer era" in the 80s. It's fully fictional, but references Apple, IBM, and other big real companies of the time.  The first season is on Netflix, the second is on the air. SUPPORT THIS SHOW! It barely got a second season, and it's only getting better. I want a third so bad.

2. True Detective Season 2- Doesn't seem to have the same distinct feel of the first season, and has a lot more moving parts. The premiere was confusing, but set up some interesting plotlines.  I'm excited for where it's going.

3. Chef's Table- Netflix show about cooking made by the creator of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Each episode is an hour long documentary about a different, original chef. The show is very well shot and super interesting.  Watch all 6 episodes now.

Books:

1. Daring Greatly- Great book by Brene Brown about vulnerability. It's a must read for everyone.

2. War of Art- Book by Steven Pressfield about fighting the Resistance, the force that keeps you from doing your work.  It's a nice kick in the pants for any artist and/or creator

3. Southern Reach Trilogy- I'm not usually into fiction, but I read the first book and was hooked.  It's very grounded in the real world, but gives off some supernatural vibes ala True Detective.  I'm currently reading the second.

Next up: I'm about to start reading a book about the Beatles break up called You Never Give me Your Money. I'm saving it for the beach though.

Happiness

What is happiness? Well, I'm a poor communicator so a proper definition escapes me at the moment.  I will say, I'm feel happiness now more than ever before. 

I typically have lived my life with unreachably high expectations for myself with a couple ounces of self-loathing on the side.  I'm not completely cured of those tendencies, but I now see what a life without those feelings can be.  Putting immense pressure on myself to be this undefinable word called "better" did nothing but create the stress that I was trying to avoid in the first place.  If I honestly put an effort in my bill paying, relationships, art, etc, what can I possibly do past that?  

Happiness, as I see it, is really only definable on a person to person basis, and I'm pretty sure that's what I feel most of the time now. The thing is, I don't feel like happiness is "the goal", but a product of a certain way of living.  Pressure has it's place, but "unnecessary pressure" is...um...unnecessary and doesn't help anyone. 

I still put pressure on myself, otherwise I wouldn't work or put time into my marriage. Discipline still needs to exist; the problem is the monster inside that demands you be "better" yet never provides a definition for what "better" is.  The monster cannot be satiated, and it forces you to always feel like less than the person you could be, therefore, you'll never be good enough.  "Good pressure" is more specific like the desire to finish a certain project, stick to a certain work schedule, or go jogging 4 days a week.  Those goals are more attainable, and you don't feel like less of a person when you reach them. 

Happiness also comes when you can list out all the things you're thankful for, and the larger the list gets, the less you have to complain about.  How can I complain? I can walk into the kitchen and make dinner with food I have, I have a beautiful someone I can fart around without judgement who will love me no matter what, I have an outlet for creativity that helps me connect with people, I have supportive family members, I have friends to hot tub with, I have a personal hair stylist, I have two mics I can talk into. The list goes on.

I challenge you, you that feels an "unhappiness", to list the things you do have.  Happiness is a product of lowered expectations for yourself, the product of realizing your finite humanity.  You don't have to do things alone, you're around people who feel the same way.  Everyone has those feelings at one time or another. You are a person, and if you're putting true effort into your job, relationships, and whatever else is important, what else can you possibly be expected to do?  

Stress and pressure will always be around, and it can be good.  It's the irrational level of worry, pressure, and stress, one that eats everything you do and still wants more.  One that makes you never feel good enough.  I will always struggle with that, but I've just now only seen a glimpse of what life can be without it.  Guess what? It's wonderful.        

Photographers have an attitude problem

I've been wanting to get this out for quite some time, however I've wanted to let my thoughts develop and be as respectful as possible, avoiding falling into the same category as the one being called out. 

Just like the title says, the photography industry has an attitude problem, and the photographers who conquer this attitude are some of the most successful I've seen.  I'm saying this, not as a freelance photographer, because I'm not one currently. I say this as an outside observer, but I have worked professionally and with other professionals in the past. 

The photography industry is so strange right now, now that it's more accessible. The idea that "anyone can be a photographer" is the bane of many professionals and for good reason. Photography is a livelyhood for many, a way to feed their children and stay under a roof. It's survival of the fittest. We live in a society defined by capitalism, thus businesses must be competitive. As a business owner, you're scared and feel as if you are inches from failure at all times. That's the nature of the beast. There's a defensiveness that comes from this fear, and it's great that you're defending what you've built. That is, until you start defending against those who aren't competing or defending yourself by attempting to eliminate potential threats.  

Here's my recent story dealing with this situation (You'll hear this on the podcast Monday): I was in a wedding last weekend as a groomsman. The wedding photographer was grinding like a mad man, earning every dollar he got paid. It was clear he was good at his job and had technical skill; he was also rocking a film camera as a main shooter at points. It was clear this was his job and he's had some success.  

Earlier this year, I had taken the bride and groom's engagement photos. They were probably some of the only engagement photos I'm proud of. (Due entirely to the location and the awesome Cinestill film I was using.) My photos were posted all over the wedding, which is great, it's nice to see your work printed out on display.  

Thats when I started getting the unnecessary competitive vibes. The bride and groom told him that there were photographers in the wedding party (me and my next podcast guest) I guess I was in the bathroom at the time, but when I got back someone told me the photographer was looking for me. That's about when I decided to not mention that I was a photographer. I didn't want him to feel that weird competitiveness from me or perceive some sort of judgment from the photographer he was taking photos of. I also just really hate talking shop about gear and the day to day of photography. 

Fast Forward to the end of the reception. Friends asked me to take a photo of them, so we went out of the way and I pull out my camera. I take 3 quick photos to avoid blinking, then suddenly the wedding photographer was next to me saying, "I wouldn't have done that. Sounded cool though. I take too many photos for that." Referring to me taking 3 photos in about a second or two. Then he looked at my friends and asks, "Do you want me to take your photo?" 

His comments weren't outright mean,  it's the passivity behind his words that were the issue. It was the unnecessary defensiveness that revealed he might be threatened or needed some sort of ego boost. There was no reason or gain in him walking over for the sole purpose of comparing us. He was the one making money, and I definitely wasn't. I was just taking a quick photo of my friends, out of the way from the rest of the wedding. There was no reason to share those comments, but I was timid in grabbing my camera because I was afraid that typical photographer passiveness would be shot my way. He was on a different level than me, it was pointless for him to assert himself. 

The fact is, this is a common issue I've seen in photography. The more the landscape changes, the more fearful professionals get, and rightly so. The problem comes when you condemn those who pick up a camera, no matter if it's a mom who needs an outlet or an art student. Not everyone with a camera wants to make money with photography. 

Even if you're competing with someone on your business level, the passivity is wrong as well. At this point, a true competitive edge comes from being more accepting and encouraging to budding photographers and other practicing professionals.  More collaboration over competition. The photographers who I see continuing to grow are these encouraging types, and use their work to compete rather than bitter comments and condescension. Taking good photos isn't enough anymore, but that doesn't mean making it is impossible. 

The landscape is too complicated and cluttered for people to be discouraging to others. There's always someone next in line to take your place, so photographers can't afford that attitude. I wasn't dumbfounded or shocked by this photographers comments, because I've been in this situation before, this time though, my non-photographer friends saw this and noticed it as well and confirmed what I thought about the exchange.  Not everyone who has a camera is coming to get you; the bride and groom paid me in the form of Chipotle for their engagement photos, and that's fine. 

Rant over.  

Double Exposures part 2: Retooling the process

I went to Atlanta for a wedding this weekend, it was a great opportunity to take some in-camera double exposures.  I took some film ones as well, but I have processed those yet. Here's what I got so far:

Pretty basic, no up angle with the sky in the back here

Our hotel room had some great spidery art. Real creepy

Getting weird. I'm excited to see what my film double exposures look like.  

Why using my iPhone as a camera hasn't interested me much lately

Sounds negative, but I go in waves with my photography interests.  I'll go a long time only using film, then I'll run out of money and use my DSLR again.  I'll use that for a while, get tired of carrying that monstrosity around, then I'll switch to my phone.  The cycle goes on and on.

I've probably gone my longest without caring to really use my iPhone camera.  It's not that I don't like it, and I definitely think about it, but I just haven't been interested in the results.

I can't really do an in-camera double exposure with it. (I'm sure there's an app, but it'll make the photo too digitized looking) I can't get the focal length I want.  I can't zoom without my photo becoming a noisy mess.  It just feels limiting right now.

Limits are great. I love limits. I would rather be limited than have everything at my disposal quite honestly; it boosts the creative process.  But right now, I want to push limits, I want to go beyond a point and shoot photo.  The phase I'm in right now is making me want to experiment with some bigger tools, not just a phone and some apps.  

Next month, I'm going on vacation so I'll probably be back on the iPhone thing again.  I just haven't been feeling it too much right now.