Journal Entry #2: Fitting in

I’ve always been a little odd compared to the people I surrounded myself with.  Not in a way where I couldn’t communicate or blend in, I’m really good at that.  I’ve always been odd in the sense that I’m interested in things that not many people around me are.  For instance, I can think of one or two people that I know that are into movies to a similar level as me, however I don’t know anyone who’s quite into action films as me. (See The Podcast and The Furious)

When I’m interested in something, I tend to get a little obsessive about it, and exhaust every source on the subject that exists.  When I watch Avengers, I pick up on most every easter egg and nod to previous films or comics, and the same goes for the Fast and Furious series.  (To be clear, I’ve watched other movies than FF or Avengers, they’re just pertinent to culture at the moment) That’s just because I’m a pretty big nerd.   

I don’t have a ton of photography friends, if any that I consistently spend time with.  I’ll shoot with someone I know every once in a while (emphasis on “in a while”), but I don’t really have a photo buddy that I keep up with regularly.  There are so many creative people in this city, yet I don’t feel like I quite fit in with that group.  The word “hipster” is probably floating very close to your mind right now, but really I don’t even know what that word means anymore and don’t really like to use it.  I’m referring to the people that exude creativity in their everyday life, someone who you see in a crowd and know for a fact that they make something.  You look at me, and you’ll probably assume that I studied business or education in school, because I’m not an edgy dude.  My looks blend into a crowd pretty well.

I’ve always felt like a loner, because I’ve always been content hanging out by myself.  I admit I need to work harder at trying to be part of a community since I often cling to being introverted.  Maybe I’m afraid of community.  Maybe I’m that much of control freak that I feel the need to pick the pieces that make up a community that I’m content with.  Maybe I’m afraid to lose my mobility, my ability to move and adapt to somewhere else at a moment’s notice.  

There’s a real whiny entry for ya.  I was was talking to someone the other day, and I said that I feel like I’m halfway doing everything, because I’m afraid if I fully invest in something and I’ll have to stay in Chattanooga.  My thought now is: If my wife and I were to move, would we be able to shake that feeling, or would we carry it with us wherever we go? Can’t run from your problems.

So what’s my plan for the future? Well, tomorrow I plan to wake up and eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  That’s about as far as I’ve got right now.    

Journal Entry: "I'm a photographer, non-practicing."

I try as often as possible to write in a journal, but I keep them in a notebook never to be looked at again.  You could say that the reason I create is about the journey or the process, so I want to preserve all of the process I possibly can.  Instead of writing some thoughts to myself, I'll start putting them here. That's what a blog is for, right?

Hank Moody, in the first episode of Californication, comes to Los Angeles and introduces himself in a pretty interesting way.  "I'm a writer, non-practicing."  Or something to that effect.  This quote struck me, because I feel this way a lot, especially lately.  When I'm introduced to someone, or should someone decide to label me, I'm called a photographer.  Now, I'm fine with that, and it's not inaccurate.  Yes, I do a 365 project, and have a photo every day, yet, I've been working on autopilot.  I let the shots happen, don't take risks, and haven't really been planning out my photos day to day.  

Whatever.  I can beat myself up about and blog about how much of a failure I've been all day long.  But really, beating myself up about doesn't really solve the problem for too long does it?  Fact is, maybe I don't want to doom myself to forever be labeled a photographer.  A year ago, I predicted I'd be pretty dedicated to the whole freelance thing and just do that.  Then, I started picking up all kinds of other stuff.  I started writing more, drawing, and even podcasting.  A year ago, I would do a fine job at freelance, I know I'm a good photographer.  But I knew I was on the edge of something bigger than just photography, some sort of huge creative breakthrough that defines the path I choose.  

Photography is the thing that's gonna get me to the other thing.  It opened up this whole world to me.  

The 365 is more than just a photo a day, it's a thing a day, it's everything I do.  I've been trying to be too much in the middle, half average photography freelancer, and half content creator.  There has to be a balance. So lately, I've been doing less photography than ever, but I don't feel like it's a waste.  Maybe I'm crazy, maybe I'll never figure it all out. All I gotta do is keep making stuff.

For now, I'm a photographer, non-practicing. (More or less)    

Photography is a skill like any other

It's funny how up in arms photographers get when a "normal" picks up a camera.  "Everyone is a photographer" is something that is said all the time.

Everyone is a photographer.  Everyone has a camera, and everyone can take a picture.  Today, I was reminded, that while everyone can take a picture, not everyone can do it well.  I started taking photos for my new 365 today, which is all iPhone photography.  Guess what? I haven't taken a real photo other than just a snapshot with my iPhone in so long, I felt really rusty.  Using it just felt awkward, and I didn't really feel like my photos were that good.  

It'll just be like when I pick up my film camera again (I haven't used it for a couple weeks), I probably will have to learn to get comfortable with it again.  Photography is a skill as much as being a musician is a skill.  If you don't play guitar for a while, you have to shake off the dust and get used to it again.  Just because you have a guitar doesn't mean you're a musician.  

That's just how it is.  

The Wall: the subject of the next month of the 365

It's been two months since I started my fourth 365 project, and it's been really fun.  Of course, a project like this needs to be sustained, and it's hard to sustain it when you have no limits and must consistently come up with content every day.  

Now that I've warmed up to the project a bit 60 days in, I'm making changes.  Each month will have a new theme, or rather, "rule" for the portraits of that month.  Randomly styled photos are great, but creativity blooms from limitations.

This month, all portraits will involve a certain wall in my house as a backdrop.  I've been digging this wall lately, so you've already seen it before.

It's just a brown wall, and I think there's a lot I can do with it, no matter how subtle.  So this month, if you want your portrait taken for my project, it's all happening right here at my house.  Let me know if you want to be in the project! Always eager for new subjects!

Today was the first day of this "rule", so here's Day 60!


Making art on an iPhone Part 1

I love my iPhone 6. It's the best phone I've ever had.  I originally ordered a 6 plus, but due to the capricious phone god AT&T, my hopes were dashed.  I may go for the bigger one down the road (especially since I just sold my iPad, but that's a different story), but for now, my 128 GB phone is perfect for just about anything.  One use I've really come to enjoy is the ability to make cool art.

You probably knew you could create some cool stuff on the iPhone for years now, and I did too.  Now though, you can create better than you could before.  We now have a better camera, and more apps than ever.  The bigger screen is quite helpful as well.  

I'm always looking for ways to combine and expand photographic mediums. First, I started with my in-camera double exposures.  Those are fun, and I'm still learning to get better with them and integrate them more into my portrait work.  The other day, I was sitting at a coffee shop thinking, "How could I take my double exposures further?" My instant conclusion: create double exposures with two different cameras.  

Now, this process is different than my previous one.  It requires digital alteration of photos. Some of you may look down on "photoshopping" work to that level, but it's a tool I have at my disposal that I'm going to use.  If it's bad, I throw it out.  All that matters is the final piece.

For this stuff though, I'm not using Photoshop.  I'm using a combination of crazy apps unique to the iPhone.  Diana Photo allows me to combine images like my previous double exposure work. (albeit a bit limited. you have to learn exactly how to works it to get a successful image)  Check out this photo for example:

This is a photo of my friend, Essie, against a concrete wall.  The actual photo was taken with my Polaroid Colorpack 2 on the discontinued Fujifilm 3000b film.  She was wearing a black shirt, so I knew this photo would be perfect for a double exposure. (Check out my in-camera double exposure instructional post)  I had a photo I took of some cool trees on my phone, so I combined the two with the Diana Photo app.  Of course, the first photo was black and white, and the other photo was green, so that needed to be fixed.

My solution came from the app called Mextures.  With it, like most photo apps, you can get a bunch of film effects.  This app stands out for it's awesome textures you can add to photos.  I used it to turn the photo black and white (to eliminate the weird green color) then added some blur and definition to make the background look a little more "concrete-y"

This one was an easy one, but since this shot, they've started to get a little more complicated.  I'll try to post more of these throughout the week.

Here are the apps you should download if you want to make stuff like this: 

The Diana Photo App 

Mextures

That's it for this post, more to come soon!  

Yashica Mat: the camera I can't stop using (part 2)

Shooting with this thing can be hard.  I figured I'd take some portraits (and become the next Vivian Maier), but I learned that I'm super slow setting up a shot.  You have to frame, focus, and light meter (or guess) for your settings.  I honestly don't understand how someone does street photography with this camera.  Guess I need to keep practicing! 

I just shot my first 120 color roll (Kodak Portra 400. Highly recommend this film) Some repeats in here, but I'm pretty excited to get to work on my next roll.

Coffee Underground in Greenville, SC

Coffee Underground in Greenville, SC

Day 29/365 Grant

Day 29/365 Grant

Heather in front of my awesome backdrop

Heather in front of my awesome backdrop

Another Grant photo

Another Grant photo

Beth Ann

Beth Ann

The natural light thing

I've heard a lot of discussion on the natural light vs. studio lights/strobes debate lately, and I realized, I have an opinion and a blog.

I used to be all about natural light only, you know why? I was afraid of using a flash.  It added a whole level of difficulty and a science that I didn't fully understand.  (I meant to added this to my list of mistakes but forgot

Now, I almost can't stand to rely only on natural light, because quite frankly, it's super unreliable.  There was one day, when I was shooting engagement photos on a beautiful, overcast day.  The light was perfect for about 40 minutes, then out of nowhere, it got super dark and started storming.  Now, I know that even in a storm you're not going to pull your strobes out to compensate, but I was just using that as an example to show how you can't trust the weather.  

Some people may only use "natural light" because they love that soft look.  That look is possible to achieve with studio lights, but with lights, you're not limited to the light that the sky is providing you.  

I just got sick of being at the mercy of the elements.  My love of lights is a more recent one, because I just kept hitting walls in my portrait work.  Yes, lights add an extra challenge, but to me, that's part of the fun.  For example, check out this photo to the right: 

Totally artificial. (You probably could guess that) It was the middle of the day under my porch.  I used a smoke machine and one flash to show off the smoke through the steps.  I couldn't have gotten this smoke effect without a flash, because there wasn't enough directional light coming from the sky.  

But here's the other problem: lights are expensive.  Well, yes and no.  I use super cheap, crappy lights just to get by.  They do the job quite well and are super portable.  You can get out there and by a light kit with soft boxes and a few gels and strobes for $130.  

Try shooting with just one single light first, just to get the feel.  Once you're comfortable with that, start using a second.  Then once you begin to feel limited with 2 lights, go crazy and start engineering insane setups.  

By the way, I'm not saying natural light is bad.  I still use it from time to time when I just can't get the lighting setup I want.  I have realized that once I started getting better with lights, I started getting better at using whatever light the sky was offering me.  Just try it out, it'll be a pain, but well worth it.

Yashica Mat: the camera I can't stop using

Sometimes I have the ability to develop my own stuff, but a lot of the time, I have to send it off.  A couple days ago, I sent a couple rolls of Ilford black and white film to thedarkroom.com (highly recommend btw, pretty cheap with great results), and got them back today.  You don't know how excited I am that these turned out at all.  

I was thinking about getting a light meter to use with it, but after seeing how these turned out, I'm just gonna stick with my Light Meter iPhone app.  Not the prettiest app, but it apparently does the job sufficiently.

Weaverville Bakery

Weaverville Bakery

#soloparking

#soloparking

Living Room

Living Room

Lily

Lily

Treetops

Treetops

More to come!

Throwback Thursday

With it being my 4th (technically 3rd and a half) 365 project, you can probably guess that I have taken quite a few photos over the years.  I have about six hardrives on my desk right now holding them all because my 500 GB laptop hardrive isn't enough.  I have photos no one has ever seen, that I have forgotten about, because I've taken so many photos that some get lost in the clutter.  

Today, I posted my first Throwback Thursday photo within my 365 project, IV, a portrait series.  Thursdays shall now be dedicated to past portrait work I've done, which coincidentally helps me spread out all these portraits I've been working on.  Having 365 days of people is quite a challenge, so I need any break I can get.

Day 8/365 is a photo I took of my sister at my grandparents backyard fishpond in 2012.  She's a makeup artist, so she put that cool design on her face.  She also probably forgot about this photo, so I was happy to surprise her by throwing an old photo of herself in her social network feeds. 

Titled "The Evil Pond Spirit" a follow up to my Pond Spirit photo essay a few years back

Titled "The Evil Pond Spirit" a follow up to my Pond Spirit photo essay a few years back

Holiday polaroids

I've gotten pretty into using my Polaroid Spectra despite the film being pretty pricey.  It's something nice to have over Christmas, because you're able to take snapshots of your family or weird stuff along the way and have a print to hold at the end.

My wife Anna got really into knitting over Christmas, and has almost finished her first scarf.  She's done a really great job, and I can't wait to share some photos of her final product.

This was supposed to be a double exposure portrait for my latest 365 project, but didn't really work out.  It's still kinda cool, with it being an explosion of red flowers.  You would never know a person was in the photo though.

I felt like it rained almost the entire time we were out of town. We had a few nice sunny days, but most of it was gloomy, rainy, and oddly warm.

Anna's crazy dog, Lily

Here's a classic photo of my grandfather holding his Yorkie named Murphy.  She'll only sleep like that on him.

Right before the photo was taken I told everyone to make sure they didn't blink since I only had one shot left.  Sure enough, I was the only one to blink.  I guess that's how it works. 

Beards that need decorating

I would like to try and keep my website up to date with my 365 this time around, so I'll try to remember to post as I go.  Here are the first two portraits so far:

The first one is your basic double exposure selfie, but the second one has a little bit more of a story.  

A couple weeks ago I went to the local art museum where The New York Times had an exhibit.  In the exhibit, a photo of Bill Murray with flowers in his beard.  Of course, this is the perfect photo of Bill Murray, summarizing his personality in one single shot.  

Bill-Murray-New-York-Times.jpg

My brother-in-law has a pretty nice beard himself, so I had to put some stuff in it.  It's winter so it's hard to find flowers anywhere, so being festive, we grabbed some ornaments.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that's it. Maybe I'll include some more stories about some more notable photographs in my project.  I'm still trying to feel all this out.

Again, follow @thewillmalone365 on Instagram and like The Will Malone 365 facebook page to check out what's going on with this whole thing.