365 Days of Instagram

Generator Photography is finally on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/generatorphotography

It’s where all the popular kids are.  And, if I’m honest, that is part of the reason I wasn’t on it.  I’m that kid who likes to go to parties, but also likes to stand in a corner alone and feed my superiority complex by smugly judging everyone else.  Yes, I’m that kid.

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By now Instagram is THE conduit for sharing your work, your life, your art.  Which is a shame, because as a photographer, I actually think that flickr is a better platform over Instagram.  Here are some things flickr has that Instagram doesn’t*:

  • Albums & collections: very easy to create and organize, makes finding things later on much nicer, just wish more people used collections though.
  • Tagging: Works very much like Lightroom and can even pull LR tags automatically. The ability to search my own tags and narrow down by tags, flickr even adds its own ones and you can search by predominant color in a photo. I can go to a list of all my tags when trying to find all photos from a particular camera, film, place etc. very useful.
  • EXIF: If photo has exif data it’s clearly displayed on the page and i can click through for extensive exif data as well. If a photo has GPS data in it there is a world map there and you can quickly drill down to where it was taken.
  • Privacy settings are varied enough and useful, public/private/friends/family, change who is allowed to comment or add tags.
  • Select what kind of copyright (or lack thereof) i want on photos, flickr has 9 different options to quickly select from.
  • Stats page for each photo with graphs and even where the viewers came from, there is also a summary stats page where i can see various things about all my photos. The Recent Activity page as well, lets me see if anyone has commented or favorited any photos so i can quickly respond.
  • Photos just look better on flickr.  There, I said it.

But while flickr is not in the death spiral it once was, sadly it is highly unlikely it will ever reach the level of popularity that Instagram has.

But, then again, Instagram isn’t just for photographers.  It’s for celebrities, and people who want to photograph their lunch, and their puppies, and their kids, the books they are reading, and sunsets. And a whole lot of other stuff.  It’s actually pretty cool, and I’m sorry my patronizing attitude stopped me from jumping in.

The question was how, exactly, should I jump into the pool?  I have many years of work behind me.  Do I post a large chunk of it all at once?  Only the best shots?  Or just make a clean break with the past and only post new work?  It was a puzzle.

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The answer I came up with was 365 Days of Instagram.  What I will be doing is posting one photo on Instagram every day for 2017.  This will be in addition to the regular work I will be posting throughout the year.

365 Days of Instagram will accomplish two things.  First, it will mean I have fresh content every day. On social media, it seems like you are only as relevant as your last tweet.  Or your last post.  Usually, because of my 9-5 weekday work schedule, I can often go long periods without posting any new pictures. By guaranteeing one post every day, I know that my Instagram page will not be quickly forgotten and end up covered by dusty, internet cobwebs.

Second, even though this turns every day into Throwback Thursday, it will give me a chance to really go through my back catalogue and post stuff even regular, faithful followers of Generator Photography haven’t seen for a while.  And, after one year, all will have a wonderful, complete picture of my work and my art.

I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming year.

Soon, I will post my thoughts about 2016 (sort of sucked…but not?), and what’s coming up for 2017.

Stay tuned, friends, good stuff is coming.

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*This list is directly quoted from a Reddit thread in /r/photography, “Thought’s on Flickr’s Future?”  I would have given the author due credit, but they have since deleted their account.

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And We Are Stopped, Again.

Danay 05 _sm

The last photoshoot.

I’ve been mulling over the blog post for a while.  I’d like to think I was crafting it in my head before committing it to paper, but the reality is I’ve just been putting it off.

Now is the time to get it done.  Here’s the scoop, I’m putting down the camera for a while.

Over the last five years I’ve had an office job.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Art, and a few semesters of Master’s level work in Theology.  I have a resume that screams, “No Marketable Skills.”  Most of my practical job experience has been in office work.  I’m an Excel Spreadsheet Master, I ain’t even lying.

This last job, however, took a toll.  I had been promoted to a Supervisor position, which started out good, but ended up with me just being the guy customers yell at. Daily.

For various reasons, I decided to make a change.  I won’t go into the details here, but there really wasn’t one reason.  My mistake came in jumping into the first job that was offered to me.  It was a disaster, I lasted two weeks.

So there I am, sitting at my computer, browsing Monster.com, looking for another soul sucking, mind-numbing cubical job.  I then remembered an NPR story about a truck driver shortage. I immediately started doing a little research on trucking, and truck driving.  Somehow I ended up on YouTube, and spent the entire rest of the day looking at videos of truckers.  GoPro video blogs of life on the road.  The entire day was spent watching those.

The short story is that I’m now in CDL school to get my Class A license, and then go drive.

Movin On

(not my photo!)

When I was growing up, there was a TV show called Movin’ On. It starred Claude Akins and some other dude driving a two-tone green Kenworth across America. I loved that truck. It’s corny and hokey and a bit cliché, but I’ve always wanted to be a truck driver.

I’m not saying that I’ve finally found what I was meant to do. This won’t be the magic bullet that will cure my occupational wanderlust. But after decades of bookkeeping and office administration work, I am looking forward to a change.

Yes, I understand the work is hard, much harder than what I’m probably used to. I envision old time truckers looking at me they way Robert Shaw looked at Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws (“You have city hands, Mr. Hooper. You been countin’ money all your life.”) That’s a good thing. I’m at my best when people underestimate me.

What about my photography?  It’s on hold.  Actually, I don’t even want to say it’s on hold, but I do know my productivity is going to be down for a while.

The top photograph is the wonderful Danay.  You may remember her from a shoot I did back in December. I dragged her out into the cold winter night so I could experiment with different light set-ups.  She was a trooper, and I promised her a proper photoshoot when the weather got warmer.  I was able to finally fulfill that promise.

It was the last photoshoot.  For a while, anyway.

I’ve got more I want to write about where my photography is right now, where it’s going, and why this won’t necessarily be a bad thing.

We’ll see how long it takes me to write that one.

As for now, wish me luck on my tests, and don’t go very far. I plan to still post stuff periodically.

Keep on Truckin’, Generation Nation!

 

 

2015 – The Plan In Review

1956 Merc 02 _sm

Back in January 2014, I did a post about my plan for 2014.

Then, in December of 2014, I wrote a review of how much of that plan I achieved in the year.  Turns out, it wasn’t much.

I actually didn’t make any plan for 2015 because of the epic failure rate from 2014.  That said, I thought I would start 2016 with another year in review, along the same basic plan, just to see how I’ve progressed.  Both, as an artist, and Generator Photography as an enterprise.

I’ll post the plan I came up with in the Jan ’14 blog, and I’ll follow with the results from 2015:

The Plan: “Get known: This means more than getting followers on facebook (or twitter, see below), it means really establish my brand as a premier automotive photographer. I have been dancing around the issue because I truly love doing other types of photography, specifically my urban and suburban landscape work. And there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to get “weighed down with labels”, or some other hippy-sounding, pseudo-marketing bullcrap. However, I really need to just bite the bullet and say, “I shoot cars, this is what I do.” Obviously, with the caveat, “And I’m really good at it.””

The Result: Good, I guess. As I said in the “2014 In Review” post, “As far as establishing “my brand”, I’m not too sure. Look, let’s face facts, I enjoy shooting much more than I enjoy marketing. And I’m a far better photographer than I am a salesman. I think coming to those to realizations are going to have an impact on my future goals.” This is truer than ever.  Every time I think about approaching a magazine for submissions, or trying to sell my services as a photographer, I just shrug and shoot something else.  I understand that being busy is far different that being successful.  I also understand that if I put as much work into networking and marketing as I put into shooting, I could make this work.  That said, I did manage to get my name out there a little more in 2015.  I should try to do even more in 2016.  We’ll see.

The Plan: “Get portraits: I understand that I just wrote about clearly defining my identity as an automotive photographer, but I would really love to start including people in my work. Some of my favorite shots I’ve ever done have been about people. It’s a challenge for my artistic side of the brain, and it will help me learn and develop techniques that I can carry over into my automotive photography.”

The Result: In 2014, the result was a “Total fail”.  However, in 2015, it took a sharp upturn.

Edith 02 _smSJ 01 smallTyrell 01 _smDanay 01 _sm

2015 became a watershed year for me in terms of getting people to pose for portraits.  There are a couple of factors for that, but I can tell you that I am dead chuffed with my portrait output, and I’m planning on 2016 to be even better.  Very happy.

The Plan: “Get legit: I would like to get a proper business license. Be, like, all official and stuff.”

The Result: Another Fail, just like 2014. It still is high on my “to do” list.  I’ll try harder this year, I promise.

The Plan: “Get twitter: I love the action I’m getting on facebook, but I just can’t help but think that more and more of my posts are getting lost in the facebook algorithm tap-dance. And as facebook continues to push for people to pay for posts, I really think I need to expand my social media presence. I’ll try to get this up and running in the next month or so.”

The Result: For 2015, Ok, I guess. I still don’t get twitter. I still haven’t come to grips about what I’m supposed to do with it.  And I don’t understand how I can not post on my twitter account for weeks, and somehow I still get followers.  It all just baffles me.

I’m going to open this up to all social media.  First, Instagram.  I’m not on it.  I probably should be, but I’m not.  But, as I said with twitter, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.  Post pics, like other people’s pics?  I already do that on facebook, tumbler, twitter, flickr, and hell, even 4-chan.  I’m not convinced that getting an Instagram account will accomplish anything different, or better, than whatever I’ve already been doing.

I’m not convinced that continuing to expand my social media presence is something I need to focus on in 2016.  What I might do instead of internet networking, I might have a go at real networking, with real people, who can make real results happen in the real world.  So I get real results, rather than fake internet points.

The Plan: “Get blogging: Do shorter blogs, and more of them. I tend to do long winded blogs every once in a while. I’m going to try to do far less writing but much more often.”

The Result: It was a push for 2014, and I’m going to say it’s the same for 2015. I think I’m ending the year where I started. I got some good posts in for the year, but I don’t think I gained any ground. But, again, didn’t lose ground either. So, push.

The Plan: “Get interesting projects: I want to shoot with more purpose. I like doing projects, many shots on one theme or idea. I have this great idea about garages. Stay tuned.”

The Result: Man, I still want to do that “People And Their Garages” project.  I’ve got about 3 real solid projects I want to pursue in 2016.

Like light painting. Man, I want to do more like this.

Star Path 01 _4

Stay tuned!

The Plan: “Get gear”

The Result: In 2014, it was an unqualified success.  I got my Nikon D610, and I got three prime lenses, a 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8.

So, for the first time since, well, ever really, I was in a really good place with my gear.  I could honestly say that I had satisfied my G.A.S.

Of course, there are other lenses I would like (something super-wide, like a 20mm, and a real long lens for portraits, like a 135mm), but mostly I wasn’t wanting at all.  I’m serious! That was, until about middle of this year, when I bought a flash.

goodfellas bail bonds

Yes, that started something.  Because, once you get one flash, you need to buy a stand and triggers to get that flash off your camera.

Then, soon after that, you’ll definitely need a second flash.

Two Flashes _4

Of course, then you’ll need a 2nd stand, more triggers, and pretty soon you’ll be shopping around for light modifiers for your flashes.

bts 01.jpg

As of this writing, I’ve acquired my third flash, and I’ve got some other bits and bobs to go along with them.  It’s gotten ugly.

For 2016, hopefully, my G.A.S. will slow down.  With three flashes, I think I’m good.  There is one lens I’m planning to buy this year, but that’s about it.  We’ll see how that would have worked out at the end of 2016, however.

The Plan: “Get selling: Really ramp up my Etsy shop. And maybe even start selling prints through my main website.”

The Result: Another total fail. My Etsy shop is as empty and useless as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar shelf.  This might change in 2016, maybe.

The Plan: “Get paid: I love shooting, I really truly do. And if this goes nowhere other than being a hobby for me, I’m totally OK with this. Nothing is going to stop me doing what I do. However, man it would be nice to get a paying gig every once in a while.”

The Result: 2014 was an utter failure, 2015 not so much.  I wasn’t rolling in dough, don’t get me wrong.  But I went from zero to a few.  Which, as you know, is progress.

So, there you have it.  In December 2014, I was pretty devastated about how little it seemed I had accomplished over that previous year.  In 2015, I’m actually feeling pretty great.  And, as a bonus, I’m actually excited about 2016.

My plan, overall, is to keep doing more and more portraits and model shoots.  Keep working with off-camera lighting.  Keep focused on more project-based shooting, rather than just go to an event and see what happens.  Shoot with more and more purpose.

Keep the G.A.S. down to a minimum, and keep working with more and more people.

Stay tuned, friends, good stuff is coming.  I guarantee it.

We’re Back.

Sady 01 _sm

And we’re back from hiatus.  With a vengeance, I might add.

I had said on my last blog post that I needed to put family first for a while, and place my photography on the back burner.   My wife went away to help her father convalesce after a bad patch, and everything is better now.  Not perfect, not really even good, but better.  Thank you for asking.

Here on the home front, I had said that even though I was taking everything back a notch or three, there were two specific things I was still going to work on.  First, was the Las Vegas Balloon Festival, and the second was a special photoshoot I had been planning for several weeks before.

First, the Balloon Festival.

Balloon Fest sm 05

I said I had been thinking about shooting the balloon festival with only my 85mm lens. Really try to focus on color and composition rather than merely documentation with a wide angle lens like most photographers do. Mission accomplished. I really was able to capture some fantastic shapes and colors. I was also able to get some wonderful shots from the accompanying carnival, check out my album on flickr.

Las Vegas Balloon Festival, 2015

As far as that “other” photoshoot I was talking about, it was about this:

1956 Merc 01 _sm

This gorgeous creature has been my white whale for a while now.  I’ve been chasing this down for a photoshoot for a long time, and it finally all came together.  Confession: The night before this shoot, my water heater started to leak. I made sure to try to patch it up as well as I could and didn’t want to call the landlord because I thought they would make me stay at home until a plumber came.  I vowed to call only after the photoshoot, that’s how much I wanted this.  It was all worth it.

The bonus was that I got to shoot with two great models.  Edith, who I had photographed before, and who is always great, and Sady (above), who literally came out of nowhere, and really brought it.  It was like I won the photography lottery.  Again, here’s the full set on my flickr page.

1956 Mercury

From these, we are just going from strength to strength.  I’ve done more that I haven’t even mentioned here, I have  more photoshoots lined up, exploring more networking options, trying to get out as much as possible now.

And to you, Generation Nation, I just want say another huge “Thank You” for supporting me through this time.  Thank you to everyone who supports my photography, my art and my vision.

Stay tuned, friends, it’s just getting good.

 

Hiatus

stars

Family matters.

Even though I’ve never really gotten along too well with my own family, I’ve tried to make sure to never put work in front of family.

Mrs Generator feels the same way. In the past days her dad was rushed back into hospital after only being released from the same hospital last Friday. He broke his hip only a little while ago, and it’s been downhill since. That’s what happened with my dad only two years ago, now it looks like it’s happening again.

Mrs. Generator will be leaving on Friday to go back to her home country of England to care for him. We would greatly appreciate your thoughts, prayers and positive vibes for her as this will be a difficult journey, both physically and emotionally.

As I said, I was in this exact same spot before, only two years ago.  At that time, I knew that I had to make my family the center of my attention, and put my photography 2nd.  That is what needs to happen again.

This is to say that I’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus for the coming month or months.  With my wife away, obviously I need to step up and take on her responsibilities.  I normally do my photography in my free time, which will be a little less for a little while.  Also, I’m sure I’ll be more distracted than focused, which seldom is good when talking about the creative process.

However, know that Generator Photography will not be going completely dark in the coming months, though.  There are three things I want to work on if and when I can get the time.

First is the Las Vegas Balloon Festival.  It is literally a short walk from my house.  As well, for the past few months I’ve been thinking about doing an experiment.  Most photographers like to break out the wide angle lenses, try to get the full size and scope of all those balloons going into the air. I’m as guilty of that as the next person. This time, I want to shoot the balloon festival with only my 85mm lens.  Really try to focus on color and composition rather than merely documentation.  Try to get more experimental.

Second thing I want to try and work on is more of the light painting, like the one above.  I’ve got some ideas that I may or may not get to, we’ll see.

I would also like to finish up the shots from the Fallback show.  They are coming out great, even if I do say so myself.

Lastly, there is one photoshoot I’ve tentatively scheduled for mid-November which I will try to keep, as it’s something I’ve been chasing for a while, and I don’t really want to let it go.

But, as it goes with these times in life, it all depends.

So, there is it.  Look for my output to be greatly reduced for the time being, but hopefully I will still keep posting from time to time.  And, whatever happens, we’ll get back to that place where we want to be, I’m sure of it.

And always remember to hug the ones you love, and tell them how much you love them.

“Life is a flash of lightning in the dark of night. It is a brief time of tremendous potential.” – B. Alan Wallace

The Desert Companion “Focus On Nevada” Photo Contest

Suburban Mailbox 2

Our local NPR Magazine Desert Companion is holding their 3rd Annual “Focus On Nevada” Photo Contest.

Contests in the arts are weird things.  In a football game, you pretty much know which team scored the most touchdowns.  In soccer, it is usually cut and dry about who scored the most goals.  In a drag race, it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.

But how can you really judge who has the “best” piece of art?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a strong history of artwork being judged.  Funny enough, it was a specific show of works deemed not good enough that ended up setting the art world, and most of the rest of the world on fire. And where would the world be if the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had been a little less judgmental to a young applicant from Austria?

As I’ve written many times before, I come from a fine art background, and so this concept of judging  and, more importantly, ranking artwork is not new to me.  But that’s never stopped it being an odd concept to ponder.

While the nuance of artistic contests can be considered and debated for a long time, the practical result of entering artwork into a competition are pretty straightforward: exposure.  Other people get to see your art.  Hopefully, many people.  Much more than would normally see your work.  And exposure, usually, is a good thing.

And God knows I’m all about getting more exposure.

What bothered me about this specific contest, however, was not the idea of “Art As Competition”.  No, the concern comes from the fine print of the Official Rules.  Specifically, the clause which states

Entrant grants an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide non-exclusive license to NVPR, and its related companies to reproduce, distribute, and/or display the Submission 1) in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed, 2) in connection with NVPR/DESERT COMPANION and promotion of NVPR/DESERT COMPANION, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed. No additional consideration or approval is required for any such use. Further, as a condition of accepting the prize, the winner of the contest will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION exclusive rights to the Submission for a period of one-hundred-eighty (180) days following the date of its selection as winner.

And then:

d. The Winner will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION all rights to the Submission as a condition of winning the prize.

So, basically, if I win, I lose all rights to my photo for 180 days.  Even by entering, I am agreeing that they can use my photos however they want, without notifying me at all, from here on out.  Word like “irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide” license freak me out.

But, to be fair, they state very clearly, “If you do not agree to these terms, please do not use the web site or enter the Contest.”   Fair enough.

The bottom line is that I weighed the pros and cons, and then entered five photos into this years competition.  Did I enter by best I’ve got?  Absolutely not, I’m not giving up my rights that easy.  But I didn’t enter dogs either.  I mean, I literally didn’t enter pictures of dogs.  Or kittens, which I’m sure would win any contest known to man.  But, also, figuratively I didn’t enter any dogs.  Or purposely bad photos.  I tried to choose pictures that would be good enough to compete, but not so good I’ll miss them when they’re gone.  It’s a tightrope, Spud.

Grand prize is a Sony Alpha a7 camera with FE 28-70mm Lens.  B&H lists that combo at $1,598.00.  Not too shabby.  Plus, everyone I know who shoots the a7 loves it.

That said, I seriously doubt I’ll win the big prize.  Past that, there are five different categories, and I certainly wouldn’t mind either first ($250 gift card to B&C camera) or second ($125 gift card) prize in any category.  I could always use more gear.

But, as I said before, this is mostly about getting exposure.  I believe it’s worth the contractual commitment.

I entered the above pic, Suburban Mailbox.  Man, I love that shot.  So many great shapes and lines.  Plus, it’s just another testament to how great my new Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens is.  If I was single, I would marry this lens, I love it so much.  It could make an honest woman out of me.

I think the above pic might have a shot.  Who knows?  There are two other pics that also should be in the running.  And one that, hot damn, if it doesn’t win something, anything, then I’m going to walk down to NPR with a baseball bat and personally teach them some art appreciation.

And the 5th pic I threw in just for fun.  I have no expectations for that shot.

Which means, obviously, that’ll be the one that wins something.

We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burden Of Quality Control

Flames

Just a quick note to follow up from my last blog post, I still haven’t heard from Nikon, other than their acknowledgement that they received my D610 for repair.  It’s been over a month now since I mailed my camera to them.  Disappointed.  Very disappointed.  Maybe they are swamped with all the D750s they have recalled.  Oh boy.

However, on the upside, I have totally warmed to my D5300.  I had mentioned that I thought it was a sideways move in terms of image quality from my Pentax K-01, but I think that was just me being a grumpy gills.  It is better, and with much improved autofocus, and some far superior lenses, I’m more than happy with leaving Pentax.  Maybe I should have forsaken the full frame dream, saved myself some coin and hassle and just gone with the D7100, and been happy.  Who knows.

Anyway.

This past weekend was 1st Annual Red Car and Bike Valentines Get Together, sponsored by the Las Vegas Lugnut and Hellkat Car Shows.  It was an outstanding meet with a parking lot full of beautiful red cars and lots of great people.  I had some cool conversations, chilled out and genuinely had a good time.  And I took loads of pictures.  Most will not see the light of day.

See that top pic?  That’s it, that’s the one I have processed so far.  And, frankly, I’ll probably stop right there.  Now, please understand, this is no reflection on the show, the cars, the owners, or the organizers. This is just my (in)ability to capture what I wanted.

Hey, listeners, from the Grooveyard Of Forgotten Favorites here’s the sweet sounds of the Excuses Serenade, ah five six seven eight: the cars were too close together I got there late and the light was bad there were too many people cluttering up my shots the backgrounds all sucked all the red cars eventually blended into each other so nothing really stood out dah do run run run dah do run run.

Of course, all that is bullshit.  The reality is that every shoot is a learning experience and I’ve still got a whole hell of a lot to learn.

So, do I just post any ol’ thing simply for the sake of posting it?  I’m thinking not.

Here’s why.  I’m not saying I’m some wizard with a DSLR, and everything I produce is magic.  What I am saying is that I’m more interested in being proud of what I publish, rather than being proud of how much I publish.

I would rather post one really great pic per week than force myself to generate dozens and dozens of mediocre shots just to keep the numbers up.

What does this mean, that I won’t post crap photos in future?  Of course I will.  But, hopefully, there will be a reason for me putting up something, like I’m learning a new processing technique, or I’m trying out something artsy and experimental, and I want to show everyone what I’m working on.  Or, just because it’s fun.

The minute this stops being fun, it is all getting shut down.  All of it.  Fact.

I have always said that this is a journey.  This site, my photography, my art, it’s all in motion.  Which means sometimes you go full throttle, and sometimes you need to pump the breaks before you do something stupid.