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!

 

 

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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

Photography Advice For Beginners

goodfellas bail bonds

For people who are just starting out in photography, here is my advice:

1) Glass is far more important that your camera body. Invest is a good camera and great lenses

2) Shoot daily. Shoot in every situation you can; dark, light, crowds, empty streets, cityscapes, landscapes, cars, sports, everything. Until you find something you’re really passionate about shooting, then focus on that.

3) Get Lightroom. Maybe get Photoshop. Or, get both for the $9.99 a month package. But, at minimum, get LR and learn how to really use it.

4) For the love of everything that is good and pure in this world, calibrate your monitor.

5) Don’t get caught up in only posting your work online.  You don’t want “followers”, you want to get better.  Find some place on the interwebs where you can get honest feedback about your work. They are often difficult to find, but there are some great forums out there where talented people do take the time to give solid critique. You will never grow as an artist if all people do is kiss your ass.

6) Learn your camera inside and out. Know the tool of your trade. Read the manual. Know how to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO on the fly, without fumbling around too much.

7) Learn what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are. Learn how they relate to exposure, and what else they affect BESIDES exposure. These will all start to make more sense, hopefully, if you continually follow rule #2 and start asking questions about why some shots work, why some don’t.

8) After a while, and you start getting shots you like, start printing them out. Your photographs will look surprisingly different in the “real world” rather than on a computer screen. And it’s very cool to physically hold something you created.

9) Look at other photographers work. See what people did before you. Me, I’m a huge fan of Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander, and William Eggleston. You might hate their work. If so, then screw you. But you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess. The bottom line is, find people whose work you connect with. We have close to 200 years of photography behind us, there is a lot to learn.

10) Have fun. If photography becomes too much of a chore, put the camera back in the box and take up quilting. Seriously, the homeless need to keep warm for the coming winter. Do something productive with your life.

Notes From The Slow Lane

After 10+ years, my car, The Mighty Hyundai, has broken.  It needed a transmission.  What a drag.  Still, that’s the first major fault in over 80,000 miles, so I can’t really complain.

While the car was in the shop, I’ve been driving my late father’s Toyota Tacoma pickup.

Toyota _4

It’s a great truck.  I’m sure it will last forever.  But, it’s a bit slow.

The Mighty Hyundai, you see, is the GT version, the one with the spoiler on the back?  The spoiler alone gives it 20 more horsepower, fact.  Someone on a Hyundai internet forum told me that.  So, I guess you could say i was used to going fast.

With the truck, not so much.  But that’s ok, because going slow gives you a different perspective than going fast.

First of all, you get to really see how many idiots are on the road.  In their fast cars, with their spoilers, driving fast.  Going slow often means I can be more courteous to people. Let them merge into traffic rather than stepping on the gas to get around them.

Also, going slow lets you appreciate the landscape as it goes by.  Makes you even want to stop, just to enjoy it for a little while.

The most interesting this is that I have noticed that I often get somewhere just as fast as the fast people.  I got on the freeway, someone just zoomed by me.  But, several miles down the road, I exit and, at the red light, I see the same car just a few car lengths away.  All their effort was for very little payoff.

All of these lessons can apply to photography.  I mean, they could apply to life itself, certainly, but especially to photography.

First, your gear matters less than you think it does.  If you are racing in NASCAR, then you need top of the line equipment.  But, more often than not, my Toyota Tacoma truck is going to be right next to your Corvette as we move from red light to red light.  The other point to that is, if you don’t really know how to drive your Corvette to it’s maximum potential, then you have wasted your money.  Similarly, if you get a full frame DSLR with all the bells and whistles and just snap pics of your kids at soccer practice, you have wasted your money.

Next, start letting people in.  I’ve been hugely lucky recently in that I’ve met people who have taken the time to talk with me about their work, share what they know, and allow me to enter pathways I might never have explored before.  Make sure that you are doing more than rushing from shoot to shoot, project to project, cutting people off and pushing people away.  Make some time to mentor people.  Make sure to let people in.

Make sure your are doing work that is worth the payoff.  It doesn’t have to be monetary payoff, sometimes experimenting or creating something for the sake of having something beautiful is reward itself.  But, just make sure that you are posting, blogging, editing, commenting, doing a thousand things just for the sake of doing things, rather than moving towards a goal.  You do not want to go fast just to end up at the same red light as someone you passed many miles ago.

And, lastly, make sure to notice the landscape as it passes by.  Start going slower, and see what you may be missing.  And make time to just stop.  Look around.  Breathe.

Get in.

Get in 01

Get in.

It’s being a teenager and getting your first real taste of freedom.  It’s pulling out of your driveway and knowing, for the first time, you have control of your own destiny.  Turn left or turn right.  It suddenly clicks that your life is an open ended story.  You are Master and Commander.  Unless, of course, you’re instructed to just get some milk from the store.

It’s piling in with all your friends and hitting a club, or a party, or going to the mall, or just driving to the edge of town where you can see the lights of the city and make jokes and talk about everything and nothing for hours on end.

Get in 03

Get in.

It’s heading out to the open road to destinations unknown.  It’s getting out of your two horse town to somewhere big, exciting and teeming with endless possibilities.  It’s getting out of your miserable, crowded metropolis and finding your song and your soul in some quiet corner of the desert where the sunsets are so glorious it makes the divine seems possible.

It’s having a big smile on your face because in your head you are imaging yourself as Steve McQueen in Bullet, or Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, or turning your budget car into a Lamborghini Miura and zig-zagging through the Swiss Alps in The Italian Job (before, obviously, you slam into a mafia-controlled bulldozer).  It’s cranking the stereo well beyond approved occupational health and safety limits because Tom Petty is running down a dream and, dammit, so are you.

Get in 02

Get in.

It’s taking your wife to the hospital as her contractions get more frequent, and you wonder if you’ll even make it to the maternity ward in time.  It’s driving your kid to their first dance recital, or their first parent/teacher conference.  It’s packing up the family to go get pizza, then go to the movies.  It’s driving across town to comfort a friend, or meet a first date.  It’s putting everything you own into the trunk, and setting out to make a life.  It’s putting everything you have left into the back seat, and setting out to find somewhere to start again.

Get in 04

Get in.

It’s pouring your heart and soul, and wallet, into making something cool.  It’s long nights in the garage, and shouting out expletives that would make a merchant sailor blush.  It’s bruised knuckles, oily clothes and saying for the hundredth time that you’re done, and you’ll just pay somebody to just tow away that miserable piece of shit.

Then, after all that, it’s having it start up.  That feeling, right there.

It’s about driving around and have everyone eye your ride, while they’re stuck in generic econoboxes and soulless minivans.  That feeling, right there.

It’s being a teenager again, but doing it right this time.  It’s about not letting go of your dream car, or your dreams, again.

Get in 05

Get in.  Let’s go.

I’ll drive.