It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. …
Tell someone you’re going away for a weekend to Saginaw, Michigan to take photos, and you may receive puzzling expressions—I certainly did. The responses of wonderment I received were mostly from the people I encountered in Saginaw, too. Saginaw is often on lists, but they’re …
These days it’s almost impossible to be interested in photography and equipment and not end up down the rabbit hole that is the camera forum. Talk of DxO scores, sharpness, aberration and, of course, megapixels, dominate the subject matter.
None of that matters.
My first internship after graduating with a degree in photojournalism was at the Monroe Evening News. At that time, it was a newspaper that cared deeply about capturing the best images to tell the story.
The camera gear I was issued was a Nikon D1, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, and a flash.
It was perfect.
One day, upon noticing the camera I was using, someone asked,” How many megapixels is that?” I had no idea. I was so busy navigating the nuances that are required to visually document a story, day in and day out, that I never cared to look at the specs.
Immediately after receiving that question, I went back to the newspaper and looked up “How many megapixels does the Nikon D1 have?”
The answer? It has 2.74 megapixels.
So, fast forward to recently. My Canon 6D has been a faithful companion and tool for many years. Seriously, this is one incredible photographic tool. I’ve photographed numerous assignments and personal work using this camera and it has never let me down.
However, when working as a freelance photographer, it’s important to have an adequate backup camera. While looking for one, I knew I needed to buy a Canon (this is only because I have a lot of great Canon lenses. There are lots of fantastic camera brands out there).
Canon 1-series cameras are built like tanks so that’s the direction I headed. After doing a lot of research, I landed on the Canon 1DX. It’s full frame and weather sealed, which is really important. But, one of the most important specifications of this camera, to me at least, is that it’s shutter is rated for 400,000 cycles. This is incredible.
This number tells me that some serious research has been done on making this a tough camera. The next most important thing to me is autofocus. After using other Canon 1-series digital cameras, I was confident that the autofocus of the Canon 1DX would be just fine.
Recently, I was commissioned by downtown Traverse City to make some images of downtown Traverse City. I’m really looking forward to this since I’m usually walking the streets of downtown Traverse City anyway, as it’s one of my favorite areas for street photography.
Walking downtown with the Canon 1DX recently has proven to me that this camera is a more-than-capable camera. It’s autofocus locks on blazingly fast and the files have been wonderful.
Since, Michigan has all kinds of crazy weather, I’m confident this camera will hold up to whatever weather it encounters since it’s weather sealed.
So, I’ve brought up weather sealing a couple of times now. Why? Here’s why. One day while on assignment for the Traverse City Record-Eagle, I was supposed to make winter photos of downtown scenes. It wasn’t just winter weather that day though. It was rain, quickly turning to ice.
While walking downtown and making photos, there was a layer of ice on my camera and lens. It was so much ice that I said to myself, “If this camera still works after this day, I’ll commit myself to Canon cameras.” The camera worked flawlessly, so I stand by them to this day.
Just because the Canon 1-series cameras work great for me, obviously doesn’t mean that they’re right for you. The purpose of this post is to explain why this camera can be amazing and why it’s the right one for me.
When I’m looking for a camera that I know won’t impede my ability to get a photo, I’m reaching for this one.
And, it has 18 megapixels. But, that doesn’t matter.
As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images. But, what do you do when the …
In the span of only a few days, I went from receiving a photo assignment from The Wall Street Journal, to feeling Lake Huron spray hit my face as we sped toward shipwreck Pewabic, trying to beat inclement weather. As a freelance photographer, when I’m …
When you open your email’s ‘Inbox’ to find that an editor has reached out for you to take photos, it’s exhilarating. Making pictures, being creative, having access to photograph interesting people, places, things, etc., and making money—it all can be as thrilling as it sounds.
The reality for many though (me included), is that there can be significant gaps in time when these wonderful photographic opportunities take place. When you aren’t receiving photo commissions, it can be difficult.
This, my friends, is where the self assignment comes in.
You’ve probably seen some visually arresting and/or gripping humanitarian photo stories. Instead of waiting and hoping that interesting photographic subject matter finds its way to you, seek out your own interesting photographic story ideas.
Many times I’ve photographed something on my own time and on my own dime, then approached afterward to photograph a similar story, but as a paying gig.
Making images that are your own idea usually results in fantastic photos because you’re able to photograph what you think is interesting. And, the photographs can usually be made without a deadline. You have complete freedom to follow through with your vision.
Photographing regularly and with purpose will also result in improvements to your photography since you’ll be advancing your experience.
You don’t have a photographic vision? Absolutely fine.
If you enjoy being creative with your photography, set aside a weekend every once in a while and simply photograph for the sake of photographing.
You can head off to the big city or just travel to a small area in the middle of the country. The important focus here is that you’re committing time for yourself and your craft that allows you to focus on creativity and producing art.
Architectural photography has been deeply fulfilling for me lately, so recently I spent a weekend in Chicago photographing nothing but architecture. I made it a priority (and I always make this a priority) to plan a trip that would be as budget-friendly—without compromising safety—as possible.
The days were long, with photos being made from dawn until dusk. Creative time is not to be squandered, at least by me, so it’s always important to me to maximize whatever time I have.
My days and photographic locations were my own to plan and decide.
When my photographic weekend in Chicago was finished, I’d walked away with tired legs, but also a fantastic body of work that was new and exciting to photograph.
Make time for yourself and your creativity and you’ll find that the rewards are many.
Call it foolish, or maybe it’s the result of being raised to be humble—I think it’s a Midwestern thing, but it took me far longer than it should have for me to consider myself a photographer. As I was exploring the craft of photography, I …
When it comes to photography, especially film photography, I keep my equipment as consistent and simple as possible. The less one has to think about while taking pictures, the better. Kodak Portra 400 35mm (the 120 is great too, I just don’t use as much …
On our most recent trip to Denver, Colorado, we stayed in the recently-opened Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver. The rooms are beautiful and it’s within walking distance of Union Station, which is where we depart the train after arriving from the airport.
Downtown Denver is fantastic for many reasons: there’s a lot to do; the variety of diners are seemingly innumerable; and, the architecture is impressive, just to name a few reasons. For those reasons, I like to wake up early and take a quick walk around to “see what I see” as I like to say.
Walking with no plan is sometimes the best plan because it allows one to be open and receptive to whatever one comes across that might make a good picture.
Denver receives many, many days of sunlight throughout the year, and this particular morning was going to be one of those sunlight-receiving days. For this reason, it’s nice to get an early start at photographing because the light is at a lower angle to the horizon, which makes a more pleasing quality of light, I believe.
Not far from the hotel, I had crossed an intersection and looked to the my right when I saw a sign with the word ‘Paramount’ on it. I actually walked passed it. Then I stopped.
More and more I’ve been listening to the voice inside that says, ” Maybe you should photograph what you just saw.” It might sound silly, but it can be easy sometimes to pass by a potential photographic subject because it might not seem interesting enough. This is especially true, at least for me, with film.
Putting my steps in reverse, I soon found myself in the same spot with the same viewpoint of the ‘Paramount‘ sign. Since I was definitely going to make a picture this time, I wanted to wait for a person, or people, to enter the frame. This is because I feel like a human presence adds aesthetically to pictures, especially street photography.
Finally, a person entered the sidewalk with a bicycle and I made a picture.
It’s not an earth-shattering image, but I was proud of taking the picture and working a little bit to get it.
Having a feeling of regret in regards to photographs you didn’t take can be disappointing. It’s inevitable, I suppose, for photographers, but I’m at least making a conscious effort to minimize those regrets.
Next time you’re out and about taking pictures, listen to the voice inside you that says “Maybe you should take that picture.”
If you’re looking for a foodie destination like no other, it’s time to make Denver your stop. We travel there every year, in November, and spend a day and a night downtown before heading to Estes Park for Thanksgiving. Spending some time in the Mile-High …