My First Camera: An Homage to Analog

A camera obscura box with sliding door from the early 1800s trumpeted as the world’s first camera was recently on display in Macau, China. Its simple method for capturing light and projecting an image continues to drive camera technology today.

Why I’ve Gone Back to Making Prints of Family Photos

I’ve recently been reading about Ritz Camera’s struggle for survival. Apparently, one of the main reasons the chain has struggled is that people no longer get their photos printed. They put them online and e-mail them to friends, satisfied with the instant gratification that digital media allows.

Are Your Photos Informative — or Just Eye Candy?

Even before my children could read, they recognized restaurants by their logos. My oldest son began to hum “The Simpsons” theme whenever he saw fluffy clouds in the sky.

Images are powerful. And this power can be used in any number of ways.

Five Tips for Selling Your Old Photography Gear on eBay

Over the years, I’ve sold quite a bit of used photography gear on eBay, and I’ve always gotten a fair price for it. One of the keys to my success is that I always take a quality photo of the gear I’m trying to sell.

Don’t Fall for These Six Digital Photography Myths

We all know that digital photography has buried film. We also know that digital technology has brought high-quality photographic gear within reach of the masses.

But it’s not the panacea that some think it is. Doing it right still requires hard work — and talent. Here are six common digital photography myths:

The Best Photos Have a Subject — and a Verb

I recently took a part-time job teaching photography to high school students. Teaching has taught me a lot.

Yes, I was confident in my knowledge of photography — but I didn’t know exactly what I knew until I began to teach others.

Let’s Work Together to Protect Copyright

In my last post, I discussed some of the challenges facing copyright law that are of concern to photographers. Since I’m not one to complain without offering suggestions, I thought I’d share some ideas on how we as photographers can better our situation.

Eye on Image-Making: Looking vs. Seeing

I was talking to a magazine photojournalist the other day, and the discussion turned to the concept of visual literacy, or how we make sense of what we see. Specifically, he made the point that — in terms of production and interpretation — quantity does not equal quality.

Take These Shortcuts to Improve Your Photo Editing Workflow

If you’re like most photographers, you’d much rather be out shooting instead of sitting in front of the computer, endlessly tweaking your photos. The good news is that by employing a few shortcuts, you can speed up your photo editing workflow dramatically.

How I Stopped the Blue Angels in Their Tracks

I recently had the opportunity to shoot the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels at an air show in Rhode Island.  As it turned out, I was fortunate it was a two-day show.

I shot probably a hundred photos of the Blue Angels on the first day of the event, and while I was happy at times that I even managed to get them in the frame as they soared by at 400 mph, I was disappointed with both the placement in the frame and with the lack of sharpness. Of course, when your subject is going that fast, you can be forgiven some errors in framing and even in sharpness.  

On Vacation, Leave the Photo Gear at Home and Take Your iPhone Instead

I just got back from a family vacation to New Hampshire. And you know what? I didn’t take my camera bag with me on the trip.

What a breath of fresh air.

That’s right. I left my camera at home and took my camera phone instead. Specifically, the iPhone 3GS.

Being a Photography Contest Judge Can Try Your Patience

Over the last year or so, I have judged a number of international photographic competitions. It is always a pleasure to look at the great work that some photojournalists and documentary photographers are doing today.

Don’t Let Digital Photography Make You Sloppy

Over the years, digital has gone from being the new kid on the block to the new standard in image capture. Early on there were many comparisons between digital and film, often intended to demonstrate film’s superiority. Such comparisons are now moot, as no one can dispute the digital camera’s ability to deliver stunning images.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: What Makes a Great Teacher?

Since 2002, one of the highlights of my summer has been working with the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, helping to teach its “Coastal Ecology by Kayak” field school. The sanctuary, located near the tip of Cape Cod, is part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society (commonly known as Mass Audubon), which was the nation’s first Audubon society.

If All You Have Is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

Lens, the photojournalism blog of The New York Times, took a fresh look this week at the Chris Usher case. The case has garnered new attention because Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, was on the three-judge panel that affirmed the decision to award Usher the trifling sum of $7 per image for the loss of more than 12,600 images by Corbis.

Is Your Photography Business Like a Restaurant Without Tables and Chairs?

Before I started my own photography business, I had been a newspaper staffer for more than 20 years. I didn’t know how to market myself, and I decided to hire a consultant to help me.

Among other things, the consultant I chose redesigned my Web site and helped me to create my portfolio, logo, and stationery system. I’m not going to kid you; it wasn’t cheap. But it’s turned out to be worth every penny.

Hiring a Pro Leaves No Room to Chance

There’s been a lot of talk that amateur photographers are a threat to the livelihoods of professional photographers these days.  I just don’t see it.

Consider the different kinds of amateurs you come across.   There’s the photographer who has an unlimited amount of time to accomplish an image.  There’s the student, who has a week or two to complete an assignment on, say, lighting a bowl of fruit.  There’s the hobbyist who captures an occasional great image and posts it on Flickr or iStock.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers: Evaluating Inbound Links

In this part of our video series on Google Analytics, I show you how to evaluate inbound links to determine which referring sites are most valuable to your business. (You can find the previous posts in this series here.)

Is a Verbal Agreement Sufficient for a Model Release?

Black Star Rising received the following question from a photographer identifying himself as Baron V. —

I recently received a nasty e-mail from a model I shot about seven years ago.  We had a verbal agreement to do the shoot, with the understanding that I would use the photos for various purposes, including as art for a magazine article about me and in my online portfolio.

Should You Go Pro — or Keep Photography as a Hobby?

Like most of us, I’ve made career choices that haven’t worked out. Many years ago, I was recruited by Singapore Airlines, which trained me to be a pilot.

After my classmates and I received our commercial pilot licenses, we were told that our timing wasn’t good and that we would have to work as cabin attendants temporarily — just until our pilot jobs came open for us.

Can “Look, But Don’t Touch” Ever Be Enforced on the Web?

How effective is a law that is unenforced? How effective is a law when the public has no clear concept of its meaning and spirit?

Unfortunately, that is the current state of copyright law. I would argue that the entire concept of copyright is in peril, with the threats coming from multiple directions.

Good Timing, Bad Timing and Your Photography Business

Timing is everything, as we learned recently when Farrah Fawcett’s death was the news of the day — until about five hours later, when Michael Jackson died. Suddenly, the ’70s It Girl’s passing became a footnote.

Don’t Wait for Economic Recovery to Buff Your Company’s Image with Photography

Run to the hills, civilization has collapsed!

OK, the past several months have certainly been economically harrowing for businesses of all sizes. But the danger in being gripped by fear and uncertainty is that you might not be taking the steps you need to to secure your company’s future.

Eye on Image-Making: Robert Frank Redux

After last month’s column on Robert Frank appeared, I received an e-mail from Walter Dufresne, who is an adjunct assistant professor in the Advertising Design and Graphic Arts Department at New York City College of Technology, which is part of The City University of New York.

Singles Bar Lessons for Your Photography Business

When you’re a little hard up, it’s easy to get desperate. And in the current recession, a lot of photographers are approaching potential clients with the same level of finesse as nerds at a singles bar.