• Insight
  • Jul14

    No Comments

    ChipPie

    Last fall I came to an important decision in regards to my photography career. I realized I do not love shooting weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see a couple make a commitment to each other. But, I don’t like the traditions. I don’t like to see a young couple start their life together with a giant expense for what amounts to a party they feel obligated to throw. There’s this pressure to keep up with the ever expanding Disney-style princess wedding day that they’ve been brainwashed to believe they’re destined to experience through a lifetime assault of commercialized popular culture. The fire is fueled with Pinterest boards to find the perfect decorations and party favors, and countless wedding blogs telling you what you have to spend your money on. Not to mention local, regional, national, & global bridal magazines to make every decision feel inadequate unless you go all out.

    So I stopped taking wedding jobs altogether. I would rather someone pay their hard earned money with a photographer who’s passionate about wedding photography, of which there are plenty in the Charleston area.

    It was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders – I gave something my all and learned that it wasn’t for me.

    But…

    There’s always a but.

    CHip

    Look at that face on the groom as he catches his first look at his new bride-to-be walking down the isle. That’s my brother-in-law Chip. How could I not shoot this guy’s wedding? Look at him – He’s awesome. So, I strapped on my 70-200 and decided to ride that horse into battle one more time. Besides, look at his wife – She gorgeous! This won’t be hard at all.

    Pie

    The Wedding of Chip & Pie | May 30th, 2015 | The Martha Washington Hotel in Abingdon, VA

    ringsstairs

    The Bride & Her Bridesmaids:

    girls

    The Groom & His Groomsmen:

    boys

    The Wedding Ceremony:

    ceremony

    With this ring…

    ring

    Just married:

    just

    The Reception:

    dances

    Dinner, dancing, & this guy:

    jump

    So, this Grinch still managed to let his heart grow a few sizes bigger that day.

    I’ll admit, I had a lot of anxiety about writing this. It’s not fair to the couple to attach my personal baggage, but I just didn’t want to publish a wedding blog post and have the brides I’ve turned down see it and think I was a liar. I’ve been nothing but honest on this blog about my journey in photography and art, so I hope you understand.

    Good luck Chip & Pie, you guys rock.

    wlk

  • Mar12

    No Comments

    Wow – The last you heard from me on the blog I was selling off a bunch of gear, and then… Nothing.

    If I wasn’t me and I saw that happen to another professional, I’d think that they gave up and closed shop.

    2014 was my best year in the photography business yet, but by the end of it I didn’t appreciate that fact at all. I realized that the sole reason I got into photography was to be creative, and I started to become bitter at a lot of the business side of things. I already run a very busy consulting business and I was burning the candle at both ends. I hired staff to run my other business so I can focus on being more creative, but guess what? I ended up managing those people, which took up even more of my time.

    I also began resenting requests to recreate what clients saw on social media from other photographers. I couldn’t help but think “Why don’t you find the person who shot that and hire them instead?” Combine that resentment with people contacting me for jobs and saying things like “I love your work but I don’t want to spend a lot of money” or the constant requests for usage with no compensation.

    It’s more than enough to make someone walk away.

    But I’m not walking away. I’m transitioning my focus.

    I’ve been saying no a lot. Not to jobs that make me nervous, but to jobs that I’ve tried before and realized are not for me. It’s not about what I’m good at, it’s about what I love doing. If I’m not loving the work, there’s no point in doing it.

    I don’t want to capture templates of life.

    I wan’t to capture real moments and authentic emotions.

    You know, actual life.

    Louis Mendes Outside of B&H Photo

    Furthermore, I want to create. But how do you create something using real life? Once I direct a subject, or manipulate a scene, aren’t I manufacturing reality and creating something that wasn’t there naturally? How the hell do I interpret a real emotion or moment and make something out of it without betraying the authenticity of the medium?

    I just don’t know.

    But I’ve got to ask myself, do I even care about the authenticity of the medium in that way anymore?

    I do care about capturing life. I do care about making art. So I began focusing heavily on something else while looking for answers.

    I found a group of artists from all walks of life, both amateur and professional, who attend drawing from life sessions at different locations in the area every week. I tried doing something I’d never done before – Drawing live models. The focus on drawing a timed sketch of a human is not on the exact realistic representation of the model. It’s about the gesture. It’s about the body language. The essence of the subject is more important than anything else.

    I really liked this one tonight - Mary at #TheArtistsLoft in #MountPleasant 15 minute #sketch #FigureDrawing #graphite #fabercastell #livemodel

    Pastel #FigureDrawing from life #20Minutes

    Like photography, technique comes into play. There are also tools of the trade (although pencils and paper are pretty accessible in comparison to lenses and lights). I do find myself “geeking out” over a brand of pencils or a type of paper. It’s part of who I am. Give me too many pencils and I’ll stress out over which thickness is best for whatever I’m drawing. It’s just like packing too many lenses for a job. I make better work when I limit myself (I hope that sinks in one day). The gear is all a noisy distraction.

    I also started to practice drawing from photos again. When there’s more time to draw, I find that the muscle memory of drawing gesture from a live model is taking over first. Once I realize that I have time to relax, I’m able to focus on the technique again. The more I practice both drawing live models and from reference photos, the better I’ll be equipped to capture both gesture and accuracy without even thinking about it.

    Here’s a pastel drawing I recently made from a reference photo:

    Trying a different medium tonight. #Pastel #FigureDrawing #PhotoReference #fabercastell #Strathmore #Female #Nude

    This is a piece I made for my wife using a photo I took years ago as a reference:

    Pastel Elephant Drawing for Amy by Joseph W. Nienstedt

    So, what does this all mean?

    What I’m looking to create photographically and through drawing and painting is starting to come a little more into focus for me.

    I know I want authenticity, but not technical authenticity.
    I want emotional authenticity.

    But how do I achieve that? I guess the simplest way is for me to believe it first. I have to believe the image. If I know I’m not being genuine, then chances are everyone else knows too. I’m a terrible liar anyway. The challenge is to take that authentic gesture, or emotion, or general essence of whatever I’m trying to capture and use my technical skill to push the envelope. I need to marry the real with the surreal but not force it.

    So while all of this is swimming in my head and weighing on my heart, I happened to catch a very inspiring talk at The Citadel last night by an artist and gallery owner named Robert Lange.

    As he told his story and talked about his craft, I was mesmerized. Here’s a guy who’s clearly gone through all of this shit already and is still struggling with identifying himself to himself. I know it’s not necessarily news to most people that artists don’t tend to settle, but the honesty he used in conveying that was enlightening.

    He reflected on his college years and how he worked harder than anyone in his classes – Staying up all hours working on his paintings and making work that looked exactly like his subjects, and when it was time for a critique from working artists, they all told him that art wasn’t for him. They said he lacked soul in his work. So, feeling dejected, he decided make paintings of his puppy and his fiancée because he genuinely loved them and they made him feel good about life. Lo and behold, when the artists saw these new paintings, they praised his work. They could see his passion through his brush strokes – He just needed to paint what he truly cared about.

    He showed us the different bodies of work that he’s created, and his natural progression of creativity covers 15 years of artwork. 15 years is a long time, but it’s also a blink of an eye. It’s easy to download a band’s whole catalog of music, or see an artists whole portfolio of work and get discouraged. We get this instant gratification but lose the sense of time that went into creating that work. We immediately think “I’m nowhere near as talented as that guy” and put down our camera/guitar/paint brush in disgust.

    There’s something missing in conveying that time in the creative world. The journey is just as important, if not more important than the work for an artist. In the end though, the work is what lives on. It’s sad until I think of the current popular culture of people being famous for being famous. When they die, there’s no work to show for their fame so their fame dies with them.

    During Robert’s talk, he mentioned that photographers should take as many portraits of strangers as possible. He does that to capture people off guard and being themselves. If he uses their portrait to create a painting, he sends them a print of that painting. They have no idea that he’s going to do that either, so there’s no pretense to it for them – I imagine that they’re just signing what amounts to being a photo release and then months later a print of a stunning piece of artwork shows up at their door.

    After his talk, I ran to my car and grabbed my camera. I decided as the talk came to a close that I would take his portrait. Who knows, maybe I’ll make a painting of it one day…

    Very inspiring talk from @paintdifferent of @RobertLangeStudios at #BehindTheLens tonight at #TheCitadel - I took his portrait when he was done #CHS #CHSArt

    So, what exactly is it that I’m transitioning my creative focus to?

    I’ll let you know when I find out.

    Until then, I’m going to enjoy capturing the search.

    Thanks for reading.

    -Joe

  • Nov10

    No Comments

    Barcamp-2014

    I’ve led a photographically themed session at the annual BarCamp “unconference” in Charleston since 2010, with sessions on post-processing, lighting, retouching, and iPhonography. This year I tried to tap into the technical aspects of creative photography that have existed since the film days – Multiple exposures. We explored two different techniques, one involving a long exposure with multiple speedlights, and the other using the in-camera multiple exposure feature.

    The first demonstration involved off-camera lighting. I used two speedlights and radio triggers to get this effect. I use Cactus v5 radio triggers, which allow me to assign a separate channel to each flash as well as fire them both at the same time. I set the flash on camera left to channel 3 and the one on camera right to channel 2. I set the camera to bulb mode, shut off all of the lights, and shot at ISO 100 and f/9 from a tripod. Rachel is the model, and her brother controlled the radio channels. As I held the shutter open, I had her do each pose and had her brother switch to the appropriate channel and fire the flash. This was the result:

    Rachel - BarCampCHS

    That’s not a Photoshopped image. It’s all one exposure as far as the shutter actuations are concerned. The multiple exposures come from the separate speedlight actuations. Pretty cool, huh?

    The next technique is a function of most DSLRs – a feature called “Multiple Exposure”. I learned something new about this feature on my Nikon – It’s not available when you’re shooting tethered! Oh well, after a long minute of trying to figure out why I couldn’t get it to work, I unplugged my camera from the presentation computer and got started. The way I set my camera up this time was to set the Multiple Exposure setting to 2 images in a series and then disable the auto-gain. For the effect of constraining the 2nd exposure within the 1st exposure’s silhouette, I wanted the background to be blown out (which is why you want to disable the auto-gain). This technique doesn’t require any special lighting, but since we were in a classroom, I used my speedlights to blow out a white wall behind my subjects.

    This is John, who certainly had the best beard in the whole conference (probably in all of the Charleston peninsula for that matter). Another attendee had this vibrant purple paisley laptop bag with her that I used for the second exposure. Together they made quite the juxtaposition:

    John - BarCampCHS

    We had time for one more example, so using the same technique, I had this idea that came from something I saw that day at the College of Charleston campus. All over the walkways there were messages about speaking out about rape. There were hashtag messages such as #nomeansno and #itsnotyourfault written in chalk everywhere.

    I asked my daughter Mackenzie to pose with a very sad and angry expression, and then I got a few people to stick their hands out for the second exposure. The idea of the shot was to see where you can take the technique creatively. In trying to make a visual interpretation of these messages we all saw that day, this was the result. I didn’t let on that that was what I was going for while we were setting this up because we were having fun during the session, so I hope that anyone who was there didn’t misinterpret my light-hearted presentation as making light of the seriousness of sexual assault in all of its forms.

    Mackenzie - BarCampCHS

    Finally, I once again had the pleasure of shooting the group photo for the conference. Here’s most of the attendees and volunteers who make BarCampCHS happen every year:

    BarCampCHS 2014 Group Photo

    And here’s a photo of me taking that photo, courtesy of Andy Paras form the Post & Courier:

    Joeonladder

  • Oct16

    No Comments

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Welcome to the 300th post on my blog! I’ve had some posts here that have been pretty popular, a lot that have been virtually ignored, and hopefully some that have struck a chord with my readers.

    But this isn’t about that, this is about Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2014. Just take a look at this crew of local photographers who ventured out on the historic streets of the lower Charleston peninsula:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Weather-wise, it may have been the most perfect day ever conceived. It was like San Francisco perfect. I brought my daughter again this year, and she invited 4 of her art-school friends who all took to the streets in true teenage fashion.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    I was sporting my trusty Fuji X-T1 camera, and my approach this year was a little different than the past. Possibly because I was herding 5 teenage girls around, or maybe because I was carrying a smaller camera, but I just let the pictures come to me instead of seeking them out. Plus, I was able to get the girls involved to make a memorable and creative experience with them.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Using the environment to influence a photo, I was able to setup a shot with the girls, but then this woman walked into the frame walking this massive dog, making for a cool street photo:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    It’s pretty common this time of year to see another photographer earning their living by shooting a beautiful couple. When I stumbled upon this scene, I thought to myself, “What better street photo in the French Quarter than one of a wedding photographer at work?”

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Cooler still, the entourage had a limousine complete with a silver-haired driver in a tuxedo. I asked the driver if I could make a portrait of him, and asked him to stand naturally just like he was before I approached him:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    My favorite shot of the walk came by the harbor in the reeds. I saw this cool lone purple flower in the reeds and decided to get low and shoot it. One of the girls came walking into frame and this photo came together – I asked her to turn around and look back in my direction to capture this:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Strange thing about this photo – It became one of the most viewed photos of all of the photos in my Flickr stream overnight. Sometimes the less you try to create something special, the more likely something special will present itself to you. You just need to have the eyes to see it when it happens and enough skill to capture it in a concise fashion that lets the photo do the talking. As Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

  • Sep12

    No Comments

    Shelly Waters

    The road to the image above was long and hard-fought. The shoot was a total of 773 images, including test shots and all. Some days you have to work harder than others. There have been more than a few times that the first few images of a shoot are the strongest. Sometimes you have an immediate connection with your subject, the light is right, the mood is clicking, and the stars are aligned. Other times you have to build. You create a foundation, you lay the concrete and build up on top of it one piece of timber at a time. The end result is hopefully something you’re proud of. Those images seem to have a special place in my heart, mainly because I knew what it took to get there.

    It’s not the subject’s fault either – Obviously the image was/is in them all along. It’s just that some days are harder than others. The trick is in working your way though those days and going back to the basics of everything you know about relationships, art, and technical ability.

    Shelly Waters

    If a person starts off a shoot by telling you that they’re terrible in front of the lens, yet when you’re talking to them beforehand they’re full of energy and charisma, you know that they’re full of crap (I mean that in an endearing way). But, they don’t know that. It’s time to become a creative psychologist and figure out the problem and create a solution. You pull out your potato peeler and start peeling back that tough skin.

    Shelly Waters

    I loosen up the subject and ask them to do some awkward things that get them out of their head. I make sure the music is making them move when they think I’m not paying attention. I pull out some strange props or ideas to see how they handle it…

    Shelly Waters

    The hair/make-up artist is a valuable tool to break any tension. It’s a person who you can bounce ideas off of and he or she can be a real confidence booster when they start getting excited.

    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose
    Amanda Rose assists Shelly Waters

    But, once the subject starts to open up, then I start to act like a personal trainer – It’s my job to keep pushing the subject to their limit. I’ve gained their trust and now I’m bending it as far as I can. I’m forcing them to react by shouting, laughing, dancing around the set… Whatever it takes to get their personality to appear vividly in a two dimensional photograph.

    Shelly Waters

    Shelly Waters

    Shelly Waters

    At the end of any job, I ask myself “How was the experience?”. A shoot like this one was long, but it went by quickly. We struggled but we ended up laughing. There’s a valid reason why I love shooting people, and it’s simply the human experience of it. My day is filled with little interactions, but when I can work so intimately with another person I barely know in such a unique way and come out with a memorable experience as well a piece of art, that’s a good day on the job.

    Here’s Shelly Waters’ new cover artwork for her latest record, “Drive” (click here to go grab a copy from her website):

    ShellyDriveCD

  • Sep9

    1 Comment

    Sunset Venice Beach
    Sunset Surfers | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Sunrise Declaration | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Early Morning | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach
    Late Day Skate Park | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    These four photographs I made in Venice Beach, CA are ones I keep going back to. I don’t think they need much context, they’re just images that speak to me personally and artistically and I thought I’d share them here with you.

  • Sep8

    2 Comments

    I’m not a wildlife photographer…

    Hummingbird

    But I love to shoot the birds and bugs in my backyard.

    I’m not a landscape photographer…

    Hanging Rock State Park 2012-72

    But I love to capture the beauty around me.

    I’m not a sports photographer…

    SI-28.5-5.5.12-7

    But I love to witness mad skillz, yo.

    I’m not a street photographer…

    Manhattan 2011

    But I love to find art in the moment.

    I’m not a fashion photographer…

    Karson-24

    But I love to collaborate with artists to make something interesting.

    I’m not an architectural photographer…

    Day 146 - United States Customs House

    But I love to witness man’s feats of greatness.

    I’m not a portrait photographer…

    Olivia

    But I love to see a part of a person’s personality conveyed in an image.

    I’m not a wedding photographer…

    Eileen Bridal-19

    But I love to see a bride looking her best.

    I’m not an abstract photographer…

    Bass Strings

    But I love to see the Devil in the details.

    I’m not a maternity photographer…

    Lindsay-9

    But I love to see a woman becoming a new mother.

    I’m not a pet photographer…

    Day 144 - Goodbye Max

    But I love to capture an old man saying goodbye to his old best friend.

    I’m not a music photographer…

    Cusses

    But I love music and I think it’s what saved my life.

    I’m not a headshot photographer…

    Sue Campbell's Head Shot

    But I love to capture a person the way I see them.

    I’m not a fitness photographer…

    Stephanie-2

    But I love to capture a person in the best physical shape they can be in.

    I’m not an editorial photographer…

    JWTW-3

    But I love to make a portrait that tells a story.

    I’m not an event photographer…

    Charleston Brewvival 2011

    But I love an opportunity to score a free beer (or seven).

    I’m not a fireworks photographer…

    4th of July 2012 U.S.S. Yorktown-2

    But I love to see things that go boom!

    I’m not a travel photographer…

    Cruise-2

    But I love to see new places and faces.

    I’m not a fine art photographer…

    Rebecca-3

    But I love to stretch my imagination.

    I’m not a family photographer…

    Family 2013

    But I sure do love my family.

    I’m not any single kind of photographer.

    I’m all of them and none of them.

    I’m just a person who loves to capture life in a bottle so I can open it up and share it with everyone else every once in a while.

  • Sep6

    No Comments

    Grand Canyon National Park
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 1:30PM

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 6:55PM

    What we have here are some photos I stumbled upon from my recent west coast vacation that are very similar compositions of roughly the same area of the Grand Canyon taken with two different cameras. I didn’t do this on purpose, but I was pretty impressed with the similarities in the overall quality of the images that two very different cameras produced. If I had planned out this post while I was out there, I would have shot two identical shots on a tripod with both cameras back-to-back so the time was the same, but I didn’t and still found the quality of the images comparable. Artistically, these are pretty ordinary photos of an extraordinary place, but I could spend all day from sunrise to sunset shooting and at the end of the day, and if I’m lucky, I might have a photo or two that I would be proud of (I’ll show you those in a different post soon).

    Let’s talk about the non-technical differences of these first two photos caused by the time of day. The photo at the top was taken in mid-day sunlight. You can see a lot of hard contrast, you can see the shadows of the clouds on the canyon below, and everything is lit pretty evenly from the front to the back of the image. The second photo is at the tail-end of the day, the light is directional and lower in the sky to the left of the frame. Everything in the front and middle are in the shadows, while the back is hit with very warm sunlight. So when I’m comparing these two images, I’m not thinking about which image is more aesthetically pleasing, but how well the camera’s handled the situations at hand.

    Both of these images display what I would consider a fantastic demonstration of dynamic range. There are details in both the shadows and highlights, and the transition and color is very much like what I saw with my naked eyes. If you had a less-than-capable camera, the top image’s areas of contrast would be completely black, while the bottom image’s highlights would be blown out.

    One photo was made with my “Pro” camera, the Nikon D800 – The camera I use for commercial work, and the other was made with my “Fun” camera, the Fuji X-T1 – The camera I use for just about everything else these days. The Nikon is a full-frame 36 Megapixel beast of a camera, while the Fuji is a 16 Megapixel cropped sensor camera that is quite small because it’s also a mirror-less camera. Can you guess which one is which?

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/11, 1/210, 55mm ISO 200

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/8, 1/250, 70mm ISO 400

    The top image was made with the Fuji X-T1 using the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 “kit” lens, and the bottom was made with the Nikon D800 using the 24-70 f/2.8 lens. You could get the Fuji with the kit lens for less than the cost of just the Nikkor 24-70 lens itself!

    Now, let’s take a look at two images taken at wider angles closer to the same time of day with the two different cameras. These two images are very different compositions so it’s a little harder to compare them.

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 6:00PM

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 7:00PM

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/8, 1/160, 27.7mm ISO 200

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/8, 1/250, 28mm ISO 400

    Once again, the Fuji is on top and the Nikon on the bottom. It’s pretty crazy how well the Fuji stands up to the Nikon. Realistically, you can make similar exposures with an iPhone, although there wouldn’t be nearly as much detail when blown up or printed and the dynamic range wouldn’t be as defined. But, when looking at them at this size on your phone or computer, they would look pretty close.

    So that leads me to this last comparison that lesser cameras would crumble under – A sunrise.

    Grand Canyon Sunrise (Nikon D800)
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/26/2014 at 5:45AM

    Grand Canyon Sunrise (Fuji X-T1)
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/26/2014 at 5:50AM

    Same two cameras and same two lenses. This time the exposures are only 5 minutes apart. Now, there is a huge difference in the focal distance as the image above is wider than the second sunrise image. Also, the image on top was sitting on a tripod using a smaller aperture and a long exposure so it’s definitely sharper. The handheld image was shot with a faster shutter speed, larger aperture and higher ISO to compensate. These differences certainly affect the look of the image, so the comparison isn’t technically ideal.

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/11, 0.4 seconds, 42mm ISO 100

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/5.6, 1/60, 55mm ISO 400

    As you may have figured out by the settings (the Fuji’s native ISO is 200), this time the Nikon is on top. The Fuji doesn’t compete with the clarity of the Nikon, but I believe that’s mostly because of the difference in the way the image was captured. Overall though, the Fuji made an image that if I told you that I used the same camera for both images, nobody would question it. Given the setup, I was able to compensate for my use of the Fuji handheld instead of on a tripod and make a very solid and richly colorful image. Therefore, I think the comparison works aesthetically.

    In conclusion, this very unscientific comparison interested me simply because I never set out to do it in the first place. All of the images were created with no bias for comparing them later – They were just made to capture the scenes with the tools at hand. The fact that I’m able to use a smaller, cheaper, and all-around more enjoyable camera and make images that stand up against a top-of-the-line DSLR makes me happy. The Nikon still technically out-performs the Fuji, but not by a whole heck-of-a lot in these situations.

    One last thing – All of these images were given very similar post processing RAW conversions using Lightroom/PS/Color Efex Pro. No elements were removed, and the only cropping was to straighten some of the images.

    Another last thing – Robert Donavan sent me this link to Tom Grill’s blog where he did a very similar comparison using a D810 and the X-T1. I think he was a bit more concise with his argument about the use of the final image and how they compare for what he does.

  • May29

    No Comments

    Willie Nelson B&W
    Willie Nelson | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Last year I entered the world of mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras with a score on the Canon EOS-M. I love that camera. The touch-to-focus LCD screen is amazing only because it’s just like the way I use a camera phone, but it also has the option to actuate the shutter when you touch-to-focus (which is doing my phone one better). Anyway, the love affair with the EOS-M got cut short because of one glaring issue – Canon gave up on the system and there’s no glass for the damn thing. I looked at the options out there and as far as lens selection goes for a APS-C mirror-less class of camera, it really came down to Sony or Fuji. I’ll just say it – I have no love for Sony’s cameras (even though they make excellent ones). They’re just not for me.

    The Replacements in Atlanta
    The Replacements | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    My first digital camera ever was a Fuji Finepix (which I still have stuffed in a drawer) and I’ve always had fond memories of that P&S. I had no hesitation diving right into the Fuji X system of cameras and lenses. There are things about the Canon I wish existed on the Fuji (mostly the touch screen), but everything else on the Fuji blows it out of the water. I’m happy to have a useable viewfinder in such a small camera. I’m impressed with its tilting screen (It was used a lot for the images in this post). I’m overjoyed at the WiFi capabilities. But most importantly – There are amazing lenses galore and they keep on coming out with new ones!

    Avett Brothers at First Flush Festival 2014
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    The Fuji X-T1 really has the ability to blur the line between fun camera and work camera because for a lot of applications, it’s results are of professional quality. It’s also lightweight, I can push photos right to my iPhone and post them just as I would from my phone’s camera, and I’m able to tackle difficult lighting conditions because it gives me choices. Not only choices in fast lenses, but expandability due to it’s hot shoe, PC port, and WiFi remote control. It’s also the first camera I’ve ever owned where I enjoy using it to convert RAW files right in camera. I can quickly get a great looking jpeg out of the camera and post it online immediately. It’s truly revolutionary in that respect.

    Cusses Live At The Charleston Pour House 4/19/14
    Cusses | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 18-55mm

    There comes a point with professional photography when it all turns into actual work. When you start looking at your camera as a tool that you use to do a job, and not as a magical box that you create memories and artwork with, that’s when you start justifying “play” cameras. The truth is, modern pro cameras and lenses are too damn good. They’re very efficient and they are designed to be world-class tools of a trade. The size, control system, and aesthetics of the Fuji X-T1 make you want to experiment. I know when I put it up to my eye in public, nobody is asking if I’m working. It’s under the radar enough that I can walk into almost any location with it on my shoulder without so much as a cursory glance from the powers that be. The only time I get comments on the camera is when I hold it up at a show and the people behind me can see the review images on the LCD screen. I’ve received business cards and/or email addresses scribbled on scraps of paper from the people standing or sitting near me at every show that I’ve shot for this post.

    The Replacements in Atlanta
    The Replacements W/ Billie Joe Armstrong | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    So, enough gear talk. You can see what lenses I’ve been sporting underneath each image in this post. Part of the fun of going to a show for me is capturing a piece of the performers while they’re in their zone. I’ve shot from the photographers pit in the past, and it’s not the same as being out in the audience. Sure it’s safer, but it then begins to feel like work. I’m not there to work – I’m there to have an experience… To have fun. I love music and I love photography. They’re a perfect match for me to have fun with. Hopefully you can get a sense of that from these images – They’re truly a labor of love.

    Gillian Welch
    Gillian Welch | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 18-55mm

    And The Devil Makes Three
    The Devil Makes Three | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Fitz & The Tantrums at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC 5/15/2014
    Fitz & The Tantrums | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Alison Krauss & Union Station
    Alison Krauss & Union Station | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Avett Brothers at First Flush Festival 2014
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Hayes Carl in Atlanta 2014
    Hayes Carl | Fuji X-T1 | Rokinon 8mm Ultra Wide Angle Fisheye

    Fitz & The Tantrums at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC 5/15/2014
    Fitz & The Tantrums | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

    Avett Brothers at Charleston Tea Plantation @theavettbros
    The Avett Brothers | Fuji X-T1 | Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

  • Nov3

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    Movember 2013 JoeL8X - Week 1

    It’s that time of year again folks. The air’s a little crisper, the trees are full of color, and I’ve shaved my mustache in an effort to raise awareness about men’s health issues as well as raise money for the organizations that are fighting the good fight.

    This year I’m flying solo as a “MoBro”. Can we lose the “bro” monicker though? Seriously, the term “bro” makes me think of beer coozies and fist bumps, and that’s just not me. Anyway, here’s the link to donate through my page: MoBro.co/joeL8X. I’m thinking of doing some fun stuff to raise money this year, so be sure to follow me here, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

    If you don’t know about Movember yet, you can read all about the organizations vision, values, and goals here.

    Swingin' at the #coastalcarolinafair with @frostymac #fair #swing #ride #charleston #sc

    While I’ve got your attention, the Coastal Carolina Fair is in effect again. All the rides, attractions, and deep fried things that probably shouldn’t be allowed near a deep frier are available for your enjoyment at the Ladson Fairgrounds.

    More importantly, I’m proud to announce that my daughter Mackenzie has won 2nd place in this year’s photography contest for division 3 (Students)!!! She entered shots she made during last month’s World Wide Photo Walk, and her shot of a rusty old bicycle bell earned her a red ribbon.

    Mackenzie Wins 2nd Place at the Coastal Carolina Fair Photography Contest

    Next up in the information department is that Halloween was this week, and of course my family had to pose for pictures in our costumes:

    Halloween 2013

    Kegan’s buddies came over and were promptly stuck in front of my camera. Some kids are so cooperative in getting into character. These kids rule.

    Kids Halloween 2013

    My Satyr costume was inspired by this new Halloween themed tattoo I got from Rob Junod over at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    I got my #Halloween #tattoo by @robjunod at #HolyCityTattooingCollective in #Charleston #SC Check out that #Satyr fiddling the night away! I admire his goatee...

    In sadder news, we lost a New York legend last week. Lou Reed passed away after losing a battle with liver disease. When the kids and I carved our pumpkins, I decided to make mine a tribute to one of rock n’ roll’s most influential people. From the left to right, it’s Mackenzie’s “Hedgehog-O-Lantern”, my “Lou-O-Lantern”, and my son Kegan’s “Boo-O-Lantern”:

    Pumpkins 2013-6

    The sadness didn’t last long in our family though, because the day after Lou passed away, Karlina Josephine joined the world:

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

    Welcome to the family, kiddo. Brian & Mira are going to be great parents to you, and you will have more professional photos of yourself than any other kid in your neighborhood, so just accept it and be prepared!

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl