Day Eight: Johannesburg

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with MudProductions.com

Today felt more like work than a new experience. I’m not sure if that means I’ve become accustomed to the environment or what. In any case, we had another four shoots today, and all of them went well. …or maybe I should say, we got good pictures of all four ladies we shot. Continue reading

Day Seven: Johannesburg

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with MudProductions.comPerspective. The word for the day is perspective. Continue reading

Day Six: Durban to Johannesburg

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with MudProductions.com

Pretty much any time your day begins at 4:30 AM you’re already waking up with a deficit in quality of life. Somewhere between the lack of sleep, minimal creative contribution, and an absence of normalcy I started to come undone today. Continue reading

It’s Go Time

Sunset in London on the first of three flights.

Sunset in London on the first of three flights.

At last! The hardest part is behind me. Now that I’m done packing all that’s left to do is shoot twenty portraits across three cities in a foreign country.

At the moment I’m hovering somewhere over Africa on the longest flight of my life. So far I’ve done precisely zero work for this project, yet I feel relieved now that my bags are packed and I’m en route. Very soon I will be on the ground with an aggressive shot list and whatever gear survived three international flights. It’s the challenge of a demanding shoot that gets my blood pumping. On the other hand I become a nervous wreck when it comes to packing. The endless procession of questions, “what ifs,” and Plan B’s eat at me constantly. Yet, when I pick up my camera all of those worries blur out of focus. Continue reading

The Verge of a Great Adventure

My new passport should be here any day now, but there aren’t many days left before my flight takes off. It’s always the pre-planning stuff that eats at my nerves. As soon as I get a camera in my hands I’m fine. Heck you can give me a poorly lit room with ugly beige walls and I’ll pump out interesting photographs all day long, but if you ask me to pack for ten days I’ll be covered in a cold sweat.

But I digress. Anyway…

A couple friends of mine were crazy enough to ask me to do a photo shoot for their organization, which at first doesn’t sound crazy because I do that kind of stuff all the time. The thing that makes this one crazy is the fact that it’s happening in South Africa.

I had the privilege of meeting Jedd and Janelle several years ago as they were planning to launch their organization. I was blown away by the fact that these two people knew exactly what they wanted to do and they were charging at it full steam ahead. Shortly thereafter they moved to South Africa with a desire to help people get out of poverty. They began teaching the locals how to start and run a small business, and in the process they have witnessed the transformative power of entrepreneurship. Over the years they have trained thousands of entrepreneurs in every major city in South Africa, and now we want to tell those stories.

Our hope is to shed light on both the people and places that have known poverty firsthand. In September we are going to be traveling to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban to capture the stories of several entrepreneurs who have worked their way out of poverty. Those stories will then be compiled into a photo book designed to inspire future entrepreneurs.

South Africa has been on my bucket list for quite some time, so I’m thrilled to be a part of this project! As you can imagine there is a substantial cost involved with a project like this, so we are asking for your support. You can find more information and make a donation here:

Most of my time will be spent shooting photos for the book, but I will have some time to soak up some adventure in Cape Town. You can be sure I’ll have plenty of photos to share, but in the mean time, here’s a rendering of what I imagine it will be like:

 
Stay tuned, my friends! This is gonna be rad.

What to Wear: Photographer’s Edition

PhotographerFashionIn a word: black.

Black shirt.
Black pants.
Black shoes.
Black socks.
Black belt. Continue reading

Uncommon Yet Essential Items For Your Gear Bag

EssentialItems_BannerThere are some things you won’t read about in a photography book, they won’t teach you in photo school, and they don’t even sell at camera stores; yet I feel lost if I don’t have them at a shoot. Stash these goodies in your bag and you’ll be set for anything. Continue reading

Batteries Batteries Batteries

Batteries_Banner-It’s crazy to think that photography and electronics haven’t always been the same thing. Photographers today live on batteries, so it’s important that we consider what is powering our cameras and lights. In this post I am specifically talking about batteries for speed lights and small strobes. Here’s a look at what I recommend and why, plus a few tips to stay organized. Continue reading

Four Reasons Why I Prefer SD Cards

SD_Reasons-I’ve recently done a 180 degree turnaround regarding photo storage. I used to swear by CF cards feeling that they were somehow superior as the professionals choice. However I’m beginning to re-think the whole notion of “professional photography” altogether…

When I first got my D7000 I was annoyed by the fact that it only used SD cards. After using that camera exclusively for several months now I’ve gained some perspective that makes me appreciate a few unique advantages of SD cards: Continue reading

Lessons Learned from Beauty Retouching

BeautyRetouch_BannerLast week I met with the French photographer Clovis Lalanne who does a lot of work in the beauty and makeup industry. Talking with him made me realize how little I know about shooting and retouching beauty photos. Far too often I’m guilty of looking at an advertisement and saying to myself, “I could’ve shot that…” and then usually end up in a bout of self loathing as I reason why I’m not doing work at that level yet. Meeting with Clovis helped me understand the gap and realize I still have a lot to learn. After looking at my portfolio he suggested that I work on retouching, so that’s where I began. Continue reading