Syd Park

I had the honor of shooting with child actress Syd Park a few days ago.  She’s 13 years old and already touring as a stand up comic, acting in several Television series, and best of all has no ego surrounding her success.  Syd is going far, fast, so getting to photograph her now is very exciting.  See more photos from the shoot on my website.

Syd Park Child Actress

Syd Park

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Haiti from Space – Following the Photo Essay

Click the page to read this story on the National Geographic Assignment Blog.

Haiti Image by Image – 1 of 2

The editorial work that I shot in Haiti will be coming out elsewhere, but I still wanted to put a few images that have special meaning for me on this blog. The stories behind each photo were stories that moved me, and although they may not fit with the upcoming editorial I think that they should be told.

There are Happy Haitians too

The newspapers and world fact websites would have us believe that Haiti is an awful place. That as soon as you step out of the airport you should expect to be shot. Haiti is suffering, but in the midst of the pain, hunger, and loss there always seem to be smiles. For the most part, if a visitor just takes the time to actually talk, or if language is a barrier to simply communicate with a warm smile and a handshake then the Haitian people respond with warmth.

Survival

It was a year before people started to enter the collapsed Bel Air Cathedral. Haitians are mostly Catholic, and the collapsed cathedral was one of the few places that wasn’t looted, or hardly even disturbed for quite a while. Now though, with people hungry and desperate, a few pathways are starting to emerge in the debris. There’s not much to be found under the tons of crumbled concrete, but by digging out scraps of rebar this man can collect enough every day to earn himself a meal. The cathedral is one of the few places that still has enough rebar to be worth visiting. Still though, very few people dare enter the church.

On the Brink

There are so many metaphors in this photo. The background is full of empty buildings, leaning dangerously over the street vendors who are too afraid to work inside; the downcast eyes of the Haitian people, and the trash piling up in the streets all represent the current state of the capitol. What the earthquake did not destroy immediately, it crippled. The buildings will fall, it’s just a question of when. Yet life must go on. Street vendors have taken over the store fronts, and the buildings sit empty devoid of any industry. Haiti waits, there is so much to rebuild, but first it must be torn apart.

The Cart Puller

Would you take a job that would most likely kill you before your 40th birthday? For the cart pullers in Haiti, there is little choice. To eat tomorrow, they must torture their bodies today. I imagine one of these men would destroy the “Strongest Man in the World” competition. I’ve seen them pulling loads the size of semi truck trailers down the road and a slow and steady crawl. They are looked upon as the lowest of the low in Haiti, the people you pay when a car would cost too much. A friend even told me once he’d seen one of these men pulling a car, flipped upside down onto his cart. It’s sad but true that in a lot of countries, even our own, the hardest workers are the least paid, and least respected.

Protected: Sirenians – Dugong and Manatee

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Why Beer is Important for Travelers.

The first thing you see when you arrive in a foreign country is usually a taxi. Whether exiting an airport or crossing a border, it’s the taxi drivers that first make contact. The question here, is how much should you be paying? Pay too much, and they’ll get used to ripping off uninformed visitors, pay to little and maybe you’ll end up in an alley.

I forget where I first learned this trick, it may have been from some stranger while riding a chairlift, it may have been from a fellow traveler. The best thing you can do is to ask a local “How much will a local beer cost me?”

To give an example of why this works think of your local restaurant. To get a taxi ride to the restaurant it’s about $10, or two beers. To eat, if it’s a cheap place $10-$15 will get you an entrée. That’s two or three beers.

Now let’s think of it in terms of travel. In Mongolia a beer is $1500 Touareg. A taxi in Ulaanbaatar will run you $3000 – $3500 Touareg. So expect to pay about the same for a meal.

Get the drift? Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

My Review on Photocine News on F-Stop Backpacks

Forcing yourself to be Better

Here's a photo for Chris Kenny Connections that I absolutely had to shoot into the sun. Good thing I'd been practicing.

Getting better is hard. Especially when you think you know everything already. So to help myself continue to learn how to be a better photographer, I’ve introduced something new to my workflow, and I call it a “Forced Variable.” Don’t ask me where I got the name, that’s just what I ended up calling it. A forced variable is something that you always change when taking photos.  It could be never shooting the same location twice, deciding not to use zoom lenses for a day or shooting with your review screen turned off and not looking at your work until the end of the day. Using a forced variable makes things difficult at times but it is one of the best ways to continue learning how to be a better photographer. A forced variable is something that I use in practice, and while shooting personal projects.  Personal projects are what get us our “real” jobs, and keep our portfolios moving along.  It’s personal work that keeps me getting better at my job, and it’s also one of the things that keeps me interested in what I do. So forcing myself to use that time to expand my knowledge and skill set is a natural step. I know in the back of my mind that I can always return to a great location, so it’s not that I’m limiting myself, I’m expanding my library of locations by forcing myself to always look for something new and interesting. If I absolutely need that old location, it’s there. The benefits of forcing yourself to lear are countless. Just think about that next job you have, and they want you to shoot directly into the sun. There’s two ways you can answer them. 1. Gee, my photography class said never to shoot directly into the sun. Or 2. I have some great techniques I’ve been working on that I’d love to use for this shoot, would you like to see what it looks like?

One of the Longest Days of my Life – On National Geographic

I’m not a Videographer

I’m not a videographer, at least I don’t claim it even though I do it, there has been some interest in seeing how the video footage from the Zeiss lenses came out though.  Maybe it would be better to say that I’m not a video editor, a good editor would have been able to do a much better job, I don’t even know how to use the programs.  I will say, all of the things that make these lenses great for stills make them amazing for video.  Specifically the precision focussing.

My Writing is now on Photocine News!

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a review comparing Canon Lenses and Zeiss Lenses.  Photocinenews.com picked up the story.  Check it out on Photocinenews.com