Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How These Hummingbird Shots Were Taken...

Also in this issue:
  • A New and Different Photo Magazine
  • London Seminar Update
  • Least Likely Place to License and Image
A New (and Different!) Photo Magazine

For as long as I can remember, the vast majority of the “Popular” photography magazines served as a vehicle for their advertisers.  And as I got older things seemed to get worse, as content took a back seat to both the latest gear AND the will of the graphic layout artist.

As an example, have a look at some of the sample pages of a photo magazine I actually used to write for.  Its layout is gorgeous.  It has the backing of the camera company whose products they herald.  But its content leads the crusade of mis-information the photo industry loves to impose on the masses: If only you had the latest gear, or if only you understood this obscure feature of the intimidating camera you can’t ever hope to understand, only THEN can you get the great shots you see in their pages.  (In one issue they had a FOUR PAGE spread on how to use the shutter release button!)  They would showcase a guest photographer and only talk about what gear he used, not the light or how he approached the shot in his mind (sending the message that if you bought gear like his, your shots would be as good).

You could argue that the successful magazines have evolved to this point because they’re actually giving their readers the content they want.  That may be true, but I really couldn't stand being a part of it.  I felt they were sending the wrong message (and in fact this is part of what drove me to start the Friedman Archives seminars – to combat this culture of mis-information), but at the time the US Dollar was very weak compared to the British Pound, and, well, if someone offered YOU USD $750 to compromise your principles, wouldn’t you at least think about it? :-)

Fast-forward to today.  When legendary publisher David Kilpatrick visited me last June, not only did he pose for the cover of the NEX-7 book, but he also wanted to talk to me about his latest project: A new quarterly photo magazine which returns to the forgotten roots of great photography and spends more time talking about light, composition, mindset, backstory, and the things that give photographs an emotional edge.  It would be printed on high-quality stock (like the recently-discontinued Photoworld was) rather than over-bleached, uncoated newsprint with pulp and fillers.  It would be brand agnostic, and inspire its readers creatively by showcasing works and thought processes of other photographers.  And while it will contain some ads, the intention is to publish for like-minded readers and not to chase the mass circulation demanded by today's advertisers.  Best of all (at least in my mind), he offered me the position of Associate Editor, which I enthusiastically accepted. :-)

As part of my duties I'll be curating content, editing submissions, and will have a regular column discussing the "mind game" behind important shots.  In the past month I've been going over articles for the first few issues and I have to tell you this is head-and-shoulders above any magazine I've seen this decade.  Have a look at the mission statement on the inside front page (.pdf file - opens new window).

Here's some of what's on tap for the first issue:
  • We showcase a portfolio that crosses the boundaries from revived wet collodion to digital SLRs, yet maintains an unforgettable style, showcased in an eight-page central section. 
  • David Kilpatrick looks into the shadows and the revitalised value of old lenses
  • David Tarn shows us the first of a series of personal projects from photographers all round the world
  • Gary Friedman lifts the iron curtain on a stage once set for east-west change.
  • Richard Kilpatrick puts the past and present of Polaroid into technical and historic context. 
  • You'll enjoy our selection of gallery images and roundup of progress in the last year.
I invite you to come be inspired once again about the power and mindset of photography and become a charter subscriber.  A subscription link appears below -- Share this with every artistic person you know! (Better yet, subscribe today!)  I promise you will find it worth your while.

London Seminar Update

The time is drawing near!  Still time to enroll!  September 15-16 in Kingston upon Thames:  (Also a special lecture Thursday evening in Portsmouth).  As of today I have five seats left, but I am looking into a larger room so hopefully I won't have to turn anyone away.

Least likely place to license an image

When you become a parent or grandparent, you start to re-acquaint yourself with the world of Children’s television.  And before the grandkids go to sleep we’ll sometimes watch an episode of what has become our favorite children’s show (aside from Blue’s Clues) – Wonder Pets.   The premise is three classroom pets (a turtle, a guinea pig, and a duckling) go out and save baby animals in trouble using teamwork and kindness – all while singing different genres of music.  Each episode employs a full orchestra.  It’s Opera for pre-schoolers.  It’s brilliant.  And their animation style is unique too – they start with photographs of real animals which they then digitize and bring to life.

But something kept gnawing at me at the end of every show:  “Little Airplane Productions --Where have I heard that before?"

So I finally did a search on my computer's hard drive, and to my surprise discovered this email from 2008:

“Hi, Gary.  My name is Carrie Leonard.  I am interested in using your photo of a meerkat for an animated project I¹m currently working on. The project is an educational children's series for broadcast TV about little animals saving other baby animals. We are looking to use just a portion of the image to complete an original character design. [...]”

Unbelievable!  My favorite children’s show licensed an image from me four years before I discovered them and became a fan!  What are the odds???

(To get a feel for this series, I found a pirated version episode of the show on youtube.) 

How This Hummingbird Shot was Taken

I met guest blogger David DeBar at one of my seminars in Nashville a few years ago, and we've become great friends since.  He has been experimenting with techniques for getting these very awesome hummingbird shots using a 300mm lens (other lenses can work too) and a handful of strobes.  I was so impressed with his images that I asked him to write a short article explaining his setup and a little bit about his learning curve.  He obliged and you can learn his secrets in this .pdf file.

Other Stuff

Normally I don't write books about point-and-shoots, but I got so many requests for the new RX-100 that I went and bought one and am currently about 30% finished with a new book.  (I really love this camera!)  On tap for the rest of the year will be an ebook for the new NEX cameras (co-written by fellow photographer and blogger Mike Hendron -, and the A99, which I hope to pick up while in Malaysia in October.  Never a dull day!

Drop me an email if you'd like to be notified when any of my new ebooks are ready: Gary at Friedman Archives dot com.  (Or if you want to go shooting with me when I'm in Malaysia. :-) )

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

========================= London Seminar still open for enrollment!


  1. Gary -- as a novice I've been disappointed in the majority of photo magazines for the very same reasons you mentioned. But I came across a British mag called Practical Photography in a cigar/magazine store. I would buy a copy periodically for $10 a pop (ouch!) I've enjoyed a subscription since Christmas as a present from my daughter. I'm sure it was really expensive. It's a really good, encouraging, inspiring, and informative magazine. They give great projects and tutorials for regular folks that have kept me motivated to shoot whenever I can. Too bad we don't have such mags in the states. But I suspect that will change with Cameracraft. Thanks!

  2. Gary, I gave up photo magazines for the very reasons that you mention. Then I discovered COLOR magazine, no tech talk just pictures and interesting articles. Unfortunately the publishers found that they could not get enough advertising to keep it going and merged COLOR with their other mag, Black and White. I will certainly be looking at Cameracraft.

    1. There have been many great photo magazines that fell by the wayside because they couldn't get enough readers who cared about these core values. Don't let this happen to CameraCraft! Subscribe today, otherwise the gear magazines win! :-)

  3. Thank you for this information and detail.I have subscribed. Can this be posted on various photo forums?

  4. Just subscribed to CameraCraft and am looking forward to getting it!!

  5. Hi Gary, I regulary visit Photoclubalpha and have subscribed. I completely agree with comments about the glossy puffed up photo magazines now being marketed.

    Lew Dickie

  6. Dear Gary, when and where is exactly your seminar in Malaysia this October? I am trying to get a cheap plane ticket as I miss your seminar last year.

    1. Hi, Hartono. I never set it up because I have family issues back home. Email me privately for more info.

  7. The popular magazines may cater to the advertisers and big camera companies, but they realize most hobbyists' thirst for equipment and equipment reviews. In fact, Pop Photo has two different cover designs, one for subscription and one for the shelf. The one displayed in the stores always has pictures of equipment on the cover, the other one has photos on it. Says something about how to sell magazines to the general public!
    Gary Eickmeier


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