Back to Jay Scott Photography Home

Jun 29, 2012

On Phases and Postings

There are different phases of being a photographer and different philosophies on which photos you choose to share. One of the things that I am coming to realize and learn lately is that the number of comments you receive on a post or the number of "likes" a photo receives on Facebook will have very little lasting value. It is not that they are not appreciated but what is of greater value is a solicited critique from someone who knows what they're talking about and being aware of your growth and development of the craft of photography.

That is what I am learning about the phase I am in or transitioning to in my work. A lot of photographers believe that you must only post your absolute best photos. When they say this they mean not just in your portfolio but absolutely everywhere. Without question I take far fewer keepers than the photos that get discarded. This is the case of any serious, working, photographer. Sorry to reveal the magician's secret but that is the way it is. Like beginning to carve a piece of wood or creating a sculpture, it requires shaping and work until it looks exactly the way the artist wants it to look. Interestingly enough, when I first started, I found that my first few photos of a particular thing or scene were the keepers. Now, almost every time, I find that it is the last few that are the best. I shoot until it looks either the way I envisioned it or a satsfactory result of the scene as it develops as I work.

The only exception to that is if you are working with a subject that loses attractiveness over time. This could be a person who is tired of smiling, is getting cold or to warm, or restless. It could also include food that is losing steam or glistening. Flowers with fast fading morning dew or a dog growing restless of sitting in the same spot and of the flashes going off all around are additional examples.

Where I stand on the question of what to post, at this point in time, is that I want to include only the best photos in my portfolio. However, I have created sets of photos that include all of what I consider a "keeper" even if it is not the best photo that I have made to date. I view this as an opportunity to monitor and display my own progress over time as well as present what I am able to consistently produce. A portfolio should be a limited number of photos and there is a great likelihood that a family photo shoot will result in some excellent photos but if every time the shutter snaps a client thinks that it is going to be a masterpiece they are wrong. What they should be able to expect is a consistent quality of work being posted which should assure any potential clients that you will get a good and reliable body of work from us if you so choose to hire us. This flow of quality photos can also be seen in regular posts right here.

Do I go overboard with the number of similar photos in some posts? Possibly. The last post with the dogs contained three similar photos of Tuffy. But that included two landscape oriented photos where he was laying down into different, and both cute, positions. In addition to that there was a portrait oriented photo of him standing up on the armrest of the couch. If these were examples to provide to the client I would like them to have the option to purchase their favorite which includes a variety of orientations.

Perhaps one day I will feel advanced enough to limit anything I share to only be absolute best. At the moment I'm happy to provide options and variety. I know that this can cause a viewer to approach it as eye candy. That is, a quick glance at the photo without really viewing it because there are more to come.

For certain I have purged a number of photos from my collection because, even though they were popular and significant print sellers in the past, they just do not meet my standards. For whatever reason, sometimes unbeknownst to me, they were great sellers but now do not meet the quality that I demand of what I am willing to place my name on. I am going to try to make it a biannual event to go through those albums and remove the below par photos that I have not seen for a while and have a fresh and objective view on. There are some that I put significant work into that did not receive the response I had hoped. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes a significant effort does not produce results you hope for. I'm sure this is true for any craft.

Growth and consistency in cooperation with a portfolio of the best are what I feel present the real picture.

Jun 27, 2012

Tuffy and Kiwi

As you may have observed on my Twitter feed, we looked after Tuffy last week.

Both dogs were pretty good and even played together quite a bit. I guess Kiwi still knows how to play with other dogs, it just takes the right dog and we have met very few of those.

Watching her come running in to greet me in the morning, then turning around to bolt for the bathroom (where Tuffy slept), sliding to the door on her chest in a playful bowed position, was great. His play noises sound like a grumbling old man, but he was having fun.

That said, he is getting up there and slowing down. Certainly we got a few bunny runs out of him, and he looked about two again, but I thought a few nice shots of him might be a good idea.

Aside from a few stern warnings about barking when Angie's clients arrived, he was very well behaved and I look forward to seeing him again now that I know his personality, likes and dislikes better. I will know how to play with him and get him excited more.

Jun 25, 2012

Young Hawk

Earlier this morning Angie spotted this rather large bird resting on our railing. Not exactly the best photo, but when you're in a wheelchair a young hawk landing on your deck railing is nothing short of a gift.

Shooting through a triple pane window, with a low quality borrowed lens, made for unsharp feathers and three "ghost" birds from the window panes. I had to go outside and truthfully, it rested on the railing quite awhile until I pushed its proximity comfort level and it decided to leave.

Jun 21, 2012

Long Awaited Breakfast

Yesterday morning, while enjoying some coffee and sun on the deck, I heard a distressed buzzing beside us. It sounded like a fly caught in a spiderweb. It was a small wasp.

After days of rain, and little insect activity outside, I imagine the spiders were getting hungry. This catch will keep him fed for awhile.

Jun 20, 2012

EBC Talent Show - June 2012 - 2

As the evening wound down the intensity of the performers' pieces seemed to increase. Not louder, or faster, but deeper.

Another fine guitar solo.

As in the past shows, it concluded with a band, who sounded great, and really got the crowd wound up before the pizza party to follow. I got some other reasonable photos, but my lighting was set up for smaller groups of performers and the many microphone stand and music stands were obstructing great shots from my limited positioning.

It was a great evening and I look forward to the next one.

Jun 18, 2012

EBC Talent Show - June 2012 - 1

Two Fridays ago I had the opportunity to shoot another of the youth talent shows at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Once again, their talent, and willingness to share that talent, was  great.

The evening started with a small acapella group who, once they got over their initial giggles, sounded great.

These two young women performed a few duets beautifully.

This young man performed a solo piece written by Jimmy Page (lead guitarist from Led Zeppelin ) and sounded amazing.

I shot for awhile during the song, but once I was sure I got what I wanted, just sat and listened. It was then that I heard the complete silence of the audience. They had been cheering in support of the past performers but sat, fully captivated during his playing, until erupting a the end.

Yes, it was a talent show and some were dressed a bit more formally, but overall the casual nature of the participants and audience made the evening that much more inviting.

More in a few days.

Jun 14, 2012

Child's Imagination

Angie made pies for her dad's birthday last week. Sorry, no photos of that. They were so good they got devoured before I could get at them with my camera.

However, when she got home one of our nephews' toys, a racebike with a magnetic rear wheel, was stuck to one of the pie pans.

Trying to break out the imagination kids might have while playing, I made a photo of the bike for fun. Hopefully our nephews will like it.

My recent arrival of neoprene, to use as DIY Lens Coats, was the perfect asphalt substitute before it gets cut to shape for the protective covers.

Jun 12, 2012

Street Photography = Creepy?

After choosing to miss a few episodes because of the way many opinions were presented, I decided to give watching The Grid another try. I resumed watching on episode 55 (link will open a new window and start playing the episode). In this episode they discuss the current state of street photography and how people feel about being photographed on the street, specifically women.

The conversation started when Scott Kelby and Jay Maisel had a confrontation while making a class in Paris. Kelby, a professional photographer, married, middle aged, non threatening man and Maisel, an 82 year old, experienced street photographer, both accompanied by a full production crew. While crossing the street Scott snapped a photo of a woman crossing in the opposite direction, who did not approve and proceeded to chew him out in French, not accepting his upheld hands and apology, following him across the street into traffic while continuing to express her disapproval. For the record, the camera crew were recording the portion for the class from across the street, a distance away. She likely did not see them.

So, what are your views on being photographed in public? Is it different as a man or woman being photographed or man or woman being the photographer? The photographer's appearance, clothing and demeanour seemed to have some weight to respondents' answers. How do you feel about the importance of those characteristics?

I've been told that I might make a good street photographer as I'm less threatening and less able to follow someone. I don't agree with those who have said that. Firstly, I'd either be aiming up their nose or at waist level or shooting creepily from a distance. Just makes me uncomfortable thinking about it.

All responses were extremely guarded if it were people's children being photographed. I must admit that I was a bit surprised by this. I completely understand parents wanting to protect their children but their responses seem so incredibly guarded it almost sounded fearful of the world. I know that I grew up in a small city in Saskatchewan and there were very few bad streets or neighborhoods that I was advised to avoid. I never once thought about being careful about where I went or staying out too late because, whether they were there or not, I felt very few threats growing up where I did. Even hearing the stories Angie has told me about growing up in her neighborhood and the cautions her parents gave to her out of loving concern, surprised me.

We all know that every cell phone made within the last five years can take a decent photo. Not just that they can take a decent photo but that they can take a decent quality photo that could fill a computer screen easily and still maintain good image quality. Add to that how a person could look like they are innocently texting and be snapping away without anyone knowing. If anyone is out to take photos with a malicious intent I would suspect that they would be far further ahead to do it with a more compact camera or a cell phone. I would like to think that carrying professional gear that is anything but concealable should lend a degree of credibility to the person carrying that massive bag and camera.

Would you feel more threatened by a person taking a photo of you on the street with a large camera and no intention to conceal themselves or with a small, yet unconcealed, camera but being less obvious or even a little bit sneaky about taking your photo?

The above photo was taken at the zoo with Angie by my side. My goal was to capture the moment of the two girls helping their mom pushed the stroller. It was not to take a photograph of anyone in particular for malicious purposes or of anyone's backside. It was that cute moment that I was trying to capture. One photo just a few seconds earlier had one of the girls looking at me with the cutest smile. I didn't nail the focus on that one so it was trashed. I'm not saying this is a great photo but it is the perfect example of what I am getting at. I want your opinion. Is this creepy? Part of the episode of The Grid focused on some of the participants stating how so much street photography has that hidden camera look to it. I completely understand what they were saying.

In general I am not fond of making street photography. I'm always too afraid to be seen as creepy. The occasional time that I do take a photo of people in public I try to have a nonthreatening demeanor with a pleasant smile on my face. Likely the reason I decided to make a photo of a person is because whatever was happening made me smile. I'm not likely to take a photo of an unhappy situation. Hopefully the people that I am photographing will not have the moment that made them smile diminished because of my actions. I don't go out looking dishevelled or dirty. I don't try to hide my actions. I will make two or three frames and move on. If I were to receive a concerned look I would stop immediately.

Almost never do I ask for permission because at that point you have lost the candid nature of the moment and it is almost always better to shoot first and ask permission later. I will always respect people's preferences if they make it known in even the slightest way that they don't want to be photographed. However, the fact does remain that while in public a photographer has every right to photograph you. I do not say that with arrogance. I am simply stating a fact. People should not feel like they can't go out in public safely but that is the photographic freedom we have in this country. Of course, this is far different than someone following and harassing a person in public with or without a camera.

I would really appreciate any feedback you have about what I said and the questions I have asked. Perhaps what I should end with is the questions, is there anything that would make being photographed in public easier for you? Or is it simply that with the volume of distrust of people seemingly on the rise, the ease of sharing photos taken with any camera growing monthly and the potentially overcautious nature people are developing because of these things, is street photography of people nearing its end?

Jun 8, 2012

Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Zoo 2012 - 4

I haven't had a peacock fan for me this year and breeding season is closing so it might not happen this year.

Their vocals are becoming fewer in number, but no less startling or in volume.

In an uncharacteristic moment of nonassertiveness, this goose sat on her nest in the shade, calmly watching people come and go, not bothered by anything. That is my kind of goose.

Jun 6, 2012

Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Zoo 2012 - 3

My posted photos are a few visits out of order. I was quite pleased with the photos from the trip in first few posts that these got put on the back burner. That was alright, though, as it gave me a better perspective of some of the first photos I thought were worthy but were not.

After the next few posts we will be caught up chronologically.

One bear butt, the other smiling.

Hard to believe that these fuzzy, cute little curious birds will become the vicious, hissing adults like their parents. I know they are just animals, but shouldn't their instincts tell them that a three year old, that just gave you a hand full of grain, is no threat? But they are still cute. :)

I always enjoy it when a photo can be made at a zoo that doesn't look like it was taken at one.

Jun 2, 2012

Cedar Plank Salmon

That's what was for supper tonight with a side of tossed salad and garlic buns.

The brownies, which will be topped with chocolate ice cream, are in the oven now.

Jun 1, 2012

Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Zoo 2012 - 2

Our Thunderchild is just as nice, just that the lack of wind and perfect positioning made shooting this one at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm much easier on Wednesday morning and was easier to add context to.