A September Newsbrief

So how have you all been? It feels like ages since I’ve spoken in a voice that was purely conversational—as opposed to the Story (capital S) inner monologue. I feel the need for a mea culpa: man did I let the blog fall by the wayside. I still have several essays to publish from the UK series as well as other more mundane episodes, stolen, as usual, from our everyday lives. Some of these have made their way to KAGE’s Chronicle 90 journaling project; others still sit on an external hard drive, waiting. It’s a common byproduct of summer months, to be scattered this way, but it seems to have been more intense this year: part fatigue, part busyness, part imposed secrecy. At some point it all blended together to create a—paradoxically—frantic standstill. Don’t even try imagining ;)

But Fall is here. On cue, the air is cooler and we can finally sleep under the covers again. And I can also share some bits of news I’d been keeping for myself.

PHOTOKINA

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Stoked about this: I’ll be leaving for Germany (via a short detour to Brussels) in a couple of weeks: I’m scheduled to speak at Photokina, on the Fujifilm Studio stage. This will be part talk, part live shoot. Very much looking forward to seeing friends out there again: it’s a really cool lineup and three of my KAGE buddies will be there as well so...beer? Perhaps a few.

If you’re planning to visit be sure to come and say hi if you get the chance.

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KAGE+DOMINIQUE SHAW

We have a new KAGE member too! Dominique Shaw has joined our ranks. We’re very excited to see her work in the months ahead. We’ve added her profile to the website and she’ll start publishing right after we end the Chronicle 90 project I just mentioned. 

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MEDIUM FORMAT MAGAZINE

Admittedly, the GFX has caused a minor seismic shift in my small corner of the universe: what began as a tentative experiment has since impacted much more of my photography than I initially thought it would. Medium Format is a new digital publication and website where, every two months, I’ll be exploring the topic through a column entitled Frailties.

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FFOTON.WALES

While in the UK last June for Kevin Mullin’s brilliant X-Weddings conference, I had the great pleasure of sitting down for an in-depth interview with Brian from Ffoton—a website and podcast based in Wales and dedicated to photography. Most interviews tend to happen through Skype these days—for obvious reasons—and there’s such a different dynamic to a casual, face to face conversation. Ideas and topics bounce off each other so much more naturally. A highly enjoyable encounter. Plus: if you’re looking to spend a few hours listening to photographers, this site will have you covered for days.

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BREATHE PICTURES

Oh and speaking of X-Weddings: that was an absolute blast. The events were a blast, the folks attending the conference and those on my workshop were a blast—and the invited photographers were...well yes, a blast. And crazy talented. This is where I met Dominique (and her brother Liam) but also Marianne Chua, Facundo Santana and Neale James. You’ll see more of these last two compadres when I get around to posting the Brighton pics...I will, promised. But I especially want to mention Neale’s new podcast: Breathe Pictures. Neale is a documentary wedding photographer, but he was once a BBC DJ. He sounds like a BBC DJ. He’s also a storyteller who has a hell of a knack for packaging shows that completely draw you in. Episode 1 is a wrap up of X-Weddings—complete with a few funny car conversations on our way to Brighton. But believe me, you’ll absolutely want to dig into the next episodes. Notably, episode 3 is with the late great Steve Shipman, who we sadly lost a few months ago.

I believe that’s it for the roundup.
Later guys

P.S We have a dog now. And a cat. Discuss...;)

UK in June

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I’ve never been to Bath. Hell...I’ve never been to England, period. So when my friend Kevin Mullins asked if I’d be interested in being a guest speaker for his X-Weddings Conference 2018...let’s just say I didn’t hesitate much. My only apprehension stemmed from not being a wedding shooter—surrounded by world-renowned wedding shooters. But he quickly assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, that the goal was to go beyond a strictly wedding-oriented event. We are all visual storytellers and documentarians, regardless of subject matter. The conference will feature seven speakers: Facundo Santana (Argentina), Marianne Chua (England), Neale James (England), York Place Studios (England). Of course Kevin Mullins and yours truly to round it all up. Honestly, the work from these fellow photographers is humbling to say the least.

So here we go: off to Bath on June 12th and 13th 2018. I’ll be giving a talk entitled The United States of Photography on day one, and then manning a full-day workshop on day two. I’m taking a maximum of 6 participants for the workshop so space for this one is limited—I prefer keeping it small and personal. Facundo is also giving a workshop on the same day (12 max participants for his).

I’m extremely excited about this event and about finally setting foot on UK soil. We do share a Queen after all (yes, The Crown has indeed had an impact on our household). If you’re interested I have a promo code for you: plr2018 will give you a 5% discount on tickets for Keynote Day.

Jolly good times ahead I’m sure.
Cheerio ;)

The Temporary Collective | Brussels 2016

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I haven’t talked about it much but I’m leaving for Belgium and Germany on September 17th. I’ll be driving down to Photokina for the first few days of the event, then back to my buddy Bert Stephani’s place until the 28th. No speaking engagements this year but I'm shooting an essay for the December issue of Photo Life magazine and I'm very much looking forward to catching up with a whole lot of comrades.

While I'm in Europe, Bert and I will also be hosting the first official KAGE workshop: The Temporary Collective—a full-day event focusing on visual storytelling, to be held in Brussels on September 26th. We'll be discussing subject, methodology, engagement and storyboarding, with each participant expected to produce an essay that will appear in an upcoming issue of KAGE. We're keeping the group small (6 seats max) to provide a more hands-on and personalized experience. Limited X-series gear will be available to test as well.

It's on a Monday. I know...scheduling issues forced us to choose that date. But if you're interested and available we're running an early bird special until September 9th and we'd love to see you. All you need is a camera, some sort of image editing device for the processing/editing portion of the workshop and a good pair of shoes. More info here.

Btw: Fujifilm has now released its full Photokina schedule and it's jam-packed with great speakers. I'll be checking a bunch of these out while I'm there so if you're around be sure to come and say hello.

Peace, Return and Thoughts in Passing

It's like a fog suddenly lifting. For the past several weeks I'd been doubling down on a new conference due to premiere at the RCPM's annual meeting (a coalition of photo clubs from the south shore of Montreal), which finally took place last night. Many thanks to the organizers and everyone who showed up for a very enjoyable evening.

I take conferences—any speaking engagement really—very seriously. The fact that people are willing to pay, to drive down and listen to you means there's a responsibility there, to not waste their time and to bring something to the table that, hopefully, will resonate and fuel their passion. So I fret over every detail, every word and every single bit of content; I was still tweaking a few minutes before. 

I also tend to retreat pretty deeply inside my own head when I'm in the crunch phase of any project. I basically see and hear nothing else, which can make me a bit hard to live with at times—an unfortunate side effect. But the great thing about stress and adrenaline is the release that comes after—once you've made it through unscathed and realize all the work paid off. So yeah, as I said: fog has lifted.

It's nice to just be sitting down and writing this morning. There's a lot on my plate in the weeks ahead but today...today I'm giving my thoughts a rest. I'm watching that damn snow falling slowly and covering the ground, but I don't care as much as I did yesterday. Time to refuel.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with reader Imran Hussain through the comment section on the Close to Midnight post. He mentioned how, although he still enjoyed the photography, he didn't visit as much as he used to because most of my posts had become too spare in terms of process and...well, educational content. And strangely, he said this made him feel like I was merely trying to sell Fuji gear—which is the furthest thing from my mind when I post essays. In fact it's the polar opposite of what I'm trying to achieve. I sometimes get tired of the constant focus on gear and to me—although I always mention what I used—essays that are simply about moments in time are a way to get back to what truly matters: the creation of images. Regardless of anything else.

But I also realized he was right. It's easy to forget that a lot of this can still be out of reach, that the technique and thought-process we take for granted once we've assimilated it, still needs to be taught. Chalk it up to a mixture of lack of time and fear of repeating what's already been said. And then, there's also the issue of what I'd like to say and how best to express it so it becomes clear. As I told him in my answer:

"It's also hard to define certain things in writing, namely compositional decisions that mostly stem from instinct. It can be like retro-engineering something you did without thinking—or without ACTIVELY thinking anyway. Which is different."

Bottom line: I took his comment to heart. And while I can't promise anything in terms of deadline, I do plan on bringing back the mechanics of photography to this blog. I don't believe in keeping knowledge to myself.

For now though, I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee. I'm going to clear my head and lose myself in the beauty of nothing. A few hours anyway.

Until it all comes rushing in. 

I leave you with a few fragments in passing. Shot some weeks ago, between words, sentences and paragraphs. Used Pro Neg Standard on these after discussing it during an online workshop. Simple and neutral.

Have a great weekend guys.


Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


The Inspired Eye 16

This is exciting: Issue 16 of Olivier Duong and Don Springer's photography magazine Inspired Eye is out, featuring an interview with yours truly. The publication gets more impressive with every issue and this one is just packed with fantastic work; an honour to be in such great company. It’s a downloadable PDF, available as a single issue or as part of a subscription. They’ve picked our baby as the cover for the article… Her very first magazine spread. Glimpses of our future? Ouch.

You can get the new issue right here. Really worth it.


Sometimes I get all worded out… Like my brain just doesn’t want to deal with thinking in characters anymore. As much as I enjoy online communications, the fact remains that I sometimes feel like I’m just typing continuously. Which is why it’s nice to get a chance to speak to people directly, have a back and forth conversation that doesn’t revolve around a keyboard. Vocal chords are a pretty cool evolutionary perk. Case in point: the two seminars I gave as part of Lord Photo’s Fujifilm Weekend. I really had the most wonderful time. Billy Luong was there on Saturday as well which is alway a treat. Although we’ve seen and heard so much of each other in the past couple of months, I think we’re just about reaching the sheepdog/wolf stage… You know: “Morning Ralph…” “Morning Sam…”

Yeah, I’m a Loony Tunes guy.

Seriously, thanks again to Fujifilm Canada, Lord Photo and everyone who came out… It was great meeting you all — early Saturday or coooold Sunday. Oh! And that 50-140mm? Hmm... Rather nice. Rather very, very nice.

Between shoots, editing and preparing for the seminars I've barely had time to touch the X100T since it came in last Wednesday. I’m still in the thick of it too. But of course I can’t help myself — I mean the damn thing is right there. So there’s no rhyme or reason to anything below; it’s all just stuff on which I’ve been pointing the camera these past few days. All shot with the new Classic Chrome simulation of course.

Next up, I think we’re going to talk double exposure as promised. Stay tuned…