Monday, May 2, 2016

On million eyez

Last week I went to Israel to give a couple of slide-show presentations at the Jaffa International Photo Festival. A festival, I'd whole- heartedly recommend to anyone who loves photography. 

I was also there to be filmed for some site-specific content videos for million eyez. I got to work with an amazing cinematographer by the name of Roee Keren. Eventually when you see the videos on our site and when you think of these as good videos. Remember there was a great camera man behind the camera, an amazing producer/ director, and a great support staff behind this endeavor. Mine just happened to have been the easiest job: Being in front of the camera. 

Anyway, back to the festival.  While there, I had the opportunity of meeting some very talented photographers such as Mugur Varzariu. A Romanian photographer, a very- successful former strategic marketing and brand management consultant who gave it all up to tell the story of the Roma people. A task he first accomplished by using his words and later by successfully adding his camera to the story-telling process.

Varzariu, who by his own reckoning acknowledges to have never had any formal training in photography, has been known to work upwards of 18 hours a day for days on end while covering a story. He said, "I might not know much about photography but because of my work ethic, I'm sure I could bury many photographers in a mountain of images." And then he added, "I only click the shutter when the moment moves me." A statement that becomes  obvious to anyone looking at his work. 

I was lucky enough too to sit through a slide- show presentation by Antonyn Kratochvil, one of the original founders of VII photo agency. His very powerful and entertaining collection of images was full of celebrity one- on- one portraits. All of these done in his own very unique follow-no-rules-but- very- successful kind of way. This irreverent virtuoso of the camera peppered his presentation with a string of funny and intimate anecdotes of the time shared with his subjects.  

Being the chief photographer has all of a sudden turned me into a tech guy involved with a start up?? I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks after all.  The good news is that at its core, I'm still doing the same thing: being a  passionate photographer who loves what he does. I never thought, I'd get the chance to be part of a project designed to completely change the way photos are published on the internet.  

The best way to describe million eyez is to imagine a content platform that brings photographers and writers together. A platform that allows for the photographer's images to be published in the venues of their own choosing.  And very importantly: a platform where the photographer gets to keep the copyright of their images. 

Right now, we photographers, have pretty much been left behind. Once we release an image into the ether of the Internet; we usually don't know where it'll end up or how it'll be used and within what context. 

Million eyez is all about giving back to the photographers the control over their images. It is about helping the photographers leverage their exposure where it matters the most: at the heart of the story, in the main arenas and where things are being discussed.  

Million eyez is the platform, I wish I had 20 or so years ago when I was getting started. It is an all- ready- and- easy- to- use platform where photographers can get their work published based upon the merit or quality of their images. And not based upon what awards you have won, or how long you have been in the industry. If you are good, your images will be published and in the outlets where you want your work to be published. 

Among my duties is that of helping the creators of million eyez make the whole photographer experience not only worthwhile. But to make sure photographers are given back control of their work, something we have lost as the industry has evolved. 

Part of what I'm doing with million eyez is sharing the expertise I've acquired from being a photojournalist for over two decades.

During this past visit, I was filmed while explaining my thinking process as I photographed a scene or event. These situations varied from something as simple as shooting a street scene or interacting with people or covering an event or activity. On the latter, I got to photograph a horse show at a 2,000- year old hippodrome in the historic port city of Caesaria less than hour north of Tel Aviv. 

I am eagerly looking to the horizon and thanking my stars for being lucky enough to be part of million eyez as we help shift the current paradigm on how photos are being published on the internet. 

For now, check out some of the images I made as well some behind-the-scenes photos sent to me by a couple of camera- totting great characters I met while in Caesaria. As well as some from my million eyez colleague, Carmit Hirsch, who was the director, producer and all- around in- house genius. 

And here are some random images made of everyday activities:

All these images are all about making the best of any situation when it comes to photographing a place and its people. Not having the golden light or the perfect moment should never be an excuse not  to press that shutter. You can always rely on good composition and interesting angles to carry the day until that perfect moment happens in front of your lens. In the meantime don't forget the maxim I live by when I have a camera in hand:  "Keep shooting, keep moving, keep adjusting"

Tech stuff: Cameras: 2 Nikon D4 and my iPhone 6/ Lenses:17-35mm 2.8 zoom and a 70- 200mm 2.8 telephoto zoom/ ISO; 64- 1200/ WB: Sunny, Cloudy and Auto/ File quality: JPG FINE + RAW

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Lucky and Thankful Photojournalist

I just stumbled upon an interview In the Photographer’s Studio: Essdras M Suarez, I had three years ago when I was still with the Boston Globe. And it’s lead to do some soul searching of my current situation.

Spoiler alert: The gist of this piece is: I'm a lucky, lucky guy who is very happy and very grateful.

In this interview, I talk about being frustrated about newspapers not covering the big stories anymore. This being the result of a changing industry caught in an economic downward spiral. More newsroom jobs are being eliminated regularly and the leaders in the industry are constantly trying to figure out a way to re-invent the newspaper business. Like the recent memo written by Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory: “It’s time to re-think everything we do.”

I truly hope my former industry finds a way to survive these trying times.

However by reading news like this one, I can’t help but to feel at ease with my decision back in 2014 to take a buy out to leave I job I truly loved as a staff photographer for the Boston Globe. After leaving the Globe I had been in the newspaper business for about two decades. First with the now defunct Rocky Mountain News and then with the Boston Globe.

But I saw the writing on the wall years before, around 2008, and immediately started planning to eventually make a change when the time was right and when all the chips would be in place. I instinctually knew that I needed to adapt if I wanted to survive what was to come. Now I can't help but to be thankful for having taking what seemed back then as the uncertain step of leaving a "sure" thing.

Leaving my job was something I don’t believe I could’ve done if it were not for the support of my wife, Sara Suarez, of 25 years.  She, who is blessedly wise and the possessor of keen foresight. She, who believed in me from my early professional beginnings when I myself didn't know what I had to offer to the world. She, who knew before I did that I could indeed accomplish whatever I’d set out to do, Even before I had an inkling of the depths of my own abilities, she’s always been there believing in me. Love you mi Amor.  

With my Cuba: A Photographic Journey program photo workshops program through Road Scholar, I've already accomplished one of my goals: That of helping other "photojournos" teach photo workshops, thus, helping them share their vast experience and to spread their knowledge as well as offering them a possible new way of making a living. The number of colleagues I'll be able to help keeps growing.  The plans for expanding into other photo-workshops destinations is already well on its way.  

My goal of helping other photographers achieve their full potential, and that of helping new photographic talent be discovered is slowly but surely taking shape through millioneyez, a collaborative platform between bloggers and photographers.

A couple of years back, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the founders of this Israel- based world-changing startup. As their chief photographer, I’m helping them re- shape the format of how photos are being used to tell a story. We are helping create new venues where photographers can showcase their work where the issues are being discussed. We are creating and fostering new publishing outlets where undiscovered photographic talent can be introduced to the world in a way where their rights as visual artists is respected and honored.

Alas, I find myself today in the privileged position to be able to say: If today were my last day on earth I’d be okay with that.

Thanks for all the blessings and may we be granted the wisdom, sense of appreciation and humility to continue to grow and expand as human beings.