Photography is it art

For 180-years, people have been asking the question: is photography art? At an early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, established in 1853, one of the members complained that the new technique was “too literal to compete with works of art” because it was unable to “elevate the imagination”. This conception of photography as a mechanical recording medium never fully died away. Even by the 1960s and 70s, art photography – the idea that photographs could capture more than just surface appearances – was, in the words of the photographer Jeff Wall, a “photo ghetto” of niche galleries, aficionados and publications.


But over the past few decades the question has been heard with ever decreasing frequency. When Andreas Gursky’s photograph of a grey river Rhine under an equally colourless sky sold for a world record price of £2.7 million last year, the debate was effectively over. As if to give its own patrician signal of approval, the National Gallery is now holding its first major exhibition of photography, Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present.

The show

10 tips on how to do HDR photos without a tripod

In May of 2011 I traveled to Turkey on a tour. I took a small tripod with me (called a Gorillapod – sometimes you can get away with this guy where a regular one isn’t allowed, plus it’s small to carry) and a backpack that with a clip to hold it on the outside. I was all set for some great HDR images in some historic places – or so I thought! One of the first locations we visited was the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. As I passed through the entry gate, security confiscated my tripod and told me I could retrieve it upon exiting the palace grounds. So, on to plan B – shooting hand-held. I was a bit disappointed, it was also a major pain in the butt getting my tripod back and I almost lost my tour group as I had to go back around to the entry gate, while we were all meeting at the exit.


Fast forward to Hagia Sofia mosque, I thought I’d try again to get the tripod inside. Ha! Sometimes I

How to use Depth of Field

Depth of field is controlled by the aperture setting

Last week we looked at using shutter speed and how it controls motion in your image. For that effect we used the Shutter Priority mode, for creating shallow depth of field we use the aperture so we’ll switch over to Aperture Priority mode.

If you use a Canon you will see something similar to one of these dials on the top of your camera.

If you use a Nikon you will see something similar to one of these:

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On a Canon camera you will want to choose the Av (which means aperture value) setting, and on Nikon choose A. That will put you in aperture priority where you will be choosing the aperture setting and the camera will be choosing the shutter speed to make the correct exposure.

Choose a large aperture opening (small f number) for shallow depth of field

If you want to make

Film photography is not dead

Film photography is not dead
There has been a bit of talk recently of the whole ‘death of film’. This seems to be an ongoing theme, and one that brings out all sorts of emotions. But I really don’t believe it is dead.
Recently there was an article in the Economist about what was claimed to be ‘the end of film’. It was a poorly written and poorly researched article which did nothing to point out how the use of film has changed. I expected more from the Ecomonist, but then, sometimes these things slip past the editors who just need an article up.

You see, film is changing. That is true, the way it is used and the range that is available has changed and will continue to do so. In the past the film photography industry was driven by professional and industrial uses, but since they have wained in favour of the faster and more forgiving digital systems the industry has had to change. It is not economically feasible to produce film in the same levels as it was in the past, as there are just not enough users. But that does not

Ten questions for photographer Hélène Binet

Since her days at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, Hélène Binet has become one of the world’s leading architectural photographers. Her work for architects such as Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, Peter Zumthor, Zaha Hadid and Luigi Moretti has resulted in images that crackle with light, shadow and texture, always forming an intimate investigation of the building in question.

Though often referred to as ‘photographer to the starchitects’ the term doesn’t begin to do justice to her work. The Swiss-born photographer looks at buildings with the eye of a true artist and her photographs not only bring inanimate materials to life but also somehow seem to invest them with a soul.

Daniel Libeskind, who encouraged her to start photographing architecture, has commented on Binet’s extraordinary ability to capture the contours of a building without flattening them. “She exposes architecture’s achievements, strength, pathos and fragility,” he’s said. We’ve just published an extraordinary collection of her photographs. It’s called Composing Space  and we couldn’t wait to sit her down and get an insight into her creative process.

Can you tell us the kind of emotions you get from the buildings you photograph? I think the ultimate emotion

Photographs Are No Longer Things, They’re Experiences

To say that digital cameras have profoundly changed photography is both true and cliché. But few of the regurgitaters of the idea can tell you exactly how. Stephen Mayes, director of VII Photo Agency, is one of those few.

He argues that the rise of digital changed the very nature of photography by moving it from a fixed image to a fluid one. The swift pace at which we create images is only matched by the pace at which we discard them and yet, paradoxically, we’ve never been more engaged with images. Photography is less about document or evidence and more about community and experience … and that’s not a bad thing.

“The way we relate to imagery is changing,” says Mayes, who thinks the pace of change is astonishing. Fortune magazine reported in September 2012 that “10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011.” That same month, Mark Zuckerberg said Instagram, just shy of two years in existence, surpassed 100 million users. Instagram users, who are signing up a rate of one per second, have taken over one billion images with the app. Such frenzied activity will account for some but not

The year in mobile photography

While 2011 marked many milestones for mobile photography (including the explosive growth of Instagram, numerous major gallery showings of mobile photography art, the first major mobile photography conference, the formation of mobile shooter “super groups” like the Mobile Photo Group, JUXT and AMPt, the abundance of mobile images in photojournalism, and so much more) that it didn’t seem possible 2012 could be any bigger for the nascent art of mobile photography.

But 2012 easily blows the previous year out of the water with an unprecedented amount of mobile photography events, news and cultural shifts. In fact, so much happened this year that I simply can’t cover it all here. It’s just too much. So instead, I’m going to just go over some of the highlights that got everybody talking.

Mobile connects with the mainstream

There’s no question that news about mobile images was all over mainstream media in 2012, as outlets such as CNN, the Huffington Post, The New York Times and more covered a vast array of talking points about photos, apps, devices and more.

“The conversation about mobile photography finally evolved,” says award-winning photojournalist Ben Lowy, whose own work shot with an iPhone made several

Top 20 Photography Websites

1 – Fstoppers

Number one. This is going to need more justification than any of the others, so here it goes… Fstoppers do things a little bit differently; they base their website on videos. Really high quality videos. You may find this odd for someone such as myself, but even though I’ve written 200 articles for this website, I find it really hard to learn by reading on the internet. I’m a much more visual person, so Fstoppers really suit me well, and I hope you’ll find something good from them too.

This isn’t a traditional tutorial website like many of the others on this list, but I find their content to be just as interesting.

2 – PopPhoto

If you viewed last year’s Top 20 Photography websites, then you’ll know that PopPhoto came out at number one, but this year, they’ve dropped one place, to number two. It’s just a really good all-round website, full of tutorials, photos, news, and reviews. I’ve found myself lost on their homepage for hours, delving into articles ranging from portrait photography, to the legal aspects of photography.


Top 10 Tips for Success for the Fine Art Photographer — Exclusive Interview with a Collector

W.M. Hunt is a champion of photography – A collector, curator and consultant who lives and works in New York. He is the author of “The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious,” published in 2011 by Aperture. He is on the Board of Directors of the Eugene Smith Memorial Fund and The Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York, where he was the recipient of their Vision Award in 2009.
Founding partner of the prominent photography gallery Hasted Hunt (now Hasted Kraeutler) in Chelsea, Manhattan, Hunt has been collecting photography for almost 40 years and has been profiled in The New York Times, PDN, Art on Paper, Modern Painters, The Art Newspaper, PBS’ “EGG, the Arts Show”, as well as BBC’s “The Genius of Photography”. Our good friends at the Photo Center Northwest sat down with Bill and he dropped some serious knowledge – including his Top Ten Tips on how to get in front of a curator, collector or dealer. My buddy Rafeal and the PCNW will be dropping by the blog from time to time to bring a unique perspective on fine art photography.

You have a rich history working with world-renowned photographers, many of

Art photography When ‘reality isn’t good enough’

In the age of Instagram and smartphones, it seems anyone can be an artist. Add a filter to your cluttered concert photo and the image suddenly transforms into a nostalgic, moody scene straight out of Rolling Stone.

The trend playing out on social media is a reflection of what’s been going on in the commercial and fine art photography world over the last decade.

Some photographers have thrown every filter and post-processing technique at a photo and called the result art.

The problem was that the images themselves, the backbone of the art presented, weren’t great to begin with, said award-winning commercial photographer David Allan Brandt. Technology was expected to make the mediocre extraordinary.

“I always believed that you have to start with the image, make that image as strong as possible, and then use the style to enhance the vision you’re trying to say,” Brandt said.

But what happens when you can do anything?

The digital age made that possible and offered a way for artists to bring life to images that previously existed only in their imaginations.

When Brandt showcases an

Love the bleep out of what you do

This week it is my pleasure to introduce a great photographer and friend of mine, Renee Robyn. She’s a model, a photographer, and she’s amazing at both of them! I first met Renee during my Alberta Railway Museum Photography Workshop where she modeled in period costume for our students during the “Understanding Available Light” portion I was teaching. The weather was less than ideal and she was such a trooper posing even though she was half frozen to death.

The thing I wanted her to share with you is her passion for photography and what it means to her to be a photographer. She is not formally trained and in some ways I think that’s to her benefit, she hasn’t learned how someone else does it. I’m constantly blow away by her images, she seems to have such a natural talent.

So, allow me to get back to the title of this article. We’re going to let you fill in your word for the bleep, so it can be four letters or not, that’s totally up to you. But I think when you really feel it, when you’re really passionate about it – it

Balancing flash and natural light

The “they say” rule of thumb for flash exposure

Is a generalization and there are exceptions to that rule, but for now I’m going to keep it simple and start there.

I find the easiest way to understand how this works is to see it in action using different settings with the same subject so you can see how adjusting the settings changes the resulting image. If you want to follow along find yourself a subject and set up a scenario where you can try out some flash photography.


Before you add any flash, take one photograph using only the light that is naturally occurring the scene. That could be sunlight, window-light, or even indoor man-made lights such as fluorescent or tungsten. You’ll sometimes see natural light referred to as “ambient” which is actually more accurate, but the two terms are often interchanged. Take it simply to mean the light occurring in the scene that you cannot control, it’s already there.

NOTE: the example photographs were taken during my recent workshop in Drumheller of Bob, an ex-miner. Bob was kind enough to pose for us at the coal

Using Shutter Speed to Freeze or Blur Motion

Camera mode setting

Using a Digital SLR camera gives you the ability to control how your scene is captured based on your interpretation, but we need to know how to use the settings on the camera to our advantage. SLRs have various different shooting modes, one of which is Aperture Priority (how to use it to control depth of field), and another is Shutter Priority Mode. On a Canon that is the Tv setting (it stands for “time value”) and on a Nikon it is the S on your mode dial. In Shutter Priority mode you pick what shutter speed the camera will fire at, and the camera will select an appropriate aperture to make the correct exposure. You also select the ISO (cameras sensitivity level to light) when using this mode.

If you use a Canon you will see something similar to one of these dials on the top of your camera.

 If you use a Nikon you will see something similar to one of these: Notice in the image of the dials above there are four settings separated from the rest but a box or outline? P, S, A, and M (P, Tv,

Three Special Effects for Night Photography

I’ve been teaching a Night Photography class for a couple years now and I have to say, I have more fun on those field trips, than all the workshops I lead. I’ve also been itching to try doing fire spinning since I saw Michael Sutton’s about two years ago, and I was recently able to finally do just that. I was thrilled with the results and wanted to share!

Here are a few special effects tips and tricks I wanted to share with you, so you can go out and try some of this fun stuff yourself. It’s really not that hard, my only caution is to please be conscious of fire safety at all times!

The basics – equipment needs

You do not need a lot of fancy stuff to do night photography, in fact some of my students have even used small point and shoot cameras. As long as your camera has the ability to shoot in Manual mode and do long exposures (up to 30 or 60 seconds) you can do this. Here’s a list of the essentials and a few optional items that are really handy to have as well:

The Steady Rise Of Fine Art Photography

This week, ArtTactic published a survey that showed that confidence in the modern and contemporary photography market is up by 9.2% since May, with the biggest increase in confidence at top end of the market, for photos priced over $100,000. Some 92% of experts surveyed thought that prices for modern photography are likely to rise in the next six months, while 34% thought that prices in contemporary photography would go up and 66% thought they would remain at current levels.

Historically, prices for fine art photography have tended to be much lower than those fetched by artists working in other medium, but that seems to be changing for some parts of this market, albeit pretty slowly. “Prices are definitely creeping up, but it’s not a steep curve, more of a gradual slope,” says Ben Burdett, owner of  ATLAS gallery, a London fine art photography gallery that has helped to build the photography collections of people such as Elton John and institutions such as the National Museum of Qatar and is currently exhibiting at Art Basel Miami Beach.

His assessment is that most years, a new auction record is set for the

5 Beach Photography Tips for a Glamour Shoot

Tips for a successful beach photography shoot

Simple Equipment: (KiSS) Keep it Sand Safe
Every great photo shoot begins at home with thoughtful preparation of your gear. This takes on especially great importance when your intended location involves a billion grains of sand, eager to invade your equipment. In the case of the beach shoot, I believe in packing light, pre-assembling your gear, and placing everything in Ziploc bags, prior to heading out the door.

a) Camera (cutting-edge gear not required!)

The good news is that beach photography usually involves ample amounts of sunlight to work with. This allows you to create amazing images with less than cutting edge camera gear. I have intentionally included images in this article created with older camera gear (Canon 40D) to illustrate this point. Many serious photographers would consider this camera years past its prime, but in this genre of photography it still performs like a champion.

I also carry a second back-up camera to every beach shoot. Dropping your camera in the ocean is bad. Missing that amazing image at sunset is worse! With this in mind your backup camera can be extremely modest and still produce surprisingly good

How to Choose the Right Lens

Can you relate to this?

Have you ever been at a great location, taken some images you are really excited about, only to get home to be disappointed once you’ve taken a closer look. Have you ever said to yourself (or out loud):

If you’ve ever said that, then it’s possible that lens selection could be the culprit. Choosing the right lens is NOT as simple as: put on a wide angle to fit in more crap especially if you’re in a small room, and use a long lens if the thing you’re photographing is far away. Granted sometimes those are the correct choices, however there is a lot more to choosing the right lens than how much space you’ve got and how far away the subject is.

What do different lenses do

Wide angle lenses have an inclusive effect and enhance perspective. Let me repeat that:

Wide angle lenses have an inclusive effect and enhance perspective

They expand lines and make objects appear farther away. They add a feeling of depth because they “include” everything. So when you want someone to view your image and feel like they were actually there, a wide

Off Camera Flash Techniques For Dramatic Portrait Lighting

Using flash can be intimidating, can you relate to this?

While talking to other photographers I often hear, “I’m a natural light photographer”. I think that’s so romantic sounding, and brave, because using existing light can be quite challenging. However, advanced in-camera metering, and auto ISO settings have made shooting in existing light so much easier than in the past. Frequently though, after talking for a while I discover that they love natural light photography not only because they really like the “look” it produces, but they are also intimidated by flash photography. With good reason as it can be complex and confusing.

Without a basic understanding of flash (strobe or speedlight/speedlite) and how to use it to get great results, most people start with a flash, put it on their camera, set it to TTL, and fire away. The result is often unflattering, flat and harsh on the subject. Strong light from a tiny source (any on camera flash) being fired directly at a person is usually not very pleasing. When the flash is not balanced with the surrounding, naturally occurring light, it often creates a dark, gloomy, underexposed background. This is especially true in

Why shoot in RAW format

11 reasons to shoot in RAW format

In this article we’re actually going to talk about why you WANT to shoot in raw, if your camera has the capability, and not JPGs. If you are shooing JPG, continue reading and you might want to reconsider, or not. If you are already shooting RAW pat yourself on the back, then keep reading. Perhaps you aren’t 100% sure why you’re shooting RAW, other than you heard it was better. This should clear up some unanswered questions for you.

First of all, my general thoughts on RAW vs JPG

There are many articles on the benefits of shooting RAW format, but in the end it’s your decision. If you are getting results you are happy with, and have a workflow that works for you, then don’t change a thing. On the other hand, if you want more control over the creative process (more on that later), and are ready to take your photography to the next level-at some point you’ll likely want to switch to shoot in RAW. Having said that, let’s look at some of the benefits of both formats.


Reasons why JPG is better:

  • JPGs

Eyeing the Lens With Suspicion


t is an article of faith in contemporary art that consumerism is bad. But if people stopped buying unneeded stuff, the economy would collapse, and where would we be then? So artists continue to worry about consumerism and its soul-eroding effects, as they have been doing for at least the last half century.

Photographers seem to be especially concerned with the topic, maybe because of the degree to which their medium is used to grease the wheels of commerce. In reaction, many conceptually minded artists turn photography back on itself, looking askance at its panoptical gaze, and “New Photography 2012” at the Museum of Modern Art offers some interesting examples.

Organized by Eva Respini, a MoMA photography curator, it is not a theme show. But it happens that four of its five participants focus on one aspect or another of industrially manufactured culture. We are invited to ponder relations between artifacts of mass production, technologies of reproduction and our own infinitely manipulable selves.

Anne Collier approaches these matters in a cool, classical, subtly witty way in large, pellucid staged photographs. She can be too obvious, as in a picture of a photo magazine