A Toronto Photography Blog.

Jeff Vespa

I rarely--if ever I think--do any posts on celebrities.  But today I'm going to say a few words about a celebrity photographer.  That's close I guess.

Depending how closely you follow the entertainment industry or actually look at the credits on photographs, you may have heard of Jeff Vespa.

As it happens, Jeff is an old buddy of mine.  From when we first met, we both got each other's jokes--which is more of a tribute to him than me.

He is now--I think it's very fair to say--a very bigshot photographer.  So you might ask:  how come?

Sure, his photographs are technically excellent.  They look great.  But that's not why he's so successful at capturing images of people.

If you meet Jeff, or watch him in action, you'd see that he can strike up a conversation with anybody.  And usually does.  He talks to whomever he's dealing with as though he really cares.  Not that he doesn't actually care, but realistically you can't get along with everyone.  And you probably don't want to.

That's part of what it means to be a professional.  Jeff is able to strike up a rapport with his subjects, even if, as will inevitably sometimes happen, they're difficult.

This is a great lesson for anyone who's taking pictures of people.  Even if you're just taking a quick shot of your kids.  Screaming at little Suzy and Bobby may get them to sit still, but it won't get you a great photograph.

So talk to your subject.  Really talk.  And listen.  You'll be amazed how well this can work.

Permalink 05/22/15 18:13, by robert, Categories: Fun, On the web

Mr. Current

Prince the dog

Always up on the very latest trends and cutting edge technology, not long after my release from the hospital (see below), I bought my first iPhone.  And, of course, packed inside every iPhone is a camera.

Probably the last thing the internet needs is another iPhone Camera review.  However, I still think there are some photographers who would dismiss the iPhone's camera.  Not enough megapixels.  No real lens.  Etc.

I hear you.  You have a point.

But even if you have an 8x10 field camera - and some people do - you shouldn't dismiss an iPhone's camera out of hand.  Think of it as a tool, or better yet, a sketchbook.  You can carry it with you everywhere, and the phone is so small you can grab a viewpoint of a scene from any sort of angle.  This is awfully useful for a lot of reasons.  You can check your overall exposure.  You can check your contrast.  And you can settle on the perfect vantage point of a scene.

I used to do this very thing with a small digital camera back when I shot a lot of 4x5.  And an iPhone is even smaller!

Ansel Adams would use one.  I promise.  What more do you need to know?

Permalink 05/08/15 18:15, by robert, Categories: News, Fun, In real life

Back in the Saddle Again

So, almost a year to the day later, a new entry to the blog here.

People provide a million excuses for not keeping up with their blog:  they were moving, their dog died, they were burnt out.  I have  a good one:  I was in the hospital.  For how long?  From April last year until October.  At one point my heart stopped.  Best of all, nobody knows what illness I had.  The same condition has put me in the hospital about half a dozen times at this point, but still, no one knows what it is.  They've checked and consulted with all kinds of specialists literally around the world, but none of them know either.  Fun.

As far as the rest of the delay, I had enormous difficulty regaining access to my site.  I simply couldn't remember the password.  That sounds stupid I know, but it's true.  This is one good reason why you should hire a professional when you set up a website.  But, in the end, I did manage to solve the problem myself.  It, um, just took awhile.

Anyway, I hope to post a few shots in the next couple of weeks.  If anyone was holding their breath waiting for my return, you can now take a big gulp of air.

Permalink 04/17/15 15:00, by robert, Categories: News, In real life

East Don River, Toronto

East Don River, Toronto

Permalink 04/12/14 16:24, by robert, Categories: Fun , Tags: black and white, fine art, landscape, toronto

All Is Not Lost

All Is Lost movie poster

I was a big fan of the movie Margin Call which had a huge all-star cast and made about ten cents at the box office. It was written and directed by first timer J. C. Chandor. I should have noticed when Chandor released a second film last year but I didn't. It's not surprising I didn't notice because I'm often pretty clueless about what's getting released and what isn't. I used to pay attention, but not anymore, because most modern movies just aren't worth the effort.

Chandor's second release came last fall with All Is Lost starring Robert Redford, and quite literally only Robert Redford. He's the only guy in the whole movie, which makes the inclusion of a cast roll at the end amusing, and purposely so. The story couldn't be much simpler: a man is sailing the Indian Ocean by himself and his yacht is rammed by a stray floating cargo container. The man's electronic gear is water damaged and ruined and his boat crippled, and he's left to try to navigate himself to safety.

There are only three lines of dialogue in the whole film. All Is Lost is pure cinema, though it's not, as I've seen at least one reviewer state, experimental cinema. The story is always moving forward, and never meanders into any self-indulgent interludes. While it can be taken as a straight ahead survival story (more on this later), the fact that is so simple in construction while taking place on such a large canvas makes it possible to plausibly apply almost any sort of thematic interpretation. This is aided by the fact we know nothing about our hero. Why is he sailing alone? What kind of life does he lead on shore, and what kind of life has he had? The almost purely visual nature of the narrative also creates endless suspense because not only do we not know our hero's past, we have to constantly guess what he's up to as we watch in real time. Why he's taking each step, removing each box, stowing each bit of gear.

I'll admit I'm no sailor, and I'm aware that some yachting buffs take issue with the movie's accuracy. However their gripes seem small to me, and it's a mistake to take the movie too literally. A movie is always a movie, after all. I am disappointed that many viewers (as opposed to reviewers) tend to dislike the film. It may very well be the kind of material that sharply divides people.

One moral though is that I guess I'm wrong to no longer pay attention to what's being released. They do still make great movies...even if no one goes to see them.

Permalink 03/28/14 14:51, by robert, Categories: Fun, Movies , Tags: commentary, movie reviews

Window Frost 1

Window Frost 1

Permalink 01/28/14 21:34, by robert, Categories: Fun, In real life , Tags: black and white, fine art, toronto, winter

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