As a companion to what should be an upcoming book, I've started a new blog Read Rafton. Yes, it's brand, brand new, but should be expanding exponentially very soon. Check it out.
You can find another of my blogging alter egos at Toronto Wildlife. Sadly I can no longer access this site, thanks to Google's complete lack of customer service. Feel free to sell their stock. Please.
Sure it's annoying in this modern age when you see people snapping pictures of themselves everywhere you go, but self-portraits have always been a legitimate and revealing branch of photography.
From Los Angeles photographer Aline Smithson comes a new book of very compelling self-portraits and portraits in various formats. The book is so new it's not even out yet, but you can pre-order a copy here.
And cut those selfie-sticks a little slack. Come on.
Lately I've been toying with a photo app called PicsArt. It's different than most in that it offers lots of tools to help you draw images, not just enhance photos. Personally, I can't even draw a stickman, but lots of people can and may find this app very useful and fun. They also have a community where you can post and share your images.
Of course they're real target is phones. The PicsArt App is available on both iPhone and Android. Try it out.
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.
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?
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