Welcome to the New Design

If you’ve been here before, you should notice the new design.  I implemented the previous design early last year, but actually designed it more than a year earlier that so it felt a little stale already to me.  This new design finally has all of the site looking identical and I think better shows off my photos and work.  It also takes advantage of newer browsers to deliver some more exciting content.  I expect that I’ll be tweaking and editing for a little while, but overall I think you’ll see things much as they look now.

If you see any weirdness on the site, let me know.

A Look at 500px

Katlyn Lacoste Near the FallsLast week I tweeted that I had begun playing with a web site called 500px.  I’d joined the site a couple weeks ago after seeing it mentioned on Twitter by another photographer Zack Arias.  I posted two photos that day and played with the site a bit, but didn’t have much of a chance to come back to the site until earlier this week.  After working around the site for a couple days I’d written up a blog post on my thoughts that I planned to publish around the middle of this week.  However shortly after my Tuesday night tweet on the site I uploaded two new photos to the site including the one to the right from my shoot with Katlyn Lacoste last month.  Though I felt it the best photo from the shoot I’d not posted it here to save the image for an entry to itself so it could have the attention it deserved.

500px works wonderfully and I think it’s worth a look right now for any photographer.  The site feels well thought out and the recent attention they are getting seems well deserved.  It’s the first time that I’ve joined and really used a photo sharing site of this type.  I have a Flickr account, but don’t think I ever posted a single photo to it.  You can see that social sites like Facebook have influenced the 500px design.  The terms of service are photographer friendly and I feel comfortable sharing photos there.  For those without a website or blog of their own, the site also offers the ability to sell prints directly from the site.

The basic social features are all there including commenting on photos, marking photos as favorites, and the ability to follow another photographer.  I do like the ability to follow a photographer since if I like your work I can easily see what you do next.  The overall quality of photos on the site seems high which I think comes from having some very good photographers on the site and a well thought out ranking system works.  They also have some very interesting ideas on ranking and rating photos that are largely targeted at trying to help photographers get exposure on the site.  Part of their rating method reduces a photo’s rating over time which I like as it puts an emphasis on both uploading new photos to the site and keeps photos that have been on the site for a long time from dominating the popular lists.

I can share an experience on how well the process can work even for someone like me new to the site.  After uploading the two photos Tuesday night I moved to another project that occupied me until bedtime so I didn’t pay attention to anything photo related the rest of the evening.  My earlier two photos had gotten some notice and been added as a favorite by a few other photographers.  I woke up the next morning to find that the photo of Katlyn had gotten a good bit of attention overnight.  Then 500px promoted the photo by publishing it in their Fresh photos at 500px for July 20.  From that point the photo soared and at one point Wednesday afternoon the photo was on the second page of most popular photos on the entire site.  As of now the photo has dropped off from the peak, but still appears to be getting traffic.  Remember that this is for someone who had been a member less than two weeks and had a total of four photos on the site.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never had a single image viewed more times that this one of Katlyn.  The interesting side effect has been more traffic to my main web page.  On Wednesday my site saw about three times as many visitors as a normal day and the traffic bump still lingers even through yesterday which saw about twice as many as a normal Saturday.  I’ve also seen a similar bump on Twitter where I’ve gained more followers this week to my candidvision account than in the previous month.

Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Work

A recent shoot reminded me of an important lesson that sometimes a shoot concept just doesn’t work.  I would expect this occasionally with an inexperienced model or when I’m working with a new model.  In this case I was working with an experienced model that I’ve shot with many times before and always with great results.  One of the concepts that I brought to shoot just didn’t work.  The model couldn’t feel it and get into the right mindset.  We tried for a while and she did get close a few times, but in the end she just never felt it and the shots just aren’t there.

My mistake came when I kept working on the idea even after it became obvious to me that she couldn’t get her mind into the right place.  It’s true that she wanted to keep trying, but at some point I should have moved to another concept that held more promise.  The reminder comes to adapt your shoot to the situation that you’re in and not being afraid to abandon a concept that isn’t working.  You can always try it again another day or with another model.  Here we didn’t have time for one concept and if I’d moved to that and left the other concept behind I think we’d had a more successful shoot.

An Outdoor Experiment in Three Parts–Keira Grant, Hannah Perez, and Melissa Troutt

Reaching Toward Another with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah PerezAfter working with Keria Grant in mid May we discussed shooting again when she came back through the area in late June.  As we finalized the date for the next shoot, I developed the idea of pairing her with another model in an outdoor setting.  I’d taken two models on an outdoor shoot before with Melissa and Katlyn last fall with wonderful results, but felt I’d been too cautious and reserved in directing the shoot and not gotten all I could have out of such great models.  I got some great images from that shoot, but always felt that I could have done more and if I’d been a bit more daring I could have gotten even better images.

Left Out with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah Perez I’ve mentioned my plans to experiment more this summer and as part of that plan I began to consider adding a third model to the shoot.  I’ve worked with two models several times, but never three.  I knew that adding another model would make things more difficult, but liked the additional possibilities it would add.

After lining up Melissa Troutt for the second model I also brought in a third model that I’ve worked with before in Hannah Perez.  The biggest challenge I face getting ready for the shoot came in finding the correct location.  I wanted a scenic outdoor location, but also needed a private one so three nude models could work for several hours without being concerned about onlookers.  Several possible locations wouldn’t work due to storm damage or just not meeting my needs.  I ended up deciding to use on one of the first locations that I scouted for the shoot back in early June while on another shoot.

Escape Attempt with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah PerezThe weather forecast the morning of the shoot was just a bit menacing, but the rain held off and we had an amazing shoot.  Working with three talented models turned out to be a wonderful experience and almost every photo is great.  In fact the most difficult task in editing these images came in picking the best photos out of the those taken.  I honestly can say that I’ve not found myself with a greater ratio of great photos at the end of a shoot than this one.

Overall a lot of time and energy went into getting this shoot together and it’s not something I’d do every day in spite of the enjoyment and success.  It surprised me how much mental energy it took to direct the shoot and keep things moving.  This still was one of the most enjoyable shoots that I’ve ever done and worth all the effort put into it and I think the photos speak to that.

Shoot with Melissa

Melissa on the ChairI kept busy last week with a couple shoots worked around some summer vacation.  I’ve also spent a significant bit of time the last couple weeks pursuing an interesting and unexpected opportunity.  I expect to know if that will come to pass something later this week and if so will make the next couple months very interesting.

A few days after working with Katlyn I went back to Asheville for a wonderful shoot with Melissa Troutt.  We created some very nice images with three distinct looking sets all shot with a few dozen feet of each other.  We also had an exciting moment where the ceiling fan in the room we were shooting in broke loose from its mount and only the wiring prevented it from falling down on top of us.  We were able to get it shut off and taken down without injury and while I enjoy exciting shoots, that’s a bit more excitement than I’m usually looking for.  Above is a nice image from the shoot.

Melissa ArchedThe location had an amazing bathtub that we played with doing some more glamour images in addition to the artistic styled work we normally do together.  An image I really like the to the right taken in that tub with Melissa forming a great arch with her body with the edge of the tub.

Happy July 4th to everyone and take a moment today to remember all those things it stands for.