photography

This Old House

Almost six years to the day, I’m saying goodbye to my first home.

We’re getting a weird spell this winter, in late January and early February, where the weather is warmer than seasonally appropriate. Foggy, rainy, or in the 60s. Not your typical Michigan climate.

The upside is that we’ve enjoyed a few play days outside. This past weekend, I even had a chance to take down our backyard swing set – much better than trying to unscrew frozen bolts in the bitter cold. Hopefully the warmer weather holds once it’s time to move.

I’m doing my best to capture this place before we head out. Not that it’s been a problem before, but there’s an extra sense of urgency lately.

Time’s running out.


Photographer Interview: Neil Thain-Gray

I first discovered Neil Thain-Gray’s work through Self Publish Be Happy. His photo book, Personal Space, was right up my alley: urban landscapes in the Eggleston/Shore tradition, but more up close and personal, with nods to design and patterns. And the colors! So good.

Where are you and what do you do?

I live in Glasgow, Scotland with my wife Rachel and our seven year old son. I earn a living working in Learning & Development for a national charity. Photography is my creative outlet that I fit in between work and family life, whenever the Scottish weather permits.

How did you get started in photography?

Both of my parents have a background in the arts, and my dad as a photographer encouraged me to get to grips with an SLR in my teens. However, I didn’t really connect with photography until after I had graduated from art school when I found myself without access to studio space or equipment. I picked up a camera just to stay creative and suddenly photography seemed to fit into my life.

What do you like about your photography?

I like walking with a camera without any particular purpose or direction, especially wandering somewhere new, even if it’s just a short cut or side street. I don’t drive, so I’m always walking or on the bus or the train. Photography helps me to be attentive and open to the world around me. On a nice day, with nowhere in particular to be, having a camera is just a great excuse to exist.

I love your use of color, your consistent style, and your view of urban spaces. What kinds of themes do you like to explore with your work?

Thanks! I don’t know about themes and I don’t really have an idea of where my photographs fit in the world. Any sense of style probably comes more from a consistent process than any intent. I shoot with the same camera, the same lens, the same films. I am generally just looking for interesting light, shapes, and colours to make a composition with.

You recently put out a great little photo book. What inspired you to do that, and how has the experience been for you?

Thanks, glad you like it! I’ve been buying self-published photobooks for a couple of years and figured I should publish my own. The process of editing and designing was challenging, but I learned along the way. Setting up an online store was fun, too. The biggest hurdle has been the marketing, but it has been great to mail copies out around the world, to get feedback and a sense of connection.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I am trying to pull together funds to self-publish my next photobook. There are a few drafts in progress on my desktop! I recently gave a talk at a photobook event at Streetlevel Photoworks in Glasgow and FfotonWales have posted videos of the event online. I will be trying to sell some copies along with postcards and prints at GlasgowZineFest in April so the next book better be ready!

Otherwise my camera will always be on me whenever I have some time to spare.

Thanks for inviting me to take part Dave, it’s been fun! Happy shooting all!

See more of Neil’s work on his Tumblr blog, and follow him on Twitter.


Keep the Story Going

Family Photo Book

It’s that time of year again – time to get our annual photo book featuring pictures from 2016.

Making a family photo book is one of my favorite yearly rituals. Each holiday season, I gather up the photos from the year and assemble them into an album, usually 8″ x 10″ and 20-40 pages. The cover image is always something from our summer vacation.

This year, I went with a Blurb book instead of Apple’s Aperture/Photos options. Here’s a tip: Follow Blurb on Twitter to get periodic discount codes. At 35% off, my photo book was a good deal.

Keep your story going long after you pass away, or your hard drive dies: print your photos. Make a book of your photos. You’ll be glad you did.


Success Is An Iceberg

Weird January

Ian MacDonald, on giving a creative friend some advice in a time of doubt:

Success is really an iceberg.  On the surface you see the rewards and accolades, but underneath it is nothing but blood, sweat, failure, hard work, frustration, set backs, disappointment, and resistance.

Admiration is better than jealousy.

(via Patrick LaRoque)

 


Photographer Interview: James Joyner

Among the urbex/abandoned community on Instagram, I try to look for photographers who do it well, and have a personal style that’s recognizable. James Joyner is one of my favorites, and we’ve collaborated in the past on each other’s work. Jimmy’s style has really grown into its own, and I love seeing the locations he finds on his adventures.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is James Joyner and I’m a radiological aide at a local hospital in Maryland, USA.

How did you get started in photography?

My parents got me my first “real” camera, a Nikon 35mm N2000, back when I was a junior in high school, where I first started really learning how to compose photos and work the controls. For my high school grad gift, I got myself my first DSLR, a Nikon D60, where I really started coming into my own and learning what I liked to photograph.

What do you like about your photography?

That’s a tough one… I guess if I were a third party looking at my photography, I’d say that I really liked the way I try to channel a scene’s darker side. I’ve always been a fan of darker styles of photography… I believe the shadows can add to a photo just as much as the light does (if not, more). In a sense, I like to work the lighting in a scene to enhance the darkness.

I’d also say that I really like that I shoot abandonment, but in the context of the surrounding landscape and scenery. I think there’s a deeper and a sadder story to tell about an abandoned house when you add elements such as the sky and the overgrowing grass around it.

Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

I get my inspiration for my style and ideas primarily from the music I listen to, films/shows I love, and from other artists whose work I follow on Instagram.

Films/shows that really inspire my work include ones like I Am Legend, The Road, War of the Worlds, The Walking Dead, and other post-apocalyptic pieces such as those. I have a huge obsession with that genre… Sometimes when I’m editing a photo I’ll think something like, “I want this house to look like a scene straight out of The Walking Dead. I want the viewers mind to race when looking at this house, thinking thoughts such as ‘what happened here? Is there anything lurking in those shadows? Is there something written in blood on the walls inside that house somewhere?’” I want to create those thoughts in people’s heads.

Your work focuses on on a lot of spooky situations and abandoned properties. What excites you about shooting in these situations?

The story behind why a place is abandoned. The unknown of what I’ll find upon investigation of the place. Getting that ONE shot that makes the entire shoot worth doing. Getting caught by either the angry owner/the police on a property for which I haven’t necessarily gotten permission to shoot. All things that are racing through my mind while on shoots.

Honestly that latter thought tends to occupy my mind a little more than I’d prefer… but that’s all part of the game. It makes getting that one beautiful shot all the more rewarding.

What kinds of themes do you like to explore with your work?

The major theme I like to explore is Life After Humans. The History channel did an entire series on what happens on a grander scale if people were to vanish tomorrow, and I like to channel that on a little bit more personal level with my work.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I’m working on a project at the moment for a @pr0ject_uno story takeover on Instagram. They have been doing it with some amazing artists so far, and it’s an absolute honor that they thought of me for this. My theme is going to be rural abandonment. Make sure to keep an eye on their account and their story for the takeover!

As for shoots… that’s the part that’s so cool about shooting abandonment the way I do. New shoots present themselves every time I go out and randomly drive around or explore a new spot. It could be tomorrow that I find the coolest house I’ve ever come across.

There’s an abandoned middle school I plan on hitting soon very close by… I just got a brand new Sigma 20mm Art lens, so that will be my saving grace inside that place.

Check out more of James’s work on Instagram as @shuttermayfire


The Flickr Photo Bucket

Flickr Photo Bucket

I try to think of my photography as a daily practice. Even if I don’t make a photograph every day, I still do some action involved with the art.

One of those practices is to upload a photo (or two) to Flickr every weekday. Just one will do, although Flickr shows at least five of your recent uploads in the People section. One photo says, this is a thing I do every day.

To keep track of my daily Flickr photo, I have a bucket of photos to upload in Aperture (and eventually, a Lightroom catalog). Each morning, I select one of those pictures, and send it off to Flickr. After the upload, I pick an album, and then add it to a few relevant groups. If I missed any keywords, I’ll add those in Flickr, too.

After doing this for a few years, a few trends pop up.

For one, the best photos seem to get uploaded the soonest. Maybe I’m excited to share them, or maybe the photo follows a theme. Then, the not-so-good photos drop to bottom of the Flickr bucket. Maybe I’m less excited about sharing those. The system is self filtering: eventually, all those photos at the bottom of the bucket get purged.

Two, to keep it interesting for myself, sometimes I’ll assign theme days to my upload. Monday can be for film photos, Friday is for iPhone photos, etc.

And three, while it’s not an end goal, making Flickr’s “Explore” listing is a fun accomplishment. You can learn how to game the system, but for me, earning an “Explore” requires a great photo shared with the right groups. That’s it. Before I upload a photo, sometimes I’ll think, “This is an ‘Explore’ photo,” but it doesn’t make the listing. Other days, a photo I paid little attention to earns “Explore.” Some of it’s luck, but a lot of it is the quality of the photo.

I still love Flickr, and I’ve made it a daily ritual to support the site and share my work. My system keeps it easy for me to keep the daily practice.