The Best Response to Paparazzi Creepers Ever

As a professional photographer doing what I consider to be respectable work, I have a deep animosity for paparazzi. The horrid behavior, tactics and habitual violation of privacy that are the hallmarks of paparazzi give all photographers a bad name, and I can’t stand that I am associated with them by some members of the public (more than once when I’ve introduced myself and been asked my profession the follow-up question has been, “so are you one of those guys who follows around celebrities?” and the question feels like a knife to my heart).

So when I saw the response today of actress/actor couple Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield to the pack of paparazzi following them, I couldn’t have been happier. This is without a doubt the best response to paparazzi scum I’ve ever seen. Good for them.

Image via Buzzfeed. Click image to go to the Buzzfeed article.

Story: http://www.buzzfeed.com/whitneyjefferson/andrew-garfield-and-emma-stone-send-another-message-to-the-p?sub=3338869_3158538

Proud To Be

Things have been very busy recently here at Chris Conti Photography, but I wanted to take a minute tonight to post something that I think is pretty special.

There’s been a lot of controversy recently about bigotry and racism in the world of professional sports, with stories in the media about racist NBA owners and soccer fans in Europe making racist attacks against minority players, among others. With all the coverage of these other stories (particularly about Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers) unless you’re an NFL fan it would be easy to have missed a separate story developing: the Washington Redskins NFL team has for years faced calls to change its name and mascot away from what many people consider an offensive ethnic slur against Native Americans. In the past few months, the movement to get the team to change has gathered significant steam.

Today, the National Congress of American Indians unveiled a 2-minute video it produced that is reportedly going to be aired in most of the nation’s major media markets during the NBA Playoff Finals. I wanted to share the video here because I think it is a powerful example of the kind of impact well-made media can deliver.

YouTube Preview Image

In my opinion, the video is beautiful, simple, elegant, and powerful.

The Washington Redskins team, led by its owner Dan Snyder, has made a variety of different arguments about why the team shouldn’t have to change its name and mascot, most recently claiming that the controversy is manufactured and Native Americans aren’t actually offended by the term. After this video is widely broadcast, I think that claim is going to be a lot more difficult to make.

In Case You Missed It: Apple’s 30th Anniversary Ad Shot on iPhone Proves Almost Any Camera Can Look Great

There was a lot going on last night between the Super Bowl and all of the ads broadcast during it (I am not a fan of Budweiser’s beer, but they sure do make adorable TV ads… I mean really, who can resist puppies and horses?), so it was easy to miss the Apple ad.

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh computer and with it Apple’s now-legendary “1984″ Super Bowl ad (if you haven’t seen the ad, do yourself a favor and spend 60 seconds watching it), and many people were hoping Apple would mark the occasion by making another ad of similar caliber. Those people were disappointed when the game ended without anything from Apple, but it turns out that Apple did make a 30th anniversary ad; instead of paying millions of dollars to broadcast it during the game though, Apple chose to distribute the ad online on YouTube and it’s own website.

The footage is stunningly beautiful, and as is revealed at the end, it was all shot on iPhones.

YouTube Preview Image

Apple’s message here is obvious: the iPhone shoots amazing, beautiful video (and therefore you should buy one because then you too could create beautiful videos). While the iPhone’s camera IS actually pretty good (and for a smartphone it’s incredibly good), in my opinion the best takeaway from this ad is very different: with good lighting, composition, execution and editing, almost ANY camera can create great images. One of my favorite testaments to this truth is a 20″ x 24″ photo print I have on the wall in my office: I shot that photo using a $3.99 disposable film camera from CVS.

Camera makers like to make us think that if we just buy the right camera, we’ll be able to make beautiful images… and believing that fiction is a trap that even professionals fall into. Too often even professionals think “Oh, if I only had this camera or that camera my images would be so much better!” But most of the people reading this probably have shot videos on an iPhone that didn’t come out anywhere nearly as beautiful as the shots in Apple’s video above. The truth is that it is the talent, skill and experience of the operator (or in the case of high-quality productions like Apple’s ad above, the team) that matters. Just like buying the same golf clubs Tiger Woods uses won’t make you as good a golfer as Tiger Woods, buying this camera or that camera won’t make your images as beautiful as those made by a professional; only time, effort and experience can do that.

The flip side of that coin though is you don’t need fancy, expensive cameras to make gorgeous images; with practice and experience, you can make beautiful, beautiful images even with something as cheap as an iPhone, or a $3.99 disposable camera from CVS. So go out and shoot!

The Aerie “Real” No-Photoshop Campaign

Aerie, a brand of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company targeted at the 15-21 year old female demographic and selling primarily bras and underwear, announced an advertising campaign on Friday in which it is promising to use photographs featuring women without any digital alteration or retouching.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

As a commercial advertising photographer the issue of drastic, severe photo manipulation in advertising and media is one that is of great interest to me (I refer to this manipulation, usually of women and usually to make them appear skinnier and with fewer skin imperfections than in reality [for example, all these], as “photochopping”… as distinguished from the more minor, lightweight “photoshopping” that I do on my images on a regular basis to do things like remove stray hairs, etc.).

There is no question that the imagery we see around us every day affects our perception of reality and our expectations; it is just another example of the old truism that if you tell someone something enough times, eventually they’ll start to believe it. Sadly it appears very clear that when women (especially young women and girls) are constantly shown fictionalized, impossibly-idealized versions of women’s bodies, their expectations of themselves and their own bodies change, even if they are consciously aware that the images are fictionalized. The resulting psychological damage that comes from being unable to attain the bodies women and girls think they should have seems almost inevitable.

That’s why I am so glad when companies pledge to use unmanipulated imagery in their advertising (happily, these campaigns seem to be gaining steam in the U.S., with the most well-known previous example probably being the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign). It’s great to see aerie in particular take the no-fakery pledge because the demographic that brand serves is probably the single most impressionable and susceptible to poor body image and self esteem issues as a result of manipulated advertising.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Looking at the images from the campaign above and below, there are several obvious (to people who do advertising photography for a living, anyway) examples in each image of things that fashion photo editors typically would have altered: a stretch mark here, an uneven skin tone there, a slight skin bulge or crease, etc. But all of these “issues” are very minor. All of the models aerie has featured in these images are beautiful women (who, it bears mentioning, while not digitally manipulated after the photoshoots, were professionally made-up by makeup artists before the shoots and photographed by a talented professional photographer who knows how to make people look good). The women featured in these images, to one degree or another, generally fit into our cultural standard of what would be considered attractive people.

Nevertheless, American Eagle is commendable (and smart) for making this campaign. Each campaign like this helps to both raise awareness that images in the media are often faked and also helps to give women and girls the confidence and self esteem to love their bodies the way they are (the campaign will also earn the brand a fair amount of social responsibility goodwill… so in addition to being a good deed, it is also good business).

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Ultimately though, in my mind, the choice to forego unrealistic (and unhealthy) digital fakery in advertising imagery would ideally not be limited to a single ad campaign, but would be a permanent, industry-wide change. American Eagle has taken the first step in that direction with the #AerieReal campaign; will they lead by example and stand for womens’ and girls’ body image and self esteem and make the change permanent? Or when the media and blogosphere spotlight on the campaign has passed, will American Eagle revert back to using manipulated images? I posed this question to the company’s representatives when they provided me the images above; as of the time this post was published they haven’t responded.

I’ll update this post if they do. Until then, this campaign is at least a good first step in the right direction.

Wireless Intervalometer? BEST IDEA EVER

This wireless intervalometer is amazing.

I use intervalometers for a number of purposes in my photography (if you’re not familiar with them, an intervalometer is a device that allows a photographer to set a camera to take a number of photographs sequentially with a given period, or interval, between shots. They’re  also sometimes known as “timers” or “remotes,” but if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, call them intervalometers. :-). They’re great devices that enable photographers to do all sorts of interesting things (like making timelapse videos like this!), and for me they are a must-have accessory that I carry with me whenever I carry a camera. One of my trusty intervalometers finally died the other day, so it was time to buy a new one.

Many people, myself included, believe that Canon’s name-brand intervalometer, the TC-80N3 (here on Amazon for $130) is overpriced. Devices with the the same build quality that do the same things (or more) are sold by other companies for a fraction of the price. I personally have been using two Satechi wired intervalometers with my Canon 7D, 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III cameras for years now and have been completely happy with them. So when the time came the other day to buy a new one, I went to Amazon assuming I would just buy another one of the same model. But when I did a quick search what did I see? WIRELESS intervalometers! My heart almost burst with joy. I ordered one immediately.

The Satechi wireless intervalometer I just bought. This thing is awesome.

Why is this such a big deal, you ask? Well, because frequently when I’m using an intervalometer the camera is in a difficult-to-access place. For example, I’m soon going to be starting a project where I’m going to have a camera mounted to a tree trunk about 20 feet off the ground. The wireless intervalometer is going to save me from having to get up on a ladder each time I need to start and stop the camera.

I’ve already played with this wireless intervalometer unit a bit from a range of about 20 feet and it works beautifully. I couldn’t be more happy with it. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Since different Canon DSLRs have different types of remote shutter release connectors, make sure you buy the right model intervalometer for your camera. If you have a Canon DSLR with an “N3″-type connector (such as a 1D, 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D, etc.) this is the right model of this wireless intervalometer for you:
Satechi WTR-A Wireless Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon EOS-1V/1VHS, EOS-3, EOS-D2000, D30, D60, 1D, 1Ds, EOS-1D Mark II,III,IV, EOS-1Ds Mark II,III, EOS-10D, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 5D, 5D Mark II,III, 7D Fully Compatible with RS-80N3

Instead, if you have a Canon DSLR with an “E3″-type connector (such as the Rebel line of cameras: 60D, t2i, t3i, etc.) then this is the model you should buy:
Satechi WTR-C Wireless Timer Remote Shutter for Canon EOS 60D, Digital Rebel XT, XTi, XSi, XS, T1i, T2i, T3i, T4i & Canon Powershot G10, G11 & Pentax K7 & ELAN SLR cameras

In the next couple of days I’m going to do some experimenting to figure out just how much range this transmitter has, and how far away I can be to successfully trigger the camera. Check back for the results!

(On the other hand, if you want an intervalometer but don’t want to spend the extra money for the wireless feature, the regular, wired N3 and E3 versions are HERE and HERE, respectively… but you’d be crazy not to get the wireless one!)

« Older Entries | Newer Entries »