Visual

Five things I learned about (Photography) going to Jerusalem the second time...

Hey all!

I am currently really busy with the processing of all of my material of my latest trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. But that is a long process and when it is all done I want to write a big article about it. And find a proper way to present it to the world.

Until that time arrives I will write short blog posts like this to keep the information and sort of involve you all in a bit of my process.

So this piece part one of a two part piece with five things I have learned during or after my latest trip to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

First one is about photography. The second one is about life.

So let's start!

Part one: Photography...

Like I said. Currently I am in the process of working through all of the material I made and that is just something that takes time... A lot of time!

In short. I took around 1100 photographs and I am editing them at the moment. Part of that process is also voicing visually the intent of the photograph. And ultimately after all the editing is done the post processing start.

Of the approximately 1100 photographs there are only a few that will make the cut and want to share with the world.

During that process which is not even done. I ran into a lot of issues. Not everyone shares that stuff. But I am a big believer in that running into problems or even failing is a big part of getting better. It's a rule you can apply to everything in life...

Same goes for photography!

And the whole trick after the whole failing or running into issues thingie. Is that you just don't give up! Get back on the horse and just go go go!

Learn from it. Feed from it... Grow from it!

Btw I am not only summing up stuff that went bad. It's also good to reflect on stuff that went well, or even good! Because also that is a good thing to know.

Alright here it goes. Five things I learned!

  1. Don't buy new gear!
    A couple of weeks before I left for my trip I switched from Olympus to Fujifilm. I sold all of my lenses and my beautiful Olympus PEN-F body... And I did not even hate my gear. There was nothing wrong with it, and I am a firm believer in that you can't buy a bad camera anymore.

    It was more that I was chasing some sort of look or vibe that the Fujifilm sensors have. And I just felt it was time for a change. And if you never try something new you will never know you will like it or not!

    The whole difference between my Olympus PEN-F and Fujfilm X-E3 is a whole other subject to dive into. Because the end conclusion is I love them both. The point I am trying to make here for the DO NOT BUY NEW GEAR issue is the learning curve!

    My ego let me believe I worked enough hours with the Fujifilm to understand the device completely and I would not make any mistakes with it.

    Well I was wrong...

    For example the aperture I shot on my Olympus to get everything sharp was around f5.6 or lower. On my Fujifilm it was way lower. And I realized I had to take my photographs around f8! That resulted in some shots I had a shallow depth of field when I did not want it. Especially when I missed focus.

    That brings me to another point. I missed focus! A lot!

    I was like: How the hell is this happening! Back home I did not have this problem!

    There is a difference between photographing back home and while traveling. And that too will be material for another blog post. But in this case, the conditions were different. The people were different even though I was there before. The gear of course was different. My mindset was different. All the narrow alleyways and using certain techniques to get a shot and doing stuff on instinct. All of that together gave me some out of focus results.

    I analyzed it all. And one of the things was the the single point focus on my Olympus somehow let me get away with errors. While the single point focus on my Fujifilm was unforgiving. If you miss it, you miss it!

    I switched to zone focusing instead and that worked better for me in those conditions. End result. More material I am satisfied with. And no customer or viewer of your art will care if you used a single point focus method or a zone focus method. It is all getting the shot and the story you are telling. 
     
  2. Do your research.
    Like I said, it is not all about the bad things. You also need to reflect on all the stuff that went well!

    For me it was arranging my guide or fixer or whatever you want to call it. Making a plan on what you are going to do everyday and also leave some room for spontaneity. Having a back-up plan if something falls short. All of that so you can get the most out of your time.

    I planned everything well. And I also was very lucky that nothing went wrong. I think on that part I had the smoothest trip ever. Planning helped.
     
  3. Update your software.
    This one is actually not about the time during my trip. But more about the process when you return and start to review your work do your post processing.

    I looked at my shots and I was getting angrier and angrier by the day. My photos looked like crap. And I did nothing wrong! Why? Why was this?

    I was getting into fights with my raw files. And got a bad case of worming. Man o man I was getting frustrated... My photos looked like a watercolor painting!

    A fellow photographer said to me: Cris, did you update lightroom?

    Fujifilm raw files had got some issues with lightroom in the past. And after a lot of Google searches I read that there were a lot of people that used alternative raw processors and bypassed lightroom or not used it at all! The switched to alternatives like for example capture one.

    Small side-note. I used to have the last standalone version of the original lightroom. Because I refused to be part of the subscription model that Adobe started.

    I actually like lightroom a lot. So I followed his advice. Put my ego aside. And updated purchased the monthly version of lightroom. And as soon as I openend my photographs again they looked a lot better.

    I combined that with a different way of sharpening and voila! Instant happy Cris!

    Btw. The whole sharpening thing with Fujifilm raw files... Only use the sharpening slider a little. Use the detail slider more and pull back the radius.
     
  4. Shoot a lot of shit.
    Maybe it is a bit redundant to say. But I hope I don't have to tell any photographer that it is to take a shot extra than you have not taken the shot at all...

    That especially is true with memory cards. Fill those puppies up and shoot everything that peaks your interest.

    And no. That does not automatically nullifies my post about "f##k instant gratification". Those are two completely different things. And if you have a goal in mind... Do whatever it takes. There is no award for getting the decisive moment in the least amount of photos...
     
  5. Take your time!
    I saved this one for last...

    Because for me this is the most important one.

    Why?

    Because I did not do it...

    I wanted to get the ultimate photograph so much. I soared and roared across the area like a idiot. My drive that I am so proud of got the best of me.

    The end result was that I did not take the time take in the moment as I normally do. And that sucks. It is not that I have bad photographs now... But in retrospect there were moments where I should have taken my time more the choose another angle. Or kneel down to take the shot. Get closer. Wait longer. Getting the details more right.

    What if is miss something?

    That mindset held me back to look at some little details. When you see a scenario and you don't need to react in a split second. Just take your time... Relax... Take two photos extra. Inhale... Get low or high. Analyse... Wait for the light. It will all come together if you just let the moment be...

    It is hard to explain I guess... But there goes a lot detail in taking a good or even a great photograph. And a lot has to go with a certain flow and peace of mind. You feel it when you do it. And once you made one. It is a feeling that you will forever chase again...

 

Alright! This is it!

My five lessons about photography. I hope you enjoyed them!

Stand by for Part two: Life...

 

Catching that decisive moment...

Catching that decisive moment...

Finally my Iran work in physical form! Souls of Iran as a Zine!

Dear friends!

I was so busy with everything that I forgot to wright a blog post. And to tell you all a super exciting update!

My Souls of Iran work is now available as a two part Zine!

I am so happy with this. I can't describe it into words. But I will try it anyway haha.

And yes, I know I know, I should write more... I'm working on that!

I wanted to to make a book at first. But I got really inspired by a special about zines. Or zeenes...

The origin of Zines is rooted in Sc-Fi, Punk, and Photography sub-cultures. It was, and is used to self publish their work or their own ideas and spread them around there scene or the world.

And with me being a photographer and still have a lot of rebel in me left from when I was a little Cris, it seemed like a better idea.

The book was actually already done. The spell check was back, had some people look it over and review it whom I hold in high regard. And I was good to go!

Until I was watching a episode of Ted Forbes's YouTube channel "The art of Photography"... Btw, if you are really into photography it is a awesome channel to follow. It brings the art back into photography.

Anyway! I was so inspired! So I decided to sort of re-work it into a Zine format.

Making a version of a4 size paper stapled together was maybe a bit to rebellious for the way I wanted to present my photographic work from Iran I decided to go with the most used self publishing service out there named blurb. Blurb is a very cool platform for everyone who is trying to get his or her work out there and offers incredible quality and services.

I also made the creative decision to split my work up into two parts. Isfahan & Shiraz, and Yazd & Tehran. It seemed more fitting. And that way I think the focus is more on the photographs instead of the volume of pages.

And in this day and age I think that was the best fitting way to present it. Everything is already in bulk. If for example you look at Instagram. I don't now how long people look at a photograph. But it is way to short... I guess that is the reason why I like physical prints so much. You have something real...

Another factor was price.

My fine art prints are expensive as they are. They are of course worth every euro. But it is still a fair amount of money. And I wanted to make something that is more accessible for everyone. A book would cost around 70,- euros. And the Zines are 20,- and 15,- euros. So that is a big difference.

Small side-note. Every cent and euro make it possible for me to continue my photographic journey and tell the story world. And makes new future projects possible. So it is a big support!

The end result you can see below. And yes, it makes me very proud!

Like I said before. It feels good to see your work in physical form. And hopefully all of you like it just as much as I do!

If you are interested you can order it through here or just click on the shop and than Zines menu item.

 

The importance of printing your work...

The doorbell rang..

I did not expect anything. But still... In the back of my mind I hoped it would be something I was waiting for... And hot damn... It was!

The delivery man had a huge safety box! After I dragged it to my apartment I was finally able to open it... And each layer I removed I was getting me happier and happier...

I can not describe fully how cool it is to hold your own work in your hands in physical form.

Normally in this day and age most of the images we create we only see digital. But at least for me, it loses a lot of it's charm. For me it is in the same ballpark as listening to a record. Or reading a real book. Only times a hundred. If you could stare to a image for hours and lose yourself in it, you know you are on the right track. And with printing, it gets you there...

I guess that is why art is meant to be experienced for real. And just on you computer screen or phone.

Printing also has other benefits. Besides it is freaking awesome! You will think about the details more. And how you will shoot next time. There is a whole process involved before you can actually send it to the printer....

What kind of size do I want? What kind of paper do I need? You have to order some samples because you will see your image transform before your eyes as soon as you put it behind glass...

How do I need to deliver my files? What kind of frame do I want? And also you have to account for your passe-partout. Don't know the english word for that, so you will have to forgive me. It is the big ass white are black border around your image.

And than also other important stuff. What is the purpose of a image? Are you going to sell it? And the most difficult, what is the price of your product going to be?

Am I there yet?

Probably not... But I will think of stuff later. And otherwise maybe you will...

For this series I have used Hahnmühle paper. And even within this brand, there are lost of sub choices to be made. So how do you want to present your work? Is it going to be a larger than life print? You will be needing to make those kind of choices to proceed. The higher end you want to deliver the higher end and maybe even thicker paper.

If it were black and white images it probably would have been Ilford.

But that is not the only choices you have in the sub-choice. Every kind of paper structure will influence the way the ink enters the paper and give it a different feel...

Fuck... Are you getting dizzy yet?

There are so many factors to consider to print your work! But, I guess photography is all about the details. And the better you want to get, the better you are going to look for those details... And the more driven you will be...

And in the end actually it does not matter anyway. Strange huh?

Here is why:

Because you rule!

It does not matter if you are a amateur or a high end pro. Printing your work is also very simple. Because it is just awesome to do!

You! You as a person decided that was your one decisive moment that you chose to print. And you are going to be as happy as a child anyway. And you should be fucking proud of yourself!

Until next time...

- Cristian

Who are you shooting for?

"Who are you shooting for?"

I was thinking about this while talking to a fellow photographer online, being in bed with the flu, and watching the YouTube channel of Ian Wong. The talk was about his new analog Contax T2. It is one beautiful machine. And if I believe all the stories online it is build like a freaking tank!

But the build quality was not the point... It was the fact that it shot analog. And that does not mean that analog is per definition better. But it makes you think more about what you do... You only have got a number of shots on a film roll so you can not fuck up! How is that for some pressure my millennial friends?

I compare at a bit to owning a record player. Instead of putting on a Spotify playlist you have to pick out a record and think about what you want to listen to next. It makes you more aware of the music that you are listening.

I believe that applies to photography as well... If you only have a number of shots, and really have to think about what ISO you film speed is going to be, and you can't yank it out half way of shooting. It makes you think more... Not only your technical choices like aperture and shutter speed, but I mean really think. About the important stuff, like composition!

If you look at the legends like Salgado and Koudelka, they also shot analog. There wasn't even digital available! But still they seemed to shoot the best stories you can find... 

And it looks like it is the only way to get really better at your craft as a photographer. And I am not saying now run off and buy a analog camera. But think about what you are shooting... Don't take 50 shots and pray that there is one good one in the bunch. But be aware of your surroundings, about your composition, the story that you want to tell... And pretend you only got one roll of film in your camera... It will make you better...

And that explains the title; "Who are you shooting for?"

Are you shooting just a quick snapshot to post on Instagram and share with your friends? Or are your goals to tell a story like nobody has done before?

Maybe it is the perfect analogy to life too... Don't go for the quick results but for what is really worth it...

 

Armando Aid Fundraiser - November 18th.

On November 18th there will be a fundraiser for Armando Aid.

Armando Aid is a organization that is providing education to refugee children. That is one beautiful concept right?

This event specifically will be a Christmas fundraiser to raise money for a new educational program in Europe and the Middle East.

The organization has no official funding or support and relies solely on fundraisers and personal donations.

The day will be filled with live music and comedy. And there will be a auction where art will be for sale.

That is also one of the reason I am writing about this. I not only think it is a good organization, but I will also be contributing to the aid. I donate one of my prints that is specially printed on fujifilm paper that lasts a lifetime. And I really love the way it made my photograph come to life... The print I donated is on the bottom of this posts.

The fundraiser is being held in London so if you are in the neighborhood maybe you could pay a visit. All information can be found here and and you can get tickets here.

Otherwise there are other ways to support this organization. For example you can donate some money here. But you can also contribute in other ways. Like you can be a teacher or a Gardner on location. Best thing you can do if you want to read about that is on the get involved page.

This organization already has done so much good, and managed to educate a lot of people so it would be wonderful if they could do it for many more years to come!

 

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Finding a new hero. Finally putting on some underpants. And New York photojournalism.

It is Saturday October 14th 2017...

I was figuring out how to start the day. And than i realized it might be a good idea to start with putting on some underpants...

I was supposed to go to the lowlands throw-down. That is a CrossFit competition which is anually held in the Netherlands. All of the fittest people of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are competing for the title of being the fittest. Including my self proclaimed little sister Leonie.

 Lifting is still a big part of my life. And with my birthday coming up I realized I have been doing weightlifting for twenty years.

I decided not to go. I wanted to, but with the fact I have not taken any time for my self and there is plenty of busy time coming up that sounded like a better idea. So I texted the little big one and stayed in bed for a little bit longer...

Somehow I stumbled upon the documentary "everybody street". I was so surprised I have not seen this before!

"Everybody Street" is a documentary about famous street photographers from New York City. Why didn't I see this before? What the hell is going on? Why the fuck didn't I know about some of the photographers?

Those were all questions that came to mind as soon as started watching it...

I searched the entire internet for photography related stuff, and especially the street stuff. But I missed this... I can recommend this to everyone who loves photography to watch this. It is amazing!

After about twenty minutes I saw a photograph appearing on the screen. The colors were so beautiful! I was screaming at my iPad WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!

It was a long time a go I had that feeling...

The photograph is made by a woman named Martha Cooper. She is a photojournalist from New York and is mostly known for her work in the graffiti sub culture. Btw, don't confuse graffiti with street art, because those two are completely different worlds.

Back to the wow moment. I noticed here use of color and composition that I think is amazing! So clean yet so raw... You have to see it for yourself. So you have to Google her name. Because of course I can't use her photographs without permission. You can find her Instagram here btw!

She is still photographing well into her seventies, and using Instagram btw. That is so cool!

It was funny because when I was watching the documentary some photographers were complaining about the digital age. And she was embracing it. And I still am convinced that there is a big part for photography in our lives. Despite all the cell phones and amazing camera's that are out there. Photography is still a art form and there is a huge difference between taking a photograph and taking a picture / snapshot.

My favorite of her is a man on top of a subway. Perfect use of empty space and the natural lighting that was there at the moment. It is so hard to describe what makes it so beautiful but for me it was worth writing this whole story.

I don't know what gear she used. But in this day and age it is another sign that gear doesn't matter. It is all about composition and lighting and most important, putting your soul into it...

Capturing souls and telling the story!

I send her a message. Hopefully she will reply. And when she does I will tell of of you about it.

And maybe another observation. Nothing beats those analog colors... Damn...

I am about to wrap this story up. But please check her out and the documentary.

And for those who are curious. Yes I am still in my underpants.