In an earlier post I asked for opinions on whether or not I should keep my blog on wordpress, or if I should utilize the premium services I already pay for on my Zenfolio site for my blog. Those that responded almost overwhelmingly stated that they only followed blogs that showed up in their wordpress reader, and would probably not follow my move. One lone person said they’d follow my blog regardless of its location through RSS. I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I’ve actually decided to move my blog over to my main site. If you’d like to continue to follow, the address is http://www.denziljennings.com/blog. Bookmark it or add it to your RSS feed. Here is some of the thought process behind my decision.
Isn’t the purpose of having a website to drive traffic there? What is the point of spending the effort to build a subscriber base in one place when you really want them to go somewhere else? It’s kind of like Facebook. I spent plenty of time uploading photos to that service so people would comment and “like” my photos, and then maybe they would end up on my site as a result. What happened when they got there? They probably said, “Hey, this is the same content I’ve seen 3 other places! Why should I come back here?” I’m honestly not trying to develop some sort of social media strategy, and I could really care less about page views, but I am trying to make life easier on myself. I’m trying very hard to cut down on my the “noise” in my life. There are too many services out there demanding attention, and I’m done with it all. If everything is in one place then I only have to maintain one service.
I hope to see some familiar names commenting on the new blog!
I created a less expensive version of my photo book, for those that might be interested in one. Instead of 368 pages with a photo per page, it’s 98 pages with 3 or 4 photos per page. If you go with soft cover and standard paper you can get it as low as $36.95. Here is the link, and Blurb says it will be available for 15 days. http://www.blurb.com/b/4099389-366
The Blurb book for last year’s photo challenge is finally done. I originally thought I’d arrange most photos 4 a page, and only give a few photos a full page. I thought a 366 page photo book wouldn’t be anywhere near reasonably priced, but I was wrong. It’s probably more than the casual follower would care to spend, but to me it was worth it to commemorate the accomplishment. I still made it available for purchase for anyone interested.
This weekend I caught up with Emily and Ben for their engagement photo session. They are both fans of the great outdoors so we met at Pere Marquette State Park. It was a warm and sunny day, as far as January days go, and we did quite a bit of exploring for the shoot. I knew Emily from a few of my Biology courses at SIUE, but it was great to get to know her and Ben as a couple. Here are a few photos from that session.
Taking one photo a day for a year is no small undertaking. I mean, sure, you can make it as easy as you want and take pictures of your feet everyday just to say you took a picture, but that isn’t the point of the project is it? No, the point is to force yourself to think creatively everyday, and to use your camera everyday. Are they all going to be winners? Nope. There will be plenty of days where you’re at a complete loss for subject matter, or your schedule just doesn’t permit much more than a quick photo of the dinner you barely have time to eat. There may even be a few days that you’d rather use your camera as a blunt object against yourself than take a photo. But like anything, practice makes perfect. Those tough days just force you to look at your surroundings even more differently than before, and this is when you really start to grow as a photographer. Constantly seeking your next photo subject will change how you look at your world forever. You’ll see in contrast, geometry, and compositional elements. It will become reflex. That’s the hope anyway.
Besides polishing your craft as a photographer, you will also learn more about yourself and what direction you want to take your photography. Do you enjoy shooting people, landscapes, or objects more? Do you love shooting weddings? Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you’ve learned that there are things you don’t like shooting at all! Perhaps you’ve discovered you’d like to pursue a full time career in photography? You’ve just loved the idea of shooting every day so much that you can’t possible imagine your life any other way now! I learned quite a bit about what I like to shoot, and whether I thought I could ever go pro.
Throughout the photo challenge I shot far more places and things than I did people. I wish there were more of a mix, but with shooting on the fly, I had to shoot what was readily available. So after a year of photos what do I like shooting the most? I think the things. When it comes to product photography, for the most part I have total control of the photo. I can rearrange, add, and remove elements until my heart is content. I never have to worry about my model becoming impatient or losing interest either. I enjoy landscape photography, but I don’t really find my locale very scenic so I’m usually left less than inspired. Had I done a fair amount traveling to deserts, mountains, and forests, there is a good chance I’d have more to say about the genre. People photography is still kind of tricky for me to decide on. There are aspects that I like, and aspects that I don’t. I think a lot of my indecision is due to lack of experience in this realm. Despite my limited experience, I’m pretty sure I have absolutely no desire to become a wedding photographer, or be a senior picture/baby/family photographer. I just don’t get excited about that stuff. I like shooting couples and engagement photos though. Getting to know two people and trying to capture that unique spark between them is a fun challenge. It’s a lot less formal, and most of what I call the “in-between moments” are priceless. I don’t really know how I feel about fashion photography, or typical model photography. I like that it’s a mix of product photography in some ways, but I don’t have any grand schemes for interesting set themes or shoot ideas. One area of the people photography spectrum I would love to focus more on is street photography. It’s probably my favorite type of photography from an appreciators standpoint, but I find it extremely difficult to consistently produce interesting photos. Maybe I’m using this as a crutch, but this is another instance where I blame my location. St. Louis just isn’t a pedestrian city. There are a few busy areas, but the city just isn’t alive like Chicago, or some of the other cities I’ve been to. Now that I’ve talked a bit about my likes and dislikes, do I have the desire to go pro?
When I began the challenge I was seriously considering the idea of pursuing photography full time. I’d hungrily consume any inspirational story, and think of ways I could get my name out there. I think the fact that I was a jobless recent college graduate had a lot to do with my ambition. I’ve had plenty of jobs that I’ve been less than thrilled about, and that advice about turning something you love into a career and you’ll never work a day in your life was buzzing through my head. I figured that even if I did land a job as a field or wildlife biologist it would cater to my future career as a photographer. It would be perfect! My adventures as a biologist would lead me to interesting locations to photograph! Well, I never landed a job as a biologist. I, like so many other people, am working outside my field. I probably should have seen the writing on the wall back in May of 2011 while hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail. We ran into a couple of section hikers at an overlook and got to talking. Discussion of the local flora revealed that one of the gentleman had a background in biology. It also revealed that he never found a job as a biologist, and that he’d gone on to manage a construction company. Talk about way out of your field! I stayed optimistic though, and thought for sure that I’d find something. Long story short, I didn’t. I’m not complaining though. I love the career I’m in now, and I’m very thankful to have a job regardless of what it is in these precarious economic times. Honestly, I think things turned out better than I could have ever even imagined. One of the reasons for that, I get to keep the hobby that I love as just a hobby. I’ve never taken as strong an interest in anything as I have photography. It’s really the only hobby I have ever truly stuck with too. If something were to make me hate my biggest passion I’d be lost. When I go out looking for a photo my brain slips into a different mode where time stops and all troubles slip away. I feel like a kid again, just being curious and exploring the world around me. The moment you start shooting for others and what they want, I feel like that all starts to slip away. Since my livelihood doesn’t depend on me making my big break, I’m not going to risk changing the way things are.
With all that being said, what does 2013 hold for me photographically? Not another 365 day photo challenge that’s for sure! I found it very rewarding, but I’ll find other ways to push myself as a photographer. Short term, I plan on putting a book together with the resulting photos, and making that available to anyone that wishes to purchase one. I hope to have that done in February. Long term, now that I do have the frame of mind to always be looking at my surroundings for a possible photo, I think I’m going to try and put more time and effort into actually planning photo ideas. Jot down locations, determine what the best light conditions would be for them, and maybe even figure out how to turn it into a portrait shoot. I also hope to play with more street photography, but that opportunity probably won’t present itself as often as I’d like. This blog isn’t going anywhere so I’ll be sure and keep you all updated. I look forward to everything come from this wonderful blogging and photographic community : )
I have a question for all of you that keep up with this blog. How do you subscribe? Do you prefer email, do you use RSS, or do you use WordPress’ built in reader to follow blogs? If I decided to move this blog and all its contents over to my main photography page, would you still follow? The benefit of moving it would make for a more uniform experience, eliminate ads for non wordpress users, and also allow me to take advantage of all the features and storage that I pay for with Zenfolio. My main fear of leaving the wordpress community is losing just that, the community. Thoughts?
I’ve gone a whopping 10 days without using my camera, and it’s felt kind of weird. I haven’t even brought it with me anywhere. This morning I had a photo idea though so I went with it. One of my new toys is an espresso machine, and it’s been getting quite a bit of use. These are the cappuccino cups I picked up to use with it.
While Megan and I were on vacation in Florida I had a bit of a surprise for her, and as a photographer it’s easy to say you want to go watch a beach sunset without anyone being suspicious. I did just that, and asked Megan if she’d like to spend every sunset with me and marry me. She said, “Of course I would!”
Thank you everyone!!!!!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
I didn’t have a white Christmas in Florida, but it’s sure coming down at my parents’ place in Missouri! And let me tell you, there is nothing more beautiful and peaceful to me than walking around in the snow with my camera.
The sunrise as Megan and I were leaving Florida yesterday morning. It was really pretty how you could see the individual rays of blue shooting up over the horizon. I chose this version because the trees blurring past fill the frame to create more contrast.
First day of snow!!!! It’s a cold and windy one too!
Boot detail shot. The boots that I took a photo of the other day ended up going back. Just not my style. I tried getting used to them, but they were a tad too dressy, and even had a western look to them. These are their replacements. A tad more rugged, something that can go with just about anything. I really liked that the other pair was slip-on, but I guess I’ll just have to learn to tie my shoes again.
I’m a little behind on posting, but here is yesterday’s photo. Megan and I went to an ugly christmas sweater party with a white elephant gift exchange last night. Here’s a shot of everyone sitting around ye old Netflix yule log, showing off the gifts they got. There was a Rudolph toilet seat cover, a unicorn corkscrew, a Justin Beiber singing toothbrush, a My Little Pony bubble bath set, princess costume jewelry, some crazy earrings, a puzzle, a Pokemon DVD, and a Nerf gun.
As far as the photo goes, I wasn’t able to avoid the reflection of my flash in the TV. I guess I should have used the flash off camera and held it higher.
I thought I’d venture out into the St. Louis art community tonight. The photography theme appeared to be sriracha, Stag beer, and hipster. There was a live DJ, free Stag and sriracha themed snacks, and a bicycle give away. It was an interesting gathering.
I don’t know what my deal is, but I can’t bring myself to wear running/athletic shoes unless I’m actually running or at the gym. If I’m out and about I’ve got to be wearing some form of boot or loafer. I just don’t like how athletic shoes look with jeans or khakis. I won’t even where them with a pair of cargo shorts. Anyone else have that hang up?
A frozen dandelion in the pre-sunrise glow.
In other news, I’m pretty excited that 500px finally released their iPhone app today. I almost like it more than their website. For those that aren’t familiar, http://500px.com is a photo sharing website similar to Flickr. It seems to have a lot more activity than Flickr, and the layout of the site is much better in my opinion. I’ve been posting a few of my favorite photos here and there because they have a 10 photo a week maximum for their free account, but their black friday sale was lured me into a half price “awesome” account, so now I’m in the process of uploading a lot more of my work. I’ll probably drop down to just the “plus” account after the year is up, but it’s nice to see what the full experience is like. I get a lot more feedback on my photos at 500px than I ever have on Flickr. More than likely, I’ll be ditching Flickr and going with 500px in the not too distant future (who has the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song stuck in their head now?) So if you’re looking for a new photo community I’d check 500px. Even if you don’t sign up right away, check out the quality of the work being submitted, there are some really amazing photos. My profile can be found here.
A shot of one of my camera bags. The thought process behind it was that the same way that a person may not know what hides in the confines of this bag, I don’t know what the result will be each time it is opened. Until the result is uncovered or shared the creative possibilities are limitless.
There is a seldom traveled overpass that spans the interstate, and I had kind of a last minute idea to get a time delayed shot of the traffic below. This would have worked out quite a bit better with a tripod, but being that it was last minute I didn’t have mine. I like how the camera shake makes the traffic in the distance look more like tall buildings than vehicle lights.
I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get this shot. Usually the moment I leave to get my camera Evey decides to move to investigate, but she was still there when I got back. I quickly took a picture so I’d at least have one, then I slowly crept back to peek behind the curtain more at eye level with her. I think she thought it was a game because I could hear her purring away after I took the second photo.