Oakville Jazz Festival Photos

The organizers of this year’s Oakville Jazz Festival knocked this one out of the park. While other jazz festivals I’ve attended recently, including the Beaches Jazz Festival, have relied on the old try-and-true acts (some of dubious talent), the Oakville festival featured lots and lots of young new performers and the performances were excellent.P8080089-1

Jazz festivals offer you an opportunity to try out your street photography skills.

The performers love having their photos taken (and may even buy some great shots from you so remember to bring business cards) and the crowds are pretty agreeable to you stepping in front of them to shoot and then move on at least early in the evening.P8080201-1

Most of the best times to shoot jazz festivals is the hour before and after sunset. That golden glow of the sun low on the horizon can really be helpful in making colours pop so long as the stage is in front of you and the sun is over your shoulder and the crowds haven’t grown so large as to make walking around tough to do.P8080066-1

It’s a lot harder if the sun is setting behind the stage and you’re getting sun flaring across the screen. Of course every so often the flare makes the photo and you can all it talent or art! By 9pm at most street festivals the crowds are too large to easily step in front of the stage.P8080211-1

This fall I will be teaching a couple of one-night workshops on street photography for a couple of local camera clubs but here are a couple of tips.

First dress in black. I didn’t get this from Johnny Cash, the singer who was known as the “the man in black” but from Jay Maisel who is one of the best street photographers of all time. Jay shoots the streets of New York City and his candid artistic renditions of street life are amazingly great photos.P8080170-1-2

Jay says by dressing all in black he just disappears into the background when he’s shooting. His subjects rarely even know they’ve had their photo taken so Jay’s images always have this fresh look to them.

Another tip I give at every workshop: Shoot lots. Digital shooting costs nothing more than the price of the memory card. Getting a candid portrait is easier if you’re shooting lots of images especially when you’re shooting singers or bands in action. P8080021-1

Yes I look for the “special moment” shot but especially as the light is fading and I’m squatting down in front of the crowd (and at 66 thanks to yoga I can still squat and better yet I can still get up unassisted) and there’s kids running in and out of the shot and I’m getting hungry and tired then it’s easier to shoot a bunch of frames and look for genius on the Lightroom screen than trying for the one-off perfect shot.

For more photos from the Oakville Jazz Festival checkout my online gallery at Peter West Photography.

Beaches Jazz Festival Photos

Is it me or were the Thursday night crowds at the 2015 Beaches Jazz Festival huge? P7230282-1

Most photographers shoot the Jazz Festival on the Thursday night as Friday and Saturday crowds often are so large that it gets just about impossible to politely slip in front and shoot a few frames before moving on.

This Thursday the crowds really packed in around 9 p.m. on one of the hottest July evenings I can remember at the festival.

Photos are up at Peter West Photography and are available for free download and on my Flickr gallery Peter West Photo.

Street Photography

I’m doing a couple of talks at camera clubs this fall about street photography. If you go back to the beginnings of photography itself a lot of it was street photography. The new photographers took their cameras, such as they were, to the streets, to the cities, to war and into their homes.

What they shot was the world around them.Brussels_Bresson

Street photography is a lot like photojournalism with the main exception that you don’t get paid for your street photography…but you could!

This famous photo was shot by one of the old masters Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In a sense, I started my photography career doing street photography. i had been getting $10 freelance assignments from community newspapers and I was looking for full time employment. A buddy of mine let me know of a job available in his city so that weekend I went and shot their summer fair. On Monday morning I showed up for my job interview with precious few published photos but pages of photos of the summer fair. I got hired on the spot :)P7230234-1

Street photography is also a lot like travel photography. When we’re travelling I am always looking for something special to shoot…like that time in Chicago when the naked bike race was going through town or when we chanced upon the Giro d’Italia as it rode through Sorrento.

Shooting street photography is good practice. It teaches you how to use your equipment. It can be challenging as situations change so rapidly. P7230341-1

I like shooting jazz festivals like the Beaches Jazz Festival here in Toronto. Musicians are right on the street from about 7 pm until it gets too dark to shoot without a flash (and flash is usually pretty ugly as you’re shooting directly into the face of your subjects).

I also shot the Toronto Zombie walk for a number of years. This was four hours of non-stop fun and made for hundreds of photos which I posted to free online galleries.2010 To. Zombie Walk (1 of 1)-7

Here in my little town, I shot the Mayor’s Baseball Tournament one year and that was 12 hours of shooting out in the sun on a really hot day.

I only carried two cameras with extra memory cards and shot all day long.

Some of the other volunteers wore their photo backpacks and carried everything they owned. We learn by doing :)

Now as to getting paid!

It’s not impossible to sell a few images back to the organizers for use in their future publicity materials. Then the next year they might even hire you to shoot for the entire event.

A few business cards and an online gallery and suddenly you’re a street photographer specializing in photojournalism. Wow does it get better than that?

Rates are going to be high but selling a couple of photos at $20 to $50 each is nice and getting a day-long assignment for $150 to $300 isn’t out of the question.

BTW the best shot of the night, IMHO came way after dark:


Lightroom CC Crash

Seems the delightful people at Adobe have done it again.lightroom6-635x403

Chat boards across the Internet are flaming Adobe’s Lightroom CC as it cheerfully crashes a few seconds after loading.

To say folks are frustrated would be a gross understatement. They’re pissed! And I don’t blame them.

I tried all the suggested fixes this morning but the one that worked for me was to deinstall Lightroom CC and restart my computer. Then I reinstalled Lightroom and went into the preference file and check off the Preferences – Performance – Use Graphics Processor box and so far – fingers crossed – Lightroom seems to have stabilized again.

Who Is Nancy Falconi and Why Do People Pay For Her Photos?

Nancy Falconi shot a photo of her kids that collectively made her around $20,000! She shot an olive branch while in Europe that netted her $10,000.2848650_300x300

Her photography is simple, unaffected and one might say even amateurish to a point. It’s certainly not technical or overly manipulated.

Of course that’s me saying that. The editors of Parent’s Magazine and Yoga Journal and many others found her work perfect for their publications.

Nancy Falconi was the guest speaker at the Oakville Camera Club last night and I found her photographic journey fascinating.

As many of you know I was a photojournalist and a newspaper and magazine editor and writer. I’ve taught photography to thousands of students now and I was a photo editor as well.

I’ve helped new photographers create their portfolios (Keep it to 20 shots or less on the same subject. Your portfolio only gets you an interview or a tentative trial assignment. Don’t work for nothing but it doesn’t hurt to accept a photo credit or two in a local magazine or community newspaper to get you started. Not everyone agrees with this suggestion.)

Nancy Falconi’s work would never had been published in any of my publications!

Do not misunderstand me: There’s nothing wrong with Falconi’s work. In fact, there’s much that’s very right about it. But it’s the direction of Falconi’s journey into photography that’s instructional here.

A mainly self-taught photographer like myself, Falconi transitioned from the dreary 220px-Sally_Manncorporate world by shooting the things she loved around her home. Like the amazing Sally Mann, the great American photographer (who was called in 2001 by Time Magazine America’s Best Photographer) Falconi shot her children and the things around her home.

As she told the camera club, a carefully crafted portfolio of made-up model photos sent to art directors and followed up by mass email campaigns netted her nothing but her shots of the kids caught the eye of a New York City portfolio consultant and the rest is history.

So why would Falcon’s work would never have been published by me? It’s because I was buying images that suited my publications. We didn’t use images of kids but it was the images of her children that (again much like Sally Mann) opened the doors to being published elsewhere.

One of the lessons here is not to quit. Don’t let other’s opinions suppress your own. Keep shooting. It’s not the equipment. It’s the vision. It’s the heart. It’s the photographer.

This was instructional:

A question about what to shoot that came from an audience member prompted Falconi to ask the audience member what was she passionate about? The answer, eventually, was portraits. And Falconi’s suggestion to start shooting portraits (I’m paraphrasing here.) was rebuffed by the comment that the shooter didn’t know if there was market for her images.

This is the old what came first argument: the chicken or the egg dilemma!

Falcon’s point is shoot what you love and the art directors will follow :) or something like that.

I was thinking if I was that young woman and I really, really wanted to be a professional photographer I’d drag my camera to the club meetings which are held in a massive windowless, black-draped, dim presentation hall perfect for shooting portraits of 100-plus club members.

I’d bring a stool and with one light aimed into a softbox and I’d plead for volunteers to pose before my lens at every opportunity. I’d keep this up until either the club banned me from attending or I learned how to shoot amazing portraits of ordinary people.

All in all, it was a very instructional night at the Oakville Camera Club.

Zombie Walk Is Dead

Peter West Photo-1-31-LSad news today with the announcement that the 2015 Zombie Walk in Toronto has been cancelled.2010 To. Zombie Walk (1 of 1)-5

Killed off by rising costs, lack of sponsorship and little support from the dead, the organizers have decided they just can’t keep digging the same old dirt.

_DSC4622bThis was one of the great photography events of the year in Toronto. Coming every October, the Toronto Zombie Walk could see well over 10,000 zombies taking a stroll around city streets.

It’s a great shame to see it fade into ashes but to all things there is a season – dust to dust and ashes to ashes.2010 To. Zombie Walk (1 of 1)-3

I’m going to miss it.Peter West Photo-1-181-L

Photos from previous years are available at Peter West Photography and my Flickr site.

All the photos are available for free download for any non-commercial purpose.

May our spirits meet again. RIP Toronto Zombie Walk.

The Olympus OM-D-E-M5-II

Oh wow. The OM-D-E-M5-II by Olympus is an amazing camera :)

It’s a little tiny in my hands so I’ve ordered the accessory battery pac and grip but having said that it’s an amazingly accomplished camera especially with the equally amazing 12-40mm F/2.8 professional-level lens.E-M5MarkII_BLK_right_top_M1240_BLK

If you’re considering buying a the M5-Mark II you might not want to watch some of the online videos from new buyers.

As a long-time Olympus digital camera owner I’m pretty happy with the camera system including the menus. Some other shooters find the menu system a huge frustration. It’s not. It could be improved but once you get used to how Olympus does things this is a pretty nice camera and a pretty nice system.

Now having said that it took me half an hour to get the wireless transfer system working between the camera and my IPhone and I’m not sure yet that I’ve got it working perfectly.

The funny thing is I’ve always bought my cameras by how they felt in my hands. My SONY DSCoriginal first “real” camera was a Pentax Spotmatic with screw-in lenses and the old workhorse was used almost daily and didn’t owe me a dime by the time I sold it. It was a delight to use.

All the Nikons I’ve bought over the years have always felt right and I can’t recommend them enough and, like I said, if I was shooting professionally and needed a couple of robust full-frame cameras I’d buy Nikons in a heartbeat.

But the Nikon days are gone and there’s a new camera in town. I’ll be spending the next few days with the camera in one hand and the manual in the other.