A New Direction

Photography has been a big part of my life for nearly six years now. During that time, my primary interest and focus has been on travel and landscape photography. I've occasionally delved into street photography, but for the most part, the images I've shared are devoid of people. The reasoning behind this isn't what you might think. You see, the reason I don't generally photograph people isn't because of a lack of interest. It's because the idea of photographing people has always intimidated me. Being someone that doesn't care to have his picture taken, the idea of pointing a camera at someone else has always made me somewhat uncomfortable. 

Something changed recently though; I married the love of my life. And as you might expect, getting married meant spending a lot of time in front of the camera. While this didn't make me any more comfortable with being photographed, it did give me some insight into the interactions between a photographer and his subjects. This in turn, gave me more confidence about photographing other people.

I had an opportunity to put this new found confidence to good use recently during a session for some good friends of ours. This time around, instead of feeling self-conscious, I found myself more relaxed which made it easier to engage and to direct. While I'm a long ways from calling myself a lifestyle photographer, I do feel that I've managed to turn a corner in terms of photographing people. I hope to have more opportunities to explore this type of photography soon. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite images from the time I spent photographing our friends.

Light & Landscape Magazine

Light & Landscape Magazine is a new digital publication featuring the words and images of some very talented photographers. I was extremely flattered when I was contacted by the magazine's editor, Matt Reid, after he came across my post about using the X-Pro1 for landscape photography. Well, I'm excited to say that the latest issue of Light & Landscape Magazine featuring my post has been released and is now available here as a PDF or here from the Apple App Store. I encourage you to check out the latest issue and to subscribe if you're an iOS user. I know Matt is also actively looking for contributors from the landscape photography community so drop him a line if you'd like your work to be considered for an upcoming issue.

International Photography Award

Port of San Francisco

Port of San Francisco

IPA 2013HonorableMention.png

I found out this week that five of my images, including the one above, received Honorable Mentions in the 2013 International Photography Awards. This was the first year I submitted entries to the International Photograph Awards so I am excited to receive recognition for my images. I also wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate my fellow photographers that received awards this year, there was some really amazing work submitted.

New Smugmug and a Redesign

Shortly after I launched my Smugmug website, the company announced a complete overhaul of their entire platform. Since their big announcement on July 30th, I've been on the fence about moving to the new Smugmug and leaving behind all the work I did on the old platform. I spent this past weekend digging into the new Smugmug and ended up not only redesigning my Smugmug website, but also my Squarespace website. I did this partly because I was already thinking about updating my Squarespace design and partly because I didn't want to try and make new Smugmug look like old Smugmug. Updating both websites simultaneously also ended up being less time consuming than making Smugmug look like Squarespace. Overall, I'm extremely happy with how the entire redesign turned out.

So what do I think of the new Smugmug? The short answer is that it is definitely a move in the right direction. They went to a template model, similar to Squarespace, and in the process made the customization process much easier. The templates they offer are all beautiful and really let photographers showcase their images. Instead of having to rely on custom HTML and CSS, the new Smugmug lets users insert content blocks on various sections of the page. While those that want advanced customizations can still use HTML and CSS, I think most users will be very happy with what can be accomplished using the new drag and drop interface. 

To tell you the truth, the new Smugmug reminds me a lot of Squarespace. Both services now provide attractive templates as a starting point and allow users to customize as much or as little as they want. All from a simple and easy to use interface. Both companies also offer free trials, so if you're looking to build a new website or for a place to host and showoff your images, I suggest you check them out.

Prints from Smugmug

One of my goals this year was to make my photographs available for sale through my website. After getting numerous inquiries during the past few months, I got to work and started looking for the best way to make this happen. I initially wanted to use the Squarespace Commerce feature announced in February because it meant I could let buyers purchase directly from me. After a bit more thought however, all the things that went along with running my own e-commerce store just wasn't that appealing to me at this time.

The search went on and I ended up with trial accounts with both Zenfolio and Smugmug, two services that are geared towards letting photographers showcase and sell their work online. I tried out Zenfolio first since I used the service briefly a few years back. I got up and running quickly and was able to upload some portraits I shot for a friend to download. All in all, pretty painless. The downside with Zenfolio was that the customization options were pretty limited. I was able to upload a logo and do some minor tinkering to set up a portal that I could live with. But I just wasn't able to get it to a point where I was happy with it.

I then moved on to Smugmug, which also allowed me to get up and running quickly. The difference with Smugmug was that I was able to really dig in and completely (almost) customize the look of my portal. It took many hours of re-learning HTML/CSS and countless searches in the Smugmug forums, but I was able to make the gallery pages in Smugmug look almost identical to my Squarespace website. In fact, other than the URL (which I decided not to mask) and the small Smugmug footer (which is not removable), it's pretty hard to tell that my portfolios and print store are hosted by Smugmug instead of Squarespace. 

I was so happy with what I was able to do with Smugmug, that I went ahead and signed up for the annual business plan. I may do more tinkering down the road, because that's just in my nature, but it's great that I was able to get the print store up and running in under a week. To check out the prints that are currently available, just visit my SmugMug website. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment or sending me a message from the Contact page.