Every region has it’s own special culture and atmosphere, just waiting to be experienced. The Southern California beach towns are no exception! It’s been one year since I moved to San Diego, and I’ve been captivated by the beach towns that lie along the Pacific Coastline. As a photographer, I’ve made it a point to explore and document these towns, in hopes that I’ll eventually be able to share something greater than individual photos.
What I’m sharing today isn’t a finished product — it’s still in the making. The video above and the slideshow below are just a sample of what I hope to achieve some day. I’m lucky to be able to live in such a great place, and I don’t know how long I’ll have that ability. Prior to living here, I lived in New Jersey and I got to experience the East Coast culture and New York City culture. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in full swing with my photography and I missed a great opportunity to document an amazing region. I don’t plan on making that mistake again.
And to help me finish this project, I’d like to get your help. For the next year of my existence in Southern California, I’ll be photographing with this project in mind. Based on what you’ve seen here, give me some feedback. What’s working? What’s not? What’s missing? What’s overdone? What places or things can I photograph to better capture the culture? When you think of Southern California beach towns, what comes to mind? I’d love to get some feedback from all of you.
Feet are interesting photographic subjects that often get overlooked because of their proximity to the ground. Feet can be very expressive of the person they belong to — sometimes even more so than a portrait.
The inspiration for this post came from our very own Epic Edits Flickr Group. Regular readers on the blog know that I pick out my favorite photos in the pool each week and display them in a weekly feature. In the last two or three weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of feet show up in the pool — and most of them were really good!
So all 20 photos below are from our Flickr group. Individually, the photos are great… but as a collection, they’re very powerful. Enjoy, and take some inspiration for your own photography.
In the last part of this series, we went over File Processing with Adobe Bridge. So now that the images have been skimmed and processed on a very basic level, it’s now time to start picking out the good ones and organizing.
Before I spend any more time keywording or adding titles and descriptions, I thin out the herd so I’m not wasting time on photos that will never be used for anything. To do this, Adobe Bridge offers several tools such as stars and labels. Bridge also offers tools for finding images, so we’ll cover searching and creating collections.
Adobe Bridge offers the ability to star your photos based on a five point scale. This gives you six levels of separation to use however you like. I personally don’t use the stars because my own organizing scheme works fine without them, but you may find a use for them. Once you add stars to a photo you’ll have the option of filtering your files by this rating system.
I say that I don’t use the stars, but I actually utilize them as a temporary means of choosing files. If I have several photos of a very similar scene, I typically want to choose just one of them. So I add stars to photos in the group based on technical and artistic merits. This helps me narrow down my selection to just a few photos that can be compared side by side. After I choose the winner, all the stars are removed.
Labels are similar to stars, but they’re not so centered around a ranking scale. I use labels heavily because they can be filtered easily and the colors associated with them make it very convenient to spot labeled photos and folders. In addition, the label system can be customized to match your needs. Labels can be applied via the right-click menu or by pressing “Ctrl+(6-9)” while one or more items are selected.
The default labels offered in CS3 are No Label, Select, Second, Approved, Review, and To Do. These may be fine for your particular workflow, but I’ve customized the text of my labels to make them more recognizable. This can be done through the “Edit >> Preferences… >> Labels” dialog. I use To Do (need to be processed), In Process (started but not finished), Complete (finished processing), Revisit (reprocess later), and For Sale (anything on the market).
I only apply labels to the photos I’m going to process on a deeper level, so very few of them actually get a label. I also label my folders with red, yellow, or green based on what I have going on inside. Red folders have not been processed at all. Yellow folders have some photos started. Green folders are complete and need no attention at the moment. And Blue folders were complete but need more attention now. So while looking at my folders, it’s easy to see what needs working on and what doesn’t. Once inside of the folder, it’s a simple matter of selecting the “To Do” or “In Process” filter to see what needs work. The filter is also handy for bringing up the completed photos in case I’m looking for new material to sell.
Filters are fine if you’re working in a single folder of photos, but sometimes you need to expand your reach to a set of folders encompassing multiple photo shoots, months, or years. Finding what you’re looking for is no problem if you’ve done your job with adding keywords, labels, and other metadata.
Most of us are familiar with search and find functions commonly found in software. Bridge is no exception, but the tool is much more powerful than most. Before you start your search, be sure to navigate to the location you want to search under (this will make your job easier). To open the “Find Dialog” just press Ctrl+F or find the item under the “Edit” menu. Here’s what we see:
The Source option will be pre-filled with your current location, but you can also choose other common locations or browse for a specific directory. Criteria can be added or removed to suit your needs, and there are a vast number of metadata options that can be used for the search. In my example, I’m searching for a “beach” photo that I need “To Do”. There are several other options for the Results that dictate how the search behaves. When you’re ready to search, hit the “Find” button.
If you find yourself conducting the same search over and over again, a collection is what you need. Collections are like saved searches, but can be carried out from any location with the same criteria. The results are similar to albums in other organization software, but it’s not quite a drag-n-drop operation.
For example, I’d like to be able to find all of my “To Do” photos without having to look in each folder and filter things down. By creating a collection with the criteria for the label “To Do”, I can run the collection for a set of photo shoots, an entire year, or the whole archive. You can also create collections to search for specific keywords or other items in the metadata.
To start a collection, follow the instructions for a regular search. But instead of hitting “Find” we’re going to hit “Save As Collection”, which will bring up a save file dialog box. Choose a location for your collection, give it a name, and save it — I store mine in a top level directory called “Collections” within my photo archive. Also in that save dialog, you’ll see a couple of other options down near the bottom. I typically select the “Start Search From Current Folder” option so I can execute the collection from any location.
To run a collection search from any directory, you’ll need to also add that collection to your “Favorites” so you can access it while browsing your folders. When you get to the level that you want to search from, just run the collection by double clicking it and the search will begin from your current location. Some collections I’ve put together include one for each of my labels and one for seeking images that I’ve posted on various websites (I keyword them with things like “Flickr” and “ImageKind” after I’ve posted them online).
Features such as searches and collections only work well when you’ve put the effort into your photos up-front. Keywording, labeling, starring, and adding other metadata is a key process that has substantial benefits down the road.
I’m sure we could drag this thing out for many more weeks, but I think we’ve covered a majority of the key points with the software. In the next part of the series, I’ll talk about various tips, tools, and techniques for using Adobe Bridge efficiently and effectively.
If you’re ever asked to submit a portfolio for a project, gallery, contest, etc. — make sure you know what a portfolio is before submitting anything! I won’t go into all the details, but this topic reared its head a few days ago in that password-protected post that many of you are probably wondering about. Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough… Nevermind, I’ve opened it up so everybody can check out the discussions.
Being able to produce a decent portfolio is a skill worth having. A poorly constructed portfolio can be the sole cause of rejection, even if you’re the most amazing photographer on the face of the Earth. So here are a few lessons on the art of making a portfolio.
A PORTFOLIO IS…
… a small collection of topic-related photos presented for the purpose of evaluation. And “small” typically means 10 to 20 photos. Any less and it’s hard to evaluate; any more and it’s hard to digest. Traditionally, a portfolio was in the form of prints bound into some kind of book or folder. With the digital age in full swing, portfolios can also take the form of a web page (which is actually the focus of this article). The photos should be your absolute best while also representing your style or capabilities as they relate to the given topic.
A PORTFOLIO IS NOT…
… a photoblog, a gallery, a collection of galleries, or any other large collection of images. Photoblogs and galleries take too much time to navigate and generally contain too much information to paint a clear picture. If somebody has to review 50 or 100 electronic portfolios, you don’t want them to spend their limited time just looking for the photos. If they have to search too hard, it will only leave a negative impression and you’ll go right into the “No” pile. If your images are not closely related to the given topic, you only give yourself the appearance of not being skilled on that topic — again, right into the “No” pile.
WHAT’S A PHOTOGRAPHER TO DO?
Put some portfolios together right now! Don’t wait until you’re asked to present a portfolio on a moment’s notice. With tools such as Flickr, Zooomr, SmugMug, Picasa Web Albums, other photo-sharing sites, and personal websites, there’s no reason not to have some portfolios put together and ready to go.
Remember, keep them concise and constantly updated. Evaluate your collection of images and make the determination on which topics you could make a portfolio for. Some ideas might be landscape, macro, flowers, black & white, bright colors, street photography, portraits, abstract, fine art, weddings, religious, beaches, travel, countries, colors, architecture, interiors, neon signs… you get the point. If you’re a Flickr user, you can check your tags to give you an idea of which topics are good candidates. You can see my current portfolios on Flickr.
UPDATE: If anybody has a portfolio or collection of portfolios they’d like to share, leave the links in the comments.
If the occasion arises to submit a portfolio already in your collection, GREAT! You’re done! If somebody asks for a portfolio on a different topic, at least you have the experience to know what a portfolio should look like. For further reading on this topic, see “Creating a Photography Portfolio” over at photocritic.org.
Photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Zooomr allow you to organize your photos into sets, collections, or some other form of grouping. You can group however you’d like: category, topic, genre, place, time, popularity, or whatever else you can come up with. Maybe you’re the type of person who has a whole bunch of really specific sets with just a few photos in each one. Or maybe you’re the type of person who has just a few broad sets that are overflowing with photos.
My point is that sometimes you should really evaluate how your photos are organized and maybe shift things around to better accommodate your current collection of photos. I did this just a few days ago, and I feel a whole lot better about my organization scheme. Prior to this, I had maybe 5 or 6 generic sets — some of which had too many photos and other had just a few. Here’s how I’m organized now: