Ok i just had my portfolio exit review at the Tribune, and i guess Ill post something now, since im tender haha. Boy this internship has been crazyyy, in a good way. I counted, some 125 assignments over the course of 4 months, tens of thousands of photos, im estimating at least 40,000, so so so many new people ive met and new friends ive made. Over the course of this internship, I was tested, very hard. And I learned a lot. here are some of those lessons. ..... -If you like to dress nice, always have a set of street clothes on hand. if you're going to take pictures of the rougher parts of oakland, you want to at least look like you belong. Plus its a respect thing...no one is higher or mightier than anyone else, so dont go in looking like you are.
-Photography is all about the details, the small decisions you make that matter the most. If you are taking pictures of a place where you generally don't belong, pay special attention to where you stand, to who you talk to, how you talk to them, how you move, who you look at, how often you take photos, its important to let people become acclimated to you…to the point where they may refuse photos at first, but encourage them in the end.
-If you're going into an event or an assignment and you don't know anyone, ALWAYS talk to a few people first then take a random shot of them. Then you instantly have a few people who are used to you and will let you follow them around for photos. Very helpful.
-As a secondary, always talk to people, half the job is about how you interact with folks. Be friendly, be honest, be yourself.
-Always arrive 10min early and stay 10min extra. Of all the good photos i've taken, most have been a result of either coming early or staying extra.
-Get out of your comfort zone. If you're in your comfort zone, you're not taking good photographs. By far the best shots i've taken were the ones where i was telling myself "i feel so stupid for being here, i don't even belong."
-Care about your subjects, and try to represent them to the best of your abilities. After all, up to 500,000 are going to see the essence of that person based on your photograph.
-Don't walk on International at night.
-But DO walk on International at sunset, the light is magical.
-Shoot first, ask later. 90% of the random people i took photographs of were happy about being photographed, so don't worry about sticking your camera into someones face.
-Also, if someone is crying or its a sensitive situation, be polite, but get the shot, after all, it happened.…and that's your job.
-Switch up your lenses. Dropping and breaking my 17-35 was a godsend.
-Look at other peoples photographs. Both in the paper and outside. Study Study Study. Listen to podcasts. Consider the actual photo taking as a supplement to the amount you should be seeing, reading and listening too. My style automatically shifted after I started to saturate myself, heavily with photographers that I liked. So important.
-Always get names, ages and where people are from. I sucked at captions, so it was good to do that. Plus you make connections that way.
-Have a bag system you are used to and stick with it. Mine was a Domke that held two lenses and my camera, but looked inconspicuous when closed.
-And crop tighter ......
In the end, i think i finally developed a style I can call my own...or at least im getting there. Im going transition to film now, slow down a little and allow myself to saturate the shot rather than crank it out with digital. Itll be good, especially if i get the chance to do some good long term assignments.
To close, photography really is a special thing...you get to experience the world in a way that most people never will. Never mind the ridiculous access you get to have, its about the connections you make with people. You meet people from all, and I mean ALL walks of life, and get to share their experiences as if its your own. Whether its talking to the lady who invented Rice-a-Roni or the first african american police captain in the Bay Area, speaking to a homeless man who is addicted to drugs, attending the funeral of a family who lost their father in an act of senseless violence, interacting with cops, or musicians, or artists, or blue-collar workers, or collectors, or doctors, or athletes, or refugees, or students, or prostitutes, or murderers, or attorneys, or judges, or catholics, or muslims, or protestors, or volunteers, or philanthropists, or military folk, or whatever. its a remarkably complex world we live in, and photography always gave me the chance to at least try and understand it, and for that i am forever thankful.
Thank you to the Oakland Tribune for giving me this opportunity