Image copyright Dan White. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about great artists, their favorite images and the backstories that go with each photograph. And, sometimes there's an even bigger story behind the portrait itself.
Dan White is a Pulitzer Prize winning artist, best know for his commercial and editorial work. Today he's in the "Why?" spotlight with more than just a story about a photograph. This is a backstory behind a passion-defining project for his hometown of Flint, Michigan.
So many artists over the years have talked about the importance of special projects to help you stay focused on your creativity and love for the craft. With Dan, this unique project goes all the way back to his roots as a kid growing up in the Flint community. Click on the image above to watch Dan's Kickstarter video on the project and learn more about his background and why this portrayal of the spirit of the people of Flint is so important.
To see more of Dan's work his website is just a click away. His images are stunning, and I'm sure you'll notice the same thing I did - this is an artist who truly loves the craft!
Image copyright Jonathan Thorpe. All rights reserved.
I started this series a little over a year ago with one purpose, to introduce you to some of the leaders in imaging, but I underestimated the power of the backstories they'd share about their favorite photographs.
Jonathan Thorpe is in the "Why?" spotlight today. He's a perfect example of one of the things I love most about this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
I first met Jonathan through Tamron USA many years ago. He's one of Tamron's Image Masters and an incredibly talented artist. Although he's best known for his commercial/advertising work, there's nothing he can't photograph. One of his signatures is the way each image tells a story. When you listen to Jonathan's on this episode you'll understand why it's one of his most favorites!
Check out more of Jonathan's images with a click on the image above. And, follow Jonathan along with the rest of the Image Masters team. They're a diverse and talented group of artists who never compromise on the quality of an image or for that matter their dedication to the industry!
Image copyright Jared Platt. All rights reserved.
Jared Platt joins us on "Why?" today with an intense backstory and a bonus; a lesson in how important it is for artists to learn to see - not just their subjects, but the emotion of the moment.
I started this series to help you get to know photographers who need to be on your radar, but it's become so much more. Each artist, and especially Jared today, has shared not just the why behind a favorite image, but often the why they're passionate about the craft.
Jared is one of the leading educators in professional photography today, and he's going to be on the road a lot this year. If he's teaching in your area make it a point to get to know him. Just click on the image above to connect to his schedule and his website. He's also one of the leading educators for Profoto, and an X-Rite Coloratti. Click on the links below to follow Jared's Profoto YouTube series (16 videos in all) and meet the Coloratti team.
Image copyright Kristofer Rowe. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Going back to the why behind "Why?" - It was all because nobody in a class I was teaching knew who Mary Ellen Mark was. I couldn't do much on some of the legends we've lost, but somebody needed to do something to introduce more of you to today's movers and shakers! What I underestimated was the power of each image and artist to make a point about their careers, lives, inspiration, etc.
Kristofer Rowe is in today's spotlight, and this is the perfect venue for his story. Kristofer is all about being inspired. He's a reminder to all of us that when things might look the worst, we've got the ability to rise above whatever it is dragging us down.
How I met Kristofer is another testimony about the power of our industry. I hadn't heard about him until watching a video produced by Tamron USA. Then came an outstanding post by Jenn Gidman for Tamron's blog about Kristofer's philosophy and the way he shoots. Finally, we connected on a phone call, and a new friendship was launched.
Looking to see more of Kristofer's work? Check out this post I shared last week and watch his video. Then, visit his flickr page. What I love most about his work is the level of creativity to capture the personality of his subjects. And for those of you whose specialties are a long way from birds of prey, Kristofer needs to still be on your radar. He might be photographing a subject you're not interested in, but his philosophy to bring the personality of the animal into each image applies to virtually each person you photograph.
Pay particular attention to his composition, camera angle, and exposure. In a world with plenty of bird photographers, he's making each image different. Put that technique together with his personal story, and you have all the ingredients for an artist who inspires us!
Click on the Tamron logo to visit their product pages and check out some of Kristofer's favorite focal lengths!
Image copyright Giulio Sciorio. All rights reserved.
Giulio Scorio, in this new episode, shares one of his favorite images from a project that became the catalyst to establishing his career. Shot for editorial, the image was part of a complete assignment shooting for the Village Voice in Phoenix ten years ago.
Check out more of Giulio's work with a visit to his website. Just click on his image.
Today Giulio is part of Panasonic's Luminary Team, one of the most diverse groups of artists in professional photography. You can keep tabs on what he's working on with a visit to the LumixLounge. Just click on the LUMIX G logo below.
He's also no stranger to SCU and has been a regular contributor. Check out some his past posts, all focused on helping you raise the bar on the quality of your images. One of my personal favorites is his guest post from four years ago about using a small camera. It's also unique because he talked about animating portraits and wanting to bring still images to life.
"Why?" started out as a project to introduce you to the favorite images by the movers and shakers in professional photography, but each artist has shared so much more about their lives than just a photograph.
"Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera."
Image copyright David Beckstead. All rights reserved.
The concept behind "Why?" is all about helping you get to know today's movers and shakers in professional photography. What I never anticipated, when we started the series a year ago, was the variety and depth of the backstories as each respected artist has talked about one of their favorite images.
David Beckstead joins me on this new episode of "Why?" with an image taking us right back to his roots with the U.S. Forest Service. So many of today's successful artists and educators started out in other directions long before their reputations grew to what they're doing now.
In David's "About" section he describes himself as a mountain man at heart and his lifestyle of travel, hiking and loving the outdoors totally supports that claim. He's also a passionate artist, Dad and husband. His appreciation for a never-ending quest to build his skill set is what makes him one of the industry's leading wedding photographers and educators, teaching all over the world.
To see more of David's work just click on the image above to link to his website.
Image copyright Skip Cohen. All rights reserved.
It's the first anniversary of "Why?" and what a year it's been. My good friend John Sexton was the first artist in the series, and since then we've shared the work and wisdom from sixty-five other photographers. With each episode, we've learned something about their love for the craft. The backstories have involved great memories and a peek at the passion these artists have been willing to share.
Since it's the first anniversary, I wanted to share one of my favorite images, but not as insight into my skill set, but in appreciation to one of SCU's partners, Panasonic and Tom Curley, who's responsible for their US Luminary Team. Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography," and that's exactly what they're doing. Most of you know I don't make a living as a photographer. While I know more than I let on, it's the business/marketing side of photography that intrigues me the most, However, I'll match my passion for having a camera in my hands against anybody and these days I'm never without a LUMIX camera.
Next week we'll kick off a new year of images in the "Why?" series with a favorite of David Beckstead's. It's a new year, and there are at least a dozen different images with backstories ready to go.
Thank you for supporting this series and an especially BIG thanks to all the artists who have shared their stories and favorite images! Interested in looking at the entire series one by one? Just click on my image above.
Image copyright Lou Jones. All rights reserved.
While the core purpose behind "Why?" is to introduce you to artists you need to know, it's evolved into so much more. The featured artists haven't just shared their backstories, but also their passion for imaging, people, and with today's guest, his humanitarian quest to use his skills as a photographer to tell share the backstories of an entire continent.
Lou Jones is in the "Why?" spotlight today. He's an artist, writer, educator and humanitarian who's taken on an incredible task, documenting the private side of one country after another in Africa. It's the side that doesn't make it into the news, but reflects the spirit of the people.
To see more of Lou's work click on the image above and link to his website. And, to find out more about Lou's panAFRICAproject click on the thumbnail to the right.
Part of Lou's image statement describes the project best:
"Using photography and heretofore unavailable technologies, panAFRICAproject will establish a repository of images that represents each of the 54 individual countries devoid of the preconceived, western notions of distress: conflict, pestilence and poverty, i.e. violence tourism. We intend to accurately document the highlights and inner workings of the most progressive twenty-first century continent."
Image copyright Cindy Harter Sims. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is about images, artists and backstories. It's about artists who need to be on your radar.
I'm betting many of you don't know Cindy Harter Sims. She's not typically on the speaking circuit, but she's always at the key conventions. Besides having become an outstanding artist, what I enjoy most about Cindy is her focus on building her skill set. She never slows down!
Cindy was the music teacher in a Georgia school for many years and decided she wanted to be a professional photographer. She took classes, practiced for endless hours, and then in 2011, after five years of saving and planning, opened her studio. In 2013 I shared a guest post from Cindy along with a podcast later that year about her journey. She's never strayed from building her skill set and in the process has worked with some of the finest artists and educators in our industry. Cindy is all about quality - in her images, business, relationships with clients, the community and her friends.
In regards to the portrait above, in an IM she wrote to me:
"I get pretty emotionally attached to my work. This print is my whole heart. I have been feeling the urge to make a portrait of my father for a while...I wanted to recreate that scene as if to live it once more."
To see more of Cindy's work, just click on her image.
Image copyright David Akoubian. All rights reserved.
With each new episode of "Why?" we're not only seeing some incredibly beautiful images, but learning a little about each artist. We look at hundreds of images every day, but we rarely hear the backstories. This new episode has a story so many of us can relate to.
David Akoubian is in the "Why?" spotlight today. He's a Tamron Image Master as well as an educator, artist and writer. Just click on David's image to visit his website and enjoy the images in his galleries. And, if you're interested in an outstanding workshop, it's just a click away. David has his "Spring in the Smokies Workshop" coming up in early May.
At the end of the podcast David and I talked a little about Tamron's workshops around the country. Just click on the thumbnail to the right for more information on all of their local and nationwide events.
Image by Don Komarechka. All rights reserved.
What an adventure "Why?" has become! The idea started out as an introduction to artists you should know, but with each episode we're gaining insight into different aspects of imaging and the passion of each photographer.
Don Komarechka is in the "Why?" spotlight with an image that's simply remarkable! Remember, this is the image Don captured right out of the can. He's affectionately referred to as the "Mad Scientist of Photography." As he talks about in his sound-byte, capturing this image was all day event. If you've met Don or attended his workshops, then you also know every new image is a stepping stone to the next experiment. He never slows down on pushing the edge of the creative envelope!
Click on Don's image to visit his website and discover Don's view of the world from landscapes and the night skies to macro and the world we all live in, but never notice! He'll also be doing a very special FREE webinar on April 12, thanks to X-Rite Photo & Video. Check out his EDU10 podcast about the challenges of printing macro images.
Don is a member of the X-Rite Photo & Video Coloratti team. Click on the link below to meet X-Rite's Coloratti team.
Image copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
I started "Why?" to help you get to know the movers and shakers in the industry, people who should be on your radar. The majority of the photographers featured to date are educators, writers and published artists who we read about on a regular basis, but now and then artists come along who call themselves passionate enthusiasts. They simply love the craft. You know from seeing their work and talking to them if they chose to be a working professional we'd be thoroughly familiar with their work.
It's time for you to meet Paul Mango. He doesn't make a living as a professional photographer, but as I mention in my intro on the podcast, I'll match his passion for the craft with anybody! What I love about the insight he shares in this episode of "Why?" is the importance he puts on memory-making family events.
Paul is part of Panasonic's Luminary team. Click on his image to visit his Instagram page and you'll see a remarkable collection of his images. Then, wander over to the Lumix Lounge and meet the rest of the Luminary team.
Image copyright Ryan Schembri. All rights reserved.
We look at images every day, but never know the backstories or very much about the artists themselves. We're going to the other side of the world today with one of Australia's most recognized artists, Ryan Schembri.
Ryan and I go back a lot of years to my early WPPI days. He's been repeatedly recognized for outstanding images all over the world and several times has walked away with the highest honors in WPPI's print competition.
When I asked Ryan for an image to share he sent me the one above and I started laughing. I had no idea what it was. A few minutes later he sent me the image to the right.
Remember, I'm only asking for a favorite image from each artist, with no guidelines over why it's special. Ryan's backstory will surprise you, but he also raises a very interesting point.
As artists it's so important to create images just for yourself. You need to regularly allow your creative juices to flow and experiment. Special projects and creating images for your own enjoyment and expression is so important to maintaining your passion for the craft.
You can see more of Ryan's images with a click on either image.
Image copyright Vicki Taufer. All rights reserved.
When I started "Why?" I thought the artists would typically share one of their favorite images captured for clients over the years. What's actually been shared is a wide variety of incredible backstories, and often very personal memory-making images having little to do with imaging, but a lot to do with life.
Vicki Taufer is in the "Why?" spotlight today sharing a very personal backstory which brought a number of us in the industry together on her behalf. It's the perfect example of just how close an industry we are and as sappy as it might sound, a family. And, in terms of Vicki and Jed's family, they believe in giving back. As a result of their experience in the adoption process of their daughter Purnima, along with the people of Nepal, they started a non-profit, Aasha.
"We were inspired to start The Aasha Fund by our daughter’s adoption, but our focus is to help people all over the world, specifically families and their children."
You'll find more of Vicki's work with a visit to her website - just click on her "Why?" image.
Images copyright Barbara Bower. All rights reserved.
Every photograph we look at has a backstory, but today's "Why?" is unique as we explore a little of Barbara Bower's world of equine photography.
Barbara is an artist, educator, and writer and while there's probably nothing she hasn't photographed in her career, without question horses and the relationship with their owners is a very special passion. To visit Barbara's website and see more of her work, click on either image.
In the hierarchy of why people hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories, the top three are brides, babies, and pets. Most of us think of pets as being a whole lot smaller, but spend time with anyone who has a horse, and they're clearly a member of the family just like any dog or cat.
I asked her to talk about both images because they each represented a slightly different skill set, but the common denominator is capturing the relationship between the "horses and their humans."
Barabara's new book is scheduled to be released later in the year. Just click on the thumbnail to link to Amazon and place your order.
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
Every day we look at hundreds of images without knowing the backstories or for that matter the artists involved. I started "Why?" so you could put some of the most respected artists in our industry on your radar!
This new "Why?" is especially fun because it's by an artist of an artist. Chicago-based photographer Bob Davis is in the spotlight today with two very different images of Annie Leibovitz. It's a great story from an incredibly diverse artist. And both of these images were captured back in his days when Bob was working for the Chicago Sun Times and done on film - no chimping!
Bob's a photographer, most often recognized for his wedding and portrait work, but there's nothing he can't photograph. He's also an outstanding educator, writer, and friend to so many people in the industry. Follow Bob's workshop schedule with a click on either of the "Why?" images above. And, if you'd like to see more of his client work and get to know both him and Dawn, visit their site. It's just a click away.
Image copyright Craig La Mere. All rights reserved.
"Why?" started out as a way to introduce you to artists who need to be on your radar. However, over the last ten months it's morphed into a series of life lessons from some of the most respected photographers in the industry. There are now fifty-seven in all!
It's time to put Craig La Mere in the spotlight. He's not only a talented creative fashion artist, but an author and educator who clearly redefines fun with every client and class he teaches. Remember "fun?" It's one of those very special words we too often forget about in the day-in-day-out challenges of working.
Craig shares some valuable insight in this new episode. To see more of his images, follow his blog and teaching schedule, just click on his favorite photograph above - the one that started his career!
Craig will be teaching again this year at ShutterFest in April. If you're there and haven't met him, make it a point to introduce yourself. And, if you've never been to ShutterFest - what are you waiting for?
Image copyright Sal Cincotta. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about the backstories of some of the most talented artists in imaging. Each artist is unique as are their images. With each favorite image we've shared we've learned a little more about a photographer who needs to be in your network.
Sal Cincotta is in the spotlight today, and as I mention in my intro, he may well be one of the most diverse photographers in business today. Too many of you only know him as the founder of Shutter Magazine and ShutterFest. Well, it's time to meet Sal Cincotta the photographer and artist.
Interested in seeing more of Sal's work, just click on the image above.
Even better subscribe to Shutter Magazine and enjoy another one of his visions turned into reality, creating the leading magazine in professional photography! The online subscription is FREE, but the printed publication is stunning, and you'll want to add it to your monthly dose of inspiration! And, check out ShutterFest and your chance to spend some time with Sal and a whole bunch of us who are part of the fastest growing hands-on, educational and fun conference in photography.
Registration is now open - See you April 18-20 in St. Louis!
Image copyright Michael Oneil. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is always about the backstories behind great images, shared by some of the industry's most respected photographers.
It's time for you to meet Michael ONeill. Based outside NYC, he's the fifty-fifth artist in this series with a terrific backstory about the image above. While each "Why?" image and backstory has been unique, the common denominator for everybody has been their passion for the craft.
Although there's nothing Michael can't shoot, his passion is bringing fine art to his clients. He never compromises on the quality of an image and has spent his career fine-tuning his skill set. In the podcast he mentions a workshop he attended many years ago with Dean Collins, a good friend and inspiration to so many of us in the industry. It's a classic example of the importance Michael puts on education and his interest in being both a teacher and student today.
As an artist, educator, and writer you'll find a lot of great content with a visit to his website. Just click on his image.
Image copyright Melanie Anderson. All rights reserved.
I started "Why?" to introduce you to the movers and shakers in the industry, never realizing the power of the backstories behind each image. With every image there's been a lesson and today's "Why?" with Melanie Anderson is a perfect example.
Melanie not only shares "Why?" this image is one of her favorites, but her story is the perfect reminder of what photography is all about. I'm often accused of over-using the words "memory-makers," but that's what imaging is all about. So often artists forget about the trust their clients have put in them to capture images that tell a story.
Melanie isn't just a great artist and educator; she's a storyteller. Even without her sound-byte you get part of the story just looking at her image.
If you don't know Melanie, catch her at an upcoming workshop. Click on the image to visit her educational site and put her on your list of people who need to be in your network!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.