Friday, December 14, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a new burlesque troupe that will be coming out of New York. The photographs were shot in a small NYC jewelry studio, space was limited. I shot with two lights against a white backdrop. I shot using my Canon 50D with 17-40 f/4L and 70-200 f/4L.

Melody Jane

Dolly Onyx

Dolly Would

 Madam Bomb

Normally I would force myself to write more, but no. Not tonight. My cat is being annoying, I need to get groceries, and I am doing laundry. So none of that BS tonight. Enjoy the pics, and check the girls out. They are pretty amazing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Professional Photographers Facebook page

I was recently added as an admin on the Professional Photographers Page on Facebook. Currently the page has over 12,000 likes. I don't really know what all that means, but I suppose that is good! Here is a copy of a post I wrote earlier this afternoon:

Two groups of questions.

First, to all of the professional photographers that are currently making the most of their income through photography: What steps did you take to make this a reality? Did you go to school for photography? Self-trained? When you were starting out, how did you market yourself? Are you a consumer photographer working in portraiture and weddings? How did you find your market? Are you a fashion or commercial photographer? How did you break into the industry? Are there any photo journalists out there?  How are you adapting to a world where nearly every photo I see is from a smart phone? Stock photography has been in decline for a long time now, is stock photography even a realistic option anymore?

Second to all of the people that want to be and are trying to become full time professional photographers: Are you going to school or do you plan on any formal photography training? What specialization are you shooting for? What steps are you taking to make your goal into reality? What sorts of successes have you had? Have you had any formal business classes?

My own answer:

I can answer my own question for number 2 to get the ball rolling ;). I am currently working on making the transition to working within the photography industry full time. I have been working on the outskirts for a decade now. I have managed two portrait studios, worked for two camera stores, helped to run an art gallery, and worked as a large format printer for a major consumer level print company. One of my current long term goals is to transition into assisting commercial and fashion photographers, as well as working directly with the studios (even longer term goal would be transitioning into shooting). I want to have the freedom to photograph my personal documentary projects while earning a living and satisfying my technical side within the studios working directly with commercial and fashion photographers. Being a door knocker, that has been my main strategy in the last couple of months. I made a list of every major studio in Manhattan and have been showing up at their front doors. I am now on the roster for several studios, and once a week I try to go out and make a couple more contacts. I am also directly emailing commercial and fashion photographers every day. I try to go through ten or so a day. I am not as consistent as I would like to be, but I try.  On the consumer level I am not quite as active, but I definitely have a contingency plan for it if the studios and direct emailing does not work out. I am building a client list from the photography shoots that I do through the camera store that I work at. I also have several hundred coupons printed that I can hand directly out to potential clients. My hope is to simply stalk the play grounds in some of the nicer neighborhoods and hope something eventually works out. As far as school goes; I earned two certificates in photography. The first is as a still photographer, and the second is for a digital lab tech. The goal of the program I went through is to set you up with the education required to enter into commercial or fashion photography as a photographer’s assistant. This is exactly what I am trying to do with it. I went through a very good jr college program in Southern California. It definitely covered all of the bases for basics, but I still feel that it was lacking. Many of the students that graduate from the program will move onto an art school of some type, Art Center in Pasadena is a popular choice. I can definitely understand this move! If I had the cash, I may have done the same thing! Unfortunately, I was not born rich, not even close to it, so I what I currently have is all I can currently afford. I would love more education, but I feel that what I got was adequate if I can get proper on the job training. One of the things that I loved about my school was that it gave me a very solid background in black and white film in all formats. I feel that I may be the last generation of photography students to receive this type of education.  Emphasis on getting the shot right in the camera and minimizing your time spent in post. One of the classes that I took was business photography. It has been the only business class I have taken, and it was actually incredibly valuable! Business is a side of photography that is almost always lost! Again, I felt like it just covered the basics, and in the future I may want to take some more business classes.
Wow! I really didn’t think that would turn into an essay! Any advice is appreciated. Also, a great magazine I discovered is

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New York City blackout. Hurricane Sandy.

I rode the 1 train from Washington Heights to Midtown, service had partially resumed earlier in the day. I was going to see something that I may not ever get to see again; Lower Manhattan in Darkness. The last stop was 42nd, I carried my bike up two flights of stairs and I was off into the unusually cold November 1st night. I crossed over to Broadway and turned south. The lights of the city faded to black, the only light coming from the tail lights of the taxis that I followed. The flat Iron building began to take shape.   

NOHO, SOHO, TriBeCa, West Village, Lower East Side, it was all black. Not a single light. The only light came from the passing taxies and police cars. It was incredibly eerie, but also peaceful. Standing on Greenwich St. in TriBeCa, it was actually possible to really feel the city. Without the hustle and bustle of the nightlife, without the bright city lights that never turn off, the aura of the city was overwhelming. Had I energy, I could have stayed out all night. ¾ of a million people were without power in Lower Manhattan. The subways were completely down. Staten Island got hit really hard, as did parts of Brooklyn. Parts of the Jersey shore is pretty much gone judging from the photos I have seen. Still, It could have been a whole heck of a lot worse. There are so many people right now all over the city working ridiculous hours to things back to normal. The power to Lower Manhattan was supposed to come back on today; the trains were back up in limited service just one day after. Right now there is even a train to Brooklyn running. I am incredibly thankful that I live in an area that was not heavily affected. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

40mm 2.8 and some semi naked ladies.

Its not my usual thing to post reviews of lenses and cameras and such, I am not big into the belief system that  always having the latest and greatest lens or camera is going to make you a better photographer. I am more in tuned with the philosophy that the best camera available is the one that I already have. Regardless, I did pull out the newish Canon 40mm 2.8 pancake lens this weekend. I just picked up a new body and wanted to snap some shots at a burlesque show on Friday to test out ISO capabilities. I wanted to grab the 35 1.4 L, but I was denied access to that lens for an entire weekend, so I grabbed the far less expensive 40mm 2.8.

1st impressions of it were great. It is tiny, so small that my camera felt awkward  almost like shooting with one of my home made pin hole lenses. On the bright side though, it fit in my man bag with ridiculous ease! While still larger than my G12, it is nowhere the size it normally is when fitted with my 24-70. 40mm is a really unique focal length. I feel Canon really thought it out, and made an intelligent decision. This is a full frame lens, but it is primarily marketed for their aps-c cameras. This really gives it an unusual edge, it becomes a perfectly usable normal aspect at  60 on aps-c and a slightly wide normal lens on a full frame. It works well with both uses. Smart.

2nd impressions were not so hot. The auto focus, while super smooth, is definitely not fast. No big deal, a good chance to test out my cameras Al Servo AF mode, and it actually out worked really well. Tracked the dancers very smoothly, no moments of hunting or getting lost in the background. I was shooting at 3200 ISO and roughly 1/125th of a second, yet my shots all looked soft. The light was horrible, but this is how I normally shoot. The only time I shoot in good light is when I create it myself. The subjects I like are always lit horribly! So a lens that performs well in low light is a must. At this point I was wishing I could have grabbed the 35mm 1.4. Those two stops make a hell of a difference in shutter speed. Of course, had I grabbed that lens, I probably wouldn't be writing about the lens now. We all ready know what a fantastic lens that is.

Final impressions. I was pretty ho hum about the lens on my way home. It performed fine, but I shoot in extremes. Fine doesn't cut it. Next day I uploaded my shots, and went to work in Photoshop  Turns out, for the conditions, they came out pretty great. The lens is sharp as my zooms that cost wayyyyyy more. The auto-focus definitely takes its time more than my L glass, but it is super smooth. It doesn't jump around. I was really skeptical of the fly by wire manual focus offered by the stm motor, but in reality, it worked extremely well. I found the focus to be far smoother than on my 50mm 1.4 and easier to control. Color and contrast ... OK,  I can't judge that at all. The light sucked. The color sucked. Not the lenses fault. When you think about it, this lens costs $200. If I was between the 50mm 1.8 and the 40mm, I would take the 40mm no questions. Better build quality, faster AF, and sharper, all in a smaller package! This lens made my camera so small! I could easily see myself leaving my G12 at home to casually take pictures of my daily adventures.

So enough bull shit, here are some of the pics I took.

Tim Burton Burlesque at Bar Matchless.

I just really liked the green light.

Miss Poison Ivory as Mrs lovett.

Headless Horseman by ???. She was amazing. I really like fire.

Corvette LeFace as Emily from Corpse Bride.

The Penguin.

Our lovely host, Vampira aka Bambi Galore.

Another of my favs, Mr Oogie Boogie. Done fantastically, I even accidently took home a glow in the dark centipede which I used to scare the crud out of my gf the next day! Thanks oogie Boogie!

What would Tim Burton Burlesque be like without Beetle Juice?!

So much fun.

Thanks for read'n!

-  James

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New (old) project

I have been working too much, just barely paying my bills. That means I haven't been shooting anything new, so what am I to I do? Edit old projects. Actually, I re-edit old shots in preparation for editing a major project. I am going to in the near future begin putting my project "Unknown" into its book form. Something I have been meaning to do for a year or so now. Unfortunately  dealing with 50,000 + images from a period spanning 4 years and 75+ underground punk rock shows is somewhat daunting. As a warm up, I am editing all the shows I photographed at the Showcase Theater in Corona into a small book for myself. Of course, if anyone wants a copy of it, it will be made public. Gotta love self publishing.

These shots are from the Millions of Dead Cops show at Showcase in February 2008.

I should mention that none of the bands above is actually M.D.C., they are the Resistance Culture, Subhumans, and the Voids.

My love of black and white photography continues to grow. I convert almost everything to BW now just for kicks. BW is gorgous (I plan on shooting a BW/transparency film project starting this winter). One more step removed from reality, it becomes completely about tones and the image. The photographs become simpler and focused. Somehow emotion comes through so clearly, color versions of these almost get in the way of themselves. Completely contemporary yet vintage (Yes, BW is actually vintage!) inspired. I really love the way digital black and white looks out of the 5D.

Sorry about the watermarks, I compeltely agree that they are incredibly distracting, but whatcha gonna do? If someone steals my shit (and yes people steal my shit) at least I'll get some credit.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


As the title of this blog hints, I will be showing the remainder of my trip cross country in this blog, but first some news.

I just updated my site I removed my weddings album and added the album "Main St Orange County. It is short  for the full title of "Santa Ana: Main street Orange County". Unfortunately, too many letters for my site. Owell. It looks good!

I also have separated my consumer work from my personal work. You can find my consumer work now at Yes, that is a little long of a URL and it does host some advertising on it, but hey, its separate, and it works great with my budget. I still have the portfolio "fashionable Portraits" on my personal work site, as this body of work is a mixture of both ... so it will occupy the slot that it is currently in for the time being. That may or may not change.

I am not finished updating JamesAndrewPhotography nor am I finished building JamesAndrewPortraits just yet. They are both work in progresses, as it tends to be. So stay tuned, and check back in and see what I have done.

From Louisiana we drove North along highway 61. We made a point to take a smaller highway. Hell, we made a point of taking smaller highways for as much of the trip as we could afford to! I would have loved to take side streets the whole trip, but that would have taken a bit too long. You just see so much more when you get off the interstate!

One of two plantations we visited. We wanted to take a historical tour of a plantation while we were in Mississippi, it didn't work. We got a tour alright, but it wasn't very historical. Built by rich white people 200 years ago, and still used by rich white people today. The slaves quarters are a bed and breakfast! The tunnels used by the slaves to get to the main house are used as storage! Jeez, talk abut pretending like nothing bad ever happened.

The view from the soil in a corn field.

This was the other plantation we visited. These are the Windsor ruins near Port Gibson. Accidentaly burned down by a servant. I am sure it was on accident.


Memphis Tennessee. It was one of our favorite places.

Where MLK was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel. The Civil Rights Museum was great! If you visit Memphis you need to add this to your to do list.

Walking around downtown Memphis.

Where ever you go, things are always the same.

This is another must do activity in Memphis. The Sun tour was great.

Everywhere we go cross country you run into different types of memorials, the stuffed animals memorial was unique to Memphis. Dozens of stuffed animals nailed to the pole.

Elvis's grave in Memphis. The tour of Grace land is way too expensive for people on a budget, so we went to the early morning grave visit. They let you in to the graves site for free between 7 and 9am!

Memphis was a very interesting city, its a mixture of post industrial city still dealing with white flight and economic down turn. At the same time there is a bit of a resurgence in the downtown area, not just in the touristy section on Beale St, but all over. It feels like a city that nearly hit bottom but has managed to pull its self up a bit and is slowly rebuilding itself.

Following Memphis we drove East to Nashville, explored Nashville for an evening. Another city we may want to visit again, and after that, it was pretty much straight through to NYC. We had met our budget, and it was now down pouring on us. It proceeded to down pour from Memphis all the way to NYC. No fun. No fun at all. The rest of the trip was super fun though. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Thanks for reading!