The Visual Advocate Blog


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Morocco here I come

Tomorrow I board a plane for Morocco where I will be shooting  for a tourism company, scouting places for future workshops and doing some personal projects. I am hoping to have internet that is stable and fast enough to post images daily and even a wallpaper for the month (since I am horribly behind on this!). 

While I was tempted to try to watch Casablanca before I left, I didn’t get to it because this past month has been crazy with a million different little things. One of these things was lunch appointment with one of the lead collaborators of Eye See Media, an independent media company I recently discovered through a friend. Do make sure to check out what they are doing because they are telling some amazing stories that need to be told.

Also, check out these videos below made by some other friends who are great multi-media storytellers:

More than just bread-Nate Watkins

Dance the past into the future-Mario Mattei

 

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June Wallpaper and India workshop update

Udaipur is known as “The Venice of the East” and will be just one of a handful Indian cities we will be exploring on the workshop in November.

As I have been planning for the Photo workshop in India I have been thinking back to some of the great cities that we will be exploring. One city I have enjoyed in the past is Udaipur, which is called “The Venice of the East”. Now I don’t think it quite measures up to Venice in the sense of waterways and ambiance, but it is still an amazing city, which is why I chose to have the June wallpaper be of this great Indian city. To download the wallpaper, click here.

I also wanted to give you a quick update on the Photo workshop to India. The workshop is going to be from November 1-9, 2012. That means we will have nine days together of shooting and the total length of the trip will be 11-13 including travel time to and from New Delhi, depending on where you are coming from.

We are still working on nailing down the final price but we will get that to you as soon as possible. Here is an itinerary of the trip so far:

Day One: Old Delhi
During our first full day we will take some time to get to know each other, discuss the itinerary, philosophy and details of the workshop as well as venturing out to begin exploring Old Delhi.

Day Two: Old Delhi and Nizamuddin Dargah
We will spend the morning of our second day continuing our exploration of Old Delhi. After lunch at Kareem’s, a famous lunch spot in Old Delhi, we will head to Nizamuddin where we will spend the afternoon and evening wandering through this neighborhood and shrine.

Day Three: Jodhpur
Our journey to Jodhpur, “The Blue City” will begin with a quick flight from Delhi. We will spend the rest of the exploring this wonderful city filled with blue houses, great markets, forts and more.

Day Four: Desert Safari
Leaving early in the morning, we will spend the day on a desert safari, exploring the desert landscapes around Jodhpur and enjoying local Rajasthani food and hospitality.

Day Five: Jodhpur to Udaipur
We will leave Jodhpur early in the morning to make the full day’s drive to Udaipur. Along the way we will stop to explore the beautiful Ranakpur Jain Temple, admire the incredible beauty of the Aravalli mountain range and the wonderful countryside of rural Rajasthan. In the evening we will explore the city of Udaipur at night.

Day Six: Rural Udaipur
Leaving early in the morning, we will venture south of Udaipur where we will spend the day exploring the picturesque landscapes of Rural Udaipur and village life.

Day Seven: Udaipur
Known as “The Venice of the East”, Udaipur is home to many waterways, ghats, palaces, temples, markets and more. As we wander through this wonderful city we will enjoy an early morning boat ride and a tram ride to the top of a hillside fort at sunset affording us wonderful panoramic views of Udaipur.

Day Eight and Nine: Jaipur, The Pink City
We will end our adventure together wandering through the wonderful markets, mosques and more of Jaipur which is known as “The Pink City”.

You are not going to want to miss this trip so mark off the dates on your calendar!


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Upcoming Photo workshop to India

India is a country of unmatched diversity, spiritually, geographically, culturally, linguistically and more which makes a favorite for photographers around the world. Of all the places I have visited India is definitely one of my favorites, which is why I am excited to announce this photography workshop in partnership with The Flat Planet Travel.

Sufi Muslims at Nizamuddin Dargah in New Delhi

On this photography workshop we will start out in New Delhi wandering through the neighborhoods, markets, mosques, shrines and temples of Old Delhi, Nizamuddin, Mehrauli and more. Next we will head to Jodhpur, The Blue City, where we will explore this wonderfully colorful city and the surrounding desert landscapes that are home to wonderful and beautiful people and cultures.

One of the stops on this Photography workshop will be Jodhpur, The Blue City.

From Jodhpur we will drive to Udaipur along a route that will take us through the incredible Aravalli mountain range, past the magnificent Ranakpur Temple, a beautifully and intricately carved Jain temple, as well as wild monkeys, Rajasthani camel herders, painted elephants and more; it is truly an amazing drive.

Udaipur is known as the “Venice of the East”

Once in Udaipur we will take our time as we explore the beautiful waterways, ghats, palaces and more. Additionally, we venture outside the city to the south to experience rural Rajasthani desert life. We will have the privilege of eating with locals, creating images of the beautiful rocky landscapes of Rajasthan and more. Finally we will make our way back to New Delhi, stopping for two days in Jaipur, The Pink City before we make our way home.

This workshop will be an unforgettable adventure and is designed for photographers who want to enhance their visual storytelling skills in a relaxed yet focused mentoring environment.

The exact dates and price will be announced soon so be looking for these details. Until then stop buying Starbucks, have a garage sale and do whatever else you need to do to find the money to join us because you will not want to miss this adventure of a lifetime!


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Fun on Mount Entoto

I just wanted to write a quick post before I head out of Addis for about a week. Yesterday I made my way up to the top of Mount Entoto which yielded beautiful views of Addis and the surrounding valleys. In many ways the rolling green valleys and peaks reminded of Oregon.

At the top of Mount Entoto, which is 10,489 feet, there are communities of people living, ancient Orthodox churches and even a church in a cave that they told is over 700 years old.

I am going to try to post again but I am not sure what the internet will be like outside of Addis. Here are a couple of images from the last few days.

The road heading up to top of Mount Entoto is quite steep yet you will see school children, elderly woman carrying huge loads of wood on their back and many others making the trip.

This elderly gentleman was a guard on the grounds of the palace that is at the top of Mount Entoto.


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Checking in from Ethiopia

After three long flights I made it to Ethiopia last night just in time to go to bed. I don’t know about you but I never sleep well on planes so I welcomed the sleep. This morning we hired a guide and walked around Addis Ababa a bit just getting a feel for the city and the people. Our guide was overly cautious about taking images of people or having both of my cameras out in the markets so while I did a little shooting I mostly did some scouting of the different areas.

Here are a couple of images from today. I hope to post more but am not sure how the internet will be once we get out of Addis.

This shopkeeper and his employee loved my business cards. I got to give props to the folks at MOO.com because everywhere I go people love my cards.

At first this Muslim man said no when I asked if I could take his picture but after I spent time in his shop talking with him about his love of soccer, his family and other things he finally asked me to take his picture. He told me I am the only photographer that he has let take his picture.

If you visit Ethiopia you must have some Injera, it is pretty good!


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Guest post: Craig Ferguson

The last couple of weeks have been crazy! I am preparing for a trip to Ethiopia on April 16th, which has meant updates on immunizations, getting gear ready and doing research. I have also done some work for a local NGO called Peace of Thread, which I will be telling you more about soon.

Peace of Thread is a local NGO in Atlanta that employes refugee women from around the world.

Craig Ferguson is an outstanding travel photographer based in Taiwan. You can see his work at http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/

Today, I wanted to share this guest post from Craig Ferguson, who is an outstanding freelance travel photographer based in Taiwan. Enjoy!

What Matters Most

Consider for a moment the two magazine covers below. The Taiwan Review cover is a current issue and the Centered on Taipei dates from summer 2011.

Obviously they are of different subjects but they were also shot with very different cameras. Despite both having been published within the last 8-9 months, one was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II and the other on my very first DSLR, a Canon 20D. Can you tell which photograph was taken with which camera?

Can you tell which of these images was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and which one was shot with a Canon 20D?

The photography world has been buzzing over the past couple of months with the announcements and releases of new DSLR’s from Canon and Nikon as well as Fuji’s new mirrorless X-Pro 1. There are probably a few other recent introductions as well.

And all of that is great. If you’re in the market for a new camera then having all these options gives you more power as a consumer. How do you know if you’re in the market though? Is it simply because a new tool is available? Or because you have just finished paying off your credit card from your last camera purchase?

Do you even need to upgrade your current gear? Any DSLR camera that has come to market in the past few years is so good and so highly evolved that for the majority of users, you can use it until it breaks and not miss out on anything. Sure, shooting clean images at ISO 12800 is great but how often do you really need to do that?

Neidong Falls, Taiwan

Before you fork out a large amount of money for the latest and greatest, ask yourself if it’ll make you a better photographer? Will owning a camera with all the bells and whistles help you improve any? Will your images be stronger as a result? Consider the new Canon 5D Mark III. It’s available at B&H now for $3499. No doubt about it, it’s a great camera. If you buy one, you are unlikely to be disappointed. $3499 is a fair chunk of change though. Will buying one help make you a better photographer? Is there a better way to spend that $3499?

Instead of spending all that money on a 5D Mark III, why not consider a 5D Mark II? They are going for a little over $2000 right now. That leaves you $1500 or so to invest in your photography skills. Looking around the web today I see that Joe McNally is leading a 4 day National Geographic small group workshop in New York in June for $1395. Will a four-day workshop with one of the world’s leading photographers help you improve your photography more or less than buying the latest body? Which do you think will be best in helping you create your own great photographs?

Ultimately, what matters most is the image. How you get there or what tools you use to do so have lesser importance than whether the photograph at the end of the process says what you want it to say. A great photographer can make compelling images with even the simplest and most basic of tools. If you desire to become a great photographer then you’re going to be involved in a lifelong learning process for which there are no shortcuts. A 36 megapixel camera may allow you to create gigantic prints but if you’re like the vast majority of photographers, your images are destined for Facebook or an 8 x 12 on your living room wall, not an advertising billboard.

The seven photographs here have been shot with seven different cameras (Canon 5D Mark II, 5D, 40D, 20D EOS 300 with Kodak 800 and HTC Android Desire) . They all represent my vision and intent at the time of photographing each one. At no time did I feel let down by the tools I had at hand. All the matters to me, and hopefully to you, is what that final image looks like. If it represents what I aim to portray, then the photograph is a success. Equipment and tools are nice but at no point do they replace vision, learning, practice and skill.


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To Pay or not to pay: Should we pay to take someone’s picture?

If you have traveled probably almost anywhere in developing  countries as photographer you have probably been asked by someone for money to take their picture. If not, then you are either not being bold enough in approaching people or traveling in countries where they have never seen tourists!

Anyway, on my last trip to India I was asked by so many people who I approached to be paid! Having traveled through North India pretty extensively I have just made it a rule that I never give out money, for a picture or otherwise, except on rare occasions. While I have been swarmed by street kids and been chased by a kid who was trying to throw small boulders at me for not giving out money, I still don’t do it today.

Now, as I said there are rare exceptions to this. On my last day in India I was shopping for some family members and I saw an elderly gentleman without legs pulling himself along the street with a stick while he pushed his begging can ahead with one of his arms. As I watched this man for a few seconds, and then looked around to make sure there were no swarming packs of street kids with small boulders in their hands, I bent down and placed the 20 rupees in my hand into his can.

The other time I gave out money on this trip was actually for a photo, which was first for me. Now again as I said, I rarely do this and was even hesitant this time. The story is I was driving from Jodhpur to Udaipur in a taxi with two South Africans and the taxi driver agreed to stop so I could take a picture of this Rajasthani guy that was hanging out on the side of the road.

The Rajasthani shepherd who my taxi driver insisted I pay 10 rupees.

The taxi driver insisted on walking over with me and while we did, he told me I should give the guy 10 rupees. At first I told him I don’t do that and even if I did, I didn’t have 10 rupees. He insisted and even gave me 10 rupees to give the guy. As I walked up and talked the man with the little Hindi I speak, the taxi driver began talking over me, rapidly reeling off some Hindi, which I gathered by the way the man eyed the 10 rupees in my hand, was a push for the man to take the money.

At first the elderly gentleman denied, but finally at the pushing of the taxi driver and his friend, he took the money. I was still uneasy about the whole thing, but since we were out in the middle of no where, I did feel a little safer at least. Whether I should or should not have paid I don’t know, I will leave that to others to decide. Will I pay again in the future? Probably not except in very rare situations.

Should those who are more fortunate pay those who are less fortunate to take their pictures? I don’t know. My gut is that it is not going to make much of a difference in the lives of those who have very little and it could probably cause more problems. But I could be wrong!

I would like to hear what you think. Share some stories of times you paid and it was the right thing to do and times you paid for pictures and it worked out bad. I am just one voice and I would like to know what others out there are experiencing.

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