Gaff Tape - A Street Photographer's Tool

One of the biggest things I get asked when shooting street photography is if people are ok with me shoving a camera in their face. Many people don't understand the concept of candid yet non creepy photography. Once I try to explain that I'm not always trying to get my subjects attention but am more interested in the activity of their lives, many people find it funny to paint a word picture making me look like a total creep in a trench coat taking photos of people looking some private eye or worse depending on how crude they decide to describe the act. Though I usually laugh it off, I most always have to explain that street photography (at least to me) is more about daily life and capturing life that has nothing to do with celebrities or a major current event. 

In fact many people don't even realize there are street photographers around when they are capturing images the way I do, I find it best to blend in and not disrupt the routines or activities that you are trying to tell a story of. That's why I usually dress very simple and camouflage my cameras in a specific way. 

Gaff tape is used in the photo, film and stage industries because it has the holding power of duct tape: but it provides very little to no adhesive residue when removed. Another added bonus is that gaff tape is known for its not reflective surface so it attracts very little attention. 

I use gaff tape to cover my cameras for a few reasons, here's why:

#1 It makes my camera less noticeable 

By covering up all the logos and shiny bits of the camera, it makes the camera stand out much less. Not saying that it becomes invisible but it does cut down on the high contrast Nikon, Canon, or whatever else logo right near your forehead. 


#2 It protects the camera body

When shooting street, I don't like to carry much equipment, many times I don't even carry a bag; that means that that if I decide to rest for a moment my camera is now exposed to the elements it was set down on. Many of my vintage cameras are brass or some other type of metal covered either in enamel or in anodized coating, that are likely to be scratched or damaged when placed on a rough surface such as brick concrete or even wood tables. Gaff tape allows me to maintain as little damage to the camera body as possible while also protecting it from other elements such as sand water or any number of other things. 


#3 The tape protects me

No I have never been a thief, but I know that being a thief really counts on finding valuable things that can then be sold especially when pickpocketing. If I was going to steal from someone it would be from the person that I perceived had more valuable goods for me to steal. Covering up an expensive camera with Kate really makes the value of the camera visibly go down. Can always be removed it's important to not look too flashy when photographing on the street because you don't want to be targeted as someone with an item of value that is begging to be taken. Because of the small size that comes with my Fujifilm mirrorless  camera, taping up all the important real estate that is visible from the outside world, makes it look like nothing more than a very inexpensive point and shoot or beat up film camera. I'm much more likely to walk freely then to get beat up for something hanging around my neck if it looks like junk. 


If you like this video please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I will be posting more and more content about the gear that I use in the work that I make with it. 

Charleston - Street Photography

Traveling is something that I feel I was made to do. I have had many opportunities to see different parts of the world, but still one of the easiest ways to feed my addiction is picking a place fairly close to me that allows me to get a couple hours away from home and immerse myself in a culture that is different than my own. Charleston is a beautiful old city and is very well known for it's historical significance here in the south.

Home to numerous colleges including the Citadel and the College of Charleston, a day in there is filled with just as many slouchy beanies and fixed gear bikes as there are seersucker suits and mint juleps. Make sure to watch the video and enjoy the photos!

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Photographing History - The Steam Plant

The steam plant in Conway has been a part of the landscape since before I was born, but it is now coming to an end. Due to a clean air act, the EPA had to shut down this facility due to too much cost in converting the plant. My dad and I took a scary highway hike to get to the island in the cooling lake across from the plant for some sunset photos. Enjoy the video!

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Dealing with Threats - Problems within the Industry

This week has been very strange for me. As of right now, it's only tuesday and I have already had a ton of crazy things happen! What I want to talk about today is something that actually happened to me yesterday. I am blessed to have won the 2012 WMBF Best Of The Grand Strand. I am humbled by how much support I received. Because of a large YouTube presence brought forth by one of my best friends, I won by a pretty large amount. This was what was encouraged by the voting system was to reach out on all social platforms to promote WMBF and the voting of local businesses. Because we are a tourist town, it is not limited to people who live here because all the businesses being promoted are in the tourist industry in one way or another. I in no way think I am the best photographer in Myrtle Beach, but I also know that the guys that I look up to, do not put forth any effort in this contest so I am more or less competing with other part timers and small businesses like me.

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Grand Lake, Colorado: The Next Place You Should Visit

So, I have had the pleasure of traveling to the opposite side of the globe (Australia) and back, been honored to capture photos though out France and England and had my share of awesome stories along the way. One of the biggest regrets I have now in adulthood is having not learned photography until I was in my 20's and not having some of my larger trips documented correctly. But I have vowed to come home with at least a few keepers every time I go somewhere. As you may know, I recently got married to the love of my life who is so supportive of my passion and I can't thank her enough for being the muse that she is to my work.

Well for the honeymoon, we headed to a mountain house in Grand Lake, Colorado. It's a sleepy little mountain town that buzzes with activity during the summer season and winter skiing season. But just like Myrtle Beach, when the tourists leave, the town goes in to a bit of a shut down mode. Unlike Myrtle Beach though, the people that are left are the sweetest people that seem like they never have visitors. I know that sounds strange, but I mean it in a good way; everywhere we went, we felt like honored guests who they were happy to play tour guide with.

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We did go hiking up on a trail right out of grand lake, which is in a valley, and started making our way up the mountains on this path. The path led to Adams Falls and Lone Pine lake where we found plenty of places to enjoy the wonderful views and great air we were able to take in. Nothing beats hiking up a mountain. We went 14 miles without even knowing it! All in all it was an absolutely wonderful trip and I am so glad we were able . Hope you enjoy the photos!

DLSR + Rain = A Very Bad Day at The Zoo

If there is one thing that everyone knows, it is that electronics and water(for the most part) don't mix. All it takes is a little water in the wrong place to completely destroy a phone. I remember back in the day, I used my blackberry after washing my hands and because my hands were slightly wet, the trackball and and keyboard went haywire. Granted, I know that is the extreme of this type of situation, but still. Water is kryptonite to most things with a battery. Well besides the camera itself, lenses can also gather moisture which can lead to fungus, aperture blade malfunctions and focusing issues. All of which make it unusable and useless to sell (make it a coffee mug!)

So there you have it, your camera hates water. So what do you do when you are traveling and are unsure if you will hit water or not? Get a bag with a rain cover.

My bag is a Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack and I could not be more happy with it. The thing is snug on my back and can carry plenty:

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

My wife and I recently visited the Denver Zoo and had a wonderful time. Definitely the nicest zoo I have had the opportunity to visit. We had just driven 2 and a half hours through cloudy, snow storm occupied mountains and arrived in Denver assuming it was just going to snow. Well us beach kids didn't know the difference between snow and rain weather so we went to the zoo anyway.

To tell you the truth, I am so glad we did though. We almost had the place to ourselves and that was just so worth the price of admission alone. After the rain started, I had to put up all the gear and just wait it out. It was a little disappointing walking around all these wonderful animals with all my gear in a bag, but it was worth it knowing that I had it protected. The rain sleeve is hidden away in a bottom compartment and when needed, you just pull it out and stretch it over the bag. Even though the bag was packed to the gills( 2 DSLR's and 5 lenses, the sleeve still fit like a glove.

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

All in all, I still left with a wonderful group of photos which I will be sharing on some future blog posts! Thank you for reading and remember to protect your gear!

Rant - The Photos That I Don't Take

So, there have been some real problems with photographers (one photographer in particular. Many male photographers have a hard time making a good reputation because of all the scary people out there with cameras. It's like the "car broken down on the side of the road at night complex" (yes, I made that up): When you are driving down the road and you see someone broken down, most people think of helping them, but there is still that disgustingly vivid part of your imagination that tells you that this could be a trap for some kind of thief or kidnapper. Now I know that is a harsh example, but I am sure that the feeling is the same for many female models working with male photographers. Being a photographer and knowing where my heart is, I walk a very fine path to make sure I am never thought of as the creepy photographer. The photographer I am speaking of that has made such a big splash is Terry Richardson. He has had in quite a few different places people go public with haunting things that I can't believe still go on in the day of easy to reach media outfits. It only takes a matter of minutes to have an open letter to the world, and they exist against this guy, but people still hire him. If everything that is said about this guy is true, he is for sure one of the grossest human beings alive in my lifetime. Another photographer I have a problem with is Matt Grainger. Otherwise known as "ThatNikonGuy" on Youtube, he has a large following of people who watch his videos which were originally marketed as help and review videos to other photographers. Now it seems that the reasoning behind his work is to show off as much of the model he paid for as possible. Though I doubt he is having sex with her, I really have a problem with photographers who hire models and have them strip down and be photographed in a sexual way. That's prostitution in a way. Just my opinion, but still. He has all these views but it is primarily because of the girls he is photographing like this. I have nothing against Matt on a personal level but his business tactics have become quite sleazy over the last couple of years. I started out really liking his videos because I shoot Nikon, but have since unsubscribed and avoid all that he does. I have very strong opinions when it comes to my business and with that comes a strict set of rules that shape my business with female clients.

Here are the rules I live by:

-Never Shoot Bathing suits or lingerie = There are photographers in the Myrtle Beach area that will gladly spend their whole day photographing young women in skimpy outfits but for most people, this seems really creepy. I have heard a few first hand accounts of pushy photographers trying to get girls to strip down to less and take them to less than comfortable conditions for their photo sessions.

-Never go anywhere with a female client without someone of her choosing there with her This is a big thing for me. No matter who it is, if she is not a close personal friend or relative, I always will have a female client bring a friend. This makes her more relaxed, it makes me more relaxed and for the most part, the friend will help out. For instance, on one of my more recent bridal portrait sessions, the bride brought her friend along who helped out tremendously with setting the dress and everything.

-No provocative posing= Even if the subject is fully dressed, posing them in provocative ways can be just as effective to this type of photography. The easiest thing for me is to just not ever use anything in this realm. I am not saying that I don't pose people to make them look their most attractive, but there is a HUGE difference between, attractive and sexual.

-If I wouldn't show the photo proudly to my wife, I should not be taking it. = This is my Biggest rule. By the time you are reading this, I am on my honeymoon! I have a wonderful wife and she is the best critique I have because she truly likes my work and can tell me when it needs work. Annie and I are not very jealous people, but we both have moral standards that we uphold. If there is ever a time where I may have to shoot something for a client that I know she may feel uncomfortable with, I always check with her. If she agrees, I know I am ok. This is for two reasons. Number 1 is that she knows and spends more time with me than anyone so of course my wife wants to help me stay as close to my business model as possible and Number 2 is that I don't ever once want her to doubt my intentions and because there is plenty of work out there for everyone in all the different genres, I am more than happy to stay as far away from anything that ever would.

Thank you for reading!

5 Tips for better Landscape/Streetscape photos

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips I am not a certified teacher, nor do I have a case of awards and accolades at home for all my photographic adventures, but what I do have is experience and I hope you find this helpful in some way! If you are not a landscape photographer, you should still try using some of these ideas, because I have found it to be one of the most relaxing escapes to do these types of photos even though I am primarily a portrait and wedding photographer.

I love taking photos of people; I hear their stories and try to make myself blend in with them to where you can see the real them through their photos, but sometimes that can get very stressful. Zack Arias said in an interview once that his hobby is his passion and it also happens to be his career and that if he isn't spending time with his family, he is better honing his craft because it is what he loves. I firmly agree with that. I have been asked numerous times why I decided to start taking photos and my answer has always been "Because I can't afford hobbies that don't make money." Though of course this was said as a joke, it was true. I love photography, but I had to focus on it terribly hard because I wanted to become great at it.

Well after being well in to a year after my first paying gigs, I feel I have learned a lot and have definitely seen my stress level rise. One way I have found that I can continually sharpen my photographic skills, but relax is landscape photography. There is something relaxing about being by yourself in nature and not having to focus on what you see in someone but rather what is all around you.

Click "Continue Reading" to see my tips on better landscape photography!

#1 - Use a Tripod

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

This of course is an obvious one. When anyone thinks about landscape photography, they see a camera on a tripod. Being a mostly handheld shooter myself, I had to really learn to work with the constriction caused by the handy device. I have used many types of tripods over the years and yes, having an extremely nice tripod is great but completely unnecessary unless you are doing some commissioned extra large prints for a client. For exposures under a minute, you can feel safe with a light tripod unless its an extremely windy. I do not have a very nice tripod. The legs are actually from a Targus tripod system I bought at Walmart and the head is a used Manfrotto head that I found on sale. Before that though, I was just using a bargain bin Kodak brand tripod that I picked up at a yard sale. (If you have a light or flimsy Tripod, make sure to weigh it down some how! I normally tie mine down with my camera bag. #2- Know When Not to Use a Tripod

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Tripods are not always a necessity. I personally have had five or six camera bags, some big and some small but the one thing they all have in common is that they make carrying a tripod cumbersome; even if there are straps on the side or bottom of the bag, it usually is more of a nuisance than anything else. There have been plenty of times where the light was just right and I pulled out my camera and got the shot I wanted. If there would have been the task of taking my tripod out and getting it set up, I could have missed the photo or lost the composition I had in my head because I had focused too hard on getting the tripod set up.

#3- You Don't Have to Use HDR

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Now I know that HDR is a beautiful thing at times, and when done right it can create some of the most astounding images. I have never been able to make an HDR that I was happy with and I choose not to. There are plenty of people out there with tutorials on how to make HDR images but I have found that shooting with RAW and exposing for the mid-tones, I can show the image a little love with the dodge and burn tools and be completely happy with detail in most all of the dynamic range.

#4- Stopping Down Isn't Always Needed

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

When I first started doing long exposures and night photography, I was using really stopped down apertures such as f/16 or f/22. My thought was that the image would be sharper and more things would be in focus. But what I figured out, and you will too, is that smaller apertures focused at infinity will look the same but the larger aperture will take less time for the same exposure. For example: Having an exposure at f/16 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds if the exact same exposure as F/4 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 2 seconds. How crazy is that!?!?

#5- Focal Length is Your Friend

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Now, I have seen some amazing landscapes taken with all types of focal lengths, but different focal lengths can create the exact look you are going for. When I go out shooting landscapes, I normally pack a standard length( 35mm or 50mm. Most likely the 35mm), an ultra wide (14mm) and a Fisheye. All of these lens types can be found for amazing deals. The Nikon 35mm 1.8 is sharp piece of glass for only $200 and Rokinon have manual lenses in all three of these types ranging from $200 - $500 each. With a longer focal length, such as a 50mm or and 85mm, it is very hard to hand hold without shake in lower light situation. I try to never shoot a focal length at a shutter speed slower than my focal length (Example: I wont shoot an 85mm at 1/60 of a second, but I will shoot a 50mm at 1/60th of a second.)

My favorite type of streetscapes are with my 14mm or 8mm fisheye where I steady myself up against a light pole or a wall and bring my shutter speed down to around 1/15 or 1/20 of a second (If I am really steady, I can do 1/2 second exposures this way. The image about is an example of this type) This allows me to catch the blur of cars going by and also expose for enough ambient light to capture the scene without causing too much if any camera shake. Are these pictures perfectly tack sharp? not in the slightest, but they are a ton of fun to take and extremely rewarding. All in all, a shorter focal length will produce better handheld shots than longer ones when using slower shutter speeds handheld.

These are just my opinions and take them as such. This is what I have found is very comfortable for the work I like to do and if you decide to start doing this as well, you will find what works best for you as well! I love learning and passing things along to others, so I hope you have enjoyed it!

Thank you very much for reading! Like and share with your friends to pass along the relaxing art of landscape and street scape photography!

Do you have any places you have been or would like to photograph? Let me know in the comments!

Recording History: The Pastor's Pen

I am getting married very soon! It's finally becoming very real! See, Annie and I are the last of three couple in my church getting married within a 6 week period and I had the pleasure of photographing one of them. While shooting this wedding for a long time friend Kim, and, her now husband, Kevin, I was able to practice a little for how we would like to set up the church for our ceremony. Bonus Points! With all jokes aside, it was a beautiful ceremony and an absolute joy to shoot. Everyone was relaxed and able to have fun and enjoy the day. Here is a little taste from the photos afterward.

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More photos after the jump!

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My pastor married Kim and Kevin, who happens to be Kim's uncle, and after the ceremony and the formal photos were done, it was time for the marriage license to be signed.

Pastor Buddy pulled his pen out of the breast pocket of his suit jacket. Many forget that a pen is similar to a watch;  a piece of functional jewelry for a man. A piece of his own personal history that holds genuine and amazing history that signifies what he has been through in his life. Well Pastor Buddy's pen is absolutely one of those types of constants throughout his life. After joining the ministry, he was given this pen. a beautiful, slender work of art that he has always kept. A pastor has many jobs; he brings us all together for sermons, marriages, funerals and more than I could tell you. But this pen has a special story because after having it for over 30 years, it has only ever been used for one thing: signing marriage licenses.

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This pen has only ever graced the hands of people on the most important day of their lives as they spiritually, emotionally and, with the pen, legally bind themselves to one another. This pen has one job, and that is to permanently mark a contract of two people's love for each other.

Call me a romantic but I think this pen has an awesome story!

Did you have an item used in your wedding that has a significant meaning? How about something you keep with you every day? Let me know in the comments below!

The "Froad Trip": My journey to Philadelphia

I have always been a fan of impromptu trips. I love just jumping in the car and going ridiculously long distances in a small amount of time. Maybe it's just the Smokey and The Bandit attitude of it all, but there is something very enticing about having "A long way to go, and a short time to get there". This trip falls under that category better than anything I have done in quite a long time.

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I have always loved video tutorials and many of the photo techniques that are now second nature are only because I was very studious in watching an amalgamation educational tutorials through YouTube.  One of the largest contributors to that is Jared Polin, otherwise known as Fro Knows Photo. His videos are really informative and he is fun to listen to. There are many more that I have really enjoyed over the years, but Jared's videos have always been at the epicenter because of the community that comes along with it. I have been active on his forums, listen to his podcasts and participated in Spreecast videos with him (this was pre-Google hangout). Anyway, for 6 weeks, I listened to him talk about a get-together at his home photo store named Allen's Camera. They were going to be running specials, giving away lunch from this really groovy taco stand, as well as portfolio reviews.

There were plenty of people that showed up, and though we had driven the longest distance, there were people who had flown in from longer distances, even a few Canadians jumped the border and came down to have some fun. Though most people were just showing Jared their work on their phones or i devices, but a few had portfolios as I did. I took a book I had made where all the prints were full bleed, and more of my recent work loose in a blank scrapbook. I had planned to place them correctly in the book, but I didn't get my prints until the day before I was leaving and simply did not have the time. But just knowing that it wasn't an iPhone, made me feel better.

Photos after the jump!

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We left late Friday night, and were home in the early afternoon on Sunday. Crazy short trip and a ton of fun was had. Thank you for reading/looking/watching!

-Jarrett