Olympics, Day 10: Size does not matter…

Olympics, Day 10: Size does not matter…

Days just fly by. Covered wrestling the other day, yesterday did kayak for the first time — I will be doing that now for several days towards the end of the week. Finland got the first medal yesterday (windsurfing), but as it was in Weymouth I was not shooting it. Bummer…

Friend of mine sent me a real interesting link the other day: Dan Chung is doing the Games for the Guardian — but not the usual way. He is actually shooting the whole thing with an iPhone. Interesting stuff. Really worth checking out, if you have not seen it.

I went tru his images — he is kind enough to provide some metadata — and it seems that the only other gadgets apart from the iPhone 4s he uses are Schneider lenses and Canon binoculars.

Great images, great concept. Usually sports profes­sionals shoot with 400mm lenses as the “normal” choice and then going to extreme direc­tions from that. My favorite — as you all probably do know by now — is the 800mm and 8–15mm in the other end.

But Dan’s images draw attention to two points. Important and obvious points, which I have discussed in this blog earlier and which I often also bring up in class while teaching. Points of utter importance.

First: it’s not about equipment, it’s what do you shoot and how do you shoot it.

What ever they say, size does not matter. It is the man behind it — or woman behind it as well in this context…

Content is the King” the slogan goes, I think it was Jeff Jarvis (form CUNY), who started using that in the first place, but I am not sure. But that is true: content — more speci­fically visual content is the one which matters in our media in the coming years.

Second: platform change and more impor­tantly, change of how does the viewer view imagery. Meaning (obviously) that paper as UI becoming obsolete, but even more impor­tantly: people follow a specific photo­grapher and his vision/approach — not brands (i.e. newspaper/website) per se as a content wrapper. They follow the actual content and the people behind that content. The people with a vision — and skills to commu­nicate that vision.

And yes, they do follow. Check Twitter or FB for Dan’s work. There is no doubt, this is where we are heading. Some of you might remember the simple panorama I did in Beijing? 1.4 million views — and that (in the scale of Finland /four years ago) was a incredible.

It’s all about the content.

Let me rephrase my point: it’s not iPhone versus 800mm lens. It is his approach, his vision which is so capti­vating. In other words: it’s not about the tools, but it is about the story. In addition, it’s about the photo­grapher as well — photo­grapher as an element of this story… (I come back to this in my next post.)

Dan transmits directly out of the iPhone, using Snapseed App for editing (and most probably also for trans­mission) in the iPhone. If you’ve read my post on kayak images some weeks back, you know I was playing with it this same app for fun while on vacation (sailing and kayaking) with the family. Mainly images from the GoPro’s.

Anyway; yesterday I was shooting K1 (500m) in Eton Dorney as the finnish Anne Rikala was competing — and I thought I use the Snapseed just for the hell of it. I used the iCloud to get some images to my iPad, ran them thru Snapseed and posted them from there to FB. I have to be careful with SoMe — and with this blog even — as my images are going to IL , AL and 26 different newspapers in the ALMA-group for publication — and should I start posting all the stuff openly somebody might question it.

But I thought a couple “experi­mental” images would not raise hell…I hope not, at least.

Anyway, couple of my favorites of Anne Rikala in K1.

8 Replies to “Olympics, Day 10: Size does not matter…”

  1. Interesting stuff, though as you might know by now, perso­nally I’m no fan of this phone-camera-stuff. 

    ..and should I start posting all the stuff openly somebody might question it.”
    This depends on your contract, which I have no clue of, but I’m sure you know exactly what you signed up for. :p
    I’d be very interested in your contract though, not so much in the payment, as in the general terms of the contract.

    1. Jan — me neither. Just interesting, that’s what I am saying — and you get the point what I was making? Put it another way: for I’d say majority of people I am the guy with big cameras, sort of technical camera operator… The other day I shot somebody’s graduation pics… showed them and she reacted: ” Oh my God, you really do have a great camera”.

      Sigh… I politely told her that what she just had said was about the most offensive comment you could offer to a profes­sional photo­grapher. (Well, I’m sure there are others, worse… ;-))

      As to your other point: no, I will not discuss it. Basically it is: you respect me, I respect you ‑kinda deal. 

      Seriously, there is a problem with all these “contracts” at the moment: the moment you start listing what you can and cannot do, you lose respect of the other party. And you basically feel: ok, now that’s on the paper, everything else is free game. Eg. should my contract say “no FB”, I’d be free to post to twitter, right? 

      Instead I make the call myself: I post images in FB which I find interesting, but which are not the primary content of my clients — i.e. have value as news. I use my own common sense. It actually works to the benefit of the client, as these images work as some kinda teasers for the publication of the client. I am pretty confident that majority of people who regularly follow this blog also check the website(s) and the paper(s) of my client(s) — just to see the “jewels” or what kind of selection they did do.

      This is actually a pretty big issue, more than I can discuss here. There is a great book which I highly recommend by Clay Shirky called “Cognitive Surplus” where he talks about this quite a lot. And this is one of the reasons why e.g. Sanomat is going down the toilet with their absurd pieces of paper they call “freelance contracts”.

      There is a TED-talk by Shirky as well, around 2 years old, where he discusses this, using the example of Israeli daycare. Here’s the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html

      1. I spent a couple of days wondering whether or not I forgot something. Now I remember. ;)

        Yes I’m pretty sure I get the point, and I absolutely share your view on the “great camera” issue. With family, I took it with a sense of humor, gave them one of my cameras and asked them if they could take that same image. Oh — I love awkward silence! :D
        (I use the AF-on and * buttons to focus. Simply pressing the shutter results in oof images 99% of the time.)
        Needless to say, I don’t hear that kind of talk in my family anymore.. ;)

        In fact you don’t have to own a camera in order to earn money as a photo­grapher. Because I hear a lot of “but I don’t have the money to buy a fancy camera like that” from guys.
        (Mostly guys, girls are smarter in that sense — they don’t fixate on gear, but some tend not to pay enough attention to their gear. I believe there’s a sweet spot.)
        And the thing I tell everytime is: “Think of a commercial shoot. You know what, when, where you’re going to shoot and how long it’s going to take. You can just rent a camera & lenses. To practice compo­sition etc the phone is good enough. Think big, start small.”
        Again, the silence, I love it. :P

        Regarding the contract: Yea, I get it. Had similar deals in the past.

        Thanks for the reading tip, I’ll definitely check it out.
        I pat myself on my shoulder when he talked about doing ANYTHING vs. doing nothing, as this is something I tell to students, and friends at least 3–4 times a week. It’s so simple, yet at least 80% of the creative students I’ve met, fail to do it(anything).

        I remember a phrase along the lines of:
        “Every book has already been written, every movie has already been shot, every image has already been painted, and every photo has already been made. — It’s up to you, to make it one better.”
        That quote, event­hough I know I don’t remember it correctly, keeps me going every hour of every single day.
        And it’s the same quote that drove my girlfriend crazy. :D
        (She got used to it.) 

        Good night, and see ya!

    1. Damn -
      sorry Jeff, I have to do my homework better; somehow I seem to remember that expression being credited to you. Googled it — and yes, seems like it was Bill Gates. My bad.

      Another thing I have been quoting you saying is “This is Bullshit!” — but that I do know is accurate, as I remember seeing you opening with that line in New York (like a year, two ago?) Very good speech that one, btw.

  2. Kari, if you don’t want people to think gear is important (to you), perhaps you shouldn’t blog about exotic gear such as underwater cameras, 800mm lenses, 1D X’s, iPad apps, etc. If you want to say that it’s all about the content, write some articles about your experiences as a photo­grapher, above all about the subjects (i.e. e.g. the athletes), the world, avoiding to mention what gear you used, and you may go some way towards approaching this goal. Otherwise … well, people will continue to think that that since everyone seems to talk about the gear, it’s pretty important to photo­graphers. That Pelican case with three super­te­lephoto lenses … well … sorry, but … this really leaves a mixed message! 

    I perso­nally think the most offensive comment is when people say “Your images look just like postcards!” I don’t get that “you must have a great camera” much actually though I use good gear. 

    Best regards, Ilkka

    1. Hmm — Ilkka, you do have a point. I never thought that the “case” posting would cause that kinda reaction. I get back to this later — I have to rush out and shoot the javelin final now.

      1. And Ilkka I do get back now that the javelin is over and done with.
        You do have a point — but I to disagree on the emphasis.

        Put it this way: if this was about cars, it could be about Ferraris and Porches and I don’t know what not… but nobody would say to a F1-driver that ge’ez you have a great car…

        Or tell to a novelist that “I just love your work, what kind of computer do you use…?”

        You need the tools to accomplish your (visual) narrative, photo­graphy (as I do it) is very technical… thus I tend to talk about gear and technology a lot. But: the essence, the core of your narrative and vision has to lay elsewhere. If you look at my next blogpost, you might see the point. I mention gear only with one image (the use of 800mm lens) as it is essential of that image: if you ever shot with an 800 from a distance of less than 10 meters, you will appreciate the skill (luck :-) ) of capturing and focusing that image.

        But take another image, the one of Tero Pitkämäki with flames. Nothing “technical” about that. Straight forward 70–200mm…

        I just don’t think that NOT talking about technique or technology would serve anything — and the whole issue came because I stated that contrary as it might seem, it is not about the tools but about vision and skill to convey your message. Part of that skill is mastering the tools you use — whatever they are.

        I have quoted Felix Clay earlier in this blog, but I do it again:

        You have to tell a story. If you dont’ you’ve not completed what you set out to do and you’re merely creating a montage of pretty pictures, or worse, just showing off the ability of the equipment to do what it is designed to do – and anyone can do that.”

        I really try to do that. I hope my images do that. This blog is more of a “making of” of these stories — not the essence of them. I hope my pictures (or the work I do in general) have enough power/content to stand with their own right.

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