Posts Tagged ‘Brian Nevins Photography’


Sunday, March 21st, 2010
Matillija Spring

Matillija Spring

I was cameraless this week. It was great. Sort of. Okay, maybe not completely cameraless. I still had four 35mm stills film bodies, three mini DV cameras, and five high speed film motion cameras, all sitting on the shelf, along with the water housings for those. But I loaned my Canon 5DM2 system out and sold my Rebel T1i, in preparation for buying the new RebelT2i. (Wow, that Rebel was so new it had only seen 3000 frames before the new one was released.)

Canon (along with Apple) has been blowing my mind the past few years. We spoke, they obviously listened.  The application of technology and digital imaging, has created the ability to produce massive amounts of content. But this creates some big questions:

Where does that content go? What makes yours special? Does your content meet that unspoken, and often unseen bar of international standards?

A career is a function of time. Effort is applied and what comes out these days, is useable digital content-data. You can convert that pliable data into a variety of projects in short order.

I had an e mail tet a tet with photographer Brian Nevins this week about post production. Brian and I both share a bar that is similar for our work and subjects. “Hey Brian, how is your post production list looking?” Answer:“Oh hopeless. I just seem to keep getting further behind.” We cyber groaned in unison.

Right now, I have 7 stills shoots and 6 motion picture projects, in various stages of post production. More work is being thrown my way daily. I must be very careful, or I will find myself homeless with probably one of the most phenomenal collections of stills and motion imagery that I could ever imagine.

Why? Production is shifting. Usages are changing. Now, more than any time in History, publishing is having a demand to screen content placed upon it, that is heavier than ever. Everyone who owns a camera is a “photographer” and those voices, they all scream out “Look at me”, often without really knowing that, um, maybe you may not want to do that.

Of course some get through on occasion, by virtue of salesmanship and persistence. You can see some amazingly low bar crap go to print, web, TV, Theater or Gallery. But over all, the access to the market that the web affords and which shifts in demand have created, offers the potential to embarrass one’s self globally in a very short period of time. But what this also does, is make the truly great work stand out. A lot is on the line for publishers these days as many companies teeter. Edit staff can annihilate a publication’s value in a very short period of time.

The market is not stupid, though it can be naive. It self levels.

Authenticity, now more than ever, is the most valuable of commodities, along with content quality and validity.

Seth Godin writes here about the slush pile. That great pool of self spawned, unsolicited content. It is one of the better things I have read about being a creative, as it describes a bar, direction and potentiality measure, for content creators.

So back to my post production I go. 60 hours down this week, in front of the large 32” monitor I use. The surf was pumping. Offshore and warm. Spring has arrived overnight. Weird yet perfect for us, as this weather and swell combination combination rarely occurs this time of year. I got six calls to shoot the last few days, and wanted to.

“Sorry I loaned my cameras out” was my soft answer. Clickety clack goes the keyboard. “Save as” was selected in Photoshop about 1500 times and “Render” hit, in Final Cut, a lot. Whew. Life choices in the click of a mouse.

Here is a  piece of music which a close friend sent along. The message in it struck a deep chord with me. Southern Cross. If you read through the gallery descriptions, you may figure it out. It is descriptive of our lives, she and I. It may be said of many whose lives tie to the sea.  I cherish my friends.

The gallery below is illustrative of Spring, Diversity, and Authenticity. Click on the images for a larger view and description, if you like.

Situational Ethics Anyone?

Friday, May 15th, 2009
Decisions Decisions

Decisions Decisions

I received a note from a  colleague the other day. Sean Davey was asking me to weigh in on a photographer’s forum in Oz called Photographers United.

The subject was poaching, which is shooting another photographer’s subjects while they are in the midst of building  images mid shoot. I had a bit to say, and Sean had gotten me thinking about a few things in an exchange of e mails.

I have an abiding respect and admiration for some of my colleagues. They understand the bar of ethics involved in building a career and interestingly enough, it is their work which generally is what winds up inspiring me in my own.  Ethics are possibly the single most important line item one can learn in a life, let alone a career, because your choices determine your path and your path defines who you become, and ultimately, what you are.

One day early in my career, I was beach side pre dawn. Setting up, I already had telephoto mounted on tripod and had camera in hand, 20-35 lens and strobe attached for some reason. I had heard an odd noise from the highway about 100 yards behind me, and turned around just in time to see a jeep type vehicle rocket off the freeway, fly through the air, into a fence, and land in some trees a scant 25 yards away.

I sprinted over to the crash and camera still in hand (with the perfect set up for the shot), I saw a woman in a nurses uniform, unconscious and bleeding. I clearly remember the moment. It proved in time, to have been a definitive one. I put my camera down.

Checking her vitals, and freeing her seat belt, I had rendered simple aid and dialed 911 at a nearby pay phone. When E.R. got there, I left. (Fortunately my tele was still where I had left it.) She wound up being okay. Having worked the night shift, she had fallen asleep at the wheel on her way home.  One VERY lucky lady.

That choice set the path for my life which allowed me all manner of rare opportunity as a photographer. For me, people come first. Shot second. That ethos has caused a tenet of trust to form. In effect a client or subject can trust me with whatever, because they come first. This says a lot about the type of imagery I am willing to produce especially for models, performers and high profile athletes whose imagery determines their market value. If the image does not enhance the client, it does not go public.

Another time, I was along for a week end of shooting in LA with some high profile entertainment people who I would be hanging with. My ethics allowed me to not have the appearance of being a PHOTOGRAPHER. That can be critical at times. I have NEVER wanted to be a “famous rockstar photographer” and feel that people who do that, are sorta the antithesis of what I want my life to be. I actually have a scorn for certain of them, as in their marketing they make our simple craft out to be something it really is not. (How else does one justify a 75k per day rate?) Typically I do not find a lot of inspiration through their work.

The short of that weekend is this, I had a wonderful time and wound up with a very famous singer and her equally famous actor boyfriend.  I stood right behind and with them  in front of the entire press corp, who unloaded on them all at once. My simple few frames showed the couple in silhouette, holding hands, and an incredibly poignant moment in front of the strobe barrage. They later told me that the public had never seen them together before. You would have seen the other shooters view from behind the velvet rope on the cover of People etc. I just hung on to mine and gave them a copy. I never want to, or will be behind the rope.  If I need to be, I should not be shooting the subject. It is not who I am.

I am a first person POV shooter. That is my modus. Runway? Forget about it. Paparazzi? Never. I could not do it. It takes me down a road that would make me BE that car wreck there on the beach. It all comes right back to that moment. Oh and the other images from that long weekend wound up being a who’s who of the entertainment industry. I do not think I ever showed them to too many people actually. But they were in my book for a short while. Just because it was what I was filming that period. (That is how subjects wind up in a career shooter’s book.)

I received entry into a world that one does not just walk into. You need to be invited. That was the road I went down, and it was the right one for me. I never go where I am not invited nor where I feel I am to prostitute my personal values. This was illustrated to me once more in the recent fires. I just got a sweet e mail from my friend Tracy Lehr, who is an Emmy winning journalist. This is what she wrote: “I like that you didn’t want to shoot the city that you love burning. That says a lot”.  But that is just me. Sometimes not taking the shot is the best statement one can make on a subject. I have seen that illustrated by many of my colleagues who not so coincidentally, are all at the top of their field.

Here is a fantastic little video about choices and creativity in the middle of this National Bike Week. It will give you a smile for sure.

You can also view a video about one of Brian Nevin’s projects here.  A great example of path finding via ethics in a garbage dump in South America. It is a heart warming story.

For a shocking look at what is going on with some people  in fashion, whose moral compass points WAY south click here.

The following images are me too. I hate being shot. Some of these were produced by request from one of my favorite Editors and publishers, Clay Feeter. This should be the last time EVER I put myself in my own post. If you select and press print, they make great dartboard bulls eyes though! Illustrative images obviously.

Me Shooting Zuri Star photo Daniel Huber

Me Shooting Zuri Star photo Daniel Huber

My favorite level of intrusion while working.

My favorite level of intrusion while working.

Donna and I cruising Chinatown, SF

Donna and I cruising Chinatown, SF



© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.