Instagram Weekly Picks: Five Latin America-Based Photographers to Follow Vol. 1

I was asked a few weeks ago about my Instagram “strategy”: How do I choose who to follow? And why don’t I follow everyone who follows me?

The short answer is I don’t really have a strategy. I simply look for photos and photographers that challenge and inspire me to become a better photographer. And whose work helps me discover something new, however slight it may be, about our beautifully flawed world. That’s all. I’m not interested in anything else.

Instagram is a medium I’ll always use more to discover and share the work of others than to share my own. The number of followers I acquire is of no consequence. I’m delighted when someone chooses to follow my occasional posts. It makes me just as happy when someone unfollows me 24 hours after following me only because I haven’t followed them back.

Enough of that, which all brings me to these five photographers I’ve discovered in recent months when preparing for my current stint in South America.

Renato Stockler / renatostockler / / NaLata Agency

Either from or working in the region, they’re all extremely good at capturing moments described as ‘everyday’, like the lead image above by self-described ‘street viewer’ Renato Stockler, a freelance photographer based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was immediately drawn into this simple scene by the colorful variety of albums and the kiosk owner’s smile. This is a person who loves music and obviously enjoys his job as well. It compelled me to listen to Brazilian music for the rest of the afternoon. Thanks for that, Renato.

I first came across Stockler’s work, a delightful selection of minimalist images, always well-composed, through EverydayLatinAmerica. Check out their stream, too.

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Field Test 1, and Quito Photo Stroll 2

Woman, Plaza del Teatro, Quito


Last Sunday was about more than just great music. The Ecuador Jazz 2015 Festival was winding down, which was my primary motivation to head to Quito’s Plaza del Teatro where I joined a couple thousand people to watch, listen, sing and sway along with Como Asesinar a Felipes and Totó La Momposina, a musical contrast that made the afternoon all the more memorable. The former, a frenetic and gritty experimental jazz / hip hop fusion act from Santiago, Chile; the latter Colombia’s cool Queen of cumbia.

The crowd made it easy to blend in, or at least not stand out as much when walking around with a camera. A good opportunity, I decided, to finally give my new lens its first field test.

The entire exercise was ad-libbed; only last night, when I finally sorted through the rest of the photos, did I realize that there was much more that I should have shot, done and tried. No matter, the music was phenomenal. There will be ample other opportunities for Field Test 02.

So why did I settle on the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM?

I needed a prime lens to join the two zooms I travel with. It had to be small and light, have a wide aperture, a long slate of good reviews on its optics and come at a decent price.

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Friday Photo Doc – Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment

I’m going to enjoy this.

Last week I decided that I was going to begin each Friday for the rest of my life by watching a documentary about a photographer. Before allowing the clutter of email to take over, before facebooking, tweeting, instagraming and G-plusing, before beginning to scribble research notes or mapping a daily plan, all my attention would be theirs.

This morning’s was Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment, an 18-minute film produced in 1973 by the International Center of Photography and Scholastic Magazines. It features a selection of Cartier-Bresson’s most iconic images along with commentary by HCB himself. It was like having a conversation with the pioneering photographer –except that he was the only one doing the talking. It was so entertaining and enriching that I watched it twice, the second time to take notes so voluminous that this post nearly amounts to a transcription.

You’re welcome.

So the notes, a somewhat scattered Playbill in non-chronological order, begin.

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Feature Shoot asked 13 photographers, ‘Has there ever been a time when you felt guilty for taking a photograph?’

Feature Shoot asked 13 photographers, ‘Has there ever been a time when you felt guilty for taking a photograph?’

Yes, and no. A sampling:

Noah Rabinowitz:

I’ve never felt guilt in making an image, only its distribution. Context is paramount to image-based communication. The more age, experience and perspective I accumulate, the more thought I put into the implications about every image I put out into the world.

Irina Popova:

Yes. Basically, I feel guilty most of the time – not only for taking photographs, but for being alive, eating, sleeping, looking, etc. That’s why I try to become better and establish better communication about what I’m doing and why.

Anthony S. Karen:

No, because I’d never compromise my morals to the point of being in that position. If in question, I’m more of the type to put my camera down altogether (and have).

Read the rest.


Instagram Weekly Picks: Five Photographers to Follow via EverydayClimateChange

Guest Post: @bobramsak for @everydayclimatechange We all remember our first time. Mine came late on a chilly sun-drenched morning midway through a bouncy ride on a boat filled with tourists on the Last Hope Sound. We were journeying through a picturesque setting that included cliffs of nesting condors and a massive rock that’s home to a cormorant breeding colony, framed all the while by dramatic peaks in the distance that grew taller the further on we traveled. We were moving at a decent clip, bouncing over the wind-swept waves when Balmaceda came into view, the mountain that's home to its eponymous glacier. Ice clung to the rock behind a curtain of fog that lingered over the higher portion of the mountain; just below, the bright whitish aqua of the glacier abruptly turned to a brown stone that cried into the sound. I was momentarily saddened that my first contact with a glacier saw cascading mountain runoff as a metaphor for tears. Just fifteen years ago, our guide said, the base of the glacier was at sea level. It’s said that the navigator Juan Ladrillero gave the sound its name back in 1557, thinking it was his last chance to reach the Strait of Magellan. Instead he reached a dead end at a glacier. For the rapidly retreating Balmaceda, all hope is gone. I felt glad that I made the opportunity to add it to my ‘So Very Glad I Saw it Before it Disappears’ file. Balmaceda Glacier, Last Hope Sound, Patagonia, Chile #glacier #globalwarming #patagonia #chile #climatechange #globalwarming #climatechangeisreal Check out our friends @everydayafrica@everydaylatinamerica @everydayusa@everydaymiddleeast @everydayiran@everydayeverywhere @azdarya We're beginning to re-post photos with hashtag #everydayclimatechange

A photo posted by Everyday Climate Change (@everydayclimatechange) on

If you’re on Instagram and not following Everydayclimatechange, you really should be. And not only because they reposted one of my photos yesterday.

My intention today, with this post here, was to inaugurate a new series in which I introduce and give a shout out to five photographers each week that I’ve come across on Instagram whose work inspires and deserves a wider audience. Since I can’t pass up the opportunity to reshare this shot again –selfish, I know—I decided to slightly alter this intro by focusing on five photographers whose work I discovered through EverydayClimateChange.

The core group comes from all corners of the planet, united in their passion to document the alarming impact of man-made climate change through the images and stories that they share. Officially launched on New Year’s Day, EverydayClimateChange has already attracted, as of this morning, more than 12.7 12.8 13.1 thousand followers. You can join them here.

There’s also an associated Facebook page and they’ve just launched a blog on The Huffington Post. The first post is here.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy browsing their work. First up..

Caroline Bennett / @carobennett / / Twitter / Facebook

I can’t remember if I first came across Caroline Bennett’s work through EverydayClimateChange or EverydayEcuador. In any case, I’m glad it was shared. Her work is remarkable, conveying the strong connection between the people she photographs and the environment in which they live. Preserving and portraying dignity is important to Bennett; she walks that line exceptionally well. She’s currently based between San Francisco and the Amazon region.

This shot was taken in Sarayaku, Ecuador.

Latest for @everydayclimatechange "Our indigenous communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change,” Patricia Gualinga, Kichwa leader from Sarayaku, Ecuador and countless others have told me time and again. "Our elder wisdom-keepers have been warning us for many years, they knew about this but weren’t listened to. They said there would be problems if we continued preying on Mother Nature, causing impacts so great they won’t only affect nature but also humankind. We are out of time, now is the moment for us to be responsible and bet on life as our existence on this planet depends on it.” There are solutions! The earth’s climate is changing in ways that have profound global impacts on its lands, waters and peoples as we enter unchartered territory. Our success in building resiliency as a species depends on how well we understand, predict and adapt to a fundamentally different planet than the one we have inhabited throughout the Holocene. The scientific and academic communities have made significant advances in understanding the behavior and dynamics of Earth’s systems, but a very important voice has largely been missing from the conversation about climate change. What role should ancient wisdom play in confronting our biggest modern challenges? What could western science learn from indigenous knowledge and practices? #climatechange #indigenousvoices #solutions #climate #amazon #wisdom #explore @amazonwatch #everydaylatinamerica #TPS1Million @thephotosociety

A photo posted by carobennett (@carobennett) on

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Flak Photo Launches New Weekly Photography Digest

FlakPhoto1-1Andy Adams, one of the most tireless promoters of visual arts that I’m familiar with, launched the FlakPhoto Digest the weekend before last, a nicely curated weekly newsletter that’s worth the time of any serious or even semi-serious photography enthusiast.

If you’re not familiar with Adams or his work, from his website intro:

I live with my wife in Madison, Wisconsin and I’m passionate about working with digital media to promote the visual arts. For the past ten years, my projects have explored the intersection of digital communication, online audience engagement, and web-based creative collaboration to foster photography culture on and offline. I publish FlakPhoto, a website that promotes the discovery of photographic image-makers from around the world. In my spare time, I host the FlakPhoto Network, a 12,000+ member online community focused on conversations about visual arts culture.

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Friday Photo Doc: Masters of Photography – Diane Arbus

This morning I woke up with Diane Arbus.

It was part of a new Friday morning ritual: starting the day with a documentary about a photographer. Instructional, inspiring and entertaining. A way to get the creative juices flowing before embarking on other matters, trivial and not. I hope it’s a routine I’ll stick with.


A lot has been said about the work of Diane Arbus, not all of it kind. One thing is clear, for better or worse: her photos make it easier for us to look at, even stare, at subjects we were conditioned not to.

I found Masters of Photography – Diane Arbus via Open Culture where Josh Jones, former managing editor of Guernica, writes of Arbus:

Arbus had a unique ability to coax powerful portraits from her subjects, most of whom stare directly at her camera, and the viewer, and do not shrink from confrontation. As with most artists who commit suicide, a “cult of Arbus” has sprung up to defend her from critical scrutiny, but there are legitimate questions about whether her portraiture humanizes or exploits her subjects. Susan Sontag believed the latter and described her work as “based on distance, on privilege.” Reacting to her portrait of him, Norman Mailer found her work dangerous enough to quip, “Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like giving a hand grenade to a baby.” But Arbus was not naïve: she describes herself in an audio interview above as “kind of two-faced, very ingratiating,” and “a little too nice” to her subjects while she captures their flaws. I’ll admit, it’s a little hard to make up one’s mind about her motivations, but the photographs are always deeply compelling.

The 30-minute documentary, produced one year after her death at age 48, includes interviews with her daughter Doon, her teacher Lisette Model and John Szarkowski, a former director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art.


180 Minutes in Ait Iktel – Photo Essay

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to arrive at a remote location and have an entire village turn out to greet you? It might look something like this.

Ait Iktal, Morocco 03

Ait Iktel, Morocco, a village of about 150 families, lies in the High Atlas Mountain region some 100 kilometers south of Marrakech. I was there last September to cover an athletics event which featured appearances by several Olympic and world champion athletes, from Morocco and elsewhere.

It was a big event for the village, a major celebration. Not surprisingly, most of the locals turned out to watch and participate in the day-long proceedings. And to greet us with song and dance.

Ait Iktal, Morocco 06

It was an unforgettable experience that culminated in this 36-image photo essay, one I’m particularly proud of. Please check it out here in the new Photo Essays section of my website. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 404th straight, was snapped in Ait Iktel on 14 September 2014. The lead photo, of two singers chanting in an ahwash, or ahouach, fits nicely for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Rule of Thirds, too.

Ait Iktal, Morocco 23

You did go to the photo essay, didn’t you? :)





Essaouira, Euclid and El Salvador: Piran Cafe’s Top 10 photos from November 2014

This shot of a fisherman patiently repairing one of his nets was taken at the fishing port of Essaouira, Morocco in September. The contrast with the lively atmosphere in which it’s set, busy with commerce and trade, made it one of the most memorable moments of the hour or so I spent there. I wondered how many tears needed to be mended, and how many times that particular net had already been repaired. And would he actually fix every rip he found in that massive net? Next time I’ll ask him.

It was also the most well-received image I posted last month, thus giving it pride of place in this second monthly ‘Best of’ review. (Last month’s is here.)

How to decide inclusion?

Back in the early days of Piran Café, some seven+ years ago, I published an almost monthly look back at what I considered to be the best photos I shot during the previous month. (As an example here’s a summary for 2008.) This is an off-shoot of that but with a twist, pushing my personal preferences aside and compiling instead the ten most talked about, faved, viewed, and shared photos published over the previous month on this site, and my Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts.

Filling out the rest of Top 10 and presented in no particular order are shots snapped in, Ljubljana, El Salvador, Berlin, and among a few others, the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, Ohio.

Got a favorite? Or one you can’t stand? Let me know!


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