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EVERYONE NEEDS A HERO For the last two weeks I had the distinct honor of being one of four photographers involved in judging the graduating class at a high-end photography school.  The students pay 60K to learn and master the art of photography and come from all over the world.  Before graduating each student must produce a twenty seven-image portfolio of his or her finest work.   The student portfolios are judged by an outside panel of working photographers who judge each photographer on the merits of their work.  During the judging process the students have their work critiques and receive helpful advice to guide them in the transition from student to working photographer. In this image of a beautiful model, you almost don't see her. She becomes the canvas and the hero of the image is the Butterfly. By the end the judges worked…

Hey everyone!  RC here doing a quick blog post on this Friday to see if I can convince some of you to do something I just recently did.  Go Fishing with your camera! I was inspired to do this after watching "Another Day With Jay Maisel" over on the Kelby Training website.  I've been an admirer of Jay's work for a while, and as a friend I try to visit with him when he's available in New York City.  Every time that I do, I'm always nervous as to whether he'll ask if I have been carrying my camera around everywhere I went. I've always seen my relationship with Photography as a "I will decide to do it at key points" - and to that i've always been quick to leave my camera at home.  Because of that, I am always the guy who…

Introductions are in order… I am Pete Collins…"The New Photoshop Guy,” or, as I am called around the office, "Monkey Boy.” I have done a bunch of stuff in the past… from surviving cancer, teaching tennis, competing in Disc Golf tournaments in the U.S. and overseas as well as living in Bangkok, Thailand for over 6 years. I have a Fine Arts degree and I have been a graphic designer for the last eight years. I am a Canon shooter and I have shot just about every type of photography you can imagine. The sole reason why I got this job is because Scott lost a bet and I was the booby prize. Can I use the word booby in this blog? I guess following after Jay Maisel and Moose Peterson, I can get away with it. :D Ok, so once I was given…

Taking a Closer Look…….   It’s always an honor to stand in for Scott, and I’m already so indebted to him for his many acts of kindness to me, I better do a good job!!!!  Is that fear that I smell?  Something’s burning, must the gears in my mind!  Actually I do have an idea I think might work.  I just finished taping a two part Close-Up class for Kelby Training and spending weeks preparing for that studio shoot, I came up with an idea.  The point to any close-up class is to teach someone how to approach a close-up subject, and what techniques are needed to capture it effectively.  For this blog entry I would like to take the same concept and move it in a different direction,  looking more closely at life.  With your permission, I will sprinkle some close-up images throughout…

Let me start by saying that I’ve never blogged.

In fact “Blog” was one of those odd words that seemed to creep into our social consciousness one day completely out of the blue. No one had ever heard of a Blog and then all of a sudden everybody had one. It reminded me of the word ‘scud”. Nobody had ever heard of a ‘scud’ missile and then one day everybody seemed to have one of those too.

My using the word scud as an analogy is really no coincidence because the meaning of the verb ‘scud’ is: to move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind: “we lie watching the clouds scudding across the sky”.

This represents what Scott has been kind enough to let me blog to you about today; how the digital world has scudded into our lives and not only changed the images that we’re making, but completely changed the process by which we make them.

Next, I’d like to say that I am not a hippie. The fact that I’m writing this blog from a tiny cabin in Woodstock is a coincidence. I’ve lived in New York City for 29 years and never really been to Woodstock. I’m here for the weekend and it’s pouring rain, so how better to spend my time than to blog.

I’m not a hippie, but I do have one or two strongholds in my soul that were spawned by a kind of “hippieish” psychology referred to as “Gestalt” that was founded in Germany in 1912 but developed into a type of therapy used by the psychologist Fritz Pearls during the late 60’s in Northern California.

One of the cornerstones of Gestalt therapy is attempting to be truly present, to attempt to live in the ‘here and now’.

I recall this being something that was actually doable and a philosophy I tried to practice from time to time throughout my life with some success…up until several years ago.

But before I go on, here’s a very brief synopsis of my career for those of you unfamiliar with my work.

My Dad was a very good amateur photographer and he gave me his 35mm Pentax camera when I was ten or eleven. He let me take photos then edit them from a contact sheet using a loupe and a grease pencil to outline my crops. He went to great expense allowing me the chance to choose and emend how I saw.

My Mother and sister photographed by my Father in 1958

By high school I was taking pictures regularly, mostly for the yearbook. I applied to Art College and by the end of my third year had taken every photography class in the program, so I moved to New York.

It was 1982 and just as difficult to break into the industry then as it is now. After a few months of working for whoever would hire me a fortunate set of circumstances landed me inside Annie Leibovitz’s studio. I had no idea what I was doing so I started out loading film but over time learned the ropes and became her first assistant. I worked alongside Annie for three years.
In the two years that followed, I freelanced for several other top photographers including Robert Mapplethorpe and Steven Meisel.

When I ventured out on my own, my first assignment was to photograph a dance company. Those photos became the basis for my first portfolio. When I showed them to magazines they saw bodies in tights and promptly assigned me fitness stories to shoot. Which wasn’t so bad because those exercise pictures helped get me a job photographing a series of twenty books for Time/Life on health, nutrition and fitness. The fitness work led to taking beauty pictures, which led to photographing actresses, which led to photographing mostly celebrities, eventually resulting in what I do now, which is primarily magazine work, television advertising, and movie posters.

New York Magazine, 2006

ABC Family, Los Angeles, 2010

Buena Vista Pictures, Los Angeles, 2006

I still shoot dancers and have been working exclusively with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1999.

Alvin Ailey Dancers, New York, 2006

That’s the shorthand version of my ten-year overnight success. Let’s return to the idea of “here and now.”

(This post contains minor PG-13 nudity/sexiness beyond this point. If you’re offended by such things, please don’t click “Read More.”)

Find a Niche -- And Fill It As much time as editorial photographers spend bitching and moaning about how things just aren't the way they used to be, you'd think we were witnessing the death of an entire genre. Personally, I think nothing could be further from the truth. I actually think we are in the midst of a renaissance that will prove to have been one of the most exciting times to have ever been a photographer. True, newspapers and magazines cry poor house as the pool of available assignments slowly drains. That's because along with the digital explosion there has been a massive repricing of information. Presses, trucks and dead trees are no longer needed to disseminate information. So the economic pricing moat that used to surround the publishing process no longer exists. Publishers used to be guys who sat in corner…