Category Archives: Photography

Shravan Gupta: The Bike Riders

The Bikeriders is an iconic work of modern photojournalism that gives a raw and lively insight into the biker culture of the 1960’s, captured between 1963 and 1967 when the young Danny Lyon immersed himself completely into the lives and culture of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. ATLAS Gallery, London, will be exhibiting 40 modern prints from The Bikeriders series from 19 June – 16 August 2014, marking the first time these prints have been shown in the UK.

Lyon’s approach was to document his subjects intimately from the inside, rather than simply observing as an outsider. He spent four enthralling years with the Club’s members on long distance rides, at meets, races and informal gatherings across the United States, in locations including Milwaukee, Long Island New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit.

By befriending his subjects, Lyon photographed and recorded interviews along the way, creating an extensive archive of black and white photographs that reveal the diverse characters and strong narratives of this hugely-stereotyped sub-culture. The body of work was instrumental in demystifying preconceptions surrounding biker culture and it remains a seminal work on the non- commercial face of 1960s America.

Lyon, born in New York in 1942, first started photographing in the early 1960’s as a staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at the University of Chicago. His earliest photographs were published in a book on the Southern Civil Rights Movement, and during his career he has studied and photographed death-row inmates, street kids and the transformation of the urban make-up of lower Manhattan. A fascination with humanitarian issues and the grittier communities on the edge of society has always formed the basis of his work, and today he is regarded as one of the most important documentary photographers of the last 50 years. Contemporary photographers including Nan Goldin and Larry Clark count Lyon as a huge influence in their work.

The Bikeriders was first published in 1968, and the exhibition at ATLAS Gallery ties in with the re- issue of a journal-size book published by Aperture.


Shravan Gupta: New updates on photography

Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of color photographs by Mexican-born, British-American artist Sze Tsung Leong from his series Horizons.

Sze Tsung Leong’s Horizons is his vast and unique picture of the world. Composed of broad, encompassing photographs of this planet’s diverse terrains, this series is connected by a common horizon line to form a continuous landscape that suggests an unfurled, and potentially limitless, view of the globe’s surface. Collectively, these images expand our range of vision by transcending familiar boundaries and forming unexpected relationships: Kenya’s open savannah extends into the tidal basins of northern France, a desert development in California continues as a pasture in Flanders, while the salt flats of Bolivia expands into Japan’s Ise Bay.

Mr. Leong began Horizons in 2001 and exhibited the series at the gallery for the first time in 2008. The upcoming exhibition presents more than a decade of work, including new images that depict widespread locations, such as La Habana, Cuba; Cádiz, Spain; Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium; Tsavo West, Kenya; and Odoi, Japan. The exhibition consists of 29 analog chromogenic prints arranged in a sequence by the artist and is the first significant presentation of the larger edition size, measuring 28” x 48.”

The exhibition coincides with the release of the monograph, Horizons, published by Hatje Cantz. The 160-page book contains 144 images along with essays by Leong; essayist and novelist, Pico Iyer; Director of the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Duncan Forbes; former Head of the Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Charlotte Cotton; and a conversation between the artist and Chief Curator of the Center for Creative Photography, Joshua Chuang. As Mr. Iyer writes in his essay “Jerusalem Athens Alexandria Unreal”:

Sze Tsung Leong takes the fractures and disruptions of our post-modern floating world and weaves them into a seamless flow in which distances dissolve, history fades away and we are asked what to make of the often disembodied sense of unearthliness that result.

Major installations of Horizons have been exhibited at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, the Herzliya Museum in Israel and at a solo show at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey in Mexico.

Sze Tsung Leong’s work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. He is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and his series of photographs, History Images, was published by Steidl in 2006. The artist is based in New York and Los Angeles.

Shravan Gupta: Life Series Going Indie – Metadata and Keywords

As you have probably observed in the sequencing of this series, I have attempted to bring the discussions forward as might be required in actual application.

You might ask: “Why not discuss metadata and keywords at the very onset as this is one of the first activities we do after making the image?” If you considered that question, you are absolutely correct. However, it is very much a case of the chicken-and-egg dilemma.

The fact remains we should tailor out metadata and keywords based on the search engine we have decided to incorporate. The metadata and keywords interact with each other when the client in cyber world is doing a search.  Many, many times I have observed photographers write the description text in that window, and then copy and paste the same text into the keywords panel. More often than not, this redundancy isn’t necessary. Many search engines, but not all I am told, search both the description fields and the keyword field during the search function.

One of the challenges I face in writing this entry, is that I leave myself open to correction. I accept that, with the knowledge that there are many variances in accepted practise due to there being no clear industry-wide standard What I will suggest is that in my experience I have found IPTC  (International Press Telecommunications Council) to be the most widely accepted by the photo industry, and as such its adoption should serve you in good stead for years to come.

How you incorporate your IPTC metadata field will have a large bearing on your keyword-application policy.  Not only is the IPTC metadata critical for web-based image searches, it is also an essential “tag” attached to that photography that describes, identifies and tracks the photograph for its life. This metadata, in its most simplistic terms, is the birth certificate and social insurance number all wrapped up in one neat little package. Without this package, you have no benefits.

I could regurgitate everything from the IPTC Photo Metadata standards, but you would be better served by reading and downloading the document directly. This document should be on your desk and thoroughly understood. Much of the field content does not change, and thankfully Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop have adopted IPTC as its standard application; consequently you can populate the fields and save them as a preference for future batch actions.

How you develop your workflow will be a result of trial and error. Personally, I can tell you all of my shots are brought into Lightroom as DNG files to save space. Once those files are imported and placed in the correct catalog, the first function I do is Select All and embed my “Base IPTC” which I have previously established and saved as such. This base data includes each required field that has fixed content; remaining data—such as yjr description field—is applied only to those images that are destined for distribution.

Once all the fixed data is input and the image has been adjusted as desired, or required, only then do I complete the description field. When doing so, the best way to proceed is to think of the Who, What, When, Where and Why. Input this data very carefully as this field will also, more than likely, be “hit” when a keyword search is initiated by a potential client. There are also several rules-of-thumb that should also be entered in brackets following a flora or fauna entry: the complete Latin name and, if an animal might be under human control input the phrase “Captive Animal.”  Again, according to NANPA, if the image is a derivative of several images, the phrase “Composite” should also be entered as metadata.  A potential advertiser may not find this information has any bearing on their final use; however, a natural sciences magazine or educational publisher will most certainly appreciate this knowledge in advance.

And finally, once the metadata has been completed, you are left with applying the appropriate and applicable keywords so a potential client might find the image. Many books have been written on this topic and I certainly can’t do it any justice in a few paragraphs. Suffice it to say, tagging your image with accurate keywords is extremely important, and you would be well advised to research this topic as thoroughly as any you have studied up to this point. Some photographers find this component so critical they contract the work to a third party that has experience working in this field. Only you can decide whether you should contract a service provider—if you do, ensure that you test them with a sample batch before entering into any contracts.

Just to get you thinking about keywords and its nuances, consider this: Is it grey or gray? Is it colour or color? Photographers say horizontal and vertical, while designers say landscape and portrait in describing an image’s orientation. Is an iceberg considered part of global warming, Arctic, clean, pure, pristine, and so on?

The bottom line, when applying keywords, is that you have to think like a potential client. Your keywords should expand on what you have already included in your descriptive field and not repeat those same words. Think back to our discussion of concepts and include phrases, such as: reach for the top, ladder of success, and tip of the iceberg.

As previously mentioned, the interplay between the description field and keywords is critical. Be generous but not verbose; you will want a client’s search to reveal all of the images that may fit the search parameters, but you will also not want to alienate the same client for including too many images that have no relevance. Understanding the importance of accurate and methodical tagging of keywords will have a very direct bearing on your success. By comparison, poor keyword application would most likely translate to lost sales, and that is something you want to avoid.

Once you have made it this far, you should be ready to start offering your images for sale—more on that in the next entry.

Now get to work.

Shravan Gupta: Altered Images

After extensive European travel and time spent with Man Ray at Fregene, Italy, Makos moved to New York to witness the great changes of the period. Fascinated mostly by the emerging punk scene, the American photographer created a series of portraits that are unique in the history of photography: Tennessee Williams, Halston, John Paul Getty III, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Divine are just some of the celebrities captured in his shots and collected in his debut book White Trash, published in 1977. He meets Andy Warhol, who was so impressed by his book, that he bought one thousand copies.

Warhol commits him the artistic direction of his book Exposure, that will be the beginning of their friendship and artistic partnership.

Inside the father of Pop Art’s late Factory, Makos captures extravagances, excesses, behind the scenes and many moments of “extraordinary” daily life of Warhol together with many superstars such as Mick Jagger, John Lennon and the young and talented artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Makos collaborated with many magazines, like Interview, Rolling Stone, House & Garden, Connoisseur, New York Magazine, Esquire, Genre and People. His works have been exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. Among his publications: Andy Warhol in China 1982 (2007), Warhol/Makos In Context (2007), Christopher Makos Polaroids (2009), LADY WARHOL (2010).

The exhibition presents a selection of 62 photographs, recalling the artistic scene of the 70s and 80s in New York. There will be presented also 8 pictures, large size images, of the Altered Images series, realized in collaboration with Andy Warhol, to represent the changeable identity of the human being, as an homage to Man Ray’s shots, portraying Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Selavy.

Shravan Gupta Aspiring Street Photography

1. Ditch the zoom and use a wide-angle prime

midnight dining.jpg

Street photography is not like your 2nd grade science class. You don’t examine your subjects under a microscope. Rather, street photography is about experiencing life, up close and personal. When starting off street photography, you may be tempted to use your 70-200 zoom lens to feel less “awkward” from shooting in the streets. Rather, it will do much more harm than good.

First of all, you will look even more conspicuous in public holding a huge zoom lens. Secondly, if you use a zoom lens you have to point it directly at somebody, which makes the person you are trying to capture feel as if they have a gun pointed to their head. Rather, try using a wide-angle prime lens. This will solve two of the forementioned problems. One, prime wide-angle lenses are often quite small and look much less threatening than the typical telephoto lens. Furthermore, by using a wide-angle lens, you can still capture your subjects without necessarily pointing your camera directly at them. Which brings me on to my next point…

2. Get close

a lone dinner.jpg

When I say close, I mean GET CLOSE. Get so close so that when you are taking photos of people on the street that you can see the perspiration dripping from their forehead or the texture of their skin. By using a wide-angle prime lens (as mentioned in the before point), you will be forced to get close to your subjects. The advantage of this is that the wide-angle lens will give you a perspective which makes the viewer of your images feel as if they are a part of the scene, rather than just a voyeur looking in. Not only that, but when you are taking photos really close to people, they often think that you are taking a photo of something behind them. I recommend using either a 24, 28, or 35mm on a full-frame or crop camera.

3. Always carry your camera with you

mime at st pancras.jpg

You have heard this a million times and you know that you should, but you always seem to find excuses or reasons NOT to always carry your camera with yourself. “It’s too heavy, it’s annoying, it’s a hassle, it’s frustrating.” I’ll tell you what’s frustrating. Missing the perfect photo opportunity (the decisive moment) and regretting it for the rest of your life. I have to admit that is a bit dramatic, but it is true. If you always carry your camera with you, you will never miss those “Kodak moments” which always seem to happen at the most unexpected times. I have taken some of my best images at the most unexpected moments—images that would have been impossible to take if I did not have my camera by my side.

4. Disregard what other people think of you


One of the things that people are worried about when starting street photography is worrying about being judged by other people as being a “creeper” or just being plain weird. Disregard these thoughts. When you are shooting on the streets, you will most likely be alone. That means that anyone who may be “judging” you is people that you do not know and will most likely never see again in your life. So why let them get in your way?

We may feel constricted by these “social rules” but remember, they can always be broken. There is no law out there which doesn’t allow photography in public places (regardless of what the police may tell you).

To prime yourself better for your street photographer “role,” try doing something unusual in public. Lay on the ground for a minute and see how other people react around you, get up, and simply walk away like nothing happened. Go to a busy intersection and stand like a statue and see how people react (trust me, nobody notices. I had to do this as an experiment for one of my sociology classes). When you go into an elevator, stand the opposite way. The social world is full of false rules that constrict us. Break them, and shooting in the streets should become quite natural.

5. Smile often:

smile a little bit.jpg

It is funny how far a smile can go, especially when shooting in the streets. If you take a photo of somebody and they give you a weird look, simply tip your hat to them and show them two rows of your pearly white chompers. I would say that when smiling to strangers (even in the city of angels) I get over a 95% response rate. Even some of the most unapproachable people will smile back at you. By smiling often and to others, this will help you relax and lighten the atmosphere around yourself. People trust a street photographer who smiles, as they will simply disregard you as a hobbyist, rather than someone with malicious intent.

6. Ask for permission


Although many street photography purists say that the only true street photography is candid, I would highly disagree with them. Feel free to go up to strangers who you think look interesting, and ask to take a portrait of them. People love getting their photos taken, and as long as you act courteous and casual about it, most people will accept. Feel free to ask to take portraits of many mundane subjects of everyday life like the waitress at the diner, the bellboy of a hotel, or even a parking lot attendant.

7. Be respectful:


This is one of the tricky grey lines when it comes to street photography. I personally try my best not to take photos of homeless people when they look too down on their luck. Although I do agree that there are tasteful images taken of homeless people which call people into helping these people, there are also many images that look like pure exploitation. Think of the cliché shot of a homeless person crouched over on the street, begging for money. Before you take these images, think about what message you are trying to convey. Are you shooting for the reason of building awareness of the atrocious situations that many homeless people live in? Or are you merely taking a photo of a homeless person for the sake of taking their photo? Nobody can be the judge—only you can decide.

8. Look for juxtaposition:


I feel that this is what makes street photography so unique and fascinating when compared to other genres of photography. Street photographs are able to convey the humor, irony, and the beauty of everyday life, by juxtaposing people with others and the environment. Look for signs with interesting messages that seem to be contradictory to the people standing around it. Be on the lookout for human heads that seem to be displaced by street lamps. Look for two individuals that seem to be differing in height, complexion, or even weight. Capture an array of emotions from people, whether it be happiness, sadness, or curiosity.

9. Tell a story:


Imagine that you are a film director and that you are trying to make an interesting play. Who would you decide to play as your actors? What is your backdrop going to be. How are the actors going to be interacting with one another and the environment? What kind of emotion are you trying to convey—whimsical, curious, or gloomy? If a viewer looks at one of your photos, will they simply move on or will they take a minute or two and study your image, trying to figure out the intrinsic story? Does your image captivate the viewer and make them feel that they are a part of the scene? Ask yourself these questions the next time you are taking photos on the street.

10. Just do it:

together in the rain.jpg

This is the last but most quintessential point of all of becoming a street photographer. Reading all of these tips aren’t going to do you any good to become a street photographer. Photography is not done behind the computer screen, but on the streets with a camera in hand. Honestly when it comes down to it, all this obsession over cameras, lenses, and gear doesn’t matter. Grab your DSLR, point-and-shoot, iPhone, or whatever and hit the streets. The beauty of the world awaits you—don’t miss your chance.

Shravan Gupta :Posing Ideas for Girls

f you ask a subject to stand in front of a pretty background and pose for you, you’ll generally end up with two problems (well, there’s probably plenty more than two, but these two are BIG problems): 1. a stiff posture, and 2. both shoulders facing directly at you. A stiff posture makes for an awkward looking photo, and a straight-on standing pose that shows both shoulders evenly makes your subject look wide, which isn’t the looks most of us are going for. Standing photos are hard to pull off if you’re not a model. This is why I often photograph girls sitting, leaning against something, or even lying down. All these activities cause your subject to shift her weight into a more natural and flattering position than standing directly facing the camera. Here are some examples:

When you ask your subject to sit while you stand, it will cause her to look up at you. This will make her eyes appear bigger and her face look slimmer (and who doesn’t like that?). Just make sure she keeps her chin fairly low, so she’s looking up at you with her eyes instead of tilting her whole face upwards.

You can also crouch down to photograph a sitting subject on her eye level. Girls are generally pretty flexible, so you can ask them to sit cross-legged for a cute, relaxed photo.

Always ask your subject to pull her legs in toward her body when photographing her sitting on the ground. If she sits with her legs out in front of her, her feet will be quite a bit closer to the camera than the rest of her body, making them look really large. But if she pulls her knees up and wraps her arms around them, she’ll present a much nicer picture.

Have your subject sit backwards on a chair for another relaxed pose. She can rest her arms on top of the chair, which solves the problem of what to do with her hands (since girls don’t generally look good with their hands in their pockets).

Here’s a similar example, except this time the subject is standing, not sitting. She still has her arms resting on a bar in front of her, which gives her a relaxed stance. Additionally, she’s leaning in toward the bar a little, which keeps her from looking stiff. You’ll notice that I was standing a little below her eye level when photographing her – this works fine with girls and young women, but won’t be the most flattering pose for ladies who (like me) might worry about some double chin action going on…

As I mentioned before, you never want to photograph a girl standing straight toward you with her arms crossed over her chest – that can be a great pose for boys because it’s fairly masculine, which is the exact reason you want to avoid it with girls. Instead, photograph her from one side, asking her to turn her head slightly to look at you. If her arms are crossed her hands should end up near her chin instead of her armpits.

Here’s another example of asking your subject to lean slightly toward an object for support. Having her tilt her head toward the wall she’s sitting against keeps her posture looking natural.

Another very flattering pose for girls, especially high school age girls, is to have the lay down on the ground on their side, holding their head up with one hand. This pose works well for full body shots, especially when you have a really nice background.

It works equally well for head and shoulders shots. Be sure you get down on the ground as well – you camera should be right at your subject’s eye level. Ask her to place her hand on her head, not her cheek, for the most flattering look.

Here’s another option for a lay-on-the-ground pose. If your subject is actually on the ground, you’ll need to be on the ground as well. A picnic table makes this pose a little easier to photograph.

Remember to get full length, half length, and close-up shots in each position. Again, be careful about how the hands support the face – you don’t want her hands to smoosh her cheeks, so under the chin is a good choice.

This is a really fun, glamourous pose that works well if your subject has long hair. You’ll need a tall stool or step ladder to get this shot. Set your stool just out of the frame above the top of her head, climb up, and lean over so your camera is directly above her eyes.

If you do a good job posing your subject, she’ll feel more comfortable being photographed, and you can both enjoy yourselves. Talk constantly while you take pictures, asking questions and telling stories. Be ready to snap photos when your subject starts laughing or improvising her own poses – you may end up getting the best photos of the session.

Shravan Gupta :Wildlife Photography

Wildlife Photography

Photographing animals and birds in their natural habitats requires many skills, including the ability to handle a multitude of lighting situations. Jim n explains how to work with light when you’re out in the wild.

Taking pictures of wildlife requires many skills—hand/eye coordination, composition, the ability to follow-focus, patience, and good exposure technique. That last item is particularly important because animals are found in a multitude of lighting situations, and each one requires you to understand the best way to obtain a correct exposure.

For example, at sunrise and sunset, you might encounter any of several types of lighting. Front lighting is the easiest to expose for because the direct, low-angled light fills in most of the areas in the subject that would be in shadow. The shot of the male lion, image 1, provides an example. Had it been taken two or three hours before sunset instead of 30 minutes before the sun touched the horizon, the dark mane would have been in deep shadow with little or no detail.

Light coming from the side is another characteristic type of illumination at sunrise and sunset. It creates pronounced textures, long shadows, and a compelling  interplay of light and dark. The portrait of a red fox, image 2, offers an example of sidelighting. This kind of light presents a problem for built-in camera meters because if there are too many shadows, the meter tries to lighten them in its goal of making the scene middle toned. This probably is not what you want—after all, shadows should be dark relative to highlights. If the shadows in the picture of the fox were one f-stop lighter, we would see correctly exposed detail in them. But the highlights, which comprise the most important parts of the image, would be overexposed, and the picture would be ruined.

Backlighting presents one of the most dramatic types of lighting a photographer has to work with, and when you are shooting an animal with a beautiful form, it can help you produce striking results. The stork I photographed at sunrise, image 3, and the elephants at sunset, image 4, exemplify how dynamic this combination is. Moments like these in nature are very fleeting. They last for mere seconds, and you certainly don’t want to blow the opportunity of getting a great shot because the exposure isn’t correct.

With a handheld spot meter, you can pinpoint the area in the frame that you want to be property exposed. With the front-lit shot of a cheetah mother and cub, image 5, I knew that the light chest of the cat would influence the in-camera meter and the image might be a little dark. Using the precise spot-metering capability of a handheld meter gave me the ability to read the scene accurately by choosing the middle-toned portion of the cat’s head as the basis for a reading.

Most digital SLRs have a spot metering mode as well, but they typically read 3% to 5% of the scene instead of the much more accurate 1-degree angle that Sekonic meters can read. If you read 3% to 5%, the zone that you’re measuring may be too large. It may include more than the middle-toned area. In the shot of a wolverine, image 6, you can see what I’m referring to. The red circle represents a 1-degree spot reading, and you can pinpoint a smaller area from which to take a reading. The green circle represents the zone that is read by a typical spot mode in a digital camera. The 3% to 5% area is larger and encompasses more than the middle-toned fur of the animal, and therefore the exposure may not be dependable.

Good exposure is based on the ability to read the middle tone, or middle gray, areas of a subject in a precise manner. It takes time to develop a sensitivity to light so you can readily identify the areas of a subject or scene that are middle gray. Once you zero in on what middle gray looks like, your exposures will be spot-on. In the shot of a mountain lion, image 7, had the exposure been even 1/3 of an f-stop too light, I would have lost the texture and detail in the snow. Once that detail is lost, it can’t be recovered, even with from raw files or with extensive Photoshop work.

There are many instances in which a wildlife subject is moving too fast for you to use a handheld meter. It just becomes impossible to take a precise reading, because the light and shadows on the subject are changing every second. When I am faced with a situation like this, I first take a spot reading on a middle-toned area of the background. Assuming this area is receiving the same light as the subject, the reading will be accurate. The egret in image 8 is an example. I took a reading on the blue sky (a deep blue sky acts as a giant gray card), and as you can see, the exposure is perfect. In the shot of wild dogs, image 9, the same was true. These canines are always in motion, and to take the time for a precise reading on their fur is often impossible. Instead, I read the grass around them and then wherever they moved, the reading was accurate. Because they were moving into and out of the light from the setting sun, I took the reading mid-way between the weak sunlight and the shadow areas.

When I am faced with an impossible situation for a reflected metering mode to handle, such as the white-out in image 10, I switch to the incident mode on my handheld meter. Instead of reading light reflected from a scene, an incident reading interprets the ambient light coming from the sky and falling on the scene. As long as the meter is in the same light as the subject, it will be perfectly accurate. I don’t have to worry about the meter being fooled by the light tones of the subject. When I use incident mode, the tones of the subject and the scene are no longer relevant.