Tag Archives: jamie beck

My New Year’s Resolutions

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I think this picture kind of sums up 2016. I haven’t spent much time reflecting back, only looking forward. Defining how I will shape 2017 and what I hope to achieve from it. My personal New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 I’m making public here to have a place I can come back to and remind myself of the goals. And you know, if you say it out loud you’re more likely to accomplish it.

 

Above self-portrait inspired by Milio BURQUIN’s painting, La buveuse d’absinthe taken in my home in France in Rouje shirt with a traditional French Pastis in hand.

 

  1. Put stronger ideas, meaning and emotion into my photographs.
  2. Take fewer photographs to make more impactful ones.
  3. Study the light of Provence. Break it down into a scientific equation.
  4. Add the passage of time into my photographs through movements like in a symphony.
  5. Shoot more 4×5 film
  6. Make photographs more like paintings.
  7. Get a dog. IT’S TIME.
  8. Build a darkroom.
  9. Move to California.
  10. Work on empathy.
  11. Define the purpose of my photographs.
  12. Define myself and style as a photographer and apply it to everything, not just my personal work.
  13. Make commitments.
  14. Set new professional goals.
  15. Create one photography tutorial a week on social media to share my knowledge and continue to build a community over our shared passion.
  16. Create one film noir short on social media based around a 24 hour story once a week.
  17. Shoot more ballerinas.
  18. Shoot more flowers.
  19. Stop wasting. Wasting food, wasting money, wasting products.
  20. Live with less.
  21. Shoot more for others.
  22. Make a home.
  23. Save money for real vacations, not work vacations.
  24. Finish the new photography portfolio site.
  25. Finish the Cinemagraphs site.
  26. Create Cinemagraphs for art, not commerce.
  27. Do something good for my body’s health everyday through physical activity.
  28. Stop drinking all together.  Drink less 😉
  29. Find a way to create more romanticism in my work.
  30. Build the world I want to live in, not the one others want for me.
  31. Learn to be more comfortable sharing my life.

“If to live is to express the emotions of life, then to create art is to express the life of emotions.” -Edward Weston, Group f.64

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A Photographer’s Gift Guide

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I love photography. I love giving and receiving the gifts of photography and what freedoms those items serve to create, to be inspired, to think about photographs in a more meaningful way. These tools, ever changing, are an important part of being a photographer, professional or hobbyist. While I haven’t come anywhere close to owning every photography book or testing every camera I can share with you what I personally have loved and think would be great for anyone interested in the art of capturing life.

Cameras

Sony a7RII: Perfectly small, amazing quality, this is my go-to travel camera. Because you can connect the camera to the app on your phone you can instantly upload photos to put onto instagram or as I have been doing for these self portraits, using it as a remote shutter release. These are the accessories I love to use with it:

Impossible I-1 Analog Instant Camera: As a huge lover of photography dating back pre-digital era I am always keeping up with my vintage film and polaroid cameras, a dying tool I try to preserve in my arsenal of gear and knowledge. I was thrilled with Impossible released a new version of an old instant polaroid camera so modernized you can control and shoot with in from an app on your phone… as you can tell I’m a fan of remote shooting. The photos this camera creates are soft, dreamy and otherworldly and fit right into my vision of the world.

*FYI, giving away TWO of these later this week! Follow on instagram for the announcement!*

 

Canon 5D series: I have been shooting with the Canon 5D series for around 7 years and it has honestly been the best professional camera experience I’ve had. I’ve used this camera to shoot ad campaigns, fashion editorials, images for brand Zines and brand lookbooks, all my NYFW coverage, brand travel stories and so many other … pretty… little… things.

I started out with the Canon 5D Mark II and now shoot with the Mark III. They recently released the Mark IV which I myself have my eye on. Did you know, we created our first Cineamgraph with the Canon 5D Mark II because of it’s capability of also capturing high quality video! These are the accessories I love to use with it:

 

Gear

Gitzo Tripods: I’m 100% loyal to Gitzo tripods. I’ve been using them since college, I believe they are the best. For travel and in Provence I have been using the Gitzo GT0532 Mountaineer Tripod which is perfect size to carry around easily, fits into my duffel for travel, and is light weight while still insanely sturdy. On the head I use a Gitzo Series 3 GH3780QD Center Ball Head which is absolutely my favorite way to shoot on a tripod. Back at the studio we use a Gitzo Series 5 Systematic 3 Section Long Tripod. This is a very heavy duty piece of gear and holds our bigger cameras such as the Red Epic, Pentax 645z and my large format film cameras typically with a Manfrotto 502 fluid head.

MYDigitalSSD 512GB: Super tiny, super fast and affordable SSD hard drive for location shooting.

LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB drive: Our go-to higher capacity drive, great for backups. Also comes in 1TB and 4TB.

iCloth Screen Cleaning Wipes: Your camera screen gets smudged, your phone has fingerprints all over it. Keep a few of these in your camera bag for a quick clean up.

 

Camera Straps

Photojojo Handy Dandy Hand Strap: I’ve had this one strap for years on my Canon. I love it because it’s padded and sturdy for a camera of this size. It’s so warn in now from all we’ve been through the leather has turned a beautiful patina and at $40 you can’t beat it. *see above camera and strap on far right in the top image*

Gordy’s Camera Straps: This is what I have attached on my Sony a7RII. More delicate, minimal, lighter but still solid leather quality, I’m absolutely loving it. And, they are made to order so you can decide what color leather and stitching matches your personality best. Oh did I mention, they start at $18!

Wood & Faulk Neck Strap:  Another strap I’ve had for years, this is the only neck strap I use. I like the extra width for the pressure on your neck or shoulder while maintaining a nice simplicity of design. The leather has worn beautifully, something that will last forever. Comes in tan, dark brown, and natural.

Camera Bags

Billingham 550: If you were to buy one camera bag for your entire life this would be the one. This is my camera bag, this will always be my camera bag and though it’s a splurge it’s also forever.

ONA: Made in New York City, this is a more fashionable approach than your traditional camera bag. From cool backpacks to women’s handbags, they keep your style intact and your gear safe.

Pelican Case: This is for when I mean serious business. There is nothing cool or chic about the way this case looks but when I’m traveling on a big job, carrying a lot of valuable gear, it’s typically too heavy for a shoulder bag and I wanted everything to be as secure as possible. I like that I can roll this through airports, it can stack with luggage and I can put a lock on it for security. It also doubles as a great apple box on location when you need to stand on something to give you a little more height!

Sachtler SC306 Camera backpack: Our backpack for video gear. It’s big, but not big enough that it weighs a ton when full. It fits in overhead compartments on airplanes, has a slim pocket for a laptop and enough room for all the camera bodies and lenses you need. It also stands upright which is a lot more useful than you might imagine.

Photography Books

At Work by Annie Leibovitz: An amazing behind the scenes account by one of the most famous photographers of our time on her career, photoshoots and how some of her most famous images came to light.

Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography: One of my favorite photographers, this book is a beautiful collection of four decades of some of the most iconic fashion photographs in history in his signature black and white. I also love Untitled 116 and Images of Women.

Blood Sweat and Tears by Bruce Weber: An amazing retrospective of one of the greatest American fashion photographers of all time with his beautifully candid and so Americana imagery. The perfect coffee table book that keeps you inspired time after time.

Tim Walker: Story Teller: For those who see the world as a magical place… this is the picture book to end all. For those young creatives with imagination just starting out, Tim Walker Pictures, offers a glimpse into the artistic process.

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style: Some of the most beautiful black and white photographs of fashion, nudes and celebrities the world has ever seen by L.A. photographer Herb Ritts famous for his striking simplicity and powerful natural light imagery. The Golden Hour is a more intimate look into the journey of the photographer himself.

Passage: A Work Record by Irving Penn: One of my all time favorite photography books, this covers all aspects of Irving Penn’s work from fashion to portraits, to his iconic still lives you see hanging on museum walls.

Hold Still by Sally Mann: An intimate dive into the personal history and life of photographer Sally Mann and how that plays out into her esteemed body of work in this interesting memoir.

Edward Weston: 125 Photographs: Containing some of the most striking nudes and still lives in the history of photography, this book is a timeless tribute to the quiet vision of a master photographer.

Imogen Cunningham 1883 – 1976: One of the most prominent women in the history of photography and a pioneer of photography in her own right, this book is a beautiful collection of her most striking photographs from portraiture to flowers.

On Photography by Susan Sontag: A marriage of ideals between the history of photography and what was happening culturally in America in the 1970s that still hits poignant moments relevant to today’s digital society.

Above self portrait taken at my home in Provence with a few of my favorite cameras wearing Of A Kind Permanent Collection and Retrouvai Heirloom Signet Ring in an image inspired by a Francesco Furini painting.

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On Learning French…

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One of the first questions everyone asked me when I told them I was going to France for an extended stay was, “Do you speak French?” My reply: “Non.”

When I was growing up in Texas and it came time to learn a second language I declared I would be taking French, to which my parent’s reply was “no, you’re taking Spanish. You live in Texas, after all.” But in my mind, I wasn’t going to stay in Texas and wherever that life was taking me I was sure it would have much to do with Paris. I lost that battle and I regret not fighting back harder for what I wanted now, while reflecting back from a small French village where 90% of the population only speaks the local vernacular.

I took private lessons (if you are in NYC and want my tutor’s info, email me. He was fabulous!) before arriving which was barely enough to make me appear to be not a total idiot. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was Je suis désolée… I am sorry. I think a lot of people would be terrified to live in a country where they can’t communicate but this sort of thing doesn’t bother me, it’s part of it. It’s part of the opening yourself up to new experiences and putting yourself in unfamiliar situations to test your character on how to survive each day and make it the best it can be.

When I arrived at my little apartment in the south there was an old stack of books on the fireplace mantel, faded from the sunlight streaming in the window on those gloriously quiet afternoons and dusty from years of idle use. Sitting there, just the size of my palm, was an old french language handbook from the late 1960’s. I sat in the sunlight that afternoon practicing the unchanged phrases of French culture and wondering as I felt the texture of the old thin paper between my fingers, what wary travelers had held this book in their hands and fumbled through the phrases as I am today. I imagine them filled with hope that each line of expression will unlock another door in my journey through this foreign land. Where did this book, stuffed into a back pocket, take them and who will possess it after me? What is it that brings us all here, to France, weaving an invisible thread between us?

I have for most of my life been an incredibly social person. My mother always called me a social butterfly. Living in a place with no one to talk to was a release of an invisible social responsibility I had given myself. I don’t know anyone and I can’t really know anyone. There are no parties to go to, no friends to call upon to meet up for drinks. I can’t check in with the neighbors or commit myself to random photoshoots.

It was a relief.

Taking socializing off the table opened up so much time for myself to focus on other things, and to think about photography. It was in a sense a freedom from obligation and made me feel invisible. When you are invisible you are free from the definition you have created for yourself, or has been created for you, and can become a truer form of what you are destined to be.

As the days have turned into weeks people have begun to recognize my face around town. I keep a pretty set routine. I go to the patisserie first thing each day for my baguette. Then to the café for my cafe créme. I buy my cheese at the market from the same man and my eggs from this adorable older couple. Then this marvelous thing started to happen. They each started trying to teach me words. Always with an expression of amusement they say it slowly to me, I repeat it back to them, they say it again back to me. I try to remember it the next time we meet. In these moments I feel what a 2 year old child must. My cheese monger taught me plus and minus, my little vegetable grocer taught me rosemary, the woman at the fromagerie taught me Bon Dimanche (Good Sunday), which is used around town starting Saturday afternoons. This past weekend the organic grocer emptied out my coin purse onto the counter and sat their teaching me how to count change in French. Connecting with another human though their kindness and patience of sharing their knowledge with me has been one of the most generous gifts I’ve received.

I can’t believe I could have possibly lived my life without ever knowing these human experiences, the freedom from myself and the beauty of kindness in others to want to help you learn and participate in this shared life with all walk through together.  Though for the most part I have no idea what these people in my little village are saying to me, I feel more a sense of community with them through their kindness toward me than I have ever felt before and the opening up of my brain as it makes room for new words.

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Studied.

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I was watching the U.S. Presidential debate live last night, in bed with a glass of red wine, around 4am French time. As I listened to Hillary Clinton speak (looking chic as F in Ralph Lauren, IMO) I was so impressed with how knowledgable and studied she is. Dedicating your life to anything, especially in her case of public service for 30 years, is a huge statement to passion, purpose and incredible knowledge on the subject. I was contemplating how that related to my own purpose.

Change makers start by first learning, then with doing. The power is in knowledge. The expertise is in experience. That’s what I took away. If you have been following my Snapchat this week I have been sharing what I’ve learned about photography. Quick little daily tutorials on knowledge I’ve gained either in the class room or from experience in my breathe thus far as a photographer which is and will be my life’s work.

On Photography

My journey started when I was 13. My mom handed me her 1970s Pentax 35mm film camera. The kind that is so basic and manual all you can do set the shutter and aperture. A far cry from the endless options and controls we now have with digital.

My first lessons in photography started with basic balancing of the camera’s built in light meter and a LOT of trial and error. I learned quickly that I like to overexpose my images by a stop, especially when shooting faces. I learned how slow I can set the shutter before the image begins to reveal the shake from my hand, or breathing. I learned how to communicate movement, not just freeze it. This is knowledge I still use today when I want the image to feel alive. From there I read books, I took every class I could for the next 10 or so years. Post college, I still study. I watch youtube videos, I take classes in alternative photography, I buy random cameras and learn how to shoot with them. I play, experiment, challenge myself and discuss daily.

The Continued Study

I’ve studied photography. I loved photography. I still love the history of photography, btw THIS is the best podcast on the subject. We are now all photographers. We all take pictures, communicate through imagery and share with the world. For those of you who want to make it a profession… take a lead from what inspired me about Hillary. Be studied, do the work. Take your time on the journey. Here I am 20 years later and I am still doing just that. She makes me excited for who I will become as an artist (and business woman) in the later years of my life.

Please, this is not a political post but one about being inspired about another human’s knowledge and commitment to what they belive in, if you belive in it with them or not… #ImWithHer

Above self portrait, in Baukjen dress & wrap coat,

inspired from the painting “San Gerolamo” by Caravaggio

 



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