Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Photographing the New Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Bets Down

Last month I had a unique opportunity to spend two days shooting the newest property on the Las Vegas Strip, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The Cosmopolitan, on the strip between Bellagio and City Center, opens for business today and I uploaded a bunch of new photos of the property to my Flickr account this morning. I’ve been uploading some photographs of the property over the last week and will continue uploading shots in the future with my regular daily uploads.

All in, over two days I took over 7,000 frames of the new property. I ended up finishing a little over 1,200 photos of those and have almost 100 of the best uploaded to a set on flickr now. To view this set as a slide show click here. It was an amazing experience to have access to this site before the general public.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas consists of two towers which hold almost 3,000 rooms total. One of the towers is finished while a second tower is complete up to about the 42nd floor or so. They are still developing the second tower and construction was in progress while I was visiting. While visiting the property I was able to take some wonderful photographs from the 61st floor of the second tower still under development.

Rivers of Suggestion by Thomas Hawk, on FlickrSub Zero by Thomas Hawk, on FlickrEmbrace What's ThereTime in the Desert
photos, clockwise starting upper left: The columns at the lobby check in featuring rotating plasma art, the in room kitchen in one of the corner suites, a long canyon hallway at the new spa, an exterior photograph of one pools overlooking City Center

I was impressed that almost every room in the new hotel had a full open air balcony with *amazing* views (bring your tripod and DSLR). The corner suites were the most luxurious and elaborate and featured dramatic wrap around balconies with brand new views of the Las Vegas Strip. Some of these units were originally intended to be luxury condominiums and feature 2 bathrooms, include large master bedroom/baths and full functioning kitchens including stoves and sub zero refrigerators. The rooms also included large Samsung plasma televisions which included an interactive menu to access various hotel and entertainment features.

In addition to the two towers, the property features a large naturally lit casino floor with a grand hotel entry which includes huge columns of plasma screens which were displaying library books while I was visiting. I was told that the art on the plasma screens would be rotated including different photos at different times. There are numerous nightclubs and bars throughout the property as well as many elaborately decorated escalators.

The property, which reportedly cost $3.9 billion to develop and is owned by Deutsche Bank, also includes a number of high end restaurants, a nightclub called Marquee (run by Tao), as well as large theater and convention space.

Beloved, Plate 2Runs That WaySkies and Las VegasI'll Take Two
photos, clockwise starting upper left: Inside the new three story chandelier bar at the Cosmpolitan, an exterior photograph of one of the two towers, a photograph down one of the long corner suite balconies which overlooking the Strip and Paris, Las Vegas, a view down the strip from one of the open air balconies over looking the Bellagio Fountain.

The centerpiece of the casino floor includes a three story bar wrapped entirely in the largest crystal chandelier I’ve ever seen. Another bar downstairs, called the Queue bar, includes the line to the main nightclub Marque. I thought it was a great idea to wrap the nightclub line around a bar so that people could order drinks while they waited in line for the nightclub (it would certainly make waiting a bit easier if you could drink while waiting). Another ground floor club featured elevated platforms where gogo dancers will be able to dance and be seen from the strip.

Everything about the property was very decorated and elaborate — even down to the underground parking garage. The parking garage includes a light above every parking stall. If there is a car in the spot the light turns red. If it is open it is green. This allows you to easily drive down the rows of the underground garage and spot open spaces where you can park. Four floors of the parking garage also included custom mural graffiti art done by some of the prominent street artists out there today including Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf.

The property also features three large swimming pools with bars as well, a relaxing pool, a dayclub pool and a nightclub pool. There is also a full spa in the second tower leading out to one of the pools.

One of the things that I really liked about the property was that in the hallways to the hotel rooms and in the hotel rooms themselves there were big beautiful oversized framed fine art photographs. It seemed that everywhere you went you kept seeing big beautiful photographs.

Drink MeYou Can Say That AgainA black and white photograph of the new crystal chandelier bar, a detail photograph of one of the Shepard Fairey murals int the parking garage.

The hotel already has booked some major talent and is promoting a New Years Eve package which includes a concert featuring Jay-Z and Coldplay. Brandon Flowers from the Killers will be performing there poolside for the opening.

In addition to the parking garage street art, the hotel includes many other pieces by prominent artists. The arts will be a big focus of the property and they will have an artist-in-residence program where various artists will spend a month at a time at the hotel working on their art in a hotel studio.

Thanks to David Scherer from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for showing me around, to Miiko Mentz at Katalyst Films for helping to arrange the shoot, and to my wife for modeling for me. I had a blast and look forward to shooting this property more in the future. To learn more about The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, click on the link at the top of this post to get to their website, or check out their page on Facebook here or their Twitter page here.

I’m photographing Las Vegas as part of my series on the 100 largest cities of America. You can check out that series here and my specific set on Las Vegas more broadly speaking here.

Interview, Eyes Wide Open with John Szarkowski

“If I understand your question, you are suggesting that fecund artists are likely to be inferior to artists who produce little. According to that test, Paul Dukas should be considered at least 100 times greater than Haydn. (I am assuming that Dukas wrote at least a few things other than the Apprentice, although I don’t know what.) I doubt that you would agree to so ludicrous a proposition, but I really don’t know what else you might mean. Surely the best artists, by and large, have been very productive; it is difficult to think of one who was stingy with his talent and energy. I don’t know whether or not Eggleston is a prodigious shooter; Winogrand certainly did expose a great deal of film, and until his very last years he had an astonishing percentage of successes, even by his own high standards. The proof sheet containing the famous picture of the crippled beggar at the American Legion Convention includes three or four other pictures–never printed by Winogrand–that most photographers would count among their prizes.”

From an interview with former MOMA Director of Photography John Szarkowski. Read the whole interview here.

Marc Silber Interviews Me for

Marc Silber Interviews Me for

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to co-host a photowalk with photographer Marc Silber down at the Peninsula School in Menlo Park. We put the photowalk together as part of a video interview that Marc was doing with me about my photography including lots of tips, techniques and comments by me on my own personal photographic style.

SanDisk is sponsoring Marc’s show and in addition to my own interview, Marc has 29 other great interviews up with some of the top photographers out there shooting today in pretty much every genre. The interviews are generally short, 5 to 10 minute in length and offer you wonderful insight and tips on how to improve your own photography.

Thanks again Marc for having me on your show. You can check out the video we did together here. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll answer them there.

The Photography of Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper
Photo by Skott Яeader.

New York Magazine: Are you still shooting? Do you have an ideal person in mind to shoot now?

Dennis Hopper:I haven’t changed much. I carry a camera around when I remember to. I take a picture every now and then.

Dennis Hopper died over the weekend. There are plenty of obits running around the web and several of them seem to mention his photography. I’d never known Hopper as a “photographer” per se, but apparently he did quite a bit of it.

I think it’s great when celebrities become photographers. As a celebrity you have access to some unusual situations sometimes, and these occasiaonally have the potential for turning into interesting subject material for the keen eye, especially I’d imagine when you’re Dennis Hopper you’d probably find yourself in “certain situations.”

My mom gave me a book of photographs by Sammy Davis, Jr.this past Christmas. I love that book.

So I did a bit of research on Hopper’s photography. I couldn’t find a web page dedicated to Hopper’s photographs. It seems like some crappy domain squatter is sitting on, so there is nothing there. It doesn’t look like he even had his own website really. I found a twitter account for him, but who knows if that’s really him. That Twitter account links to this page as his, but it’s a pretty weak page and doesn’t include anything about his photography.

The Twitter account is more interesting. It mostly feels like it’s him scrounging for money.

“Son asked me. ‘Why do Super Mario Bros.?” I told him “I needed to buy you a new pair of shoes.” his reply? “I don’t need shoes that bad.”

“You should buy Deadly Creatures on the Wii, man. Billy Bob Thornton and I did some sweet voice acting on this. Gotta pay the bills baby.”

His last entry on his Twitter account is dated May 4, 2010 and reads:

“In Japan there’s a 20 foot picture of me endorsing one of my favourite hotels. Seeing it is surreal. PS. Stay there, put food on my table!”

But again, who knows if this is even Hopper’s real Twitter account. Remember that time when Kayne went all agro when someone was impersonating him on the Twitter? By the way, Kanye’s new single “leaked” on the web over the weekend is also pretty dope. And he didn’t even pay me to write that. But this blog post is about Dennis Hopper’s photography and not Kanye West, so let’s carry on.

I remember seeing Hopper in a television commercial on CNBC about a year ago for Ameriprise Financial and remember thinking, really? Dennis? You really need money *that* badly? It sort of felt like that time I first saw Johnny Cash doing a Taco Bell commercial way back in the day. Sometimes you forget that your idols have to pay bills after all, but seeing a minituriazed Johnny Cash, selling himself as “a little cash” and pitching low priced tacos seems beneath the man who could also belt out that he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Or like that advert that I just heard the other day with Bob Dylan crooning for some insurance company. What have we gotten ourselves into? The times they are a changin’ I guess.

So the next place I went looking for Hopper’s photography was on Surely he probably put out a book of photographs at some point I’d figure. And lucky for me I found one. Unlucky for me it’s 925 bucks! It does look like a pretty interesting book of photos though.

For those of you too cheapskatey to pay $925 for a photography book, here’s a tip, you can get the same book directly from some art gallery for only $700. What a steal. There’s more information on the Hopper book here, including a gallery of some of the pages that you can actually browse. Apparently the pressing was limited to 1,500 and they are signed. I suppose they won’t be making any more signed copies of this book, so who knows, maybe $700 is a steal after all.

I did find this site of a bunch of his photos from artnet. I liked this one alot. I think it’s a photograph of the same famous gas station that photographer Stephen Shore is known for, but maybe not. It is interesting that Hopper said he didn’t crop his images. Stephen Shore says the same thing.

I also found this very informative article from Leah Ollman about Hopper’s photography. It’s much more informative than my little post and I suppose explains why she’s the journalist for the L.A. Times making the big bucks and I’m just some hack blogger yapping on complaining about how much Dennis Hopper’s photo book costs in a blog post or droning on about celebrity endorsements and Kanye West.

“I think of them [my photographs] as ‘found’ paintings because I don’t crop them, I don’t manipulate them or anything. So they’re like ‘found’ objects to me,” Ollman quotes Hopper as saying in 2001. So I’m supposin’ that maybe Hopper wasn’t a big photoshoppery sort of guy, unlike yours truly.

He did shoot digital though later on in life though according to another interview.

According to Ollman, in July there is going to be a show of Hopper’s photographs at the MOCA down in Los Angeles. Perfect timing I suppose. has a lot more of Hopper’s photographs and also has a reprint of a New York Magazine interview he did on his photography that feels pretty recent. He talks about Obama as President in the interview, so it can’t be that old. (edit: original interview from NY Mag dated 9-16-09 here).

Here’s another interview that Hopper did on his photography from 1999 with Tony Shafrazi.

“No, Don’t Take My Picture, I Always Look Bad in Photos”

Robert and MaryamMeliqua, and Bernard, 6th Street, San FranciscoRyan BlockMeta Trevor

I hear this alot.

I’ve shot literally thousands of people over the years. I love shooting people. Every so often though someone will tell me not to take their picture, because “they always look bad in photos.

Of course I almost always comply if someone really truly doesn’t want to be photographed, but usually not before first trying to clarify things with them a little more.

Most of the time actually people who don’t want to be photographed really don’t mind. They are just shy and after talking a bit more agree to be photographed. Sometimes people though really do feel strongly about not being photographed and if this is the case I won’t shoot them — well unless it’s some sort of an altercation with a cop or security guard or something and they drew First Blood.


Here’s the thing. The reason why some people “always look bad in photos,” is *exactly* because they object and complain about always looking bad in photos in the first place. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I shoot someone, I might take 5 photos, or 10 photos, or 500 photos. But I don’t publish all 500 of course. I only process and publish the ones that I think are the absolute best. I want whomever I’m shooting to look their best and I want my work to reflect positively on them.

Bad Ass on South Beach

When I have 500 photos to choose from, the chances of my getting a good picture are *much* greater than when I only get three.

So the more comfortable you are with the photographer, the more you relax and let them do their job and even encourage them instead of objecting, the more likely that they will get a good shot of you. If the photographer senses that you are resistent, or even worse if you stop them after only taking a few shots, you almost assure that the resulting photo won’t be good.

My advice to people that want to look good in photographs? The key to getting a great photo taken is to make the photographer as comfortable shooting you as possible. Never object to being photographed or say that you look bad in photos. Never stop them while they are shooting. Relax, engage with them while they are shooting. Pose a little, but also be natural. Ask them about their camera, make *them* feel relaxed and unrushed. Ask them if you are in the best light or if you should move somewhere else. Because the more time they spend shooting you, the more total frames they end up making, the more likely that they will get a good one.

So if you don’t like how photos of you turn out, consider the interaction with the photographer. If your goal is to get the best photo possible of you, your job should be to encourage them and have them make as many frames with you as possible. Give them 50 frames to work with and they’ll get a better final photo of you than if you only let them have 3.

Deeper, Plate 2

Most of the time that I’ve taken photos of relaxed people they end up liking them. I’ve had several people use my photo of them for their avatar online or link to the photos or republish them. But I think the key to taking a good photograph is how well you communicate to the photographer that you are comfortable with them shooting you.

This post inspired by Rob’s question on Buzz here.

My Photography Workflow 2010

For the last two years I’ve written blog posts detailing my own personal photography workflow that I use. As the tools to process photos change and as I learn more about processing photos, so does my workflow.

I probably get more questions about my workflow (or what camera to buy) than any other sorts of questions. So since it’s been a year now, I thought I’d update my own personal photography workflow.

Self PortraitStep 1. Capture the Image: At present my daily set up includes a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera (which I love but which has a *horrible* problem with dust), and five Canon lenses. The 14mm f/2.8, the 24mm f/1.4, the 50mm f/1.2 (with crappy autofocus), the 100mm f/2.8 macro and my favorite lens the 135 f/2.

Also with me everywhere I go is a 17 inch MacBook Pro, a Hoodman high speed firewire 800 card reader, my camera battery charger and an extra battery and 3CF cards (a 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, all by SanDisk). My 16GB card has recently been having problems and has been acting up so I’ll probably throw that out and buy another new 32GB card before my next big photography trip.

I recently replaced my camera backpack going from the Lowepro CompuDayPak to the Computrekker Plus AW backpack. The zipper on my CompuDayPak was shot and after three years or so of daily use the bag was falling apart. It supposedly has a lifetime guarantee, but when I looked at the guarantee more closely it looked like it didn’t cover every day wear and tear and especially issues with zippers.

The new backpack is substantially more sturdy. I like it a lot more. My gear feels much better protected and it’s got a ton more room. Unfortunately it does feel a bit bulky and sometimes I feel like it looks like I’ve got a suitcase strapped to my back and look like a dork. 🙂

I shoot almost every day out and about in the Bay Area, sometimes at night for special events, photowalks etc. and most significantly as part of my project to document the 100 largest cities in America. Lately I’ve been taking intensive five day trips to different large American cities where I’ll shoot over 10,000 frames. I shot Nashville and Memphis in January, Miami in March and I’m heading to Detroit next in early June.

The Hoodman RAW 400/800 FireWire Compact Flash Card Reader is Built For Speed2. Step 2. Transfer my images to my MacBook Pro. One of the best photography tools I’ve purchased in the last few years has been my highspeed FireWire 800 card reader (see link above). It can transfer a full 32 GB card in less than 15 minutes. When I’m out in the field I’ll use little breaks occasionally to offload images from my cards to my MacBook Pro with this card reader which is always with me. If you are still using camera cables or a USB card reader, you have no idea the speed you are missing.

I usually drag and drop the files directly from the card to a folder I create on my MacBook Pro with the date of the shoot. If I’m in the field this is the fastest way to get the images off the card and get me back shooting again. It takes over twice as long to have Lightroom copy and import the photos for me, so I only use Lightroom to do this task if I’m already in for the night, at home, etc. and don’t care about the time it takes to transfer files.

I bring two hard drives with me on trips. A 750GB external Seagate Hard Drive that serves as a Time Machine drive to backup my Mac. And an extra 1TB Seagate Free Agent drive (which I LOVE, is USB powered and not much larger than an iPhone or a pack of cards — this drive is the ultimate portable travel hard drive and a great value). The Free Agent drive is where I put extra images when I fill up my MacBook Pro 500GB internal hard drive.

When I get home I’ll frequently offload day shoots from my MacBook Pro to one of my 5 archive Drobos. Here my photos are backed up and replicated. I can then later copy the files back to my MBP when I’m ready to actually process them. At any given time I’ve got photos I’m processing on my MBP (backed up with Time Machine).

I’ve also now begun backing up my files in the cloud to Mozy as well. More on this later.

Synchronize3. Step 3. Synch my images to Lightroom. After I add a day’s shoot to process I’ll synch my MBP photos folder with Lightroom to import these images into Lightroom.

4. Step 4. Flag Images in Lightroom. Next I go through a days shoot using Lightroom to flag all of the photos that I want to process. Depending on the shoot I’ll usually process anywhere from 5% of my shots to 20% of my shots I’d estimate.

5. Step 5. Move all of my flagged images to a “flagged photos” subfolder in that date’s folder. I do this so that I can keep straight which images I’ve processed and which I haven’t. This way if I want to go through the photos that I passed on the first time around and revisit them to process latter I’ll be able to keep this straight in my records. I don’t always process 100% of what I flag, but pretty close.

My Photography Workflow 20106. Step 6. Develop my photos one by one. Here I go through Lightroom’s develop module to individually process every photo on a one by one basis. I rely heavily on presets as well. I’ve got probably 500 or so presets that I regularly use on my photos. Many of these I’ve gotten from other photographers. Many of these I’ve made myself. Sometimes I’ll process a photo without using a preset, but many times I’ll use a preset as my starting point to give the photo a certain look before tweaking it further from there. Rarely do I ever just use a preset and export. I almost always tweak the photo from my presets.

When I’m developing I will frequently adjust contrast, temperature, brightness, exposure, vignetting, sharpening and noise reduction. I’ve only recently been using noise reduction so much more with Adobe’s new beta version of Lightroom 3.

Adobe’s improved noise reduction tool in the new beta may be the single most significant advancement in digital photo processing that I’ve ever seen. It has blown me away and if you are not using it you really are missing out. Anyone can download the Lightroom beta for free right now here. Adobe’s new noise reduction technology allows for regular shooting at 6400 iso on my camera, which opens up a whole new realm of what is possible with night photography.

I was able to shoot some amazing night street portraits down in Miami Beach in March at very high isos and eliminate all of the noise in these high iso photos with this feature. Here’s an example of a street portrait that I shot at iso 4,000 in Miami. It’s amazing to me how easy it was for the new Lightroom beta to get the noise out of this high iso photograph.

Frequently I’ll also use the cloning tool in Lightroom to eliminate visible dust on my images. Canon’s so called anti-dust technology sucks big time (see above). Cloning out dust is the number one waste of time for me in processing my images. Recently I bought the Arctic Butterfly brush to give that a try to improve the situation. I was using sensor swabs and methanol but they weren’t really working. I’ll try and post an update on the Arctic Butterfly once I have time to test it out sufficiently.

6B. Step 6B. External Processing in Nik Silver Efex or Photoshop. Occasionally I’ll do additional developing work on an image using either Nik Silver Efex or Photoshop CS5. Photoshop CS5 kicks serious ass. I haven’t been using Silver Efex really since I’ve been on the Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta. For some reason it seems to warp my images when I send them to Nik as an external editor. My images also get warped if I send them to photoshop as an external editor as well, so usually when I do work in photoshop I’ll just open the exported file directly in Photoshop to do more work on them.

Nik Silver Efex Pro is one of the best black and white conversion packages I’ve ever used. I’m hoping that when the official non-beta LR release is out that it will make it possible for me to use Nik Silver Efex again. You can download and use Nik Silver Efex Pro free for a 15 day trial. If you haven’t checked this out yet, you should.

Mostly in Photoshop I’ll do little things like add a frame, or add a blending layer to manufacture artificial film like scratches on a photo, or little touches like this. I don’t do this alot because it’s time consuming. Lately I’ve also begun painting some of my photographs in Photoshop. You can read more about that in my review on the CS5 Photoshop Beta here. Look for Photoshop CS5 to be released shortly.

My Photography Workflow 2010, Plate 2
7. Step 7. Export my file as a full sized high quality JPEG image. Lightroom defaults to 240 DPI (not sure why) so I use this as my output DPI with the highest quality full sized JPG. These images are exported to a “finished photos” folder.

As I export each photo I will name it at that time. A lot of people ask me where the titles on my photos come from. They come from all over really. My titles are frequently very personal to me, obscure and abstract. They frequently have a story that only I know behind them. They are frequently inspired by music or are lyrics to a song that I relate to that image in my own mind.

Keywording8. Step 8. Keywording. Once I’ve finished processing a days shoot, I will synchronize my finished files folder in Lightroom and begin keywording. I’ll apply broad general keywords to all of the photos usually like the location (city, state, country) or batch keyword big groups of photos that cover the same subject (graffiti, neon, venue, subject, etc.). Then I’ll go through the photos one by one looking at each for any unique keywords possible.

If the photo is of a neon sign or of a specific location I’ll also frequently go get the address of the venue from Google and paste that into the keyword description.

This meta data is later automatically applied to my image when I upload it online.

9. Step 9. Geotagging. I use Google Earth and Geotagger next to geotag *some* of my images. In general I’ll geotag if it’s easy. For awhile the OCD in me was geotagging every single image I’d process. I’d painstakingly go through Google Earth and geotag them one by one by one. This was a ton of work, especially if the work needed to be done in a city that I’m not as familiar with. Now I’ll just geotag the images if it’s super easy and I can get there quickly in Google Earth or if a bunch of images are from same location and I can batch them.

Once the new version of iPhone’s OS can multitask, I’ll probably start trying out some of the geotagging geolocational apps for the iPhone. Or there’s a good chance that I’ll switch to an Android based phone in July when my iPhone contract is up and I’ll see what I can use for that there.

10. Step 10. Archiving. Once I’m done with this I’ll sort my images into what I consider A quality photos and B quality photos. These are then transferred to a Drobo, where I have an “A to be uploaded” folder and a “B to be uploaded” folder.

11. Step 11. Publishing. Twice a day (once in the morning, once at night) I’ll pull 5 photos from my A folder and 17 photos from my B folder at random and upload them to Flickr. This is a total of 44 photos a day that I upload.

I’ve got about 20,000 unpublished photos in my to be uploaded photos folders at present. I always upload what I feel are my five strongest images of any batch upload as the last five to Flickr. This way these are the five that will show up for my contacts when they see my photos in their contacts page. These 5 will also show up on the first page of my main Flickr page if someone goes there directly.

If a photo gets 25 faves or more on Flickr, I’ll generally blog that photo at as well. You can see these photos on a version of filtered only for the photoblog portion here.

Once these photos are published they go into a folder by month based on upload date. (Note, the original RAW files always stay in the folder of the date they were taken).

Anyways, that’s about it. This article is a bit longer than the past few years, but I’ve been doing a lot more with my processing as well. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments or offer up any suggetions you might have for improving my own workflow. Thanks!

Five Places I Go to Find Photographic Inspiration

I'd Love to Start Again and Get it Right

Earlier today Rebekah Json on Google Buzz asked me what I do when I’m “uninspired” to inspire my photography. I started thinking about it and realized that the answer was actually longer than a few sentences and so I decided to publish a post on five places that I personally go to find photographic inspiration. Inspiration is a huge part of producing creatively and something that I think about alot. That said, here are five of the primary places I go to find inspiration.

1. The photography of others on the web. I am a voracious consumer of other people’s photography. The internet, and photo sharing more specifically, have opened up vast libraries of images that simply were not accessible 10 years ago. I look at photos on the web every single day. I make friends and contacts on photosharing sites like Flickr with people’s whose work I admire and I’m constantly reviewing what other people are doing. Earlier today I posted a buzz about my friend Marc Evans and his work. The perfection of his neon imagery is hugely inspiring to me. It makes me want to spend more time and care on my own neon images. His work is an inspiration to me. But Marc is just one of many.

I’ve added a bunch of photographers as contacts on Buzz. There too, every day I see wonderful images. A few months ago I started seeing some of the first iPhone hipstamatic images show up on Flickr. I first noticed that by following the work of Anthony Valley.

I’m constantly inspired looking at the big beautiful images of’s Big Picture blog. If you want to be inspired, follow other photographers and photography around the web, there is no shortage of talent out there from both pros and amateurs alike.

2. From photography books and museum or gallery exhibits. The web is great, but there is something about the printed page that just makes photographs look 1000% better. I spend a lot of time browsing and buying photography books. Sit down for an hour with William Eggleston’s Democratic Camera or any of Garry Winogrand’s street photography or Lee Friedlander’s self titled book Lee Friedlander or Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places. Carefully studying what some of the world’s greatest fine art photographers produce is hugely inspiring. And you don’t necessarily even have to buy the books always. Do you have an extra hour this afternoon? Consider going into Borders and seeing the great works of others. Powell’s in Portland has one of the best photography sections of any bookstore I’ve ever visited.

Likewise, keep an eye out for museum or gallery exhibits. I remember the first time I saw Richard Misrach’s gignormous photos at a gallery in San Francisco. Seeing Robert Frank’s “The Americans” at the SFMOMA (for free) was one of the most inspirational exhibits I’ve ever seen.

3. From documentaries on photographers. You may not realize this, but Netflix is *chock full* of *great* documentaries on photographers. I’ve seen tons of these now. I’ve been publishing a profile a day on a different photographer on Buzz. Why? Because I learned about the importance of curating from a documentary I rented on Netflix about one of the world’s greatest curators (and photographers) Alfred Steiglitz. I’d also highly recommend “In the Real World” about William Eggleston or “The True Meaning of Pictures” about Shelby Lee Adams. But just do a search for photography on Netflix and you’ll find a treasure trove of great documentaries worth watching.

4. From other big thinkers. This may sound odd, but frequently I find inspiration from people who are not primarily photographers. Just watching people who live their life with excellence. Andy Warhol’s work ethic was phenomenal. Man that Jack Kerouac could type. But frequently this is closer to home. Maybe this is watching the personal excellence of a blogger/social media expert (and also photographer) like my friend Robert Scoble. Or watching the many many paintings by my friend tobakhopper and his zest for life that comes along with it. Recently I discovered Chris Guillebeau. He’s trying to visit every country in the world by April 7, 2013. He’s already visited 122 of the 192 total! Read his manifesto here. I love reading positive thinking bloggers like Seth Godin. Surround yourself with big thinkers, powerful generous people who are willing to share and people from the past who have achieved great things.

And also avoid the naysayers. Try to keep away the haters and assholes who only want to tear you down. Little thinking small minded mostly jealous individuals. Recently I found this song by Slim Thug “Dedicated to my haters.” As crazy as it sounds I can find inspiration from listening to a rapper prove his critics wrong by becoming even more successful.

5. From inside yourself. Ultimately you can find inspiration in many, many places in the world around you, but at some point you have to simply fall back on self-discipline. There are *definitely* times that I feel totally uninspired and do not want to go out and shoot. Maybe it’s raining, or maybe I’m tired, or maybe I’m just sick and tired of shooting San Francisco over and over and over again (as lucky as I am to live here in such a beautiful place). But sometimes you just have to accept uninspiration… AND GO SHOOT ANYWAYS. And you know what? You’ll find sometimes that the times when you were least inspired are when you capture some of your finest photographs. F8 and be there. Being there the optimal part.

There are lucky shots and situations around us every single day. Unless you are actually putting yourself out there to stumble across them you will miss them. So if you can’t inspire yourself, fake it, force it. Get out there anyways and you just might find that you stumble upon greatness. Afterall, the best photographs in the world have yet to be taken.

So there are five places that I go to find inspiration. How about you? Where do you go to find *your* photographic inspiration?

Troy Holden

Troy Holden

Troy’s a great guy and an excellent San Francisco shooter with an keen eye for city life. Always a pleasure to shoot with him and hang out. He recently went to work for Twitter which I think is the perfect job for him.

I shot this portrait one morning when we shot the old Tuna Cannery in San Francisco together. Back before they tore it down. Troy is putting out an amazing number of new photos on a daily basis.

Check out his work on Flickr here or follow his Flickrstream on Google Buzz here. He also blogs at the excellent Caliber photography blog.

American Suburb X, Superb Photography and Culture

American Suberb X

I’m really digging American Suburb X lately. It’s a wonderful photography magazine format website and has some interviews and articles definitely worth checking out. This week they posted a wonderful meaty essay on the work of one of my favorite photographers Garry Winogrand.

The site is chock full o’ interviews and substantial articles on the past, present and future of photography. Doug Rickard edits the site. His photography is pretty good as well and can be found here.

Check it out, if you haven’t already.

Shooting Memphis With Sean Davis

Screen shot 2009-11-18 at 8.05.27 PMOne of the highlights of my Nashville/Memphis trip last week, was getting to spend a day out shooting with Sean Davis. Sean and I have been contacts online for a long time, but it was really great getting to know him better in person and spending more time one on one. Sean’s done an amazing job documenting Memphis. He does a lot of freelance photography work there and is a Canon 5D M2 shooter like I am.

Sean was able to show me some amazing out of the way places in Memphis that I never would have found on my own, hotel top views, back alleys with graffiti, the best spot to shoot the bridge from and *especially* the best damn fried chicken I have ever had in my life from Gus’s. Seriously, if you are ever in Memphis, you have to have fried chicken at Gus’s.

I ran into Sean while shooting down by the Arcade Restaurant and am really glad that I did because we had a great day hanging out together and shooting. Check out Sean’s work and if you’re ever in Memphis look him up, a great photographer and a really nice guy.