The Coal Haulers of Varanasi, India & the Fuji GFX

The face of a coal hauler from Bihar, India. (Click to view larger)

(Note: All these photos are taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, NOT the GFX.)

Late last month, Piet Van Den Eynde asked if I could help him produce a video. Piet was one of 20 photographers in the world who was invited to use the new, as yet unreleased, Fujifilm GFX medium format camera in their workflow. Piet, Serge Van Cauwenbergh, Alou and I snuck off to India to film him using this amazing camera in the wilds of India. As you will see, Piet certainly put the GFX through its paces, using it in places and on occasions where you would never think of bringing a medium format camera. It was all hush, hush till today. As you can see, Fujifilm has released our video to the world, so now we can talk about it. In fact, we will be doing a lot of talking about it in the weeks to come.

We needed some very special images for this video, and I believe we got them. One of the most interesting places we visited was this train yard. Piet made some amazing images, which you will see in the video and later on his blog. Our time there was very short, yet the scene we uncovered really deserved more than just a few images for the video. So I moved quickly to capture these images. I hope you can get a feel of the intensity of the work these men do on a daily basis.

Varanasi, like most cities in India, runs on both electricity and coal. The coal arrives from the mines by freight trains. Car after car of coal arrives in a half mile long train filled with raw coal. Each car needs to be unloaded and then loaded back into lorries for delivery. The problem is this process of transferring a ton or more of coal from a train car to a lorry is all done by hand, literally. Five to six men are assigned to each train car. It takes an average of 8 to 10 hours for the men to remove all the coal from the car. It is dumped next to the car ready to be reloaded into the lorry the next day by the same men. Then the whole process starts over again. The men wear flip flops or even go barefooted throughout the day. The coal dust is everywhere, including their lungs. Each man makes an average of 300 Rupees or $5 USD a day. I asked them if any of them get sick or have a cough. None of them seemed to want to answer me. I think they were suspicious. Frankly, they need the work. Most of them were from the next state over, Bihar. All their earnings go home to their family. A family that they may never get to see again.

After visiting these men and photographing them, we felt that our workshops need to me more than about taking amazing photos. We need to get involved with the places we photograph. As such, Piet and I are researching organizations that we might donate a percentage of our profit. We are in search of organizations that help people like these men and others we photograph to rise above their circumstances to a better life. If you know of an organization like this let us know.

Note: If you want to join Piet and me on our next workshop to Varanasi, India in late 2017, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the registration goes live. We announce open registration first to our newsletter subscribers. This is one of the perks of subscribing to the newsletter. Then only after 24 hours will we make registration public. The last workshop sold out in 1 hour.  When you subscribe, be sure to check your email for confirmation.

Subscribe here:

   


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A laborer has to break up the larger pieces of coal so they can be loaded by hand into the lorries.

 

 

 

 

After unloading the coal from the train, they workers have to clear it from under the car it arrived in. No coal can be wasted.

 

Roll after roll of lorries wait to be loaded up with coal for delivery into the city.

 

This and the photo below are of drivers waiting for the coal to be loaded into their lorries.

 

 

 

Learning to be a good photographer

Everyone has a camera. Learning what to do with it is the challenge.

Everyone has a camera. Learning what to do with it is the challenge. Photo by Matt Gillooley

Learning to be good at photography is a lot harder than most people let on. We’ve all heard it countless times how nowadays everyone’s a photographer. That may be true, however when I was first learning I never had the guts to call myself a photographer. I never felt my images were good enough to claim this skill. I may have owned a camera, but did that make me a photographer? So how does one improve?

I went to a brick and mortar school. But if I would be honest, I don’t think it help me that much. I didn’t really start growing in my photography till after the digital era began. I could browse the net looking for classes or website that might help.

Enter e-books.

Over the past several years photographers have started coming out with how-to photography e-books.  Just as the digital world made cameras accessible to everyone, e-publishing has done the same with knowledge. But let’s not stop there: video. YouTube and Vimeo have changed the way we learn.

Continue reading

Depth of Field: Damien Lovegrove

Damien_Lovegrove

Damien Lovegrove

Damien Lovegrove is a treasure trove of both photographic and business knowledge. With years of photographic commercial and wedding work under his belt, this knowledge is all field tested by real life. I feel fortunate that he took an hour out of his busy schedule to share some of this insight with us. To say Damien is easy to talk with would be an understatement. He is flowing with wisdom, ideas, encouragement and more.

Damien is considered by many to be one of the world’s most influential contemporary photographers. These days he is best known for creating portraits that make women look amazing. Damien is known for his lighting style picture composition. If you don’t believe me check out his website, Lovegrove Photography and you will soon be convinced.

He is also a fellow Fujifilm X-Photographer and ambassador. He has shot exclusively with Fuji cameras since May 2012.

Damien shoots around 1,000 frames a week. He says if he doesn’t shoot that much in a week he starts to feel like he is going backwards. Yet, I never got the impression in this conversation that he is driven to the point where he runs over everyone in his way. Generous with his knowledge and experience, he speaks with me about creating what he calls that “big picture equation” that helps a photographer stay afloat financially. We also spoke about developing a style that is uniquely yours and how critical this is to your work. We cover how to take a dream and turn it into a reality and so much, much more.

Check out Damien’s work at:

Facebook: facebook.com/damien.lovegrove.1
Twitter: @damienlovegrove
Instagram: @damienlovegrove
Blog: ProPhotoNut.com
Personal Website: Lovegrove Photography

Depth of Field: Dan Carr

Dan Carr

Dan Carr

I had the pleasure of working with Dan Carr online many years ago when we wrote for the same photo website. He seemed like a great guy to know then and after this interview I can say for sure he is.  Dan is a Brit who has transplanted himself to Canada. He shoots a wide variety of subjects so it’s difficult to peg him into one genre. But he is best known for his adventure and ski photography.

Dan also operates a photography educational site called Shutter Muse where he writes about everything from the business aspects of the industry to location guides from around the world. Dan has many informative eBooks at Shutter Muse as well. In this episode we talk about how he started and his journey. Dan is full of great advice and stories that even the newest photographer will find helpful.

Follow through these services:

spacersm

Note: Did you notice the audio quality of this episode? I am sure you can tell it is much better than any previous episode. That is because I have purchased new mics, a new mixer and am using a service that levels the sound so you don’t hear crazy levels between me and my guest. But all this comes with a cost. One way I hope to offset this cost is by offering premium or bonus material. Want to help keep Depth of Field on the air? Then take advantage of the bonus material offered below.

spacersm
Creative Commons License
Depth of Field by Matt Brandon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://thedigitaltrekker.com/depth-of-field-podcast/.

Depth of Field Podcast: Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay represents the dream of so many photographers out there. She was working a successful career and gave it up to follow her new found passion of photography.  Her career was in the fashion industry and the area of photography that captivated her was wildlife and later cultural work. In this interview we look at how she did her own, “Great Migration”. Piper speaks openly and honestly about her fears and her doubts. Did she make a mistake to follow her passion. Will she make it in the field of wildlife photography when other more experienced photographers she respects tell her she is nuts to enter.

Join Piper Mackay and I talk about her journey and her struggles. This will be an encouraging shot in the arm if you are a struggling photographer. It doesn’t matter if you are an enthusiast or a professional, there is nuggets in this hour that will make you say, I really can do this!

 

 

Follow Piper Mackay’s works:

Website: pipermackayphotography.com

Blog: HERE

Tour/Workshops: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @pipermackay1

 

Depth of Field Podcast: David Bergman

david_bergman

David Bergman

David Bergman is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He is humble, unassuming and crazy good at what he does. David has 13 Sports Illustrated cover to his credit. He has photographed 6 presidents and numerous big name celebrities. If that wasn’t enough he is the personal photographer for Bon Jovi. He is also known for his work with the Gigapan, the pano gear that enabled him to shoot the inauguration of President Obama and that has garnered over 30 million views!

In this episode of Depth of Field we speak with David about his work and his views of what it takes to be a success.  We talk about what’s the point of what you are shooting or why are you shooting what you shoot? What’s your attitude like? Do people want you around? What’s separates you from all the other photographers out there?

Remember, we have a new feed on iTunes and we need your ratings and comments. By rating us you help put us in front of many more listeners. If you want to comment right on the timeline of the podcast, listen in on Soundcloud. Do you have suggestions on who should be a guest on Depth of Field? Great email us at depthoffield@thedigitaltrekker.com. Continue reading

Depth of Field: Timothy Allen

timothyallen1

Timothy Allen

I am starting a new “season” of the Depth of Field Podcast with the impressive work of Timothy Allen.  As I start this new season, I’m not able to promise any frequency of releases or number of episodes, but I don’t want to let it go by the wayside.  Thank you to all of you who reached out and asked for new material.  I will to continue with the quality of guests and interviews that you’ve come to expect, so let’s get started.

In case you somehow haven’t seen his inspirational work, Timothy Allen is an English photographer and filmmaker best known for his work with isolated cultures and people around the world. He shot into the public light with his work on the BBC documentary series, Human Planet. Timothy was the stills photographer for the series and traveled with the crew all around the world. He was put in charge of the Human Planet blog by the BBC where you can see many of his fantastic images. They later did a Human Planet book with all of Timothy’s images. Continue reading

New Video: So who is OFMP.ORG?

Introduction to The On Field Media Project from On Field Media Project on Vimeo.

The On Field Media Project is an organization I started a couple of years ago that provides training in photography, videography and social media for small non profits so that they are better prepared to tell the ongoing story of the good work they are doing in the field. In the modern day, building a continual digital relationship between the organization and their supporters is essential. OFMP bridges that gap to give these organization the storytelling tools they need to continually share with backers, donors and allies. We also strive to see these organizations become self sufficient and non-reliant on pro photographers. Not to take any work away from the pro (there will always be work for the pro), but to empower these organization to begin to tell their own story in a powerful and timely way when they can. Continue reading

The On Field Media Project, Teaching NGOs to Tell Their Own Stories

Digital Storytelling.001

“Photographs are the portal to one’s first impression of a non-profit’s mission via their website. Having amateurs do that work is always a serious compromise. The staff might know the stories but that doesn’t mean they can translate them into effective visual narrative. Just my opinion.” This was a recent comment addressed to me on Facebook after I posted about our recent On Field Media Project training in Africa. I left this persons name off the quote because they deleted the comment, I am not sure why. Maybe they had a change of heart. But I know there are other photographers who feel this same way. To me, this is old, classic, and somewhat colonial thinking. It’s a antiquated mindset that has to be challenged. Continue reading