Depth of Field: Brian Smith

Brian Smith

Brian Smith has carved out a name for himself in photographing the rich and, as he puts it, the infamous. His list of subject is far too long to write out here, but here is just a sampling; Venus and Serena Williams, Gene Hackman, Cindy Crawford, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, The Bee Gees, Antonio Banderas, Shaquille O’Neal, Alan Greenspan, Don King, John Turturro, Anne Hathaway, Ben Stiller, Sylvester Stallone, Pope-John-Paul-II, Wynonna Judd, Richard Branson and many, many more. It is important to note that Brian Smith is not a “one trick” pony. Brian worked for years in photojournalism and has made several iconic and historically important images. If you are over 40, you probably remembers Brian’s iconic image of US diver Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board while competing in 1988 Olympics. Brian peppered our time together with advice and pointers that every photographer will find helpful. You will enjoy this one!

Visit or follow Brian:

at his website HERE
his Blog HERE
view his stock images HERE
Twitter HERE
Facebook HERE


Are your photographs telling the truth?

Is this priest upset or just pensive? What’s his real story?

Recently I read Fernando Gros’ blog post titled, “Telling A Story – Choosing A Story” about his effort to choose what the story of Thaipusam was about. Fernando made some excellent points, the strongest one being that the workshop was not about the “poking” of participants, it was about culture and religion, faith and man’s relationship to god. Continue reading

Depth of Field: Deanne Fitzmaurice

In this interview I speak with Deanne Fitzmaurice about her long career in photojournalism and her new love multimedia. She shared with me how she creates her award-winning multimedia projects, and the back story how Think Tank camera bags was founded.

Deanne grew up in Massachusetts, but moved to San Francisco to be an art student, before taking up photography. Deanne worked at the San Francisco Examiner, later moving to its rival the San Francisco Chronicle. Deanne has a passion for humanitarian documentary photography for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.  As a staff photographer for 20 years at the San Francisco Chronicle she has experience photographing a wide range of subjects including news, politics, sports, and entertainment. Assignments include Super Bowls, Baseball World Series, photographing politicians President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton.

Deanne is one of 13 photographers chosen internationally to be a a member of Microsoft’s prestigious Icons of Imaging program. She is a co-founder of Think Tank Photo, makers of some of the industry’s best camera bags. You can view her work at her website and blog. A taste of her multimedia work titled Family Kocktail can be found at MediaStorm.

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Where is this road leading us?

I’ve been preparing for a set of interviews over the last few weeks. The interviews are with prominent photojournalist. In preparing questions for them I keep coming across the same thought, “Where is photojournalism headed?” I know that this is a broad question and one that isn’t easy to answer. But there are certainly trends that we can follow. At least one trend is being led, or rather pushed upon us by the camera manufacturers. Video. We’ve talked about it here before. Is video really a trend that the photojournalist/photographer has to buy into? I’m not sure. But it certainly does seem to be where lot of journalists are going.

There used to be a term I heard growing up; Renaissance Man. It referred to someone who was knowledgeable in many areas. Are we needing a new term for a new type of  journalists now? Renaissance Journalists? The journalist who can take a photograph, shoot video, write the story, edit the story, edit the video, edit and produce photographs and combine them all into a multimedia project on the net? I can see how this will save editors time and money. But, will it produce the best stories? Can we really be effective and in fact, excel at each one of those tasks? I think there are some people that might be able to, but they are a handful. Some of the most talented people I know can write and shoot photos. People like David duChemin, Joe McNally and a few others. But even David and Joe don’t shoot and edit video.

Are editors willing to invest in a project and that project produce long-term change or are we headed into fast food journalism? The down and dirty, the cheap and quick. I truly believe that journalism is where it is today because of financial decisions of the past. Newspapers and magazines were all about the bottom line and less about the story. If there is any Renaissance Journalists today it has to be Brian Storm. Brian is leading the way for a new breed of journalists. To be more accurate, it might be better stated, he is not creating a new breed, but reviving the old breed. MediaSorm, is company started several years ago is all about product and story and less about profit. Not that they don’t make a profit. In fact-he showing that solid product produces profit.

If Brian Storms model shows me anything, it’s that quality sells, but it takes time.

One of the participants on this latest Lumen Dei workshop had an inexpensive Nikon DSLR. This guy took amazing images with this low-end camera. He took his time, he developed his shot in the camera and then he took it. Yesterday, I got a tweet from some one who asked me what was the “best all-around easy-to-use DSLR under $2000 4 India travels?” My answer was it really doesn’t matter. Find a camera that you enjoy and can easily use. Then learn how to use it to take great images. It’s the photographer not the camera that takes the picture. And if the photographer is in a hurry or trying to circumvent understanding the process of creating a great image, then it doesn’t matter if they have an expensive camera. In the end, their images will just be mediocre at best.

So where are we headed? Full circle I hope. From the profit driven magazine back to the story driven media. Will it be video and still images? I am not sure. I hope it will be still and video photographers working together to bring the best and most moving story. Time will tell where the road is leading us.

Depth of Field: Ami Vitale

AmiVThis past September we where fortunate to have Ami Vitale as a guest instructor on our Ladakh Lumen Dei photo workshop. It was a great experience and I deepened a friendship. Hear me when I say, Ami Vitale is the real deal. She is a true, in the trench, get dirty photojournalist; And she’s one of the best out there. She’s tough, street smart and incredibly talented. But she’s also sensitive and very caring about the people she’s around. I don’t mean other photographers, though she is that as well. I mean, to the people she’s in and among photographing. I learned a lot from her over those two weeks. Ami taught me to slow down, and not just photograph the moment but to enjoy and savor.

Our paths first crossed many years at a Any Thing Mac, a local Mac repair shop in New Delhi.  Ami was covering Kashmir and I was living there and we both had Mac issues. I had no idea who she was. I thought to myself, this little lady is going to get her self blown up if she’s not careful. I think she was thinking something similar about me. This last September was the first time we actually got to shoot together. I certainly hope we get to do it again.

Ami’s work has appeared in all the top magazines; National Geographic, Newsweek, Time and more. She was named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, and Photo District News recognized her as one of 30 image makers of the future.

Visit her website and gallery HERE.

I hope you enjoy this interview with photographer Ami Vitale.