Women prepare to demonstrate their devotion by walking across a bed of hot coals in India.

What I Learned from Five Years in Mini Storage

In 2002 I was a freshly minted graduate from Brooks Institute, and had just received the opportunity of a lifetime – a one year contract to move to India and teach at a newly opened photo college.  To facilitate a quick departure from the USA,  I took all my possessions and in a feat of amazing, Herculean and smart packing crammed everything into a 6′×10′ storage unit in Santa Barbara, California. In my mind, I envisioned living and teaching in India for a year, then returning to southern California with tales of adventure and glory and picking up where my life left off.   

This is not what happened.

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Peak Design Slide camera strap on a Nikon D4.

Hands-on review of Peak Design’s new Slide camera strap

Note: As a follower of The Nomadic Photographer, you are eligible for a 10% discount on all Peak Design Products.  Use the coupon code “kingston” at checkout or simply follow this link to have it automatically entered for you.

I am a huge fan of Peak Design’s CapturePro camera clip.   After my first trip using it to carry my Nikon D4 in various Alaskan conditions, I knew I could never go back to a using standard camera strap during extended assignments.  The CapturePro saved both my neck and my wrist while carrying my heavy rig for days on end.  One of the things I appreciated most about the system was the ingenious Leash safety strap that rapidly adjusted to any length and doubled as a bracing /stabilizing strap when running and gunning video on the fly.  The width of the leash strap never bothered me because it never carried the full weight of my camera for any extended period of time thanks to the CapturePro system.

Fortunately or unfortunately – not all my assignments are extended affairs.  For short shoots and grab shots where I didn’t bother putting on the CapturePro camera clip – I found that the leash strap was somewhat lacking in the comfort department.  Shortly after this realization, I contacted Peak Design to beg them to design a wider strap that used their pioneering Anchor system.  As if I had rubbed the proverbial genie bottle, the next day a note appeared in my inbox from Peak Design letting me know that a wider strap – called Slide – was already under development and that they would send one my way when it was finished.

Slide arrived on my doorstep the other day and I have been kicking its tires since. In a nutshell Peak Design has broken new ground with Slide. In my opinion it is the best camera strap on the market for the following reasons: Continue reading

garmin-fenix

The Garmin fēnix for Photographers

A perfect moment for a little help from my Garmin fēnix. Sunrise in a fog bank in the middle of the inside passage, somewhere in Alaska.  The watch has saved me hours of work in post production thanks to the GPX tracklog it stores.

How I use the Garmin fēnix and Adobe Lightroom to automate the process of geotagging my images

The Problem

When I decided to pursue photography as a profession, little did I know I was also signing up to become one part librarian and one part IT professional.  Every day spent in the field, results in at least one obligatory day in front of the computer color correcting, cataloguing, and captioning photographs – all necessary evils that add value to the final image for my clients.

One of the key pieces of metadata clients request is the photographs location information.  While easily added by hand to one or two images, the fun level quickly drops to zero trying to remember where a specific image was taken after a multi week assignment on another continent covering an assortment of locations and potentially thousands of frames.  Compounding this frustration, $300 point and shoot cameras come with built in GPS that automate this process, but $6000 pro DSLR cameras do not!

Needless to say, when I found a way to automate the task of entering location information into my photographs, I jumped at the opportunity as it meant less time in front of the computer, and more time doing ANYTHING else.

The Solution

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JDK-101002-5927

6 Rules for Photographers Entering the Business

A male rock climber scales an orange cliff at an area known as The White Mountain near Yangshuo, China (Model Released, Sean Ouyang). (Jonathan Kingston)
Taking pictures like this is the easy part of being a photographer.

 

From time to time I receive emails asking for advice from photographers who are just entering the business. Having recently replied to such an email, it made sense to share my answer with anyone who stumbles across this blog. The business of photography is evolving so quickly that marketing strategies that worked 1 year ago don’t necessarily apply today, however there are a few rules I have found to be true:

1) Only show work that you actually want to do. Editors and art directors love to pigeonhole photographers. You might have the best shot in the world of “x” but if “x” isn’t what you want to photograph – don’t show the shot.

2) Find a way to make yourself visible to the people you want to work for. 10 years ago this meant sending out promotional mailers on a regular basis to editors and art directors. Five years ago this meant sending out emails to the same. Today it means finding the social media channels those art directors are watching and being active and visible on them. Tomorrow it will mean something different. I don’t have the magic formula for this… I am experimenting just like you are.

3) Do good work. Don’t prove – rather continually improve.

4) Plan on starving. It isn’t feast or famine in this business – its only famine. Either you don’t have enough work to eat, or you are too busy to eat. The end result is the same either way. As a side note, most pro photographers net LESS on a year to year basis than the starting salary of school teachers.

5) Be nice… to everybody. The photography world is small and incestuous.

6) Find a way to survive. Some of the best photographers I know could not make it in the business and some of the worst continue to make ends meet. Your skill as a photographer only takes you so far. Your skill as a businessman/woman is MUCH MORE important. It is a long term game of attrition. If you can find a way to survive – you will win in the end.

Capture_pro

Peak Design CapturePRO® V2 Review

Note: As a follower of The Nomadic Photographer, you are eligible for a 10% discount on all Peak Design Products. Details at the end of this review.

Until a month ago, coming home with a sore neck from carrying my cameras during an assignment seemed as much a part of my business as waking up in the field for first light, or spending inordinate amounts of time away from home.  For quite some time, I had been daydreaming about a camera mount system that could distribute the weight of my camera onto my belt rather than my shoulders and neck.

To my delight, shortly before leaving for a three week assignment in Alaska to teach for Lindblad/National Geographic, I ran across a Kickstarter project touting a clever product called the CapturePRO® V2 by Peak Design®. Continue reading

Panoramic view of the Mauna Loa Observatory or MLO.  MLO is located on the north flank of the Mauna Loa Volcano at an altitude of 11,135 feet above sea level and has been continuously monitering and collecting data related to climate change, atmospheric c

Kingston’s photography featured on NatGeo.com Climate Change Story

Panoramic view of the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hilo, Hawaii. (Jonathan Kingston)
Panoramic view of the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hilo, Hawaii. (Jonathan Kingston)

Two and a half years ago I photographed a climate change story for The New York Times at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.  While on assignment, one of the NOAA scientists was kind enough to give me the tube (pictured below), with a admonition that I should hang on to it – as it is a historical sample of the CO2 levels below 400ppm – probably the last years it will be under this benchmark in our lifetimes. His prediction came to pass this May as the concentration of CO2 in the earths atmosphere passed the 400ppm mark.

2010 air sample showing 390 ppm atmospheric CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.
2010 air sample showing 390 ppm atmospheric CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

Robert Kunzig, a senior editor for National Geographic magazine, wrote a brilliant piece explaining some of the history behind the Keeling curve and putting the 400 ppm CO2 threshold in historical context.  It is well worth the read.

Jonathan Kingston Explores the World in Search of Images and Insights

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