I spend a fair bit… OK, OK, … a lot of time on the Internet. My interests are very wide ranging from sport to the arts to politics, but photography definitely takes the lions share of my attention. Recently, I’ve had a lot of people asking me about which sites were good or which books were worthwhile (even though I don’t read ’em online, I buy ’em online), so I thought a useful post might be to list some of the better photography resources I have found online over the years. Of course it’s all subjective, but luckily for you, I think I’m a pretty good judge of information (thank you to my university lecturers who taught me that not all information was of equal value) . There’s certainly a whole lot of rubbish out there as well, so you do have to be discerning.
OK, here’s a bit of a list coming, after the jump… This list will be edited and added to over time as well. Put your suggestions in the comments or send them to me if you have a resource that’s really good and I will add it (if I like it ;)).
Blogs on Photography
I subscribe to a fair number of blogs from various photographers, as blogs are a great medium to publish information. I use RSS to get the posts served to me via Outlook, but if you don’t run the Office Package, there are various RSS readers you can download, including Google Reader. It sure beats remembering to visit the sites all the time. Here’s a selection of some of my current favourites.
- Strobist – David Hobby was responsible for the explosion of interest into off camera lighting with his blog, Strobist. See my earlier blog post here. There’s just so much information on Strobist, you could call it a Diploma in a website. If you want to know about lighting with small flash, or just lighting in general, start reading Lighting 101. A great site.
- Chase Jarvis – Chase is a top level commercial photographer based in Seattle, and a really generous one at that. He shares a lot of the insider stuff about being a commercial photographer, and he’s very switched on and at the cutting edge of technology.
- Lighting Essentials – This is another blog packed to the rafters with information, and particularly on all aspects of lighting. Run by Don Giannatti, it’s one of my favourites, despite the fact he uses Brianna as a model way too often 😉
- Joe McNally – Joe’s a bit sporadic with his posting at times (I can’t talk), but when he does post, it’s worth listening. He also rants a bit sometimes in a humourous way, but if he’s talking about photography, or showing what he does, take note. He’s a master photographer this guy, and his books are also great reads (see more about them further down.)
- Zack Arias – Zack’s an editorial photographer based in Atlanta, and is one of the most inspirational photography writers on the web. He is quick, clever, witty, funny and very, very good at what he does. He’s all over photography and technology and his musings will entertain and educate at the same time. He has a huge archive of material going back several years.
- Pixelated Image – David duChemin is a talented photographer and possibly even better author. His blog is interesting, but both his ebooks and print books are truly inspirational. David’s becoming a real educator beside his work as a humanitarian photographer for the major NGOs around the world.
- Vincent Laforet – OK, Vincent is at the top of the photography tree. He is a Los Angeles and New York based commercial director, DP and photographer, so he has his hand in a lot of pies. To me, he is very interesting to read, mostly to read about things which I have no idea of. This man is the consummate professional, and gets to play with toys most of us haven’t even imagined, let alone dream about. Fascinating stuff. If nothing else, watch Reverie, the short film he made on the 5D MKII and Nocturne, the latest one he filmed on the 1D MKIV.
- Martin Prihoda – A Canadian photographer living and working in Mumbai! Now that’s interesting. Lots of cool videos of his shoots and a great insight into modern Indian culture.
- A Photo Editor – An interesting blog with lots of comment from the inside. Probably only of interest to professional or aspiring professional photographers.
- DIYPhotography – This one is from a guy called Udi, whose target group is all the amateur / emerging photographers out there. His focus, as the name makes obvious, is a ‘Do It Yourself’ approach to photography (mostly lighting, but lots else as well). Worth a read for sure. Lots of very ingenious approaches to photographic problems.
- NeilvN’s Tangents – this guy is a new addition to my RSS feed, but he certainly knows his small flash work. And you’ve gotta love his accessories, particularly when they’re called ‘the black foamie thing’. The more I read of this guy’s blog, the more I am impressed. He has very nice flash work, very subtle and well controlled.
- PixSylated -He’s a bit out there, but he knows how to use flash and has some very interesting articles on all manner of topics. Check out his Smashing Pumpkins article!
Photo-blogs used to be übercool. Now they seem to have fallen off the popularity bandwagon. Or maybe it’s just me. Sites like www.photoblogs.org still list over 35,000 photo-blogs so it’s not like there’s not many out there. Maybe I’m just more interested in learning by reading than just through looking. That said, I still visit lots of photo-blogs for inspiration and entertainment, and here’s a few if you are new to the idea. It’s a very different concept to a website portfolio, but not many pros that I have seen have both a website with folio, a blog AND a photo-blog. I still think it’s a great concept. Go to Pixelpost if you want to set one up yourself.
- Wink – A very cool art based photo-blog by Tyler E Nixon from Canada. Very creative photography.
- Chromasia – The first photo-blog I followed, and years later, he’s still going strong. David Nightingale, from Blackpool in England, went from amateur to professional through developing this blog. Some amazing work!
- Daily Walks – Dianne Varner documents the northern Californian coastline on this nature inspired blog. Beautiful, delicate work.
- Photoschau – Frank is from Germany, and has been blogging for years. Lots of nice macro and studio work. Very colourful and creative.
- J.R. Photoblog – Another one from Canada. One of the best designed blogs out there, and a fabulous variety of work.
- The G8 – A collective blog based in Norway, but containing some extremely good work. Even Joey L is a contributor.
- Photografica – My own blog is pretty humble by comparison, but there’s lots of nice work on there.
Forums are a great place to develop a sense of community, but unfortunately, they’re also a great place to let your life slip by. I have spent way too much time on forums in the last 15 years, so these days I’m a quick browser rather than anything else. That said, there are some great forums in the photographic community for specific information and new ones popping up all the time.
- The DAM Forum – Peter Krogh’s forum on all things related to Digital Asset Management. For hard core nerds and pros only 😉
- Fred Miranda – Much more than just a forum, this American site that has lots of forums for getting feedback on your shots, plus articles, software, and some really great reviews based on not one person’s opinion, but hundreds of users. Excellent site.
- Speedliting – A new forum designed to teach about using Canon flash. Looks good.
- Photo.net – This site has loads of forums on all sorts of topics. It’s been around for ever. I find it is a bit of a haven for the old timers (you know, the types that still think film is the only way to go, or only ambient light will do), but my prejudices aside, it’s a really valuable resource and there are a huge number of members and viewpoints.
- DPReview Forum – Although I hate the design, I often find good info here if I go digging.
- Now there’s about a million other photo forums out there, but as I’m on forum remission at the moment, I’ll refrain from going further. But if you’re really keen do a Google Search on photography forums, and wade through the 800,000 odd results. Have fun!
Now, I’m an old timer in this sense. I love books. The tactile nature, the accessibility, the portability. The quality of information (if you choose wisely). Books are wonderful things and the Internet will never kill them. Here’s a small selection of just a few of my favourite tomes within the photographic disciplines.
- Within The Frame – David duChemin’s outstanding book on the creative side of photography.
- Visionmongers – Another duChemin book, this one looks at the ways and means of becoming a professional photographer in this modern age. I can’t find my copy at the moment and I’m distraught. (Yay, found it!)
- Light – Science & Magic – Now if you want to understand lighting, this is the bible. It’s all about the physics of light and how to control it. Primarily for studio lighting, but light’s light and all photographers would benefit by a read of this. Now in its third version.
- The DAM Book – Peter Krogh’s masterpiece on Digital Asset Management. Not the sexiest topic by far, but one of the most important, and what Peter Krogh doesn’t know about DAM just isn’t worth knowing. Make sure you buy the greatly enlarged Second edition.
- The Moment It Clicks – Joe McNally takes us through some of his best work and breaks it down shot by shot. One of the best learning packages you could ever find in a book if you are interested in small flash lighting and great editorial photography. Joe’s a legend, and he’s a great entertainer as well.
- The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light From Small Flashes – Joe McNally’s 2nd book focuses on everything small flash. Sure, he’s a Nikon shooter, and sometimes gets a bit caught up in Commander modes and other Nikon stuff, but it’s a fantastic book from a brilliant lighting photographer who just happens to be a dry and witty writer as well. Great book.
- Photoshop CS4 Workflow – The Digital Photographer’s Guide – Tim Grey is a digital imaging expert, and he has written one of the most approachable volumes on Workflow in CS4 I have come across. He patiently explains the digital process, but always in a holistic way with regard to good workflow practices. If you like teaching yourself, this is a good book with which to learn CS4.
- Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig. I’ve had this book for months, but just got round to reading it. I’d glanced through it and wasn’t too impressed, but upon reading it from start to finish, I’ve changed my mind. Chris has a lovely approach to photography, very thoughtful and down to earth, very connected and natural. He talks about all sorts of things throughout the book, so it’s a bit hard to pin down, but what it’s not is a how to manual. It’s definitely not about flash lighting, it’s more about the way we approach different subjects, and it takes a very holistic approach to photography. That’s a good thing for sure.
- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening. A fantastic book covering Lightroom 3. Everything you’d ever need to know. Great writing, very accurate information, and beautifully and logically presented.
Gear & Reviews
This is a smaller category for me, because I find I just don’t need much more than DP Review ;). I could add links to B& H and Adorama but it wouldn’t be particularly unique would it.
- DP Review – Simply the best site out there for gear reviews. Their in depth reviews are fantastic, and the website is well designed and full of resources. If you are looking at buying new gear, this is the first place to look. A must have link.
- Digital Camera Resource Page – Similar to DP Review, but in my opinion second best. That said, two resources are better than one, and opinions will differ.
- Photozone – This is a German site with very technical and detailed reviews of bodies and lenses, and a great sections on Imaging and Technology
- Fred Miranda – The review section of this site is based on owner reviews and as such provides a large variety of views on any piece of gear.
- Canon Rumours – If you’re a Canon shooter and you’re thinking of buying, check this site first. You never know what gear is just around the corner.
- MPEX – I will add a link to Midwest Photo Exchange, primarily because they sell a lot of off camera lighting, and that’s where I got my kit from.
- D-D Electronics – A camera store from Singapore that sends stuff anywhere, and has seriously cheap prices. I don’t buy the whole anti- grey import argument, so I am all for the cheapest price.
- Image Melbourne – This online store in Melbourne sells lighting gear, and a lot of it very useful to the strobist photographer. They stock some really good stuff that’s not easy to find in Australia (Westcott softboxes for example) and their prices are good. I’m about to become a customer.
I have watched a few videos over the years I’ve borrowed from libraries and friends, and these are the few that really inspired me.
- The Best of Dean Collins – This guy was simply amazing. And he did it all on film.. Simply amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with such a thorough understanding of lighting. The videos are a bit dated (the 80s you know…) but get over that and check out a real master at work.
- Strobist Lighting DVD – this is a massive 8 or 9 DVD set, and it’s really worth wading through if you want to know about off camera small flash lighting. David is very casual at times, and I like that, but he’s totally on the ball when it comes to lighting and watching him work on location was the highlight for me.
- One Light DVD – Zack Arias’ 2 DVD set. Most of the first DVD covers the absolute basics, and while I didn’t learn a single thing, it was all very solid information. If you are just starting out with off camera lighting, this is a great place to start. But the 2nd DVD was amazing. He was really pulling off these great shots at night in really ordinary locations, and I was just sitting there thinking, wow, he’s good… Again, nothing was new to me, but the way he did it was really inspirational. Zack, you have my respect man!
- NEW! Strobist: Lighting In Layers – another massive set from Mr Hobby. In pretty much the same format as his earlier stuff, but this time with lighting diagrams (replete with lounge music) and business talks. A massive 7 DVD set, but great educational lighting instruction, showing David’s excellent problem solving skills, and his great overall vision and people skills. Totally manual flash as usual. I love it. Thanks David!
- NEW! The Language of Light by Joe ‘Numnuts’ McNally – Joe and David have been touring USA in the Flash Bus, and their DVDs came out just prior to the tour (good timing guys). Joe’s 2 DVD set is humble in volume to Strobist’s but by no means inferior. Instead of PocketWizards and manual flash though, Joe explores the world of the Nikon CLS flash system with it’s commander modes and channels and TTL and all the bells and whistles. As well as that, Joe shows us lots of awesome studio work with different modifiers, and shows off his excellent people skills as well. A great lighting video that everyone can learn from.
Guides (new category)
- Guide to privacy and copyright for photographers (USA focussed)
Now here’s a potentially huge list. How many great photographers are there out there? 200? How many really good ones? Tens of thousands??…. And as there’s only a fine line between great and excellent and it’s all subjective anyway, the list could be large indeed. Maybe too large to even contemplate. In any case, I’ll start off with just a few of my current favourites, and we can see where it goes.
- Erwin Olaf – I consider the Dutch photographer, Erwin Olaf, to be the finest photographer living today. Yes, I know that’s a big call, but it’s mine to make 😉 The way he peerlessly reaches the heights of excellence in technical, aesthetic and conceptual terms makes me feel very humble indeed. And inspired. His private work is sometimes a bit wicked and definitely only for the mature over 18s, but if you like him, you will love him. To me he is to photography what Salman Rushdie is to writing, or David Lynch is to film. More than slightly left of center, a creative genius, and a master of the craft. Apart from anything else, I think he’s got the best photographer’s website on the planet.
- David LaChappelle – Everyone raves about this guy, and he is amazing, no doubt about it. The colour, the shock value, the amazing conceptual approach. Just be warned about the explicit content.
I could continue on with Annie Lebowitz, Mary Ellen Mark and so on and so forth, but I reckon that’d just be pretentious. Instead I’m going to list some photographers who float my boat in one way or another, regardless of how known or unknown they are.
- Tim Griffith – This Australia photographer is a multiple award winning photographer, specialising in architecture. Obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, and not all his images are exciting, but the ones that are, are simply amazing.
- Joe McNally – I just love his lighting, and lighting to me is such a big part of photography. His work is not very deep or conceptual, but it rocks nonetheless. Numnuts (as he often calls himself) is ‘da bomb!.
- Carl De Keyzer – A Magnum photographer as it turns out.. I had no idea, but there you go. I don’t like his website, but he’s got lots of good work.
- Trent Parke – He doesn’t even seem to have a website, but he’s the most lauded Australian photographer of our times, and rightly so. The only Australian photographer to be invited to join Magnum.
- Christophe Gilbert – I’ve just added this guy. Awesome work, very interesting stuff. Lots of Photoshop work, but very good concepts and great quality. One of the first photographers that has made me site up and take notice of their conceptual skill since Olaf.
Ahh, I can see this is futile. I cold just go on and on, like Joey L and Lonna Tucker and Gregory Heisler and Eolo Perfido and Sascha Huettenhain and Michael Grecco and .. I think you get the idea. I could likewise just point you to a site like this one. There are thousands of great photographers out there, and after Erwin Olaf they all suck 😉 Really! No really, there are so many amazing photographers that trying to make any sort of list, definitive or otherwise seems to be futile at best and at worst arrogant and ridiculous. So instead of me telling you who is amazing, how about you hit me in the comments and tell me who you think is amazing. I love seeing new work.
OK, I might add more categories as this grows, but let’s leave it there for now or I’ll never get it published. I hope you find it of some use and if you’ve made it this far, you owe me a comment!