chantal stone photography: the blog

March 18, 2008

Mid-Week Round-Up vol.5

Filed under: Books,For Photographers,Good Reading,internet,Photography,SoFoBoMo — chantal @ 9:15 am

1) Cool Websites… If you spend more than 5 minutes a day on the Internet, then chances are you’ve already heard of It’s a blog-phenomenon only a few months old. It’s funny, satirical, stereotypical, and irreverent… and if you don’t know it, come out from under your rock and check it out. But even more significant might be all of the stuff-people-like spin-offs that have grown from this popular website. It seems every demographic has felt the need to create their own lists of stuff they like. Sadly though, many seem to lack the dark humor that makes the original work. And yet, these blogs/lists seem to be popular among their own stereotypical group. A few you might want to take a peak at are StuffEducatedBlackPeopleLike, StuffCollegePeopleLike, StuffGhettoPeopleLike, and my personal favorite spin-off that’s relatively new but has lots of potential to be perfect: StuffGayGuysLike.

One note– if you scroll through the comments on these websites, you’ll notice how some people get angry and leave negative comments; some people are clearly offended. But it’s important to remember that these lists are supposed to be funny. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, than what?

2) Don’t Make This Mistake… I was browsing a photography message board (or something, I can’t even remember what site it was) the other day and someone made a post asking for lighting advice because he/she was asked to photograph a friend’s wedding but he/she had no clue how to handle the lighting. The first thing that popped in my mind was: why on earth would this person accept the job if he/she didn’t know what to do? I can understand a Bride looking to save a few bucks because Weddings are just so expensive. But really, there are so many areas to save money, the photography is one area where you don’t want to go thrifty. A Wedding is one of the most important days in new family’s life. And after the ceremony, after the food is eaten and the flowers are wilted… years later when you’re browsing your albums with your children, the only thing left are your pictures. Do you really want to leave these important memories to someone who’s photographic education is a one or two time post to a message board? This may not be true for every area of your Wedding planning, but when it comes to Wedding photography, you really do get what you pay for: Hire A Professional.

However… if you must let your cousin or uncle or friend —who just got a new DSLR for Christmas and now they want to be a professional photographer— actually shoot your wedding, then make sure they read this website: How To Shoot A Wedding. It’s a great article, written by wedding photographer Anthony Hands, that covers everything from making sure the wedding couple knows your experience level, to written agreements, to knowing the basic functions of your camera.

Wedding photography is fun, but it’s a skill and an art, and certainly not as easy as it looks.

3) Easter already? Is it me, or is March going by way too fast??

4) Photographer looking for a project? April is almost here, and that’s the month to start your SoFoBoMo project. What is it? It’s Solo Photo Book Month… a project where photographers will photograph and put together a solo book in a month. Paul Butzi started it all and discusses the project in length on his website, including a SoFoBoMo Q&A. And I think a SoFoBoMo-dedicated website is in the works. Colin Jago has a running list of participants on his blog.

The project is supposed to be made in a 30-day time period, during either April or May, depending on the photographer’s schedule. I’m bending the rules just a bit, and beginning my project on March 29th and ending on April 29th. (I’ll be discussing what my project is about in a later post.)

5) I can’t wait for Spring!! I’m tired of crappy weather…last week it was snow, this week it’s rain, and I even heard flurries in the forecast for tomorrow. UGH! I shot this sunrise in Chicago last Spring… I can’t wait for the warm Sun to make its appearance again…


**please note that in about 4 months, I’ll be complaining about the heat and saying how I can’t wait for Fall. I seriously need to live where it ranges from 6070° with an appropriate balance of sun and clouds.

6) What I’m Reading… There are a few books I’m reading right now. I try to limit my reading to one book at a time, but these are all great, and different from each other, and I can’t put them down:

Atonement, by Ian McEwan – It’s a crime that I haven’t seen the movie yet. But it comes out on DVD today and I’m going to Blockbuster this afternoon. However, I’m still going to read the book, since Ian McEwan is one of my favorite authors…his writing is like a total brain massage. So rich, so descriptive, I love all of his books.

The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore – I’ve said it before, I’m a political junkie…more specifically, I’m a presidential polotics junkie, and this a great book on the philosophy of Reason for the modern age. It helps to clarify how much of what goes on in Washington right now simply does NOT make sense.

A New Earth, by Eckhart Tole – You see people everywhere reading this book right now. It’s an Oprah book, and it’s great. I’m only at the beginning, but it’s all about reawakening and altering your thinking to change your life for the better.


February 11, 2007

“…Just shoot it”

Filed under: Books,Personal,Photography — chantal @ 12:22 pm

I really need a day of shooting. I’ve been taking pictures here and there, snapping this or that, a frame or two, for the past month or so. But I haven’t set aside a day, or an afternoon, or even a few hours for just photographing, and I really need to. And with the busy week I have planned so far, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

“When Life seems to get in the way, just shoot it”

Those are the words of writer James Morgan. He’s the author of the book that changed my life, Chasing Matisse, Chasing Matisse, by James Morgan a brilliant book that chronicles a year in the life of a man who risks it all to pursue his dream. It’s part autobiography, biography, travel journal, art history, and philosophy all at once.

I once wrote to Mr. Morgan, explaining how much I loved his book, what it meant to me, and how it renewed my love for art and re-ignited my passion for photography, and inspired me to pursue it with full vigor. I explained how many times throughout the past 10 years or so, I had tried to pick up the camera, but too often Life would happen, and something would stop me from living my dream.

The above words was the response I received.

So as I embark on this busy week ahead, with the awareness that I really need to get out and shoot, I won’t let “life” get in the way. In fact, it is #3 in the triumverate which rules my life: God, Family, Photography. Life won’t interrupt, I’ll just shoot it.

Plans for the week include:

  • more writing
  • a root canal on Monday (the likelihood of any good photography here is slim!)
  • a possible snow day for my kids~~we’re expecting quite a bit of snow sometime mid-week
  • assisting Jez Coulson on Wednesday (I’m psyched about this!)
  • a small photoshoot on Friday~~baby portraits 🙂

Purchase your copy of Chasing Matisse on Amazon!

September 14, 2006

On On Being a Photographer Part 1

Filed under: Books,Photography — chantal @ 12:23 pm

I recently read On Being a Photographer by David Hurn and Bill Jay. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a practical guide book describing methods used by the best photographers, and how to employ these methods for yourself. It’s not a “how to shoot” guide, insofar as it doesn’t teach how to operate your camera, or how to take a light-meter reading, or how-to-print techniques, etc. It’s more about how to approach a project and how to think like the pros.

Most of the book reads like a conversation between two old friends, each with a long history in photography and two very different, yet very successful careers. It’s kind of like eavesdropping on a discussion revealing the secrets to photographic success.

I thought about writing a review, but really I could write a whole other book just about this book. It’s not very often that I read something I feel really changes me…alters my perception or opens my eyes to new ideas. OBAP is one of those books.

Instead, I’m just going to periodically take a point from the book, and discuss how I feel it can apply to me, or how I choose to apply it to my photography.

One of the things I had been struggling with lately is feeling like I lacked a clear ‘style’. I would look at so many other photographers’ work and I could always easily identify their style, or some unique signature to all of their images. When I would look through my own portfolio, I could never see that. I would try to be as objective as possible, but I just realized that my body of work was all over the map.

I know what I like, and I definitely know what I don’t like. I know what kind of photographs I don’t want to take. But I really struggled with my apparent lack of a signature. I imagine I equated it with a lack of talent.

I suppose I adopted the romantic notion of using photography as a vehicle to ‘express myself’….like my images were some sort of extension of who I am, and that somehow they need to reflect ME. The problem with this thinking is that you begin to alienate your subject.

It is possible for photographs to reveal something about the photographer. The image is, after all, what the photographer sees. It is the photographer who decides when to release the shutter, how to compose the image. By extension the image becomes the photographers clear view of the scene. When we look at an image, we’re looking at something, but more importantly, we’re looking at this something through the eyes of the photographer.

My mistake was that I began to shoot trying to create my own style, as opposed to letting my style develop on its own.

From OBAP (pg.49):

Let us make the point clear: when the subject takes precedence, you not only start the journey towards personal style but you also discover the sheer joy of visually responding to the world. It solves a lot of doubts, clears away all confusion.

I think for me, too much emphasis has been put on being an artist, when it should have been on carefully selecting a subject and shooting it to the best of my ability.

I won’t make that mistake again. Subject comes first.

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