An In-Depth Conversation With Sony – Focus on a7/a7r

Sony A7r CameraWhen Sony announced the a7/a7r on October 16th, 2013 it lit the photography world on fire. For the first time, a camera manufacturer had managed to make an affordable full frame mirror-less camera in an ultra portable body. Photographers all over the globe, myself included, began to realize that the mirror-less revolution might be here sooner than we realized. Unlike other mirror-less cameras from companies like Fuji, Olympus and Samsung, Sony finally offered a Full Frame camera system that might actually replace the use of a standard DSLR for professionals.

Once the camera was released, I began to comb through various social media posts and message boards , realizing that many photographers had questions. This technology was brand new after all and if photographers were going to make the switch to a new brand, they needed to know about GPS units, flash compatibility and AF accuracy.

After hearing from all of you, I decided to reach out to my Sony contacts and schedule a number of meetings/conversations with Mark Weir (Senior Technology Manager) and Kenta Honjo (Lead Product Manager) to discuss a number of topics and questions that many of you have been asking over the last few months.

My full review will be posted in roughly two weeks, but enjoy this post in the mean time.

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Who Says That Travel Photography Is Not A Contact Sport?

Iceland_Tent_Glacier_Photography_Colby_BrownWhen it comes to travel photography, I am not all that surprised that many emerging and aspiring photographers have a somewhat over romanticized notion of the challenges many of us face in making a career out of this profession. In all honesty, I was just as guilty nearly nine years ago when I purchased my first DSLR and decided that this was going to be my path. Like many people, I had a love of travel and figured that photography would be the glorious means in which I would be able travel to exotic locations, meet amazing people and of course…take photos of gorgeous scenery all day long. Who wouldn’t want that right? :)

Reality is of course, much different. While I know that wedding, event, studio and portrait photographers all face their own challenges, travel photography is a different sort of beast. Have you ever wanted to travel to places like India or Bolivia? You are almost guaranteed to get food poisoning of some sort. Want to photograph the amazing Northern Lights in northern Canada? You better be prepared to work in -38 degree weather. What about going ice climbing or photographing adventure sports? You better get accustomed to the inside of hospitals and medical clinics while traveling.

What is amusing about these “myths” and romanticized notions surrounding travel photography is that they are perpetuated by the vary people that do this for a living…such as myself.

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A Year in Reflection – 2013

It is that time of year yet again where the promises and resolutions of a new year fuse with the reflections of what the last 12 months meant to each of us. While 2012 was a year of growth for me and my photography businesses, 2013 was about broadening my horizons, expanding business opportunities and cherishing the time I had with my family. Lets take a look at the recap of 2013 before I share my favorite images of the year.

The Giving Lens

My humanitarian photography company, The Giving Lens, had a wonderful year, successfully running trips to Peru, Nicaragua, India, Tanzania and Cambodia to help fight for a number of causes such as child education, families affected by HIV, women’s empowerment and those living in extreme poverty. 2014 is shaping up to be another great year for TGL as well with trips to Jordan, Peru, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Cambodia, India & Thailand (along with others in the works). The idea is to continue to expand our operations and begin to work with new organizations in new countries that are supporting projects focused on clean drinking water, species preservation and protecting the ocean. While I don’t have the ability to go on every trip, it truly warms my heart to be able to continue to get like minded people together to help make a difference in the world through the art of photography. Moving forward, TGL and myself are looking for more and more ways to get people involved, especially those that can’t join us on our trips.

Spending some time with the Maasai in Tanzania

Spending some time with the Maasai in Tanzania. Photo by Kate Havercroft

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Your Favorite Images of 2013 Photo Contest/Giveaway

As the end of 2013 approaches, photographers from all over the globe have begun compiling their photos from the past year to share with others. While I enjoy this time of year as an artist, I tend to see too many photographers get way too wrapped up in having others choose their “best” images of the year, often relying on something as ridiculous as how many Facebook “Likes” or Google+ “+1s” an image got to help determine the quality of a photo. Instead, I prefer to look back at the last 12 months of experiences and photographs I captured and reflect on their significance and what they meant to me as an individual. Photography is not only an artistic median, it is a very personal art form that allows each of us to capture the world around us as we see it. So why should we look to our followers on Facebook to determine our “best” images of the year?

It is within this context that I am very pleased to announce a new photo contest/giveaway that centers around the idea of singling out the images that mean the most to us from over the last 12 months and sharing the stories behind them with the world. The contest will run through January 8th and I am stoked to announce that it is sponsored by Wacom, Adobe and onOne Software, who have provided a nice mix of some of the best photo editing tools around that I use one my images nearly every day. More details can be found below…

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Camera Awesome for Android Released – The Best Camera App on the Market?

Camera Awesome Logo by SmugMugWhile the Android mobile ecosystem has no shortage of photography related applications (i.e. SnapSeed, Sun Surveyer, Touch Retouch), there is one area that it has always seemed to fall short, camera apps. Now before I upset Android fans, Android does have a handful of well built camera apps such as Camera 360 and Camera Zoom FX, but the most popular camera apps on IOS have typically stayed in an Apple focused world. That is until today!

I am beyond stoked to be the first to let you know that SmugMug’s incredibly popular camera application, Camera Awesome, has now been released on Android. As a close partner with SmugMug, I was given early developer access to CA and have been using it over the last month as I traveled through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Myanmar and Thailand with my HTC One (click for in-depth review). With over 20 million IOS users, it will not be too surprising to see the app take the Android market by storm. The icing on the cake is that SmugMug put a lot of work into the Android build, giving all of you a number of Android Specific Features that IOS users don’t have just yet.

Camera Awesome's new HDR Android specific mode

Camera Awesome’s new HDR Android specific mode used in Myanmar

So does Camera Awesome live up to the hype? Will it change the way you use your Android phone or tablet? Lets find out… Read More…


Fall Photo Contest – Giving Away Two HTC One Mobile Phones

For those of you that follow me on social media or via this blog, you know that fall is easily my favorite time of the year, especially as a photographer. As the summer changes into fall and the weather begins to dip, we are often greeted with an amazing infusion of color across some of the beautiful landscapes many of us have come to love. This is one of the reasons I enjoy calling Colorado home.

"Mt. Wilson in the Fall" - Telluride, Colorado

“Mt. Wilson in the Fall” – Telluride, Colorado (Taken with a DSLR)

It is within this context that I am stoked to announce my Fall Photo Contest (Sponsored by HTC). Starting on November 9th, you have the opportunity to win one of two HTC One phones by uploading and sharing photos related to the fall color change each year to your social network of choice while using the hashtag “#FallColorChange”. If you want to know more about the HTC One, you can check out my in-depth REVIEW. Do note, that this contest is NOT limited to those living in the US. See all of the details below.

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Where Is The Fun In Specializing As a Photographer?

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When it comes to professional photography, you commonly find that photographers choose to specialize in a specific genre, such as wedding, landscape or travel photography for example. Some photographers even take this to the next level, labeling themselves as “HDR” photographers or “Black and White Fine Art” photographers. This mindset is certainly not endemic to just the photo industry and is in reality…usually just business 101. If you want to make a name for yourself or your brand, it can help to have a business that your customers or clients can associate with a very specific style or type of photography.

It makes sense. FedEx is a shipping company. Whole Foods sells health food/products. Mike’s Camera in Denver sells…well photography equipment. It has been proven to work for various businesses across multiple industries. So why have never enjoyed this mindset? I find it limiting, not only from a business standpoint, but a creative one as well. Are that many full time photographers truly only interested in a single kind of photography? In my case, I am not a landscape photographer any more than I am a travel or humanitarian photographer. In fact…I am just a photographer. My interest in this visual art form has always extended beyond just one specific realm of photography, so why should I settle for less when it comes to my businesses?

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Gear Review: A Photographer’s Take on the HTC One

HTC-One-Media

As technology has increased over the years, the devices that we carry with us have gotten smaller and more powerful. In situations where we might of once reached for our trusty point and shoot cameras, we are now reaching for our smart phones and tablets instead to capture the world around us. The Apple iPhone was one of the first major devices on the scene in this regard and justifiably so, has been a staple of mobile photography ever since. However, Android devices have come along way since their introduction to the market in 2008 with the HTC Dream (otherwise known as the T-Mobile G1).

Each year it seems that Android mobile devices are getting better and better while also offering customers choice, which certainly helps to explain their massive market share dominance (over 70% of all smart phones worldwide run Google’s mobile OS). When it comes to mobile photography, Android devices manufactures are constantly trying to innovate and out do each other (and the iPhone). This has lead to improved optics, image quality, low light performance and in some cases, resolution as well.

So where does the HTC One fit into all of this? What exactly is the UltraPixel camera sensor they use? Who is Zoe? and yes…does this phone actually take good photos? Lets find out…

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An Adventure Through Tanzania with an IQ260 from Phase One

Phase One Logo

As many of you know, I enjoy the business side of photography almost as much as the creative hands on time I get with my cameras year after year in some of the most amazing locations on this planet. Through this combined love of what makes photography special and unique to me, I have found myself working hard over the last 8 years to make in-roads and find collaborative points of interest and synergy between the work I do and the companies I admire and respect throughout the photo industry. It is for these reasons that I wasn’t surprised to hold a key meeting with the head Marketing Director of Phase One back in May to discuss the idea of working together on a number of projects.

While I initially got into photography because of my love of travel and soon found myself enthralled by the solitude of nature and landscape photography, it has been my humanitarian work as a photographer that has truly helped me separate my name and brands from others in what many would consider a crowded photo industry. In 2010 I founded my first humanitarian focused photography company, The Giving Lens. The idea is simple, to blend photo education and support for sustainable development initiatives (NGOs) in developing countries. We take teams of photographers from all over the world to unique destinations with the idea of both furthering their photographic skill sets while also helping to fight for various important causes, such as clean; drinking water projects, child education, women’s rights, species preservation and more. When I met with Phase One back in May, both of us had TGL (The Giving Lens) in mind. Before I knew it, I was off to east Africa with Phase One’s brand new 60mp IQ260 to spend a month documenting various projects around Tanzania (with the NGO Art in Tanzania) as well as work with the famous nomadic warrior tribe known as the Maasai.

How did the IQ260 handle the challenges of working in remote parts of east Africa? Lets find out…

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

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Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything) – A Focus on Social Media

Ask me AnythingAs many of you already know, I have been running multiple Photography AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on Facebook and Google+ over the last few months. These incredibly popular posts were opportunities for photographers from all over the globe to have direct access to me in order to get answers for any questions they might have that pertain to photography, the business of photography or travel. While I enjoyed having the opportunity to answer up to 200 questions in a single question, I found that many questions required more in-depth responses. It is for this reason that I am stoked to introduce my brand new blog series titled “Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything)”.

Each blog post in this series will have a specific focus, such as marketing your images, photo editing techniques or general travel as a photographer where I answer questions such as how do I handle getting visas in specific countries. Each question that I address will come directly from photographers like you from all over the globe. If you want to submit a question that you would like me to answer in a future Photographer AMA post, click HERE.

Today’s focus is on the use of Social Media for photographers. Lets begin…
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