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Guerilla Photography
Old 10-12-2005, 04:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm sure you've all heard the term, "guerilla filmmaking." in a nutshell, it's about making a film, video, whatever, without having much money to accomplish it.

what that means is you have to make do with the tools you have.

same goes for photography.

a lot of you are guerilla photographers whether you know you are or not. you have the desire, a level of skill, and the basic tools. but many of you don't have assistants, lots of nifty and expensive gear other than the basics, or specialty crew people. and while some of you make some damn good images without all the extra luxuries and conveniences, a lot of you, IMO, seem to let those lack of "extras" stop you from making some really good images.

we often see images here, on GG, that "wow" us. and often, these images were captured by shooters who have the nifty gear and the specialty crew members to make it all happen. and i'm thinking many of you are thinking, "how can i compete with that?"

frankly, it ain't easy.

MODELS - experienced shooters get tons of mileage out of experienced models.

MUAs - experienced shooters get tons of photographic mileage out of exceptional MUAs.

STYLISTS - experienced shooters get tons of photographic mileage out of exceptional stylists.

LUXURY & HIGH-END GEAR - It makes a photographer's life easier.

In fact, all of the above is often the difference between a shooter capturing a good image and a great image. Sometimes, the shooter is almost the least important person in terms of artistically capturing that great image. i'm not saying he or she is unimportant, but in that list of people and gear, he or she ain't necessarilly and always the most important, even tho the shooter gets the lion's-share of the credit. And the truth is, sometimes the shooter's talent is more evident by their ability to muster and wield those forces... those MUAs, stylists, and gear. Next time you see one of those incredible images with the model all done up with the incredible hair and makeup and other styling, with lots of dynamic lighting thrown at her on a great set in a cool studio, ask yourself, "is it the photographer that's wow'ing me or is the exceptionality of the work mostly the result of all this other stuff?"

but you don't have all that other stuff. you have you. and you have a model. and you have limited resources and tools. so what to do?

here's my suggestions, for whatever their worth cuz i consider myself, in many ways, a guerilla photographer.

first, whatever gear you do possess has to be maximized. you need to suck every drop of functional blood out of every piece of gear you have at your disposal. you also need to find or invent ways to mimic the really cool stuff some of those shooters have. don't have a california sunbounce reflector? okay, they're expensive. but foamcore ain't expensive and neither is a whole lot of other ways to bounce some light or warm some light or modify some light. don't have a beauty dish? make one out of a salad bowl like some of you have. can't afford hensel or broncolor or other high-end lights? well, big news, those lights don't throw photons that are any different than the photon created by the cheapest strobe. they night recycle quicker, be more reliable, maintain color temperature better, but its all the same photons. in other words, maximize what you do have.

next, develop your interactive skills with the models. a comfortable model who is relaxed and trusts you will give you so much more in terms of achieveing your vision.

have a vision. have your own vision, not other people's visions.

study the work of the guys who shoot exceptional stuff without having the crews and gear. they've figured out how to be a really greast guerilla photographer.

shoot outside the box. not just your box, but the normal boxes that are part of the overall genre. this means a lot of what you shoot will suck. it's okay for your stuff to sometimes suck cuz out of that will come some truly unique, great stuff that doesn't suck and that isn't of the "ho-hum, seen that one before" variety.

dedicate yourself to learning as much as you can. learn from others. learn from books. learn by doing. learn your camera. learn about lighting and color and composition and posing and photoshopping. learn and learn and learn some more.

if you do all that, you'll be an exceptional guerilla photographer. and, dare i say it? your guerilla photography will stand with the photography of the guys who have and can afford the luxuries.

anyone have stuff to add? things i've missed.... i'm thinking this might be the start of an informative treatment on guerilla photography.

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Re: Guerilla Photography
Old 10-12-2005, 05:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well you left out at least one thing (although I guess it falls under learning)
"Read what JimmyD writes and listen". Nicely done. Thanks.

Doug
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Re: Guerilla Photography
Old 10-12-2005, 05:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You are completely right, as a beginner photographer (and one with limited resources) I think that the most difficult part of all my work is to obtain images that have "that something" needed to look if not pro style at least have something that people would like about them.

One of my main problems is not having a proper working space, and also the common problems regarding shooting on location.

As Im currently in México City I must add that another big problem is the bad security we have at our streets and the low level of confidence people with a camera inspire in others.

Im currently trying to make a living out of being a photographer but honestly if you think its hard over US its really harder over here, mostly because there are just 4 or 5 big shots that really take all the big jobs there are in advertising and any other kind of photo requirement.

As for more general reasons I consider that not even having a Garage where to have all your stuff (even if its just your camera and two umbrellas) is something of a lack off because not every job can be accomplished on location.

Just my two cents


By the way... these images were obtained with just the camera and nothing else....




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Holy Cheetah Batman. . .
Old 10-12-2005, 05:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've been monkeying around with that kind of stuff for years. And now your telling me I've just been apeing them. So if this is guerilla then what is chimping? Simian Sunday and tell me about that.
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Re: Guerilla Photography
Old 10-12-2005, 05:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Good stuff. Hopefully the first in a series of weekly editorial pieces [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Re: Holy Cheetah Batman. . .
Old 10-12-2005, 05:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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hehehe.. i think ya got yer gorillas mixed up with yer guerillas. or maybe your simians confused with samoans... hmm... that made no sense.

there's two kinds of chimping: guerilla photographers chimp off the small lcd screens on the back of their cameras. big-time pros chimp off very expensive liquid plasma screens tethered to their cameras. really big BIG time pros aren't tethered to the liquid plasma screens, they're sending the images from their cameras via radio frequencies.
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You are right. . .
Old 10-12-2005, 06:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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but it wouldn't have been as much fun. I mean whats fun about little wars.
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Re: You are right. . .
Old 10-12-2005, 06:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
I mean whats fun about little wars.

[/ QUOTE ]

and where would the history channel be without big wars?
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Re: Guerilla Photography
Old 10-12-2005, 10:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well said JimmyD. I guess I'm a gorilla then (that explains the hair on my back, but not the hair loss on my head. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]). I recently made my own Chimera gobo holder out of some black Elmers' foamcore board and velcro (and on the advice of Rolando on his DVD, I bought a roll of Cinefoil to make my own snoots). Still need practice using it, but it's a lot cheaper than shelling out $300+ for the "real thing". In retrospect, after seeing how the gobos are made, I could have saved about $25 on each of them and just made them myself out of black foam core board. Instead of spending the money on the gobo holder, I used it towards Rolando's upcoming IGBN workshop in Philly. Figured I'd get a better return (in terms of knowledge) on attending a workshop than spending the money on a gobo holder. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

See you all in Philly later on this month!
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Opportuity Cost
Old 10-13-2005, 12:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think the crux of the problem is opportunity cost. I remember learning about this in economics class a long time ago. Time is finite (for humans) and things happen simultaneously. So seizing one opportunity often means passing on others. When you're practicing guerilla photography this is what kills you when compared to pro photographers with all the bells and whistles. You have to come up with the entire shoot idea, wardrobe, style, posing, artistic direction, lighting. You have to pay attention to her hair and make up which she probably did her self. You have to construct the set, haul the equipment. All of this means you can't pay as much attention to F stops, shutter speeds, color temps, model report etc. It's like comparing a rowboat to a battleship and asking "Why the hell is the captian so important?" That's why when a guerilla photographer actually kicks out a wower of an image people are like "HFS!", because he just crossed the ocean in a rowboat.
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