This is everything.

Came across this most excellent video essay by the Nerdwriter, if you aren’t familiar, behoove thyself and get thy familiar, each is better then the next, but this one, is pretty much the tastiest of the bunch.

In the short video, he goes on to deconstruct one of the most important, iconic, and flat-out famous photos in the world by the master Dorothea Lange. I personally have always had a strong connection to her, and this photo, as many of the other greats like Roberto Frank, in that budding time of candid “street” photography.

What you see however, is that it is not candid at all, and there is a master at work indeed.

migrantmothercolorized

What I think is so amazing is that this nugget of history goes for so many works of art out there. Any time you think that something is dumb luck, or viral by chance, most likely it is not. If you know your medium, if you are conscious of your art, then you can manipulate anything, even authenticity.

They took her thumb Charlie… they took her thumb.

enjoy.

 

 

From YouYube:

The story of how Dorothea Lange created perhaps the most iconic photograph in American history. First of a series. Go to https://NordVPN.com/nerdwriter and or use code NERDWRITER to to get 75% off a 3 year plan. Protect yourself online today! Support Nerdwriter videos: https://patreon.com/nerdwriter Subscribe: http://bit.ly/SubNerdwriter Watch the most popular Nerdwriter episodes: https://youtube.com/watch?v=_aFo_BV-U…   Facebook: https://facebook.com/The-Nerdwriter-3… Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheeNerdwriter Patreon: https://patreon.com/nerdwriter SOURCES James C. Curtis, “Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, and the Culture of the Great Depression” Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Spring, 1986), pp. 1-20 http://depts.washington.edu/depress/d… https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothe… http://www.mobileranger.com/blog/cali… MUSIC Divider by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…) Source: http://chriszabriskie.com/divider/ Artist: http://chriszabriskie.com/ Luar, “Valiant” https://soundcloud.com/luarbeats/valiant Luar, “Balance” https://soundcloud.com/luarbeats/balance Watch More Nerdwriter: Latest Uploads: https://youtube.com/watch?v=gqlgf_q3n… Understanding Art: https://youtube.com/watch?v=cLJAXu5OD… Essays About Art: https://youtube.com/watch?v=cLJAXu5OD… Essays About Social Science: https://youtube.com/watch?v=hBweUnkfQ… Popular Videos: https://youtube.com/watch?v=_aFo_BV-U…   The Nerdwriter is a series of video essays about art, culture, politics, philosophy and more.

Infrared Photography HowTo

I first tried infrared photography in High School on actual celluloid running through my Canon AE-1. The results were…lackluster. It was difficult to load, harder to meter, and almost impossible to develop.

Things have changed a lot.

I first came across infrared digital photography working with Shawn Angelski who’s amazing images had me hooked instantly. Shawn had converted his Canon 5DII to be a dedicated infrared camera, and while that yields amazing results, I wasn’t going to retire my main shooting camera for a new hobby.

Enter the old Sony RX100.

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I had this little point and shoot laying on my desk collecting dust for too long. I found this amazing company online, LifePixel, who can convert lots of different cameras to infrared. What’s great is you can choose what nanometer wavelength of infrared you want to shoot, basically, the type of infrared you want to capture. There is more about that on their site, but I chose the Super Color option cause I wanted to get funky.

And boy is it funky.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that might help you get best results:

  1. You have to use a special white balance to get proper results. The white balance should be programed into the camera by the company that augments your camera.
  2. Bright light, daylight, and plant matter works best for getting a full spectrum of color.
  3. post processing is necessary for getting amazing results.
  4. Using a CF or polarizing filter helps get tack sharp images.
  5. Don’t be afraid to shoot video, it will blow your mind.

1 … white balance. It’s good to understand what is going on under the hood here. Basically when you convert your camera you are placing a filter over sensor to just allow a specific infrared wavelength of light to pass through. As Infrared is outside of visible light, your white balance is no longer valid, and has to be cranked way toward blue to get you something that represents different channels of color.

2 … bright light don’t fright. What really makes infrared pop is lots of photons of light. intense contrast, especially when shooting anything plant matter, will give you images that look otherworldly. This is because of the way chemicals in plants (chloroform mainly) reflects infrared light, and the sky doesn’t. This is also cool because now you can start to see how insects and birds see the world.

3 … post malone. Your pictures are going to look like you spilled kool-aide on them. This is normal. Its infraRED after all. To get the results you want you will need to process them in post. Basically in the channel mixer, set the output channel to red, and change red to 0 and blue to 100. Then change the output channel to blue, and put red to 95 and blue to -3. And when you’re saying “what the hell does this mean” hop over to Nicolesy Blog where there is a great step-by-step write up.

4 … CF or Pola filter. This is just good basic photography techniques.

5 … Video! Lots of people shoot stills… not a lot of people shoot IR video, and I don’t know why. You can process it the same, and it gives you a unique look you don’t see often online.

Rs.

About:

Roberto Serrini is a professional filmmaker who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a drone operator. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well. 

Follow him @serrini

Introducing Vintage Camera Quest.

It’s Memorial Day, and I can’t think of a better day to launch my newest project, the Vintage Camera Quest.

What is it:

I’ve acquired over the years quite a collection of vintage and rare cameras. I love them. I love how they look, what they represent, and what they can do. So instead of letting them just collect dust I’ve decided to use each one for a week, and post a series of photos and a bit of info about the camera on Instagram and on a blog dedicated to the quest:

www.vintagecameraquest.com

I dedicate the quest to my Grandfather who introduced me to photography. I remember him always with some sort of camera around his neck, and it always fascinated me. Decades later I have made it an integral part of not just my career, but my character. Photography defines me as a person, allows me to express myself to the world, and is the basis of how I make a living, supporting me and my family. All this from a foreigner that fought in a war for freedom. For that I am forever grateful, and can only hope he knows truly how much he has done for me.

As a fitting inauguration, I decided to launch with his first camera, which became my first camera, the Kodak Brownie. I decided to post the first roll of film I took with it instead of shooting something new, just because I still had it, which is somewhat of a miracle.

I hope you pop over to the new blog and follow the Instagram account as I will be updating every week for one year. Thats right, 52 cameras, coming at you.

grandpa and me

Thanks again gramps, love you and miss you.

Rs

About:

Roberto Serrini is a professional filmmaker who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a drone operator. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well. The Vintage Camera Quest is an adventure through vintage cameras. Each week he is using one of his 40 collected cameras, developing and posting the experience here. Check him out on instagram @vintagecameraquest or subscribe to his blog www.vintagecameraquest.com – thanks for reading!

AMAZING AMAZON

As a native New Yorker, I am no stranger to long commutes, however, 8 hours traveling up-river on a flat-bottom diesel boat to the heart of the Peruvian rainforest was a test of endurance even for a experienced G train rider. Once at our destination however, it became immediate clear to me that I was in a world untouched by any human about to have my mind blown, and definitely would find it near impossible to find a good slice.

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The Tambopata Research Center (TRC) is located deep within the Madre de Dios province of the Peruvian rainforest, a protected wildlife area founded in 1977. It is home to tens of thousands of animal and plant specie, from macaw to monkey, Jaguar to giant turtle. It is so prolific in fact, that while I was there, two new specie of spiders were discovered … walking from the boat to the lodge. It’s basically like God’s test kitchen that you can visit.

Getting there is not the easiest, which is why I absolutely love it. Upon flying into Puerto Maldonado, you are met by your personal guide, and brought by bus to the aptly named “town” of inferno, which seemed to consist of a bodega, bathroom, and small dock. There my personal Virgil (who’s name was Ramón and amazing) and a dozen other travelers jump on a 3-hour cruise to our first lodge, the Refugio Amazonas.

This remote outpost, with its shellacked dark wood, thatched roofs, and tall, cool drinks awaiting you upon arrival, echoes the romance and adventure that you would find in a Hemingway novel or an early Cary Grant film. After a warm reception, you are given the key to your room, which to me was curious considering you only have three walls; one wall is completely missing allowing the surrounding nature to engross you, which it does. The materials the lodge is composed of, the gently swinging hammocks, the fresh meals prepared for us, the fact that power is only offered for a certain number of hours a day, all truly thrust you into this beautiful experience without any delay. You are immersed in pristine nature, and you are only a third of the way to your final destination.

The next day you spend with your guide exploring the backcountry, trekking to an observation tower, which if you have the testicular fortitude to climb you are rewarded a sublime view of the 40 meter high Rainforest canopy. Traveling back you stop at a large lake, where a small man powered boat takes you across to view dozens of species of birds that make the watering hole their home. “Shall we fish for piranha?” our guide asks which of course the answer is “hell yes”. Soon he is carefully affixing a small morsel of meat on the end of a hook and line that look like Huckleberry Finn had just put down. “Here, just drop it in. Gently.” He handed it over to me as I placed it in the water cautiously having watched Shark Week one too many times, and before I knew it I had a small piranha on the end of my fishing pole. Our guide grabbed it and removed the hook, and let us all get a close look at the sushi that eats you back before returning it to the lake. I will have to switch to a California roll.

The next day we made the next leg to our final destination, the TRC, one, if not the most remote Amazon lodges in the world. As our repurposed truck engine blended us deeper up river, the nature completely took over. On the banks we saw Jaguars and Peccarie and Caimans, trees that came right to the river’s edge, their root system grasping on to whatever land the river allowed them to take. At times we would pass small barges with pumps on them shooting river water through a giant slanted sieve. “Those are illegal gold miners. This river is rich with gold.” Dangerous work, but apparently very well paid if you are lucky and not caught. About three hours in there was a fork in the river, and we docked at a weathered old landing that jetted out into the Tambopata River. We were at the Malinowki River Control Station, which looked like something out of the film Apocalypse Now. Screened in shacks strewn together, with bottle caps nailed into boards for traction, and a make-shift basketball hoop that defied attrition hanging on the side of a slanted tree, this was a mandatory control stop to enforce legal river traffic. In the small office, lined with weathered maps and young men with firearms, I had them stamp my passport to memorialize the event. I figured I’d never be this deep again in the rainforest; best have some ink to prove it.

Another two hours up-river and we finally reach the research center. Porters run out to grab our sacks, and we make our way through the lush forest, which is alive with noise. Boar-like peccaries bark at each other and shuffle through the low-lying bush, while howler monkeys scream to a rival tribe across the treetops. Graced with the grand entrance to the TRC lodge, it is even more majestic and beautifully organic then the last lodge, and would make for a fine base for the next three days where I would have the pleasure of exploring one of the most remote portions of the rainforest with some of the worlds most interesting people.

What Rainforest Expeditions offers that separates it from other tours is that you are in a functioning research facility staying with actual researchers and field scientists. This is more then eco-tourism, this boarders on getting actual college credit to go toward your doctorate. In the morning we visited one of the more active salt licks where my guide said we might see a few specie of Macaw feeding. By a “few” he meant a few hundred, and the colors, reds, blues, greens and yellows blurred before me like a Gaspar Noé titles sequence (Enter The Void, look it up). The shear volume of bio-diversity here is mind blowing, beyond any zoo, any safari on earth, and no SD card in the world has enough capacity to capture it all.

Dinners were exceptionally exciting as this was a prime time to mingle with not only the other travelers, but also the researchers and scientist that also stayed at the lodge. Here they would swap stories of what animals were seen, or new discoveries were made, or secret locations to best capture that perfect photograph. It was here I a young researcher and photographer, that invited me on what they called a “rainforest rave”.

“We go out at night, with UV lights, and discover bioluminescent insects. It’s a riot.” Basically this was the equivalent to telling a frat boy that there was a well-organized pub-crawl planned. After dinner we made our way out with blacklights in the pitch of night and let the forest put a show on for us that would have blown the mind of any burning man participant. Spiders that look like the 80’s puked all over them. Frogs that radiated pink and green like a neon sign. Did you know scorpions glow bright blue in UV light like a toy out of one of those grocery store vending machines? No. I didn’t think they could be any cooler either.

During the following days we explored riverbeds and trekked inland to natural waterholes, seeing all sorts of bats, turtles, barking caterpillars, and dozens and dozens of butterflies. 600 specie of bird, 200 of mammal, 1,000 of butterfly, and thousands of insects definitely keeps your neck loose as you constantly turn to see something new and amazing. My guide and I would travel downriver to a “Spiritual Retreat” that was being built for Ayahuasca ceremonies among other things. We met with the shaman, and saw the massive construction, and even took a tour of the jungle “garden”, getting face to face with the mind-altering hallucinogenic vine itself. Perhaps the most interesting interaction I had was after having met three young post-grads, I helped climb a 30 meter tree to hang an Macaw nest with a camera in it so that they could research the nesting habits. Of course assisting the researchers with manual labor is not something on the planned itinerary; it is something that was amazingly rewarding for me, and indicative of the type of immersive experience that only Rainforest Expiations can provide.

After 5 days deep in the rainforest it was finally time to say goodbye. We made our way back downstream to lovely downtown Inferno to reunite us with civilization. I had been to remote, wild places on earth before, but this however had changed me in a way that was wholly unexpected; the combination of sublimely, comfortable accommodations while being completely submerged in the most bio-diverse locations on the planet, surrounded by people who’s knowledge was so vast, that their entire existence was dedicated to the cultivation of yet more knowledge, was too much for my city forged mind to handle. I returned to my small apartment, 24 hour electricity and high speed internet a bit shaken, a bit more skeptical of packaged food, and much more enlightened. It would seem that Rainforest Expeditions doesn’t just take you to one of the most remote places on the planet, they take you deep down into your own soul, to places you might not have known even exist.

Go to www.getlostmagazine.com right now to continue the adventure and read more great places to go explore. Also, here is a little video postcard I put together for you. Enjoy;)

Rs

 

Japan: Kick-Ass Kyoto.

Kyoto is kinda a perfect city. There. I said it.

Japan, as a whole, is a mind-blowing experience. If you’ve read my lead up to this post you will have an understanding that in a world where I have made love to many countries, Japan is probably be the one I’m thinking about while traveling in another. Sorry Canada, I didn’t mean to call out “Oh, Japan!” while singing your anthem, promise. And the hottest part on this sexy country is it’s big, juicy, Kyoto.

Go get a kleenex… it’s gonna get messy.

Kyoto has all the things that a foreign city should have; captivating culture, excellence in cuisine, and a true love for itself. No matter where you roam in this jewel of a city it’s hard to not find an element of all three of these ingredients. So, let’s just start at the top of the awesome list, cause I know what you came here for: Geishas.

Geishas are awesome. They’re beautiful, exotic, secretive, and for all intensive purposes shouldn’t really exist in the modern age. There is lots to know about Geishas to even get a small understanding of this unique facet of Japanese culture. First, there are two types of Geisha’s, those that have sex, and those that don’t. I suppose that could apply to any occupation, but it seems to be an important classification for Geisha’s. In the entertaining kind (i.e. non-sex version) there are two types; dancing and singing Geisha’s. Those that want to become Geishas can apprentice, and are usually younger then 18 years of age. These are called Maikos and they have a slightly different dress with a longer tail, and shorter hair.

For me Geishas pretty much sum up why Japan is so interesting. When a country has a closed border for millennia, and refines every aspect of its own culture ad infinitum, even its courtesans, it can only produce something like a Geisha. They are stunning to see, beautiful and mysterious, and like something out of a fairytale.

The place to see them is Gion, which is just over the river, and it will pretty much make you want to move immediately to Japan. Gion is like a movie set, except real. Delicate streets that wind around a village-type atmosphere, where paper lanterns light cobblestone roads or age old wooden doors lead into exquisite restaurants where the best meal of your life is served. Here Kyoto holds on to its rich history and keeps it pristine, and instead of making it a cheesy tourist attraction it is very much alive and well, with a valid reason to be existing; it is simply charming and beautiful.

Here we went to a superb restaurant called Gion Karyo. Traditional in every way, we were invited inside this ancient home, took off our shoes, and proceeded downstairs to prepare for our meal. It’s surprising that they don’t hand out some sort of shower-cap for your head because everyone that eats here has their mind completely blown. Cleanup must be a bitch.

A set menu the meal lasts for a good 3 hours. The plates of food are more work of art then sustenance; flavors color your senses and you leave each setting more emotionally drained then full. It was a dance not a dinner, and truly something not to be missed.

While it is impossible not to fall madly in love with Gion there is a whole other city out there in Kyoto. Crossing the bridge back into the modern era you are greeted to a vibrant and modern city that has lots to offer. Just over the Shin-Jujo Dori bridge from Gion you will find what could be equated to 5th Avenue in New York. Fashionable high end shops and modern city folk all bustling along like any other major city in the world. Go one street in however and you are transported to another world, half Blade Runner and half Willie Wonka is the Kurisunouchikoshicho market. This street runs along side the modern shopping thoroughfare and offers anything from octopus on a stick to wacky costume shops. Perhaps most lovely was a drink where they take a whole cold grapefruit, cut a hole in the top, pulverize the fruit inside and add a type of frozen rum and give it to you with a straw. Yes another please.

For the brave, try ducking off the main strip to one of the side alleys. Here you can find strange little shops and bars that couldn’t quite find a way to squeeze into the party. As such, they are pretty much guaranteed to be old school and hardcore. Here is a little place we found that had no name. The cast of characters contained within can only be described as characters Kafka rejected from his novels. We decided to order some “snacks” of the menu which included shoshito peppers and foreskin. Yeah, foreskin. Of what we don’t know, but really, does it matter? I imagined this is where Mohels come for a wrap party. Honestly, it was like being in a strange bar in some rum-running town on the fringe of society. I half expected to see Hans Solo sharing a sake with Gredo.

Cruising a few blocks north you run into Nijo Castle, literally. It’s smack dab in the middle of the city, and impossible to miss. It’s a fantastic place to visit with its imposing 100 foot walls and impossibly beautiful architecture. Heading in and taking off your shoes, as not to disturb the centuries old wood floor, you shuffle through some of Japan’s most prolific history, experiencing first hand what it would have been like in during the Edo period. Im not sure who their interior designer was, but I’m sure he wasn’t cheap.

Moving further north you start to enter the Kamigyo Ward which is where Kyoto for me really started to come into focus. This is the city, where people work and live, and the true flavor of this town hits the palette. Here you can find a funky little place called Coffee Shop Brazil where I watched a man make the most involved, albeit slowest, cup of coffee using what I could only assume was high school science lab equipment. He only asked me if I wanted regular or strong, and the regular was so jammed with caffeine that I started remember homework assignments I missed in College. And I went to UCSB. It was a foggy time.

Immediately starving from the caffeine that was giving my bodies tremors and melting fat from my frame, we found this very ordinary noodle shop where we had, not even kidding, the most amazing bowl of noodles ever to enter a mouth, ever. It must have been good, because even at an odd hour, there was a steady stream of people slurping and moaning through their hot, delicious bowls of delight.

Belly’s full, we continued to wander through the Nishijin section, where we came across a little door with a sign and arrow; the international sign of “hey you, peek your head in here please”. Inside we found a small textile museum; Nishijin it turns out is the third largest producer of fine silk fabrics, along with Milan and Lyon. The man inside spoke no English, but offered us some warm tea, before letting us into the ancient house to see the display. Interesting old machines, and beautiful garments lined the walls, and the building itself was as eye-catching as its contents. I’d love to tell you what it was called or where it was, but sadly, I have no idea. There lies the point; wandering around Kyoto you are guaranteed to find some magic.

At this point getting low on film (we brought the old AE-1 out for a spin this trip, and that is it’s own blog post). So, looking around I spotted a faithful yellow and orange Kodak banner and made a B-line for it. Inside I found what a photographer only dreams of. A little ol’ ma and pop shop overrun with old camera gear. Everywhere, on every surface, was a little miracle waiting to be taken home. My eyes widened and a small gasp exited my broth scented lips. “Dear God. It’s El Dorado” I murmured. The little old Japanese man who owned the shop was equally surprised and excited. “AE-1…” he said wide eyed, pointing to my 40 year old camera. We locked eyes and then both relaxed into a wide grin, as montage music started to play in our minds.

After a good hour of digging through decades of camera history I walked away with 4 prime lenses, a Canon Coronet that I’ve never even knew existed, and a Mamiya medium format BEAST loaded with a fresh 120 roll. Happy? Hell yeah.

Fully photorific, we continued deeper into Kamigyo Ward to find what we were aiming for: Hosoo Kyoto. Hosoo is a textile company dates back to the 6th century, and its based in Kyoto since 1688. It’s not easy to find; there is no real signs or advertising to visit, which makes it all that more special. This is the genuine article and the textiles they produce using their 3 dimensional Nishijin weaving technique has clothed emperors, samurai and made countless kimonos and is as fundamental in Japan’s history as the people who wore their garments. We were therefor super excited for a tour of their showroom to just be able to get a glimpse of these amazing fabrics.

Unfortunately we had not made an appointment.

Here’s the thing though; I have mentioned before how Japanese people are extremely accommodating, stating that even the word “no” is seldom, if ever, heard in a conversation. When we told the woman who happened upon to random people sitting in their front office that we did not make a appointment, she without hesitation closed down the front shop, stopped whatever she was doing, and gave us a private tour. Now, by no means am I saying you should ever exploit this level of kindness, but I am saying that the Japanese deserve the utmost respect when it comes to customer care. They go not only above and beyond, they go to a whole other dimension.

I’m certainly glad they did because what we saw was so exquisite, so beautiful, that it felt like a crime to be able to touch the various swatches of fabric. These articles deserved to be behind vacuum sealed, humidity controlled class in some very large marble building, not running through the fingers of a commoner wearing denim. They are works of art, and you can sense the deep routed history not only in the product, but in the building where they design and fabricate it; amazingly old and perfectly kept Hosoo is living history, and those that appreciate such things will fail to find a more perfect example.

Heading westward and rounding out the trip, we decided to see a bit of ancient Kyoto and visit Tenryu-Ji Temple adjacent to the Katsura river. We were really surprised how much of a mob scene this part of town was. Truly a tourist destination this was more people then we saw anywhere else by far, the streets literally clogged with wandering sightseers. Everyone was Japanese mind you which was perhaps even stranger to us. The temples were beautiful, as was the bamboo forest, but really the sheer number of people made it impossible to fully enjoy.

Seeking refuge we decided to duck into Saganoyu, a “coffee style resort”, for a bite to eat. This place was darling in every aspect; clean, white and open, with a lovely little outdoor space and even a little shop to buy some memorable items. The pancakes are king here, and come with a special drizzle sauce which conveniently can be poured directly into your mouth. They think of everything here you know. I opted for a fresh tofu carbonara because I’m Italian and like to be disappointed. I can’t say I was though; the pasta was perfectly al dente, the sauce was rich, and the tofu, while not buffalo mozzarella, added an interesting savory tartness that made this dish entirely unique. It even came with cute directions which made me feel like Ikea sponsored the meal.

Wandering back toward the station we enjoyed getting lost in the little streets and river walkways. Lots of little shops, moody gravesite, and tons of people watching led to a small repose in a pachinko parlor. Dropping in some coin thousands of little balls begin firing down a pegged wall with such cacophony and fury that even the most severe OCD case in the world would be wholly focused on the action. In the end we won, something, somehow, not knowing the rules, and received a token to buy a little gift. Yeah, like Chuck’e’cheeses. Or Skeeball. We thought we were gambling.

3 KYOTO_kyoto_86

“Go around the corner. You can trade that crap in for money.” A man said, cigarette defying multiple laws of physics, without shifting his view from the chaos happening on his Pachinko machine. Apparently gambling is illegal in Japan. So, you play to win toys. However, there are conveniently located stores near Pachinko parlors where these toys can be bought for various sums of money. Basically Japan invented a toy economy to get around a legal issue. A country so polite that instead of changing a law dealing with morality they will just create a loophole. Genius.

Pockets full, hearts soaring, and legs truly exhausted we hopped back on the bullet train and 15 minutes later were in Osaka where our little Air B&B was. A more perfect day I can’t really think of, but that didn’t stop us from visiting Kyoto 2 more times during our stay, just to try out some other places.

Those days were as magical as the first, but in consideration of not being repetitious, we will move on to our next city … Tokyo.

-Rs

Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well. 

Sexiest Camera Strap EVER.

So, you got into photography because you want to impress chics (or dudes). Obviously. Well let me tell you something, you haven’t even scratched the surface of your game unless you own a HoldFast Gear Money Maker Dual Camera Harness.

HoldFast Gear Money Maker Two-Camera Harness (Water Buffalo, Tan, Medium Size)

It’s a mouthful. (that’s what (s)he said).

What is this? Camera strap or male lingerie? Well, it’s both. And yes, I sleep with it on. Frequently.

I first saw this little hottie in the wild at a wedding of two of my more fashionable friends (both are very successful creative directors for a very famous agency in Amsterdam, so you can imagine this wedding was designed within an inch of it’s life and was GORE-JUSS right down to the wedding photographer’s camera straps. Respect). I had never seen such a good looking photographer, ever. Rocking his Jack Spade with a perfectly argan oiled beard, he was drifting ever so elegantly between guests, cameras like pearl earrings (vintage) dangling ever so provocatively from his side. What was keeping them on his person was an amazing piece of hardware, that looked like it went into a cedar chest at the end of the night that he had whiddled by hand with his grandfathers bowie knife. GORE-JUSS.

Damn thing was 260 bucks.

Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting, and was somehow relieved that it was justifiably expensive. It should be expensive. Not only is it a piece of art on its own, but it’s holding your most fragile equipment (which makes me think that I’m not spending enough on underwear as I write this). My camera, with glass on it, is well into the thousands of dollars, so 300 bucks is nothing to have the privilege to hold my livelihood.

But how does it work?

Pretty damn well. Wearing it not only effectively take the burden off your neck and distributes it equally to your back, but you feel like a hard boiled detective who needs to go see about a dame. It comes in a variety of leathers, and finishes. I opted for the American Water Buffalo because, I mean, c’mon, just saying American Water Buffalo is a panty dropper. It looks like Theodore Roosevelt made the damn thing with his hands, and it’s so well built that you will probably opt to use it in a bar fight over a broken bottle.

The latch that actually holds the camera is a solid piece of hardware. So solid in fact that you need two hands to release/attach it to the harness, which isn’t the greatest when you are used to the ease of a carabiner and bungie strap. That said, the confidence I felt having it securely attached to my side made up for the extra seconds of setup. I could easily ride my fixie to Blue Bottle, or print out a few flyers on my home letterpress without feeling like my camera would drop to the floor.

The action, meaning the moment of the camera from the passive to ready to shoot position, is pretty smooth and a perfect distance from your face. One issue I had, that I had read about, was that the ring can get caught in your shirt. This is true. I was wearing a cotton T-Shirt as it was laundry day, so perhaps the strap did not like it. I will try again with my selvedge denim bespoke dress shirt tomorrow. Perhaps a tweed had will make a difference.

IMG_1339

But honestly who gives a damn! Have you seen this thing? It should come with a case of contraceptive cause lots of people are going to get very pregnant. Everything about it is fantastic, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t own it sooner as I’m sure its only going to get sexier with time. Much like Monica Bellucci.

Rs

addendum… They also make SICK camera bags that makes you look like a sexy doctor from the 1860’s like you are going to cure someone with tincture of argan and a Zeiss CP2 macro. So sweet.

steve mccurry’s life lessons.

Steve McCurry is to Photography what Michelangelo is to Sculpting. A fucking badass. 

He has produced your favorite photograph of all time. I don’t even need to know which one is your favorite photograph, I know he took it.

Today I stumbled on a Sploid article with some short films of Steve explaining his most valuable life lessons. I love this level of access into a mind of a visionary genius. This is the gold they don’t teach you in college. It’s something you only learn from experience, or in this case, someone else’s experience they are willing to share with you.

Thank you Steve for being legend. Here are the videos, I put what I found to be the most relevant first, but you should watch them all.

If I was into reincarnation, I’d want to come back as Steve McCurry. I would have to be into reincarnation and not understand quantum physics so I could time travel as well, but you can dream.

Rs

P.S. one thing I saw was how he holds his camera. Thanks CheesyCam for setting me straight.

crumbling clients.

So I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of visionary brands (and yes, this is where I list the best of them so you can see my net worth. Deal with it.) Victoria’s Secret, Reebok, Lincoln, you know, the big boys (and girls). No matter who the client is, and this is absolutely true, I approach the job the same way; that it is not a job. I enjoy what I do so I bring that enjoyment on set with me.

See, I used to have “a job”. I used to work in hotels. As in a “hotel manager”. I choose that job because it afforded me the ability to travel, and to pursue my passions as a filmmaker and writer and all that good stuff. Well, passions were pursued, and eventually I caught up with them, and now their my bitch. People ask me what I do in my free time. I either tell them “I don’t know what free time is” or “the same thing I do in my not free time”. The reason is if I wasn’t doing this for money, I would still be doing it, so I can’t really call what I do a job. Shhhhh. Don’t tell my clients.

 

The Secret is out... how can you call this work?
The Secret is out… how can you call this work?

So it doesn’t matter if its capturing bodies for Victoria’s Secret or cam shafts for Victor’s auto body, the work, the actual work I’m doing, is always enjoyable.

That’s why, when a client suddenly doesn’t call you back, you cry. (well I cry.)

Unlike in the hotel biz when a guest doesn’t return, you feel a tinge of pain, but you know that you’ve done all humanly possible to make their stay better than they dreamed, or remedied any situation beyond their expectations. I secretly loved being a manager, because I love people, and I love fixing problems, and people problems are the best kind to fix. If the filmmaking thing didn’t work out I was going to become a Jewish mother. There comes a point though where there really is nothing you can do to help a person because they have decided that there is nothing that can be done. It’s a two-way street with people, and I guess, that’s what makes it interesting.

With clients though, because you are doing what you love, because it is not a job but an extension of you, you take it very, very personally.

About a year ago I used to photograph cupcakes for Crumbs Bakery. It was a fantastic time; sometimes in the morning I would have to shoot a Victoria’s Secret model, then in the afternoon, about 3 dozen crazy cupcakes. I used to call it “panty and pastry Thursdays” and all my friends hated that, and me, subsequently. The cupcakes were ultimately much more exciting, mainly because you got to eat them at the end of the session, something that would never happen with the models.

crumbs cupcakes
I loved the plus sized models….

Things were going swimmingly. Each week a new batch. Flag day cupcakes, Halloween cupcakes, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Boxing day, Woman’s Suffrage Day. Crumb’s came up with new flavors and design for nearly every little note on the calendar. We had a great time building dioramas, getting creative with cream and sugar, and it didn’t ever seem it would end.

But then, it did.

They just stopped calling. We called them, asked, “anything this week?” they would reply, “No. Nothing this week. We’ll see next week.” but next week was the same deal. Soon we would ask, “did we do something wrong?” and they would say. “No. It’s just some restructuring.” the client equivalent to “it’s not you, it’s me”.

Well, I can’t tell you, this happened months ago, and I don’t pass a Crumb’s bakery, or even have a slice of birthday cake and not think of those beautiful days I spent with my Crumb’s cupcakes. I wonder where she went to, who she was hanging out with, and who was letting her beadboard light off of her. I would be jealous some days, others, just sad, wondering what was it I did, or perhaps, didn’t do, to make her stay with me.

Today I saw the news. Crumb’s is to close all its stores. They are totally bankrupt.

I can’t say I am happy. It’s not like the girl who dumps you, then you see her 15 years later at a cousin’s wedding and she’s fat with some sort of a mullet and a boyfriend named Ted who’s in “finance” (sells auto insurance over the phone. Nice try Ted). No, it’s not like that. It’s more like you found out your love had a terminal illness, and instead of telling you, she let you go, as to not bring you down. Or it’s like, “damn. So that was it.” and you might be able to eat a slice of Cookie Puss now without that sinking feeling in your stomach (you’ll still get that feeling. I mean, its Carvel after all)

The point (is there one Rob?) is that when you do what you love, it is impossible sometimes to separate your emotions from your “work”. This is the real challenge; to be able to give yourself fully to what you do, but have the restraint to be able to make cold business decisions when need be. I am constantly guilty of doing more than what is budgeted mainly because it doesn’t bother me. When you’ve listened to Hollywood hipsters complain about how they can’t get into the SkyBar for 5 years, and how it’s ruining their lives, then any request from a client asking to do something that you love just seems like heaven.

First world problems I suppose. Good luck Crumb’s. You will always have a sweet spot in my heart.

Rs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I shouldnt mention this…

But this is an epic list… Go, travel, be free, and bravo HuffPost for putting together a knockout selection. I used to feel torn about “secret” lists. Secret bars, secret places, secret deals… if you tell everyone, well, you get the idea. After traveling and living enough (AKA getting old) I realized that sharing “Secrets” is really the only thing secrets are good for. Not only can someone go enjoy them, for however long they do last, but it forces new secrets to be made. The world will never run out of secrets, just adventurous people. Dont fail the secret community, go explore. Now. Seriously why are you still reading this. There is a fucking fish market in Cambodia where you buy the fish out of the fucking ocean. Now that’s fresh. Go.

And as for the picture… its my own little secret place on the Dalmatian Coast … discover more pics here.

15 Places To Go Before They Get Famous