By Jeff Tamagini
It all starts with a single click.
That's the motto I've been trying to live by this year. After a rough end to 2009, I decided I needed a fresh start -- personally, professionally, and photographically. I put down the camera for almost two months, picked up books, relearned old techniques, tried out new ones.
I kept hearing all the pros say that unless you're Joe McNally, you can't be a generalist; you need to find a niche to make it in today's economy of photography. That really got me thinking and looking at my work from the past year. I filtered through all my photos from 2009 and I made a 12x12 hardcover 160-page book of my best work. Through that process, I found myself again.
I had portrait photos, street shots, architecture, landscapes (city and traditional), grunge, events. Sounds like a generalist, huh? Well, after really looking at these images, with the exception of a small percentage, they all had a common theme: Urban Life. It has been my niche all along and I just never realized it. I am an Urban Lifestyle Photographer.
I was walking home one January night from my office in the Fort Point Channel area to the Park Street subway stop. I passed through Downtown Crossing via Summer Street, and as I looked down the street, I saw that they had turned on all the lights on the Paramount Theatre. Back in August, I had submitted a photo for RAW's monthly contest, which had the theme Architecture, and I won. It was a photo of the Paramount Theatre marquee in daylight. There was still some scaffolding up and the sign wasn't fully finished, but to my eye, it captured the essence of true urban renewal.
Now the sign was finished and lit ... and I didn't have my camera. I hadn't been shooting at all. I went home, charged my batteries, packed my gear, and prayed that the next night it would still be lit. It was, and below is my favorite photo from the night.
And so it began again.
The photo below was taken of a Red Line train pulling into South Station on my way home from work one night. I had finally started to get back into my shooting groove and carrying my camera with me every day.
On my way to work the next morning, I was standing on the platform at Kenmore Square, camera on my shoulder, waiting for the Green Line. I got a tap on the back; it was an MBTA official with an attitude telling me I couldn't take pictures in the subway (which is false).
When I got to work, I used the photo above from the night before to do a blog post about photographers' rights on the MBTA. My friends at Universal Hub wrote a blog post linking to my blog. Within minutes, my post had more than 500 hits; within 30 minutes, a WBZ-Channel 4 reporter was calling me for more info. She did a story, which got the T to reissue its photography policy to all employees for the benefit of us photographers.
It all starts with a single click, and sometimes that's just being in the right place at the right time. I happen to live in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. One day I arrived home, looked out my window, and saw smoke. The marsh behind the Victory Gardens was on fire. I grabbed my camera, ran outside, and captured the photo below of a firefighter battling the brush fire.
Everyone goes through creative funks, but it's what you do to get out of them that matters. I hope what I've written has struck something in you. If you're feeling in a rut, try the following:
Only shoot models? Go shoot a landscape at sunrise.
Stuck on your still life photography? Go capture the motion in the streets.
Mix it up.
Here's a selection of what I consider some of my best and most favorite works of Urban Lifestyle Photography from this year. Lastly, thank you Teresa for wanting to highlight my work and me on RAW. It has been an honor.
Jeff Tamagini is an emerging Urban Lifestyle Photographer who lives in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. He spends his day as a designer for Wilson Architects Inc., a commercial architectural firm in the Fort Point Channel section of Boston. When he isn't at work, he is taking photos, editing them, or reading photography books to further hone his craft. He posts photos daily on a blog on his website, Tamagini Design, including his From the Vault series, which highlights the best of his past work. He shares tips, tricks, and reviews, along with random pieces of inspiration.
He shoots with Canon gear, specifically the Canon 5D Mark II. His favorite lens is the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS. You can see a full list of his gear on his blog. You also can follow him on Twitter.
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