Miami Street Photography Festival Finally Got it Right!

The Miami Street Photography Festival just concluded this past weekend handing out awards for best single image contest and series from Miami.

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1st Place Singles Category Miami Street Photography Festival 2018 – Hsiu Ju Chang

1st Place Singles Category Miami Street Photography Festival 2018 – Hsiu Ju Chang

The Miami Street Photography Festival just concluded this past weekend handing out awards for best single image contest and series from Miami.

Finally a photo without any animals places first. I have no idea what everyone’s infatuation with animals in street photos is. The winning image by photographer Hsiu Ju Chang is exceptional. I really love this photo and it is a great reminder to all photographers of any genre that you do not need to travel to a foreign country to take amazing photographs. You can find opportunities for great photographs anywhere. This winning image proves that good lighting, shadows, vibrant colors, and is still king! Purely at first glance, if someone said Alex Webb took this photo, I’d believe it.

This trend with animals and birds, and dogs, and cows I am sick of it! Stop! Just stop. The winning photo at Italian Street Photography Festival 2018 was an animal (or portrayed an animal). The third place image at Streetfoto 2018 looked like a “Got Milk”ad. Remember that from the 90’s? I like the cow image but it looks too perfect and how Jeff Mermelstein would say “Magaziney”. The first place image for Streetfoto….again we are at the presence of animals…Although the trio of dogs are not the predominate focus in the image ITS STILL THERE.

In the end, the winning picture in Miami is what we should be seeing more of. My hat goes off to the finalist judges at Miami (Nick Turpin, Constantine Manos, and Meryl Meisler) for getting this right for everyone!

 

Interview with Vietnamese Street photographer Minh Pham

My street & documentary photography friend Minh Pham is doing an awesome job documenting and capturing the changes to his city Thanh Da, Vietnam. This is an ongoing project until the new city within Thanh Da is fully developed. Minh does a great job capturing moments that highlight globalization and the rapid changes that’s currently happening in Vietnam and how it’s effecting the everyday citizens.

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?
I was born and raised up in Saigon, located in the South of Vietnam. Since I was a kid, I had always been curious of everything around me. I guess you can say that I like to observe people and my surroundings. In addition, my parents usually showed me their pictures when they were children & pictures they took of me growing up. I always appreciated looking at old family photos and how it moved me or taken me back into time.

In the summer of 2009, my parents and I were on a trip to the center of Vietnam, Da Nang to Hue. My dad gave me a Nokia 6500 Slide on my birthday about a week before the trip. I was so excited because the cell phone had a camera. I spent time to explore all the camera functions & captured every single moment during the trip.

In the tourist group, there was a guy who owned a DSLR saw me captures photos with high concentration. He approached me and we had a small conversation. Few minutes later, I had a chance to experience his DSLR. Having the DSLR in my hands for the first time was quite an experience that I still cannot explain till this day.

A year later, my very first camera was a Canon Rebel T2i. First photographs were focused on the local people who live and work around my residence, Thanh Da.

Tell us about Thanh Da? What was it like? What’s currently happening?

[There’s no place like home] Thanh Da, a place where I was born and raised up for 19 years. It can be compared to a banyan tree which contains most of my old but gold memories since I was kid.

It was a stable upbringing by both my parents, surrounded with good neighbors, and living environment. I would say I was very fortunate to have spent a bulk of my life in Thanh Da. No matter how hard or stressful life could be at that time, I knew everything would be alright because of Thanh Da.

In the summer 2014, news was announced that the city of Thanh Da would be demolished due to the blocks where I lived were bathetic. I thought to myself, It would take long time to get a confirm from the government. However that September, my family moved out from Thanh Da after 19 years living there.
Currently, those blocks were demolished and leave there a huge empty space full of dirt. It’s quite difficult to think about.

Obviously your from Thanh Da but what about that area that inspires you to make photographs of it?

I have been thinking for a long time whenever I come back to Thanh Da and shoot. Sometimes, I just don’t want to face the truth about moving on from Thanh Da.
I don’t want Thanh Da to become a faded memories of my childhood. I come back and shoot Thanh Da with my regret from deep inside my guts.

How do you feel about all these changes in Vietnam?

My family was compensated with two small apartments for the resettlement policy from the Vietnam government. The current circumstance in Vietnam, there are a lot bathetic apartments/residences; however, some places are not receiving full care of the government. Citizens who live in those residence/apartment are not receive high quality compensated resettlement. Some of them are just given a small amount of money as a compensation. Luckily, my family have a roof!

What exactly are you trying to show through your series through Thanh Da?

Thanh Da will be a long term project so I divide it into 3 phases:

+ Phase 1: The Remnant: To depict my regret, what left and slowly disappear in Thanh Da.

+ Phase 2: Transformation: To depict the changes in people life and/or living standard in Thanh Da.

+ Phase 3: Development: Eventually, Thanh Da is going to be a place where buildings and super-malls exist. This phase will show the fast pace of development in Thanh Da and how it effects the citizens of Vietnam. Old things go, new things come.

What’s your overall goal with this project? A book?

A private book also a good idea to collect all the process 🙂

 

I’ve noticed most images of yours are in black and white but others in color. How do you determine what’s left in black and white and what’s left in color?

In my perspective, in street & documentary photography, shooting is to satisfy myself so I usually not intentionally edit the pictures to fit at that moment. I do it based on my feelings.

 

What keeps you motivated?

Simple, photography now is part of my life. I want to contemplate how it change to not have that feeling of regret again. That’s my main motivation.

 

Who are some of your favorite street photographers?

Noppadol Maitreechit (Thailand)

Liu Tao (China)

Werner Bischof (Switzerland)

Aleksey Myakishev (Russia)

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To Follow Minh’s work:

Instagram @phamvietanhminh

Interview with Photographer Suzanne Stein

I’ve been following Suzanne’s work on instagram for over a year. Although her style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I myself appreciate her photographic style. I really like her work and wanted to learn more about her creative process and how she goes about with her photography. Check out the interview below!

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

I was a mm artist, played around with one of my dad’s film cameras briefly when I was seventeen, but I didn’t do much with it or  nor tried to learn. To me it was complex, and technical, and uninteresting.  I was an artist but was bored and very unhappy with drawing. In June of 2015, I went to Europe with my son and I started taking what I soon learned were street pictures.  I couldn’t wait to get a camera, and as soon as I returned from Europe in August of 2015 I got my first camera, a fujifilm Xt-1.

How did you end up photographing Skid Row?

Two months or so after I got my first camera I drove to downtown Los Angeles.  I had never been there before, I had only been to West Los Angeles and Hollywood.  I was unprepared for the kaleidoscope of sights and people. Just an intensely interesting and shockingly place!  I saw skid row for the first time that day and found it to be completely absorbing and was very determined to figure out a way to be able to walk through and make photographs.

At first were you afraid? If so, how did you get over the fear?

Yes, at first I was afraid.  I was very afraid!  Since then, I’ve been in worse places–Skid row is warm and inviting compared to other places in the world. But I met people because I made a tremendous effort to, and also forced myself to get out of my car and walk in.  It’s just a force of will, like anything else you desire.  You find a way.

How do you go about photographing the scenes and people of Skid Row? You talk to them first or do you just snap away?

You can’t walk into skid row and start snapping pictures!  You cannot….people need to feel familiar with you, and if you meet the “right” people there, then a certain measure of protection is conferred upon you.

Are you a familiar face in the area by now?

I was a familiar face to many, but I’ve been absent for the past 6 months due to traveling.

I find it absolutely insane that we have areas like Skid Row more or less all across the United States. We do have them here in Hawaii believe it or not…for a while I’ve been wanting to document these areas to show the other side of Honolulu and that it’s not all paradise…Do you have any advice?

Advice?  It’s hard to say without first observing your manner and style.  It’s really important to preserve one’s safety first.  Second, be honest.  Never never never sneak a shot.  Tell people what you’re doing and have a “show album ” in your phone and offer to show samples of your work.  Shake hands….yes, some homeless people aren’t squeaky clean but be ready to embrace, shake hands, touch people.  People have actually tested me to see if I’d shake their hand.  Don’t be one of those fake photographers who swoop in, steal images, and then flee.  Stay awhile.

Do you think being a female has helped you as a photographer specifically documenting Skid Row? Or not?

Yes and no.  I’m smaller and more easily ripped off than a male, and more likely to have situations with people who have an axe to grind and see me as an easily intimidated woman who they can hurl abuse at.  On the other hand, people will often admire my ability to walk in and respect and hang w others despite my clearly different background and appearance, and that goes a long way.

Your creative process, what stands out for you to make a photo on a particular subject or person?

I don’t know….some people just resonate and inspire me.  Sometimes they are vulnerable and hard and scary and poignant all at once and I want to capture that.  Some people are like rockstars in skid row really, and I love to shoot that and make a picture that is over the top, a little punch in the face because they are very cool and interesting people besides being in dire straits.  Sometimes it’s just injustice or inequality that I want to highlight or it’s just simple….they’re super interesting and I want to make great photos of them.

Through the interaction, photos, and stories you hear from these people. How are you able to cope and go about your day?

Just have to feel bad for a while, eat ice cream, and drive home.  Let it go, because it’s critical….but not always possible.

What’s your overall goal with this project? A book?

I would like to do a book….I don’t know how, nor do I have the time.  I had a promise for one which, in typical bullshit Los Angeles style, fell through!

When will you know that you’re done shooting Skid Row?

I’m done in Skid row….,it’s all over my Instagram, I’m in Paris and was in Istanbul where I did a series on homeless and otherwise exploited and forgotten children….That project is important to me and I’m NOT on skid row.  I hope to one day return and revisit for sure.

I’ve noticed most images of yours are in black and white but others in color. How do you determine what’s left in black and white and what’s left in color?

In skid row I decided color was the way to go, because color best represents the neighborhood.  In Downtown Los Angeles I’ll use bnw….but color is important as a method to convey emotion, especially as saturation levels and differing approaches and usage of these levels in post can dramatically affect the final image and impact.  In Paris it’s desaturated colors, in skid row much less desaturation.  So bnw is overused at times because the masses who think they appreciate street photography seem to prefer it. I think it’s an overused camouflage used  to “dress up” or render more artistic an otherwise dull photograph.  So… if color is an integral part of the picture, it’s in color.

In your opinion what makes a photograph work or interesting?

Everybody has a different opinion here and mine is going to be sounding bitchy to be frank!  But what makes a good photograph?? There’s a dearth of these in popular social media.  Technical aspects must be there (exposure, no tacky overuse of vignettes, compositional elements) but a few of these can be pushed aside for a great, fast snap. It’s all about narrative and story for me!  Much of what hobbyists and magazines devoted to photography prefer is technical, correctly executed stuff that’s good to look at but completely void of story, of emotions and content.  Conventional executions of technique leave me without passion.  This bothers me….I think that subtlety is lost on many, and that there’s no substitute for narrative.  It’s hard as hell to find an audience for good true narrative pictures though….it exists, but in places that are populated by people who don’t know photography.  They’re regular people who can appreciate a picture that’s got a story.

Do you have GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)?

Do I have GAS?  Hell no!  I wish….I’m in desperate need of a few basic lenses that I can’t afford right now.

What have you learned about yourself or society from shooting the streets?

I’ve learned some things that I wish I could unlearn….that there’s no happy ending for most, that the world is full of dire tragedies that go unnoticed.  That people don’t care about what they say they’re moved by, and that in practice we can help out on a daily basis and most don’t.  I’ve witnessed some truly good people who try and who remain completely unrecognized by others, toiling on skid row or helping animals.  I’ve learned that animals  get horrifically abused before being eaten in many places, and live lives of brutality that are a sin and a shame.  Life, I’ve learned, is one hundred percent unfair.  I’ve learned that people want a gimmick in a photo and that sometimes the gimmick is critical, and the truth is not very important.  I’ve learned that the world of photography is self serving, fatuous and full of benchmarks that are irrelevant.  I’ve learned that I’m both a better person than I thought and a callous shooter that takes pictures of moments that are private.  I’ve learned that perseverance is actually a skill, and more important in photography than most realize.

What do you have to say to those that may criticize your work or style?

What do I say to people who criticize my work?  I don’t care anymore….I used to, but I am too concerned with creating a body of work to give it much thought.  I think my style can be over the top at times so people who are less able to take risks tend to criticize those of us who take those creative risks.

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Follow Suzanne Stein’s work!

www.suzannesteinphoto.com/

Instagram @suzanne_stein

How to Handle Criticism on your Street photography

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots – Frank Clark

Criticism is negative feedback and I’ve had a very small handful of them on my photography through peers and folks on social media. I’m human, sometimes it gets to me but I try my best not to let it. Criticism is negative feedback without any guidance or suggestive improvements. For example, if someone saw your photo and said “It’s crap” and not explain why the photo is crap then it’s all deaf ears to me.

However, saying that the photo is crap but yet explaining why, is constructive feedback. There’s opportunity to learn and grow knowing why your photo just doesn’t work.  I had one person say (and I won’t give any clues) that one of my photo essays was pretty good but that’s because they edited the photos down and cropped some of the images. Or said (same person) it sucks without further explanation.

I’m open for constructive feedback and I think I take it pretty well, I’m all ears and open to a discussion. I also believe in defending your work if you truly love the image and regardless what others think, if you like the photo stand by it. I actually appreciate when someone gives me their constructive feedback, to take time to either type a message or waste their breath on me, I feel appreciative to an extent. I have always believed if the person didn’t care then they wouldn’t waste their time saying anything.

Also remember to keep in mind, everyone has the right to their own opinion. That’s the beauty of this country, the freedom of speech. So that we can have dialogue and come to an mutual or better yet…a better understanding of both perspectives.

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To take the advice or not

The way I see constructive feedback is 1. What would make the image work better instead or 2. From the perspective of the viewer, how it’d be a better image. There is no right or wrong in street photography but there is good, better, and just not there. I think most people don’t know how to give good constructive feedback, for photography good constructive feedback is saying this doesn’t work but I’d be curious to see if a particular subject passed back or if you got lower it’d add more emotion or mystery to it.

For me even if I receive good constructive feedback I won’t always adjust to their liking’s or to use less words…agree. But I am appreciative of their feedback and thoughts (never know you may learn something new). You got to remember even if Bruce Gilden gave you feedback on a photo you truly liked and he chewed it up to pieces (like he did to mines in San Francisco) and he pointed out why it’s a weak photo, etc, and with over five decades of experience, a Magnum photographer, the list goes on…Even he has a particular style he likes or prefers (plus I don’t think Bruce Gilden ever complimented anyone’s photos besides his very own).

Imagine if someone asked you to review and critique their photo and there’s parts of the image that you do or don’t like about it. You’re giving your opinion  based on your own experience, personal fondness of what type of photos you cater towards. If photographed a scene that included vibrant colors and had a very minimalist aesthetic to it and you ask a fellow photographer that loves black and white photos, that tends to incorporate layers and lots of people in their frame…they probably won’t appreciate your photo compared if another photographer presented photos that shared the same ideas and have similar taste in style.

That’s why I believe in not having a style. Lots of photographers talk about having a style to call your own, to separate from the pack, or to use less words…branding. For me I just shoot what I like, what catches my attention and keeps me curious. I don’t want to be pigeon hold to one style or one way of shooting…I’d get bored too quickly.

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Conclusion

Be open to other opinions. Take what you can learn and filter the rest. People giving criticism online and social media are likely to be more harsh with their feedback because they can hide behind a screen. They’re not dealing with an actual person right in front of them. Think of customer service, when someone calls and make a complaint versus making a complaint in person at the store. Nobody wants to cause a scene at the store and go viral on Facebook. Even if it’s someone you know, their critique online will be much different in person.

ultimately, my advice is to always follow your gut, be true to yourself, you can’t please everyone the only person you should be pleasing is yourself. Life is about taking the bumps and bruises and just picking yourself back up and keep on keeping on.

Defend your work, stand up for it if it’s something you like. Don’t let the opinion of others demoralize you. And don’t change because society tells you to or the feeling of pressure from your peers. Change when you’re ready to change, when you’re ready to take that leap of faith whether that’s in your photography by changing up your approach and style…or if that’s in life where you need to subtract old friends that are nothing but toxic or if you need to move to another country for a change in scenery. Do it by your own terms, create your own destiny, write your own narrative.

Tim Huynh Contact Sheet Volume 1: Legs!

Aloha Everyone,

I wanted to create a contact sheet to share with you folks on how I capture and process my images. This one titled “Legs” is one of three photos that will be published in this year’s World Street Photography 4 book (you can purchase book here).

I saw this giant advertising board at the new Waikiki International Market Place and it caught my attention because of how simple it was, a giant sexy leg of a woman (I assume) and the fact that it was in black and white. I knew I could create something out of this with a lot of mixed reactions of people walking by. This is when visualization and the use of imagination comes in handy when you are able to juxtapose or visualize what may come about. I usually don’t hang out in a particular area for more than 10 minutes, I don’t have the patience. Below are the contact sheets.

Contact sheet Legs 1

Contact sheet Legs 2

Contact sheet Legs 3

I didn’t get the overly dramatic moment that I had wanted to get. I was using flash so it helped draw attention to me as people were walking by and were curious as to what I was photographing. No person or animal was harmed in this event, there was no altercation, people kept on walking and didn’t say a word.

I chose photo #10 because that was the best reaction I got out of the 23 attempts. The couple did not make eye contact with me as I clicked the shutter which was good but also they seem more effected by the giant leg. It almost looks like the man is sort of closing his eyes or not trying to look at the giant leg that’s flashing the couple. The framing of attempt number 10 is the best too. I tried many variations as far as framing, shoot it with no foot, shoot it off to the side, eye level, play around with the actual heel hitting or aligning with someone’s head like in photo number 2. I tried as much as I could within my ten minute patient bar. I also think converting the photo into black and white helped elevate the images it almost looks like the couple blends in and are a part of the advertising display.

Well, if you guys think another attempt was a better shot or if I should have tried a different way to work the scene, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and keep shooting!

Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography

I’m a big pro wrestling fan (WWE), ever since I could remember. My older brothers grew up watching wrestling dating back to HulkaMania era, to the Attitude Era, into the Ruthless Aggression Era, and now. I love the story telling through the physical athletic performance that these pro wrestlers put on (or how Vince wants us to say “Sports Entertainers). I love the story telling through the microphone, the drama they tell through their physical punishment (men’s soap opera). It’s also sentimental for me…when my dad moved over the states after the Vietnam war, he tuned into boxing matches of Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee movies, and wrestling, to learn English. Ali, Lee, and wrestling specifically Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes, all were a joy to watch and listen to whether you understood any English or not. They all had something in common…Charisma.

One of my favorite wrestlers growing up was Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was fun, had a don’t give a shit attitude, beer drinking, always came up with catchy phrases (What? Austin 3:16, Give Me a Hell Yeah!) and had lots of charisma. I appreciated him more when I researched how he got to the top of the ladder, perhaps becoming the biggest superstar of all time. Austin’s journey was not a smooth one but he kept pushing…here’s how we can apply it to our own photographic journey.

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Be Real

The Stone Cold persona would not have connected with the audience if Steve Austin himself didn’t insert a good portion of his personality into the character. What you saw on screen with Stone Cold, I’m sure that was how he was off screen or close to it (if not more credit to him for selling it so good). If Steve’s character were a clown or similar to Doink the Clown, I don’t think it would have worked. You need to be vested in the character and Steve did just that with the Stone Cold character, especially after getting fired from WCW (more on that later), Steve came into the WWE with a “I don’t give a damn” attitude that resonated with a lot of disobedient teenage fans. Whether it was going to work by being himself or not, he had a no lose mentality.

A lot of us fear of failing and pursue things with the intent of playing not to lose rather than playing to win. We need to photograph for ourselves and take risk, try new things, embed our character…our personality into our photos. What is our photos saying? What is it saying about society, or about yourself? Or is it just a photo of just people. A lot of this will take time and may organically evolve on it’s own as you keep shooting and studying the masters or photographers you greatly admire.

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Add Your Own Touch

Part of claiming your own unique style is adding your own touch. In photography, everything’s been done before, however, not everything has been captured through your eyes. Like in wrestling, every move has been done in the industry. Even Stone Cold’s infamous finisher, the “Stone Cold Stunner” (photo above) was used by some other wrestler (ECW’s Mickey Whipwreck). I would say Stone Cold’s version was a lot better even though its the same finish, his version had more impact behind it, and his opponents would most often sell the move a lot more (making the effects from the finisher look more dramatic, painful)..The Rock was the best at selling the stunner.

So if you’re preventing yourself from shooting the streets by thinking that you can’t be innovative…your wrong. Study the photographers you admire and why you enjoy their photographs. If you like Bruce Gilden’s up close, in your face style, then by all means try and shoot that way. Or maybe instead of shooting at a low angle, aim higher, fill the frame with 75% of their face instead of 100%. Aim your flash gun at a different angle, up your flash power, lower your flash power. Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! That’s the only way you’ll find what style of image caters and is unique to you (I don’t even have a unique style, I like everything!).

Evolve

Your photography should evolve for the best overtime. Your taste and in what you like or dislike on a photo will change over time. I started off shooting only in B&W simply because that’s what I thought street photography was. I look back at my old photos and really have a hard time viewing them. The B&W seems too force and artificially imposed without reason. I think B&W just like Color works on a photo if it helps with the image, if it helps elevate the content. Don’t just turn a photo B&W just cause, search for a reason within the image, find the reason, if your reason is “Well I think it looks better in B&W”, then it probably means that your photo is weak.

Your intentions will evolve overtime as well. When I started off I wanted to make badass photos like Vivian Maier who I highly admire. I wanted to make intimate portraits and captivate those special moments out in the public setting. Then a few years in (2010-2012) I asked myself “WTH am I doing”. I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to produce and capture those surreal moments but lacked reason behind it.

I got off my ass in 2015 and went shooting again. The same thoughts passed through my mind, fast forward today (2017) and I realize for me it’s not about capturing special moments that I enjoy most. It’s really just getting off my ass, taking a walk, burn some calories, absorb some vitamin d, appreciate the “NOW” moment, get away from my phone or social media and enjoy the day. Appreciate life. Getting good photos is the bonus, seeing the surreal, comical, interesting moments, is the bonus to all of it.

Steve Austin started off in WCW as part of the tag team, The Hollywood Blondes. He was a big brass athletic guy with long blonde hair. Very very talented and should have moved up the ranks if it wasn’t for backstage politics.

He got a call one day from his boss telling him that he was fired. Left unemployed, the lit a fire up Steve”s ass in which he used as motivation. Which brings me to my next point.

Have Something to Prove

Have a chip on your shoulder. Find it within you or Something that you may experience to give you that extra motivation. Prove people wrong but most importantly do it for yourself. Test yourself, test authority, break the rules…these will only lead you to be more innovative in your work.

Austin’s character was anti-authority, who didn’t give a damn about anything. It was refreshing to see instead of your usually good guy/bad guy, he was an anti-hero. Someone that we could relate to with our everyday lives, someone that we wanted to be like. Austin would give the Stunner to his boss (Vince McMahon) and they started feuding. The  story line worked, it was innovative, it resonated with the audience (I mean who doesn’t want to give their boss a Stone Cold Stunner). And the fans embraced it.

Sometimes you can’t be too forceful or even if you put all your eggs or marketing budget into one idea or basket it does not mean it’ll blossom. The best things happen in it’s purest form, evolves organically, and happens with reason. Continue to look up to your idols, your parents, teachers, super heroes, photographers, athletes, business entrepreneurs, and ask yourself what is it about them that I really admire, look into their story, and apply to your photographic journey and everyday lifestyle.

Thanks for stopping by!

Keep shooting,

Tim

3 Lessons I learned from C.T. Fletcher

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I was lucky enough to watch a documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago (the kids hog the Netflix) on C.T. Fletcher,“My Magnificent Obsession”. Prior to this, I have never heard of C.T. Fletcher, I was just Netflix surfing and the main image and synopsis caught my attention. I really enjoyed an old documentary on weightlifting…”Pumping Iron” and thought of giving this film a try. The topic was on weightlifting, something I’m somewhat familiar in my old life (I hope to resurrect that old passion in 2017).

The film is a biography on C.T’s life, his recovery from open heart surgery, and his life long goal in opening his own gym “Iron Addicts Gym”. C.T. is known for becoming the strongest “Mutha Fucka” as he would always say without ever using steroids. He once benched 700 lbs and is a 3X world arm curl champion…curling 225 lbs! What can C.T. teach us?  Below is what I’ve learned from him.

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Become an addict to your passion

In the 1980’s, C.T. discovered weightlifting which was a turning point in his life. He became addicted to weightlifting, working out 7 days a week! The transformation of his physique made him even more obsessed with weightlifting. His initial goal was to be a cut up, drug free, body builder. Remember…in the 80’s, weightlifting was at it’s peak (Schwarzenegger, professional wrestling, Stallone) and a lot of bodybuilders were roided up. By the mid 80’s his attention shifted to becoming “the biggest, strongest, baddest, drug-free Mutha Fucka to ever walk this planet”. He was able to do this because he was passionate in what he was doing. He put in the time, the blood, the sweat, and the tears and made it a part of his lifestyle.  To become great at something I believe you must be somewhat obsessed…which means you eat, breath, sleep, shit, repeat it.

If street photography is your passion, study the greats, analyze some of your favorites on social media, take risk, experiment, ask for critiques, sign up for workshops. Just rule o thumb though,  be obsessed but don’t neglect other things in your life.

Count your blessings

Make the most of each day. After surviving open heart surgery in 2005, C.T. lost all his gains, his confidence, and even self pity himself. Years later, he realized that he was given a second chance. He did not give up on the gift of life and continued to proceed with bodybuilding.

Everyday is not guaranteed, if there’s something that you want to do, go do it, pursue it with all your heart and mind. If you’ve always wanted to shoot street photography but was always fearful of how someone might yell at you for taking there photo, don’t worry. Live today like it’s your last and you’ll get the most out of each day. Be thankful you have the opportunity to even wander the streets to make photos.

No matter how shitty your life is or how unhappy you are, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. One good day will always outshine seven bad days. Just like one photo your satisfied with will outshine a thousand crappy photos. As long as you’re above ground, breathing, moving, consider yourself blessed.

Use your passion to help others

Now at 57 years old, C.T. inspires people all over the world whether it’s through a meet and greet, speaking to an audience, or if you’re working out at his gym. Through his body of work, surviving a fatal heart condition, and his life experiences, C.T. inspires others through his healthy lifestyle philosophy. He not only used his passion to better himself but to better others.

Besides from trying to capture that decisive moment….which I haven’t yet. I’d like to do some good with my street photography. Maybe it’s to hold a workshop in a third world country for an orphanage home. Or to be able to put together a photo book and donate a portion to a specific cause…We are our most happiest as human beings when we are able to give back and help without seeking any reward.

Conclusion

If you need inspiration, I recommend you to watch “My Magnificent Obsession” on Netflix. My biggest takeaway from C.T. is that you have full control of your destiny and in reaching your goals. You will always encounter obstacles but it is up to YOU if you want to accomplish any task or condition. Obstacles is an illusion set to divide the weak from the strong.

 

***Read my other blogs on people that I find inspiring. 

5 Lessons Vince McMahon Can Teach You About Street Photography

Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography

Lessons “Shinsuke Nakamura” Can Teach Us About Photography

Lessons Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Can Teach You About Photography