Do you want some technique tips, some interviews from yours truly, and any other articles that don’t fit the rest? It’s here, come and check it out!

Interview by The Creative Cats

I’ve had the great pleasure of being interviewed by The Creative Cats, a collective of creative people from Instagram.

Read below for PART 1 of 3 of @thecreativecats interview with @pierrepichotphoto , a french photographer living in Romania. ☺ . Describing his photography as “graphic pieces of life”, Pierre Pichot, 31, started his journey through photography 3 years ago. 📷 . Like a lot of people, Pierre got his first DSLR because he thought it would help him take great photos. “However, I also tried to understand the basics of photography, not relying on Auto mode,” he said. 👓 . “Then during my vacation we drove through the magnificent Transfagarasan (Top Gear fans will know) and I took a few shots that were, let’s say, not that bad,” he explained. 👌 . After posting them online and receiving positive feedback, he delved deeper into the technicalities of photography: both on site techniques and post processing techniques.👀 . He began shooting brilliant street photography to show the world from a different perspective. “Street photography came a bit later on, when I discovered it’s more than just shooting people in the streets,” he stated. 👱💃 . “I like to keep the realism of the action, but put it in a much more graphic context,” he added. 👤 . With a love for dark ambiances, he creates imagery mainly in black. “I like those dark ambiances,  which is why my daylight photography is also quite dark,” he explained.❤ . . . . #streetphotography #photography #photographer #photographyislife #photo #instagood #life #bnw #blackandwhite #black #creative #thecreativecats #romania #france

A photo posted by The Creative Cats (@thecreativecats) on

Part 2:

Read below for PART 2 of 3 of @thecreativecats interview with the amazing @pierrepichotphoto 📷 . Pierre found his affinity with monochromatic imagery and turned it into his personal signature. “It’s just how I see things. When I look at a scene, I see the content, the lines, the light, the contrast between the elements, and I see them in black and white. I’m just not attracted to colours,” he explained. 🎩 . Hoping to cultivate work that can be recognised, he strives to perfect capturing images in black and white. “I think it’s awesome when you can recognise one’s work even without knowing the piece of art before,” he said.🎨 . “It can be a photo, a movie, a song… That’s what I’m trying to do, have a style that I can, hopefully, one day, be recognised for,” he added. ⛺ . Aside from dark imagery, Pierre loves symmetry. “This is my eye candy. I love it when the background or the subject (or even better, both!) offer me symmetry,” he said. .○● “It really adds something to the graphical side I want to give to my photos,” he explained,  adding that it’s even better when this symmetry gives him strong leading lines. |||| . “Very often, the background is my subject, turning the people into a form of decoration and bringing the scene to life,” he explained. 🙌 . To create his images, he uses 2 cameras: a Canon 6D and a Fujifilm X100T. “I’ve been using the latter for a few months and it has been a game changer for me. It takes really great photos in a small form factor,” he said. 📷 . “So, it’s always in my pocket, I can shoot anywhere, anytime,” he added.🌎 . . . . #instagood #photography #photographer #photographyislife #photo #photooftheday #beautiful #bnw #blackandwhite #black #white #grayscale #creative #thecreativecats #romania #france

A photo posted by The Creative Cats (@thecreativecats) on

Part 3:

Read below for Part 3 of 3 of our interview with @pierrepichotphoto 📷 . On the lines of inspiration, Pierre finds that Instagram can be a great source of inspiration. “On the photography side, it goes from Cartier-Bresson to McCurry, from Vivian Maier to Boogie, to name the most famous photographers,”he said. . “Currently I’m also enjoying this wave of Japanese street photographers like Tatsuo Suzuki and Tadashi Onishi. As previously said, Tsutomo Nihei, as well as Frank Miller, are inspirations for me, on a more graphical side,”he added. . Pierre plans to continue travelling, with Prague being his next destination. “I’ve been lucky to spend a few incredible weeks in Japan in 2015, it really helped to raise my photography skills and my portfolio,” he said. . “Secondly, I’ve done a few teaching materials for an association here in Romania, I’m planning to expand it and propose it on my website www.pierrepichot.com ,”he concluded. #thecreativecats #photography #picoftheday #photo #blackandwhite #bnw #black #white #beautiful #instagood #france #europe

A photo posted by The Creative Cats (@thecreativecats) on

Thanks again the Cats!

Featured on PhotoTeam Romania!

Just a little note, a little time for bragging 🙂 I’ve just been featured on PhotoTeam Romania for my photo Strangers in the Dark VII, one of my favourite photo! Non Romanian speakers, prepare your Google Translate.

My photo was selected by Mirela Momanu, with whom I’ve finally met in Cluj during the Photo Romania Festival 2016 after almost 2 years of virtual friendship over Facebook and different photography groups. It was a pleasure to meet her and others members of the PhotoTeam and OnSpot groups, finally, face to face.

 

Owning the scene

Street photography is not staged

Street photography is not staged, it’s all about the instant. It’s not landscape photography, where things are quite static (weather excepted). It’s not studio photography where you can direct you subject at your will. It’s not even this pseudo street photography we can see more and more on Instagram, which is actually studio style shoot in natural light, in the streets. No, nothing is staged in street photography, nothing is static, nothing waits for you or for your orders. Every seconds, sometimes even less, count, sometimes you shoot by reflex, not looking at your camera or even at your subject, because the moment, the instant is right now, not the second later. Which sometimes gives interesting shot, often they are only megabytes to free on your memory card…

Contrast: Bright present, dark future

A typical “reflex shot” taken while walking. It gave a nice photo with a contrast between the two subjects, and the shadow line separating them. If only I’ve had been more prepared, the framing would have been way better… and the shot more spectacular!

Things go fast, but keep a slow pace

Imagine yourself in a very busy street that you don’t really know, people passing by you in a rush, angry drivers use their horn more than they should, there is advertising everywhere. Everything go fast, there is a lot happening at 360 degrees around you, interesting things that may be a great shot, you rush too, you try to go fast, you may indeed take a few good shots… but I can bet you’ll be disappointed by your keeper ratio in the end. Good shots, but very few great shots, if any.

Now, go back a little bit in time, at the same spot you were, and look around you, just look, maybe try a few shots for framing tests, but go slow, observe.

Owning the scene!

That is owning the scene. Take the time to make this unfamiliar scene yours. It may take a few seconds, it may take a few minutes, but be sure to understand what’s going on. What could be a great background? Where are the shadows, how is the sun moving and affecting them? Is there a pattern in the people’s behavior, does someone break this pattern and could be a good subject? That often makes a great shot! Is there a moving subject that can be captured in motion by doing a longer exposure? Is there anything fitting my ongoing projects? That is owning the scene, that is knowing and understanding what is going on in front of you… and actually at 360 degrees! You are not staging your scene, you are planning it for the right moment, the right instant where the magic happens.

Commuting II. Cluj-Napoca.

The very first shot of the “Commuting” project. It required a bit of work to get the right shutter speed to capture the movement without being too abstract, and also to know when to release the shutter so that it doesn’t get messy while filling the frame. While experimenting I was on the other side of the street next to the red light and found the pattern I wanted: much more people were coming from the side I took the photo, and I knew the effect would be better being closer to the largest amount of people.

… And keep owning it

Now that you own the scene, that you’ve stayed in your spot for a few minutes (or sometimes much more 😀 ) in order to capture THE shot, keep looking. The light may be changing, the people’s behavior may be different, it’s an ongoing process. Maybe now, you can switch from shooting people passing in front of this nice reflection with a giant, funny ad in the background to shooting them under neon lights when the sky goes darker. Because you keep observing, you keep owning the scene, you feel confident in what you are doing, you know what is changing, or what is going to change. You’ll be able to anticipate and to take advantage of it, not have it ruin your moment. Last but not least, you may be even more observant to those “reflex instant shot” that are still happening anyhow!

I see you. Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

One of my favorite shots of 2015. It started at the corner of the street, then the steam started being released so I moved a bit closer to have a more foggy atmosphere. And the light on the right was turned on and this graffiti appeared, I rethought the whole thing and made the shot when people were passing by the graffiti, as if it was looking at them. Perfect example of evolving scene.

Less shots, but more keepers

Since I’ve been using this small technique I’ve observed that I actually shoot way less than when I was spraying here and there, with a much higher keeper ration as I plan my shoot, my settings, my framing, etc. It means less time in front of the computer, and much more time shooting!

How to backup your photos

Important for an amateur, critical for a pro, a proper backup solution is something not to leave for later, as later might be too late!

Hard drive backup

Photo by Christian Jansky

Here are a 3 rules that should, ideally, be applied:

  • Back up everything

Avoid at all costs not having at least 1 duplicate of a photo. That means at least one on your computer and one on an external drive, for example. As good and reliable are the hard drives today, there is always a risk for them to fail at some point, which means you may lose a few shots… or the whole drive’s content.

  • Back up often

Having a backup option is nice, using it is better. Back up often, there is nothing worst that having all the tools, but still losing content because they’re not used properly. There are scripts and software, free or not, that will help you with that task by making it totally automatic.

  • Back up offsite

Last but not least, don’t forget to make an offsite backup. Who knows what can happen, having all you backups on the same place is not a good idea: theft, fire,… You may lose anyhow all your data. Plan to have an offsite backup somewhere, preferably in another city, that will keep your data safe and sound.

So, how to backup my photos?

  • External hard drives

The easiest solution. They come with the largest capacity of all, and you always have the possibility to recycle older drives (as your backup drives will not be extensively used).

  • CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays/etc

It requires a bit more work than the hard drives solution, and may not be rewritable. The biggest issue is the much smaller capacity, as well as the trend of getting rid of optical supports. It is also the cheapest solution.

Note: depending on the studies, optical supports may offer a longer lifespan than hard drives.

  • Network Attached Servers

The Network Attached Servers, or NAS, are fantastic backup solutions. A NAS is basically one or several hard drives plugged on your network, ready to receive your content. Paired with an automation software, you will not even need to plug an external drive to your computer. The more advanced ones offer interesting features as a remote access (to reach your NAS from the other side of the Earth for backing up your travel photos), multimedia options, etc… I personally use an old Synology DS111, an older generation model with only one 4TB hard drive. It’s enough for my needs, for now.

Note that NASes accepting several drives usually offer RAID features, having for scope to offer more performance and/or more redundancy. However having a redundancy oriented RAID doesn’t mean there is no need to duplicate the files anymore, as the NAS server itself may fail and you may lose your data anyhow.

Its main disadvantage is the money investment at the beginning, that may be a blocker.

  • Cloud solutions

Definitely the easiest and safest solution to run, but also the slowest and usually the most expensive. You can rent a cloud space somewhere on Internet and back up your photos in a redundant, secure place. It relies on the speed of your internet connection (uploading a few TB of data may take days, or even weeks…), and can get expensive for a large amount of data. Last, but not least, some photographers might not be comfortable having their files on a third party server. I would however bet that in a near future it will become the default solution for a majority of us, as the internet connections gets faster and the storage costs go lower.

How do I do, what is my actual backup workflow?

After a few years of not backup anything up at all, I switched to just having a few DVDs burned once even other months. As my needs grew and grew (shooting more and more, in RAW, and not just random personal photos) I had to switch to a more serious backup workflow.

  1. Daily, I save the content of my SD card on my main laptop (only the photos from the last time, of course). There goes the Lightroom import of the RAWs etc… I leave the photos on the SD card. By the way, I’ve set up Lightroom to automatically write XMP files, in case my catalogue gets corrupted, or if I want to import a RAW in another software.
  2. An Rsync script runs daily to back up the new content on my NAS. Rsync is very powerful as it knows how to ignore already existing files, avoiding useless network traffic with 20+ MB RAWs when backing up my current folder (as I wrote this article, the “2015” folder). So at this moment I have 3 copies of a photo: 1 on the SD card, 1 on my computer, 1 on my NAS.
  3. Every 2 to 3 weeks I do a backup on an external drive at my parents’. It is my offsite backup.
  4. I keep the photos as long as possible on my SD cards, emptying them only once I do the offsite backup. I also keep them at my office, acting as a temporary offsite backup.
  5. I also generate JPEGs that I put on my NAS and website’s server, for an easy browsing but also as another offsite backup.
  6. So I finish with:
    • 1 RAW on my computer
    • 1 RAW on my NAS
    • 1 RAW offsite (at my parents or at the office)
    • 1 JPEG on my NAS
    • 1 JPEG offsite on my server

I’m really thinking about replacing the last 3 steps by a cloud oriented solutions, but for now I find the costs to be a bit too high. I’m confident that in the next years I will take the plunge.

In the end, backing up is only a matter of priorities. Are your files critical or not? Are you ready to take a risk with them? How much will the cost of your files cost you? Once you figure this out, the rest will be easy 🙂