BTS "CLAVIESQUE" VIDEO SHOOT (OAKLAND, CA.)

My son Milo was recently was asked to be a feature character in a new music video for New York based artist Kidaudra. The song is coproduced by Kidaudra and Bay Area producer LonelyDances. It’s a deeply textured record and has elements of soul, pop, electronic, mixed in with some very nice Bjork “Homogenic” era vibes. The video is being directed by young up and comer Josh Mendez-Valdez and the director of photography is the talented Emmanuel Burton. They were kind enough to let me bring my camera along and do some behind the scenes shots. It was awesome watching it all come together. The crew/actors were beyond kind and generous to Milo and I. We spent a lot of time talking books, movies, food, photographers, directors, skateboards and Pokemon. We look forward to going back to film the second half of the shoot in November. Here are a few shots from the day shot on my Sony A7III/Sony 85mm 1.8 and my iPhone 8 Plus.

LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH.

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” When getting ready to leave on a recent family road trip to the central coast, I was presented with the first world problem of deciding which camera to bring. The Canon 6D? Too bulky. Maybe I’ll shoot some film…The Hasselblad? Too heavy. The Rollei? Too delicate. The old trusty AE-1? No 35mm film. My Sony A7III? Too expensive! Haha! Hmmmm? Choosing a camera for me is sometimes almost as difficult as me choosing my deodorant at Target. While going back and fourth in my head I glanced over and seen my son’s Sony A7 with the 28-70mm kit lens. For those that are not photo dorks like me and do not speak camera, the A7 is the oldest and first in the line of Sony’s full frame mirrorless line up. A “kit lens” is a “starter” lens. It is generally an inexpensive lens priced low so as to not add to the camera’s overall kit price. Light, competent, with a decent zoom range. With Milo’s permission I decided to put it through it’s paces. I must say, I am always SO impressed with the image quality that comes out of this setup. For the lens only having a minimum 3.5 aperture, I feel that I am still able to achieve some very decent bokeh (background blur). The 28mm end allows me to get pretty wide when I want to include the environment and the 70mm end allows me to render some pleasing separation between the main subject and the background. And let me tell you, the image quality on the kit lens is SHARP and clean. Very sharp actually! Lots of bang for the buck. Although there is a lot to be said for some of the technologically advanced cameras and lenses, but a good image has and always will come down to composition, light, the photographer, and the subject. Even though I know this, this trip and Sony A7 experience was a refreshing reminder to not get caught up in the gear, but to simply focus on the things we love.

All images edited with the Manny Ortiz’ “Greenhouse” preset.

MY FIRST PHOTO (6 YEARS OLD)!

I remember, it was a typical hot Stockton summer day and we were hanging out at our good friend’s house (Bob and Kathy). I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6, or 7 years old (roughly the same age that my son is now). All of the adults were in the dining room area playing Uno and listening to what I remember being Kool & the Gang. I don’t remember who’s point and shoot camera it was, but I do remember being asked if I wanted to take a picture. Now i’m sure at some point before that I must have taken a pic or two here and there, but none that I can actually remember. More of a “can I push the button” kind of thing. This time was different. I remember vividly wanting to take a “good picture”. I walked around the house and looked through the viewfinder pointing the camera at random things. Nothing caught my eye. Then boom! It hit me! My He-Man toys! I remember being extremely excited to set them all up. I first lined them up on the floor…Nah. Put them in the window…too bright. Lined up in the hall…too dark. Wait, the leather chair…perfect. I set them up in positions until I felt they were “just right”. I lifted the camera, aimed, and…SNAP! It was the first time I can honestly recall actually composing a photograph. I got the print back a few days later and had the disticnt feeling that I made something. That feeling never left me. All these years later I get to feel that feeling every single day, multiple times a day and for that I am lucky lucky boy. That print still sits faded in my room. Thought I would share it with you…

RANDOM THOUGHTS (AND IMAGES) AT 6:55 AM

With so much pain, sorrow, and unfairness in this world it’s often hard to remember that there is also beauty all around us. Lately I’ve been running through life and honestly losing track of what matters most. It’s easy to do in this fast paced shit show. This morning the thought of tomorrow not being promised weighed heavy on my mind. I forced myself to put my stupid phone down and to go outside and listen to the birds and feel the breeze. I forced myself to look, listen, and breathe. Here are a few things that I found in the quiet corners. Thought I would share. For everyone out there going through hard times, I hope you know you’re not alone. Peace be with you.

SJ

SONY A7III FIRMWARE UPDATE (ANIMAL EYE AF!!!)

The long awaited firmware 3.0 for the Sony A7III is finally here and I have to say, it was well worth the wait! This update includes some cool upgrades such as…

REAL TIME AF…Which means through machine learning, Sony has created a system that can detect, and focus on, the human eye even if the subject is looking down, partially blocked in the frame, turning, or backlit. This feature is available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button. Improving on an already amazing auto focus system.

INTERVAL SHOOTING…This new software adds a built-in interval timer, enabling photographers to easily capture and create time-lapse movies. The new feature can be set for anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. AE tracking sensitivity is available to be adjusted to “High”, “Mid” or “Low” in order to reduce changes in exposure.

But in my personal opinion as an animal owner and lover, THE coolest addition in this upgrade is the…

REAL TIME ANIMAL EYE AF…As with human eye recognition, Software Version 3.0 brings AI-driven animal eye detection to Sony cameras for the first time. Advanced subject recognition allows the α7 III and α7R III to detect and track animal eyes, and is the first step in a robust animal-tracking AF system. And I have to say, it works really really well! The development of Animal Eye AF performance will continue, increasing the range of animals recognized by the system as well the system’s ability to track their movement.

Here are a few shots of my pups and my buddy’s cats that I took after I downloaded the update. I would say I experienced a 95% hit rate for sharp eyes (and that’s with hyper active dogs)! Sony continues to impress me by pushing the envelope and listening to what photographers are asking for.

*ALL images shot with the Sony 50mm 1.8 lens.

CURRENT PLAYLIST

Since back in my darkroom days, music has long been a huge part of my creative process. The right album allows me to disappear into my work for hours upon hours. Anyone who knows me knows that my taste in music is as diverse as my subject matter. Here are a few artists that have been keeping me company these days…

  • MXMTOON

  • MYKA 9

  • SAMSA

  • THE GROUCH

  • OPEN MIKE EAGLE

  • TOBE NWIGWE

  • ANDERSON PAAK

  • CHET BAKER

  • THE CLICK

  • NOAM PIKELNY

  • SOULS OF MISCHIEF

  • KHAI DREAMS

Leave a comment below with any recommendations! Much appreciated!

SJ

MEET MY ASSISTANT...

Behind every good photographer there is usually a great assistant. In my case, this is very true! Laynie is not only a fantastic assistant, but a very talented photographer in her own right. Her duties range from lighting, styling, runner, and second shooter. Here are 10 random facts about Miss Laynie Simone…

  • Laynie is pursuing a career as a Zoologist and Photojournalist.

  • She is a multi-position soccer player.

  • She loves to bake.

  • She is taco truck connoisseur.

  • Laynie owns a Colombian Red Tailed Boa snake!

  • She is a self care guru.

  • She’s in F.F.A.

  • She HATES feet!

  • Laynie has four siblings.

  • She and I raise chickens.

Laynie Simone on location in Sacramento CA.

Laynie Simone on location in Sacramento CA.

WE ARE LIVE, FOLKS!

FINALLY! Thank you to every single person who has ever sat on the other side of my camera. You are all the reason this site even exists. Thank you to the big homie, Jason Leal (Damage) for all of your help over the years. Thank you to my family for putting up with me and all of my many shortcomings. Shout out to Laynie, my amazing photo assistant…I really appreciate your time and feedback. THANK YOU.

Well…I hope you enjoy looking at the work as much as I enjoy creating it.

My humble thanks,

Snap