Professional Photo Shoot day at STRUT in the CASTRO

I’m doing a photoshoot fund raiser for Strut health clinic in the heart of the Castro in San Francisco.   Strut is a non-profit organization and offers free and low cost health care to the community.  The staff at Strut does some amazing things for our community and I want to be able to do what I love and give back!

Here’s a link for all the information:  PHOTOSHOOT DAY

Sat, Nov 3, 2018 10:30am – 5:00pm
WHERE:
Strut
470 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
USA
CONTACT:
 Baruch Porras Hernandez

Joe Mazza wants to take your picture!

Need new head shots? Want to update that Linked in Profile? Queers are always out and about doing things and making waves in the community and often they don’t have professional head shots! Who has the time? Or the money right? Well join us Nov 3rd to get your portrait taken by professional photographer Joe Mazza for only a minimum suggestion of a $25 donation!
All donations go to support Strut and out mission of queer sexual health and wellness!
(No One Turned Away from Lack of Funds)

Come get a serious picture taken, or a silly one! BYOT, Bring Your Own Tiara!

Come sign up, this will be a first come first serve basis, sign up list will not be put out until 10:30am, on the dot. 

•Up to two people per shoot.
•Your shoot will last about 10-15 minutes and will have a variety of poses and crops.
•A link to a private proof page will be provided so you can download your photos 10 days after the shoot. The proofs will be fine tuned for contrast, tone and color, and be cropped 8×10.
•Copyright usage: You are welcome to use any of the photos taken during your photo shoot to promote yourself either professionally or on social media for fun! You may not give permission or license any 3rd party to use the photos for any purpose.
•Wardrobe suggestions: If you just want to have a fun shoot, come as you are and have fun! If you’d like shots to use professionally, we want people to focus on your face and eyes and not your wardrobe so wear solid muted colors that you feel good wearing.

If you have any questions feel free to contact our community events organizer Baruch Porras Hernandez at bporrashernandez@sfaf.org

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a leap of faith

Planned Route

Planned Route

A leap of faith can take many forms. Sometimes we take them when our survival depends on them while other times it’s a leap to live more fully, more authentically in our lives. I’m taking a little detour from my usual photography posts to write something a little more personal about an experience I had recently that made me think about the little leaps of faith we all take in different aspects of life. I made a decision to take a month off and ride my motorcycle from San Francisco, through the Sierras to tour Canada and then back down the coast. I realized that I had traveled all over the world but I had never been to Oregon/Washington or Canada. It’s the adventure I’ve wanted to do for years.

The trip was more than I could have imagined, not just for the leap of faith it took to leave my business for a full month, but it highlighted how the journey we take after that leap can often look very different than originally thought. It was a metaphor for me about faith, expectations and then letting go, about staying present, open and trusting on the journey.

 

I’ve taken quite a few leaps of faith in my youth; those leaps seem much easier when you’re young. I was much more fearless. Maybe it was because it felt like, if I failed, I didn’t have as far to fall. When you’re young you feel invincible. I was a bit of a daredevil in my youth, I’ve jumped out of planes, climbed 1,000 foot cliffs, traveled the world and even moved to San Francisco with no job prospects simply because I loved the city. What I loved most about those decisions back then was that every time I made one, it seemed like all the pieces magically fell into place to help me follow through with my goals. As I look back, there was a lot of struggle and hardship along the way but the signs that I had made a decision to live more authentically were always there.

As I got older the fear of taking those big leaps got more intense. They became more about survival than they were about whimsy. Walking away from my business for an entire month was frightening. As a freelance creative person, or any small business owner can testify, there is a paradigm that exists in the way you approach your business; it develops over a long period of time. Unlike a job with a steady income at a big company, the entirety of your income falls on your ability to keep generating it. There are no paid vacations. You are called upon to always be working, thinking, growing and producing new work. Owning your own business is gratifying. It allows you to experience an awareness, a deep satisfaction that you are truly creating your own life but it also makes you keenly aware that if you’re not working constantly you’re not moving forward. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to take a break, to allow yourself to unplug without fear that you’ll be missing opportunities.

Humbolt Redwoods

So the leaps of faith I’ve taken as I’ve gotten older were quite different than the ones I took in my youth. I focused instead on building my photography business. I focused on stability; increasing my client base, on advertising, better equipment and bigger and more creative jobs. While incredibly rewarding, I also felt something was missing, like had lost or forgotten a part of myself along the way; that part of me that took leaps of faith … for whimsy. It has taken some events in my life to shake me enough to realize that life is short; that you also have to seize the moments when you can and live your life more fully.

 

Kawasaki Versys 1000

On my 50th birthday I took a whimsical leap; I learned how to ride a motorcycle. This was no small feat for me; I’ve always been terrified of them. Have you ever examined some of your fears in life and tried to trace them to their origin?   When I was seven years old my mother grabbed me, looked me in the eye and told me to stay away from motorcycles; I was never allowed to have one. She had a friend whose son had died in a motorcycle accident and as a mom; she wanted to protect her son. There it was, the origin of one of my biggest fears. A grown man afraid of motorcycles because his mom told him he should be. It’s actually funny when I think about it. But at 50 years old, it was time to face that fear, to at least take a class and learn how to ride. When I made the decision to learn it felt right, all the pieces feel into place but what I didn’t know was that when you first learn to ride it’s about 90% terrifying and only 10% pure exhilaration! But like most journey’s, as time goes by, that ratio slowly changes and flips; peace, freedom and exhilaration dominates the terror and it becomes your happy place and I’ve been riding for over six years now. What I also didn’t know was how much I would absolutely LOVE long motorcycle trips. So this one leap led me to take 2-day trips, then 3 and 5-day trips; each one a stepping-stone in the big decision to take that one month off and ride to Canada.

When you finally decide, I mean really decide to take that leap, whether it’s for survival or whimsy, things began to happen. Once again, just as I had experienced in my younger days, I began to see all of the little pieces that started to fall into place to allow me to go; a few advertising clients and big jobs waited until I returned, a good friend supported me in my preparation to leave, friends rode with me along the way or gave me a place to sleep on the journey. All of my fears about loosing business or not being able to survive began to fade, not right away but they did fade and in their absence was the feeling that I was doing exactly what I needed to do. Just making the decision was the scariest part. Once you decide, it’s not so scary.

Oregon Barn

The trip itself was nothing short of amazing; not just for the scenery or interesting people I met along the way. It was life changing because when it was over I began to see how much the entire experience was a metaphor for taking leaps, experiencing the journey and having it look nothing like you had imagined. It reminded me that there are hardships along the way but staying open throughout the experience allowed me to see the bigger gifts; and those gifts rarely disappoint.

Lava Beds Road

Sometimes, from one day to the next, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. I was truly making it up as I went. There were days when this kind of gypsy life made me weary but after a while, I began to trust that the perfect spot would reveal itself and it always paid off. The ride through the Sierra’s took me through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. I rode through Lassen National Park, Lava Tubes Monument, Crater Lake and Mt. Saint Helens. It was kind of a “volcano tour” of California. Every one of those destinations felt earned because there is no escape from the elements when you ride; the weather and wind, much like life, are just part of the journey. Riding 200 miles a day on twisty mountain roads on a motorcycle takes stamina. Some days I was feeling strong, balanced, and one-with-the-bike. I love those days! Other days I just didn’t have it, every hairpin turn was awkward for me. You feel every gust of wind, every bump and every uneven surface in the road. In a car you may not notice the thin twisted tar patches that they use to cover cracks in the roadway, but for motorcyclists, we call them ‘snakes’. Every time you go around a curve that’s covered in those snakes is to feel your back tire slide ever so slightly before it eventually grips again on the solid part of the road. This happens over and over and each time, even though you know it’ll probably be ok, your fear and adrenaline spike. There are days when those snakes take their toll on your nerves. This was a daily part of the journey I hadn’t considered when I imagined my trip, but it was those damn little snakes that made me realize that you eventually have to trust, not to dwell on them because while it’s scary, your back tire does find it’s grip, and when you ride around a big curve and see a glacial lake surrounded by old growth forests, the entire struggle it took to get there just melts away.

Crater Lake

The roads in Oregon are packed with huge logging trucks. When you’re behind one you’re being pelted by pieces of bark being blown off of the logs, and trust me, there’s a difference between bark hitting your car windshield and when it hits your leg at 70mph on a motorcycle. When you pass a big semi, there is a back draft that can violently buffet you when you approach it. As you start to pass, that back draft wants pull you into the truck. The only way through is to gun the throttle and get past it as quickly as possible but once I passed it I also realized I could smell the differences between pines, redwoods or spruce trees because you can smell everything on a bike. Then you finally turn off the interstate and on the next road is a volcano turned into the deepest fresh water lake in the country and it takes your breath away.

Hoh Rainforest

On a month long ride you go through some very extreme weather. It can be 45 degrees in the morning and 95 degrees in the afternoon. Those extremes are intense, very uncomfortable but it allows you to pull over, put on or take off some layers and you end up meeting another rider at a rest stop who clues you into a road you may not have planned to take. When you ride in the rain you can feel it on your body, you can hear those raindrops echo in your helmet the same way you can hear them on the roof of your house. If you’re dressed for it it’s not so bad. But in a torrential downpour like I experienced in Vancouver and Washington, it’s terrifying. You can’t see very far because, of course you have no windshield wipers on your helmet and the road fills with water very quickly. Sometimes you can pull over for a little while until it passes but other times, you have to slow way down, turn on your hazards and pray that you wont hydroplane or that a car won’t come up behind you too fast. But pulling over in that rain allowed me to find a fun local diner and try Elk. That rain is why Washington and Olympic National Park is a rain forest. When you finally arrive, get off your bike and walk through an actual rain forest in the rain, it is one of the most peaceful and spiritual experiences you can have.

Rider buddies

Deception Pass

Next time you’re following a motorcycle in your car, see if you can spot the bond between riders; when we pass each other, we give a little wave, an acknowledgement to be safe, that you’re not alone. It’s a comforting gesture and one I always enjoy when I ride. One of my biggest goals on this trip, one that I reminded myself every morning was to stay open to meeting new people and connecting with other riders really added to the experience. We chat each other up at rest stops or restaurants. We are fellow travelers, swapping stories, giving each other tips on great roads to take.  I met some really nice Canadian riders on the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles Washington that told me about the road to Cape Flattery, the most northern part of the U.S. and another rider and friend that told me to take the ferry to Whidbey Island and through Deception Pass as way of by-passing the logging truck laden I-5 to Vancouver. It rained on that leg of the journey but I got to take my first ferry ride, park my bike at the front of the line and just enjoy the ride. I was able to experience rain on a less traveled road and saw some of the most beautiful views. There is a camaraderie between travelers and when open to it, takes you to some pretty amazing places.

All in all, I rode over 3,000 miles on my trip. I stayed in 20 cities, camped in some amazing spots, made countless detours just for the adventure. I rode further north than I’ve ever been, stayed in a haunted hotel, had to hold up for three days in Portland because of a storm in Canada, found the most peaceful lodge in Ucluelet, BC. The journey, once I decided to take that leap of faith was nothing like I thought it would be.   It was epic, life changing, terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating, peaceful, tedious, sweltering, freezing, wet, beautiful, awe-inspiring, magnificent, strange and wonderful. It was a constant reminder to me that taking a leap of faith and staying open and present on a journey, however it unfolds, will give you more than you ever could have imagined.

Understanding copyrights when you hire a photographer

I often get questions regarding the copyright laws from clients who’ve hired me for a photo shoot. I thought it would be a good time to clear up some myths and truths about copyright laws as it pertains to photographers. They can seem a bit intimidating at first but here’s a simple way of navigating the “who-owns-what” part of photo shoots.  Before I dive into the details let’s bust a myth; While each photographer is different in how protective they are about their images, photographers build their business’s on their work and integrity.  It’s normal and usual for a photographer to use images they’ve taken in their own portfolios, possibly in print or social media to promote their work but we don’t exploit our clients images and sell them to advertisers.  That’s just bad business.

What is the copyright law as it pertains to photographers?

In simple terms, copyright for photographers means owning property. As soon as a photographer presses that shutter button they have created and own that image. With ownership, they get certain exclusive rights to that property. For photographic copyrights, the ownership rights include:

(1) To reproduce the photograph.

(2) To prepare derivative works based upon the photograph.

(3) To distribute copies of the photograph to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.

(4) To display the photograph publicly.

 

When I’m working with individuals or companies, each shoot is different:

Whether I shoot with an individual, a couple or a corporation who hires me to create work for them, I still retain full copyright of those images. However, I do grant them *license to use those photos to promote their brand or their company, to promote themselves or to share their photos with family and friends in print or electronic media. In fact, it’s my sincere hope they are able to use those images as much as they can. That was whole reason for the shoot. So from my perspective and for the sake of promoting my business, use those photos!

What you CAN NOT do is transfer those images to a third party for use to promote their business (with the exception of instances of promoting yourself within that business). The same rule applies to wedding clients. While it may be tempting to give a photo from your wedding to, lets say, the catering company or florist so they can use those photos as an example of their work to promote themselves, it’s not ok to do so without the permission of the photographer. In many cases a photographer will give permission so long as a photo credit and link back to their website is included. But it’s right and proper to seek that photographer’s consent in writing – even via email.

Why do photographers retain the copyrights even if you hire them?:  Professional photographers are dependent on their ability to control the distribution and reproduction of the photographs they create for several reasons. For example, copying a photo without permission, editing their work (with that cool new filter on Instagram), or not attributing a photographer (not making a clear and correct assertion as to who took the photo in the absence of a watermark) can negatively impact a photographer’s professional reputation, the ability to market and advertise their photography products/services their ability to generate an income from the works they create.

Using images you see online: a photographer created every image you find on the Internet and that photographer holds the copyright to that image. Regardless of whether or not you found that image in the public domain, you are not entitled to alter or use that image for your own purposes, with the exception of using an image or images to highlight or promote the work of that photographer (with their permission).  While in some cases your theft of that image will go unnoticed, you are in violation of U.S. copyright laws and are subject to a lawsuit by the copyright holder.   Just don’t do it.

 

Addendum’s or considerations:  Regardless of whether or not you paid for a photo session, you do not have the right to sell, license, transfer ownership of your images.  However, there are a few addendum’s or considerations that can be added to a contract.

Licensing: * this is different that ‘copyright’. While a photographer will always retain exclusive copyrights to their work, I will often license an image (usually for a fee or in some cases a very specific photo credit) to that company or individual. A license fee is based on the ‘usage’ of that photo.  In the case of a stock photo shoot with a company, the license agreement usually contains a clause that allows the photographer to use the photos in their portfolio to promote their work but not to sell those photographs to other companies.

Privacy exceptions: If I have been commissioned to shoot a more artistic or intimate shoot with an individual we start with a conversation. I get a sense of what they’re comfortable with when it comes to the types of photos I will use in my portfolio. I often enter an agreement with that individual (for privacy reasons) as to the type of images that I will release into the public domain via electronic media and that agreement is put into writing.

Work for hire copyright: This can be a very misleading term but basically, work for hire means that the photographer is a full time employee of a company and creating images for that company.   Work for hire does NOT include working as a contractor for individuals, weddings, events, stock photos etc.; unless there is an express contract written at the time of the photo shoot, which assigns exclusive copyrights to the person who hired the photographer.

While copyright laws can seem intimidating, they do exist to protect a photographer’s work from being stolen and used without their permission. Most photographers like myself, would not be in business if we didn’t understand that each photo shoot and each client is unique.  I understand that if you paid me for a photoshoot, while I may hold the copyrights to those photos and may used them to promote my own work, you’re not going to see them in an advertisement on the side of a bus.   Photographers like myself, build our businesses on referrals and the satisfaction of our clients. It’s important to understand copyright laws, but personally, I want every client to LOVE their photos, to trust that their images wont be exploited and most of all to enjoy working with me.

 

Here is a link to the US copyright laws:

https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106

My First solo photography show this Friday

This Friday is the opening reception of my very first solo photography exhibit.
While I’ve had pieces in other shows, it’s my very first show on my own. It’s been a goal of mine for the past few years and a long time coming.

If you live in San Francisco, please stop in and say hello! There will be wine and cheese and good people.

Here’s a link to the show information 

 

Inspiration: Photographer Grey Villet

Long before Facebook, Twitter and viral videos, magazines like National Geographic, LIFE and TIME were bringing powerful images into American homes.   We still see them on the Internet today. Most of us scroll through these images without giving a thought to the photographers who went out into the world to capture them. This was the heyday of photo essays and journalistic photography, and the average reader wouldn’t recognize names like; Alfred Eisenstaedt or Margaret Bourke-White,  but you would most definitely remember the iconic images they took that made their way into the American Zeitgeist through LIFE Magazine.

Grey Villet isn’t a household name, but as a freelance photographer, commissioned primarily by LIFE and TIME magazines, Grey was given assignments to create  photo-essays that capture the essence of some of the most poignant stories and social movements of that time.

 

Gay rights in New York. – This issue is obviously close to my heart, especially now with Gay men being rounded up, put into camps and tortured in Chechnya. It’s easy to loose track of how far we’ve come in the United States when it comes to Gay rights, but in the 1960’s, the movement was just beginning. Here in our own country, the people who were tasked with protecting the rights of citizens were raiding gay bars and arresting men simply for being homosexual. The birth of the gay rights movement here in the U.S. was a powder keg of anger and passion.   Grey Villet was tasked by TIME magazine to cover the protests. These were some of the first images that actually portrayed individual Gay people, their struggles and the passion behind their cause.

 

Loving vs. the state of Virginia – As gay men and women were fighting for their rights in the 60’s, there was an interracial couple in Virginia who were also fighting for their right to love and marry, a right that Gay couples fought for just a few years ago, and in some states, we are still fighting.   Mildred and Richard loving were married in Washington D.C. in 1958. It wasn’t until they moved back to their home state of Virginia did they realize that they may be subject to arrest for the crime of miscegenation (mixing of races). In fact, Virginia lawmakers told them that they would indeed be arrested and face 25 years in prison if they didn’t leave the state, (and their family and friends). They weren’t the first interracial couple to get married, but this case captured the attention of the whole country.   The images that Grey Villet captured of their life, along with the accompanying story in LIFE magazine, made a huge impact in the heart of the country. Sure, the images didn’t change everyone’s mind, but putting a human face to the issue makes it just that much more difficult to hold on to one’s racist views.

At a time when there was no digital photography and no Photoshop, the job of a good photojournalist required patience, technical skill and the ability to really understand their subjects. Photographers whose images graced the pages of TIME, LIFE or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC we’re empathetic, astute observationalist’s and masters of their craft.   We owe thanks to these courageous photographers, like Grey Villet, for their legacy of images, images that tell the story of all those who came before us, braved the trail to give us the rights that we may now take for granted.