Hello 2013... What do you have instore?

Has 2012 been kind? Has it delivered? Have you become better in any way? A better person? A better worker? A better lover? A better negotiator? A better photographer? A better dad? Did the sunshine warm your back and light your way?

parachute jump sky dive coffs harbour sun

No? Doesn't matter... There's always tomorrow, right? Not always... Mostly...

Well, my 2012 was interesting... A full year of running my own business, still semi-sane, interested and excited about opening my email each morning... I get some time with my little man, I get to spend the days at home and can wander about nude if I so desire... Don't worry, I wear a shirt for business Skype calls... I have a good coffee machine and a great music collection.

I have interesting clients, all in my desired field, all producing products I believe in - it makes it very easy to talk about the gear you promote when you use all of that gear. I don't get people that *love* this, that and the other when they've not even used it.... Anyways, their loss... Smile and Nod.

2013 is going to be more awesome in many ways. I'm assisting on another wedding with award winning photographer, Katie K of HeartStory in Canberra early Feb and then shooting my brother's wedding a couple of weeks later - can't wait. He'll look awesome and his lovely fiancé will look amazing.

A brief aside for you, think about this...

Do what you love. If money was no object, what would you do? I'm doing it. Lucky.

What is one important thing I'm doing this year?

This year I'm working with MindShift Gear, a new company formed out of thinkTank Photo and award winning photographers Dan Beltrá and Jerry Dodrill... MindShift are a company that make camera bags - well, that's what they do at base level. MindShift Gear are much much more - they're a company creating a connection with nature, they're making products that enable a photographer to work unhindered, to take care when amidst the great outdoors. This all got me thinking - how can I make a difference to my little part of our planet?... I think like this often and, as with a lot of other people, I come to the crushing conclusion that it's very difficult for just one person to do something worthwhile - not impossible - just very difficult.

When I think about the environment, I think about global warming, I think about Polar bears, I think about reefs and mountain ranges... I don't necessarily think about the creek at the back of my house or the river down the end of the street... The local park... Hell, a roadside near where I picked up my coffee... There are a brazillion *small* things I can do to make my part of this planet a slightly better place - it doesn't need to be cleaning the wrong kind of ice away from the entrance of the Norwegian Fjords or chasing a Japanese fishing boat back into international waters.... So, rather than be overwhelmed, I'm committing to a blog post once a week about what I've done in the preceding seven days to help the planet in my local community. I encourage you to do the same.

In other news - other clients have exciting products lined up for 2013 - some you'll expect, some you won't... It's going to be an exciting year.

Don't look down, dont' frown... look back and smile, look forward and be empowered. 2013 will be amazing.

Don't look down, look up, keep going up

Happy New Year x

Simon's 'stuff of the year' Christmas fiasco!

Everyone else is doing it, I thought I'd write you up a quick post, letting you know what I've used this year and what worked well...

Here's a picture of the *real santa in a mountain cave in Cuba... True story!

I will say up front that the links are AMAZON affiliate links, and i'll tell you what I do with any Amazon affiliate cash ($14 in the last six months, I thank you!) ....I buy more disk space for my steadily growing habit image library... So, if you buy something through one of my links, you're entitled to a high res digital file of any image I've taken that a. won't get me locked up or b. won't get someone else locked up OR c. won't get me slapped by a bride I've photographed (unless she's uber hot... then I might still give you the file)

Right... Stuff! This year has been filled with random "stuff" and some of it has been awesome, some of it less awesome!

1. I think my favourite camera bag of the year (I work for thinkTank, but I use their stuff as a photographer) is the Retrospective 40 - I can pop my 13" MacBook Air in and my 5DMKIII with the grip on - a couple of lenses (including a 70-200 f/2.8) and loads of other stuff.

2. The Evo 2 tripod system from 3 Legged Thing has just hit the market, even here in Aus, and is simply brilliant - I've had 3 Legged Thing gear since the very first version of 'Brian' and I have to say that this Evo 2 gear is 'the mutts'

3. I've swapped to a little MacBook Air 13" (2012 model) for a lot of my 'on the go' social media work and when I'm not wanting to be tied to my desk with this, the 'big' computer.. SSD makes everything amazing - SO fast, small, battery life like a 65 year old with a can of viagra..

I got an iPhone 5, it's boring...

4. The Sony RX100 is not only the best compact camera I've used this year, it's the best compact camera I've ever had - it is simply awesome. My favourite feature, aside from really very nice raw image output, is the little flash - you can bend it backwards and fill your subject by bouncing light, rather than killing them with a laser beam.

5. Audio this year was brought to you by the RODE PodcasterFor a USB mic that most people use for simply talking into, the RODE is sweet enough to record your favourite hits, trust me.. I tried it... I take requests!

BUT, it's not all about expensive bits of camera and non-camera tech, oh no, the second five are dedicated to things you could simply click and buy RIGHT NOW without having to speak to your 'bank manager' first....

6. Nice Industries, the same people that brought you the wildly awesome 'Aviator Travel Jib' also produced a little wonder called the "Nice Clip" and it's super awesome.... You wait until you have seven cables you want to keep handy on the edge of your desk...

7. The best $35 you'll spend, a Lexar USB 3.0 CF / SD reader has made my 'ingest' soooo much faster, but only on my Mac Air as it's the only thing I have with USB 3.0... Next Amazon purchase is a G-Tech USB 3.0 external drive.... Oh yes....

8. Another recent love is the Capture Clip System from Peak Design - I use it on almost every shoot with my ProSpeed Belt - a sweet combo - saves shoulders, mental state, cameras etc.... try it, you might just wanna kiss me for the suggestion... ewww...

9. This year we got NASTY.... Nasty Clamps have change my life.... I can pretty much attach anything to anything else anywhere. For that, Nasty Clamps, I salute you.

10. ....speaking of rugged and portable, the drive of the year award goes to the ioSafe Rugged Portable... It's rugged and portable! I have a FW800 500gb version, and it's a toss up (only based on price) between the G-Tech and ioSafe for next drive to arrive.. The ioSafe is a great drive for those of you with just ONE external backup - it has lots of 'peace of mind' attached to it. Included recovery and the ability to withstand the crushing grip of Chuck Norris....

There you have it, 10 things you could blow some cash on... These are things I've actually used and STILL use - not some list of crap purely designed to make you click so I get PAID.... [Though, enough to buy a large clock with a gold chain to hang around my neck would be good, ta]



Six | Around the block

Six images taken within a block of your house. Go. Inspired by a lovely new friend of mine, Katie Kolenberg, awesome photographer and quality camera bag user.. Here are six from around my block - there are a couple of skips as I had my shutter advance set to 'take lots' and stupidly took a couple of doubles.. alas, six arrive, straight from the block around my parent's house in Toormina, Australia.



Find what you have lost...

[podcast]http://gtvone.com/podcast/4.mp3[/podcast] I love my music, I love my photography and for the last two years I've been combining those two things in my quest to become a music photographer... Well, I got what I wanted and I've had an amazing time doing it! I wanted to be that guy, the one in the pit in front of the crowd, nothing to distract me from the band, just me and them and my camera and that was that.

The Rushes play Hammersmith

I've decided to give my little project the weekend off, let it out to pasture. I'm done with music photography for a number of reasons and I'm very happy with what I've achieved in the last two years.

My highlights, well... Alice in Chains was special, Metallica was powerful, NiN was sombre, Counting Crows was electric, Dave Matthews Band was invigorating, Lou Rhodes was emotional, U2 was large... The list goes on and on (well, for another 90 or so bands)


What did I learn? Most bands don't even know you're there, PR agencies think they're god and are part of what is wrecking the music industry, You don't need a really good camera but it helps, It's hard to focus sometimes when you're singing, Alcohol and photography are not friends, Photographing festivals is tiring and inspiring and some artists, the ones that do see you, and encourage you and engage you, they're awesome. (There's one like this, I'll be shooting her again - but for the love of it)

Like I said in podcast four, Maybe it's time to check out other areas of photography, I don't like being stuck on the one country road for to long, so maybe it's time to get that baking book that my friend Nicki gave me out and start baking and snapping - though, we already know just how good I am in the kitchen!

Already had one...

Top Ten "Bits of kit" for the Music Photographer

You can have "great" gigs and "rubbish" gigs... but it doesn't matter WHAT your gig is like, without gear you "ain't got no gig" and yeah, blah blah "It's not the Camera it's the photographer" ...Tell me that when you have the choice to shoot, in the dark, backlit with red light, at the Islington Academy... Yeah, it's the gear and then, if you know how to work it - you get the photos!... (Note to yourselves.. I'm right, don't argue..haha) Warning! This post is littered with links that lead you to amazing places that have lovely stuff that you WILL want to buy - If you go broke, not my fault. Get out of my bag...

10. Picture this! You're at the front of the crowd, only a thin rail seperates you and 25 THOUSAND screaming fans! There's screaming and cheering and whooping (you should get that looked at! what the hell is whooping anyway?) and you're about to take photos with your new 5DMk2 / D3s / 30D / 10D / Ixus / GRIII - errr, you see where I'm going... the lights drop! the music comes up! and a HALF FILLED BOTTLE OF WEE lands on your camera!!... destroyed... finished!... WEE O'Clock! ...Now, that's to say that it's only happened to me once, and the wee was on me, not my camera - BUT - to be less dramatic, I've shot in the rain at a festival and a good WATERPROOF cover is a great buy at ..well, very cheap! Or you can use supermarket bags!..I use the OpTech 18 version..

9. After my rant on memory cards (Sorry aData, you copped it!) I feel that it is important to use quality memory cards for photography - no question. Picture this, Lenny Kravitz has run onto the stage and started to strip while he sings a Stevie Wonder song... The crowd have all but fainted and you're the only one there with a camera - BUT - your memory card has hit its buffer wall and you keep on pushing it, and for some reason it tries to suck it all down and FAILS... Your card corrupts, you can't get your photos back and the editor of the daily whatsit is offering a squillion for shots of Lenny, nude, mounting the foldback wedge... (And so are the police) So, I mainly use SanDisk 4 GB Extreme III but recently have switched up, thanks to Digitalrev.com to the SanDisk Extreme IV 16 GB Fast, Bum proof (Don't ask) and digitally robust!

8. There is one (o.k. many..) lens that I don't have that I "need"...But what I DO have is as follows... Canon ef 100-400 L f4.5-5.7IS | Canon ef 50mm f1.4 | Canon ef 24-70 L f2.8 But the lens I don't have that I "NEED" is the Canon ef 70-200 L f2.8IS - I would say that the 24-70 and the 70-200 are "must have" bits of kit for the avid music photographer.

7. You've got all your pricey kit, you've got your muesli bars and your powerade... Now, how the HELL are you going to carry it around that seven football pitch sized festival? YES - That's RIGHT! you need a ROLLER... All the cool kids have them. AND guess what!.. I think I can get you a freebie (If you buy through THIS link and mention the code AP-223) directly with the guys at thinkTANK Photo in the US or through the guys at SnapperStuff in the UK There is NOTHING like rolling up to a gig... I was at a gig the other night and there were FOUR people with the thinkTANK rollers!

6. Cleaning stuff. If, like me, at some point, you're covered in beer, you WILL need to clean some part if not ALL parts of your camera during the event. Take a Large Giottos Rocket Blaster maybe you should pack some Microfiber Screen Cleaning Cloths and a LensPEN ...also, it may be nice for you to take a soft furry baby goat that you can wipe your hands on during the gig?.. Just a thought...

5. WHAT!?... WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T HEAR ME!... Unless you only ever shoot soft jazz... take EARPLUGS! no, seriously... Alternatively, I keep my iPod headphones (Sennheiser CX300's) in and listen to something nice when I'm shooting a ghastly cover band!

4. I once put a SanDisk ExtremeIII 4GB CF card in my pocket... It's now bent - sure, it sitll works, but it's bent! Imagine if I'd taken the best shots of my life and then BENT the darn CF card... How dark would you be? I have found that getting a lanyard and hanging a thinkTANK PixelPocket V2.0 off the end of it is the way forward... No questions, SD and CF versions available - the best memory card carrying and storage device available in the world, as we know it...Don't get bent... 

Stuff your cards in, not up

3. You don't need the best camera in the world, but it helps to have one that has spot metering and a decent lower light performance... I don't subscribe totally to the fact that it's the photographer and never the gear that screws up a shot... This isn't jazz, it's not a "chord choice" it's out of tune - I'm talking "John and Edward" out of tune... If your camera can not handle a low light situation, you may save yourself by always converting to black and white and calling them "arty" but sometimes, some people want color shots. I use two cameras, a Canon 30D and a Canon 5D Mark II.. The latter is amazing in the dark, the 30D however, leaves a little to be desired. A good camera isn't neccesary, you can take shots with a phone and luck out on something nice, BUT it does help.

2. TAKE A GREAT SMILE! You would be surprised what "Being Nice" can do for you... Seriously, It helps SO MUCH sometimes... Take a smile! Here's a SPARE one for you...

Test Shot - Ricoh GRIII // Catchlights?

1. The most important thing that you, as a music photographer, should take to ANY musical occassion is your hearing, your open mind and your "enjoyment" factor. You love music (Or you're a press photographer on the clock and don't give a toss) and you're there to involve yourself and engage yourself with the music. You can't take a portrait of someone and capture emotion if your heart's not in it... It's the same with music - Don't get carried away - I have, I've danced and sang and missed shots - well, sometimes you MUST have a sing and you must stop shooting and just soak up the amazingness!.. You're there, right in front of potentially the "best singer in your world" If you've got your shot - chill out, relax, suck in those tunes and live it up a little.

That's it for "Bits of Kit" I hope you get something out of this post.. It's the last in the "Top Ten" series before next week... As I now have a gig tonight, Shalamar at Indigo2, the newsletter will be coming out tomorrow or Sunday!

Peace Out! and have a top weekend.... (I'll have some birthday cake for you)