After work yesterday, I decided to wander around Union Station and Olvera Street. I saw another photographer photowalking, so I struck up a conversation. We ended up hanging out for 30 minutes[1. It was much longer than I planned to stay around, but I’m glad I did.].
Miles is a freelance photographer from Maryland, visiting some friends and relatives in San Diego. He does all sorts of assignments: glamour shots, portrait work and weddings. That covers photography expenses and living. But, his passion is documentary and photojournalist-type photography. He recently traveled to Iraq to document the war (protected with an Army platoon) and Istanbul.
In Los Angeles, he went to Venice Beach to photograph the surfers. The pedestrians on the boardwalk looked at him funny, but didn’t start any confrontations (unlike my friend, Brian Auer). He also loved Hollywood Blvd. In a nut shell, he wandered the streets the night before from 11pm to 2am. Then, he went back to his hotel[2. I don’t know if he stayed at a hotel, but I’ll just say that to keep it simple.], slept, and woke back up at 6am to capture the emptiness of the streets.
Miles uses a Nikon D3, but had to resort to his Nikon D200 because he didn’t charge any of his four batteries[3. Shame on him! :)]. He also had an hard drive backup device (independent — no computer required) and a few lenses.
We also talked about processing photos. He primarily uses Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Photomatix Pro, but also Lightroom. His photographer friend, Dennis, uses Lightroom heavily and constantly tries to persuade him to get into it. But, Miles can’t break the habit. As for me, all I use is Lightroom (and Photomatix Pro for HDR).
Miles shared the following tips with me:
- Confidently act the part of a photographer. Want a good photo of a stranger? Just take it and don’t try to hide. When they look at you funny, just smile back. At one point, he was even bold enough to stop a chic-looking lady, ask her to step into better light, and pose a bit.
- If you’re on public property, everything is fair game. Someone starts nagging you? Ignore them — that’s what Miles does.
- Do what you love. Miles does lots of gigs just to make enough to get by and buy better equipment. I could totally feel his passion for photography and it’s inspiring.
- Find your niche. He pointed out that I’m in the right place (Los Angeles) because so many people here want to become models or actors.
I had a problem writing this because Miles can’t be found online — he wouldn’t give me his last name, either[4. If it’s any consolation, he promised to email me.]. This is all good and dandy, but slightly in vain if I can’t promote his photos. He says he’s building his portfolio, but from the experiences he shared, it sounds like he has a ton of photos ready to be seen.
I gave him my card, told him to get something online, then wished him a safe drive back to San Diego and wherever else he was going.