Archive for the Hess Category

Revamping your style

Posted in Hess on January 18, 2008 by lenscapremoved

As we all dive right into technology and the age that is ever changing, the pressure is on photographers to keep up. That or be the best.

I firmly believe that having great content is the most important, but having a solid presentation helps. I have made the decision that I will be switching over to a new Web site some time in the next year.

Elliott is the first of us to switch. His site needs work, but we can help him along the way.

Check it out. Elliott Hess’ new site.


The beavers will be out soon

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), friends, Hess, lexington, photography, photojournalism, UKPJ on January 8, 2008 by lenscapremoved


I’m just going to assume you guys are reading Jim and Elliott’s blogs.

I went with them to get information about their picture stories, the Woodsmen and Old man and the sea. In Jim’s whip, we blazed through back roads, while testing out his new Tomtom. I basically mooched off their last picture story, the Old man and the sea.  This guy was awesome. I didn’t get great pictures, but I’m OK with them considering I just hung out for half an hour.




Clear as black and white – Part I

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), friends, Hess, Kernel, Photo lesson, photography, photojournalism, UKPJ on December 27, 2007 by lenscapremoved

Blogger note: Here is 2-part step-back to my photo lessons & discussion, which never really ends in discussion. It’s more like I give my opinion, I get a few hundred hits and 3 comments about pretty pictures. I have talked about this to several people lately and know this is interesting to more than just me, so please give feedback (even if you don’t shoot pictures).

Black and white is no longer mandatory.

We’re not shooting film on Nikon Fs (not that I have ever used anything before a 20D). All in one photo you have the options of color or black and white or really, any color scheme you can pull together in Photoshop. I don’t think it’s a decision to be made very carelessly. Both color and black and white have much to offer.


This is one of my favorite photos I have taken over the break, and it is definitely IN for color. The multiple layers and colors work really well together, although after some criticism I do believe it should be cropped a bit from the left. But for now, we’re only looking at color. My eye flows well through the photo above. Recently, one of our peer photographers said, “I think that’s what makes a good photograph, is when it just stops you and gets you to look at it.”


I agree with what my peer was saying, but there are boundaries within what he is saying. The black and white version of this picture grabs you, but it’s only because you’re confused. If confusion is what is capturing your viewer and you aren’t relaying a message, emotion or piece to a story, then what is your picture doing? This photo in black and white is definitely OUT and just simply does not work.


This photo comes from Britney McIntosh’s blog. She had a few nice frames from a nursing home, which I found it to be interesting that she had them toned in black and white AND color. I can see her reasoning for this frame being color. It has a nice tree and fun color throughout the frame. The lady in the frame has colorful shorts on. It’s not a great frame, but in my opinion – speaking strictly to color, it’s better in color than black and white. So her choice on color for this frame is IN.


This frame – OUT. If I just try to look at the subject my eyes are burning trying to look at that ugly EXIT sign and the giant red and yellow blocks in the background. This frame is in no way about the EXIT (unless Britney is sending us subliminal messages) or the huge legos at the end of the hallway. They aren’t adding to the picture. Let’s try it out in black and white.


Much better. This photo is IN. The sign and legos aren’t distracting me at all anymore. I can focus on the subject and work my way through the photo on my own terms, without feeling compelled to relate the EXIT and this lady.


Elliott Hess loaded up this photo along with others. I have mixed feelings about this picture. I haven’t seen it in color, so all I have is all you see, but I think it would have worked in color pretty well. In this case, I don’t think the red flag would have been distracting, but helped to give life to this picture (which is of a dude scraping a raccoon’s skin off it’s body). Still the same, this photo is IN. I think his decision to make this picture black and white fell more to do with the fact that his others about this subject were black and white. You can’t bounce back and forth at your own free will. Pick your formula and don’t deviate. More on this in part II.

Now, the original thought, or question. Of what guidelines should we go by when deciding if our photos should be in black and white? I wonder if we (WE:me, you, the next guy) are attempting to give weight to our pictures that is lacked in content by toning our pictures in black and white. Are we falling back to a repressed idea that by giving our photos an old fashioned, hard hitting, documentary appeal they will affect people the same way? Yeah, I think so.

Mull that about for a day or so. We’ll see what comes of this tomorrow.

It’s like out West, only without the 5,000 mile drive

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), California, Diary, friends, Harlan, Hess, home, Matthews, photography, photojournalism, picture kentucky, road trip, travel, UKPJ on December 23, 2007 by lenscapremoved

With a dead story and only a day and a half to shoot, I wanted to leave Evarts, Ky with more than what I came with.

I could be sentimental and say, “Oh but I met so many new friends and had fun and it was a great learning experience.” But really, I wanted good pictures. Workshops always provide you with all of these. Connections. Good times. Learning experiences. Portfolio pictures.

I didn’t have time to shoot much of a story, but in between being honked at on the side of the road for standing at memorials, I shot landscapes. Some of which are really nice and telling of the area, others are just OK.

Shooting landscapes reminded me of this summer. It made miss just driving, not knowing where I was going to sleep. Evarts, a place so different than the West, caused me to miss California and its diverse land. It made me miss Elliott and wish he had been able to be in Evarts not only to shoot good pictures, but to hang out with me and Ed when we’re not having to make newspapers. Staying in an unfamiliar house for the sake of photographs made me miss Martha.

I will probably never have another entire summer to throw away for the sake of pictures. These trips when I get a full week to just think about them are some of my favorite times each semester. I hope, with Jim’s help, we can keep building these workshops and having great experiences.

This is the main cemetery from Ages through Evarts. There are other small cemeteries, but this is pretty much it. In my lifetime, I’ve had 6 family members buried here, including Clyde Wilson and most recently, my grandfather, JC Luttrell.

Good light and old, pretty houses make for good pictures.

I am going to reshoot this sometime. I need to be closer to downtown, or get a hold of a 300 with an extender. There are two steeples right in this area, and I think if I moved around I could probably frame this up a lot better.

I think my dad called this area Sunshine. I told him there’s nothing there but a few playing fields, but he said it used to be a community.

Working (harder and) together

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), Hess, Matthews, Smiley, University of Kentucky on December 11, 2007 by lenscapremoved

We are on our way to major accomplishments.

I’m very proud of how far Ed, Elliott, Jim and I have pushed UKPJ in the past month. Through several exclusive meetings between us (and once Keith), entire staff meetings and two open houses for new photographers, we’re discovering ways that will help launch the program. We’re not only developing new ways to help the photographers we already have, but drive the a process to bring in (and retain) others.

Through working together in UKPJ, and not separately in the Kernel and the Kentuckian, we will be more efficient in our work, but we can’t be alone. We need the support of those other senior photographers (senior in the sense of leadership, not class year)*. I hope that never again will our groups bail on something as important as Atlanta. We should be a dominating presence when we travel, and can be if we have the support of our staff, and friends.

Our upcoming workshop will be a chance for our photographers to produce some amazing work, but hopefully everyone will realize that if you can find these stories in tiny Evarts, you can find them anywhere. People bring good stories, not location. But we will need to be united and have a presence to really get back on the right foot after Atlanta.

People ask me if I’m glad to get a break this Christmas. No. I don’t enjoy not having work to do. I don’t enjoy being useless. That’s why I have crammed my schedule as full as possible. In three weeks I can make a lot happen, and that’s something I hope the rest of our UK PJers are thinking about. Many of them have told me they have thought of projects they will work on over the break.

I’m closing in on my break. Health care ethics and linguistics finals are breathing down my throat and all I can think of are the following:

  • How many ways can I come up with to advertise the fact that UK not only has a yearbook, but a good annual documentation of this campus?
  • Am I going to be able to stay on track over break? I have so many projects and goals that I’m not sure where to begin or how to get all of this accomplished. What I do know is I will get it finished.
  • How can I make Kernel Mixed Media the most appealing multimedia site on the internet? Despite hating, I will have to start using it again to daily update the Kernel business page that I created (but haven’t pulished) today. To those of you I was friends with on facebook: I will not be using my old sign-in name.
  • Brainstorming ways to make a successful bi-annual photography book that will drive competition between the UK PJers and art studio students.
  • Will today be day five of going home to find dirty dishes and moldy, stagnant, nasty water in the sink at my house? Most likely.
  • What am I doing with my summer?
  • I’m going to make a portfolio story next week Evarts, Ky. I hope we have a great turnout to make it up to Jim, but most importantly help build our program. We have to be well represented.
  • If I had one story left to tell, what would it be?

Most importantly, I’m wondering how I will tell the story of how coal mining has changed my life without ever having to use a headlamp. In my head it’s all floating around and slowly coming together, the way deadline reporters do when trying to find a place to type. With two tests left, I feel like they’re just in my way and keeping me from doing what is really important, which is good story telling.

Two days from now I’ll be jumping full speed into completing all my goals listed above and probably rediscovering a few that I’ve managed to let slide along the way.

Between the lines:
We need the support of those other senior photographers (senior in the sense of leadership, not class year).”

Please check out these photo blogs. Many of them are new, and I am proud to be working with people who are trying so hard:


In the labor of light

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), Hess on November 27, 2007 by lenscapremoved

I guess his pictures aren’t as bad as we say. In fact, it turns out he’s pretty talented.

Assistant photo editor to the Kentucky Kernel, photographer and friend, Elliott Hess, is putting out great work almost daily on his newly established blog. If you’re looking for a place to be inspired (or grossed out on his most recent post), this guy is always looking to outshoot you.

When he first said he wanted to shoot for National Geographic it seemed cute at best. His portfolio had pictures of his cousin and his dog. Now when he says he wants to be the next James Nachtwey, I fear he’ll single handedly put vii out of business.

I admire him more than he knows. I love his work, and him. He’s going to be one of my favorite photographers one day. I hope I continue to get chances to work with him beyond our opportunities here in Lexington.

So without any more delay, come see what all of the fuss is about. But don’t spend too long, he’s probably out practicing right now. You don’t want to get behind.

Elliott Hess Photography:Labor of light

A preface to the beginning and an end

Posted in Also removing lens caps (or pen caps), Hess, Matthews, Smiley, University of Kentucky on November 16, 2007 by lenscapremoved

Blogger note: You may be noticing a pattern of my college history and my “flux” through this year and photography in my past few blogs. I know, I know. You’re tired of it, and probably want my blog to go back to what it was before (which now that I think of it I can’t remember what that is). But follow me through this one and I’ll get you a fully established and exciting blog. But this is necessary first:

OK, go. I think I had this all wrong.


Start: freshman year, college. I dove into the first place I found myself comfortable: Kernel. I found myself comfortable taking photos and thought I had something figured out. Wrong.

I wasn’t doing journalism. Randomly pointing my lens, I wasn’t a documentary photographer. I was more like a child with a disposable. Aimlessly shooting my eye, and our viewers, to pretty pictures. Much of my first year was spent learning photography. Photojournalism is deeper than pretty pictures.

Second semester, freshman year, college. I fell into being assistant photo editor along with another photographer. Looking back I can see I was in no way prepared for that job. I remember being nervous to edit photos in front of my peers. Who was I, a photographer for only a few months, to say what work of theirs would run, and what wasn’t enough?

After a semester, I had developed my skills at editing photos through the help of older Kernelites like Keith Smiley and Hilly Schiffer. And of course, Dave LaBelle was always around.


Are you seeing what I am seeing? Not yet? OK, go again.

Up to speed: Second semester, end of freshman year, college. I apply to become the next year’s photo editor, and fell into the position. Terribly excited I remember getting the phone call and pulling over to the side of the road. It was a huge accomplishment for me.

Summer following freshman year, college. Academic intern at the Lexington Herald-Leader. I still was taking pictures that seemed pretty, but I was more likely to apply my Journalism 101 ethical code to my analysis of my situations. My lack of understanding of my responsibility at hand hurt me at the Herald-Leader. It came across as apathy. My stomach turns to think about how apathetic I probably was.

Fast forward: sophomore year, photo editor, college. I shot pictures. A lot. Then fell into doing the job I had been so excited to do. Be a picture editor. To edit. My sophomore year I tried to manage my team of college photographers as a professional staff. I think that probably got the best of me. Some of my friends recall how unhealthy and miserable I seemed by this time last year. Only sleeping 3-5 hours a night (every night) and working 45 hours a week, photo editor is a hard job, and still is for those who are in that position.

Second semester of sophomore year, college. The burden weighed in. It was too much. I couldn’t take it anymore, and just wanted to have my life back. I cracked. Which is easy to do if you’re not prepared for what comes at you. I was weak. But it’s OK, I still learned. I maintained a position as an editor, but was no longer running the show.

Through sophomore year I produced a few portfolio making stories. They will eventually get worked out of my portfolio as I shoot more.

But there lies the problem.

Through all of these editing positions I have felt more comfortable doing what I have mostly done since being at this school, which should be more clear to you now than before. I have been a photo editor through college, even before I should have been. So back to my question, “Am I a better photo editor than a photographer?” Yes. But I have made myself that way.

Scene change.

I’m out of the Kernel now. Moved to the Kentuckian. I thought they were two separate entities at first. I even presented it that way to our photo staff when I started here. All in all, that may have been the best way to start. To make it evident that they are not one in the same. They have different motives, paces and consequences.

But starting next semester we’ll all be working harder. Together.


Curtain close. It’s the intermission.