Monday, December 28, 2009

Goodbye Glacier

If you still believe global warming is not real, watch this short documentary.
in the NY Times, about Bolivia and a glacier that has disappeared in 2009. The time to get into action is now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Less magazines closing down?

Check out this story about magazine closings, here.
As of December 14, 428 titles have ceased publication in 2009. In 2008, 613 print magazines closed down, compared to 643 in 2007. That may be good news for the print media, but bad news for forests... Actually, there are worse things for forests, like the beef we eat in our hamburgers. The Amazon jungle loses thousands of acres daily to the cattle industry.

Are we running out of magazines and that´s why less of them are closing down? What the story doesn't reveal is the percentage of closures.

Condé Nast Portfolio was one of the magazines to close down in 2009, but Borders in Santa Barbara still had it in the stand as of two weeks ago. For a second, I thought it had been relaunched, before I noticed it was the May 2009 issue. After seven months they hadn't sold the last copy!

Photographer Ryan Lobo, on TED

Ryan's thoughts on photography are moving:
"When I tried to achieve success and recognition, they eluded me.  When I let go of these objectives and worked from a place of compassion and purpose, looking for excellence rather than the results of it, everything arrived on its own, including fulfillment."
"Focus on what´s dignified, courageous and beautiful."
"Sometimes I felt that photographs told a better story than a sensationalist documentary."

Monday, December 7, 2009

John Zerzan, Green Anarchist, and John de Graaf, Time Bandit

 John Zerzan, the Green Anarchist. Photo ©IsaacHernandez

A few months ago we were in Eugene, Oregon, to interview John Zerzan, the Green Anarchist (his website here). Carlos Fresneda, my editor, lets me ask questions during his interviews. I asked Zerzan, jokingly, how do anarchists make love. I thought he would come up with a funny answer to break stereotypes. Unfortunately, he didn't understand my question. Fortunately, Carlos came up with some better questions. You can read his interview, published in El Mundo printed newspaper, in their online version here. I may not always agree with Zerzan's views, but I can say he's a very sweet and thoughtful man.

John de Graaf, National Coordinator for Take Back Your Time. Photo ©IsaacHernandez

Carlos and I went Northwest again for a number of stories. I shared the preliminary portraits in this blog (here). Now you can see Carlos's story, published online by El Mundo here. John is another sweet and thoughtful man. It was really a pleasure meeting him in Seattle and then again at the Bioneers conference. John is a proponent of a 30-hour workweek and happier lives. The people of the US work more than any others in the world: 137 more hours than the Japanese, per year, and 499 more hours than the Germans. According the de Graaf, only four countries in the world don't recognize the right to a paid vacation: Burma, Nepal, the Guyanas and the USA. And only five don't defend the right to maternity leave: Lesotho, Swaziland, Liberia, Papua New Guinea and the USA. Food for thought. You can nib on more of these ideas at the Take Back Your Time website.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Business story on the porn industry

Porn is something that we prefer to pretend that it doesn't exist. It intrigues me. When I had the opportunity to be part of a story on the business of pornography, I asked to be assigned to the story. It turned out to be a rather mundane conversation with Steven Hirsch, Vivid Entertainment Co-Founder, who was named the King of Porn in 2005 by Fortune magazine. It was rather boring. That´s how it works with photojournalism, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Nevertheless, I thought the portraits turned out good. Pablo Pardo did an interesting story for El Mundo here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Remembering Lenore Kandel

Lenore Kandel at home, May 2007. Photo: ©

Back in 2005, I had the pleasure to meet Ramón Sender Barayón, son of famed Spanish writer, Ramon J. Sender, during an assignment for El Mundo, Spain's second largest newspaper. He introduced me to Dennis Peron, father of the medical marijuana bill. Both Peron and Sender had lived in San Francisco in the sixties, a time and place where I'd have loved to live in. There was something special about them and I decided to find other sixties activists. I found them still being activists and very involved with their community. It took only two years to convince El Mundo that a story about old hippies was worth doing. By then, 2007, it was the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Ramón put me in touch with many others, including Judy Goldhaft and Peter Berg, directors of Planet Drum, and founding members of the Diggers (website here). They introduced me to another founding Digger, Vicki Pollack, who later would found the Children’s Book Project, donating thousands of books to poor children who otherwise don´t have books at home.

Vicki´s best friend was Lenore Kandel, an amazing poet known mostly for The Love Book, which was banned for being too sexually explicit. Lenore kindly received Carlos Fresneda, my editor, and me in her humble San Francisco apartment and recited some of her poetry. I had the most magical time of my life, listening to Lenore. She had the presence of God.

Lenore passed on October 18. My love goes to all who are missing her, especially to Vicki, who took such good care of her, after Lenore´s back was hurt in a motorbike accident. You can read the obituary Carlos wrote in Spanish for El Mundo here. Or you can read one written by Julian Guthrie, in English, for the San Francisco Chronicle here.

To honor Lenore and to relive our brief time together, I'm preparing a multimedia presentation to project at her memorial. I will include the audio I recorded in May of 2007, and photos from her life. If you have photos, film or audio of Lenore, please do contact me to be part of this project.

Thank you Lenore for being who you are.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Of Cars and Men

I grew up surrounded by cars. I evolved to be a car photographer and writer, very respected (so they say) around the world. My stories, which I write in Spanish and/or English, have been translated to Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish... For the last nine months the car magazine industry has been very thrifty. I've focused my efforts on photographing people, mostly leaders in the environmental movement, and some weddings. You can see a great wedding multimedia show here. I have also started writing a column on cars and the environment for China Auto Pictorial. You can read some of my columns in my car blog,

I've really enjoyed this time of new exploration. My perspective on the auto industry has shifted completely. I drove the Nissan Leaf for Quatro Rodas magazine in Brazil (gallery here). And I photographed the Nissan 370Z Convertible (gallery here) and the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (gallery here) for Auto Bild Sportscars in Germany. The electric Leaf represents the future of the automobile, when people will have solar panels on the roof of their homes to power their car. Getting solar panels is easier thanks to Pace. You can read about it in my Chinese column in

I foresee a day in which sports cars will become what Harley-Davidson motorbikes are to most Americans, toys to go out on the weekend, or to dream about while you look at pictures in magazines. Our daily drivers will be fuel efficient cars, like the Leaf. Having said this, enjoy the pictures.

Nissan 370Z Convertible

Nissan 370Z Roadster

Nissan Leaf

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Sound of Pictures

I just discovered PhotoSound, see the demo below. I can think of some fun art projects with this idea! Have you ever tried playing The Beatles' Abbey Road record backwards? Is it "I buried Paul" or "Cranberry Sauce" that you hear? Being Thanksgiving Day today, maybe it's the second one. I'm dying to find the answer by photosounding the cover image.

Incidentally, the famous crosswalk photograph was taken by Iain Macmillan, with only 10 minutes for the session. It´s usually the quick photo shoots that turn out most remarkable. Macmillan died in 2006 of lung cancer at the age of 67 (read obituary at The Guardian here).

My friend and great photographer Coco Van Oppens, told me that the man in the background of Iain´s image was her math teacher. Coco, who has an imdb page (here) is doing great work in South Africa. Check out her page here, where she features a beautiful photo essay of an EcoTherapy program for victims of war.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Farmer John

Another produce, excuse me, product of my visit to New York is a photo essay of the Famers' Market at Union Square, including a profile on John Gorzynski, who has been selling produce here for the last thirty years. Carlos Fresneda wrote a magnificent piece, in Spanish, here, illustrated with two of my photos. More information about John Gorzynski and Sue Onery's farm here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

El Museo del Barrio

While in New York, I photographed Julián Zugazagoitia, Director and CEO of El Museo del Barrio. If you have a chance to visit, you will enjoy the thoughtful exhibits. The story by Julio Valdeón with two of my photos was published in El Mundo (here).

I was very moved by a painting that Frida Kahlo made for the mother of Dorothy Hale, for the anniversary of the suicide of her daughter: El Suicidio de Dorothy Hale, 1939. Dorothy jumped off her apartment building in New York after throwing a party for all her friends, in which she announced she was leaving town for a while. Her husband had passed away not long before. Dorothy's mom didn't accept the present, understandably so, and the oil painting (on masonite with frame) is now part of the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, who loaned it to New York temporarily.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sylvia Earle and Google's Ed Lu

Thank you Sylvia for who you are and for your work in defense of Planet Water. I took a picture of your likeness, by Viktor, at Google last month. I hope to meet you in person and capture your personality in a photograph.

Sylvia Earle by Viktor. Photo ©Isaac Hernandez

I also photographed Ed Lu, who is working on a smart grid monitoring system at Google, for a story on Google's commitment to renewable energy, published in El Mundo in print, and digitally (here). 

Ed Lu, former astronaut, Director of Advanced Projects at Google. When I asked him what it felt like to be "on the top" of the most powerful company in the world, Ed raised his arms. Photo: ©Isaac Hernandez

If you haven't watched Sylvia, you must see one of these two videos, with Stephen Colbert (search for her on ColbertNation), or speaking at TED (search for her at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reverend Billy for Mayor

It's been already more than two weeks since my trip to New York, and yet I've been so busy with assignments that I've left you hanging with no news. Here's one more portrait from my time there, which was published in El Mundo (here) on the eve of the election for New York City Mayor.

Reverend Billy invited us to watch a rehearsal for the choir of the Church of Life After Shopping the next day (website here). I would have liked to see the performance a few days later, but I was already back in Santa Barbara.

Since the last time I wrote, Yo Dona in Spain published my portrait of Annie Leonard, author of the story of stuff, and Integral (also from Spain, well Catalunya) published the portrait I took of Lester Brown during my visit to Washington, DC.

I will post some of these photos here, shortly, and others in the next version of the online portfolio here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Photographed H1N1!

What do you know? The swine flu has gotten to the kids at Open Alternative School (OAS) and I have a picture to prove it... I may even have it. And the doctor recommended for me not to eat any ham! What a swine!

Seriously, this picture is just a teaser for the play I'm writing in collaboration with 6-8th grade children at OAS. I had the tremendous pleasure of working on my first play, The Bridge to Nowhere, when my older son was in second grade. Now I get to "play" with my younger son, who is in sixth grade. More to come.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Photographing Mr. Brown

When I was first invited to photograph Dan Brown, courtesy of Editorial Planeta, the Spanish publisher of The Lost Symbol, I was told that he wouldn't pose for any pictures; photographs were to be taken exclusively during his interview time.

As soon as Mr. Brown arrived at the Philips Exeter Academy library (New Hampshire), where we were to interview and photograph him, he cordially allowed photographs and video taken of him, by the Spanish and Argentinian media there. I went down on my knees to take a photo, and when Dan looked my way, I couldn't help but lower my head in submission.

He must have liked my demeanor, then and during the interview with Carlos Fresneda, of El Mundo, which you can read here (in Spanish), for he agreed to pose for me, if only for an instant, on his way out for the lunch break. We were to meet at the entrance of the library, but when I saw him taking the stairs, I followed (after all, I'm fond of stairs, and I had taken them on the way up to the sixth floor). There I saw the opportunity for THE photo. "Could you please hold it and look up my way?" That was it! The result was published in the printed edition of El Mundo, alongside a profile photo taken during the interview, both of which you can see here.

Dan was so kind that I had to run and buy The Lost Symbol, his latest novel. When I later asked him to sign it for a friend, I was sure to point out that I bought it at a small Exeter bookshop, thus supporting not only him, but his local economy. "Thanks, I can put gas in my car now," was his answer.

Thank you, Dan, you're a true sport.

Anti-billionaire Mayor Candidate

The photos I took in New York are going to be published in the coming weeks. Here's another installment: Frances Villar, Socialist candidate for New York Mayor. You can read the story in Spanish in El Mundo here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Busy taking pictures in Washington

I must apologize to my five followers... I've been so busy taking pictures and sending them to clients that I haven't had time to share them with you here.

From Washington DC, I went to Washington State, and after a trip to San Francisco's Bay Area for Bioneers, now I'm writing from Washington Square, New York City.

I also had a quick stint in Exeter, New Hampshire, where I photographed author Dan Brown.

I'm taking an average of three EcoPortraits per day. Stay put for more. In the meantime, here's a photo of some of the people braving the rain on the International Day for Climate Action, which was published in El Mundo here.

You can see more of my coverage in New York in El Mundo's new portal for the Americas. I took some photos of El Museo del Barrio. You can see one here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

News from the Front

After going to Washington DC, and then Washington State, I'm heading to Washington Square (New York), with an interim trip to Marin, to cover the Bioneers conference, and a boomerang trip to New Hampshire to photograph a famous author (more details after publication of the assignment). The book publisher requested to my editor that I'd be the photographer. I'm very excited, and very nervous at the same time about being away from home for two weeks.

If you read my previous posts, you know about my meetings in DC, and my flight with Richard Bach. During our time in Washington, we also met with writers John deGraaf (founder of Take Back Your Time), Gordon Hempton (sound tracker and defendent of silent spaces) and Paul Stamets (mycologist and founder of Fungi Perfecti).

Gordon Hempton, author of One Square Inch of Silence.

Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running and other books.

John deGraaf, author of Afluenza, the All Consuming Epidemic

Sam Jones interview By Rob Haggart

Check out this insightful interview of photographer Sam Jones by Rob, A Photo Editor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gourmet Closes

My heart goes to the people at Gourmet, for they have lost their baby of 68 years. Read about it in the New York Times. Buy the paper and support the print advertisers, or read it online for free here (page sponsored by Adobe Acrobat as of now).

Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast’s chief executive, said to Stephanie Clifford, of the NYT, "that the current advertising picture was too dismal. “The tide’s not coming back in,” he said. “It could take us five years to get back to 2007 levels if we’re lucky enough to.”"

Cookie, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride will also be closing. In total, 180 people will probably lose their jobs. The titles will probably continue their presence on the Internet, but Condé Nast is not betting on display advertising for revenue, according to the NYT story.

New FTA regulations on blogvertising

Great Blog Entreprenuer blog about the new FTA regulations on advertising practices through blogs and social media.

WARNING: Other than the one dollar I've made from Google Ads over the last few years and have yet not collected, I'm not taking any money from advertisers. If any of you want to sponsor any of my blogs, I'll be happy to point out that you sponsor my blog.

Those are my wings / Esas son mis alas

The story about my experience with the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Carlos Fresneda's interview with the writer was published in El Mundo Oct. 4, 2009. I'm posting here both the English and the Spanish versions of my text, together with the photos the newspaper used. Bach receive us to promote his new book Hypnotizing Maria. Bach nos recibió para promover su nuevo libro, Vuela conmigo. Mi texto en español lo puedes leer más abajo.

“Those Are My Wings”
Above the clouds with Richard Bach.
©2009 Isaac Hernández, Orcas Island, Washington, USA.
“Flying is something that you learn in a minute and a half and you spend the rest of your life perfecting,” says Richard Bach, as I tighten by harness cradled in the back seat of his loyal Husky A-1B aircraft. “If you want, you can fly it,” he surprises me.
After a quick lesson on how the control lever works, and checking that everything is in order and that “the engine is happy”, Richard directs the hydroplane against the wind and soon we’re lifting, Orcas Island under our feet turning into a silhouette against the blue Pacific.
I feel like one of the farmers in the Midwest to which Richard offered flights on her plane for just three dollars, during the 70’s, after writing Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He was continuing a tradition began by returning WWI pilots.
From the hand of Bach and his book I began taking flight as an adolescent. Who was going to think then that three decades later Richard himself would take me to the top of the clouds to let me free with the wind?
“After some time,” points Bach, “the wings become an extension of your arms, and you can even feel the air ruffling your feathers. Those are my wings, that’s my power. You stop thinking that your body is here and the plane is there, you become one and only one creature, a flying creature.”
The metaphor of Jon Seagull becomes reality inside my bones. My teacher is not a “talking seagull”, but the writer that gave life to the book that he had carried inside him.
“Go up to that cloud,” asks my instructor. I pull the lever and up we go. I maneuver at 1000 meters with a smoothness of a seagull. I’m happy that my captain doesn’t ask me to stall and do a nosedive. And I remember the end of the book. “No limits, Jon?“ My race to learn has begun.

“Esas Son Mis Alas”
Sobre las nubes con Richard Bach
©2009 Isaac Hernández, Orcas, Washington, EEUU.
“Volar es algo que se aprende en un minuto y medio, y se perfecciona el resto de la vida”, dice Bach según me aprieto el cinturón de seguridad en el asiento trasero de su fiel avioneta Husky A-1B. “Si quieres puedes pilotar,” me sorprende.
Tras una rápida lección de cómo funciona la palanca de mandos, y comprobar que todo está en regla y “el motor contento”, Richard dirige el hidroplano contra el viento y comenzamos a elevarnos, y la isla de Orcas bajo nuestros pies en una silueta contra el Pacífico.
Me siento como uno de los granjeros del Oeste Americano a los que Richard diera paseos en avioneta por tres dólares, durante los 70, tras escribir Juan Salvador Gaviota. Seguía una tradición que comenzaron los pilotos que regresaban de la Primera Guerra Mundial.
De la mano de Bach y su libro comencé a tomar el vuelo como adolescente. ¿Quién me iba a decir que seis lustros después acabaría él mismo llevándome a lo alto de las nubes para luego dejarme libre con el viento?
“Pasado un tiempo”, apunta Bach, “las alas se convierten en una prolongación de tus brazos y puedes sentir incluso el aire como si te tocara las plumas. Esas son mis alas, ese es mi poder. Dejas de pensar que tu cuerpo está aquí y el avión está ahí, te conviertes en una sola criatura, una criatura voladora”.
La metáfora de Juan Gaviota se hace realidad dentro de mis huesos. Pero en lugar de una “gaviota parlante”, mi instructor es el escritor que dio vida al libro que llevaba dentro de él.
“Sube hacia esa nube,” pide mi maestro. Tiro de la palanca y hacia arriba vamos. Maniobro a mil metros de altura con la suavidad propia de una gaviota. Me alegro que mi capitán no me pida hacer una caída libre, y recuerdo el final del libro, “¿No hay límites, Juan?” Mi carrera hacia el aprendizaje ha empezado...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flying with Jonathan Livingston Seagull

I flew with Jon Seagull... Well, not quite, but with Richard Bach, the author of the best selling book that made a big impression on me as a kid. I asked Richard if I could take his picture flying and he agreed. I didn't have to twist his arm as he loves flying. Once on the air, he taught me how to fly and let me take the controls! What a memorable day. Thank you Richard! And thank you Carlos for bringing me along to Orcas Island and letting me fly with Bach. You can see a selection of photos in the Mercury Press archive here.

Richard and his Beech T-34, which he features in his latest novel, Hypnotizing Maria.

Richard at his new home atop Orcas Island (above and below).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Difference Makers in Washington DC

I came back from DC with three new sets of portraits of some magnificent leaders.

Van Jones, founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green for Alll, co-founder of Color of Change.

Steve Coleman, Executive Director of Washington Parks & People, and founder of Cool Capital, overlooks, from the balcony of the "Green Embassy", the Meridian Hill Park, which he helped restore.

Lester Brown, author, founder/president of Earth Policy Institute.

Photos: ©2009 Isaac Hernández, all rights reserved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Michelle Obama Superstar

In DC for less than a day, and I got to see Michelle Obama inaugurate the "Fresh Farms by the White House" farmers market, alongside USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and other photo opportunists. She told us to "know our farmer." I was there covering the event for El Mundo newspaper in Spain.
I also witnessed the First Lady shopping for organic produce at the Sunnyside Farms stand. I was thrilled to find she brought her own basket!

I love tomatoes, but not necessarily cherry tomatoes (because the way the explode in the mouth when one bites them). Still, this photo makes me want to eat some.
I don't know if this photo will make Barack Obama want to eat beets. I love beets, but not our President. Pictured is Casey Gustowarow, from Sunnyside Farms. Casey crossed the USA on a bus, right after the last presidential election, asking for an organic farm in the White House.
Finally, I couldn't resist standing in the place where Michelle Obama had been just minutes before.
I'm posting more photos of DC in the Mercury Press archives. Correction, I posted the photos. You can go straight to them here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Best Cover

Do you want to sell magazines? Be creative. That's what the American Society of Magazine Editors is doing, by making their annual Best Cover of the Year contest open to the public at Amazon (here) and offering subscriptions in the process. The year is not over yet, you may say... but we better sell magazines while we can. :) Even if you don't need $10,000 extra cash in your pocket, it's delightful to see the great covers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flexible OLED screen

Is this the future of publishing? Once electronic magazines feel like paper magazines, will people be willing to pay for a subscription as they do for the paper counterparts? In this case, will editorial groups pay more for electronic rights?

Better in Japanese:

I've been dreaming about this technology for many years. Sony is making my dreams real.


The New York Times Lens blog published a very insightful story on the death of Lance Cpl. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Me., and The Associated Press' choice to release the image of the mortally wounded soldier, by photographer Julie Jacobson. The Marine's father, John Bernard, requested for the image not to be released. I can completely understand his request. I would have done the same thing if he was my son. Personally, I wouldn't want to see the picture of my son dying as I was browsing a newspaper. However, the Internet allows for news sites to warn people about content before "passing the page", and the NYT did this very tactfully. And I think it's important that we know the consequences of war, and the price we have to pay. Mr. Bernard, I thought you'd like to know that the memory of your son is honored greatly by all of us, and seeing the picture we share your pain.

Thank you AP for consulting with the family. Did anybody consult the families of the victims of 9/11 before the videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers were shown over and over? Yes, it was important to see. But did we have to see them so many times? Did we get warnings about the "explicit images" before they were shown?

Perhaps the reason is that the 9/11 images were building a case for a war against an invisible enemy. And Jacobson's image shows the reality of that war. God save us, this photo may shift our priorities and have our country demand the end of illegal wars and torture; and we may even ask to have money taken out of the obscene military budget and used for the education and health care of our children. Wait, we asked for that already.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote to The Associated Press: “Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”

Mr. Gates, I applaud our military for their self-less service to our country, and I question our willingness to readily go to war. Excuse me if I borrow your words for my response to you: “Why your organization (my government) would purposefully defy the family’s wishes (millions of Americans marching against the invasion of Iraq) knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish (tens of thousands of civilian and military deaths) is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing (to put our children at risk of being maimed and stricken) is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”

Thank you soldiers for defending my freedom of speech. I'm sorry some of you had to die for it. Come home soon. Your families and loved ones miss you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Om

A few more photos that I'm allowed to share from the Om photoshoot for Boxtales.

New Canon 7D announced

Is the Canon 7D my next camera?

Two newly posted items a the Canon site. The first Canon post talks extensively about the new auto focus features. What an improvement compared to my first digital camera, the Canon D60, which had an out-of focus system! The AF in the 60D wasn't that great either. This 18 megapixel camera is an improvement over the 50D, but the 60D name was taken already, so they went to 7D, rather than 70D. The price is supposed to be $1,699, according to PDN, and it will be available in September.

Some AF highlights are:

-New AF features similar to those in the 50D, plus a completely new option: single AF point of reduced dimensions.
-AF Point Expansion like the one that’s been available on EOS-1D series cameras.
-My favorite: Zone AF, not available in any SLR cameras before.
The second article summarizes the video capabilities, which are the most exciting, since the 7D fixes all the bugs of the 5D Mark II and adds some cool features. But notice that the 7D is not a 5D Mark II replacement, as the resolution is smaller and it's not a full frame camera; the sensor magnifies the image by a factor of 1.6x.
New EOS Movie features in the EOS 7D:  
New easy to find Start/Stop button for video recording. 
AF activated by shutter button (or by the rear button via customization menu) during video recording! 
Manual exposure control during video recording. 
Adjustable video frame rates at highest Full HD quality setting: 1920 x 1080 HD: 30 fps (actual 29.97 fps) or 24 fps (actual 23.976 fps); 25 fps in PAL. 
High-speed 60 fps recording at reduced resolution settings: 1280 x 720 HD and 640 x 480 standard def: 60 fps (actual 59.94 fps) or actual 50 fps (when set to PAL).
I will keep my ears open with my Canon insiders for release dates and pricing information.
Note to self, ask Canon for a pre-production 7D to be part of the development of the camera. Produce a video that makes more sense than Vincent Laforet's Reverie.

Quick photo archiving lesson

©2009 Isaac Hernandez, All Rights Reserved

I was asked by a fan to write about archiving and sharpening, and whether sharpening comes last in the process, and if there's a different workflow for print or web photos. If you're nor archiving your photos, it's never too late to start, but do it now! Here are some tips. Feel free to write with more questions.

There are several good books on photographic workflow. The most famous is perhaps The DAM book, by Peter Krogh, DAM as in Digital Asset Management. It was my introduction to dealing with tens of thousands of images, and of great help, although I found some of the steps overly complicated. I recommend checking other people's systems and then developing your own.

The first step in a workflow system is to decide which software you're going to use. I find Adobe Lightroom ($299) to work for me, as a professional photographer. Apple Aperture ($199) is another professional choice (only for Mac), which has some advantages when it comes to sharing your work, with a better email and layout interface.

Krogh liked iView Media Pro, so I used it before it was bought by Microsoft and turned into Microsoft Expression Media. I haven't tried their last version yet. I don't know if it's even available. When I try to "buy it", I got lost in the Microsoft web labyrinth. Now Krogh recommends Adobe Bridge (part of the Creative Suite), but I prefer Lightroom, except when archiving CMYK files (for which I use my old iView Media Pro). Lightroom doesn't like CMYK files (Note to self, tell Adobe to make Lightroom see CMYK files, even if it couldn't modify them).

When it comes to Lightroom, I like Michael Clark's workflow guide, ($24.95 as an eBook). It covers everything from how to set up your camera for best results, to the printing process, and yes, sharpening, which, comes last. When you sharpen you want to save your file as a copy, because it degrades the image, even as it improves it. You are basically increasing the contrast in the edges of the photo, losing information.

That's the beauty of Lightroom and Aperture, you can toy around with your images, improving contrast, doing sepia tones or whathaveyou, without losing the original image. Everything is saved as an additional ones and zeros while preserving your master file.

Unfortunately, workflow is more than just playing around with fancy filters, it requires the discipline of copying the files to the right directory, making back-up copies, renaming files in a way that avoids confustion, rating the images so that you can easily search for your best work, adding keywords to the images again to make it easier to actually use your images, and exporting them to a final file (which Krogh calls a "derivative"), from which you will make a print or post
it on the web. Think of your master file as the negative, which you work on and process, and of the derivative as the print.

The difference in flow for web or print comes only at the end, when you export the file, choosing one size or another. Each size will require a different level of sharpening. Luckily, Lightroom and Aperture make that last step very easy, with pre-configured levels of sharpening, which works for the most part. For more sharpening control, you would want to go to Adobe Photoshop.

There's so much to learn about taking care of our archives, that one could have a blog just on this subject. It's good to start organizing those files now, before we are inundated and so overwhelmed that we wish that a fire would just take everything away.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Theater is Dead?

Have you ever heard that Theater (Theatre) is dead? Natasha Tsakos doesn't think so. She loves theater and is making sure kids love it too. Check out her TED 15 minute presentation and performance, in which she mixes science and art.

"We're not here to question the possible, we're here to challenge the impossible. In the science of today, we become artists, in the art of today, we become scientists. We design our world, we invent possibility. We teach, touch and move. It's now that we can use the diversity of our talent to create intelligent, meaningful and extraordinary work. It's now." -Natasha Tsakos.

Photography is dead? Think again.

PS. Incidentally, I'm starting to collaborate on a play with my son's 5th-6th grade class. More to follow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Difference Maker 1: Wavy Gravy

Helena Hernandez and Nancy Black put together a beautiful eBook, Difference Makers: Environmental Portraits by Isaac Hernandez, featuring the photographs I was lucky to take with some amazing people, from Amy Tan to Wavy Gravy. The eBook is available for free at

Following the example of other photographers, and using my experience in filmmaking, I created a multimedia presentation with photographs I took of one of the Difference Makers. I dedicate it to Wavy, and my friend Lisa Law, who just completed a full documentary on Wavy, Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie.

The sound is a bit rough, since it was recorded for the purpose of transcribing the interview for print (please receive my apologies), but well worth listening. The full interview and photographs are available for publication.

I will be putting together more of these videos, featuring Isabel Allende, Michael Pollan, Tan, etc.

Enjoy, and please comment.

The New Photojournalist

Connor Risch interviews Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII Photo Agency, on PDN Online. It´s a bit long, but full of gold, especially if you´re intrigued about the future of journalism, and photojournalism. Mayes sees the agency turning into a publisher, and the magazines into partners, which makes sense, because the Internet has turned us all into journalists/filmmakers/photographers/publishers, some better than others. How are you going to distinguish yourself?

"When I look at an environment where there’s absolutely too much information, information becomes valueless," says Mayes in the interview. "What everyone is suffering from is that a photograph is just more information. It becomes very hard to put a price on it because there are too many pictures out there, but if you suddenly start rethinking it and saying, “We’re not selling photographs, what we’re selling is believability,” then actually we have more value than we had before. VII offers a benchmark, which now has increased value because of all the information that’s out there."

Kenneth Jarecke thinks that true grit is what will distinguish the new photojournalists, in an essay comparing photojournalists to cowboys, featured in the New York Times. "The photojournalism field is too competitive to enjoy success without giving it everything you’ve got," says Jarecke. "The highest level is filled with people who don’t have a backup plan. If they had, they would have already used it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

d and D get married

I'm joining the multimedia revolution. Watch video at the link.

Real Life

Thank you Glamour for showing us a beautiful real woman in page 194. Over 200,000 people have checked the story of Lizzi Miller, photographed by Walter Chin. Lizzi's even been on the Today Show. Given the great response, will we see more reality in magazines and less... glamour? Excuse the expression. I guess the magazine has shown that real people can be glamorous.

I hope all the magazine editors of the world are listening. Celebrity stories are not the only thing that sells magazines. Real stories sell magazines.

It's sad to see great stories not get published because magazines are afraid that they don't sell ads. Rob Haggart explains it best in his A Photo Editor blog, speaking of a story by Matt Mendelsohn, about Lindsay, who lost all four limbs fresh out of fashion school and now teaches fashion at Virginia Commonwealth University. He was moved to photograph her, even without an assignment, and couldn't get it published in print. Sportsshooter published it online here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Taste of India

Mo McFadden contacted me to be the official photographer for Boxtales' Om, an Indian Play of Good and Evil, to show at The Lobero October 1-4.

I worked on some photos for the poster, together with director Michael Andrews and the rest of the crew. The costumes by Kira Jones and masks by Timo Beckwith will take your breath away.

We had a fun time at the first photo shoot. At this point I cannot show you any more than this picture, for you to get a taste, to dip your toes in the Ganges water of this wonderful production.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Profit Margin

Very interesting piece on profit margin, by my friend Doug Menuez. I quote the introduction from the site:
"So far in his “Seeing Money” column, Doug Menuez has covered several important topics for starting a photo business: getting loans, managing your expenses, and staying on top of Accounts Payable and Receivables (see his blog for more on cash flow and “must pays”). Here he explains why being “busy” is not the same thing as being profitable — and how to figure out which one you are."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How two covers are made: Time vs. Macworld.

Cover creation from Peter Belanger on Vimeo.
I guess there's still a market for professional photographers to make covers. Not all the covers have to be $30 iStock photos. That's what Time magazine paid for a cover photo made by Robert Lam, who didn't even get credit (he was happy about it, regardless). The irony is that the cover was illustrating the New Frugality, or perhaps Time was trying to make a point. I say Time was successful. And the fact that they paid so little has generated hoopla. I'm not going to go into detail about this, as many others have already. Some photographers are upset. I found this explanation by King Kaufman the most balanced.

Like Kaufman says, Time got what they paid for. Macworld got what they paid for, plus a beautiful time lapse video of the process of making a cover, from photographer Peter Berlanger. I bet the editors of Macworld are extremely happy about this video, and the cover. It's called taking care of your client. The video shows the process of photography, post-production and graphic design, with beautiful music by The Brokenmusicbox (who donated the use of the song, but did get credit and a link to their MySpace site). Find more information on the Macworld site.

So what kind of photographer are you going to be? The one that competes with iStockPhoto or the one that goes the extra mile with value added service?

©2009 Isaac Hernandez

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mad Men, fiction vs. reality

A great slide show by Fast Company, featuring the ads of Mad Men versus the real ad campaigns of the late fifties and early sixties. Yes, sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction.

On Being a Photographer and Interventionism

Had the photojournalist not been there with a camera, it would have resulted in these kids not looking into the camera. I exist, therefore I intervene. Photo: Isaac Hernández

I love Photo District News. Yet, I love to disagree with an article in their August 2009 issue, which unfortunately you cannot read unless you're a subscriber to the website, or have the print magazine. But you can see the video/slide show (for free) featured in the story, at Soul of Athens, a website produced by students at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

The story in question is titled "A Lesson in Observation vs. Action," signed by David Walker, senior editor at PDN. I quote the introduction: "Photographer Rachel Mummey struggles with her obligation to maintain a journalist's distance while documenting the unplanned pregnancy and abuse of a vulnerable 18-year-old."

I don't get the "lesson". I read the story twice and I still found no moral. Is Mr. Walker's point that we have to be unbiased photojournalists and not intervene in what we document?

In Walker's story Mummey says of her 18-year-old subject, Caeshel Sue Rae Allen, "she thought I was nice and polite to her. She said I wasn't just taking pictures, I was talking to her and trying to help her through it. I guess this is what I had trouble with. I saw things that I thought that were wrong that no one should have to put up with. And it was really hard to create that boundary."

When Caeshel got pregnant by her boyfriend Mark, Mummey offered to document her life during the following nine months. At one point, she was pretty certain that Caeshel was being beaten by her boyfriend. And Caeshel had the words "Property of Mark Anthony Butcher" tattooed on the nape of her neck. "But," Walker writes, "as a journalist, she didn't want to interfere with the story by calling the police to intervene."

The moment one breathes, there's intervention. If you have a camera, you influence people to do things they wouldn't if it wasn't for the camera being there. Isn't Susan Sontag's On Photography required reading at the graduate program of Ohio University, where Rachel studies?

Sontag quotes Diane Arbus on pages 41-42 of the book: "the camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibilities towards the people photographed. The whole point of photographing people is that you're not intervening in their lives, only visiting them."

It's as if we're having the same conversation from when I went to photography school 20 years ago: If you know a monk is going to set himself on fire, do you not show up to try to stop him, or do you take a Pullitzer Prize winning photo? At what point do you give up on the story? When do you stop being a journalist, and tell the woman you're photographing that she'd be better off not having the baby from a boyfriend that hits her?

As we all become journalists with our blogs and photographers with our cellphones, at what point do we intervene, even if it means not getting the story/video/photo?

Don't get me wrong. I believe in ethics in journalism. There are photographers who have intentionally changed the course of an event, or even "photoshopped" a photograph in order to make the story. I don't agree with that behavior. But I also believe in ethics in humanity. Sometimes you have to follow your heart, stop being a journalist and just be a human being.

©2009 Isaac Hernandez

Are you a TED fellow?

David Elliot Cohen at the EG 2008. Photo: ©2009Isaac Hernández

Apply now to be a TED Fellow at the 2010 TED conference, February 9-13, 2010, in Long Beach, California. If you don't know about TED Talks, it's time you do.

TED Fellows attend without charge and participate in a two-day pre-conference where they can present a short talk or video, attend elite skills-building courses taught by world experts, and share social opportunities and surprise extras.

The TED Fellows program is accepting fellowship applications through Sept. 25, 2009. TED Fellows may apply themselves or be nominated by another person. Follow this link to apply. To nominate a candidate, email

I haven't attended the TED Talks yet, but I was at the EG (Entertainment Gathering), a mini TED, in Monterey last year, as a guest of David Elliot Cohen, co-creator of the photography book series A Day in the Life, and of the beautiful and poignant project, What Matters. And I did attend and photograph the TEDx Hollywood 2009 event, organized by ad man Tito Melega.

The talks from TED and EG get posted online, many of them with subtitles to many languages. And there are plenty of talks about photography. Twenty-one, as of today.

©2009 Isaac Hernandez

A horse and his friend.

As photographers, we dream of traveling to faraway places, documenting for National Geographic and transforming the world with our breathtaking, award-wining images.

But you don't have to go farther than your own home or win contests to make a difference. Sometimes all it takes is photographing a friend and her horse. And you know you made one person happy. That's what I did today. :)

©2009 Isaac Hernandez