Antigua Days 2 & 3

As I’ve said many times, Antigua is a magical city, a photographers dream. My good friend and fellow photographer John Wong and I are in Guatemala right now to do some photo work for the Mayan Families NGO but before we headed out to Panajachel where Mayan Families is based we were able to spend 3 days in Antigua. The weather this time of year can be quite iffy since it’s the rainy season, and we did have some rain and overcast weather but we also had some beautiful light to chase. As posted earlier I’m battling with a laptop I’m not accustomed to and an editing program that sucks so I can’t really tell how well these photos are going to reproduce on a good monitor. It’s Saturday July 23rd and we’re now in Panajachel but here’s a few photos from the last two days in Antigua.

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Mayan Families NGO

For quite some time I’ve wanted to work with NGO’s, I’ve talked about wanting to do it, thought deeply about what it would mean to me to give back something but I never actually made the effort. At least not until recently when I contacted Mayan Families, a great organization based out of Panajachel Guatemala. You might ask, why Guatemala when we have so many NGO’s in the U.S. that could benefit from photography? Well, for several reasons. The first reason would be our son AJ. AJ was born in Guatemala, born to young migrant farm workers who barely got by and who could never support a child the way they wanted so Trish & I were so very blessed to be able to give AJ what his biological parents dreamed for him. Guatemala has the 4th highest rate of childhood malnutrition in the entire world and that rings home with me since I know AJ could have been one of the statistics. Another reason is because I love Guatemala, I love the culture, the landscape & the always friendly people. So after 3 years since my last trip to Guatemala I find myself back in Guatemala for a couple of weeks to finally begin fulfilling the thoughts of working with NGO’s. My good friend and fellow photographer John Wong has joined me on this journey, another good Christian man who also wants to give something back. Over the next two weeks we will travel from Guatemala City to Antigua, spending a couple of days in Antigua and then on to Panajachel where we hope to create wonderful images of beautiful Mayan children & families. I’ll post images over the next two weeks and after I return to Texas so check back often. I can’t guarantee they’ll look all that great since I’m traveling light with a small, cheap Lenovo laptop (I’m a Mac person)  and editing software I’ve never used before (not Photoshop). As I know I’ll be asked at some point, I’m shooting with a couple of Olympus E-M1 cameras, an Oly 12-40mm 2.8 lens, a Pany 35-100mm 2.8 lens, an Oly 17mm 1.8 lens and an Oly 45mm 1.8 lens. Here’s a couple of photos from Antigua, the weather hasn’t cooperated here today but we still have tomorrow before we head to Panajachel on Saturday.La Casbash Restaurant_editedReflection_editedRestaurant Window_editedSeeds_editedChurch 1_edited

What’s in the BAG ?


image image imageOver the years I’ve used & abused several different style and size camera bags. The assignment usually dictated the bag and the equipment it contained. For years I used an old Domke bag and loved it and I still have that bag in the equipment closet. About three years ago I not only switched camera brands but also camera types. After many years of dragging around Nikon and Canon full frame camera bodies and fast lenses I made the switch to the Olympus OMD micro four thirds system. Because this system is so much smaller in size I can now carry the same number of bodies & lenses as I did with the DSLR’s but in a much smaller bag with less weight on my back & shoulders. So a few days ago I was approached with the question, “so what’s in the bag?” I had never really given much thought to what I carried in my camera bag, I just filled it with things I normally used on a typical assignment and went on about my business. But the question got me thinking, “what is in my camera bag right this minute?” So I emptied it and photographed it’s contents. (Photo #1) I’ll add that I always carry a body with a lens attached outside of what’s found in the bag.  Then I added a few other things I sometimes take with me on assignment but won’t fit in the bag unless I rearrange and take something out or use a bigger bag. (Photo #2) And lastly I photographed all my Olympus gear, with the exception of the T G-4 camera that I forgot to get from the equipment closet. (Photo #3)

Working with an NGO in Guatemala

Excited to be headed to Panajachel Guatemala in July to shoot for a great NGO called Mayan Families. https://www.mayanfamilies.org/
They’re based in the village of Panajachel which is on the banks of Lake Atitlan and they do amazing work with the indigenous people who live on the rural farms and in the mountains surrounding the lake. I’ll be working with their staff to photograph families and children who’s growth has been stunted due to malnutrition. I’ll also be beginning a story about the drought created by El Nino that has plagued the rural communities that has affected about 900,000 people. For hundreds of thousands of farmers in Guatemala, this year’s harvest is over before it has even begun. The fields in the east of the country are yellow, the ground bone-dry. People in this part of Guatemala are smallholders who grow corn and beans. Farmers go for weeks without any rain. They cultivate enough to provide food for their families and in a good year, they can grow surplus to sell or store, but after several difficult seasons, they have run out of stocks. The last stop will be Antigua to work on setting up a photo workshop for Holy Week in 2017._1040243SM

Lecture

Working late tonight to finish a slide show & lecture for a group of 50 newspaper editors & photographers of small town newspapers from all across South Texas. Friday morning at 9:00am is showtime and I’m hoping that some of my images and the discussion will inspire some of them.

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First Class in a Series of Photo Workshops & Classes

This past Wednesday night was the second night in a four night photo class that I’m teaching for beginning photographers at the Yellow Door Studio in Fredericksburg. Thirteen students have survived f stops and shutter speeds and so far no brains have exploded from information overload but then again, we’ve just begun to delve into composition, depth of field and focus so there’s still time. Cleanup in studio one….. This summer I plan to teach an advanced photo class and a lighting workshop here in Fredericksburg and a travel workshop in Antigua Guatemala during the Christmas holiday. More fun to come I’m sure.Ruleofthirds.001Ruleofthirds.004Ruleofthirds.002 Ruleofthirds.003 Ruleofthirds.005 Ruleofthirds.006

Going the Mirror-Less Route

A little over 3 years ago I made the decision to switch from the Canon full frame 5D camera system to Micro 4/3. Yep, all the big, heavy Canon bodies and heavy & expensive L Glass had to go. Why ? For me it was simple, I was tired of lugging the Canon system around, I had lost the desire to shoot for myself because I no longer enjoyed dragging that DSLR system around. I found it to be a chore and quite simply, I was no longer inspired. I had waited for Canon to come out with a smaller 4/3 system but finally realized they had no interest in creating a smaller system for travel & documentary photographers. So, I sold off all the Canon gear and purchased Olympus OMD-EM bodies and pro lenses. I have to say it’s been a whole new wonderful experience. I’m now enjoying photography again, I’m jazzed about shooting. I carry a body and lens with me everywhere and find myself shooting photos that I would and could never have shot when I had the Canon system. If you’re on the fence about making the switch get in touch with me and let me give you the many reasons why you should consider making the move to the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Mirror-Less system.

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Outdoor Lighting

I’ve always been an outdoors person, worked in studios quite a bit over the years but I’ve always preferred shooting outside whenever possible. So it’s no big surprise that I’d carry my strobes outdoors. I’ve shot more lit images outdoors than I can count. Obviously portable strobes are the best way to go when the ambient light won’t work but I’ve used studio strobes when electricity happened to be within the reach of an extension cord or two. Many photographers use their camera flash units attached to a small umbrella or small soft box but I’m sort of old school and prefer a larger light source and more powerful strobe so I’m still using my old reliable Comet PMT which I attach to either a medium soft box or a large 6 foot soft box. Shooting outdoors requires some practice and technique to be able to pull off a nice shot with limited time. Below are a few outdoor strobed shots I’ve done over the years. Most recently I photographed my son AJ for some promo material he uses in his 3 Gun competition.

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Gotta love the creative staff at Boys’ Life.

Last summer I received a call from Boys’ Life Magazine with another wonderful assignment to photograph a feature story on fishing. Scott and Garth both know how much I love fishing, I’ve been fortunate to have shot a few stories on the subject during the past three or four years. The cover of the April 2013 issue of Boys’ Life was one I shot on an assignment off the coast of Alabama, so when I received the call to fly to Missouri to photograph a story on fly fishing I was really excited. This would be a story about Scouts learning the sport of fly fishing and earning merit badges in the process. I spent two days at the S bar F Scout Ranch about 80 miles South of St. Louis, Missouri where the Scouts rotated through a series of training sessions throughout the day. In addition to fishing, the Scouts  also learned to clean and cook their catch and tie their own flies. It was a lot of fun and in the end, the creative staff at the magazine couldn’t agree on which image they wanted to use on the cover so they ran an online contest and asked Scouts to vote on the image they thought would make the best cover for the April 2014 issue of Boys’ Life Magazine. Here are the two images that were being voted on. Ultimately Scouts from around the country ended up choosing the image of the boy holding the fish. I think I prefer the image of the Scout learning to tie his first fly, but either way, it was another fun shoot and I’m very thankful to the folks at BSA for the opportunity to shoot another assignment for Boys’ Life Magazine.   

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It’s been awhile….

About a year ago I removed my old website from the internet. Much of the work on that site just didn’t seem relevant anymore. For quite some time I’ve wanted to do more work for NGO’s (non profits). My intentions were to create a new site that would showcase more of my editorial, travel and documentary work but time has flown by and my new site, steverawls.com. is still under construction. My old blog was also in need of updating but time constraints and the fact that my website was no longer visible left me feeling somewhat uninterested in posting regular updates. So here I am today, pulling images together for the new website and finally updating and posting to the blog. I hope to have the new website up and running very soon but in the meantime I’ll try to post to the blog on a more regular basis.