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Julius Motal

julius motal the phoblographer sports illustrated

This week’s cover.

In a depressing move, Sports Illustrated laid off its last six staff photographers, reducing the photography department to the director of photography. According to an NPPA post, the move was a consequence of internal restructuring and economic constraints. So, like their forebears at the Chicago Sun-Times, they axed the last six people who knew their way around a camera.

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All images are copyrighted by Lever Ruhkin and are being used with permission.

Lever Rukhin is an LA-based documentary photographer, whose spent a considerable photographing a part of Los Angeles that most people don’t get to see. We first learned of his work when a reader wrote in urging us to look at his site.

“He’s amazing. You need to look at this work. No one has documented the underbelly of Los Angeles with as much clarity. You need to see what he’s done over and over again with his “drive by” shootings. People will be looking back at this collection three decades from now and marveling at what poverty with dignity looks like in a place known for sun and fun.”

After reading that, we had to take a look, and what we found were slices of life awash in artificial light, a curious technique in daytime photography on the street. So, we reached out to Lever for an interview.

For more of Lever’s work, check out his website.

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julius motal the phoblographer samsung nx1 product image-1

I’ve had a hit and a miss relationship with Samsung’s cameras. In my personal opinion, the company has had a penchant for eschewing buttons in favor of big touch screens, which is not something I look for a camera–call me old fashioned. Beyond capturing a photograph, the camera has to be ergonomically sound, and good ergonomics, in my book at least, hinges on well-placed buttons and dials, which the NX1 has in spades.

Samsung’s flagship camera is a breath of fresh air–a powerhouse of a camera with the body and heft of a DSLR and the speed and versatility of a mirrorless camera. Of course, Samsung places a huge emphasis on connectivity, and the NX1 is filled with Samsung’s usual wireless fare.

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For a while now, I’ve been saying that I make photographs, but for a long time, particularly when I started, I’d say take, largely because I didn’t know what I was doing. At the beginning, I had no formal photographic education, and I had to learn the camera and the craft through trial and error. I was practicing image making, that is to say exposure, composition and other technical aspects. I was a machine operator, and with my machine, I took images, with no real intent or desire to give back because my images didn’t say anything.

Taking by definition is a one-way exchange. A person who takes does not give back. When I began photographing, I took all the time, and I was way too fascinated with shallow depth of field. If I could give myself credit for anything back then, it’s that I shot on film, something I’m only starting to get back into. There’s only one image worth its salt from my film days.

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julius motal the phoblographer sony 70-200mm f2.8 G product image-6

I don’t always handle big lenses, but when I do, it’s the Sony 70-200mm f2.8 G SSM II (or it’s equivalent across camera systems). I’ve been a Sony shooter for a long time, but the closest I ever got to this lens was Minolta’s beercan, the 70-200mm f4. Times have changed, and with that, so has lens technology. The 70-200mm arrived in the same box as the Sony a77II, which has been a joy to use, and while this lens isn’t all that affordable, it’s a strong addition to anyone’s kit.

With a constant aperture starting at f2.8 and stopping down to f32, the lens also features a nine-blade aperture and some of the company’s other technologies.

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All images by Alice Gao. Used with permission.

We first came across Alice Gao’s photography when Tumblr published its Photographers to Watch list for 2014. Her blog is titled “After the Cups,” a reference to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” one of her favorite T. S. Eliot poems. There we found photographs of quiet spaces and food with soft colors and beautiful light. So, we set out to interview her. Gao has an impressive roster of clients, from AirBnB to the NYTimes T Magazine. Here, she shares her approach to food and lifestyle photography.

For more of Alice’s work, check out her website and her blogs: After the Cups and Lingered Upon.

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