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Julius Motal

Ilford Delta 800

There was a time when I often felt a quiet rage when a photograph I wanted to make didn’t work out. It was either at myself or at the person (or people) I was trying to photograph. With the former, it could’ve been that I reacted too slowly, I wasn’t in the right position, or I hadn’t set my camera properly. With the latter, my subject didn’t what the photograph needed or they became aware of what I was doing. I can’t do anything about the first because I don’t set up scenes because that’s not what you do in street photography. With the second, it often felt as if they had transgressed, that their not wanting to be photographed was somehow an affront to me. It was a while before I realized that no one owes me a photograph.

Belligerence towards an unwilling subject in street photography is at the very least unwarranted and deeply disrespectful. It signifies a disconnect, a lack of empathy, which ultimately affects the image and the photographer. Frustration is a very real and natural thing to feel, but when a photograph goes untaken, it’s gone. Nothing can really be done about it, and when someone signals that they want no part of it, it’s best to let it go.

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Rollei Superpan (BW)

Rollei Superpan (BW)

At a time when camera technology’s advancing at a clip, there seems to be an equal push in the opposite direction to bring back aesthetics that have taken a backseat. Film is alive and well, though there are fewer options today than there were during much of the 20th century. While the actual film stock may be gone, there is software from the likes of VSCO, RNI, and in this review’s case, Totally Rad, to imbue your digital images with older looks. We took a look at RNI’s All Films 3.0 earlier this year, but today, we’re taking a look at Replichrome III: Archive, a suite of presets solely focused on very old, long since discontinued film stocks. All told, there are 22 films and 183 presets.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tap and Dye Horween CXL Camera Strap product images (4 of 8)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 2.8

It’s very easy to think that a new camera or a new lens is the answer to a photographic impasse. I have, on many occasions, scrolled through seemingly endless eBay listings of cameras I can’t afford, but they hold an allure because they’re new to me and ostensibly better than what I have. Yet, a new camera won’t make me or anyone a better photographer. Will it up the image quality on a technical level? Most probably, but it won’t up the photograph’s emotional resonance. The camera is the first step towards making photographs, but once a creative block sets in, a new (or used) camera or lens won’t do anything but make a hole in your bank account. There are things besides gear that can rejuvenate you.

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julius motal the phoblographer graduates silhouette

I certainly didn’t get into this racket for the money, and while I haven’t been in it very long, I’ve had time to look at the kinds of success that photographers have enjoyed. They seem to exist along a spectrum. At one end, there’s truly beautiful work and post-mortem recognition. At the other, there’s immense wealth with photographs that leave most scratching their heads (read: Peter Lik). Money helps. It’s good to know that I can afford rent and the occasional night out, but I’m not looking for millions down the line.

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A grandfather and his granddaughter share smiles inside a high-school gym turned refugee center on the Albania boarder with Kosovo. ©Thomas James Hurst - 1999

A grandfather and his granddaughter share smiles inside a high-school gym turned refugee center on the Albania boarder with Kosovo. ©Thomas James Hurst – 1999 (World Press Photo – 2ooo)

All images are copyrighted Thomas James Hurst, and are being used with permission.

In this episode of ISO 400, we hear from Thomas Hurst a 20-year photojournalist turned inventor. Spurred by an interest to see what war was like, he grabbed a camera, invented press credentials and flew to Bosnia in 1992. From there, he went on to work in some of the biggest conflict zones of the 1990s and 2000s. After nearly 20 years, he left photojournalism to become a pastor, which he eventually left to focus on COVR Photo, an iPhone case with a built-in prism that he invented.

In this episode, he talks about the early years of his photojournalism, what it’s like to learn the craft on the job, becoming an inventor, and more. A selection of his work, as well as the episode is after the break. If you’d like to see more of Hurst’s work, check out his website. If you’re curious about the COVR photo, check out our review, and he currently has a Kickstarter for the iPhone 6 version.

As always, our music is provided by Yuki Futami, a New York-based jazz musician.

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julius motal the phoblographer covr photo iphone 6

Several months ago, I got an email from Thomas Hurst about an iPhone case that he had invented for the iPhone 5. Its selling point was the prism lens that essentially makes it possible to take a photo while holding the phone like you do when you’re texting. Gone are the days of putting your phone between your face and the photograph, and it proved to be so useful that I gave it our Editor’s Choice award.

It may have seemed strange to some that there wasn’t a 6/6+ version, but Hurst and his team began working on this before the 6/6+ existed. Now, there’s an iPhone 6 version in the works, and there’s a Kickstarter to help bring it to fruition. There’s a key difference between the 5 and the 6 version. The one of the iPhone 6 comes in two parts: a shock-absorbent rubber core and a hard outer shell with the prism lens. The original COVR Photo was a unibody hard shell that proved a little difficult to take off, but this new design remedies that.

There’s an app, too, to help you take pictures because the prism design renders the image upside down in the dedicated camera. Essentially, the app flips the image right side up. The prism also slides back, so that you can use the regular lens as well. There is a bevy of rewards in this kickstarter, including signed prints from Hurst’s 20-year career as a photojournalist.

If you’ve been looking for a new way to take photos with your iPhone 6, check out the Kickstarter. Alternatively, you can order one for your iPhone 5/5S here.