Friday, January 4, 2019

2019 and my 365 Project

Happy New Year!

As John Lennon once sang, "another year over and a new one just begun." It's hard to believe 2019 is here, 2018 had it's ups and downs - some quite dramatic - but the new year brings new hopes, new dreams and new projects.

I decided to make 2019 the year I do a "365 Project", I will publish one image every day for the entire year. The only restrictions are that all images are to be made and edited using my Samsung J3 smartphone. I am doing this for a couple reasons, as-follows:
  1. Using the phone will give me a better chance of success. It is sometimes difficult to sit at the computer after a day at the office, upload, edit and publish; using the phone gives me the ability to do this anytime and anywhere.
  2. I am hoping the limitations of the phone will push me to be a bit more creative and look at things differently.
The project can be followed on Instagram - I am also posting images on Twitter - The image shown here is from Day 1, a Kelty Redwing 32 backpack and a pair of Kelty Range 2.0 trekking poles. I will be writing more about the backpack and poles in a later post.

I hope you will follow along on Instagram, if you do please leave a comment on one of the images and let me know you heard about it from this blog post.

Are you doing a 365 Project? A 52 Project? If so, let me know about it in the comments below and I will follow along. Have you done one in the past? I would love to hear about it - what you did, did you finish, what did you learn?

Thanks for stopping by - I hope to be more active in 2019, bringing more photographs, stories and instruction.

All photos are copyright Joseph S. Valencia All Rights Reserved They may not be used in any way without express written permission of the photographer. If you wish to use any of the photos you may contact the photographer at

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Shoot or Help? A Moral Dilemma.

I recently read, and posted on Facebook, a joke that goes something like this - "If you come across a drowning man and have time to either take a picture or save him - what shutter speed do you use?" I was thinking about that this morning and decided to update and re-publish this post from March 2017, originally published on a now-defunct blogging community called Niume.

If you've been following me for any length of time you will know that photography is more than just a hobby. For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in the art but I think I can say that age 12 was when it became “important” to me. The thought of a career in photography was omnipresent but I was encouraged to pursue science, mathematics and then computers. Photography was a great hobby but you have to make a living….

I chose a career and started making a living but my desire to become a photographer continued to grow. I knew I wanted to shoot but how was I going to make a living? I gave a lot of consideration to photojournalism. Growing up I saw news images ranging from The Beatles landing in New York City to the horrors of Vietnam. There were images of the joys of victory, the unintended victims of war and the horrors of political assassinations. Most of the photographers were anonymous but their images helped shape the world. Later I would see movies like “The Killing Fields” and “Somebody Has To Shoot The Picture” which re-ignited my fascination. There are a number of reasons why I didn’t pursue a photojournalism career, not the least of which can be found in the title of this post. As a photographer, this is something I think about a lot. Social media, and televised news, is filled with videos of people in distress and my first thought is, "Why are you not helping?" Watch any news program and you will see someone who has tragically lost a loved one, they are clearly anguished and yet, someone is recording or photographing them. It is then that I wonder why they can’t just have a private moment; do we really need to memorialize this with a photograph?

In early 2017, President Trump addressed Congress; he spoke of US Navy Seal Ryan Owens who had recently been killed during a raid. His widow was there. When the President introduced her, the chamber erupted in applause. During the ovation, the camera was trained on her, her grief still fresh. It felt like an intrusion and, after a short time, it made me uncomfortable. I have had similar situations arise when covering events; participants overcome by emotion turning to others for comfort. I always consider taking the shot but rarely do.

I don’t think I can “get the shot” above all else. I’m quite good at covering the “fun stuff” but feel uncomfortable exploiting someone’s grief. When I see someone in need of assistance my impulse is to help, not shoot. I have witnessed accidents, sometimes close enough to have narrowly escaped being involved, but I don’t have a single photograph, even though the camera has been in the car. I could have quite a collection and made money selling the images to local news outlets but the camera always stayed in the car. I look back at those times, mentally taking the photographs and think of the opportunities lost. Then I think about whether I made the right decision; that is one of the easiest questions I have ever had to answer – Yes, of course I did! It is the right decision for me, that isn’t to disparage those who would make a different decision. After all, somebody does have to shoot the picture. Right?

So, what do you think? Do you shoot or help?

Image: press-1017762_1920 -