Landscapes and Social Media with Jim Goldstein
Jim Goldstein is a full-time professional photographer based in San Francisco, CA. He captures landscapes and nature, and is an established travel photographer. He also embraces social media, and is highly active on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Google + amongst others, such as Photo.net. We took some time to talk to Jim about his techniques, social media strategies, how landscapes inspire him, and his new eBook.
B&H: First, congratulations on the publication of your ebook, 'Photographing the 4th Dimension—Time.' What inspired you to create this book, and why did you choose time and slow-shutter techniques as the subject matter?
Jim: Thank you. I've long been interested in slow-shutter techniques to add impact to my photography, and I wanted to create an eBook for others to be introduced to these techniques in a way that was fun, engaging, and—most importantly—inspiring. I've long been inspired by the photographs of other great photographers employing these techniques, but there was never a resource that delved into the techniques and specific steps they were taking to achieve their photos. I created the Photographing the 4th Dimension—Time ebook to give others a shortcut that I never had.
I designed the eBook to discuss these techniques around the theme of Time, because we seldom think of 'time' as a subject, as opposed to the more-common notion of subjects in time. Without the common thread of time as a theme, these techniques might seem completely unrelated. By creatively introducing these techniques under the umbrella of 'time,' my hope is that photographers will try techniques they might never have thought to use, and expand their skill set when shooting for fun or a client.
B&H: You have a very popular blog, and you're active on multiple social media channels. How do you manage your time and make sure you stay focused on making photographs? Do you have any time-management tips for younger photographers?
Jim: I would consider myself an early adopter of social media, and I've been quite fortunate that sharing my experiences and knowledge, as well as the things I enjoy, have resonated with others. The lessons I've learned as I've explored social media are:
- 1. Be yourself, and let your passions take center stage. You don't have to be gimmicky, and you don't have to 'over promote' in the process.
- 2. If you have a blog, or you're on multiple social media sites, look for services or add-ons to bridge sites, so that when you enter an update on one site, the message is replicated on others. This can be a big time saver.
- 3. Take part on social media sites as your schedule permits and don't stress about missing messages. Just because you're not at your computer, it doesn't mean that you're permanently missing messages. You can search for interactions based on your user names, or reference email notifications.
- 4. Interact with your audience as you can, even if it's delayed. Don't just broadcast.
- 5. Only pursue what you're comfortable with. If over time you become more comfortable with blogging or social media, then you can participate more. Not everyone finds it enjoyable, and it's not something you should force yourself to do. People that shine on social media are those that feel comfortable with it and incorporate it into their daily or weekly routine.
- 6. As for my social media or blogging routine, I don't have a set one. I'm by nature a bit of a photography and news junkie, so if I read something while I'm eating or taking a break, I'm happy to share what I've learned with the press of a tweet, like, or +1 button. As for blog content, I'll make note of my random musings and write up short articles, or I'll just share my photos and a story. I try to do this 2–3 times a week, but when I was really on fire, I used to post blog entries 4–5 times a week.
- 7. Never lose sight of your photography projects. Social media and blogging have always been attractive to me, as I enjoy sharing my work. But I’ve never allowed it to reach a point where it has distracted my focus from my photography. I don't hesitate to inform people that my updates might be slower or absent until I'm back from a trip or done with an assignment.
- 8. Have fun.
The biggest time-saving tip is to find tools to increase efficiency of your activity, such as the bridging sites that I've mentioned. That has always been my biggest time saver. And ultimately, you should only be as active as you can afford to. If using social media 30 or 60 minutes a day is all you can spare, then make the most of it. There isn't one 'right' way to use social media or blogs.
B&H: In your photographs, you capture the beauty of the Western landscape. What it is about the landscape that inspires you?
Jim: I have always cherished the outdoors, where I can take in and enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature. Our schedules can often be our worst nightmare. I really enjoy rediscovering and photographing simple beauty which people often miss due to their hectic schedules. The majority of my work is the Western landscape. That’s partially a result of my general proximity to it all. Additionally, the diversity of desert, mountain and coastal environments provide an endless creative palette to work with.
In each of these environments, the interplay of light, texture, scenery and wildlife captures my imagination and drives home a "wow" moment, which I forever feel compelled to share.
B&H: Do you have any pro tips for amateurs who might be getting started shooting landscapes?
Jim: One misconception about landscape photography is that many of the photos are a result of luckily stumbling onto a magical moment. The best landscape photos result from a great deal of planning and research. My short list of recommendations is:
- 1. Be Persistent—If you thought you waited long enough to see the best light, wait longer.
- 2. Know your Subject—Conduct research ahead of time regarding subjects, locations, safety considerations, lodging, etc.
- 3. Know the Light—Conduct research ahead of time regarding weather, sunrise/sunset times, moon phase, moonrise/moonset times, location considerations, etc.
- 4. Know Your Camera—Know, from experience, the limitations and capabilities of your camera.
- 5. Be Brave—Don't be afraid to take a bad photo or do something different than the norm.
B&H: How long have you been doing Photo Tours? It must be interesting and fun to continually meet new people interested in photography. What have you learned from conducting these tours? And what do you think people should consider before signing up for a tour?
Jim: I've been running photo tours for five years, sharing locations that are special to me with other like-minded photographers. These tours are incredibly fun, because they're a great way of sharing the experience of nature, learning and improving our photography skills, and learning more about the environments we photograph. What I've learned from my photo tours is that people really value their time in nature. As an example, the ability to see trillions of stars overhead on a moonless night has, sadly, become a rare event, and those that get to experience this with me return home with a greater appreciation for nature and the importance of it to them, their family, and society as a whole. When signing up for a photo tour or workshop, know who your leaders/instructors are, their strengths, and how that aligns with your interests. Attending a photo tour or workshop isn't just about location—it's about the people you interact with, those who will be sharing their knowledge with you.
B&H: What’s next for you? Anything exciting on the horizon?
Jim: Early this year, I'll be venturing out to Death Valley on a photo tour, and I'll be announcing new trips for 2012/13 in the very near future, at the workshop section of my blog.