One can not have a conversation about photoblogs without mentioning the site Daily Dose of Imagery by Sam Javanrouh. Not only is he the number 1 photoblog in Canada, but he ranks 2nd worldwide on photoblogs.org. It’s a great achievement for someone who has only lived in Toronto since 1999.
To top it off his site has also been featured in a number of online and offline publications including Toronto Star, BBC Collective, Shutterbug Magazine, Coudal Partners, Photoxel, Netscape, Yahoo Daily and CBC Radio 3
PJ: How did you get started in Photography? How long ago? and Why?
SJ: I started playing with my father’s cameras when I was a kid. He’s a cinematographer so he had a bunch of camera that I played with as a kid and started learning photography from him eventually. And my mom got me my first camera when I was 10, a flat cartridge camera which I loved. But I didn’t take photography seriously until later. I started taking behind the scenes photos for my father when I was around 16. That pretty much started it all.
photo of Sam shooting out the window.
PJ: I know you have a very busy schedule with your day job. Do you find
you have to schedule time to shoot? When and where do you shoot?
SJ: Most of the time I trust my luck and shoot while I’m on my way to work and on my way home during the week. I hardly have the time to schedule anything during the week. But I change my route occasionally, especially when I’m riding my bike to find new subjects. In the weekends I try to be more selective and find out what’s going on around downtown that is photo worthy and I also try to find new locations constantly.
PJ: Do you have a favorite subject matter when it comes to shooting? What
sorts of scenes attract you?
SJ: I love textures, shapes, structures and architecture. But above all I love to work with light and shadows. The combination of the elements mentioned above attracts me the most.
PJ: What equipment do you have in your arsenal? What is your favorite? Why?
SJ: The main camera I use is a Canon Digital Rebel XT. It’s an extremely light and fast camera for a D-SLR. I also shoot with a number of Lomo cameras with the LC-A being my favourite among them and I recently won a Canon Powershot A95 (for Photobloggies) which is a great P&S with my favourite feature: swiveling LCD screen. I most of the time attach a super wide (Raynox 0.45) extension to it for fisheye pictures. You’ll find a 50mm MKII 1.8 lens in my camera bag and occasionally a 70-200 L f4 lens. A canon macro adapter ring is also always with me. I also really like my LensBaby 2.0 but I still haven’t had the chance to play with it much. I would say my favourite piece of equipment is my Lomo LC-A camera. There is something about it that makes it a great camera producing some great photos.
PJ: What is on your wishlist in terms of equipment? Why? How do you think
it would help improve your photography?
SJ: The first item on my list is an everyday lens to replace my very weak rebel kit lens. I’d like to get a Canon 17-40 L f4 lens for that purpose. Next in the list is a canon 100mm macro lens. Third is a Shift/Tilt lens from Canon.
Nothing is more important than lenses and that’s why my list is topped with them.
PJ: What inspires you to continue to persue photography? Are there any photographers who have greatly influenced your style? Do you plan to do photography full time?
SJ: Visual arts have been extremely important in my life. In a perfect world I would have been a Graphics Novel artist but the fact that I can’t draw very well have made me move to the next best thing which is photography. I also love movies and cinematography and that’s why my main sources of inspiration are the cinematographers that I admire. Christopher Doyle, Darius Khondji, Lance Accord ,Vittorio Storaro and Anthony Dod Mantle are a few of many people whose work continue to inspire me.
I do not plan to do photography full time, not yet at least.
PJ: I know you are very skilled in using Photoshop. If there was one trick that you think every photographer should know, What would it be?
SJ: I think mastering the curves tool is pretty much the most important post processing tool for photographers. If you master Curves you won’t need any other adjustment tool and the advantage is you colour correct, fix the exposure and adjust the contrast all in one pass. The less adjustment passes in photoshop, the better the quality.
The one tool in Photoshop that photographers should avoid using at all costs is the Brightness/Contrast tool. This tool damages the dynamic range of an image very easily and using Levels or even better; Curves instead is highly recommended.
At the PAR< =>YYZ exhibition
PJ: In the past few months, you have been involved in two gallery shows. How has this experience compared to your own online experience with your website? Are there any plans to do more exhibits in the future?
SJ: It has been a great experience to have people looking at your framed work on the wall and also meeting the visitors of the site in person. It’s a much more personal and different experience than having a photoblog or a photo website, but it’s also much more expensive and time consuming to put up a gallery showing. I don’t have any plans for another photo exhibit in the near future but might do one for next Contact.
PJ: Can you tell me about how PAR< =>YYZ came together? How did you and Titka come together to collaborate on this exhibit?
SJ: I was contacted by a friend of mine who was doing a contact show at Gallery 401 for half May and mentioned that the next half will be free and there is already someone who’s interested in doing a joint show to share the costs. I was already thinking about doing a Contact show so I went and met with Titka and the gallery owner. Titka already knew what she wanted to show so I selected images that would work well with hers in one space.
Sam and Titka at Gallery 401
PJ: How do you feel about being in the second position on photoblogs.org’s top 100? Do you find that you cater your photography based on the expectation of your viewers? Is there more pressure on you to deliver?
SJ: It definitely puts more pressure on my back, but at the same time it makes me try to post better photos everyday. But after a while you really have to do your best and give in to the fact that you can never please everyone. Being on the top 5 of photoblogs.org is not all glory either, it also generates a lot of hate mails and attracts tons of spammers and trolls.
PJ: There are thousands of people doing photoblogs now. Do you have any favorite photoblogs that you visit regularly that you think are hidden gems in the blogosphere? What do you like about this site?
SJ: I visit many photoblogs and it’s amazing how many quality photoblogs are out there right now. It’s very hard for me to say which one is best but these are a few of my many favourites in no particular order:
* Orbit1 ; which is run by a very experienced and talented photographer. John’s pictures are very inspiring and full of experimental ideas.
* CHROMOGENIC ; featuring photos of Justin Ouellette who studied photography in Paris. He’s a film only no digital kind of guy and he makes some incredible pictures.
* QUARLO ; featuring NY photos of Todd Gross with some amazing shots of New Yorkers.