Life's a Florida Beach

Fuji Edit

Below is the Fuji edit of a book project I started working on in May of 2006 called "Life's a Florida Beach." The X-cameras weren't released yet when I started the project, so that is why there are only about 30 photos here. I have literally traveled to, and photographed on, every known beach in Florida, and Florida has over 1,300 miles of coastline (that's over 2,000 kilometers). I wasn't able to shoot every inch of it of course, and my time at each beach was limited, but tried to cover as much as possible when I was there. This is my edit from the last year. Not all of these shots will make the book of course (the book is still a dream), but maybe a few might. And not all of them are my favorites, but there are a few that I really love. I want to post a good edit on Kage, so would you gentlemen please help with the edit? On this occasion, which is somewhat different than if I covered an event such as an Elvis fest or even a more focused story such as midgets on crack, LOL, I don't really see a Flemming-Tight (that’s an adverb in some cultures) edit, but more of a representation of what a book may entail. But, I'll leave that up to you. Also, once we get the edit down, I let's work on the order of photos, which I think is a very important part of any story and I'm sure you'd agree.

I'm infinitely fascinated with people and live in a state (Florida) that is literally a melting pot of cultures, races and nationalities--and they all go to the beach. I also love black & white photos, and feel that most of the time color doesn't enhance the photos in this series, but distracts from the content of the photographs. HERE is a small edit of some of the color work (non-Fuji) from the project. These are strong in color, but I really don't have a lot of great color shots--maybe 20% of the entire project. As mentioned, most of the project is in B&W, partly because I love and prefer it, but partly because when most people are at the beach, it's mid-day and the light is rather harsh and flat. Let the discussions begin!     -Craig Litten/June 2014

(photos are in no particular order, click for larger image)

Discussion about Editing

Editing. You know, the Flemming-tight kind :)  I was looking at Derek's great Rockstar essay, and I thought about how interesting editing is and how this story would make a great springboard for a discussion about editing.

Now, it comes as little surprise that I subscribe to the less-is-more style. To me, the visual story becomes stronger by tightening the edit, it's like a comic book - I feel that if 8 really strong panels tell the story then over explaining the story in 20 panels, it just dilutes the really strong 8 and makes the story more unfocused, loose and with less impact. In short: Why show me 1 good + 2 filler images of the same thing, when 1 strong image I can dwell on will have much more impact - for me. Just my opinion on editing.

(I do better at editing images, I so struggle with this in writing, writing a "tight" focused story. Usually my drafts are all over the place, completely unfocused and "un-tight" :) )

I guess that is why I so often feel photo stories are not edited tightly enough. It's not they have to be 8 pictures long, if there are 50 super strong pictures from years of work on a project, by all means go for it. 

While I am at it, let me have a go at Salgado too :)  So, I saw his Genesis exhibition in Singapore. Epic, epic images but it's not tightly edited (neither are his books). I do not need 15 images of penguins, 1 or 2 really strong and epic will do and tell the story better. There are 6 whale tails, 15 penguin images, 10 albatross images etc etc in Genesis. By the time Charlene and I got to picture 12 of penguins we were both "omg will you edit your stuff Salgado, enough of the penguins". Yes, we don't mind having a go at the world's best documentary photographer hehehehe :)

So - editing - what are your thoughts on the matter and my comments below using Dereks' story?

Derek kindly let me use his story for this post to illustrate how I would edit it, so here goes, here's the thumbnails and explanations below of what I would take out and why:


RED: 2 pictures of shoes are at least one too many :) Actually, I don't need any of these pictures in the story, but if you want to show the shoe, show one and show the shoe in action on a cliff. Actually I just noticed you have that later in the essay, so delete these two images.

BLUE: You know the drill ehehehheeh, 3 pictures of chalk bag is 2 too many. Pic the last one where there's action, where the hands get "chalked up"

GREEN: These 3 are very similar to me, similar feel. I would go with 1 or 2 of these only. 

Triptych: Interesting idea. I do feel that I would love the image with the arm to stand alone - that's really strong.

Finally a question, I am curious, why the black and white at the end, what is the thinking behind this?

Toward A New Documentary Expression - Aperture Foundation


Toward A New Documentary Expression

I read that piece yesterday and it sort of floored me. In part because it's extremely well-written but also because it strikes a chord and touches on many aspects of documentary photography that I've been thinking about over the past year or two — namely the idea of moving away from the purely factual and embracing symbolism or other alternative ways of spreading the message or telling a story.

I've linked to it in our magazine (and on Twitter) but I wanted to include it here as well so we could all refer to it easily. Food for thought.   

a story telling "Matière à penser"

Hi guys,

I saw the great images of the high school rodeo! Nice job Flemming! I can smell the perfume of the horses and the dust either i can hear each sound looking at these pics (i made a red cross on my favorites pics).

I just finished a documentary work this week... Maybe these images could be interesting for my first story telling in the Kage... i wrote a text but in french (Pat si tu penses que cela vaut la peine, je vais tenter de le traduire). This is about a company call "Matière à penser". It's a kind of scenic workshop. Women and men who imagine and create objects, furnitures and decorations for museums and some amusement parks. There you can find engineers, model makers, sculptors, painters, cabinet makers... all precious talents, creative spirits stimulated by every new project. In the attach file you'll find a selection of images... my first selection ;-)

Have a nice week end!

Le texte proposé :

"Matière à penser, ce sont d'abord des femmes et des hommes animés par un même esprit créatif. Perdu dans une zone industrielle, les hangars cachent de petits trésors d'inventions. Chacun est prévenu de mon arrivée. Le photographe sera discret et n'entravera pas le travail des uns ni des autres. C'est mon but avant toute chose. Devenir caméléon et me fondre dans le décor. Dans les décors devrais-je dire. Chacun vaque à ses occupations, ingénieurs et maquettistes isolés du bruit des machines et des outils, réflexions en cours... J'ouvre une porte puis c'est le saut chez les "ouvriers". Bienvenue parmi les sculpteurs, ébénistes, peintres et autres talentueux mécanos. Parfums et essences se chevauchent, se mêlent à chaque coin de l'immense atelier. Tout ici n'est que matière, de la plus solide à la plus fluide, chacune à son maître incontesté..."

+33 (0)6 64 11 11 20

Craig's edit below


High School Rodeo New Mexico



In April 2013, Charlene and I stumbled into a High School Rodeo in the awesome small quirky town of Truth or Consequences (that is the name and we love this town, it is so surreal and weird!) in New Mexico.

We spent 2 days at the rodeo shooting and filming and getting to know people, everyone was very friendly and the atmosphere was a special level of friendship and joy, these families travel the high school rodeo circuit together. We were allowed in everywhere and to stand anywhere we wanted and have an invite to the annual national high school rodeo in Colorado which we must go to one day. 

It was going to go into the Beyond movie but did not fit, so we never really did anything with all these pictures and video. 

So I figured, I could use it for our first KAGE review session. I have attached 16 images below and you can also download them here from Dropbox if you wish to try out some story edits :

Do not hold back, tell me what you think of the work, what could be improved, what is good, which images work, maybe try out some edits (Flemming-tight?) if you like!  

EDIT: Also it is in colour, as I like the colours here and if this ends up a KAGE story I really want to do a colour one, have done two bw ones.

There are 2-3 images in here I really like, but I am not sure I did well enough to do a whole KAGE story on it. But let me hear what you guys think of the images and lets see what comes out of this review session. session GO :) 

Focus lock etc...

Hey Kage,
I have a question for you guys regarding focus lock... I'm just curious to know what you think and how you use this feature before sending in a note about it to Fuji.

I got word from them yesterday that my X-T1 was on its way and I'll probably get it Monday or Tuesday. But I was shooting all week with the X-Pro1 and X100 and I realized how much I use the focus lock button when I'm shooting in AF. On the X-T1 the behaviour of this button has now changed: instead of locking the focus in place, it first refocuses and THEN locks it down. I wrote about it in my review and got a few comments saying this was a "great feature"... Am I the only one who doesn't get it? 

I understand the idea is to mimic the back button focussing of DSLRs... But we could already do that by shooting manual — I do it all the time. For me the whole point of locking focus when I'm in AF is to PREVENT the camera from wasting time acquiring focus when I know it's already dead on. It allows me to lock the camera and shoot, here and now. This new behaviour means I won't have a choice but to shoot manual most of the time. Not a problem but I fail to see what we're gaining here...

What do you guys think? For me this really feels like a behaviour we should be able to choose since it also breaks away from the other bodies in the line.

Btw, I read your X-T1 post Bert and I agreed with every single thing you said; including your ho-hum reaction to the prototype and subsequent change of heart. Truth is, in spite of this focus lock change, I spent the entire week wishing I had this camera with me. I never thought going back to the X-Pro1 after two weeks would be that much of a let down. Well, not a let down but just such a downward shift in performance and handling and flow...  

I still love the results though. A few pics below (the image at top is the promo shot)... There's a KAGE story in the material but this isn't it at all. So no dissection yet please ;) 

And I just got the new 2014 X Photographers book...
Have a great weekend and let me know about this issue when you get a chance.
Later :)

Trigger post

This is just a post to test the newsletter trigger. if we all receive this message in an updated newsletter it means the system is working. 

So to recap:

  1. The newsletter will automatically be sent every day at midnight EST IF new content has been added to our internal blog. Otherwise nothing gets sent.
  2. All of us will now receive Squarespace communications through our new group email, which forwards to our own individual emails. That's the test I sent over the weekend. This will include notifications of any comments added to internal blog posts so we won't need to check the website to stay up to date. In simpler terms: we'll get an email when someone comments ;)

I think we're all set.

About our blog


Hey guys,

So this is our very own private blog. I figured it might be more useful and productive than endless email threads. I've created a newsletter that will automatically alert us to new posts once a day. To respond simply click on the link below the main post in the email or click the KAGE logo at the top and you'll be taken to the blog's home page . I've enabled threaded comments as well so we can discuss away :)

This is a full blown blog so we can format the posts just as we can in our official stories - images, links, galleries etc.

I've added two recent items from our email discussions that I thought might be interesting to hold on to.

Let the talks begin... ;)

Steve McCurry and ethics

From Flemming:

Steve McCurry is definitely using the dark side of the force.

OK, there are all the internet stories about how big an a**hole he is and how truly horrible and waste of money his workshops are - google them, there's plenty.

I then had these confirmed by photographer friends in the US who had the 'pleasure' of having to rescue and take over some of McCurry's workshops at US photo festivals where the workshop participants where threatening to walk out and sue the festival. Also was told stories of how McCurry works in the field.

Then I had these stories confirmed... I was in the Open Shutter gallery in Durango, Colorado. Guy who works there has been an assistant for McCurry on several trips. Since they had a McCurry exhibition, the talk falls on him and the guy tells me horror stories of McCurry in the field. They were in India, and McCurry will wander straight into people's house without permission and start taking pictures of everyone, start posing them, moving stuff around, just behaving like he owns the planet. He will photograph kids, then he will take away their toy or similar to make them cry and photograph the kid's emotions. 

There were countless more tales. Since I have had these confirmed by so many who know him or have worked with him, I don't mind gossipiing about it, no one should ever go to a McCurry workshop and I must admit I have lost all respect for his (pretty stunning) work knowing how he gets the results.

Low Tech

I thought you might be interested in a little interview of a friend of mine who I went to photo school with way back in the early '90s on my blog. I think his work is pretty amazing, but it's also very interesting that it was shot with a tiny
toy camera called a Harinezumi.  Hope it inspires someone, it has me. The low-techness of the camera actually make the images more compelling.