Category Archives: The Story Behind The Shot

“Gaia, Roy, And The Challenge…”

In the past, I’ve shot couples that were comfortable in front of my lens because they were intimate, and I’ve shot models that were portraying couples that were intimate.

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(Photo: Fidel Amos)

This photoshoot presented me with a tiny bit of a challenge however.

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(Photo: Fidel Amos)

The two people I photographed were not professional models or a couple…they were simply friends that I asked to come and shoot for me.

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(Photo: Fidel Amos)

It’s wonderful to see the “progression of comfort”. In a few of the photos one can notice a slight hint of nervousness or an adaptation to the scenario.

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(Photo: Fidel Amos)

Over the course of the day however, that level of comfort opened up, and it shows in the remaining photos…

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(Photo: Fidel Amos)

Thanks for helping me out Gaia and Roy.

– F

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Filed under The Story Behind The Shot, Why I Do What I Do

“Shooting Myself…” (Photographically)

“The first time I became a ‘paid photographer’ was almost a decade ago.”

“Technically, I had taken photos well before that, having been bitten by the bug in college and shortly after becoming ‘that guy with the camera in your face’ during vacations and road trips. But it wasn’t until about 9 years ago that I was actually paid money to photograph something. I started small (as I imagine most shooters do), with events, parties and red carpet affairs…all very easy to find in NYC. Before long, however, and with help from friends in high places, I found myself with access to fashion shows, VIP happenings and the occasional star-studded wedding.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

“A year or two of that kind of photography put decent money in my bank account, but I found myself wanting more. Not more in the sense that I wanted to do more volume, I simply wanted to do the kind of shooting that held a little more substance. I didn’t just want to shoot more photos, I wanted the photos that I shot to mean something…I wanted people to FEEL what I was shooting, not just see it. It had become evident to me that I enjoyed taking random photos of people on the street much more than models on runways or celebrities at functions, so I began putting my focus into portraiture. I remember reading that a certain photographer had prepared for taking portraits of others by practicing on stuffed animals. For some reason though that sounded strange to me, as shooting a non-moving object hardly seemed challenging, so I practiced by shooting photos of myself.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

“I can’t honestly say that I took away much from that (other than the fact that being on the receiving end of a lens was more intimidating than I thought), but it did teach me one very valuable lesson: you can’t lie to a camera. Sure, you can make yourself up or undress yourself, you can pose differently or hide certain physical characteristics or imperfections by keeping them out of frame. But in the end you look like what you look like, and you are who you are…there’s no changing that.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

“Of course, this was a decade ago, not everyone and their grandmother’s had yet gotten their hands on Photoshop and various other applications that can make just about anyone look like just about anyone else, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the photo the second you take it, while it’s in the camera, raw for the world to see. Paul Strand, an American photographer and filmmaker, once wrote: ‘It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.’ In the end, he’s right, we’re all just humans….and that’s what I try to show in my photos. True, I’m no master photographer, I’m still learning every day, with every person that I shoot.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

“But after adding a few years of portrait-taking to my resume, after having photographed hundreds and hundreds of people in the streets, homes and jobs of various cities in countries around the world, I can safely say that I’ve learned a lot more about what it is to be human….and what it means to photograph that humanness.”

“That’s why I take photos.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

“….and that’s why every now and then, I still shoot myself.”

– F

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“The Photo-Bombing Bubble…”

I was walking in Central Park one day, when near the Bethesda Fountain I spotted a flash mob beginning a performance in front of a man and a woman. After they were done dancing he got down on a knee and proposed. When she said yes he hugged her, it was touching. I put my camera to my eye to take a picture…and that’s when a giant bubble appeared out of nowhere and floated right into my shot. A street performer on the terrace below me was creating person-sized bubbles from a bucket full of soapy water.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Of all the pictures from all the cameras in all the cities in the world, that bubble had to float into mine…at that exact moment in time.

– F

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Filed under Blog Quickies, New York City, The Story Behind The Shot

“The Doc Meets The Dude…”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

I took this photo while on assignment in Dehradun, India with a non-profit group consisting of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses from around the world. Locals in the area had heard of the team’s arrival and came from miles away to receive free medical care for their burns, scars and wounds.

One of these locals was an adorable little boy our team aptly named ‘The Dude’, as he didn’t speak English and none of us knew his name. Although he suffered from extreme burns to his hand and face, his presence at the hospital was a cheerful and amicable one.

In this photo he is meeting for the first time one of the surgeons that would later tend to him…and he was all smiles about it.

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Filed under Blog Quickies, Diary Of A Traveling Photog, On Assignment, The Story Behind The Shot

“My ‘All Guts, No Glory’ Style Of Shooting…”

I’m not your typical photographer.

Well, I may be typical in the sense that I didn’t go to a school for photography. I started taking photos with a friend’s camera about a decade ago, fell in love with what I could do with it and started making it a key part of my life…kinda like everybody else these days!

What I mean is I don’t generally like using all of the flashy gear and expensive computer programs that a lot of photographers use. Sometimes I regret not having learned photography back in the film and developing era. I imagine the all guts no glory, get-what-you-get-when-you-pull-the-trigger style of shooting would’ve gone hand in hand with my lack of desire to use assistants, hire makeup artists, rig lighting equipment and touch up photos. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with all of that obviously, sometimes it’s even necessary when conditions aren’t ideal for capturing an image.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Photos are a moment in time, seen by a human eye and captured by technology. To me, the photograph we see should be as true to the moment in time that it mirrors.

– F

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“The 37 Year Old Virgin……To Surgery.”

The first surgery I ever witnessed will live in my memories until the day I die.

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However short it may be, that simple sentence in and of itself describes the entire experience. First and foremost, most people on the planet don’t get to witness surgeries. It’s generally a sight reserved for those that have the knowledge and training required to perform or assist with surgeries. Of course, in this day and age there are videos and tv shows and various other media at hand with which to watch recordings of surgeries. But to be able to stand in a room where another human being is being, in one way or another, taken apart and reassembled?

No, most people don’t get to see that.

The person I was about to watch go ‘under the knife’ was slightly younger than your average patient…3 years old to be exact. She had slipped into a fire pit after awaking in the middle of the night in a tiny village miles away from a tiny town in a country with over a billion people in it. With no medical care readily available and no money to seek any out, her entire left leg had burned, curled and fused itself to itself. The once separate foot, ankle, shin and thigh were now nearly one mass.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

I remember the sight of the sleeping, naked, burned little being in front of me. I remember this machine beeping, that machine hissing, another moving up and down and another providing vital signs. I remember the smell, temperature and taste of the room. I say taste because four of my senses were so in tune with the overall quiet, sterile calmness of the room that my taste buds began to follow suit in their perception of it all. I remember a surgeon asking me if I’d “ever seen a surgery”, to which I calmly answered “um, no”. I remember a second surgeon giving me quick instructions on what to do should I become faint or lightheaded, something along the lines of “sit on the floor” or “try not to fall on the patient” followed by “you can wait outside if you need to”.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Come to think of, I had never considered what my body might do upon witnessing such a sight. I had never considered that accepting a job as a photographer for a group of international surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and support staff halfway around the world might land me in the middle of a real life surgery. I knew that I’d be covering their day to day life during a their travels to countries I had never seen. I knew that would obviously entail documenting sights, sounds and experiences that I had never beheld. But I never thought in my wildest dreams that they’d let me behind the ‘closed doors’. Yet there I was, scrubs on my body, booties on my feet, cover on my head, mask on my face, camera in my right hand, mic in my left.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

As machines beeped, as bad jokes were told, as Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix played, as surgeons talked me through procedures, as hours went by, as I watched through my lens…a little Indian girl was cut, opened, mended, stretched, folded, closed, glued, held, stapled and gauzed back together again.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

After she was awoken…

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

…after she was returned to her mother’s waiting arms…

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

…after the surgeons retreated to their own, individual, time-developed post-surgery rituals, I went outside and sat on a curb in front of the hospital.

I sat there, in my borrowed scrubs and mask.

I sat there, camera still in hand, mic still in hand.

I sat there, sweating, thirsty, thinking about the surgery I had just seen.

I sat there…forever changed.

Then I got up, went back inside, and photographed a dozen more.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

– F

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Filed under Diary Of A Traveling Photog, On Assignment, The Good In Mankind, The Story Behind The Shot

“The Homeless Delhi Girl…”

I shot this from the backseat of a taxi while on assignment in Delhi, India.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

This little girl was weaving in and out of the traffic that had stopped for a red light…she was begging for money and food. Not visible in this photo, her legs were dirty and her feet were shoeless. I remember thinking to myself how in the United States, a young person with her look might model, or do television commercials.

But in her country, in her city, she was just another street kid with no hope for a real future.

– F

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Filed under Diary Of A Traveling Photog, Globetrotting, On Assignment, The Story Behind The Shot