What’s next for this website
Pre-covid, February is usually a busy month for me, I am normally extremely busy booking bands for the new music season, planning out the different tour dates, and making sure I can get access to the different events that I need to work. In a typical season, I would have around 25 to 30 bands booked for their tours of China by now, and I would hit 40 bands sometime early in March. I don’t book more than 40 bands per season as I can’t cover more than that unless they are playing at the same festivals. Having said all that, we are currently in the middle of February as I type this out and so far I have only one international or western band booked for this year and they will only come here in late October, so this is a real problem for me. Even though China is opening up and all the crazy covid shit has passed, no one is actually returning to China. I had to sit in my apartment and stay within my base city in China for over three years now, so going another year with no work would be really tough. I have always been good with my money and saved well, so I could afford to take some downtime on during covid but my finances are not unlimited and I will need to start earning money soon again or I will start to eat into my own pension money that I have been saving up.
Compounding all of that is the fact that I have developed a real Leica lenses addiction, so I have been spending a lot of money on the new system, and playing around with the new lenses, so my wallet is starting to run a little light recently. This brings us to the website. I built the website many years ago so I could have a centralized location to send bands to look at my portfolio. That was the entire goal of the website. I then slowly started to host the different band’s photos on the website as it was easier to send a band a link to their photos and they could pick the shots they were interested in, and we could do some business. Later on, I noticed that my English writing ability was slowly starting to decline as I hardly used English outside of some basic emails so I decided to write some equipment reviews and blogs to practice my English. I never really cared too much about who actually read the site, and the only thing that did concern me was not getting into trouble with the website in China, hence no comments on the website as Chinese law states that I am directly liable for all comments on the website. So one single bad comment could get me arrested in China.
So unless a miracle happens in the next few weeks and I get absolutely snowballed by bookings, then this website will be entering its fourth year or serving no real purpose. I will need to decide real soon if I am going to keep paying to host the website or kill it. Website hosting is actually kind of expensive, especially if you have a website that has as many photos on it as I do. Right now there are over 22000 photos in my media library for this site. So I am not exactly sure what I will do. But if I do pay for another year, then I am probably going to redesign the website which will take some time as I do all the development myself. Perhaps I will do some more film photography reviews as I still have a ton of medium format equipment that I could write about, or perhaps I will continue to document my playtime with the Leica system.
As you can see from the pictures above, I have picked up two new lenses for the Leica system now. The Voightlander Heliar classic 50mm f1.5 lens and the Light Lens Lab 35mm f2 lens. One of the main reasons for picking up these two lenses is that I have noticed that a lot of Chinese photographers have been selling their old gear and buying new Sony cameras. They all seem to be going for the ultrasharp, hyper-saturated look right now, so I am going to pivot my shooting to a softer look, and a more classical style or rendering. I have always found that when it comes to making money in photography, it is good to be different from everyone else. When I first came to China, I was mostly shooting black and white when it came to music photography, but as soon as the Chinese photographers started to go black and white, I went to color and tried to use the stage lights to enhance the color and saturations in the shots.
The above images are from one of the first sets I shot at a festival in China. I did the entire festival in my normal black and white, which ended up getting picked up by all the local newspapers in the city. I remember getting a little heat from the Chinese photographers at that time and I guess I could understand, as I was a new foreigner in town, they had never seen a foreign photographer at a Chinese music festival before, and I came in and basically stole all sales to the local media. About 6 months later, nearly everyone had started to move into black-and-white shots so I knew it was time to change things up and to be different. So I decided to embrace color. See the shots below. Same band, but this time in color.
The one advantage that Westerners have compared to Chinese people in mainland China, is our need to be individual. Most Chinese people will not innovate, but they will jump onto a trend when it emerges. So if one Chinese photographer switches to black-and-white and he is successful, they all switch to black-and-white, hoping to copy his success. So now that I can see the big switch to Sony and the ultrasharp, super-contrasty, digital images, I will move in a different direction. So hopefully the new lenses will help with that in some regard.
The Voigtlander Heliar 50mm F1.5 is basically the only modern soft-focus lens available for the Leica system at this point in time. I am hoping that this lens with its more classical rendering and glow when shot wide open will help me to develop a different look to the images in the future. The Light Lens Lab 35mm f2 lens is a copy of the old 8-element Leica 35mm lens and it also has a very vintage style of rendering. But making a plan to change your photography style is easy, following up on a plan and putting it into action is another story altogether. I bought the lenses, so now all I need to do is go out and do the shooting. Besides the digital stuff that I am playing around with, I am also starting a new project with my Seagull 4A medium format camera.
As you can see in the image above, I have completely stipped my Seagull 4A camera and I am about to start customizing it. One of my graffiti friends will be painting the camera body for me, and I will be cleaning and making sure the camera will still be in tip-top shape for the next couple of years. Luckily a TLR is not very complicated to take apart so all I need to do is wait for the body to be painted, and then I can start to put the camera back together again. How quickly this project finishes will be dependent on my friend and how quickly he can get the body painted. I have always enjoyed customizing my cameras so this has been a fun little side project to work on while I have been stuck at home. Finally, since this is a photo blog, here are some images that I have shot over the last two weeks. Most of it was done with the Leica Q2 Monochrom.