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The cover of today’s New York Daily News is absolutely despicable. Yesterday, a TV news reporter and her photographer were brutally gunned down on live TV by a disgruntled, mentally disturbed former employee of the station.

On today’s cover the NYDN ran a series of frame grabs from the gunman’s camera as he committed the murders, the video coming from the gunman himself after he posted it online. The full story is here

I won’t link to the cover as I don’t want to provide link reference or clicks. What angers me the most is we live in a society that refuses to condemn the sensationalism or do anything about it, and in some cases celebrate the outrageous like this.

Complaining about it is a start, but it won’t get anything done. Until we stop consuming this garbage, it will go on. And, that’s just what the scum want us to do.

Whose Rules?

Who makes the rules for photography and why are you bound to them?

Do you follow rules based on scientific experiment, psychology, theory?

Were the rules dictated by the preferences of a photo editor and that’s just how it was passed down?

Were technical requirements (printing, analog limits, etc.) the guidelines for composition and lighting?

Was it always just “done that way” by a few group of people who insisted the method be followed by the people behind them?

Rules are good. Knowledge and practice of the rules is good. But remember why you use them and be willing to question their validity when someone insists your photography is suffering because you aren’t following “the rules.”

Content Trumps the Technical – But Don’t Let it be an Excuse

Several years ago, I picked up the seminal work by swiss-Born photographer Robert Frank, The Americans.

Photos in the book are hailed for being raw, grainy and at times blurred, out of focus, off-kilter, and so on.

But the real value of the book is in the content, the subjects of the photos and the world they’re framed in. Some called it a celebration of a country in its post-WWII glory, but most found it a critical piece. Not all of America was pretty. Some was still rough, some had grown rough and for all the post-war fanfare, the USA was not a perfect place.

The technique used was a bit revolutionary for the time, Popular Photography magazine chided the poor technical quality of the photos, but most critics felt that the uneasiness caused by the technical quality was more than offset, and in fact complemented the less-than complimentary message.

photo2Of course, the famous D-Day photo (left) by the great Robert Capa was victim (allegedly) to a poorly handled film in the dryer and the blur in the photo was purely a result of this. Regardless of who caused the technical error, it is perhaps the single most recognizable image of World War II, with the possible exception Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

But you nor I are likely in progress to shoot an iconic work of photography. However, we have been challenged by technical limitations: poor light, a subject that won’t sit still, mistaken settings on the camera, degradation or out-and-out loss of the original file, etc.

My advice to people is to just push the button anyway. It may not be perfect, but if you are so tempted to push the shutter to wish for better circumstances,  you should push the button before the moment is gone. There is a good possibility that you will get what you want. As Wayne Gretzky said, ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Below is a photo of my brother-in-law with his toddler son. It was shot with a Canon Rebel XT and a 85/1.4 Pentax Manual Focus lens with an adapter. I was playing with the combination and took it to my father’s house for a family gathering.


When I saw that image coming together I had to take the shot. I thought the image was in focus, the exposure was close. I opened it in…umm…Picasa? Or maybe it was the old Corel something-or-other. Regardless, it was just a scoche out of focus. Do you think I cared? Hell no. Did my sister care? No. The content trumped the technical, and the CONTEXT (my family) trumped it as well.

BUT. One thing I’ve seen from budding photographers is claiming the moment has overcome their poor technique, when if they were to show the image to another person, that person will see nothing but a very poorly executed photo. I see photographers (this seems to happen with sports) blow off criticism by citing the intent or the attempted goal of the picture. “This car is moving/crashing, etc” But the fact it, there are lots of pictures of cars moving that are technically sound, to boot. We can’t let the moment, or the event be a crutch for bad technique, because in most cases context and audience will determine whether or not content trumps technique.

As with my photo of my nephew, the family viewed it as special. But, it is subject to criticism. Was the background perfect, should I have waited for this or that, or…well, you can nitpick it to death.

I can live with the imperfections, but I know they’re there. If you can’t acknowledge the imperfections, you’re going down a path of shoddiness, and in the end it will affect content and context as well as you’re attitudes toward the craft will seep from the technical to the contextual.

I also have another theory, that time trumps technique too. I’ll get into that another time.


Today, I’m going to start making blog posts on this site. Most posts will contain either photos, random thoughts, photos and random thoughts, essays – whatever I see fit.

The main reason I started a blog (aside from SEO-rich content – say that in your Ricardo Montalban “Rich Corinthian Leather” or some Sam Elliot beef-commercial inflection) is to keep me focused on producing, be it writing, photography, or both.

By giving an outlet, I also have a place to produce. As an artist, production is the most important. If you have no repository, it becomes tough to produce and thus grow.

Some thoughts may be well thought-out, some off-the-cuff and others may contradict what I said earlier. But, it’s producing and that’s how I plan to go.


About me

Hello folks, my name is Jason Orth, and I’m a communications specialist, writer, and photographer from Lincoln, Nebraska.

After several years working in the racing industry as full-time as Asst. GM and Public Relations rep for Eagle Raceway and writer for the World of Outlaws series. After that, I moved on to the e-commerce field, where I spent the next 6 years.

In February I took a leave from my previous job and got started with establishing a unique web presence of my own. For 7 years I managed a racing-themed blog, I put down the blogging for some time to start raising a family and pursue other interests.

I’m now starting to begin a unique journey down the creative path, something I’ve looked forward to for a long time.

In the meantime, I’ll be writing about photography related topics, devote a side-page to motorsports and grow creatively.

I’m just getting things rolling here. It should be fun.


Follow me on twitter: @JDOMedia

Getting Started

I’m opening up now to get some things rolling on my Motorsports page, including a photo-themed blog and also a few racing takes. It’s a work in progress.

In the meantime, follow me on twitter: @JDOmedia

Photo Usage (the fine print)

Let’s get the formalities out of the way first:

All photos are Copyright Jason Orth. Usage of photos is governed by the appropriate licensing rights, granted expressly by Jason Orth photography. Unauthorized copying, re-posting or other distribution is expressly forbidden under all terms of US Copyright Law, Title 17, US Code.

I hate doing that, and I hate going here, but I need to:

Photographers pay lots of money and invest time in their gear and their craft. Many of us who shoot short tracks aren’t expecting to become millionaires, most expect enough to break even or support their habit hobby. A few make enough for a part-time income. And, just like you don’t race for free, or giveaway free product, they don’t want to be taken advantage of either. Cameras, lenses (and the beating they take), printing, computers, internet, software, gas to/from the track, pit fees, etc. all cost money, and thus the images produced have value.

Prices are reasonable and tailored to meet your needs, be it web/social media images or hi-res printable files. Costs are much less than the box of t-shirts or a small part of the total cost of the hero cards you’re having printed. Most short-track photography is priced FAR below other forms of commercial or fine-art photography. If you don’t feel like paying, fine. If someone will do it for free, feel free to contact them – I don’t have an ego to feed, no hard feelings. I also don’t accept payment in forms of “exposure”, stuff I don’t want or need, or things like link exchanges. All working for free “for exposure” gets you is being exposed as someone who works for free. I know this from experience.

Talk to me, if you have custom needs, we can work something out. But please don’t steal. Thieves get DMCA notices filed on their websites, take-down notices issued, accounts suspended, etc.

In short – if you want something, just ask!