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A Tourist In Your Own Backyard

The world has changed, at least for the moment. So, how do you continue creating and making things in this restrictive environment? We asked travel photographer, Sam Stone, how he’s been able to make such hauntingly beautiful photos during this time — since the farthest reaches of his travels are now the four corners of his neighborhood on Long Island. His approach to the lockdown is a great template for all creatives.

Look at the World Through New Eyes

“When you are in a new place, you are truly a stranger. I still wanted to take photos every day, but I really had to get out of the trap in my head that I needed to be somewhere different to make beautiful images.” — Sam Stone

Sure, we are limited to how far we can roam right now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see. Behind all the things we are familiar with is another world we haven’t looked at before.

Slow Down

“I stopped driving and started riding my bike a lot more. Being able to be still and view [things] from a stationary perspective is so much different. There is so much detail in the banality of a gas station for example, a lot of things speak to you when you prioritize time and slowness.”

You probably have more time than you have ever had before to just stop and examine your surroundings. Take advantage of it — you’ll be surprised at what you discover.

Seek Out Others

“Photographers that I love in no particular order are: Fred Herzog, Saul Leiter, Lee Friedlander, Gordon Parks, Daido Moriyama, Elliot Erwitt, Paul Strand, Garry Winogrand, Fan Ho, Vivian Maier, Stephen Shore, and William Eggleston. I think my closest source of inspiration are the people that I’ve met while I’ve lived here. I could go on and on about my friends, they inspire me every single day.”

From the artists who first influenced you to friends who are doing interesting things, take some of this time you have on your hands to revisit their work.

Do Something Creative Daily

“I try to take photographs every day; and always have a camera with me everywhere.”

Make being creative a daily priority. Even small things, like a trip to the grocery store or watching the world through your window for 20 minutes can spark your creativity.

Remember, You’re Living in a Real Historical Moment

“It doesn’t seem meaningful to us now, but just as we look back on photos taken 20, 30, or 100 years ago, eventually this reality will become foreign. I want to be able to represent as many aspects of reality I can, and hopefully give people a glimpse into what the world was like for us.”

The things you create during this time have an historical significance beyond just what they are as creative pieces. This makes it all the more important for you to do you work now, even if it is more difficult.

A Parting Thought

“Feeling trapped and uninspired is temporary, it’s possible to become who you want to be — the choice is up you.”


When life gives you lemons

Inspiration Origination

Erica Reade was walking along the beach one in 2017 and came upon a mirror tucked between fence slats and she has been transfixed with shooting with mirrors ever since.

Along with the rest of us, she’s had to accept a new normal and in doing so, she’s moved from outdoor photographer to indoors, channeling her time and energy into being more creative.

“I took a few photos and was immediately enamored by the effect I had created. I was creating two photos in one, and it gave me a real sense of doing a “double take.”

Erica found that the first set of images she made during the lockdown felt so good that she found she was pushing herself to be even more inventive.

A Calming Force

Photography has become an outlet for her anxiety during the quarantine.
“It was a constant, consistent practice that grounded me. Photography was the way I coped and channeled my nerves and anxiety.”

A nod to making lemonade out of lemons during the quarantine. “Finding bright yellow inspiration amidst the darkness of the time.”

Making Lemonade

The series of mirror images is meant to encourage viewers to pause and do a ‘double take.’ “We’ve grown so accustomed to consuming images with the swipe of a finger, I began reflecting on what it meant to slow down as a photographer and take my time creating an image.”

“Once we were in lockdown, the idea of ‘reflection’ suddenly felt much more significant. We became united in our collective isolation, reflecting on how we had gotten to this point. ‘What did my time at home mean and what was I supposed to be doing as a photographer.’”

A nod to making lemonade out of lemons during the quarantine. “Finding bright yellow inspiration amidst the darkness of the time.

Erica Reade

Take this time to be vulnerable and share your journey with your followers. Be inspired by the work you see and create your own unique work.

“I had to really look at myself in the mirror in a way I hadn’t in a long time, to reflect on who I was in the world. Staying creatively busy gave me a sense of purpose during this difficult time.”

Get Inspired

“I have a number of practices outside of photography that help with my creativity. I meditate daily, spend a lot of time writing and go on long walks. I listen to podcasts about photography and play my favorite music.”

When she doesn’t feel inspired, Erica says giving herself a time limit to shoot helps. Once in the middle of shooting she loses herself in the act.

“I saw the confines of my apartment as a photographic challenge, pushing myself to think as creatively as possible. Admittedly, it’s been gratifying to be able to make work that I am so proud of during such a challenging time.”

“Once the restraints are lifted, my focus is my Beach Lovers series of couples on the beach in love. I’d like to get to the beach as safely and as often possible this summer to continue documenting couples at the beach.” Erica’s eventual goal is a photo book for the series.


Grow Wings

The film “Chasing No One” is a personal story. It is Anthony Riso’s story, capturing what was in his heart and his mind. And he’s found that those who view the film find it resonates with their own lives.

“Usually when I’m thinking about my own life and a struggle I’ve had to face, and I happen to be listening to music that provokes emotion, a scene starts to form in my head. If I can expand on that scene and create a story that will resonate with others, I hurry like a madman to get it out into the world.”

“I’m an emotional person, and I’m constantly reflecting on life. Sometimes I just let my emotions take the reins and hold on for dear life. So, I guess you could say my inspiration comes from being out in the world and being true to my emotions. Music is a catalyst for that inspiration while I’m out and about in the world.”

Anthony Riso walking with mountains in the background
For this trip, Anthony used the time interval shooting tool in his Z6 camera a lot because he was by himself. His tripod was deep in the water for this shot, and his Z6 was touching the surface of the water.

Puzzle Pieces

“I think photography is interesting because it’s a medium that shows so much but tells very little. So much is left to the viewer’s interpretation. Video can at times be a more ‘in-your-face’ kind of storytelling where the meaning isn’t left to interpretation. That’s not to say video can’t also be subtle, but I think it’s maybe easier to be subtle when telling a story with photography than video..”

Anthony is always striving to become a better storyteller, especially since he’s made the move to video,

“Finding key clips to fit into a timeline for a video is like crafting my own jigsaw puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle that needs to come together to look like what I had pictured in my mind.“

The opening shot to Anthony’s short film, “Chasing No One,” taken on the road leading into Emerald Lake in British Columbia.

Make the Switch

The switch from stills to video can be daunting.

“In stills, you don’t have to worry about aspects like audio quality, continuity editing, and a whole host of video-specific details that can make or break a finished film. Video editing in itself is a major departure from still photography editing.”

You can spend hours upon hours learning a new editing technique and perfecting it, to be used on screen for mere seconds.

“A lot of the small editing tweaks in video (the most subtle and minute details that most people wouldn’t notice) are what make a film truly unique.”

Anthony’s advice to other still photographers longing to make the switch to video: watch hours and hours of YouTube tutorials.

“It sounds like trivial advice, but trust me, there are some incredibly talented people creating on YouTube, and they are willing to show their tricks to everyone wanting to learn. Watch what the other video creators are doing and try to emulate it.”

Photo taken on the shores of Vermilion Lakes in Alberta, Canada minutes after Anthony fell knee deep in thick mud to gain this perspective.

He also suggests taking the camera you do have and creating a video. Not sure what to shoot? Pick any subject and create a video.

“Create a 30 second Instagram story of yourself doing something during the day. Break that thing you’re doing into small clips and use the clips in your Instagram story as cuts to take the viewer on a journey. Pat yourself on the back for creating something instead of nothing. Rinse. Repeat.”

Don’t get caught up in all the gear either.

“I meet a lot of photographers and videographers just starting out who want the “latest and greatest” equipment and spend thousands of dollars, but what they don’t realize is that the finished product won’t be any different if you haven’t learned the medium in which you create art.”

Anthony’s first camera was a D5300 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

“When I was just starting out—it was about the satisfying “click” of the shutter and messing around with the camera in manual mode in order to really find my artistic voice. I didn’t really notice the constraints of equipment. I fell in love with the medium of photography first. I’m a complete geek about photography and video gear today, but that’s because I found my voice and know which tools I need to amplify that voice.”

Anthony spends a good deal of his free time caring for gray wolves at a local wolf sanctuary, which also happens to be the subject of a future project, so stay tuned…


Reflections on a city

Roaming through the city of Philadelphia, Patrick McAllister often finds himself wondering about the stories behind the streets and buildings.

“The feel and vibe of an environment can be felt as soon as you walk down the street, into a new neighborhood. The unique differences from neighborhood to neighborhood are just as interesting as the differences we see in people. Streets likewise have different feelings and personalities.”

His photographs of the city are akin to a portrait of a person.

Reflections On…

Reflections are a large part of Patrick’s work. He finds that it encourages the viewer to really look into the image and think about what they see.

“Initially, I began capturing reflection shots to encourage people to reflect on past times in life, on new ideas, on things internally. Itʼs grown deeply into myself at this point and is something Iʼm known for. Iʼm amazed how something so small, a puddle or little stream, can capture such a huge scene. I believe it keeps people eyes drawn longer.”

Boredom Breeds Passion

Patrick says he often finds himself getting bored or tired of seeing the same things over and over but every few months, he finds new passion for photographing the city.

“There are streets I’ve walked a thousand times, seeing nothing. But a change in perspective or a new life event makes me see things differently and Ill go back with a new vigor. Sometimes you don’t appreciate the streets you walk often until you walk new streets and realize they’re nothing compared to the streets that youʼve grown tired of.”

“When you make a living roaming the street for images, you learn a lot about the other people who walk up and down those streets. I have learned that people are kind, loving, genuine and pure. I have found a kindness in humanity. I have learned that I live in a pure place. No matter the message, I trust the purity in it. Negative or positive.”

Patrick McAllister photo of an abandoned warehouse

Lockdown Lifted

Throughout the lockdown due to the pandemic, Patrick along with the rest of us were forced inside. He created one of his current favorite images this past May of an abandoned factory in Philadelphia.

“That image was taken on my first outing, and it symbolized so much. This empty and abandoned building being shown new life. I felt like it mirrored this awakening in my creative life. So much was abandoned during the lockdown, and that moment just brought new light into my life.”

Immersed in the City

Photographing the streets of the city around him, Patrick immerses himself in situations and looks for scenes that match the emotions he’s feeling.

“If I wake up and see fog and I feel clouded in my thoughts, Iʼll rush out to shoot. If it rains and I’m feeling sad, I’ll rush out to find shots that match that feeling.”

“The sadness of life has been a major focus in my work. Not so much the reality that it exists, but our ability to outlast it. “My feelings, life with mental illness, music—they are the biggest inspirations for me.”

Actionable Insights

“2020 has been about chasing purposeful imagery. I want my work to point to a bigger issue, a bigger message. I want people to see my work and take action in life. Whatever ‘action’ means to each person. I just want my work to provoke change in thought. I want my work to drive people to do something. Smile or volunteer, hope or create something themselves.”

Patrick’s advice to other artists and creators is to not worry about what others are doing, or the latest styles or trends or chasing after likes and follows on social media.

“Chase your own version of creativity. Chase your own vision. Chase your own happiness. So much time gets wasted being worried about all the things that don’t help you make better, more meaningful images. Put your focus on creating what makes you happy, what looks good, and everything else will fall into place.”