personal photo gallery

Don Fitzsimmons

Sony RX100 For Concert Photography

I have long wanted to use my tiny Sony RX100 for concert photography. It's perfect. It's so small that most concert security guards wouldn't think twice about letting me in with it. In fact, that's what happened to me last night at the Violent Femmes concert in Tempe, Arizona. The security guard took one look at the RX100, grunted and waived me on through the gate. No problem. If I had tried to bring a larger camera, I would be denied entry for sure. But, the joke's on them because this little camera can shoot DSLR quality images.

The lighting conditions at this concert venue where horrible and my position pretty much sucked. I don't think the images below are by any means remarkable, but, considering the lousy light and bad position, they'll provide some memories of a great concert. The reason they are in black and white is due to the terrible color of the light used on the stage. Terrible blue and magenta lights everywhere. I think they do this on purpose to make photos look bad, but that's just a guess. After converting to black and white, they don't look half bad. I'm impressed with the performance of the RX100. These where all shot at ISO 3200. A bit grainy? Yes. But totally usable. This is one of my all time favorite bands and now I have some decent shots of them on stage.

Sydney Harbor Bridge in the Fog

Sometimes it's fun to go back and look at photos I shot years and months in the past. A funny thing happens: what I thought was a mediocre shot upon initial evaluation turns out to be more interesting later. That's one reason that I rarely delete photos. You never know if you'll end up rediscovering a shot.

When I first looked at this image, I thought it was just okay, but today I came across it again and thought it would look great in black and white. There aren't any interesting colors in it and I'm liking black and white a lot lately. So after spending some time on it, I like it. A little time can change your perspective. 

Hopi Salt Trail: Grand Canyon, AZ

Even though I live in Arizona, I have only been the Grand Canyon 2-3 times. So, when the opportunity came up to do a 6 day hike in the Canyon, I was all for it. I thought I was physically prepared, but WOW was I wrong. This hike was awesome, but way over my head in terms of physical demand. Most of my time was spent dealing with severe muscle pain, a twisted ankle and a toenail that fell off. It was pain, but pain builds character and I feel changed by the experience, in a good way. Also, I had the support of a great group of guys who were generous and accommodating the whole way through, some of them family, some of them friends.

I tried my best to shoot some great photos, but like so many people find out when they experience the Grand Canyon, you just can't convey its majesty in photos. I did my best and despite renting a high dollar, wide angle lens, I only came away with one "money shot". I think you'll be able to figure out which one I'm referring to below. Funny thing is, that photo, with the Colorado River snaking through the ridge (yep, that's the money shot), was taken with my pocket camera, the Sony RX100. That little camera is impressive. Anyway, I'll be going back to the Canyon, but next time, I'll be prepared physically and photographically. And the photo at the bottom, that last one, I'm the dude with the beard in blue, in case you were wondering.

Lifestyle Jules Fitness Shoot

I finally blew the cobwebs off my camera and did a shoot last night. I've done one fitness shoot in the past for my friend and coworker, but I don't consider myself a fitness photographer by any means...yet. I really like this genre.

Fitness photography allows me to do some fun creative things. I get to play with lighting, try interesting and atypical poses, and the subjects tend to be, well, really fit and photogenic. This is certainly true of family friend Julie. She's been working hard on building a personal brand around fashion and fitness and she's crushing it. You can find her on Facebook here

Below are a few highlights from our shoot. I hope to work with Julie more in the future. 

Couples Portraits

Typically, couples portraits are for the recently engaged, but that’s not always the case. I had the pleasure of shooting Paul and Cara’s portraits and they have been married for 25 years. We had a great time at DC Ranch in North Scottsdale.

Family Shoot for My Neighbors

There are some things in life that have immeasurable value and having great neighbors is one of them. Our home is surrounded by great people like the Haynes family. We met up at my secret spot in South Scottsdale for a family photo shoot. With small children, getting good expressions can take time and these boys cooperated after some fruit snacks and a little time warming up the camera.

A Trip to Australia

Last week I went on a business trip to Australia. The company I work for creates software for forensic crime labs and we had some work to do with the Australian Federal Police. As part of the trip, my co-worker and I got to spend a few days in Sydney, which was awesome. The rest of our trip was spent in Canberra, which is sort of like the Washington D.C. of Australia. On our way back from Canberra to Sydney, we missed our flight back to the U.S. and had to stay another day in Sydney.

The people in Australia are very nice. I’m not used to being in a big city with kind people. It seems strange, but it’s true of Sydney and Canberra. We also got to tour the Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial among other places. The only down side to the trip is the jet lag, which I’m still recovering from. Below is a random selection of the hundreds of photos I shot

Sydney Harbor Boat
Sydney Harbor Cruise Ship
Sydney Opera House Sunrise
Sydney Harbor Sunrise

Portraits for an Old Friend

Being a portrait photographer opens some interesting doors. A few weeks ago I received a Facebook message from an old friend that I went to high school with. You know how it goes, you become friends with people from your past on Facebook and interact via likes and the occasional comment, but rarely do you actually meet up again in person.

Well, I hadn’t seen Chris in the flesh since freshmen or sophomore year in high school (circa 1992-93). I have fond memories of him goofing off in English class, Mr. Bigwood’s English class (yes, that was our teacher’s real name). Anyway, I met with Chris and his twins in downtown Phoenix and we had a great time shooting portraits and catching up. Here are few from our shoot.

Mirrorless Cameras and Client Perception (Low CC)

I had a problem. I know, we’re not supposed to talk about it and most of us have a hard time admitting it effects us because it may hinder our ability to perform. We suffer from low CC (that is, low camera confidence). When switching to a mirrorless camera system from a DSLR, size is a big advantage, but size is also cause for concern. The problem goes something like this: “What will my clients think when I show up for their shoot with this tiny camera?” Serious photographers have BIG cameras, right? It’s one of those things that’s expected, even assumed, in the mind of the photographer. DLSR cameras with huge lenses are the hallmark of professionalism. At least, that’s the prevailing wisdom. That’s why so many photographers hold large cameras with giant white lenses in their profile pictures.

I really struggled with this because client perception is important to me. So, for the first few photo sessions I did with the Sony a6000, I was self conscious about the size of my camera. I was suffering from low CC. I made excuses for my camera when I met up with clients. There it was, dangling around my neck, looking, well, small and non-threatening. “This is my new camera. It’s very powerful, more so than a DSLR even!”, I would eagerly reassure them. Not one of my clients asked about it. Not one of them even gave notice to my tiny camera. When I made excuses for it they just nodded and said something like, “Okay, that’s cool.”

The truth is, camera size doesn’t matter to my clients. I was hired because they like my work, not my gear. My clients don’t really care how I make their portraits and they certainly don’t care if I do it with a small camera. That’s when I realized that low CC is a self-imposed complex brought on by too much exposure to the larger photographic community. You see, photographers are obsessed with gear. It’s damn near a disorder (aka GAS, or gear acquisition syndorm). We get certain things drummed into our heads, largely due to repetition from marketers and an inordinate amount of time spent in discussion forums listening to the advice of other gear heads.

I remember the first shoot I did with the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens. Man, did I feel confident! There it was, a BIG camera with a full-frame sensor, and topping it off, a giant white lens that wreaked of professionalism and quality, adorned with a big red ring. And you know what? My clients didn’t care about that either. The only time a client commented on my DSLR at that time, again, was if I drew attention to it. Otherwise, they’re content with whatever gear I bring because it’s the quality of my work that they really care about.

After several client shoots, some out-patient therapy and a small blue pill (okay, I couldn’t resist that joke), I’m pleased to say that I’ve come to grips with low CC. I’m over it. No longer do I bring attention to my camera, instead I focus on the important aspects of creating portraits. Because I know what my gear is capable of, I’m confident in it’s ability to perform and produce great images and that’s exactly what the a6000 does. Camera size has no bearing on my ability to shoot great portraits and my clients could care less about the camera I use. I suffered from low CC, but it’s important to know, you don’t have to. Camera size really doesn’t matter.

Been Trying This for Years

That picture above is one I have been trying to get for years. My kids are very active and I love taking them to the park. I always bring my camera and shoot fun pictures as they play. What’s really nice about this is that I have thousands of pictures of them playing at various parks since they could walk. One shot has proved elusive though.

The swing-set shot. It’s damn near impossible for a camera to keep a kid in focus while on the swings. My Sony a700 couldn’t do it, my RX100 can’t do it and my 5D Mark II couldn’t do it. But, the Sony a6000 can! And it does it well. I can even shoot pictures of them coming down a slide and it keeps them in focus 90% of the time. No more blurred out swing-set shots for me. That is all.