San Francisco In Square

San Francisco In Square

Most photographers start with rectangular formats and never go beyond that. The biggest problem with these formats is their unbalanced nature. As a result, you see many poorly framed images with a lot of unnecessary visual noise on both sides of the frame. Therefore, when I teach students composition I often urge them to start with the square format. Not only it is perfectly balanced but it also helps to simplify your seeing. With much more limited real-estate, the photographer is forced to limit the number of elements within the frame and sometimes make hard choices! This results in cleaner imagery, a stronger message and more pleasing visuals.

We have recently been playing with a brand-new Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 and what a refreshing change it has been! We found the design and simplicity of the camera so appealing. We like the fact that you can choose images before you print them. The controls are all that you need, without the unnecessary clutter so common in today’s cameras. Even the naming of the functions is brilliant – for example the EV is called brightness! Simple and to the point! Are you laughing? You shouldn’t be. Shooting with the Instax Square, printing your images and analyzing your seeing while holding the actual print in your hands will help you to see much faster than hoarding thousands of images on your hard drive.

Stay tuned for a full review of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 camera.

Let’s go berserk with the SQUARE! Here are the photos in the square format from our recent trip to San Francisco, all shot with the X100F.


…and truly yours at work as captured by Kasia


2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

San Francisco Street Photography with the X100F

San Francisco Street Photography with the X100F

What a formula! It cannot get better than that. Okay, except for Vancouver! 🙂

For three days, I have been shooting in San Francisco with the X100F (one day I also had the X-T2 and the XF 90mm F2 lens). No plan, no expectations, no set goals. It was just the “Streets of San Francisco,” the Fujifilm X100F and my seeing.

However, if you think it was a leisurely stroll, you are mistaken. A few years ago, I wrote an article stating that photography is hard. I stand by it today. I’m not talking about snapping photos with your friends during a party or share-it-all on Face-Snap-Insta (I assume you are reading this blog because you care about the craft of seeing).

There is the internet myth pushed by some that all you need is a camera and you just shoot away to eternal happiness. It’s a candy-sweet idea but it’s complete fiction. The three days of intense street photography in San Francisco reaffirmed that.

A vibrant city such as San Francisco offers you such a plethora of visuals, layers after layers of shapes, patterns, colour, noise, smells – street life at its best. However, it creates chaos or in other words, an overload of visuals. One approach would be to just shoot away. From time to time you will get nice image – a shadow here, a shadow there – the internet will love it. However, if you really want to create strong imagery, you must dive deep into your seeing by concentrating, observing and pre-visualizing at enormous speed. Such an effort requires all of you!   

Trent Parke, a great Australian photographer, describes it this way: “I’m always ‘wired’, always awake, things are always rattling through my mind” and “The whole time I’m looking, everything is stopping and forming into still frames.” He describes this state of awareness as “being manic, insane.” I’ve written about this in the past but this trip to San Francisco made me realize how true it is.

You may ask: Okay, Olaf, but where’s the fun! THIS IS FUN for me! Don’t let the internet define “fun” for you! When you return to your normal state and look at your imagery, you’ll know what I am talking about. Yes, photography is hard, hard work but it has never been so much fun!

Over the course of the next few weeks, you’ll find plenty of street photography here from the “Streets of San Francisco” project including ideas, tips and general comments, which you may find useful. Subscribers to Simplicity-In-Seeing will find a more in-depth look at my work in San Francisco including my camera settings, locations, approach, framing and other considerations.

Nota bene: Those of you that want to shoot with me next time I am in San Francisco stay tuned – the announcement of our “Streets of San Francisco” workshop is coming! There will be very, very limited space!

Here is a teaser of what’s coming in the next few weeks.


There will be an entire post in the square format. Make sure to check out Tomasz of FujiLove recent work in this format.



2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.


See you in Vancouver!

See you in Vancouver!

The Streets of Vancouver Photography Workshop is coming this month!

We have received numerous emails asking about The Streets of Vancouver Photography Workshop. In short, we will be working together to create stunning imagery. Yes, you read that correctly! There is no room for mediocre, so-so, “it’s good enough” or “maybe someone will like it.”  Not only during the workshop but once you’ve gone back to your photographic life you will leave equipped with mental, technical and artistic tools to create strong visuals in ANY situation.


One of the reasons we haven’t offered photography workshops before is because we wanted to make sure our program was designed from the ground up, based on our own successes and failures; it is one-of-a-kind. I have been working on it for the last few years and have tested it in real life situations with my students. I’ve also used this philosophy when creating the imagery on this blog.

No, we are not going to hold hands and praise crappy imagery, whether mine or yours. No, we are not going to “feel inspired” by artificial sweeteners. We are going to dive deep into the process of image-making.

We will start with ourselves, our attitude and approach. Then, we will talk about the role of concentration and observation. We will learn techniques to see life around you so you can recognize stunning visuals as they happen right in front of you. Next, we will learn unique ways to use light and line to create stunning compositions. We’ll discuss simple but highly effective techniques to turn every scene you find interesting into a strong photograph. We will also learn very simple post-processing techniques which will give you more time doing what you love – taking photos in the field.  

Yes, we will be interacting with some people on the streets but not in an intimidating way. We will do it with class, honesty and most importantly attuned to your own character.

During our interactions, some of you mentioned that you are afraid to participate because you feel “you are not good enough” or “scared about interacting with people on the streets.” What a misunderstanding! My programs are NOT for “I know everything” and “let me show you how much better I am” photographers! To be honest I have no interest in working with people who have those attitudes.

My workshops are not photo or personality competitions. I don’t care how good you are coming into my program. I’ve found that people who have just started in photography and don’t know basic camera settings excel in seeing because they don’t have preconceived ideas about seeing processes.

We will have in-class sessions and we will shoot extensively on the streets of Vancouver. We will discuss our imagery without the usual “oh, this is so beautiful” because in that way we’ll never learn how to create strong visuals.

If you are looking for a special learning experience and you are committed to the craft of photography, come to Vancouver and spend three days with me. Two spots have opened up for my July 28-30 Vancouver Workshop.

You can reserve you spot here.

I hope to see you there!


On another note, the July issue of FujiLove Magazine is out. It contains lots of great articles by very talented photographers. Valerie Jardin writes on the importance of personal projects and there’s a fascinating article by Drew Gardner, among many others. Steve Thomas, Ritesh Ghosh, Steve Dreyer, Jonas Rask, Simone Raso and Michael Schnabl are all names you should become familiar with.


You will also find a piece by yours truly: “Have you ever looked into your own visual mirror?” This may well be one of the most important photography articles I’ve ever written. Why? Because I also look into my own visual mirror and ask: “Why am I interested in photography? What triggered me to take the first step into photography?” I believe that every photographer should have this conversation with herself/himself.

Please read it and let me know what you think. Would you like to share your story? Use hashtag #FujiLoveMirror 

If you are not a subscriber to the excellent FujiLove Magazine, you are in trouble – but don’t worry, you can correct this mistake right away here.



2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

Oh Canada – Oh YES!

Oh Canada – Oh YES!

This is a land like no other. It was almost 20 years ago when Canada accepted me, a European immigrant, to become its son. Since then I have fallen in love with this country of freedom, equality, kindness, generosity and opportunity. 

Today, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, I would like to share with you the best of Canada – the people! There is no better occasion to present you with some fellow Canadian photographers, some of whom I know personally, others from social media but I think we all share the same love of photography and this remarkable land.

Don Craig – a royal photographer and I am not kidding. Many of you don’t know but Don works in the Legislature and does incredible photographic and design work for the government of British Columbia. Recently we had a chance to visit him and see the scope of his work. Yes, he was one of the photographers covering the Royal Family visit! I consider him a friend and our discussions about photography are one of the most intriguing I have ever had with anyone.


David DuChemin – who doesn’t know David DuChemin, a true master of travel and humanitarian photography? His latest book “The Soul of the Camera” is a must-read!


Nathan Elson – you always wanted to shoot these gorgeous portraits of beautiful models in the studio but you didn’t know how. He is the guy to learn from. His portraits are jaw-dropping. And don’t forget to grab some of his presets!


Robert Falconer – I’ve had a few exchanges on social media with Robert but don’t know him personally. Let me put it this way – he is a Hollywood photographer superstar. If there is a super-production shooting in Vancouver, Robert is probably covering it.


Ian MacDonald – who doesn’t know Ian!? I am scared to open my Facebook or Instagram because Ian is probably already there. From time to time we sit down together and have a great chat about photography, life and I am pretty sure … soon about our dogs 🙂


Dyanne Wilson – I never met Dyanne in person but I feel I know her. She is so friendly and kind – what a joy to interact with her on social media. Her coverage of the Canadian Far North is honest and unique. Yes, I am heading there soon.


Spencer Wynn – I met Spencer on his cross-Canada trip with the GFX. What a great guy! Have you seen his imagery from his Canada150 trip? You will be floored. What imagery! What light! You should check his latest portrait work and book a session right away.


Patrick LaRoque – what can I say, he’s in a class of his own. Patrick’s unique way of seeing, his compositional skills and writing are so captivating that each time he posts something I feel I’m going to a photographic exhibition of a master of photography. His commercial work is in its own class. Looking for a commercial photographer? Don’t have to anymore. This guy will make it happen for your brand!


BigHeadTaco (Take) – you’d better grab his autograph now because this guy is heading for stardom! If you want to know all the latest about photo gear and photography in general, then you must visit, listen and watch BigHeadTaco. Take streams live videos on Instagram almost daily. Make sure to tune in – lots of fascinating stuff. On a personal level, I met Take on numerous occasions and his brand matches a man with a strong character and great heart.


Sally Jennings – few of you know her but she is my editor, media advisor, consultant, psychologist, therapist and everything in between. Sally’s dedication to the art of communication, English language and keeping Olaf in check is unmatched. If you need someone to edit your work make sure to send it her way – you won’t believe the difference! She is the best English editor out there, bar none!



Sid and Mac – Sid and Mac are hosts of ShutterTimewithSidandMac podcast. Not only are they great personalities but the topics they take upon themselves are often fascinating – stuff you won’t hear anywhere else. I know Mac personally and his love of film and classic cameras is something to admire.



Fujifilm Canada – the team at Fujifilm Canada are the nicest and most professional people I have ever had the chance to work with. Helen, Florence, Aling, Gord, FujiGuys, and others are such a joy to interact with. And imagine – they have to work with so many annoying, grumpy, demanding photographers and media. Come on, send them some love, Canada!


There are so many other great photographers in Canada which I haven’t mentioned here so please forgive me and drop me a line – I will correct it immediately and buy you a cup of coffee.

After all, Canada is a great land of truly remarkable people, eh?




2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.