Small cameras, new connections and other things I’m thankful for in 2013


It’s important to keep your turkey slightly inebriated on Thanksgiving / Photo by Joe Newman

First, I’d like to thank our Thanksgiving turkey for making the ultimate sacrifice. Mr. Organic Cage-Free Kosher Turkey, this drink is on me.

The picture above was taken with my Olympus E-M5 and the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 lens, which I tried out over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I’m working on a review but for now, I’ll say that this lens is a wonderful piece of German-Japanese engineering that truly forces you to “make” a photo, rather than “take” one. More about this lens, later.

For now, as 2013 heads into the home stretch, I thought I’d take a minute to salute five things I’m grateful for as a blogger, traveler and photographer. I’m giving thanks that:

  • Leica cameras and lenses are priced so ridiculously high that there’s no chance that I might buy one. Ever. Even when I feel an almost uncontrollable urge to spend lots of money on camera gear, I’ve still got a firm enough grip on reality to know that I shouldn’t put that $7,000 Leica rangefinder in my B&H shopping cart.  Sure, there’s a chance that I’ll buy that new Olympus E-M1 or Sony A7 before the end of the year (heck, maybe even before I finish this blog post). But the Leica? Too expensive to even dream about.
  • I have the most wonderful, super-awesome, wife and partner a guy could want. Along with all her great qualities, she has a  job that requires her to regularly travel internationally, which means she racks up frequent flyer miles like tickets from the skee ball machine at Chuck E. Cheese. Those miles have allowed us travel to Europe several times in the last couple years and helped us book round-trip business class tickets to Asia next summer. So, there’s my pro tip of the week for aspiring travel bloggers: Marry up!
  • Bigger isn’t always better. Stop snickering; I’m talking about cameras here! I made the decision earlier this year to switch from a Nikon DSLR to the Olympus compact mirrorless system and I couldn’t be happier. No more bitching and moaning about dragging a heavy camera bag around on vacation. Seriously, what good does a fancy DSLR do you if you leave it in the hotel room because you don’t want to lug it around all day long? My Olympus E-M5 takes great photos and is so light, I sometimes forget it’s hanging on my shoulder.
  • 2013 will go down as the year that online photo sharing sites stepped up their game. Flickr became relevant again by giving every user a gi-normous amount of free storage. SmugMug gave itself a long overdue facelift. Seriously, check out SmugMug’s new customization options — it’s no longer the Bea Arthur of photo sharing sites. Instagram became even more ubiquitous and also added video snippets. 500px, the newcomer that shook things up when it launched in 2009, responded to the revitalized competition with changes of its own.  And you certainly can’t forget Facebook or G+, with Facebook giving photos more prominence and G+ adding  a bevy of image enhancements. All in all, it’s a wonderful time to be a photographer or blogger who wants to get his or her images out to the masses.
  • There’s such a vibrant and knowledgeable community of travel bloggers out there. I’ve connected with hundreds of bloggers and photographers from all over the world during the past year on Twitter and G+ and have personally met a couple dozen more in real life at conferences in Toronto and London. In a few weeks, I’ll be in Las Vegas for the NMX – New Media Expo where I’ll continue trying to figure out how to turn my brand into a business and will hopefully meet even more new friends. There’s still some growing pains as I figure out what direction this blog is headed but that’s what so great about being part of a larger travel blogging community — there are plenty of role models to learn from.  Here’s looking forward to an even better 2014.


Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.

  • Per @ Perky Thoughts!

    December 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Haha.. MARRY UP! Yes, I did.. and to a world traveler to boot! It’s always an adventure 🙂

    I’m getting a Sony NEX-6 by the way! 😀

    • Joe Newman

      December 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Congrats on the new camera! I haven’t used the NEX6 but I know it takes great photos. And it’s nice and compact! You’re going to love it, I’m sure.

      • Per @ Perky Thoughts!

        December 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        I actually haven’t gotten the camera yet. Will have to wait til Christmas. I’m really excited! 😀

  • Shanna Schultz

    December 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    My tip for affording lots of travel (not an option for everyone…)-work for an airline! It gets you steeply reduced travel privileges.

    One of my goals for 2014 is to make it to one of the blogging conferences. Any suggestions as to which one has been most helpful for you? I wanted to go last year, but got a little sidetracked by pregnancy and a new baby at home 🙂