Monthly Archives: August 2010

What I’m Working On

As I have no paid shoots lined up right now, I’m finding myself in the position of having time to work on things that need working on. What are they? Read on and find out.

Exchange Student

Sam and I decided now is a good time to invite a teenage boy into our house. You know, because we’ve got all this free time raising 3 girls ages 4, 2 and 8m. Lots of spare time.

Our exchange student’s name is Arthur. He is from Brazil, speaks Portuguese as a first language and is quite fluent in English. He is pretty much a straight “A” student and shares lots of interests with our family – I think he will be quite a good fit.

Welcoming a teenage boy into our home has necessitated some interesting changes, including forcing us to finish some renovations so that he has a functional bedroom and whatnot. Parenting a teenager is likely to give us some sleepless nights – even a well behaved teenager.

Business End

The business end of my business is my weak point. Networking I’m ok with, selling myself I can normally do well. Building a coherent price list, adjusting for shipping, markup, etc – not so awesome. I know right now I am technically selling myself short in some areas – so this is something I need to focus on while I have some downtime.

I’m working on building better price lists that more accurately account for the actual costs of running a business. I’m also working on networking – some free-time shoots may have gained me some business. I am solidly in the camp that a photographer should not work for free – however, sometimes a shoot is done on “spec”. I may not be making any money on the front end of the shoot, but I can hopefully turn some profit on the back end through licensing or making connections with people who see different aspects of my work than I can normally do.

Website

Right now my website is WordPress powered, and the theme is a custom theme I purchased from Photocrati. It’s good, and I generally like it – however there are some issues I’d like to fix. Some are simple, like updating my theme with the custom logo I had designed by Defiance Art. Some are trickier – I don’t like the built in gallery, and my site is not iphone/ipad optimized – a must for emerging photographers in these portable device times.

Personal Editing

I have a huge backlog of photos in my archive that need editing. I have a work flow (or the beginnings of one…) that I use for all my professional stuff. That said, my personal photos always seem to take a back seat to paid stuff. Hopefully I can get more personal editing done. Father’s Day, Friend’s Birthdays and general family photos need to be worked through and posted somewhere. A couple have made it to my flickr or deviantart streams, but not as many as I’d like.

Photo Club

I was approached by a member of the previous Quesnel Camera Club. He was interested in the fact that I’ve been wanting to organize some photowalks and etc. He’s willing to support me and use the people he knows to help us get off the ground again. I’m still interested in it, but see, this is turning into a long list. If I had good response I’d be willing to get it started though – I’m just not feeling the interest from the new crop of photographers. Perhaps I’m looking in all the wrong places?

So – would I give up all these back-burner projects for a chance to get out and do some paid shoots? Hell Ya! There’s nothing I like better about my job than getting out, interacting and coaxing great moments out of people. That’s the part I need to do more of. So, y’know. If you’ve been thinking of giving me a call and putting it off because I seem busy – I’m not – I’m waiting for your call. Head over to my contact page if you need my phone number or email.

We’ll work something out.

If you’ve stuck around this long, here – have a sunset.

First Sunset

It’s the first one I took with my new 50D when I got it. Just a quick snap, but I like it. Hope you do too.

Ciao for Now.

Concert Photography

The other night I went and tried my hand at concert photography. I live in a small city, so concerts aren’t something we get a lot of. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do and haven’t had the chance to yet.

The acts on the bill were Ill-Literate (a local hip-hop act) followed by Gemini, Pigeon Hole, and finally the main act, Sweatshop Union.

I’ve enjoyed Sweatshop’s stuff for a few years. I caught one of their songs on MuchMusic a few years ago and really enjoyed the sound, so I listened to a few of their songs. I hadn’t listened to them in a while when I heard the add for the concert here in town.

I decided I’d like to shoot it, so I went to the venue (a local bar) and asked. The owner was cool with it and I took the time to confirm with the performers that they were cool with it as well. I had awesome access (a good thing about a small town and small venue) so I was able to get up on stage left for some of the acts and up in the DJ booth on stage right, as well as down in front of the stage. At one point I was even helped up onto a speaker stack to get a better angle.

I faced a couple of challenges. The first two performances went well. I was shooting at ISO3200 just to get a decent shutter speed at a wide open aperture. So my final settings were ISO3200, f1.8 and about 1/125 s shutter speed. My shutter speed would go up and down depending on how the lights changed.

The second two acts had the front stage lights turned up to 11. I had a very hard time metering – so I had to catch the artists as they were transitioning from middle stage to front stage while they were in the “ok” light. At front they were blasted out, at middle they were too dark. I played the balance though and shot about 300 shots.

In my first edit I picked my favourite 10. They may not be the best 10, but they were my favourite. Here are a couple – you can find the rest on my deviant art account, my facebook page or on my flickr page.

Gemini Tease 1
Gemini – Second Act of the night. This guy was just super fun to photograph.

Ill Literate Tease 2
Ill-Literate. First act of the night. Two local guys throwing down some hip-hop. This is possibly my favourite shot of the whole night.

Ill Literate Tease 4
Ill-Literate again. This is the second part of the duo. This photo converted to black and white and split-toned to get the colour I wanted.

And to finish things off, the music video that originally got me interested in Sweatshop Union. I hope you enjoy.

Emerging Photographers 2010 Winners Announced

Photolife Magazine just published their September issue with the winners of the Emerging Photographers 2010 Contest announced.  As you may have guessed, I didn’t make the cut.

I’ve flipped through the honourable mentions, and I have to say, I’m not very impressed.

This is not to say that I think my photos were so much more deserving. (Well, I might a  teeny little bit, but that’s my egotistical side speaking – something all of us photographers have some of.)

I found the images chosen to be … underwhelming.  There were certainly some excellent examples – but there were also some that left me wondering why they were chosen in the first place.  I know it would have taken more time, and more work, but I’d have loved to see a small bit of text with each image saying why it was chosen – it might have helped me, as an emerging photographer – see what the judges were able to see that I could not.

A couple were so digitally manipulated that I didn’t feel I was looking at a photograph any longer.  I’m a fan of digital manipulation (one of my submitted images was split-toned in lightroom) but only to a certain extent in a photography competition.  A couple were just out of my artistic ken – I don’t see why they were chosen at all.

I trust the judges.  They saw something I couldn’t.  Usually though I can look at a photograph and understand. This time I couldn’t.

For your reference, below are the images I submitted.  Go and pick up a copy yourself and see what you think.  See if the images chosen as winners and honourable mentions appeal to you.  See what resonates, and what doesn’t.

See – that’s the great thing about art.  Love it or Hate it.  Understand it or fail to comprehend.  It’s art.  And someone, somewhere – will love it.

Trust – Photolife Contest Edit

Trust - Photolife Contest Edition

Kissed – Photolife Contest Edit

Kissed

FrostFlowers – Photolife Contest Edit

Frostflowers

Brand, Portfolios and Background – Stuff I struggle with.

As a photographer, I love to make photographs.  I love to take the time to make something look perfect – or to capture that single fleeting moment in time when something, or more likely, someone, does look perfect.

So editing is a struggle for me.  It means lots of sitting down and going through all the images I captured and figuring out which ones are the better ones of the few, which should have some tweaks added. (I do 90+% of my editing in lightroom, so I don’t have the huge change ability given by photoshop.)

But harder than editing is brand building, portfolios and target markets.  I find since I’ve started this journey that I spend more time reading things like this sales technique book called WOMBAT selling.  I don’t think it’s bad, or dry reading even – this book in particular strikes a chord with me – I am interested in it’s message.  But it’s not something I’d have read before I ran my own business.

I’m constantly trying to update my portfolio.  I just put this one together on Snapixel – a site that I have stock photography on sale through.  It’s why I chose this fun theme for my website based on wordpress instead of building it – I wanted something worthy of building a real portfolio, and Photocrati seem to have figured it out – even if I haven’t figured out how best to exploit it.

It’s why I’m having a hell of a time figuring out what images I want in my real portfolio and hung on my wall in my office.  Because really, what you show is what you get.  But what I want to do isn’t something there is much market for in our small town.  Nor do I have much in my portfolio right now that is the type of photography I want to do.  I need to use my portfolio, and my website, and my word of mouth and every other tool available to me to build a brand that people want to stick with – I just worry about pigeonholing myself by building a brand that is too specific.  Yet I worry about building a brand that has no momentum because it is so widespread and generalized.

Jasmine Star wrote today about branding – in her case helping her sister build a brand for her wedding so that everyone who is involved in the creative process of a wedding – and believe me, it’s a lot more than I thought before I got married! – are on the same page and working from the same brand.

I need to do the same thing for myself and my photography business.  While still getting a chance to get out there and make photographs.  The balance – I love doing one, but the other is important, but not if it interferes too much with the first.  See the rub?

It is probably my greatest challenge.  I will rise to it though, because that’s what we do when we’re passionate about what we do.

Later friends.