Autumn again….

I’ve shot three weddings over the last three weekends. My mother got married, after 26 years of being single after my father died. It was wonderful, and I love the man she married. But still, it’s my mom. She’s never been married in basically all of my remembering life.

My “Aunt” got married. She isn’t really a relation but her and her now husband housed me for a year when I was going to school in town and lived far out in the wilderness. Our family lived in the boonies, about 100km east of Quesnel, the small city I live in now. We lived beyond any modern conveniences, like electricity, running water etc. We burned propane and kerosene lanterns for light, we hauled water to our house, used an outhouse for the “necessities” (even in -40C winter weather, in the middle of the night). But we had great experiences. My brother and I used to be able to hop into a canoe and paddle up the lake and camp, any time we wanted. We used to bike dozens of kilometers to our nearest neighbors, and always be greeted with pie and lemonade and an offer of supper and likely, a place to stay the night before we biked back the next day. We hunted, we gardened, we horse logged. We lived a very rustic life, that isn’t common any more. (I ramble, end of ramble now)

So, when I wanted to go to school in town, I had to stay somewhere with bus service, so I stayed with friends where I only had to ride a bus for an hour and a quarter each way, twice a day. What a relaxing life! We even had electricity. So, after 16 years, they got married too. And I photographed their wedding.

Then the next weekend, my sister got married. So I got to shoot that wedding too. Very elegant. Very Formal. Very – Jen. It was my sister to a “T”. Beautiful and trendy. So, I have some more wedding portfolio stock now. I’m thinking next summer will be my first summer of real wedding bookings.

We also got our new exchange student. Moise. He is from Paris, and he is a great kid. He’s super kind, helpful and has a great positive outlook on life. I’m already sad that he will be leaving us next summer – exchange student hosting is hard for that reason. Moise is so kind and eager and great with the kids – he brought them beautiful gifts and really enjoys playing silly games with them. He even offered to spoon feed the toddler today! Wow – what a young man!

I also saw the first colourful leaves of fall today – falling down from their treetop homes to carpet the roads. Soon it will be time for beautiful fall family photos – and with school starting, some great outdoor shots of the kids might be nice to complement the standard school packages. Give me a call, or email me.

Contact info can be found in the navigation bar above.

Those are my updates – how have you been? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Updates Tagged |

Quiet Season in Quesnel

It’s “quiet season” in Quesnel right now.  Dead of winter, and we’re getting the coldest temperatures that we’ve had all winter so far.

I’ve been out shooting a little bit, but mostly indoors.  Some great still life pictures of flowers and whatnot, as well as some family pictures from some recent winter events here in Quesnel, like our Quesnel Winter Carnival.  It was a fantastic event, with free snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, pond skating, and some other fun events for the children.  The girls had a great time roasting bannock over an open fire, sculpting snow castles, painting snow with dye in spray bottles and jumping in a bouncy castle.

I had a great time talking with a couple fellow photographers about their passion – bird photography.  I got to play with some cool lenses that are outside my normal purview.  Really, a great day.  I have some great photographs from the day that I’ll be putting up as soon as I have them edited.

Posted in Updates

Last Minute Autumn Special!

Winter is coming! I know lots of you have been putting off getting fall photos done for a multitude of reasons. This November 11th I’ll be having a special “last minute” fall sale!

Shot outdoors on location at my beautiful acreage, I’ll be booking 20 minute sessions for the low price of 45.00 each. You will receive a CD with the edited images in medium resolution (excellent for prints up to 5×7) and a printing release.

Digital copies will be ready on Saturday the 20th of November – leaving lots of time for Christmas cards etc. Print orders placed on the 20th will also receive a 50% discount.

I am booking sessions from 10AM until 4PM. Call, Email or Message me right away to reserve your spot or spots.

Posted in Updates

Hidden Gems

I’m finding hidden gems tonight.

I use Lightroom 3 as my main photo workflow program. It lets me quickly and easily organize a shoot, apply basic corrections and export in all the multiple formats I use.

I just set up my flickr export option – now I can export images directly to my flickr stream without having to go and manually upload them – very cool. You can click and take a look – my flickr stream is not necessarily portfolio worthy – more it’s a collection of working files, ideas and family photographs.

Granted, it doesn’t look any different from my normal flickr, but it is. Trust me.

The other hidden gem is Lightroom’s “Web” function. I now have an easily functional and customizable way to upload temporary or permanent galleries to my website. I put up a temporary test gallery at this address: jclossphoto.com/galleries/test/

Test it out. Take it for a test drive.

Let me know what you think. I want to know what you like, what you don’t like and what you don’t really care about.

I can also password protect galleries – giving me a low cost way to implement online ordering. It’s not as fancy as some of the higher end hosting solutions that let me drop ship orders directly to a customers door – but it also keeps me in contact with my clients, is a homebrew solution and lets me use my regular professional lab. The lab that takes care of me, gives me discounts and really works to have a relationship with me as a client. I like that – it’s important to me.

Really, it’s the way I strive to treat my clients.

Since I’m finding hidden gems tonight, here’s one for you.

Faded Pumpkin Baby

Faded Pumpkin Baby

Posted in Neat Stuff Tagged , , , , , , |

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.

Posted in Civilian Life Tagged , , , |

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.

Posted in Shooting for Fun Tagged , , , |

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

Posted in Contests Tagged , , , , , |

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.

Posted in Musings Tagged , , , , , , |

Back End

I’m messing around on the back end a bit today.  Page colours and whatnot may change sporadically.  If you see something you like, post a comment or something to let me know, but also let know what it is – cause I might change it again later on.

If you can’t get here sometime today, don’t worry too much.  I should have everything resolved by the end of the day.  If not, kindly send me an email to jeff at jclossphoto.com

Oh, and if it’s all broken, likely can’t read this anyway, so don’t worry.

See you on the flipside. (Which may or may not look any different than this side.)

Posted in Fiddling, Updates Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Changes Happening

In order to attempt to target the market I really want to shoot for I’ve decided to update a few things, can a few projects and generally make a better plan for the future.

Shortly, jclossphoto.wordpress.com will become defunct.  I will probably redirect it to this host.  I had a good time starting with my free wordpress page, and I was super pumped about the 52 weeks project.  I’m still doing it, barely, but I’m not posting on it anymore.

I’ve decided that I’d like to run an informational page as well as a portfolio page.  Somewhere to put tips, hints, articles, photography community feedback and whatnot.  That idea isn’t finalized yet, but it’s in the works.  This site will continue to function as it is, with a constantly updated portfolio of the images I’ve been creating – specifically tailored in the near future to represent what I want to do more of.

Of course, my facebook page will continue to be my main community and customer interaction – I’ll keep posting updates, teasers and statuses there.  Feel free to follow, like and share my work – the more my community supports me, the more awesome stuff I can create.

Posted in Updates Tagged , , , |