Sharing experience, advice, and photos to all with the shutterbug.

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Set your standards

Last week I was talking on the phone with my mother and she mentioned that the most recent photo she had of me is over 6 years old. As photographers we never think much about going in front of the camera. It’s not that I don’t like getting my picture taken or have some kind of phobia about it… I’ve helped out a lot of friends with shoots and have been a model in some cases. So I asked a few close friends if they would be willing to set aside a small amount of time to take a portrait of me. I offered a trade of services, a portrait for a portrait but I understood that they were working professionals and may not be able to make the time. So to keep my options open, I decided to place an ad on Craigslist to see what the local area had to offer. I knew I would have to pay for quality and I said that I would pay “Market rates.”

What happened next sincerely horrified me.

I promptly received 30+ emails from people claiming to be “Professional Photographers” and offering me their services for as low as $55.00 for a 2 hour session with 5 poses and all images on a CD. NO career can be sustained on one off 55.00 jobs and that doesn’t even begin to cover your operating expenses let alone pay you a living wage. Not only that, the people that are offering such rock-bottom rates are hurting the local market by lowering people’s expectations and standards of photography.

Not all of the photographers were bad or anything, some of them were pretty good but were charging far too little. Turning the tables like that has opened my eyes on what it’s like to be one of my own clients. Not all but most of the websites were terrible, a flickr page or completely unusable. The emails were extremely unprofessional and poorly written. Some of them didn’t even contain links to portfolios, they just had attached photos. Photography is a service industry – first impressions, even via email are EXTREMELY important.

If you are unsure what to charge for your photography services PLEASE go here and figure out your operating expenses and then ask around about what other photographers charge in your area. You are doing no favors to anyone by being “The cheapest” and you certainly don’t want that to be your reputation. You get what you pay for and this venn diagram sums it up nicely:


Now pick two.

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Film production stills

For the last several weeks I’ve been involved in a film project. Having just returned in January from traveling the country shooting the Occupy Wallstreet protestors for nearly 4 months my one-off assignments and small personal projects just hadn’t been giving me the fulfillment that the Portraits of the 99% project did. I really wanted to make movies when I was kid and now that photography and video is overlapping I decided I wanted to work on a film project. I called up several friends in the film industry and some who are still in film school and told them I had no idea what I wanted to make – but I wanted to make something awesome. So we meet once a week for several weeks in a row and discussed concepts, wrote stories and worked out characters. We decided we wanted to make a web series based in the desert with a theme of isolation. The webisodes would be short, 3-5 minutes each and jump back and fourth between several characters.

On Monday, April 9th all six of us piled into a van full of food, scripts and equipment and drove out to the Salton Sea where we had 1 scout day, 1 shoot day and 2 driving days. We recruited local actors and despite some setbacks we got some amazing footage. Once it’s completed we plan to enter it competitions and just get it seen in general. Then we pitch it for crowdsource or other funding and shoot an entire series. We want to surpass the typical quality you see on youtube or web series, taking a dramatic approach rather than comedy which there seems to be a lot of out there. I can’t talk too much about the project, we haven’t even started post-production yet. What I can do however, is share some of the behind the scenes production stills of the shoot. Enjoy!

The film crew at Bombay Beach near Salton Sea, CA


We hope to have it all finished this summer. Keep an eye out for it!

“Portraits of the 99%” fund raising continues

I’ve started fund raising again to get the “Portraits of the 99%” photographs mounted! There are 77 that I have selected for this process, and I’ve got a few done already to show to galleries. I’ve been shopping these around for 2 months now and I’ve got some places interested. You can check it out and donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Portraits-of-the-99-percent

You can also “Like”, tweet, +1 and share the page with your friends and family. Thanks for all your help!

Inline image 1

Portraits of the 99% exhibition catalog

For the last month or so I’ve been talking to various art galleries and collectors about having an exhibition of the “Portraits of the 99%” series. The images are 12×18 and are mounted on 7/8″ thick wood with a white vinyl siding and they are absolutely beautiful. However, it’s very impractical to carry around all 354 of them to show to people, so I’ve put together an exhibition catalog that features all of the images up until now along with some behind the scenes photos, a forward by myself and a few color versions of the portraits. It’s a 26 page perfect bound catalog a book practically, and I’m really excited about it. You can get your hands on one for $20.00 from Magcloud, as well as a digital download for 5.00. The entire catalog is online for preview as well, so you can also just check it out and let me know what you think.


All proceeds from the sales of these catalogs go into the mounting and framing process in preparation for exhibition. You can get it HERE.

Practice makes (picture) perfect

After nearly 4 months of traveling the country working on my Occupy Wallstreet project, “Portraits of the 99%” I have finally taken a bit of a break to recharge and get the body of work seen by the world. Upon doing some non-occupy wallstreet work, I’ve noticed something has happened: I’ve become REALLY good at making portraits.


Now, I’ve always considered myself a portrait photographer so of course I MUST be good at making portraits, right? Since working on the “Portraits of the 99%” series I’ve become much more observant of the nuances of the human condition within the confines of my frame. Gesture, facial expressions, body language. When I was on the road I had to work really fast because more often than not I was working on limited time and with people who were on the move so I became very sensitive to all of those things. Now that I’ve got the time to slow down and work with my subject things are much different. It’s hard for me to call my 4 month long and counting occupy project “practice” but I think photographers are always practicing while on the job or off. It’s really worth the effort and has made me much more aware of what I am photographing.


So go out and practice, it will improve your photography in every way imaginable.

Portraits of the 99% on TV and now in COLOR

Quick post today, I wanted to share the interview that KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland did with me on the project last night. (I can’t post the video but you can click the thumbnail and watch it on their page)

Click the thumbnail for the whole story and the video!

 

I’m very excited at the opportunities that could come of this, some of you know that I have been shopping around for a gallery to hang these images in and this has already gotten me a few phone calls.
The other thing I wanted to share was the jump into color:

I’ve been working on a new promo to send to magazines showing that I am a portrait photographer. I thought what better way to do this then use some of my most well known work but something felt a bit off to me. So now I’ve been playing with really tight crops and color images from the “Portraits of the 99%” series. Let me know how you like it!

My 12 favorite blogs for pictures, industry news and a good laugh

My google reader has blown up in the last year. I personally hate getting my inbox loaded up with emails from blogs and RSS feeds, so when I discovered that Google Reader lets you put everything in one place along with providing apps for your iGoogle, android phone and tablet, I was all over it. So today I want to share my Google Reader list with you guys, the blogs I read cover a broad range of things from industry news to awesome photographers to hearty laughs. I won’t be sharing my ENTIRE reader list of course, because not everyone wants to spend the entire morning reading blogs as I get 40-50 entries a day. So, without further ado;

Pictures

500 Photographers‘ Pieter Wisse digs through archives and various forms of media around the world and finds the most unique photographers that I have ever seen in one place. The collection is eclectic ranging from fine art to documentary to commercial photography and is worth a look for anyone looking for some inspiration. As of 1/17 the list is at 427.

Feature shoot showcases a small body of work from various user submitted photographers. They also have a great section called “Photo du jour” which features a single strong image from user submissions. Alison Zavos, who runs Feature Shoot also works in the photo industry as a photo editor, photographer and consultant.

Industry News

A Photo Editor is hands down the BEST industry blog I have ever read. Rob Haggart is a former director of photography and he shares his stories, opinions and advice for all to take in and absorb. He shares interviews, magazine spreads, real-world photo job estimates and quotes from industry leaders. You’d be doing yourself a disservice to not read and subscribe to his blog.

Stella Kramer is in the same boat as Rob Haggart, she’s a seasoned veteran of the photo industry and she offers her views and advice on a broad range of topics. A large portion of her blog is dedicated to the politics of the industry, especially in relation to historical context.

Strictly Business is the ASMP’s industry business blog and is run by several established professionals. Obviously the blog covers business related topics but believe me, it’s not some boring business 101 class, it’s some of the most useful blogging I’ve read because the professionals who write for it are working NOW, rolling with the punches and adapting to change.

Technical education
David Hobby runs Strobist and he’s all about using small lights to shoot big assignments. Mostly the blog features tutorials on how to shoot certain subjects with speedlights but there’s also great advice on how to tackle the organization of a shoot and how to use your software to the best of it’s ability.

Weather you’re on a budget or looking to to test out your crafting skills, DIY photography shows you how to build any light modifier or tool you can think of, on the cheap and with things you can find around your own home.

Humour

Photoshop Disasters features so many hilarious “How did they get away with that?” moments that most of your time spent on this blog will be spent boosting your own photoshop confidence.

We’ve all had difficult clients and Clients from Hell lets you vent about them and read about some of the most ridiculous requests, fits and naivety that you can’t even imagine unless you’ve been there.

Miscellaneous

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next promo look no further than No Plastic Sleeves. The feature some of the most original and creative promo pieces I have ever seen ranging from a simple series of post cards to box sets with branded disposable cameras in them.

Everyone loves gear so Nikon Rumors is my go to place for upcoming Nikon equipment. The author finds, through various tips and speculation, new Nikon Products and news and presents his findings. It’s really interesting to see how often speculation becomes truth. For those of you non-Nikon users there’s also a Canon Rumors.

This is another really important blog especially for those just getting into the industry. Photo Attorney has articles about copyright, contracts and laws and situations that we will all find ourselves involved with in some way or another.

Thanks for taking the time to check out these great sites. They have been a huge help to me and my own work in Photography. What are some of your favorite blogs?