Saturday, July 31, 2010

The 810863

I have been looking for a secure way to attach my Norman 400B flash's battery pack to a light-stand for outdoor portraits. I tried to make a few things but nothing worked well, and the huge cluncky thing would swing and sway and annoy me whenever I moved the stand. But I figured having it attached low on a light-stand would keep it from blowing over on a windy day.

So I finally figured I would bite the bullet and pay the US$78 for the Norman 810863 Quick Release Stand Mount Plate. Crazy overpriced I thought, well it works perfect and was worth every cent. 

My only problem, there were no instructions on how to attach it. I guess it was designed to accommodate several types of battery packs, lots of holes, lots of "extra" screws.
I had to call Norman to see if I had installed it right, I had it upside down... duh.

Are we "poor"?

Last week I was doing what is sometimes referred to as a "Go See". Checking someones home/yard for lighting, space etc. a week before their home portrait. I noticed lots of portraits around the house, then a series of 16x20's and 20x24's. I looked at the signature and recognized the photographer. I commented on the nice portraits, the lady told me the name of the photographer (I knew the name well, good photographer who closed his doors). She said "He was a good photographer, but he's not in business anymore. I guess he was (voice trailing off) tired of being poor.

Yikes, I thought. Is this her impression of photographers, or everyones opinion?
Probably not far off from the truth now a days.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm lost for words...

OH God, meet your competition, another "professional photographer" out there doing portraits. 
Saw this on a professional photographers forum (her spelling, I just cut and pasted) ...
Hey fellow phottogs who know WAY more than me!! I got a question..........I'm getting ready to do a family shoot, and I'm gonna use a 50 mm 1.8 and I'm going to need to get a CRYSTAL CLEAR 20 x 24 out of it what AP should I use?? Yes, I know this is a dumb question to most but I'm a "newby" in the biz and want to make ...sure this portrait is as clear as possible!! ANY and ALL info IS GREATLY appreciated!! Thank YOU!!!!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Noisy Babies

Well it's March and the studio is very quiet this week, so I rounded up a bunch of babies and decided to update my baby samples and style.  Truth is that it is very hard to compete with Wal-Marts $5 baby packages if you are doing regular baby photography. I seldom do baby photos so I reasoned that it would not hurt sales any to totally change my style to something more unique.

I'm not going into specifics but I wanted to pass this along. Using a soft focus lens on an old Nikon D100 and lighting by only the modelling light of my studio flash I had to bump my iso to 1250. I only did a few shots (50?) I was expecting disastrous results because of the abundance of noise. Everyone says we pros need to shoot with the lowest iso possible to ensure quality.

I was very impressed with the results I got at 1250iso.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Mortgage Brokers Taught Me

I recently had the opportunity to photograph five mortgage brokers from the same office. They were updating their cards and websites and needed new photos.

All were photographed individually over a couple of days. It was interesting talking to them, they all liked working together and enjoyed their jobs. 

When I asked about their clients they all had very different answers. One told me most of his clients were single women, another told me their clients were mostly young families, another said young couples etc.

It was interesting, all five mortgage brokers selling the same thing and at the same price in the same office had totally different clients. None of them were competing against each other, no wonder they all got along.

Checking Your Focus

Well that was easy. I was talking to a support tech, questioning the focus of a manual focus lens I was using. She reminded me that everything is auto-focus now and nobody ever checks the diopter adjustment on their viewfinders anymore. 

She gave me a simple way to make sure it was set properly for my eyes. Just look through the camera, make sure the meter is on. Slide the diopter adjustment so that the meter reading in the viewfinder is blurry, then slide it back until it is crystal sharp. Worked great, yup it had been a little off.

And what manual focus lens was I using? Sorry a top secret that only world famous master photographers know about.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How much should my "assistants" pay me?

I got a phone call from another wanna-be professional photographer today. She sounded nice enough and offered to be my "assistant" on weddings for free. She got herself a new camera and now wants to be a professional wedding photographer and I guess she figured if she assisted me on a couple of weddings she would learn the finer points of posing, lighting etc. enough to do weddings herself.
I told her I had an assistant and really didn't need another, and that was that. Let's face it an assistant who doesn't know me, my style, my needs or weddings would be of no use to me.

Meanwhile I had a support tech on hold, when I returned to him I gave a little rant about already having a half million competitors out there and I had no intension of training another. He simply said, why don't you charge her? Well the simplicity of his answer caught me a little off guard and I thought why not?

So the big question is, how much? Yup, am additional income stream. Maybe I could get wanna-be photographers to pay me $250? - $300? to follow me (or you) around on a wedding day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stupid Nikon!!!

I was watching an instructional video and the photographer had on the coolest thing, a Nikon Hand Strap AH-4.
Genuine black leather (Cool), said Nikon on it (Cool) and appeared to give a secure, stable, one handed operation (also Cool). But in all honesty it was the look and feel of being in a Clint Eastwood western that sold me. 
So I spent the US$79 (truth is CAN$59 on eBay) and it arrived yesterday and was everything I hoped for.

One problem, my hands are large and this Nikon Hand Strap AH-4 barely fit. It's OK when I reposition it and readjust it but if Nikon would have spent 1 more cent and made the strap 1/2" longer it would be a million times better. Stupid Nikon.
What can I say besides "Do you feel lucky punk? well do ya?"

Male Photographers, are we Doomed?

I had coffee with a couple of female photographers the other day. Both telling me how great business is, it keeps them and their employee(s) very busy but they will have to hire on an additional employee to deal with the summer wedding rush.

Their work is OK, prices are not cheap, nor outrageous.

When I talk to my male photographer friends, most say wedding bookings are crap or none at all. This includes me.

Just wondering. With this influx of female photographers over the last few years, and the fact that 80%+ of our customers are female......

Having a wife and two daughters I know that women feel much more comfortable dealing with other women and that women are much more supportive of other women and businesses run by women.
In fact all three switched from our long time friend and family doctor to women doctors.

Of course having people like Oprah constantly telling women that all men are potential rapists, evil, wife beaters etc. doesn't help.

I've noticed over the years that usually Jewish clients usually prefer to deal with Jewish photographers, Greek with Greek, Italian with Italian, Chinese with Chinese, etc. You only need to view other photographers websites to see this is true by looking at the sample photos.
Hey I understand, similar language, customs, and expectations.

I have received several calls lately from Asians (both from India and China) who were amazed I didn't have a supply of wedding dresses and traditional Asian clothes to wear for their portraits. Maybe in Asia photographers supply clothes to wear for studio weddings. I guess they will phone around and find a local Asian photographer who understands this and know how to deal with it.

I'm just wondering if it might be wise to hire a female photographer for weddings, they can deal with the clients, set up groups and you guys can just set up the camera and push the button. Might work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Selling Digital Files?

With 30 years in this business full time, and I guess being an old fart, I dread the thought of selling digital files. But to survive 30 years in any business you have to look for trends.

Here is what I see. After 48 years Conde Nast closes Gourmet Magazine and 3 other upscale "paper" magazines. Canwest (Canada's largest newspaper publisher with 37) has filed for bankruptcy protection. Some of the US major newspapers are running into financial difficulties now that people prefer getting news on-line.

iTunes, and their multi billion dollar sales of music files. No need to buy CD's anymore (yes, CD sales are way down). They have also added down-loadable movies and TV shows you can watch on your computer, TV, iPod.

Huge sales in downloadable eBooks and Audiobooks, no need to buy a real book anymore. The Sony Reader Digital Book, or Amazon's Kindle made to hold over 1500 downloadable digital books. No need to buy bookshelves anymore.

So for me the thought of selling digital files is scary based on years of hearing "Never sell your negatives". But the fact is everything is going digital, people want to buy files, more convenient? for safe storage?, for sharing? and it's a multi billion dollar industry you can take part in or not.

And No. At this point I don't offer them for sale but I think soon they will be added to my product mix, maybe I'll add preloaded Digital Photo Frames.

I am haunted by the lyrics of Bob Dylan "You'd better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone. For the times they are a chang'n".