Sunday, December 30, 2018

NEW: Studio Strip Light

You have to love the great sales around Christmas time. When this Strip Light with Grid combo deal from B&H popped up on my smartphone, I bit the bullet and ordered it. (More accurately I bit the wedge of pineapple hanging from the edge of my frosty ice tea while sitting poolside in Panama.)

A srip light does just that, adding a small strip of light precisely where you want it. In this case I use it as an accent light (45 degrees behind the subject, opposite from the main light.)

Here at The World Famous Spencer Studio I have been trying many options as an accent light like a simple Yongnuo with and without a diffuser, a small umbrella, a small soft box but nothing seemed perfect because of the spill onto the background.

As the owls say, any hoot, I'm very happy with my test results so far. Also happy that it plugs right into my studio light controller because I hate having to run from light to light adjusting them.

Meeting Ali in Panama

I love traveling and photography for the same reason. People.

I met Ali in Panama, a recent refugee from Nicaragua, arriving in Panama with his wife and two small children and only the clothes on their backs. Ali is very well educated, speaks english fluently and was an engineer in Nicaragua. He now works for $20 a day and tips as a doorman at this Sheraton resort.  Starting his life over.

A very interesting and smart man, and surprisingly optimistic. I always looked forward to our talks.

(FujiX100 f2.0 1/125 available light, for you photo geeks)

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Headshots #lovemyjob #photographer

Friday, December 7, 2018

New Location For Rotary Club of Ottawa Lunches

Hey our first Rotary Club of Ottawa meeting in our new location. I like it, clean, bright, very modern and trendy (I'm all about trendy).

The Impact Hub of Ottawa, downtown on Slater Street. I think I'm going to like it here. It's a really interesting place sort of a co-op for business people. Large communal space, plus smaller rooms for working or meetings.

I took the bus downtown for the meeting and it was nice not to have to deal with all the downtown traffic and construction and trying to find a parking spot.

The Rotary Club of Ottawa is one of the oldest service clubs in Canada (1916) we are big on community service and international humanitarian projects and of course networking.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #photographer #hubottawa

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Light Meter Accuracy vs Cost

My old light meter (Middle) has served me well for 10 or 15 years but is dying quickly. I think I paid $229 for it. 

It has been my back up meter to my main studio light meter (Left $599) for a year or so. I keep it in my bag for location shoots. It has started giving me weird error messages so I replaced it with my new back up meter (Right $349)

They are all made by Sekonic, the standard name in light meters. My old meter (Middle $229) is well made and came with a lined soft leather case. The other two newer meters are cheaply made, smaller domes, and come with a real cheap plastic case.

They all come with basic functions but the only functions I use are a setting for flash, and a setting for available light.

But here's the important part of this... look at the light readings all 1/125 sec. at f2.0. All the same exact readings.  So my feeling is why $599 for a meter when the cheaper meters are just as accurate.  Easy, the $599 meter gives you a choice of gray, blue or pink screen colours. So worth it right? This industry is so stupid. I bet if these were made for any industry other than photography you cold buy them at Best Buy for $69.   

Monday, November 19, 2018

Headshots in a Pool Hall?

I loved the opportunity to meet and photograph 18 future leaders and superstars last night. Doing their headshots for a website and LinkedIn.  It was the club's social night, so we set up our portable studio in MacLaren's Pool Hall on Elgin between the pool tables. The headshots were required for updating their website and their use as LinkedIn profile photos.

MacLaren's Pool Hall is surprisingly large inside but a little cramped setting up equipment between the tables. Working in tight spaces seems to be something I am getting used to.

They were a great group and he had a lot of laughs. The only problem was that my light meter picked last night to stop working. I discovered the light meter error code E6 means I'm dead and you're out $300 to buy a new one.

I couldn't believe my bad luck having to deal with a dead meter but years of experience have taught me how to eyeball the studio light's exposure and ratio. Nailed the exposure on the first attempt. Old dog's... Old trick's :-)

Working on the headshots now in Photoshop, I think they will be pleased.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Taking a few shots at the NCO Ski Team Reception/Sponsor Appreciation Event

I had a great time last night photographing the NCO Elite Ski Team's Reception and Sponsor Appreciation Event.  It's not often I get to meet a room full of our young inspiring athletes.

To excel at anything at such a young age is impressive.  On top of the natural talent, the long hours of practice and commitment you also have to recognize the commitment of their entire families both in time and financially. I am grateful to have a job that allows me to meet people everyday that I would not normally meet.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Ottawa #lovemyjob @NCOFIS #the_nco_skiteam

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cedar Ridge High School

Thank you Alexandra and teacher John for inviting me to speak to your Entrepreneur and Business Management class at Cedar Ridge High School today.

The school itself was a very modern concept ant they even had a couple of dogs wandering in the common areas. 

It was nice to share some ideas about business and working for yourself.  It was more of a discussion than a lecter so that made it very easy on my part. They students had some great questions and we had some laughs and I'd love to go back anytime.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lightroom, Better Previews

Hey Photographers. This was part of a recent Lightroom CC update. It was kind of hidden away but is a nice new feature.

Lightroom now offers optimal preview viewing in Library mode. If you go to EDIT/CATALOG SET UP then go to the Tab File Handling. There is a new option under Standard Preview Size called AUTO.

Select Auto and lightroom will automatically calculate the best Preview size based on your monitor size and resolution in Library mode.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wednesday Working Breakfast. My most productive idea generating hour of the week.

Every Wednesday morning on the way home from the chiropractor I stop in someplace for breakfast. I get away from the TV, email and the computer and just plan and review and rethink everything. Just me and my notebook (remind me to tell you about the Rocketbook sometime). It's  like New Years Day complete with resolutions, brainstorming, and a boot camp for your brain all rolled in to one hour. Creativity and new ideas arrive sunny side up like my eggs, scrambled eggs sends a totally different message.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Nachos and Networking

I wish I had joined Rotary when I was younger, just a great bunch of people.

They are trying something new in Ottawa a "Rotary on the Patio" event. Very casual, no official meeting. A great time to socialize with members of various local clubs.

Monday night at The Royal Oak Pub, an eclectic group of about 15 maybe 18 all tops in their various fields. A lot of laughs, a few business cards passed around and new friends made.

With the constant bombardment of social media it is so nice to network with real people.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Idiot, I Can't Believe I Did That

Wednesday morning, a client is on the way to the studio and I'm not paying attention to what I am doing when I put a SD media card in my camera. 

It didn't go all the way in so like an idiot I shoved it in. Then it occurred to me I had put it in backwards and it was now stuck. Really stuck. In a panic now As you can image damaging your camera creates delays and is insainley costly.

I took a pair of pliers and tried to pull it out. It worked. Relieved now  but my heart was still racing. Wondering if it might be wise to buy a portable defibrillator for the studio :-)

 #photographer #OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Idiot

Location Headshots of 28 People

A real pleasure yesterday photographing Gina and the staff of the Ottawa Rotary Home. Twenty eight of the most wonderful and caring people you could ever meet. 

A very simple set up using a nice corner of the lobby and a large 60" white (convertible) umbrella for lighting. The custom white balance was not very helpful, lucky I double checked with a WhitBal card and exposure was f1.6 @ 1/60 for you photo geeks. Yup, tripod for me. I am getting less enchanted with the Expo Disc for white balancing. Of course mixed lighting when you have to deal with overhead spots is annoying.

My original plan was too shoot everyone under the covered entrance, nice shade and a great background. But then the sun came out and it was too contrasty.

We photographed all 28 people in about 90 minutes, from set up to take down.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #corporateheadshots #portrait #lovemyjob #Rotary 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Photos for Heart Shaped Lockets

I got a phone call from a man on Friday asking if I knew how to size a photo for a locket. I did. In fact I have done a few and sort of have a system for it.

He went on to explain that a young woman had recently lost her baby at birth. He had a few photos of the mother and baby taken in the hospital and his idea was he would like to put these photos in a locket he had purchased, hoping to give it to the mother the next day at the funeral. He was having a very frustrating time trying to size the photos to fit in to the locket.

I told him I would be happy to help, keep in mind that I have done this several times before but always had the locket in front of me. But this would all be handled over the phone and by email. To make matters worse this was a heart shaped locket, those are a nightmare to work with. There is no continuity between lockets, they are all different sizes and different length to width ratios and heart shapes were the worst.

In the past I would resize the images in Photoshop, then take or send to images to a one hour lab. Then pick up the print, trim the little photos to fit. But there was no time for this. The finished files would have to be emailed to him so he could print them on his desktop printer in order to be ready in time for the funeral.

He emailed me the photos and the dimensions of the locket. I did up some resized photos but because I didn't have the locket in front of me I had to ballpark it. He emailed me back to say they were a little large when being trimmed to size to fit inside the heart shape.

My second attempt seem to have nailed it. He was very happy and offered to pay me for my time. But I could never charge for a job like that, the photos were heartbreaking and it was such a sad story I just wanted to help.

He sent me a beautifully worded thank you email, that he rewrote and posted in a Spencer Studio review. It was probably the hardest job I have done in years, emotionally. And I thank my lucky stars that I have never had to experience what his family had been through.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Location Shoot Downtown Today

Setting up my portable studio in the corner of Cushman & Wakefield Ottawa's boardroom. Updating the corporate headshots for their website.  Always a pleasure working with Diane, the staff and the agents here. #OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots 

You get to be good at working in minimal space.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


Over the last couple of months three people have asked if I was retired or planning to retire. I think that's a great idea and I look forward to retiring. Finally, no need to work, time to do what I want, time to enjoy my life. I could do what I want, pursue a hobby maybe.

I know exactly what I would do, finally commit to what I love to do. I'd get my favorite camera, go out and take photos, meeting interesting people everyday. All day long and everyday. You know, like I do now.

I think people with real jobs especially jobs they don't like look forward to retirement. Sorry three people, I'm living the dream now and no intention of stopping. Getting paid to do what I love. Retirement would be exactly the same but without a paycheck.

Every so often I meet or read about someone that will work until the day they die. That's because to them it's not work it's play time.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Monday is Latin for opportunity. OK not really but you get my point.

Because most studios work Saturday they close Mondays. For months I tracked inquiries and phone calls keeping a list on my desk.

I found I received more calls, inquiries and bookings on Monday than any other day of the week. Probably because my competition was closed :-) I haven't been closed Mondays since. Friday was my slowest day so Fridays became my closed day, Friday is my going out to lunch day.

But nothing new here right. Marketing, photography and business in general are the same in that the successful ones test, test, test... always test.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

150 Milestone For Spencer Studio

HAPPY! This week we reached 150 Five Star Online Verified Client Reviews. Thank you clients.

Matthew Schultz of Avison Young posted the 150th Five Star Review after he received his updated headshot (below).

Link to our reviews 

#ottawaphotographer #lovemyjob #business #Ottawa #corporateheadshots #barrhavenphotographer

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our Ontario Portrait Studio's New Watermark

Our New Watermark For Our Ottawa Ontario Portrait Studio 

I really like the way this turned out. As you may have noticed our Ottawa Ontario Portrait Studio has been tweeting some of our professional headshots and other types of business photos. I was using a little ©Robin Spencer dropped in along the bottom of the image in a basic gray font using Lightroom but I always thought it looked too plain. (see below)

Our Previous Watermark

Then just after Christmas I was sent an email offering to do a new watermark for me, a Boxing Day sale price of only $40. They claimed the regular price was $100.

Their samples looked great, the reviews were also great so I took a change and had them do a new watermark for me.

Here in Ontario, most people at least in the Ottawa area (including Nepean, Kanata, Orleans and Manotick) know us as Spencer Studio so I added the word Ottawa because I have discovered that there are other Spencer Studios out there mostly in USA.

I wasn't happy with the first watermark and they offered to redo it, it was the "S" I didn't like.
They sent me a second attempt with a new "S". I was now second guessing if the new or original "S" was better.

Through social media I sent out the before/after samples asking people what they thought.

Well everyone with the exception of one person preferred the "no loop". 

I'm happy to say we are using the new watermark on all of our tweeted business images etc.
I am thinking of changing the logo on my card and website etc. to this new logo. 

We opened our Ottawa portrait studio back in 1980, the old logo has been used for decades so updating it to this new signature looking logo with the word Ottawa under it has a more modern look. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Photographer - Ottawa Business Photos - Corporate Headshots 2018 Video

Ottawa Business Photos - Corporate Headshots 2018 Video

I put together this Ottawa Business Photos - Corporate Headshots 2018 Video to show off some of our professional headshots. Most of these clients are from Ottawa or the surrounding areas of Nepean, Orleans, Kanata and even Manotick.

We offer complete photography services and can photograph clients in our photo studio or at their location.

It was fun putting together this short video, it's kind of an update from our studio's old one but with updated portraits and music. I laughed when someone described it as "Urban Chic" to be honest I'm not sure if that was a compliment or they were being sarcastic. 

Like the video suggests our business photos, corporate headshots and professional headshots appear all over and in a lot of places. Both in print and in digital form. One of the most popular uses is as a LinkedIn profile photo.

In fact we get so many requests for LinkedIn profile photos that weven have a special LinkedIn package. Shot and cropped and sized specifically for LinkedIn.

I have always enjoyed doing business photos, corporate headshots and professional headshots and have been photographing them here in Ottawa since 1980. I enjoy talking to the clients about how they got their start, where they are from, and what they are doing now. They are usually a very positive group and fun to photograph.

I hope you enjoy the video.