Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sometimes you'll get lucky!

Sometimes it can be hard to photograph a subject.  Sometimes you'll get lucky.  I always try to make the photos for this feature very fun/goofy/light-hearted.  I want it to match the feeling of the text, and the questions and answers are usually so much fun...  

I was especially lucky to get such a willing subject on this one.  When you think of someone who performs with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, you think stuffy and serious.  I was expecting to get a real conservative shot.  As we started talking, I realized that I had someone pretty cool in front of the lens.  

I got a few "safe" shots, then asked my subject if she'd mind holding the horn in a fun and/or goofy way, maybe over her head.  She immediately put it on like a hat.  We both laughed, then I shot.  I think it works well...  

I guess the reason I decided to blog on this, is that not every subject is willing to work with you.  Some people just won't feel comfortable getting silly in front of the camera.  However, it doesn't hurt to ask, because sometimes you'll get lucky!

State sales tax?!?

We just did our taxes, and it made me think of a few things that every self-employed photographer should be doing.  I'll try blogging about several of these things over the next few days, starting with a VERY important one right now...

If you are charging other people for your efforts, you need to be doing this, too:  

Of course, this form is for businesses in Texas, but the basic idea is the same for all states.  If you are selling something, you should be collecting sales tax.  If you are collecting sales tax, you had better be giving it to the government!  

To make a long story short, this is completely different from the federal IRS stuff that you see H&R Block for every year (or maybe you are lucky enough to be filling out a 1040ez form on your own).  This has to do with state sales tax, just like when you buy a dvd or a bottle of shampoo.  The price of the item is ten dollars, but you leave the store in Dallas paying $10.82 (each state will have a slightly different percentage of sales tax).  

The store doesn't keep that eighty two cents.  They give it to the state.  I also collect sales tax on any business transaction that doesn't have a valid reason to exempt it (certain charities, businesses, and other situations allow for the tax to be waived).  I send the money to Austin every January.  This keeps everything I do on the straight and narrow.  I don't need any government employees knocking on my door over something so simple to do.  

Sure, if you are only doing a couple paying gigs per year, you can slide under the radar and not get caught, but anybody making a part-time living or better NEEDS to be collecting and paying state sales tax.  There is no way around it, except the illegal way.  So, do it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A serious read for photogs...

I almost didn't read all the way through this article.  It was pointed out to me, and I was told it was an "eye-opener" for self-employed photographers.  Well, the first half was a bit boring and pretty obvious.  It was late and I was close to calling this one done.  

I'm glad I kept going, though.  Page three and four really ARE eye-openers.  It details the reality of waiting for clients to call and taking assignment rates that sound good - until you really add up your expenses.  Read it for yourself (and stick with it to the end):  

I'm dealing with much of this right now.  How do I keep moving in this tough market?  How do I make sure I'm bringing in enough work to make a difference?  How do I keep up to date with technology and competition without blowing my budget on new gear, computers, software, etc?!?  

There may not be many answers in the article, but it does raise enough questions to get you thinking...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The web is full of wonderful photography-related stuff.  For example, you can read Victor online:  

Victor is a publication put out by the Hasselblad people, and it is filled with interesting images.  I'm sure the print version is even nicer, but I don't have the $76 to waste on four issues.  I'd rather just register my email address and enjoy the online version for now.  

More wisdom from someone smarter than me...

I've done a lot of successful shoots using only one or two lights.  I believe in the "less is more" philosophy.  There are several good tutorial videos located here, and a couple discuss one and two light scenarios:  

Maybe I'll make a few tutorials one day.  But right now there's not much point.  This guy does such a nice job in teaching some basics.

Check this out...

A lot of useful info can be found here:  

From the website:  

The UPDIG guidelines aim to clarify issues affecting accurate reproduction and management of digital images. These guidelines were created to establish photographic standards and practices for photographers, designers, printers, and image distributors. The guidelines cover Digital Asset Management, Color Profiling, Metadata, and Photography Workflow.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Judge, Jury, and Executioner...

I've been asked to be a judge for a corporation's employee photo competition.  I'm curious to see what type of work there is to judge.  I remember seeing the artwork up along a hall at the JC Penney corporate offices years ago and thinking there were some decent artists among their company.  

Of course, this company is an energy company, not exactly an artist's collective.  I picture energy companies as having a bunch of scientists and a bean counters.  I bet I'll be surprised and see some pretty good stuff, though. A few of those scientists may have a creative bug in them.  Heck, a few of those number crunchers may, too...  We'll find out soon enough.


Check this out:  

I will definitely consider this, once I get a 5DmkII.  Have you ever noticed that your pics seem just an inch or two off focus from where you "thought" you had focused.  For the most part, an inch or two isn't a big deal, but it can make or break certain shots.  

This won't solve any user focusing issues (in other words, you still need to focus properly), but it will fix any minute discrepancy in the camera's set-up.  Now, I just need to get a 5DmkII.  One thing at a time...