Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday night...

OK, I'm about to turn off the computer and head out on some shoots.  One assignment will be another video assignment.  I'm anxious to build up a good video portfolio, so this will be fun.  Another is your basic bread-and-butter event shoot (go take some pics, get some quotes from guests for cutlines and a short story, and then get out of there).  The final is at a club downtown - where Shaquille O'Neal is supposed to be tonight (no, I'm not going as a Paparazzi, waiting behind the bushes to pounce on him.  It is a regular newspaper assignment).  

Anyway, that's it for now.  I'll have a ton of video, photos, and text to work through from this evening, so there probably won't be another post until Monday or Tuesday...



This is one of the current promo/mailers that I've started sending out to potential advertising clients.  It focuses on my lifestyle photography.  You know, the ads where a family is running through a field, and the ad is selling some sort of allergy medication.  Or the young couple in bed on a sunny morning, with a laptop and coffee - the ad selling anything from online shopping, to travel options, to pajamas, to whatever.  The photos that don't necessarily have the actual product in the picture, but convey a certain feeling instead.  That's the type of photography I can do well.  

I can't do product and table top photography (the perfect pictures of a product in an ad or flyer or on the box of the item) well enough to compete with the big boys in town (and there's a TON of money in DFW for that type of work), so I have to focus on what I am good at.  Hopefully, my editorial style transfers over well enough to regular and consistent advertising "lifestyle" shooting.  That is what I actually CAN do, and have done somewhat in the past.  

These are pics from an major ad campaign I worked on for a large financial institution in 2007.  The client wanted a wholesome, family-friendly look to all their ads and literature for savings, retirement, and health benefit options.  My regular portfolio is a lot edgier, showing off much of my rock and roll portraits and other bold images, so hopefully this mailer will be a good balance to that.  

Figuring out what images to send out can be so hard sometimes.  Some people say to send images of the stuff you love to shoot or only send your most personal work.  That way the client can get a feel for what you have inside... for what you are truly capable of doing.  Others say to send out images from recent assignments, so clients can see how well you do in the real world - since, that's what really matters to them.  Some people mix the two together, and others say that a mixture will appear too scatter-shot and unfocused.  Ughhhh...  too many choices and way too many suggestions...  

Well, for now I am showing my edgy portfolio and following up with a more real world mailer.  We'll see if this plan works.  I love the occasional big advertising shoots I've done and am hoping this helps me get more.


Friday, April 3, 2009

No money from U2? Are you CRAZY?!?  

I was shown this link and I'm not sure how to react.  Part of me respects the pure artist in this story, but part of me wonders just how smart of a business move this was?  

I have billed major labels up to $7500 for an album cover shoot in the past, and that wasn't even for a disc like this - one that will surely go multi-platinum.  So, we are talking about a cover shot worth a minimum of $20k, if not $50k or more...  I've heard of artists spending up to $100k on artwork before, so who knows what could've been negotiated here?!?  

Now, if he doesn't need the money... fine.  Or, if this is part of a bigger plan... fine.  But, this kind of pure art, not selling out thing is just too hard to do in the modern world.  I'm not saying you should completely sell your soul for a paycheck.  However, you do need to balance your artistic integrity with your need to feed and clothe yourself.


The Cowboy Preacher

I had a request to see some of my rodeo and cowboy shots, so I thought I'd post this story I did for American Profile Magazine. It's about a cowboy preacher that travels with a professional bull riding association and provides religious services to the riders and crew.

I thought it was something a little different from the "normal" cowboy story. Something with a bit of heart and soul to it. You can see that he spends his days guiding these men, praying for them, and helping them cope with the dangerous lifestyle they chose to live. It was such an interesting story to shoot...

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I'm tired...

I'm tired of reporting bad news in the newspaper industry, but here is more: 

I skipped linking a couple recent stories on failing or failed papers across the country, just because I didn't want this blog to seem like a broken record.  However, The Globe would be a huge loss to the newspaper industry.  Losing it would be insane.  

I understand the whole idea of moving along with changing times and technology, but there is so much information I can find in the paper every day.  It would suck having to hunt it down on the internet, or at the very least, trying to nimbly navigate through a muddled newspaper website for good info.  

There's just something about skimming the headlines of each section that seems easier in print.  Maybe because I'm old?!?  I'm tech-savvy.  I know a thing or two about this whole internet thing.  I just think the printed version still has some use...


I feel good about this...

I'm doing a pro bono shoot for The Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut.  I'll tell you more about it, once I get the shots done.  If anyone is interested in assisting me on the shoot, I'm trying to set it up for next Tuesday.  Wanna do a little charity/volunteer work to help make the world a better place?!?


Are you employed?

I started flipping through the new issue of PDN while feeding the boys their lunch (I work from home most days, so I watch the three babies on the non-nanny days), and I noticed a little news note about unemployment.  On page ten, in the bottom corner, they mention that unemployment for photographers has grown to six percent, bringing it more inline with national unemployment figures.  

Of course, this doesn't really take into account all the self-employed photogs that have taken a huge hit in business.  I bet many of us freelancers are having trouble making enough to pay bills at the moment (I've lucky worked on turning this sinking ship around and am now on the financial upswing - keep your fingers crossed that it continues).  When a couple publications close down or scale back their budgets, the freelancer losses probably aren't tallied by the Bureau for Labor Statistics.  They weren't technically fired, since they were never an employee.  

I bet the industry is hurting just a little more than those numbers can convey.  All the lost business for the self-employed equals a lot more people with trouble paying mortgages and car payments.


A different kind of photo shoot...

So, this week's issue of Quick features my cover photo of Jesse Jane.  She is an adult movie actress, apparently a very well-known adult movie actress.  It's the first time I've ever photographed anyone like her before.  The shoot was very wholesome and fully clothed, so don't go thinking I did something naughty here.  Anyway, it just goes to show that you can shoot some pretty interesting subjects from time to time...  



I have a friend who is working at the new Life website.  It's based off the old Life magazine that generations of Americans were used to reading.  Right now they have a great set of never-before-seen pictures from the day MLK was assassinated.  You should check it out.


Great kid pics!!!

I ran across this article, originally from Professional Photographer Magazine, while I was cruising through the Mamiya blog:  

There are some pretty nice portraits in there, well worth checking out... especially if you photograph children.  Speaking of kid photos, I should have the re-launch of my family and wedding website done soon.  Though I don't plan to do portraits and weddings full-time (rock and roll is still number one!), I will be taking limited engagements.  I have too many people ask me about it, so I thought an official website would be a good way to go.  I'll keep you posted.


Sharing some recent work...

I thought I'd give you a peek at a recent photo shoot I did.  I'm starting to do a lot more corporate work.  I'm still doing a ton of bands, but the corporate world gives me a chance to diversify a bit.  In case it isn't clear from the photos, he's a lawyer (and a real nice guy).  It's strange, because I've photographed more lawyers this year than I probably have my entire career... 


PDN, where are you?!?

It is a couple days into April, and I was starting to wonder if my current issue of PDN - the professional photographer's trade magazine - was on its way.  It normally arrives by the first of the month, and every extra day seems like an eternity.  

This month is the Wedding and Portrait issue.  It can be a nice read, and there's always some good wedding images to look through.  This year, they have a story on same-sex wedding ceremonies.  I haven't read it yet, but the tag line suggests that it is a growing market for photographers.


Blog publicity?!?

Is anyone familiar with different ways to get your blog noticed?  I've been tipped off to a few different things, including something at 

I'm not really sure how it is supposed to increase blog awareness, but I'm trying it out.  I suppose it can't hurt, right?!?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pay for your news...

OK, so most of you are not photojournalists, like me.  So, this story may not be as important to your photography business.  If you shoot weddings or fine art, you might not care too much about the newspaper industry.  Well, I do, and this story is intriguing:  

I feel fine paying for a printed copy of a newspaper, but I'm not so sure I'd pay for it online.  And that comes from someone who gets the majority of his income from newspaper and magazine shoots.  Also, this talk about a portable, electronic newspaper device sounds a little outdated to me.  

I'm just wondering how many people will want to carry yet another device with them?  I wish more options would exist for people to see my photos, but I'm just not feeling this one.  I'm no billionaire businessman like Rupert Murdoch, so maybe I'm wrong on this.  He seems to know a thing or two about success...


Professional help?

I'm not sure how helpful a company like this would be, but it sure is tempting to find out:  

They claim to help you connect with agency creatives and art buyers worldwide.  For a professional photographer looking to do more advertising, corporate and lifestyle shooting, this would be a big bonus.  However, a lot of companies can "claim" to boost business.  Often, they do deliver for a small percentage of their clients, but most are just throwing away their money.  

But, in a down economy, it becomes even more vital to get your name in front of everyone you can.  So, take the risk on throwing away your hard-earned money, or get ready for the art buyers to start knocking on your door?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009


There is an old saying that goes "the clothes make the man."  Well, if that's the case, the accessories make the woman.  Look at the two pictures and notice there are only two things obviously different.  

If you notice, for one, the subject has a more pleasing three quarter angle for her face.  The more straight-on face shot is not usually the best way to photograph someone for a portrait.  Now, I'm sure some people will point out this is a main reason why the second photograph looks more pleasing.  Well, this is one reason, but not the ONLY reason.  

Without the other main difference - accessories - the second image would still feel a little flat.  Thanks to a headband, bracelet and necklace, the second shot feels a bit more lively and fun.  As you can see, it doesn't take much effort to make a difference.  

So, consider accessorizing on your next shoot.  It may help give that little extra energy you were looking for.  And if you are terrible at accessorizing, consider hiring a professional stylist.  Junior stylists or stylists in training can be found for a reasonable price and are much better than no stylist at all.  They will handle any wardrobe issues, accessories, and minor hair/make-up adjustments.  


I was asked to participate in a mortgage and real estate blog by a friend.  Why, you may ask?  Does Jason know anything about real estate??  Does Jason even have a clue about the mortgage industry???  Well, click the link and you'll understand...

Judging by the comments that real estate agents and mortgage industry people are leaving, they found the info pretty useful.  My guess is that most of them never put any thought into photography as a major selling tool.  

Speaking of the mortgage industry, if you ever have any home ownership questions, you should hit up John Jones.  And check out his website on consumer credit, too.  He knows a thing or two about that subject...


Fake Contests...

In case you didn't know, there are a LOT more photo-related contests out there that aren't 100% legit.  I'm not saying they are a real, illegal scam.  I am saying there are several contests that are worried more about making lots of money than actually holding a contest.  If the photos are ever second or third on the list of priorities, that is NOT a good sign.  A photo competition should be about photos, first and foremost!  

One contest that I've felt was not on the up and up is the Photographer's Forum contest.  They also have/had a College level contest and I think a couple others.  Here's a link to it:  

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't attempt to enter.  I'm just saying that in my past experience with them, I've never seen anything that I felt comfortable with.  You can be your own judge and jury if you'd like.  



I think I'll be attending this event on Friday:  

Maybe you should, too?


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How about this for street shooting?

Think you can pull this style off with a camera and a couple flashes?  Well, OK... and a couple monopods/poles, and a couple assistants, and an art director, and...  


One for the videographer...

This is a great little piece on what to carry with you as a pro videographer:  

Am I confused?!?

Maybe I'm just not a good enough photographer to tell a good photo from a very dull, average one, but the sample shots in this video just seem very blah and bland to me:  

Usually, I'll find some killer tutorials on these MAC Group blogs (MAC owns Pocket Wizard, Mamiya, Tenba, Profoto, etc), but this guy just doesn't seem to cut it.  His idea is good, but his execution seems to fall way short of its potential.  I bet this technique could be used with dramatic effect.  It just wasn't here...

Monday, March 30, 2009


I'll be doing a bit more video documentary work in the future, with the next event happening this weekend.  I'll be sure to post a link when it is up.  I'm excited to be branching out some.  I love still photography, but find video to be a very dynamic form of communication.  Keep your eyes peeled, and I'd love feedback on each new video link!

Everyone's a photographer...

Just a quick thought...  I hear a lot of complaining these days about the profession of photography.  Technology has made it easier for amateurs to get decent pictures.  It has become so easy that many pros are worried about their client base disappearing.  "If my client can take the image, why should they pay me?"  

Here's the deal, in a nutshell.  Sure, more people are able to take great pictures on their own.  More marketing departments are buying a good digital camera and shooting their own PR events.  More families are shooting their own children and making portraits for family and friends.  More newspapers, magazines, and buyers of stock images are turning to Flickr for free content.  So what?!?  

Did restaurants start crying foul when the TV dinner was invented?  If they did, they were short-sighted.  I can cook at home, and often do.  But guess what...  I also eat out.  There are certain times that I want something I just can't make at home.  There are certain times that I could've made my meal at home, but just didn't want to.  There are certain times when the occasion is special enough that I WANT to eat at an expensive restaurant.  

People will continue paying for professional pictures, even though technology is closing the gap between the pro and the amateur.  There will still be plenty of jobs out there for us.  We might have to point out the reason why we are different/better than the do-it-yourself picture, but that ties in with my previous blog post.  Get proactive.  Go out and SHOW people why you are worth the money.

A simple phrase to live by...

I've been saying this lately, and I've been hearing others say it, too.  It applies to your photography business, but it also applies to any business and to life in general:  

Be Proactive, Not Reactive  

I'll leave it at that for now.  It's up to you to figure out what it means.  If you can apply this to your business, you will see an increase in sales.  I've applied it to Janik Photography and have gained a couple new clients just this month alone.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Have you ever checked out before?  You should.  The advice is decent and plentiful. It applies to a wide variety of photo subjects.  And it's free.  I'll admit that much of it is common knowledge for a veteran shooter, but even I find good info there...