Friday, April 24, 2009

Gallery shows this weekend...

I'll have a total of five images on display in two art shows, starting this Saturday.  One is the 1st Annual Oak Cliff Art Crawl.  The other is the Ear Candy show, which is part of the M2S2 event in Deep Ellum.

Wow... a Pulitzer!!!

A friend of mine just won a Pulitzer.  I've known Damon Winter since I first started shooting pictures for the Dallas Morning News, back in December 1999.  He is a great guy and deserved to win!  I'm so happy for him!!!  The story can be found here, with a link to his Pulitzer-winning images:  

This is so cool...  If you knew Damon, you'd know there isn't a better photographer for the coveted award.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


I was outside on a photo shoot the other day, when I looked up and saw an airplane flying overhead.  I decided to photograph it, as it crossed the sky.  I don't think I've ever bothered to photograph a contrail before, but I bet it would make for a fun photo project.  They are probably all so different, over a few years the body of work could be pretty interesting.  

There's not much about this one that makes it unique or special, but I still like the way it looks...



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'll say it again... edit!!!

I've mentioned it several times in the past, and I will say it again.  If you are going to show your work to the world, you MUST edit!  It sounds so simple, but many photographers just don't get it.  You will be judged by your worst image, so that one had better be good.  No, forget that...  it had better be great.  

You should not even consider leaving "good" images in your portfolio.  You should not assume that "good" images are worth seeing on the internet.  You are much better off showing ten great images, than showing ten great images and ten good images.  

So, get out your editor's hat and look at the images you are showing.  Now, choose half of them to cut.  You'll thank me for it.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I didn't shoot today...

I didn't have a shoot today, but that doesn't mean I didn't work.  You can estimate that you'll shoot about 100 assignments per year as a self-employed freelance photographer.  If you are a regular shooter for a daily newspaper, that number may be higher.  If you are strictly a wedding photographer, that number may be lower.  However, 100 days is a good average to start out with, until you can track and review your shooting schedule from year to year.  

Now, just because I didn't shoot today, it doesn't mean that I didn't work.  As a freelancer, you will probably work six or seven days a week, to some degree.  Today, I ran some images to Fedex, followed up with clients over email, will work on some images in Photoshop, and will prep my gear for tomorrow's shooting.  And I could've done more, if I didn't need to dig up a sprinkler pipe and repair it in the back yard...  

Realistically, you can wind up working about 364 of the 365 days in each year.  Some days will be slammed with things on your list.  Others may require thirty minutes of emailing and/or calling clients.  Hopefully, you are trying to be a professional photographer for the love of the image.  If you thought you'd get rich or thought it would be an easy job, you were mistaken.  You would've been better off in a cubicle, if that's the case.


Those wigs look itchy...

I had the chance to photograph a Dallas-area band called Chameleon Chamber group for the cover of Quick.  They do this classical meets outer space sort of thing.  Kind of like the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey performed by The Flaming Lips.  It's really interesting!  

The group dresses up and performs in these wild outfits, including Mozart-era powdered wigs.  I was pleased with the shoot, and I've received some pretty good feedback from viewers/readers that have seen the current issue.  

I love photographing bands.  There is so much room to just go crazy with the images.  If there's a hint of punk rock in the band's performance, I try to exploit that energy.  If there is a bit of goofiness, I crank it up to insanity.  

You can really take a band and "turn it up to eleven" so to speak.  Any sort of characteristic they display can be boosted and amplified in the photos.  That sort of "push it over the edge" mentality is what makes the band photos work.  I think if you don't go all out with musicians and artists, they run the risk of looking very normal.  I think rock stars need to be idolized a bit, so normal should be the LAST thing you capture.


Monday, April 20, 2009

The business portrait...

There are millions of "business portraits" to be taken in this country, because there are millions of professionals.  This kind of photography can be a good boost to your income, so hopefully you know how to make a good, professional business portrait.  

I've shot my share of CEO's, managers, realtors, and anybody else that needs a quality headshot.  They end up on web pages, business cards, flyers, advertisements, PR and press kits...  just about anywhere and everywhere that a business person can put them.  

I'm not going to do a huge tutorial on my style/version of the business headshot, because there's a very good tutorial here:  

You'll have to log in to view the tutorial, so if you get lost while trying to log in or register, just search for the title:  A "No BS" Business Portrait  

Now, he uses three lights and a fill card in the linked tutorial.  I simply use two lights and no fill card.  The light is a bit more dramatic, but I like that look.  Besides, it's easier to set up on location, and that's where a lot of money can be made.  If you can set up shop in an extra room at a real estate office, you can knock out five or ten headshots in a row.  At two hundred dollars a pop, you can make up to two grand in a couple hours.  

Back to my version of the business portrait...  Here is an example of one I shot for a local company.  They had some new upper-level management come in, and they needed pictures for the website and press release.  These people were busy, busy, busy.  They asked me to come in to their offices and set up for the shoot.  This would save the new president a lot of time, since she wouldn't have to drive to my studio - and time is money with companies.  

So, I set up in an empty office, with my C-stand to hold a small grey paper backdrop.  I had my portable Profoto kit that contains two small stands, two heads, and two power packs.  I had a large softbox and my camera bag.  Everything can be carried in at once (with a little effort getting in and out of elevators).  

I set up in about five minutes, waited for the president to come in, and was done shooting after ten more minutes.  Five minutes to break down the gear, and I'm done.  This is what I shot...


Now, I'm not going to draw out a fancy diagram for you, but I will tell you this.  My picture is captured almost exactly like the tutorial link does it.  I eliminate the hair light and the fill card.  I use a 70-200 2.8L lens, instead of an 85mm lens.  That's it.


They Were Stars...

I was at The Cavern on a shoot this weekend.  I wasn't there to shoot the band, but I decided to snap a few shots of them anyway.  The band is called They Were Stars, and they were pretty darn good.  

The stage at The Cavern is more than just tiny.  It is almost nonexistent.  The lighting is pretty bad, what little lighting is available.  This may sound like a recipe for photo disaster, but sometimes these tiny, poorly-lit stages can make for some good shooting.  

You need to work harder at it, but you can use the weaknesses to your advantage.  One thing, the band is packed together tightly, so you can often get great pictures of them interacting with each other.  Often, band members will be far apart on a big stage.  A huge stage makes it hard to get more than one or two members in the same photo.  

Another way to make these stages work for you is to really drag your shutter and pop the band with some flash.  The little stage lighting available will create some cool ghosting and a tiny bit of blur, but your flash will freeze the important parts (like the face or musical instrument).  This technique can feel/look more energetic than your average concert image.  

Anyway, here are a few images from my efforts:  



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now I remember!!!

My memory is not the best.  I know that I should know something, but I can't remember why.  That was the case today, when I went to photograph Lindsay Graham for an upcoming issue of Quick (I can't leak any details about the shoot or share any pics... you just have to anxiously await the story to hit the stands and the website).  

Anyway, the name sounded very familiar, but I just couldn't place it.  He runs a local recording studio, so I figured it was from something band-related.  I asked why his name sounded so familiar and he said it was probably from the senator.  With Myspace, I get hit up by soooo many bands and the name sounded like a band I'd heard of before, but I knew I didn't recognize the music.  

Then he said, "No, not a band named The Senator, but the senator."  

Oooooohhhhhhh...  I felt dumb.  There is a band out of New Jersey named The Senator, and I was confused.  He was talking about senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  However stupid I sounded for confusing an actual senator with a band name, that wasn't where I was recognizing the name from.  

We talked more about bands and photography.  He told me that he'd done a lot of photography, but that the music recording had taken over his life.  He told me about some of the really cool past and present projects that he'd recorded.  Then he mentioned the Observer right as we were wrapping up.  

Of Course!!!!!!!!!  That was where I recognized the name.  Lindsay Graham used to shoot some of the music stuff for the Observer.  Now I knew why I knew the name...  He always had decent photos, and I'm usually pretty good at remembering other local photographers' efforts.  

So, my memory sucks, but I did get to meet a pretty nice guy, and a fellow photog.  And that's how I spent my Sunday.  Oh, and I dropped off a couple art pieces for a gallery exhibit starting next weekend.  I'll get you more details on that in a few days...