Saturday, May 16, 2009

I feel good!

I should feel pretty bad right now.  I should be close to death.  Well, not literally death, but pretty exhausted.  You see, I started my Saturday by waking up at 6:45am and heading to my first shoot at 7:30am...  my first of three shoots.  

7:30am doesn't sound that rough?  Well, that's not the big deal.  You see, I should feel bad because I didn't stop shooting until 9:30pm tonight.  That's fourteen hours of work.  Fourteen hours on my feet, non-stop.  I had about thirty minutes of down time in between each of the shoots, so really it was more like thirteen hours of actual work, but you get the picture.  

Oh, and add the fact that I didn't get to bed Friday night (well, more like Saturday morning) until 2am, thanks to some late night shoots.  Yup, I have had very little sleep and a whole lot of work this weekend...  

Anyway, I don't feel bad at all.  I feel absolutely wonderful for some reason.  I think it's due to my post-work events.  After 9:30 rolled around and I packed up my camera, I headed down to Deep Ellum.  A friend of mine - Randy - was having a sort of going away party at the barry Whistler gallery.  He worked at a local newspaper for over thirty years and was recently let go thanks to budget cuts/the economy/bad luck.  

I've known him for the ten years that I've been freelancing for the paper, and he's been a great friend to talk to and an influence on my photography.  We share a lot of friends and coworkers in common, so the party was sort of like a family reunion.  It felt so good talking with these people that I don't get to see very often anymore (thanks to digital photography and the internet, there's just not a need for face to face interaction with clients these days).  

I wound up staying until midnight, talking with old friends.  I eventually made it back to the car and headed home.  However, I noticed something as I went up Elm Street.  There were four people inside Kettle Art Gallery, even though it closed a couple hours earlier.  I just had to stop and say hello.  

I went inside and talked with Frank and his daughter, and met two new people.  We wound up talking about art, Deep Ellum, music, and other stuff for thirty minutes or so.  I'd seen Frank's name around town for years...  practically forever.  However, I didn't actually get to know Frank until last year.  He is such a great guy and it was so good getting to talk with him again.  

I got home around 1am, which made for one REALLY long day.  But, like I said, I don't feel bad at all.  My feet hurt like mad, but my heart and soul feel so lively and energetic after getting to see and talk with so many friends.  I'm so lucky to be in an industry with so many great peers.  

People Like Randy, Allison, Courtney, Michael, Mike, Rex, Mona, Evans, Frank, Amber, and many others that I got to spend time with tonight - they all make the local creative community here in Dallas so special.  How could I not feel great tonight?!?  

Enough rambling.  I'll go back to regular blogs about more practical photo topics.  I just needed to point out how great the people who actually make up the Dallas photo community really are.  They make being a photographer fun... even after a fourteen hour work day.


Friday, May 15, 2009

To stock or not to stock...

I've been shopping my book (photo portfolio) around lately, and I was talking to a potential client today.  The client said he'd love to look at my work, because they had a lot of stuff coming up.  Then he said something interesting...  He said, "But lately, we've had a lot of clients ask about using stock photography.  We've had to try and steer them away from that."  

That reminded me of a shoot I once did for a client.  Their ad agency used stock images one year, and the client thought everything looked way too generic and impersonal.  They wound up hiring me the next year to shoot some very specific images that better matched their brand identity.  It made more sense than using stock images designed to fit "everybody's look".  

This isn't to say that stock images are always bad.  There is a need for stock, though it is often based on budget rather than the actual image.  When a company has a tight budget, the cost of a stock image (often half the cost of making a new, unique image from scratch) makes more sense.  However, it becomes very hard to find an image that specifically meets a company's needs, unless it was shot specifically with that company in mind.  

Think about Coca Cola (or any other big company).  Pretty much any international company will have a very well-defined brand.  They know what their product and their image is supposed to be.  They hire photographers to match that brand with 100% accuracy.  I'm sure there are several stock images out there (just because there are millions of stock images available) that would fit the company's brand, but sometimes it just makes more sense to create the image from scratch.  

And remember, most stock images can't be purchased with exclusive rights.  That means a company may find the perfect image at a great "stock" price, but then another company winds up using the same exact image in their campaign.  Not exactly the way to stand out from the crowd...  

Usually, stock makes the most sense for background images, secondary images, or images that just aren't the main focus.  Like, a website banner, a small image on the back of a newsletter, or a soft, blurry, background image in an advertisement.  

And there is one other factor that affects the stock vs original image debate:  Timeline.  What if the client needs to put out a last-minute ad in a trade publication, but the ad is due Friday afternoon.  Not a big deal, until you realize the ad placement was approved Thursday morning!  

It would be pretty hard to pull together a photo shoot so quick, and there may be a "good enough" image available as stock.  You just need to spend a couple hours searching to find it.  It gets purchased online, downloaded, designed into the ad, and sent off to the publication.  Done.  And it is in by Friday afternoon.  

I had a client call me up for images of Shakira.  They were running an ad in Billboard or Pollstar or one of the music industry trade pubs.  It was a rush deal, so they asked if they could use one of my shots I had available as stock.  No big deal.  Her next concert was too close to deadline, and they loved the image I already had.  I made money, Shakira's people are happy.  It all worked out.  

If they had more time, they could've emailed me a comp of the ad layout, and I could've shot an image that fit exactly what they had in mind.  However, time just wasn't on their side...  

So, you can see that stock isn't always the way to go, but it does have a few positive points to consider.  Mostly, it will fit any tight budget or time constraints.  However, it doesn't always meet a client's needs perfectly and the same image will often pop up two or three other places... ruining a brand's exclusive feel and look.


Hugh Van Es...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Talk about fun!!!

Look what I'm going to be documenting/photographing this Friday night/Saturday morning:  

I won't be staying the whole night, since I have another shoot on Friday evening.  However, I will be there long enough that evening and the next morning to capture plenty of museum-style mayhem.  Man, if I were a kid, I'd LOOOVE this event.  Actually, I probably will, even as an adult...  

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Video master...

Are you familiar with David Leeson?  If you are interested in documentary video, you should be:  

I first met david almost ten years ago, and his work has been inspiring me ever since.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rhett Miller interview...

Rhett Miller is starting to do interviews regarding his upcoming self-titled solo album - the one I did all the photography for.  So, enjoy looking at my beautiful cover photo, as you listen to him discuss each track on the new record:  


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Video light...

You can bet I'll be adding one of these to my video bag, as soon as I can afford to buy it:  

Since I'm not making a gazillion dollars off my video work yet, I can't really justify dropping $500 for a light right now.  However, I've seen this thing in action (a friend of mine has one for his doc work), and it is perfect for handheld documentary shooting.  


Dancing with a star...

Check out my latest video story, about a local dance class:  

And, as always, feel free to visit and to see all my still photos...


Monday, May 11, 2009

Got Korn?

I've photographed a lot of rock bands over the years, but I still feel bad when I have to turn down an opportunity to shoot another show.  This weekend was the second time this month that I was already booked with another photo shoot, so I had to turn down an assignment to shoot a concert.  

This time I was asked if I could shoot the Edgefest all day concert for the news.  However, I already had two shoots booked - one was my museum client and the other was a wedding.  I've already shot most of the bands on the Edgefest bill before - Korn, Blue October, etc - so I wasn't missing out on some rare chance to shoot a reclusive musician.  But still...  I'd rather shoot a band for the third or fourth time than not shoot them.

I looked in today's paper and they wound up sending fellow shooter Ricky Moon in my place.  It looks like he got some real nice photos, so I don't feel too bad.  I feel worse when a client can't get me, so they wind up getting some blah photog in my place.  If I had looked in the paper today and seen some lame images, then I would've been bummed.  I'm glad that Ricky did such a great job!

But, don't get me wrong.  I still would prefer that a client sends me over another shooter, even if he/she gets some great images.  I'm hoping I won't already be booked the next time someone calls me for a concert or band shoot.  I don't mind missing a show here or there, but I don't want to miss them all.  I'd much rather shoot Korn again and again than not shoot a concert at all.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

May wedding, number two...

I don't book many weddings.  I keep my bookings pretty exclusive.  I try to book just enough to keep me really excited about shooting them.  If I book too many, I get burned out and need a long break from them.  That's not fair for the bride and groom, and that's not good for me.  I've found that a dozen or so is the magic number for me.  

However, I was lucky enough to meet a few REALLY great wedding couples getting married in May.  They seemed so nice, that I broke my normal rule and booked a few extra weddings for the month.  So far it was a good plan, because I have done two weddings in May (out of three booked) and I've had such a great time at them both.  

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few pictures from this weekend's event.  I've only had a chance to look through the first half of the day, so that's all I will be posting for now.  I'll try to look through the reception later and post some more pics soon.  In the meantime, enjoy these images from the first half: