Friday, June 26, 2009

Building an album cover...

I accidentally stumbled across this page while researching a client that contacted me. They had a blog with a link to something cool, and that had a cool link, which had a cool link, which led to this random page:

I just thought it was neat to see how they built the set for this album cover. They don't show how they lit it, but you could study the disco balls if you were that curious...


Farrah Fawcett photo shoot...

The story behind Farrah Fawcett's iconic photo shoot:,8599,1907185,00.html

read the above article for a little photo inspiration.


NY Times Photo Editor...

Someone directed me to this link:

I was surprised to see some interesting questions and answers. The assistant managing editor for the Times - Michele McNally - was supposed to answer reader questions in this series. I expected a lot of fluff and crap. Not so. There are several good photo-related questions, and topics about the future of photo and multi-media stories.


Think about what you need...

I mentioned a lot of recent business spending in a previous post. This month has been a bit crazy. I don't usually drop a few grand on new camera bodies every month. Actually, I have budgeted to purchase a new body every two years.

I also don't spend a lot on computer stuff. I will have to get a new hard drive or two, maybe every six months or so (they fill up fast). I will have to add memory when needed, maybe increasing it every year until the computer is maxed out. But, I try not to get a new computer until I have to (because a machine has died or the newest needed software won't run on my current machine).

Well, I've been lucky enough to buy my last two Powermacs used. One at an auction for a few hundred bucks - it lasted me a few years. The other through ebay - it's still running fine, and has been for the last three or four years now. It just runs a little slow on some things and won't really work with Adobe CS4 or the newest version of Final Cut Pro.

Believe it or not, I've been able to get by on this G4 dual 533mhz Powermac for the last few years. It cost me around $400 to $500 and maybe a couple hundred dollars in upgrades to keep it going so far. No three or four grand Intel-based powerhouse for me... Why would I spend that kind of money if I don't HAVE to?!?

You see, all this gear is just a set of tools to help me create my art. I'm not afraid to say that I didn't go to Apple and spend a few grand for a new unit, plus another grand in memory and other hop-ups. I am not using my computer to impress other people, and I'm not using it to do hardcore 3D rendering or major motion picture video editing. It doesn't HAVE to be the newest, fastest, flagship model computer.

My new computer purchase is for a older Powermac Quadcore 2.5ghz computer. I figure that will be just enough to get me by for the next three to four years, until I have to find another used unit that is "just quick enough" and "just modern enough" to be relevant for the next few years after that.

I am fine with a machine that is already a few years old. It will work with the most current software out today, and it will run fast enough and smooth enough for what I am currently doing - and plan to be doing for the next couple years. That's all I ask for.

Here's the deal, I spent $1,100 for the newer computer. If I add in another $400 in upgrades over the next four years, I'll have spent $1,500 on this computer overall. Divide that by the years of use and I'm spending $375 per year on my computer to use it. That $375 per year operating cost is on par with what you'd spend per year on a new, but very basic basic Intel-based Mac Pro, if you kept it for the next eight years.

And, just to compare the cost of operating the best, fastest, hottest, newest Mac currently available: If you purchased an 8-core Intel-based Mac pro (runs two 2.93ghz quadcore chips) with 16gb memory for $6,500, you'd need to keep running that machine for almost 18 years to reach the same $375 per year cost!

Sure, there are advantages to getting the newest, biggest computer currently available. I'm not suggesting you should always buy used. I'm really just pointing out that you should get what you need, with some room to grow for a few years. However, you are just wasting money if you don't really need it, won't actually use it, and especially can't afford it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An expensive month...

So, June was very profitable, but also very costly. Just part of doing business, I guess. Let's break it down:

* new Canon 5D mkII with some misc accessories: $3,000
* repair my original Canon 5D: $400
* repair my BeachTek audio device for my video camera: $150
* replace some old rechargeable batteries for my flash: $85
* buy a newer Powermac for the office: $1,100
* buy new CF cards: $150

Maybe not a lot of money to some people, but I'd rather not spend so much if I can help it. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of all the things you need to consider when running your own business. If something breaks, you can't just send it off to the IT department or have the company buy you a new one. You need to factor in all these upgrades and repairs when you are bidding on jobs. You have to pay for it somehow...

Space sheep?!?

Thank goodness I've never had a client ask me to do a shoot like this before:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time for new batteries...

My AA nimh rechargeable batteries just aren't holding up like they used to. No surprise, since I've had them for close to FIVE years now. Yeah, they lasted that long with regular use in my cameras and flashes.

I was told about a company called Thomas Distributing that carried the Maha/Powerex brand a long time ago, and I decided to try them out. One of the best moves I ever made. If you want reliable batteries and chargers, go here:

Look around all you want, but when you are done browsing, get these batteries:

...and this charger:

Though, I must admit, this charger looks pretty cool (I haven't ever used it, though):

I am hoping to get another five years out of my new batteries. I hope the Powerex brand is still just as good as it was when I got my last batch.


Monday, June 22, 2009


Yes, I am so tired and about to hit the bed hard. I'm also a bit sunburned and very sore all over. But, it was worth it, because we got some GREAT photos for the next BFS record.

The art director, who flew in from NY, told me that he handled the artwork on all the Modest Mouse 7" singles out right now. I'm already a Modest Mouse fan, and had considered picking up the records. Now I definitely want one!!!

That's it for now. I'll post again when I get caught up with everything (which feels like never at the moment).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No new posts...

Sorry, but you probably won't hear much from me for a few days. I've been slammed with shoots all weekend and am doing another major label album cover shoot all day Monday. Then, the next few days will be filled with even more shoots, probably until next saturday or Sunday. In other words, don't expect any new posts this week.

If I do post, it may just be a quick tidbit, because I really have a ton of work to get through. But, I promise to post any interesting photo related things I come across if I have time. Oh, I did get two Holga cameras for ten bucks each today. Plus, I found a propack of 120 film in an old bag tonight. Makes me want to bust out one of the Holgas (I have four now - got my first one in 1996 or so) and take a few artistic pics...