It’s confession time. I’ve been struggling lately with my creativity. The client work is fine. It’s the personal work– the stuff that’s supposed to satisfy my soul between the paid gigs– that’s taken a dip. I have a few theories, but a funk is a funk and sometimes the harder you try pushing through it the deeper it gets. Chances are I’m just over-thinking it. After all, we’re talking about art, right? You’re supposed to feel it, not think it.
Murphy’s Law: The inexplicable phenomenon of a fickle, spiteful universe which ensures that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Let’s also not forget its well-known corollary: The higher the stakes, the greater the fall. Nobody seems to have a truly definitive handle on the history of the term, although its sentiment was expressed in print long before Murphy’s name was attached to it some time around 1952. What I think we can all agree on, though, is that when Murphy comes for you you’re screwed. Plain and simple.
Yeah…I’m in that kind of mood.
Life is full of mysteries. Why is “abbreviation” such a long word? Do dogs get sore throats? How long do fish wait to swim after eating? Why is bra singular but panties plural? Which genius decided that the word “lisp” should have an “S” in it? But perhaps one of the biggest mysteries is one that strikes at the very heart of the photography industry. It’s a puzzler that I see all the time, yet I just can’t quite figure out a reasonable answer. Can anybody PLEASE tell me why someone would spend several thousands of dollars on the camera and lens, and then buy the cheapest memory cards they can find? ACME products never actually helped Wily Coyote catch the Roadrunner, so why would anyone think that cut-rate memory cards will help them succeed at capturing life’s moments?
With the Fourth of July right around the corner here in the United States, along with other summer celebrations around the world, photographers everywhere will be photographing fireworks over the next couple of months. Many will try, but how many will succeed? Fireworks photos, in my experience, are usually an all-or-nothing proposition. You either get the shot or you don’t. The good news is that there are steps you can take and tips you can follow that will vastly increase your chances of success. This is not a ranking. Missing any one of these elements can mean the difference between a crisp, dramatic photo and an over/under-exposed frame of out-of-focus smoke. Instead, I chose to list our tips for photographing fireworks in the order you’ll need them.
In photography, as in life in general, it’s important to know what you’re talking about. You and I could get together for beers and spend hours talking about exposure, lighting, composition, and any number of other photography-related topics (I’d enjoy that, by the way). But what if I started asking you questions about your business model? Would you be able to tell me what your cost of doing business is? How many photo shoots do you need this month in order to keep the electricity on and your family fed? What about a question or two regarding the fine print in your contract? When it comes to the numbers aspect of what we do, many photographers have a bit of trouble explaining themselves. This is by no means an insult, blanket statement, or judgment call. It’s simply a concern that’s been popping up on my radar quite a bit lately– one which we could all avoid if we had a better handle on knowing what we’re talking about when clients start asking us business-related questions.
It’s a story as old as time itself. Client orders prints. Client picks up prints. Client wants to know why the 5×7 doesn’t look like the 8×12 or why the 8×12 doesn’t look like the 11×14. I can even see it coming, as they look back and forth from one to the other, as if the sheer force of will can make the two match up exactly. When supernatural forces don’t resolve the problem for them, they all ask some variation of the same question– “Why are they cropped differently?” And thus begins yet another explanation of aspect ratio. Forget that we had this conversation when they ordered their prints. Forget that I pulled out a set of sample photos I keep on hand for just such a conversation. Forget that I showed them with these very same photos on the monitor when they ordered. Forget everything that happened before the moment they laid eyes on their own prints for the first time. All they know is that the different sizes don’t match up exactly and they want to know why.
I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately on portraits, food, and event photography, so I got pretty excited recently when testing a new camera bag forced me to lace up the boots and hit the trails. The new Loka UL from F-stop Gear is a pretty awesome bag, but this article isn’t really about the bag. It’s about the overall nature photography experience. It’s one thing to be the master of your surroundings in the studio, but it’s quite another when your photographic adventure takes you off the beaten path into the trails, woods, mountains, or waters of Mother Nature’s studio. Being a responsible photographer on those journeys is about so much more than just getting The Shot. While I believe we all have a responsibility to our art, we can’t let ourselves lose sight of our responsibility to the environment and the world around us. [Read more...]
Okay– so, let’s be clear about something. He’s not actually MY cat. We happen to coexist in the same house, thanks to my wife and son convincing me in ways only they know how that it was time for a new pet and that he was just the pet we needed. Personally, I’m a dog person. Seamus and I, however, seem to have a love-hate relationship. As in we love to hate each other. Call it a restless detente. That may be overstating things just a bit, but this cat spends quite a bit of his time pissing me off. I actually believe he schedules it in some sort of kitty tablet (there’s an app for that). It wasn’t until recently, though, that I realized this havoc-wreaking creature that my son loves so dearly might actually be able to teach a thing or two about photography.
It’s summer once again and the fortunate among you will be hitting the road, hopping on planes, maybe even boarding a ship or two, and getting the hell out of Dodge for some hopefully stress-free rest and relaxation. Regardless of whether your travels are taking you around the world or just a day’s drive from home, it’s important to not only pack your camera gear carefully, but to also spend time putting some safeguards in place to make sure that you and your gear not only make beautiful travel photography together, and that you both get home safe and sound.
Regardless of whether you are shooting portraits, products, food, fashion, pets, or any of the countless other subjects that find their way in front of your lens, eventually you’re going to be faced with the prospect of clean lines or high contrast against a solid background. While shooting high-key against a white backdrop obviously poses different lighting challenges than let’s say shooting a dramatic portrait against a black background, there are certain aspects that are common to both, regardless of the color of the paper. It’s what all of this paper has in common that we’re going to take a closer look at today.