Friday, April 23, 2010

Brad Presents

Enjoyed a great post over at Scott Kelby's blog today that relates points made in the reality show Kitchen Nightmares to your photography business. While it provided a bit of humor the points are well made and I found the article timely as I have been contemplating where I want to go with my photography...
Here's a link to the full post.
Brad Presents “Lessons From Kitchen Nightmares”

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Might as well post everything....

There's a lot of times a shoot an event for my own enjoyment without anybody acutally hiring me to photograph, which was the case a couple weeks ago when I shot the 3 gun nation shootoff. In cases like this I usually just post the shots to flickr and put a slide show of the coverage on my site with no intentions of selling any images. But in this case, my images caught the eye of one of the competitors (who also happens to be a photographer)and he contacted me about the photos in my gallery, said he really admired several of them and I ended up making a sale. Now he could have just downloaded the images off of flickr, but I guess the fact that he was also a photographer kept him from doing that or he was just an honest guy. Anyway, image protection isn't what prompted me to write this post, sales is. The fact is I should be posting all my favorite images from these personal events in my sales gallery - who knows how many sales I've lost by not giving viewers the opportunity to purchase, most won't be inclined to take the initiative to inquire about a purchase like my fellow photographer/shooter. While I always like it when people get enjoyment from my images even when they don't buy, that's no reason to not offer all my images for sale. Besides, it's a business and businesses are created to make money... Sometimes I forget that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Protecting Images with Lightroom 3 Video

Tapia Shoot 1, originally uploaded by

One of the things I found out using the new Lightroom 3 beta 2 was the new option of exporting a slideshow to video. Previously you could output to a pdf file which is okay for sending clients but probably not what you want to imbed in a site or a blog.
I used the slideshow module for a recent shoot as a way to show my clients the proofs from the shoot and exported to video to make a self contained file that I could host on flickr and embed on my site quite easily. The encoding options up to 1080P High Definition are avaliable but I kepted mine to 720P HD to keep file size reasonable.
A nice side benefit of the video format is that you can post a number of images as a single file that isn't too easily printed which those that are worried about the stealing of images may find attractive.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Remote Location Shooting - several firsts (for me).

Had my first location shoot with a paying client this past weekend. When they came to me and asked me to shoot their family portrait, they didn't have anything special in mind but said they trusted me and would let me decide - no pressure right?
Well, I love the outdoors and decided to do a outdoor shoot in the middle of the Arizona desert using the unique profile of the Superstition Mountains as the back drop.

Even though I was planning a 'golden-hour' shoot I knew we would get out there earlier and would shoot individuals in harsher light, I need fill light and my Speedlites weren't going to have the muscle to fight the bright Arizona Sun, So the 600ws studio strobes would be the key to this shoot and they would be powered by a newly built DIY pure-sine pack on loan from a Friend and my 725VA UPS as backup. I used a polarizing filter to cut through the haze and deepen the blue in the sky and it's 2 stop density also help to get the shutter speeds down to the 1/200 I needed for the strobe sync (I packed an additional 2 stop ND filter just in case though). I rented some pocket wizards to trigger the strobes - no way was I going to be at the mercy of my Cacuts V2s and their less than reliable performance on this shoot.

I used a second body for my 85 F1.2 lens so that I wouldn't have to change lenses and risk getting dessert dust on my sensor. I used this lens to close to wide open exploit it's wonderful boken, this put the shutter speeds way up in the 1/4000 + range while I could have used my 580exII for fill, I instead used a diffuser to soften the light (another first for me)and when I got it right, the light is magical. To really get the best effect you really need to get the diffuser as close to the subject as possible.

Lastly, the one thing that made this shoot go off so smoothly besides the prep was my assistant, Alma, who also happens to me my wife. She helped me by modeling while we were out scouting locations, manned the GPS to find our spot later, but what was invaluable was her people handling skills, she built a repore with the little ones while I was shooting individuals with other family members and made them comfortable when I was shooting them. I know I wouldn't have been able to make a 3 year old act natural chasing her around with a 52" diffuser and sticking a big lens in her face, but with Alma, it was just playtime...

The only big mistake I made on this shoot was that I forgot to set my second camera back to RAW after shooting jpgs when I was cleaning it's sensor earlier that week. Not a total blunder as all the shots were nicely exposed and I didn't need any tweaking.

This was one of the smoothest sessions I've had in a long time, and had allot of fun shooting it. One last first, I used the slideshow module in the Lightroom 3 beta to make a quick video of proofs for client and was able to deliver that by the next day which really hit a home run with them.

So, a recap:
Strobes on location - Rock.
Pocket wizards - Rock harder must add to the shopping list.
Diffusers / Reflectors - Sweet, add to wish list.
Awesome Assistant - Never shoot again without one!