Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Go 10 or 20 miles to the left or right

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 4 sec
Sometimes looking for that perfect angle requires more than moving a foot to the left or right, sometimes it means driving 10 to 20 miles around the subject. This is what I was doing yesterday in Portland, Oregon.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250
I Googled best places to see the Portland skyline and then we drove to a few of those locations and tried to get a different angle.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/400
So these are three that I was willing to share from our adventures in finding the establishing shots for a video package I am working on about Chick-fil-A having their Grand Opening in Portland Market.


  • Google images of a city and see what pops up.
  • Look for great places to shoot the skyline
  • When is best time to photograph from those locations
  • Shoot the variety of images so you have choices

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why ƒ/1.4 isn't always best or one angle the best

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 320, ƒ/4, 1/250
How often do you photograph the same subject, but try and mix it up?

I find many young photographers who have their lenses apertures glued to the wide open to give the really shallow depth of field photos.

Maybe by just closing down the aperture to ƒ/14 verses ƒ/4 can give your photos a little more relevance as to what is going on in the photograph.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/14, 1/250
Notice here how the greater depth of field helps you know this is outside a church. Well trying to say this is a photo about Easter Sunday really needed in my opinion a little more depth of field.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/140
I was photographing Tenebrae: Service of Darkness on Good Friday at my church. Now because I sat down near the front I ended up with the microphone right on the minister's nose. Not really all that flattering.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/6.4, 1/250
Now on Easter Sunday I sat in the balcony and was able to get a much better photo of the minister at the podium.

Remember to move around and find those perspectives that help keep the photo on message with little distractions as possible.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/4.8, 1/250
Now no matter where you choose to shoot from and what aperture you still need to pay attention to the best moment.

Here I think the photo with the minister's arms open wide is a much better photo than the one below here.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.4, 1/250
It takes you a little while to see her hands here and the message isn't as clear.

Tips to remember:

  • Shoot a variety of apertures–not just wide open or closed down
  • Look for different camera angles
  • Work the aperture/angle that you picked for the best moment

Friday, March 25, 2016

Photographers need to lead an organization of one

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/60
Col. Tom Clark, director for Citadel’s Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, spoke last night to the Atlanta Citadel Club. Clark brought his leadership tool bag and the first thing he pulled out of the bag was a hammer.

When he was a cadet at the Citadel this was the tool used by the leadership at that time. The downside of this being your only tool is applying a hammer to every situation doesn't get the results you are needing.

"Ever tried hammering a screw?", was a question he asked us.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/60
Then he pulled out a screwdriver which had many different tips that could be switched out.

This tool reminds us that we must look at the head of the screw and figure out which of the tips: Flat Head, Philips, Square or something else is needed to fit the head of the screw.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/80
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, also has a leadership tool bag he uses when talking to people about leadership. Dan Cathy has a slinky as one of his tools. Dan says:
Just as one end of the Slinky has to be the first to descend a staircase in order to put the whole thing in motion, leaders must be the first to move forward in any endeavor in order to put the rest of the team in unified motion. Just as the Slinky won’t work without one part of it “leading the charge”, any team endeavor we desire to complete—whether as a family, a group of friends, or an entire organization—will not happen unless a leader takes the first step. Let's remember this the next time we’re on the precipice of a new endeavor, and let’s be leaders who get the whole thing moving.
Nikon D750,  AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500
Both Col. Tom Clark and Dan Cathy are leaders who teach leadership to people. They realize that these tool bags filled with examples are those "visual" reminders that help people grasp the concepts of good leadership and remind them to put those into practice.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/250

Compass as Ethics Tool

A compass is a relatively simple instrument based on a simple concept. With its northward facing needle, it is a consistent and true indicator of physical direction. By placing “moral” in front of compass, we evoke a clear picture of mental processes that point a person in a particular direction in life. These processes are consistent and true indicators upon which personal belief and action can be based.
Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
No system of morality is accepted as universal. For many people they use their faith as the set of doctrines that will be their true north for their morality compass.

Leadership? But it is just me

You may have been passing over all those leadership books because you are just an independent photographer. You don't even use assistants, so how could this possibly help me?

Glenn Gutek wrote that “Great Leadership Starts With Leading an Organization of One.” These are some great tips. There are two that I think many photographers would benefit from using that I want to highlight:

  1. Control Time–You should be always focused on your top priorities for that moment. When you get up and start your day the first things you do for your business should be the highest priorities. When you finish your day and go home then your priorities should be focused on your family and what is most important. Knowing how to get the most out of your time during the day is great leadership skill.
  2. Temper Emotions–This is the one thing I struggle the most about. The reason it is such a struggle is because I am so passionate about my work. You have to be to get emotionally impactful images. 
Gutek said about tempering emotions, "at times it is critical to practice the discipline of being dispassionate.

Being dispassionate allows a leader to protect the environment from becoming toxic and engaging in the wrong battles. Leaders should fuel their energy by investing in their passions, but keep things from running off the rails by not pouring gas on a volatile situation."

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/750

You are playing Chess not Checkers

The greatest thing you will learn in dealing with clients is how different each and every situation there is to one another.

Almost nothing looks more orderly than chess pieces before a match starts. The first move, however, begins a spiral into chaos. After both players move, 400 possible board setups exist. After the second pair of turns, there are 197,742 possible games, and after three moves, 121 million. – Popular Science
James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
All these tool bags of leaders have one thing in common–Strategy. Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. 

Does your tool bag have only a hammer? What are you doing to learn about what tools are best to put into your leadership toolkit bag? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I shoot Theater–Who would have guessed that one?

Today it just struck me that I probably have enough content for a Theater category in my portfolio.

While I have been asked to shoot theater productions through the years it is when my daughter became really involved in theater that had me shooting a lot as just a proud dad.

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2500, ƒ/6.3, 1/8000
This is her dressed up as the Witch in the play she is doing in a few weeks Into the Woods. By the way I must promote the musical and encourage you if you are in Roswell, GA to come to it. Here is link for it

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/400
Now besides getting photos of the actual productions I am also doing headshots for the programs.

Having a consistent look for all the headshots makes a huge difference in the quality of the programs and promotional pieces.
Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 140, ƒ/1.8, 1/100
I try to capture some shots of the audience and overall stage at some point. Most of the time I concentrate on the actors as I did in the performance of Steel Magnolias.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, 2x, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/100
I am using my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S with a 2X converter to shoot these from the very back of the auditorium.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420
I even have the opportunity to work with professional companies like Georgia Ensemble Theater, which is conveniently near my home in Roswell, GA.

Access & Interest

What often will make up your portfolio is things you shoot because you have access and a genuine interest. I not only wanted good photos of my daughter in these performances I knew I would be judged by parents and the theater companies about my work. 

They knew I was a professional photographer and I had to deliver. Well for the most part everywhere I am shooting I am getting consistently the best images of the productions that they have ever seen. How do I know? They are telling me. 

I have been doing headshots for actors for many years, but now taking more interest beyond just the headshots and the productions. I am now very interested in helping with the marketing of these plays.

I helped by shooting the promotion photo and created the banner for Into The Woods musical at Roswell High School.

I knew we were onto something when we were shooting the photos. We could not tell anyone what we were doing before February 22 this year, because of contract. We could post the photo. 

I teased folks with the photo and asked them what musical they think they are doing?

Pretty much everyone guessed it. That is when you know people driving by and see a banner or see the posters in stores around town will know instantly what they were doing.

With Atlanta growing in theater and TV productions I guess this might just be a good category to toss my hat into.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tip on dealing with depression that often comes with freelancing

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Ernest Hemingway used this long quotation from Ephesians in his book The Sun Also Rises:

"What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose."

Hemingway thought the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been "battered" but were not lost.

Do you feel "Battered"?

For many reasons you too may feel frustrated and even depressed with your plot in life.

Are you suffering from any of these:
  • Loss of a client
  • Not sure what potential clients want or need
  • Camera gear is old and not financially able to upgrade
  • Feeling betrayed by another photographer
  • Loosing clients to younger photographers
  • Feeling old 
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/500

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
– John 16:33

First I cannot tell you to read something or take something and it will all be better. What I can say from my life experiences is that it can really suck all you are dealing with. One of the best things when one is feeling this way is just to have someone there with you. Having someone who just listens and doesn't give advice but is willing to be with you during this time.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/640

This is a Bible verse that reminds me that I am not alone:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

– Psalm 23:4

You may feel like Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. You are going there to pay your taxes and you arrive and you have no where to stay. It is the end of the year and you also have a child on the way.

I doubt they were all excited about this trip with all they were dealing with in life.

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500

Carry one another's burdens

Galatians 6:2 – Help carry each other's burdens. In this way you will follow Christ's teachings. 
Now if you are able I highly recommend helping others when you are down. If you are not able then this is a clear sign you need to see a doctor.

It will help you to get your attention off of your own problems. Sometimes we get in such a hole that we can’t see anything else, or find the way out. Helping others works to break this cycle, and opens our vision. It gives perspective, shows that your problems are not insurmountable.

When I started giving to others of my time and talents was when things finally turned around for me. Now let me tell you just because you start helping someone doesn't mean there is instant gratification for the work you are doing.

Like the mule here helping carry the farmer's burden you too will feel the weight of the work you will do. Helping others will once again reveal your true self worth. It will show you that you do have value and that you can make a difference.

While you are helping with other people's burdens, which sometimes are wounds you are going to help heal yourself.

You will find that you aren’t the only one with problems. We know this intellectually, but seeing it first hand is healing. Sometimes we feel like we have been singled out for pain. We are not that special. It comes to all. Receive healing as you work to heal others. Do something; get out.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fuji X-E2 4.00 Firmware Upgrade

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.7, 1/200–Electronic Shutter
As promised after I updated the firmware I shot the same theater show as last night and my last blog post.

Electronic Shutter

Well one of the first things I fell in love with was the electronic shutter. I turned the camera to this and shot a few image out my window of the backyard. Overall looked OK. Then I even turned the sound off on the shutter and I mean it is totally silent.

However as you can see in the top photo, that is suppose to be a straight line on the right for a wall. If you look at her lips you can see a softness there that shouldn't be there.  My friend Gary Chapman warned me about this banding affect.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/500–Electronic Shutter
Here you can really see the banding affect. To compare this to one without the electronic shutter I reset the camera quickly when I started to really notice this and here is the one I shot after changing the setting.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.5, 1/300–Regular Shutter
Now I went back and read the upgrades in the PDF by Fujifilm:
High-speed electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000sec. (*) 
The FUJINON XF Lens series lineup includes a number of fast fixed focal length lenses which boast very high sharpness with the aperture wide open, producing excellent out of focus "bokeh". However, fast apertures are difficult to use if the light is too bright, so to ensure users can create shallow depth-of-field effects, the camera is now equipped with a fully electronic shutter offering a maximum shutter speed of 1/32000sec. The mechanical shutter will not operate at all when any speed for the electronic shutter is selected, which also delivers a completely silent shooting experience; perfect for shots of sleeping children, pets, weddings, and more. In addition, it is possible to set the electronic shutter in 1/3 steps from a range of 1sec to 1/32000sec. 
Notes: Shutter Sound 
The shutter sound can be muted if desired. Use the new "SHUTTER SOUND" and "SHUTTER VOLUME" options in the setup menu to choose the type and volume of the sound made when the shutter is released. 
I believe from my tests that if you are inside and shooting at a pretty fast shutter speed you can get the banding effect. I think the electronic shutter is better for shooting outside in bright light where you may want to shoot at ƒ/1.2 and need then the super fast shutter speeds.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/180–Firmware 3.10
This is from the first night's performance with the older firmware 3.10

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/250
The main difference isn't in the end quality but while shooting the AF locked in on their faces and throughout the night was consistently finding faces better than before. So since the auto focus and face recognition was better the exposures were better because one the face was recognized the exposure was based off them.

Here are the notes about the improved AF
New AF System
(1) New AF system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects. 
The AF System complements the fast and accurate 49-single-point autofocus system with new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes, which use 77 autofocus points across a wider area to substantially improve the camera's ability to capture moving subjects.
(2) Improvement of AF accuracy. 
Single-point AF divides the focus area into smaller sections to more accurately determine the distance to the subject for even greater focusing accuracy. The built-in phase detection pixels have the detection range of 0.5EV, an improvement from the previous 2.5EV, delivering phase detection AF performance that enables fast focusing in low-light conditions and on low-contrast subjects.
(3) Eye Detection AF. (*) 
The firmware update provides Fujifilm's Eye Detection AF, which automatically detects and focuses on human eyes. 
The function allows you to easily focus on the eyes even in difficult conditions, e.g. when shooting a portrait wide open to obtain a beautiful bokeh background.
Now while my hopes of using the Electronic Shutter all the time were dashed, the overall performance of the Fuji X-E2 was significantly improved and like buying a newer model camera. So thanks Fuji!

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/400
I had to post the one photo of my daughter's performance from tonight.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Love how the Fuji X-E2 is for Theater

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/125


This morning I went to and discovered there was a firmware update on the Fuji X-E2. Go here if you need to upgrade to the latest firmware 4.00.

Due to the upgrade and having opportunity tonight to shoot the same play again I will write a new followup post on Monday about the firmware upgrade and how it helped improve my experience. Well that is what I anticipate.

One huge update is an electronic shutter release that you can make totally silent. The camera on default actually plays a recorded sound that you can change to different noises, just like ring tones, or turn it off completely. In essence a silent camera. So this I can tell you already will be better than last night.

Observations from last night's photo shoot

When shooting a theater performance you quickly can hear how quite the auditorium will get so everyone can appreciate the dialogue. Now in a high school play like the one I shot last night the ability of the actors to all project like professionals is just not the same.

Some of the actors required the audience to work hard to hear them and this is when you quickly realize how loud a camera can be in this type of an environment.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/280
The Fuji X-E2 is pretty quite camera. One of the main reasons it is quite as compared to other DSLR cameras is the lack of a mirror.

If you get rid of the mirror do you get the same quality? Well in this case it does help. Because you have no mirror you are also eliminating one of the things that often affects the sharpness of DSLR cameras–the mirror. In a DSLR a mirror lets you see through the lens and when you press the shutter release the mirror goes up, the shutter opens and then the mirror goes back down. This introduces some vibration in the camera which often can add just enough vibration in the camera to make your images not quite as sharp.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/110
Now the second thing that really helped with the photo quality was the Fujinon XF 55-200mm ƒ/3.5–4.8 lens. It has built into the lens optical image stabilization for effective 4.5 stops improvement. So if you breath a little in the photo the camera will in essence take care of the vibration you introduce into the camera.

The 55-200mm lens is quite sharp for zooms. Fuji makes some of the world's best lenses.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/150
One of the best attributes of shooting mirrorless is the ability to see what you are shooting before you shoot. You are seeing the processed image in terms of exposure and white balance in the viewfinder or on the LCD before you shoot. You can see if the color or exposure is off and correct it even before you shoot.

With the DSLR you can REVIEW, but you cannot PREVIEW. This ability to PREVIEW an image really helps you know if you will be getting the image correct before you push the shutter.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/80
While shooting this scene where the one actress on the floor is quite a distance from the other actors I knew that I wanted both of them in focus. So I cranked the aperture to ƒ/8. Now I could see everyone is in focus.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/45
Now holding the 55-200mm and zooming all the way in to 200mm is the same as shooting with my DSLR full frame camera with a 300mm lens. The rule would be to have the shutter speed at 1/300 to avoid motion blur, but the camera and lens did a great job here at almost 3-stops lower than a recommended shutter speed for this lens.

Side Note

Since downloading the new firmware this morning I am falling in love once again with the Fuji X-E2. You see Fuji is doing what Nikon nor Canon is doing with their cameras. When the ability to write a better software comes along other manufacturers save this for the new cameras. Therefore forcing you to buy a new camera.

Tune in Monday for my review of my NEW CAMERA due to Fuji upgrading the Fuji X-E2 with new Firmware.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I am in the People Business

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100


Most people don't realize it, but McDonald's is not a burger-flipping restaurant chain; it is one of the world's best real estate portfolios. Franchisees flip the burgers. McDonald's simply owns the best commercial property all over the world.

Well through the years and more so lately it has struggled. At one point Ray Kroc said, “McDonald’s is a people business, and that smile on that counter girl’s face when she takes your order is a vital part of our image.” However, that wasn't a consistent quote from their leader.

Another time Kroc said, “We’re not in the hamburger business. We’re in show business.” But the one I hear the most often when you are at business schools is “We are in the real estate business, not the hamburger business.”

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 2000, ƒ/2.8, 1/400


The founder of Chick-fil-A Truett Cathy said, “My business grew on my understanding that customers are always looking for somebody who is dependable and polite and will take care of them.”

Today Chick-fil-A has a corporate purpose that is in front of their company headquarters that everyone in their company if you ask them can pretty much quote this for memory.
To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
I have been in countless meetings where I continue to hear “we have made a commitment to take care of the people who take care of our communities.”

Dan Cathy says,
At Chick-fil-A, we are convinced that Jesus had it right in Matthew 20:26 when He said, “Those who want to become great (leaders) must be willing to become servants.” WE built our leadership competency model around the word SERVE, because we believe that great leaders…

S ee the future
E ngage and develop others
R einvent continuously
V alue results and relationships
E mbody the values
In the lobby of Chick-fil-A Support Center is this statue of Jesus washing Peter's feet. Here you can see a tour group in the background.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 11400, ƒ/4.8, 1/100
Every manager goes through training on the SERVE model and when they complete the training they get a miniature replica of this statue to put on their desks and remind them of their role.

Communication Professionals

Are you in the people business or are you defining what you do a different way? I believe the core of what we do is all about people. When you ask the basic question of WHY? for all your work it will lead you to a group of people or a person.

Now many of you might think that Jesus was just a push over and a doormat based on the washing of his subordinate's feet.

If you read John 2:13-22 you will see Jesus clearing the temple with a whip.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320

Humanitarian Communication

Great communication with an audience requires the communicator to ask, “Why should the audience care?”

I think the key to great humanitarian photography is tapping into people’s compassion for one another.

Compassion literally means, “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

Sadly today to get the audiences attention on caring for those who are in need it takes a lot to move the human spirit. After covering those around the world who by no fault of their own are struggling to live and find audiences not responding it can cause the heart of the communicator to break.


You can define your business as Ray Kroc or as Truett Cathy did with their models.

In 2015, McDonald's closed down more than 700 of their restaurants.

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3600, ƒ/8, 1/100
Chick-fil-A just celebrated their 2000th store opening in Springfield, IL. Here is the story. They have plans to open 95 stores this year.

You maybe thinking that this is nothing compared to all the McDonald's worldwide, but the reputations of the two chains couldn't be further apart.

Chick-fil-A is the highest ranking fast food restaurant in the U.S. for customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report 2015.

If you are in the people business then the most important thing is the customer satisfaction, because sales are always there with this model.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Are you a Performer or a Creator?

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/250
Jeffrey Masin is a one man band that entertains New Yorkers down in the subway stations. I ran into him a few times while in NYC.

The reason I am using Jeffrey as a point of reference is because his performances are stopping folks and they not only listen many of them are posting videos of him on their YouTube channels. Isn't that what you want your work to do to make people STOP and LISTEN?

Here is a taste of his music:

Here is another music performance, but this is by a band The Queens Cartoonists. They too have audiences STOPPING and LISTENING.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/160
I guess you want to hear them as well, so here is a clip of them playing.

What is important to realize is they are both entertaining and yet they are very different. From a purely economic perspective I doubt that the Queens Cartoonists are being tipped in the subways all that much more than Jeffrey Masin.

Just doing the simple math you can see that there are now six verses only one person. For the Queens Cartoonists to make a similar living to Jeffrey Masin they need to book bigger venues where they are not relying on tips. By the way when you Google both of the groups you quickly understand that is exactly what appears to be happening.

The Queens Cartoonists are getting paid to do commercial work for recording and play in clubs.

photo by Jeff Raymond
Today I am a multimedia storyteller. The hats I am wearing are like looking at Jeffrey Masin the one man band. I am the producer, camera guy, sound guy, lighting director, editor and marketer for many of the projects that I am working on for my clients.

You see they too love the sound of the six piece band, but most of them cannot afford to hire that size band as compared to hiring me. You see you need to figure in expenses on top of the creative fee. Just factor in the airfare for six people, meals, hotels, cars and many of the other typical expenses and that can get out of hand.

But just like The Queens Cartoonists, Jeffrey Masin stops the crowds on the subways of NYC and get their attention.

By all means you need to learn to collaborate and work with a team to get the best quality of product, but you also need to know how to do it all yourself or you might not be working that often.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 4000, ƒ/4, 1/60
To make music you don't need to play every instrument but for the most part those songs that really resonate with people are often stories. In this way if you are aware of the storyline you can as a producer figure out how to tell that story with the abilities that you have.

The key element that really separates those working regularly and those who are always begging for jobs in the industry is understanding of what is a story and how to craft a solid storyline.

This year I will be teaching this skill in Nicaragua, Hawaii and Honduras. The Honduras trip still has openings. Go here to learn more about how to do storytelling and do it as a one man band, because many that will hire you just cannot afford the expenses of a larger band.

Gary S. Chapman is the other instructor on the Honduras trip. Gary works with NGOs and other organizations helping them to tell stories. Some of Gary's clients include Delta, World Vision, Atlanta Mission, National Geographic publications,  National Geographic TV and TOMS Shoes. Check out Gary's marvelous work on his website

What do all these musicians above have in common with me?

We are all not just creating great content, we are fully responsible for the performance and finding our audience.

What do musicians and photographers not working have in common?

I would say that the main thing that I am seeing from my perspective is they are all calling up other groups and asking if they can join them. They are not really storytellers. They are technicians wanting a storyteller to hire them to help that storyteller tell a story.

Just look at the tens of thousands of "performers" who have been on the TV shows The Voice and American Idol. The overwhelming majority of them are just technicians. They are not the songwriters. That is why you might think they sound good performing another writer's song, but you don't see 99% of them making a living in the industry.

Most every successful photographer, videographer, and writer that I know has taken on a personal project where they are producing their own content and finding the audience.

I can never do all that

If you are saying this I understand. I too felt that way. If you come with me to Honduras, Gary and I will walk beside you and help you navigate the deep waters of storytelling. Register today!! Come with us and learn how to become a creator of content and not just a performer.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tips for Prom Pictures 2016

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, 2 - Alienbees B1600, Pocketwizard TTL system, ISO 250, ƒ/5.6, 1/200


First pick a location before you do anything else. This was the location my daughter and her friends had picked out, which was a public park.

Many years ago I did her brother's prom pictures [2008] in one of the families backyard. Just look at how much location impacts your photos.

Nikon D3S, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/60
At the time of these proms spring isn't in full swing.  Look for a place with evergreens in the background or a nice building.

This was from her oldest brother's prom pictures in front of Bulloch Hall Plantation. [2006]

Arrive Early

I recommend getting there long before the kids are to show up. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes, but believe me an hour goes by quickly when you are doing all your test shots.

This is me setting up my lights. After a couple test shots I moved the lights again.

My wife, who filled in as the test subject, took this of me setting up. I like to make this super simple and where I can just crank the people through. You know they always are running behind and they have dinner reservations which require you to move quickly.

Keep it simple.


I cannot emphasize it enough that the addition of off camera flash makes a HUGE difference. One major way it helps is being sure you don't have raccoon eyes due to the sun overhead. Now on this day it was overcast, which can be good without flashes. I chose to use the flash to give a good color temperature to be sure all those outfits that they spent time picking out looked their absolute best.

Here you can see me working.

I suggest taking test shots and try your best to use the lowest ISO setting where you can capture some of the available light and still use your strobes. I recommend that you are about -1 stop underexposed and use your strobes to make up the difference on the subjects to give you a great exposure.

Use a Tripod

All the photos were taken with a tripod as well. It helped me to keep the camera pretty level and also in group photos if everyone is great in a photo except for one person, then because I am taking multiple shots, on a tripod, I can then take the one person and clone them into the other photo with ease.

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, 2 - Alienbees B1600, Pocketwizard TTL system, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200
One more great reason to use a tripod is you can set everything up in get into the picture if you need to, as I did here with my wife and daughter. Now I can tell you the most cherished photos are the ones with the parents and their kids. This is huge for them. I now know why as a very proud papa myself. Wow where has all the time gone.

Shoot Loose

This is the photo I was taking when my wife captured me shooting. I intentionally shot these a little loose for cropping later purposes.

5x7 Crop Marks
Now you can see with the photo here for 5x7 and the 8x10 below that what size you might get as a print can affect what is included in the photograph.

8x10 Crop Marks

Put Photos Online

Put your photos online for people to download, buy prints and whatever else they may need.

When people click to order offer them many options, because you shot the photo loose for that reason.

Make it easy for people to download as I have here:

Business Cards & Take Email Addresses

We gave out my business card to everyone and we took down their email so we could send them an email with the link to the gallery, directions on how to use the online system [with screen shots] and ability now to have made my name known to the community. In case we cannot read the email address or some other reason it no longer works they can reach out to us with my contact information.

I did this for free for my daughter and her friends. They were given a password to download the images for free. I also did make it if they want to order prints online then I would then make some money to offset some of my time, but they could get the photos totally for free, no strings attached.

There you have it. Remember these points for your Prom Pictures:

  1. Location
  2. Arrive Early
  3. Use Strobes
  4. Use Tripod
  5. Shoot Loose
  6. Put Photos Online
  7. Give out your information and take their information