Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Evel Knievel made me a photographer/Everything Changes

I remember the day I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I was probably in 2nd grade, maybe 1st, and my father had just come home from taking pictures at a golf tournament his company was sponsoring. He went down into his darkroom and let me come in to watch him develop the film and the prints from the past week. He had already chosen a few images to print and I watched as he got started. As he exposed the paper and then put it into the developing tray, I watched as a picture of Evel Knievel magically appeared! At that moment, I was hooked! I wanted to be a photographer.

I didn't really start taking pictures though until I reached 7th grade. That was when I started shooting for the yearbook. I loved it! I was taking pictures of cheerleaders, football games, other students, and everyone knew who I was and wanted me to take their picture. I continued to do this all through High School and college. I added weddings and local rock bands to the mix and eventually models. All this was shot on film. The Black and White, I processed myself and printed, the color I sent out to a photolab. I was shooting on 35mm cameras and medium format cameras. I would finish a shoot and rush to the lab or the darkroom, so I could see the finished product as soon as possible. If someone had a pimple on their face or there was some distraction in the background, you either had to live with it, trash the image or pay someone else to fix it, usually by painting on the negative or occasionally on the print.

Very few people were "professional" photographers back then. It just wasn't as easy to do. You couldn't tell if your shot was over or under exposed until you got your film back, and by then, if you had screwed it up, it was too late, you lost the shot and possibly cost yourself and your client a lot of money. Luckily that never happened on any of my shoots. My father taught me well and my exposures were always within the proper range. Thank you God!

Now, with digital, you can see immediately if you screwed up and you can fix it before you shoot another frame. This has opened up the door of photography to a much larger crowd. Almost anyone can say they are a "professional" photographer now. Anything you can't fix in the camera, you can probably fix with Photoshop. And because the pool of "professional" photographers has gotten so large and the technical side of photography is no longer as great a mystery, people who never would have thought it possible to be a photographer are giving it a try. Some clients are even trying it themselves. Looking for ways to save money, they try to do the photography in-house, turning a Marketing Director or an Art Director into their new photographer.

Many photographers complain about this, and I'll admit, I have complained once or twice myself, but it's not going to go back to the way it was. And now, more and more people everyday are getting to experience what I have loved since I was a very young child. Digital has been great for the art of photography. More people are able to take better pictures and different pictures and show the world completely different styles. Some are great and inspiring, others, probably should never have been made public, but that's a personal opinion.

If you want to be a "professional" photographer, right now, or in the future, or if you have been one for years, you better step up your game! Stop complaining about things you can't change and make better images, be a better marketer, embrace the changes and work with them instead of fighting them. Look around you and see what works, then do it and do it better.

Now with digital photography and Photoshop, everyone can be a photographer. If you truly want to be a PROFESSIONAL, be better, don't just be EVERYONE!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My 2nd Short Film

The other week I spent the day with a crew of great people who helped me bring to life a short film that I had been working on for months. I shot this all on the Nikon D7000. I love having the ability to shoot like this and give a "film" look to the video. It has me excited about being able to branch out into an area I have been interested in for years, but thought I would have to wait to really explore. I have always worked with a story in mind for most of my shoots, so moving into the world of Motion is very natural for me and lots of fun!
So here's my 2nd short film. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Brave Kids

I had another opportunity to shoot for Flashes Of Hope, a "National non-profit organization that changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research." Once again I was blown away by how brave and courageous these kids are. They were a joy to take pictures of, and I encourage every photographer to participate and give, what is essentially, a small amount of your time for this worthwhile cause. For information on how you can volunteer, go to www.FlashesOfHope.org

Here are a couple of shots from that shoot:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shooting for a Vampire Facelift

A couple of months ago I was contacted to shoot the images for Selphyl's innovative new cosmetic and reconstructive procedure, nicknamed, "The Vampire Facelift". You can check out their website for an explanation :) The images are being used in Selphyl's national ad campaign as well as website and collateral pieces.
The shoot will be an ongoing project with before and after images as well as images shot for Advertising, such as the one I'm posting here. We've already started the first phase of the shoot, with 3 more to go. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with this great team of people and having my work showcased all over the country!
I'll post more from this project as it goes along. But until then, here is one of the first images from this campaign.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BTS-On location with Belk in Lake Lure

Here is the link to the Behind the Scenes Video of my shoot for Belk.
Check it out, it was a great time with LOTS of Dancing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2 story tall prints and cow manure

Back in mid-March I did a shoot for Belk dept. stores up in the NC mountains at Lake Lure.
We were shooting in-house promotional images, that would be blown up 2 stories tall, as well ad images to be used in their advertising.
Some of the shots were taken on a small pier and some were shot in a cow field. The shots on the pier were the most comfortable for me to shoot, mainly because I spent half my time laying in dried up cow manure for the shots we did in the field, you couldn't escape it, but you do what you have to, if you want the shot!

Overall, we had a great day, my crew did a great job and even, eventually, brought me something to lay on so I could stay out of the cow crap!

Here are a few of the final pieces we shot that day.
I'll have some behind the scenes video from this shoot a little later. So be on the look out for that!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rack Room Spring Campaign 2011

I recently did a shoot down in Ft. Myers Fl. for Rack Room Shoes. It was for their National Spring Campaign and it features real customers as the models. The shoot involved my crew and myself shooting all the stills as well as behind the scenes video and interviews. It took place over three days, and the Rack Room customers were able to experience what it's like to be models and they really seemed to have a great time. I think the fact that the kids were missing school for those three days, probably helped!
You can see a few of the images from that shoot below, as well as the behind the scenes video.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The BUSINESS of photography sucks

The Day I decided that being a photographer was what I wanted to do to make a living, I didn't give much thought to the business side of my new career. I knew I loved taking pictures and making images and I felt pretty confident I could make a living doing it. I knew there were certain things I had to do to get jobs, promote myself, Advertise, show my book to some people. I could do all that, after all, I have a degree in Advertising, how hard can this be? DAMN was I off in my thinking!

Being a photographer is sooo much more than just showing your book and taking some pictures. To make any money and even be a little successful, you better know how to market yourself. Like I said before, I have a degree in advertising, I never went to school for photography or had any classes in how to run a photography business. I've been shooting since I was 11 years old and getting paid by people to take pictures since I was 16. My father owned his own business, so I had some idea of what it would take, but he sold his services and merchandise to the public, not Art Directors, Creative Directors and Photo directors etc.. Marketing to the public, I think, is a little easier. Put an ad in a magazine, newspaper, hand out flyers, use billboards, etc... Those things aren't going to work with the people I'm marketing to. And you definitely can't run a 20% off sale, because if you do, and by some miracle it works, you will never get prices back up to normal, not with that client anyway.

So what do you have to do? Make lots of phone calls (which I always feel like I'm annoying whoever I call, so I'm not very good at this), you send email promos (you and every other photographer), you send promos through the mail ( you and half of all the other photographers out there) and you try to get meetings (which are getting harder and harder to get).
All of these things combined are what you absolutely have to be doing if you want to get any work. And these days you should also incorporate some type of social media into your marketing plan. Twitter and/or facebook are your two standard ones to use, and even this, a blog. Anything you can do to get your name and your work out there, you need to be doing.

Computers and the internet have made it easier to market yourself to the people who hire photographers, but it has also made it easy for everyone, which makes it harder to stand out in the crowd. See my previous post on It's not what you know... to see what I think it takes to get to get the jobs. It also makes the actual act of taking pictures and creating images a small part of running a photography Business.

I got into this business to do what I love, take pictures, and ended up spending well over half my time marketing myself and doing things I'm not nearly as good at, or like half as much as taking pictures. But, if that's part of the deal, if that's what I have to do, to be able to continue doing what I love to do, I'll take it! (until I can find someone to do it for me!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashes of Hope

The end of last year I had the opportunity and privilege to shoot for Flashes Of Hope, a "National non-profit organization that changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research." It was my first time working with the organization but it was a very memorable day and an experience that I hope I am able to repeat sometime this year. I spent the day in the pediatric cancer wing of the Levine Children's hospital taking pictures of some amazing and inspiring children. Each one with cancer but each one an inspiration. None of the children had a bad attitude, in fact, each one was happy and smiling. I'm sure they aren't always that way, but in the short time I had with them, they were full of life, happiness and personality. These children have unbelievable courage and I was grateful to be in their presence. If you're a photographer and Flashes of Hope is in your city, I encourage you volunteer your time and takes some pictures of these amazing kids. They seemed to enjoy having their makeup and hair done and having their picture taken. The parents loved the fact that they would be getting current, professional portraits of their child. It was really a great day where I felt like photography, can and does make a difference in the lives of people.
So photographers, if you get a chance, shoot with Flashes of Hope and if your not a photographer but want to help children with pediatric cancer, you can go their website and donate.

Here are a few images from that day:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Before and After

After posting my last blog, I started thinking that some of you out there, may want to see the before images, so you could compare the RAW images to the final images and see how much post work was done on them.
Each of these images was shot with:
Nikon D3
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8
ISO 400
f2.8 (except for Robbie with the scarf, that was at f3.5)
All files were shot RAW and then processed with Adobe Bridge and Photoshop CS5

Let me know what you think, what would you have done differently, can you spot all the changes? (especially with the image of the horse)

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

36 Degrees and a Horse

I decided to do a shoot for myself the other week and once I had the idea in my head I had to shoot it as soon as possible. I hate having an idea just waiting to be shot spinning around. It consumes me and it becomes all I think about, so the sooner I can get it out of my head and into my camera, the better. That is why the title of this post is 36 degrees and a horse. The day I set to shoot this was one of the coldest days of the year so far (36 degrees), but I couldn't postpone it, not just because of the cold temperatures. Thankfully, the models, stylist and hair and makeup artist all were wonderful and willing to work with me.
Here are the results of our efforts. I think it was well worth suffering through the cold!