New York City oozes cool. If I can’t travel internationally, this is the next best thing.
New York City oozes cool. If I can’t travel internationally, this is the next best thing.
We have a different definition of the word “assist.” All it means is we support the other one on set. We switch off shooting. We help each other move lights or set something else up.
Have you heard?
fStoppers is holding an amazing photography workshop and conference at the end of May. Seriously. This is an event not to miss.
The greatest of the great will be there. Aaron Nace. Dixie Dixon. John Keatley. Mark Wallace. Michael Grecco. Mike Kelley. Peter Hurley, to name a few. They’ll be there to teach you the intimate and intricate details of photography that you, yes you, can integrate into your workflow, your inspiration, your perspective and your idea set.
It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge while visiting an exotic location.
Oh. Did I forget to mention that the workshops are all to take place in Nassau, Bahamas?
Yeah, you’ll get to learn from these greats in paradise.
How much does it cost? You ask bright eyes and bushy tailed.
Well, you gotta get there. So there’s airfare. And per night at the selected hotels is generally $200/night. A little less at the budget hotel and a little more at the other.
You’ll be in resortland, so add in over-priced food to your budget.
Oh, and you’ll be in the fucking Bahamas, so if you’ve got kids, a spouse or a girlfriend or boyfriend (or both), you have to take them. Because who tells their spouse that they’re going to an important photography conference in the Bahamas, and I gotta do it alone.
How much is the conference? You ask with furrowed brow.
That’s a good question. The menu for classes is a la cart. So a two-day seminar with Aaron Nace on how to plan your dream photo shoot is $1500. One day to learn to light the Keatley way will set you back $750. Four-hours learning to shoot interiors like Mike Kelley, a measly $400.
Do the rough math for Tina and I to go — and for just me to attend workshops — add up airfare, miscellaneous travel expenses (cabs, trains, dog sitters, a beer at O’Hare, an Egg McMuffin in transit), accommodations, overpriced resort food, and a menu of outrageously priced photography workshops packing your days while you’re visiting fucking paradise … so now you gotta stay three or four extra days to soak up the sun and see the sights … I’m guestimating dropping between $12,000 and $15,000.
Let’s do some more math.
How many photographers do you know who do photography full time?
I do. That’s one.
I recently attended a bar powwow that my buddy Bill organized for photographers. Out of the ten photographers in attendance, I think three of us were full time. Three.
The average income of a photographer, I’ve heard is around $50k. On this site, it’s $25,000.
So let’s pretend that the average income for photography is around $35,000. Our income happens to be on a higher end of the spectrum, but we’ve been doing it for a while.
I personally don’t have $12,000 to $15,000 to spend, so I’d have to use credit or not go. If I depleted $12k to $15k, that’s much more than my average budget for gear, replacement gear, expenses, gas, mortgage, shoes, food for Talulah, a meal or two, other travel, other expenses.
Part of my point, though, is that more photographers are hobbyests and part-timers than full-timers. And what’s more attractive than spending five to ten days blowing hard earned dough in Nassau?
The target for a gig like this are photographers who are yet to make it. So they are probably on the low-end of that income level or they’re working a full-time job hoping to break into photography full time.
And what’s going to set a part-time photographer back from going full time more than blowing a shit-ton of cash on a frivolous vacation/workshop trip to goddamn Bahamas, where you’ll be sitting around watching Aaron Nace remind you a thousand times a second why you suck and he’s a genius.
This effort is literally the most egregious wannabe-photographers ripoff I’ve seen in a long, long … long time.
There’s so much shit, and I mean horse shit, marketed toward photographers, a herd of creative people nearly going extinct in the most rapidly changing market that it’s faced since Mathew Brady published images of dead soldiers during the Civil War and blew up how awful war is.
What fStoppers and all the photographers at the workshops are doing is a grift. They’re hustling a crapload of hopeful photographers into a den of thievery.
This workshop should be in a place and in a pricepoint that makes more financial sense for the market that they are targeting. As it is, they are handicapping the hopeful, pie-in-the-sky next generation by sucking their wallets/accounts/credit dry as an Arizona desert.
Because, as it seems, the way to make it in the photography world … is to literally sell hope and other garbage to sanguine photographers.
Yes. This means I’m not going. And I’m sure fStoppers and the rest could give two shits if a guy like me was there.
But if you are going, consider yourself hustled. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot. A ton, really. If the cost isn’t prohibitive to you, good for you.
I hope what you learn turns that $15,000 into a bottomless trough of clients with fat photography accounts and endless photographic and creative pleasure.
My recommendation is go to Nassau. Skip the workshops and buy every single one of Aaron Nace’s online videos.
You’ll save a ton, learn a lot and get a better tan.
Last night, I made black bean burgers with a side of broccoli tossed with a garlicky olive topping.
“I don’t want this meal to end,” was echoed at our dinner table … over and over and over.
I found the recipes in America’s Test Kitchen’s Light and Healthy cookbook.
All images taken with a Leica C. Interested in the recipe? Drop a line in the comments.
Bill Whitmire and I recently shot these professional head shots in the studio. I’m loving the natural light shots, and really hope that we can explore it more with different types of models in different types of situations.
Yesterday, we got a phone call from a client in need of a last-minute job.
“Can you come shoot our recycling and composting program for our parent company? We realize it’s last minute, and this job isn’t going to be pretty, but we need professional photos by tomorrow morning,” asks the vice president of a large company downtown.
Mind you, this is a client that recently passed on hiring us from three of our favorite accounts, one sent us to New York twice a year. We were sore about that, but you know, there are a million photographers and sometimes you want to try another option.
“You know what? Sure,” I responded. “We’ll stop in today at 1. Does that work?” This was a call directly from a vice president, not an assistant as we’re somewhat accustomed to.
So we went out to shoot about 12 to 15 setups in the speediest method possible.
Mind you, the photos we got aren’t going in our portfolio. And I’m a little surprised you’re looking at them now. Why would I post pictures that I wouldn’t want anyone to see?
The answer is, I am not sure.
Part of me says, “Yeah, the work Tina and I do is good whether it’s a million-dollar corporate interior or the basement where you throw out that corporation’s trash.”
The other part of me says, “See, this is the glamorous life of a photographer. At least the glamorous life of this one.”
And the other other part says, “I don’t have any other content to share with you, so here’s a parable about life as a photographer who makes their living in a city like Chicago.”
I’ve talked to professionals who do jobs they’d never share with you. Why? Because they don’t want you to know that they do any other work apart from those shiny portraits or hot nudes they posted.
But sometimes there’s the recycling program at a large corporation that needs photographing for a large parent company … a parent company based in New York City … the same place with the jobs you recently were passed on for another photographer … and the same place you want to return to some day for a job.
This job was a back-scratch moment. It showed me that I didn’t burn a bridge with the client when we weren’t chosen for their runway and fashion events.
And as weird as it seems, these images are going to pass before the eyes of the top executives during a financial presentation. It’s a weird thought that the audience who are wealthy and want to understand their investments and what they are doing to save the environment.
And what they are interested in is seeing the crap that other people throw out and how it affects their bottom line and how that recycling and composting programs boost their public perception and improves the environment.
And what makes all the difference is getting a response back from a New York email address saying, “These photos are excellent!!! Thank you so much!”
When someone attaches a GoPro to a Pelican beak, you should consider watching it.
Last week, we photographed some architectural interiors for a new client out at O’Hare Airport, in the international terminal.
Let me tell you, it’s difficult going to the airport and not have a ticket to some other place, but even harder to be in the international wing without a destination into some warm wonderland of exotic beauty.
Lately, the weather is our arch enemy. We walked into the airport in zero-degree temperatures with our equipment. The cold is unrelenting. The voices on NPR keep reminding us that it’s the coldest winter since the 70s. Somebody yesterday said something about since the 20s.
I haven’t complained all that much, until recently. It’s March. And you half expect that when March rolls in that the temperatures might at least reach up and stick their toes in the twenties.
But yesterday morning it was zero. And the morning before that. And the morning before that. When you grow up in the south, snow is a novelty. You pine for it in a way that makes your brain explode with nervous energy. When they call for snow, your excitement is excruciating. And when it snows, you make fists and raise them up by your face and shake them.
Snow used to mean a mini-vacation from school and responsibilities. It was a white wash of fun.
Since moving to Chicago, snow lost its luster. Snow means a longer commute if you have to leave the house. Not just on the roads, but to leave your parking space, you gotta clean off your car. You leave 15 minutes early to clear your car, and make sure you bring a broom with you, because it would take 10 extra minutes to clean it using a window brush.
If you’re parallel parking, make sure you can get over the first mound of snow. Sometimes I hate the fact that we have a Honda CR-V, but not in the snow. All-wheel drive gets us into parking spots that regular cars spin their tires in.
Tribulations with eBay
I sold my first item on eBay recently. It was a video camera I bought, because at the time, I got burned by using a DSLR as my main camera, and sometimes you need a run and gun camera.
I spent almost $3,000 on a camcorder that I thought would work well for us, and match to our DSLRs, but it didn’t. I can’t believe that Canon doesn’t put similar sensors in a $3,000 camcorder than it puts in a $2,500 DSLR.
So I finally sold it at around half of what I paid, with the intention that we’d possibly upgrade our cameras to the next best Canon. But you know what? I’m holding out.
I have three cameras, two Canon 5D Mark IIs and one Hasselblad. I recently did a side-by-side comparison with a friend’s 5D Mark III, the upgrade to my camera, and for what it’s worth, I think I can hold out a little longer.
I said “tribulations” above, because I listed the camera a couple weeks ago. I thought I clicked, “No international buyers,” but I was wrong. I had to do this in a separate preference area.
I know from experiences on Craigslist that you do not take any foreign inquiries seriously. One scam that almost got me was someone asked me to send the camera overseas and they would pay me $500 more than asking. After a bit of concern, I googled it and it was a known scam.
So on eBay, I listed this camera and it was purchased within an hour … from a Nigerian.
I immediately went to the phone. I first called the number given on the account, which was an unworking number in Washington, D.C. I tried contacting the “buyer”. No luck.
Since I’m a new seller on eBay, it shut me down for seven days while the matter was resolved.
Although, I don’t know if I’ll use eBay again. I heard selling on Amazon is much better and they take much less percent of the purchase. With eBay, you pay them 10% and paypal takes its share.
As for my next camera purchase …
I can always rent cameras if I need.
Electronics are stupid investments, and marketing is the real Satan if there were one. As soon as the shiny new upgrade comes out, we — men especially — get so horny for the glitz that we forget that the differences are marginal at best.
Apple will release a new computer and I’ll get a major boner. But you know what the difference is between the one I have and the other one? Maybe a few seconds here or there.
One of my Canon cameras is on its last leg, but it still works and it’s still giving me viable images and video. So screw it.
I recently rented a lens — a 15mm Zeiss Distagon — that I thought would maybe make my short list of new lenses to buy. It’s a $3,000 lens, and Zeiss glass is the Ferrari of lenses. I currently own a Canon 16-35mm, which isn’t cheap, but it’s a zoom lens and the distortion is difficult to work with especially between f2.8 to f8. I’ve had a love hate relationship with the lens.
Currently, I wouldn’t trade the 16-35mm for anything. I use it a lot.
My new favorite rental house is LensRentals.com.
My favorite camera is definitely the Hasselblad, but I can’t use it for everything. There’s a reason why it’s the best tool in the box for certain things. I bought an L-Bracket for it recently that makes it easier to do a stitched shot in vertical placement.
Gear-wise, I feel okay. If I had a million dollars, I’d probably go a little nuts buying gear, though.
le Cafe Witteveen is dying
In case you haven’t noticed, this site is dying. I’m not posting here that much, and the controversial — or what others might think is controversial — is dried up. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind. It’s just that I’m not so concerned with belief vs. non-belief anymore.
The site’s hits haven’t been this low since 2010.
I hope I’m able to build our new endeavor as well as I built this one — back in the day.
I’m near the allotted amount of data that wordpress gives me for free. Once I hit that, I’ll either blog primarily at jeremywitteveen.com, or just keep pushing our pro work at here (which is live, but isn’t all that public in terms of us sending clients there).
Jeremywitteveen.com would be a little freer and open to a variety of posting ideas. Wittefini would be more art, photography, corporate-y related info.
Anyway, I thought I’d do a written blabber and here it is.