Over the weekend in Texas, I got a series of portraits that I might show here over the next few days.
Here’s a set from a guy eating s’mores.
Remember all those Urban Decay shots I posted a while back?
My photography partner (in crime) Bill Whitmire concentrated more on photographing us shooting spaces.
He sent me images last night, and it’s cool to see it in essay form. It seems to tell more of a story. I know it’s about me, and this is totally a selfish post (not that any of my other posts are selfish).
But I thought Bill’s photo essay needed to be told.
I’ve been following Malaysian photographer Ming Thein lately.
He’s currently traveling in the States and the only camera he brought was a thousand-dollar Olympus OM-D and a few lenses. One of them happens to be a $3,000-$4,000 Leica lens.
The above shot is from a series in San Francisco.
Go check out more of his work here.
I’ve recently started a conversation with other photographers about the topic of “specialization.”
My photography partner Bill and I have discussed this seemingly endlessly. I would say that the majority of pro photographers recommend specializing in one area or genre, and not straying from that. Guys like Joel Grimes and Erik Almas think you should have an area of distinct expertise.
For instance, in this long recommendation for aspiring photographers from Ming Thein, he talks about specializing, but he also discusses diversification of income. In other words, he specializes in product photograph, watches in general as well as some architecture and street photography.
Although, if you look at his portfolio, who knows what his area of expertise is. He’s great at everything he shoots.
Ming isn’t the only pro who makes this “specialization” recommendation.
One can criticize me for not specializing. I like shooting everything and anything. I aim to deliver beautiful work whether you ask me to shoot an interior, a child, or a product.
Although I love fashion and beauty photography, I’m not settled on a specialization. I’m still trying to work that out.
And as long as I’m getting paid to do a variety of photography genres, I’m not going to stop shooting and posting the variety.
We do motion picture/video as well, which I think every photographer should get their hands wet with, if they haven’t already. A lot of our income comes from video, because the editing process often triples to quadruples the photography cost. So while a photo shoot will price out at a day rate plus rates for delivery, video is the day rate, plus two more days to accommodate editing.
I need video production to keep my business going, as photography (at least where I am right now in my career) isn’t enough to pay the mortgage.
I also think specialization is a dead end. Pro photographers might be pros now, but the industry has changed so much that photographers who think the same as they did in the 90s either went out of business or assimilated to nuances and changes within the industry.
The print/analog market has declined, and digital has taken over.
This discussion is much longer than this short blog post. Take for instance an aspiring photographer. He may want to break into the business, but needs income. One option would be to work at what you can get hired doing and use your income to support a part-time, amateur to pro effort.
My effort has been to diversify the income, as photography and videography is similar. You need an understanding of light + sound to achieve it.
One day, I may be able to specialize in one area. But until then, I’ll make money — and more importantly successes and mistakes — doing what I love to do.
The mistakes I’m making now will make specialization easier to achieve. Right now, I’m working with a variety of clients on a variety of jobs. The mistakes in one market are going to inform how I deal with something in another.
The more background and experience, the better and more efficient I’m going to be.
Plus, I’ve recently taken the nose dive into medium format photography. I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out. But I’m going to do it while getting paid doing it.
I’ve been self employed for eleven years. I consider myself a pro … a pro with soooooooooo much more to learn. I love the path I’m taking, and highly recommend it to everyone.
Because as Erik Almas said in his 10-point list on becoming a pro:
#10. And more important than anything: don’t give up on your dream of becoming a photographer. It will take longer to get there than you think.
You’ve seen the lists. I’ve seen the lists.
Lots of established photographers want to tell you how to succeed.
EVERYONE gives advice on how to succeed as a photographer. Photography blogs are learning paradises that leads to amping up your Photography, but that takes time away from you time.
Have you ever noticed, nobody gives advice on how to fail as a photographer. This is a list for all your wannabe failures out there.
Failure is quick, easy and fun.
So here are seven, sure-fire ways to fail as a photographer.
1. Invest in absolutely nothing.
Don’t go to this recommended equipment list. Don’t buy a camera, several lenses, a flash or two, a backup body, a couple strobes with remote triggers and receivers. Don’t order a computer with Photoshop and Lightroom. Stay the heck away from a camera that costs more than your car.
If you invest in any photography equipment, you’re life would be a miserable triumph.
You would have failed to fail.
Having gear might encourage you to flip that camera on, point it at something, adjust your settings and fire off the shutter … maybe more than once.
Save your money. Buy a cat.
2. Do not — I repeat — do not get any paid work.
Want to fail as a photographer? Easy. Don’t get any work. Sit on the couch and pet your cat.
You win for losing. Sweet job.
Now go fist bump yourself and make sure you do pow hands.
So you landed a job with a new client. After you get over the fact that you’ve failed to fail, make sure you show up like you’ve been shoveling manure all day.
Or show up to jobs in shorts and flip-flops.
You’re an artist! That’s what artists do!
You know you’re going to be hot carrying around all that equipment. You know you’re going to work up a sweat lugging that 70-200mm from the car to the studio.
If you’re a women, dress down. Torn jeans, a wrinkly t-shirt and bedhead are essential. Skirts and dresses would be a disaster.
If you’re a guy, don’t press your shirt. Definitely don’t wear a tie. Don’t buy a pair of good shoes. Don’t get a haircut or shave.
To all of you, showering and brushing your teeth is obsolete for at least eight to nine days. Just show up in your pajamas and make sure you leave your lens on Manual Focus the entire day.
Score III for failure!
4. Bark orders like a drill sergeant.
When you’re setting up for a family portrait, don’t strike any sort of rapport with your subjects. Rush them straight in front of the camera and start firing off exposures. Point out how big your lens is. Tell them how much it cost. Say things like, “Listen to that shutter. Isn’t that cool?”
Make sure you yell at grandma to hurry up. Say things like, “Are you deaf grandma! Turn to the freaking left.”
If the client hasn’t left yet, go with straight profanity and egregious insult.
THEY WILL LOVE IT!
If you’re shooting a wedding, make sure you strike a cord with the bride by saying, “Smile, you’ll probably be married longer than your parents.”
Did your assistant brush you while reaching for a stand before it falls on your head, slam him or her with insults and tell them if you wanted to be touched, you’d sit on the couch with your cat.
Is your model a complete jerk? Tell him or her.
Make them cry.
Scream things things like, “Do you know how long it’s going to take me to Photoshop your face?”
5. Don’t balance your flash or strobes for ambient light.
You’re on location for a photo shoot and it was too pricy to buy gels to cover your flash or strobes to balance light to the main sources you’re in, so don’t.
Everyone LOVES the look of yellow tungsten light that muddies up your backgrounds when firing off a daylight colored flash. Everyone loves it when your ambient areas go green when you’re under florescent lights.
So make sure your photography has so much mixed light that it looks like a Roll-A-Rink during a couple skate.
6. Show nothing or show EVERYTHING. Nothing in between.
So don’t show your friends, fans and family what you’ve done. By all means, keep your shiny work from anyone who might enjoy seeing your art.
Or do the complete opposite. You just completed a portrait session with no less than a bazillion images; post them all! Invite people to your house — don’t give them any food or drink — and go through each one, one by one. Explain what you were thinking at the time of each photo. Explain what body part your cat was licking during the squinty-read-the-bottom-of-the-eye-chart shot.
Tell them some of the insults you hurled at the models.
Your audience will absolutely LOVE to dislike you.
Make sure you point out all the things you would have Photoshopped, but didn’t. Show the clothing designer how many glaring errors they had in their construction. Show the prop master how you can see some prop glue and it would take too long to Photoshop it out.
Verbal abuse is absolutely key to failure.
Not to mention, if you’ve managed to have any sort of relationship with a clothing designer or prop master, you’re already a failed photography catastrophe. Big time.
7. Do not get a mentor or make friends with other photographers
Other photographers only want to steal your ideas and ruin your reputation. Don’t associate yourself with anyone else who might constructively criticize or help you grow by sharing techniques. Your bubble is your strong hold.
Run, don’t walk, from newstands laden with photography magazines. Light afire any bookstores with photography books. Congrats! You’re a failure and an arson.
And abso-freaking-lutely … do not [please, oh pretty please] … do not watch free tutorials. Stay as far away from the pro tutorials as you can.
Twenty five bucks could go toward bigger and better things, like cat food or a 50 White Castle hamburgers.
Make sure not to memorize techniques that Aaron Nace explains. Absolutely do not learn keyboard short cuts in Photoshop. Do NOT buy a Wacom tablet no matter how many times Aaron says how it will enrich your photo editing.
You don’t need to grow. You don’t need to learn, Because you’re a know nothing. And know nothings are the fastest way to seizing ultimate failure.
Congratulations! You are now a failed photographer
Finally, you’ve got that Photography failure bug out of your system. You’re ready to be that French Fry cook you’ve always dreamed to be.
Fist bump. Pow.
*No cats were harmed in the writing of this list.
Twenty twelve was a great year.
It was great for Tina and me, both personally and business-wise.
It was a year when we finally relinquished the urge to have children, even though it hurts the hell out of us to think we won’t have biological children.
We haven’t ruled out fostering and adoption. It’s just not something we want at this time.
We started the year in Bali celebrating her birthday and experienced some major firsts and landmark events within our business.
We had our first major commercial photo shoot.
I started shooting concerts and shot Lollapalooza for the first time.
Other events include:
We shot Luis V.’s and Beck F’s wedding.
We shot runways in New York and monkeys in Indonesia.
We traveled to several states. We saw way more clients than I ever imagined we would.
This blog increased hit counts year over year by 200,000 hits. That was more than double.
What attracts people to this site is often the content that doesn’t include discussions of religion or non-belief. Photography has become a major draw. I know a lot of you enjoy the stories I tell about daily life in Chicago.
I love that kind of feedback, and I hope to get it more.
Over the year, I found myself censoring my views as the family that reads this blog have reverse-incented such behavior. There has been a decline in readership from active disbelieving readers. I imagine my self-restraint is a part of that.
Perhaps that is a bit egocentric, but whatever.
Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.
I refuse to write about the Cure for Tourettes T-shirt … thank you very much.
The most pleasing part of keeping this blog was forcing an existing restaurant in the Netherlands called Le Café Witteveen to rename itself to Brasserie Witteveen, as we were getting their hits when folks googled their name.
I’ve felt a Death Star gravitational pull toward bettering my business blog, its web site and content. If I could make this blog a 377,000 hit blog, why not make that same effort to make my photography blog that successful.
Twenty thirteen may be a year where we let this blog be that field. You know, the field that the farmer doesn’t plant too many crops in paying attention to another one more for a while.
Don’t rush off. I’ll continue to post here. Just not as frequently. Maybe 10 times a day rather than 50.
I’ll still post photography and personal stories. But my efforts to keep the blog filled with jokes and videos will take a back seat.
If that’s why you visit, well, I can give you all the sites I go to to find that stuff and you’re welcome to frequent them.
I already started making this transition during 2012. I’ve been spending more time learning the craft of photography, improving my photoshop skills and spending much more time networking within the industry.
I don’t imagine this place dying so much as I imagine it becoming my drafting board for my company. It’s what I started to do last year. I wrote posts here that I altered and edited for my professional blog.
This isn’t so much of a goodbye as it is a redistribution of resources. Plainly put, I’m going to spend more time pushing my company’s brand, and less time letting this blog be a distraction.
You can update its status to somewhere between back burner and red-headed stepchild.
If you liked the photography and stories, please consider subscribing if you aren’t already. If you liked the jokes, go see my favorite spots: I have seen the whole of the Internet and Tastefully Offensive Tumblr.
If you’re interested in other aspects of my blog roll, please feel free to contact me.
Bring on 2013, bitches.
Go check out this blog post about five critical travel photography tips. You won’t be disappointed.
Among the tips are avoiding drawing too much attention to yourself or your equipment and hiring locals.
My favorite line:
You don’t have to travel across the globe to experience new things. Your own backyard is the farthest place away to someone else on the other side of the world.
Above is one shot from Joey’s amazing portfolio that includes incredible travel photography, TV show promotions and a Twilight Movie poster.
There’s a new exhibit at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art called, “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop“.
Many of the images are blowing me away. Hopefully I’ll get out there to see the exhibit.
Jerry N. Uelsmann (American, born Detroit, Michigan, 1934)
Uelsmann revived the technique of combination printing pioneered by such Victorian art photographers as Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson in the early 1960s, when darkroom manipulation was denigrated by many proponents of straight photography as a flagrant violation of photographic purity. His pictures, which he creates in a darkroom equipped with seven enlargers, are filled with mind-bending paradoxes, oblique symbolism, and bizarre contrasts of scale. Uelsmann’s work is now considered an important precursor to the seamless compositing widely associated with digital photography and Photoshop.
Last night I grabbed this shot of a guy I saw from a distance. He was backlighted. I wanted to capture the essence of backlight, but still have a little illumination in his face.
I used my flash but aimed at a wall that was about 30 feet behind me. It still gave me that illumination I wanted without blowing out his face.
Click to enlarge.