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From an unpublished review of the Canon EOS Rebel T4i: Shooting the gazebo in O’Brien park (one of my favorite subjects) at night was fun with the Rebel T4i’s Handheld Night Scene and Canon’s EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. When you select the Handheld Night Scene mode the camera makes all of the decisions—it’s like Program mode on steroids—and you can’t change anything—which didn’t bother me given the quality of the results. Original in color, this version converted to B&W using Nik Silver Efex Pro.
“They say it’s your birthday, well its my birthday too…”—John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Today is my birthday, a milestone of sorts. Now straddling geezerdom and the wisdom that comes with old age, I want to share some of the useful tidbits and tips that have helped my photography business over the past twenty plus years.
Apply the golden rule to employees but never loose sight of what they owe you as well. You should expect honesty as well as a fair day’s work for wages paid. In return, you owe them loyalty and flexibility to help them through the ebb and flow of their careers and family life. Cutting them slack when the need it, giving them paid time off for family emergencies will repay you many times over what it costs in the short run.
Apply the golden rule to clients. The same goes for clients but never forget someone who doesn’t pay their bills is not a client; they’re a deadbeat. From time to time, all clients have cash flow problems and as long as they keep you in the loop and send partial payments, you should try to work with them. When their current crisis passes, they’ll remember those who helped. Otherwise I think bad clients, like bad employees, should be fired.
Technology is your friend, embrace it. When you hear of any technology or anything new that could increase your operation’s productivity, decrease overhead, or allow you to expand into new markets, put it in place and start making and saving money right away.
Never, ever stop marketing. Keep your website fresh, start a blog and update it on regular basis. Send traditional mailings to clients that respond to that kind of marketing. Sponsor a golf tournament or health drive, so when people think of your product or service your name is the first to come to mind.
Be a joiner. Networking pays big dividends. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, professional group, and make community involvement part of your business and marketing plan.
Write a book. It will increase your credibility in the local business community as well as with your clients. Consider it a part of your marketing program. Read a book: Start with Celebritize Yourself by Marsha Friedman. It’s the best $15 you ever spent.
Stay informed. Make time to read about what’s going on in the world around you, looking for trends that affect present and future business opportunities. Check in regularly on this Blog for news that can help you accomplish your goals and objectives. Lastly, I’d like to pass on advice that legendary photographer Don Feltner gave me years ago when I started my studio in the spare bedroom of my condo: “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.”
Special Note: Missing “Studio Tuesday“? It’s been moved to Thursday this week.
Special Guest Post by Mark Toal
Last week Think Tank introduced a new line of camera bags that were designed specifically for small mirrorless cameras. I own several Think Tank bags and I love the attention to detail in their products down to the included rain covers. I know this may sound crazy but they use the best zippers of any camera bag I’ve ever used. (I agree—Joe) As you can see in my photo (below) these bags even have magnetic clasps in case you forget to or don’t want to zip it closed. The cases range in price from about $35 to $70.
I saw the cases on the day they arrived at my local camera store here in Portland—Pro Photo Supply— and had a hard time choosing which one to buy first. I decided on the $34.75 Mirrorless Mover 5 since I already had a case for my Panasonic Lumix GH3. When I’m out shooting I don’t like to keep my camera in a case unless it’s raining but I do like to carry an extra lens and a couple of extra SD cards. As you can see in the above photo the Lumix 45-200mm lens and my SD cards fit perfectly in this very small case.
If you’re like me and can always justify a new camera case then check these out. Now I just have to remember to give away the old cases that are filling my closet.
Mark Toal works for Panasonic as a training representative in Portland, Oregon. His views on this blog are his own and do not represent Panasonic. You can see more of Mark’s photos on his photo blog at www.mtoal.wordpress.com or at www.mtoallumiximages.wordpress.com. Mark can be contacted at email@example.com
The theme of the March 2013 issue of Shutterbug magazine was new lighting gear and in it I tested the Flashpoint DG-series monolights calling them “Big, ’Blue and Affordable.”
Farace’s Laws of special effects applies with lighting too: No matter what technique you use, a portrait’s look is always subject dependent and will depend on the person, what they are wearing and background used. I used a two different approaches to photograph Ms. Simpson wearing her grandmother’s 70 year old wedding dress. While the same two Flashpoint DG monolights were used in each shot, the background is different and I used dissimilar lighting set-ups to produce completely different effects.
A simple traditional lighting set-up was used for my first portrait of Pam Simpson wearing her grandmother’s wedding dress: The main light is a DG600 with 28 x 28-inch PZ Softbox mounted. Fill was provided by a Flashpoint DG400 with 60-inch white Adorama parabolic umbrella. Shot with Canon EOS 5D and EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 109mm.) Nik Software’s Glamour Glow filter was lightly applied to the finished image.
For a more contemporary lighting setup and the photo that was selected for the cover, I kept the a FlashpointDG600 with 28 x 28-inch PZ Softbox mounted in the same location as the previous shot but moved the DG400 behind Ms. Simpson with its reflector removed allowing light to scatter around the studio. No background was used, just the studio wall. Exposure with the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 109mm) was 1/125 sec at f/13 and ISO 100. Nik Software’s Vignette Blur filter was lightly applied to the finished image.
One of the things that I like to do to get out of a rut is to shoot some photographs in direct monochrome mode. It doesn’t have to be all of the images that you make during a session; maybe just a few to see what happens. If you think that’s a bad idea because you worry about what happens if you change your mind and want that original at some later date to be in color? Many digital SLRs cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Some dual-slot camera, even let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card. My old but dependable Canon EOS 1D Mark II N lets me, for example, shoot RAW on the CompactFlash card and JPEG files onto the SD card.
If you prefer to capture in color and convert to monochrome later in the digital darkroom that’s not a bad idea either. The biggest differences is that all of my favorite retouching tools such as Imagenomic’s’ Portraiture and Anthropics’ Portrait Professional work better with color files, so more often than not I shoot in color and convert to monochrome later using Adobe Photoshop and/or Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro.
N is for normal. Normal as in 50mm lens, anyway. Subject is Tia Stoneman photographed outdoors in the doorway of an old building that has since been remodeled into something nicer but with decidedly less character. I asked Tia to set, resting her back against the wall and also wanted her to pull up her skit a bit to show her great-looking legs. Then the pose was refined having her first place her left hand on her leg and tried different hand placements—always looking for a natural look— before arriving at this shot after eight different variations. Image captured directly in monochrome mode using a Canon EOS 50D with an EX550 speedlight used for fill.
Joe is the author of “Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography” which is available at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or Amazon.com.