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    Thursday
    May122011

    Finding an Assistant

    Generally, an assistant isn't going to shoot. They are there to help you in other ways that are vitally important to your success.

    Setting up and moving lights and holding a reflector, and maybe grabbing lenses. That's all valuable experience with learning potential. You'll also learn a lot just from observation.

    With the digital age on us and only getting more evolved the assistant needs to know photoshop, aperture, light room ect. The more they know the more valuable and marketable they are. When I am on a shoot I like to know that I hand off my card to the assistant and they upload, categorize, add metadata, store in external hard drive, make DVD's ect. That is valuable to me and helps keep the work in the studio to a minimum.

    But, assistants and even second shooters are a dime a dozen. Actually they're even cheaper to come by usually  with beginners. A good, experienced staffer can make some money. Someone needing experience is going to have a hard time even finding someone to tag along with.

    A lot of people don't want to help the newbies b/c they see just how much damage many of those newcomers are wreaking on the industry. Others just don't want to help future competition and are easily threatened. Make the goal to make friends and get to know your peers. I don't see it that way. I see it as an opportunity to teach them to right things. Yes, good assistants will one day be your competition but that's okay too, if you are confident and good it doesn't matter.

    Tuesday
    Jan182011

    HD Video production using Canon Mark II

    It's new territory for me and it's been an exciting ride. I was listening this morning about Steve Job's leaving for health reasons with no time frame when he is coming back. The morning show posted this video that Apple produced back in

    He will be part of the video that (hopefully) you have just seen. Our greatest inventions were born out of being different and not conforming so as I start this new service I feel confident that even if I fail I still succeed because I am trying and not waiting on the sidelines.

    Here is a sample of a job that I did in Phoenix, AZ of former Quarterback Joe Theismann. The video was taken with my Canon Mark II.  

    Wednesday
    Jun302010

    Promotional Cards for Business

    I have embarked getting back to basics on marketing my buisness. It has been sometime that I have used Promo Cards for attracting new business as well as just sending them to my current customers and long term clients.  Social media is here to stay but I have also noticed as we all have that, sending a hand written letter or a Promotional card is rare.

    The whole Promotional engine is expensive but the Return on Investment is real if you put the time into it. Here is my latest card in a series of 8 that I will be sending.

    Wednesday
    Apr212010

    "Planning a Commercial Shoot"

    Recently I had a nice meeting with a new client this week. He sells yachts. They are new to this industry. The client came to me interested in capturing the mood and the character of their product. Now being new to taking photos of Yachts but not new to taking photos of boats this got my senses going.

    Luxury Yachts are not something most people buy and with the economy this is certainly a niche market but my travels to Florida over the years have brought me many opportunities.

    CONCEPT:
    The Clients tells me he wants to have the Yacht in the inter coastal in Boca Raton in front of a beautiful Mansion. A dinner party setting with a story. Shots will focus on people conversing and different shots of the Yacht. The copy  would, along with the image(s), tell a piece of the story and how the product plays in to it.

    This is just one of 14 scenes so I won't take a lot of your time.

    LOGISTICS:
    A shoot like this will require securing a suitable location. The location will need to be staged with nice furniture and decor. Using someone’s home is our first choice, whereas an empty home would necessitate furnishings and decoration. We will need guests. We’re going to stage the dinner party with real food, real drinks and real guests: a few neighbors and friends. We’re going to have a team of hair and makeup stylists to keep everyone looking awesome throughout the evening. Since I will be running and gunning throughout the shoot, I will need an assistant to help me set up, meter, and move from shot to shot, according to our game plan (outlined below). Plenty of Professional Lighting will be used.

    ESTIMATE:
    At this point, a fair estimate of the shoot’s cost can be made. The concept and the logistics are the raw materials you’ll use to create your proposal to the client. What do my vendors require of me? How much should I be paid to do the calling and organizing to have the shoot go off without a hitch? How much is my experience and talent worth? How will the images be used? Etcetera! These questions are extremely important. Far too many photographers leave a lot on the table and even more photographers do not have a grasp on estimating.

    SCHEDULING
    The next thing we’re going to need to settle is the scheduling. Are there any real, hard deadlines that need to be met? Do these images need to be delivered by a certain date, no matter what? That needs to be known first. Beyond that, it’s a matter of lining up availabilities for stylists, talent and location. I find that it really pays off to have it all on your iPhone or Blackberry of stylists and models. Line up back ups as well.  The difference here is that this is a paid gig. Unsurprisingly, stylists are far more amenable to make time for paid work. Imagine that. I’ve said before that free work is worth what you pay for it. Paying someone is basically the only way I know of to hold someone accountable. Don’t be afraid to hold someone’s feet to the fire when you need to. Be a leader, not an asshole. I usually pay in the same day, so I don’t have to float the cost of stylists waiting for the client to pay me.

    Lastly, this is a location shoot. Think of your location as another person, with its own schedule of availability. Oh, and it also needs to be insured. The difference is that it can sometimes be impossible to substitute in a different location at the last minute, unlike stylists. The idea is to line up all of these schedules to find a shooting date that works for all involved parties. Book a potential back-up date in case Murphy decides to drop in and screw everything up. The best way to anticipate problems is to imagine all the worst things that could possibly happen and then address them in your mind.

     

     

    GAME PLAN:
    The date and time have been set. Now, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to do throughout your time slot. At this point, the client and I will head to the location, if necessary, at a time when the lighting matches that of our proposed shoot, and decide how we want to present each product, basically storyboarding. Once I have a list of how each product is going to be shot, I can sequence those shots based on the logistical realities created.

    It then becomes my job to create a stream-lined and efficient process to get myself through these shots. How many shots can I line up in a single location, or with a particular set of lighting modifiers? I optimize my shot sequence to maximize my creative versatility. These images are source material: the greater the variety of images, the greater the value I present to the client.

    Your game plan is how you work smarter instead of harder. I’ve got to make sure everyone knows their part and is moving in the same direction. Write up a nice schedule of shots, and give a copy to all your stylists, your assistant, and the client, if present (they will be).

     

    SHOOT DAY:
    Ideally, I can get access to the location the day before the shoot to bring in gear, get set up and prepared, and to check out the location in the proper lighting for our shoot. I take notes and determine my camera settings for my different shots. I walk through the whole shoot, running worst case scenarios through my head, and deciding how I would deal with them. Paranoia is just good business.

     

    I get a good night’s sleep, and on the day of the shoot, I am prepared. Having done the best I can to squelch any potential explosions, I can now focus purely on making creative decisions. Call everyone and verify their arrival. Check all your gear and show up early. Batteries? Focus working? Lenses clean? Your sensor clean? Laptop? Cables? Between the time that people start showing up and the stylists are finished getting everyone done up, stay out of the way. Don’t meddle with the stylists unless they’re doing something you’re sure is wrong.

    With adequate preparation, the job of moving through your shoot becomes easy. Smile, relax, schmooze with your subjects, and get your job done. Stay on top of what your assistant is doing, and make sure you’ve got a hair person and a makeup person to maintain the subjects while they are being photographed. While I am concentrating on my lights, my composition, metering, focus, and the model’s positioning and gesture, it is usually too much for me to stay on top of hair and makeup as well. It’s nice to know that there is someone who is standing by, concentrating on just the kinds of things I tend to miss.

    CONCLUSION:
    The whole process is one of reductionism. I am solving problems before they can become problematic. Have a plan. Prepare for contingencies. This is what you are being paid for: 10% of it is getting the shot, and 90% is making sure you get the shot.

    This is what I do best and now you have an idea of how I work. So knowing that insures that you have someone that has a passion for his work and will over service you and your client.

    Thanks for reading.

    Wednesday
    Apr142010

    This is a new company I started a few months back and like all new companies more money is going out than coming in. I found that this was a great entertainment tool to use for the event industry, when I say event industry it really means, Corporate, Convention, Conference, Sporting event (NCAA, NBA, Final Four, NFL, MLB ect), Weddings, Quinceanera's, Birthday Parties, Anniversaries and the list goes on. 

    Flipbooks To Go is a way to bring your parties to life with the newest craze in customized party favors. How?  We set up a display in a 10'x10' area at your party or event and invite guests to step behind the camera and make a short video clip. In a minute-and-a-half, we turn the video clip into a personalized flipbook while partygoers watch.  It creates a buzz as your guests watch each other make a short video clip and give each other ideas. PicFlips averages 45 flipbooks per hour and is versatile enough to fit into any party setting, from casual to couture.  Sure, there are other companies who make flipbooks, but PicFlips differs from the competition because we make the flipbooks right in front of the party guests.  No waiting for flipbooks in the mail - it's immediate gratification! If we can help your next party be a hit pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-486-3241 or email us:  info@flipbookstogo.com