In my dream life, I would be a fashion and documentary photographer, but until that happens, I’m a barista. Every day I show up to work, serve the same customers, make the same drinks, hit the same cash button on the register, wipe the same tables and bake the same pastries. It can get a little mundane after two years. Everyone has to work, pay the bills, put in your due time so you can play later, right? This was my thought process for years. I always thought I would need to work a full-time job in order to support my true passion, creating images. But in reality, why can’t the two go hand-in-hand?
Throughout history, man has sought immortality, whether by the elusive Fountain of Youth, religion, the cloning process, cryogenics, and many other means too numerous to mention. Forever.com is a new business seeking to ensure that you can indeed live forever – at least the digital aspect of your persona. A friend of mine told me about Forever at a recent party. I was intrigued since the company was located in Pittsburgh and founded by a local entrepreneur, Glen Meakem. Meakem founded Free Markets, Inc., after leaving GE Information Services. Free Markets was eventually bought by Ariba.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ decision to lay off its staff of photographers and editors (~28 total), including a Pulitzer Prize winner, sent shock waves throughout the photography industry. Some cried foul. Some expressed disbelief. Others lamented the changing times and the commoditization of the professional media photography field. Many mocked the paper’s suggestion that it would rely on reporters to take their own photos using iPhones and DSLRs. The Sun-Times did not eliminate using professional photographers, since it plans on using some freelancers to fill some of the void created by the departure of the full-time professional crew. But the Sun-Times’ announcement was a clear indication that it believe something had fundamentally changed and it was willing to take radical action to do what it thought best for the immediate and long-term health of the business.
Most of the cover photos for famous magazines and different publications are taken with very simple photographic tools. If you carefully look at the photos, you can probably tell what the light source is from the shadows that fall on the model and roughly understand what really went into making that specific production. While anyone can take a photo using the same tools, it, does not necessarily mean that you will end up with the same cover page.
Imagine that instead of setting up for weeks’ worth of fashion photography, complete with models, hundreds of outfits, hair stylists, and makeup artists, you create a virtual catalogue based on computer generated models, photos of body parts, and photographs of clothing items and accessories that customers can interact with. No glamorous models. No famous photographers. No make-up artists. No hair stylists. No expensive studios. Sound surreal? It is already a reality – a virtual one – but a reality nonetheless. Looklet is a company that has developed and delivered the technology that makes this scenario possible.
A friend of mine sent me a video from the WSJ called “Don’t Forget to Pack a Photographer” (link to the video, link to the article). Seems like there is a new trend in higher-end markets, where people are hiring professional photographers to photograph their vacations. It is certainly an interesting concept that could create potentially good business for us photographers (if priced right and done right).
We rarely get to see extraordinary people in our everyday lives. Have you had one of those moments when you saw a stranger that you really wanted to take a picture of? I am sure you have. So what did you do? Did you just photograph the person from afar without them knowing, try to talk that person into being your 30 second model or perhaps you might have tried to sneak up and take a picture? Or even worse, maybe you did not take a picture at all? I guess it has to do with our personality. If you are of shy type with a low confidence level (often a photography rookie), you might be even afraid to ask. That dreaded “No” can be quite discouraging to say the least and many of us don’t even bother to ask for that very reason.
We as photographers often make the final call on deciding the life span of an image according to our own perception, imagination and expertise. As much as we should be open to constructive criticism, I have always thought our own satisfaction from a photograph should come first. My own self-criticism is always the deciding factor on where I take my craft going forward. While those creative juices affect what I do behind the camera, knowing the technical aspect of photography to give life to any idea is very essential. It can take the story telling ability to a whole new level. Being able to analyze each shot before it is taken eventually will become a second nature as you photograph. I hope the below steps will help you get there a little faster.
I recently received an email from one of our readers about photographing weddings with an entry-level DSLR (Nikon D3000) and an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The request was to help out in understanding how to photograph weddings, figuring out the right camera settings and proper posing. Without much thinking, I responded to the query by saying that he/she should not photograph the wedding and perhaps leave the task to someone who knows what equipment to use and more importantly, how to use it. I never got a follow up email after that, but I have been thinking about the email ever since. I then remembered watching videos of photographers getting sued by couples for failing to deliver images, getting their gear stolen after photographing many weddings and failing to properly backup images and many other problems encountered by newbie photographers.
When it comes to our wedding business, Lola put me in charge of “QA” (Quality Assurance) before images are delivered to our clients. After she is done with all post-processing work, we sit down together and review all images. She is naturally good at working on images and her creative and artistic side really comes into play when she photographs and then edits images. I have a very different approach to photography and I often pay lots of attention to such things as image sharpness, detail, framing and angles. It is surprising to see how well our different perspectives merge into a productive environment – while we sometimes do disagree, we both understand that our ultimate goal is to provide the best results to our clients.