The human expression is, for me, the most powerful form of communication we have. We all remember the looks our moms and dads gave us when we did something wrong, or the look on the face of the person we love when we proposed. These looks are just a few of the powerful ways we can communicate with no words, and it’s this that is the holy grail in portrait photography, whether it be stills or video.
"Looking for professional makeup artists to work on set for ASOS. This is unpaid, but will create opportunities for exposure and portfolio development" - it took no more than two minutes to locate a commercial casting call for an unpaid makeup artist online. Money will be made from product sales, so why isn’t the team also being financially compensated?
Up until now we've talked mostly about how to shift your thinking away from the unfortunate standard of the professional artist. However, we can't really talk about how to build a thriving business without addressing the stretches when nobody is walking through the door. In fact, many of us are probably running head first into that season right now.
It's not often that we feature book series here on Fstoppers, but I personally found that the three piece series by 99U was worth mentioning. In their latest book entitled "Make Your Mark - The Creative's Guide to Building a Business with Impact", author and editor Jocelyn K. Glei interviews successful creatives to find the secrets that helped separate them from the rest of the pack, making "Make Your Mark" a must have book for photographers looking to increase their business.
I spend a lot of time shooting or walking on the streets of New York. You see every type of camera imaginable here, from the latest and greatest DSLRs to old Rollei’s and film cameras. If you hang around B&H long enough, you’ll probably see Louis Mendes with his old Speed Graphic. But I have never, ever seen anyone shooting with what Justin Borucki is using. This guy might have the most unique camera setup in New York.
At some point of our career, we find ourselves wandering whether we should continue to develop our skills or channel our efforts into broadening our network to capture potential clients. The answer is more complex than just choosing one or the other. But to be able to compare both concepts I think it’s important to understand them well. They are not really the most ambiguous words, yet some ideas gain different connotations according to the situation in which they are used.
I have always associated a romance with being a specialist photographer, whether this be in the area of weddings, fashion, automotive or dreamy tintype portraits. You are valued as a master in your field and people want you for the style that you create. On the other hand, there are positives in working in multiple industries as a photographer. You rarely get bored due to the variety of work you do, and it’s fun to learn new skills and adapting to various situations. You might have to manage different “identities” but that suits you fine because you love the challenge conquering different fields.
What’s wrong with our industry that we are so quick to belittle formal education? Whenever the topic of an art degree arises, there’s an angry mob that amasses, collectively chanting how “useless” a degree is in photography and that the best school to learn from is the University of Hard Knocks. To really understand this issue, we have to first step back and look at the value of art and why photographers are so polarized on the term. Then, we have to recognize that “art school graduates” are not the real problem; it’s the dismissive attitudes toward them that are.
The Syrp Genie is a great, though imperfect, timelapse machine that has recently added another trick to its arsenal: repeatable motion. Originally, the first couple bits of firmware to the Syrp weren't perfect at the repeatable motion tasks, but the most recent update has fixed all the issues, giving us the ability to fine-tune motions and get them time and again, exactly as they were the first time. With the addition of the new Magic Carpet, there is a lot we can now do with the Syrp.
There are many ways we can find new inspirations and ideas. From researching new work, doing workshops or experimenting with new techniques, most of us have these regular go to methods of getting ourselves out of a photographic funk. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi proposes that thinking more like the opposite gender can expand our creativity and essentially give us more scope in the ways we express ourselves in our work.
When I first attempted to retouch the photographs I took in 2006, I had no idea what I needed to do and how. Today there are thousands of video tutorials on the web on how to retouch, but nobody explains what it is that needs to be retouched to make a female face look more youthful, healthy and beautiful. It took me some time to figure out what the common problems that I needed to remove from my subjects' faces and bodies were, and what I had to alter to make them look more attractive.
Although we’re often reminded of the importance of constantly shooting and developing our skills as photographers, is there a point where too often shooting actually becomes detrimental? Through observation and personal experience I’ve come to the conclusion that there is indeed a case to be made for shooting less if you’re hoping to properly develop your photography business.
I’ll never forget the email; I was on a plane somewhere over the Florida coast, on my way to the Bahamas for the Fstoppers Workshops 2014. Just before I left the States, I had signed on with the artist consulting firm Wonderful Machine. The first step in preparation for a press release was to tear my website apart. The critique was tough and they slashed it hard… here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world, feeling a truck load of anxiety. For years, I had thought I had a clean and straight to the point website, but it turns out I needed to strip it down even more.