Art is about storytelling. It’s about using all the tools at one’s disposal to convey and idea or an emotion. To connect an audience to a brand, or a personality, or a moment in a way the no other medium can. Along with my own technique, the ingenuity of the on-camera talent and the creative team behind it, plus the tools necessary to complete the job, the location you select for your shoot is one of the many raw materials that will have an effect on the eventual alchemy you bring forth to produce a great image.
You don’t need me to tell you the importance of social media. Many of you under a certain age likely can’t picture your life without it. Judging by the number of selfie sticks and Facebook screens annoyingly lighting up dark movie theaters, social media had apparently become as important as breathing. Even those who came of age before the dawn of the smartphone are not immune to its charms. And in an increasingly connected world, our devices are not only a social diversion, but can also become a business necessity. This week, I had an experience that drove home just how necessary it can be.
You might have noticed a common theme in my articles: "the gear doesn’t matter". A lot of people have called me out on this, especially as in my profile picture I’m shooting on a Phase One with Broncolor lights. And yes, you are right, the kit does matter in my line of work, just not always. Sitting on the fence? Maybe. Here’s my explanation:
We love gear. But this is next level stuff. If you’ve seen the smoothness of the shots used to introduce the Microsoft Studio Surface, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The guys at Motorized Precision who introduced KIRA robotic arm at NAB 2017 are taking pre-orders for the MIA, their latest robotic arm. It’s smaller, about as portable as a fridge is on wheels, and can plug into any traditional single phase wall socket. It holds up to a 22lb camera package, the arm itself weighs 120lbs and it comes with a standard six-meter track. If you want to see what it's capable of go watch Thor: Ragnarok, which used the KIRA for many of their shots. The video shows what the KIRA 1.0 could do.
Inspired by a recent photo book I purchased, "Creative Flash Photography" by Tilo Gockel, I set out to create a series of food photos this week as part of a Thai dinner theme my wife and I decided on. The principle here was simple: create a great image using a single speedlight and a bounce card. That’s it.
If you are interested in the commercial side of the photography industry, working with models and agencies is a must. Approaching a modeling agency and asking to work with models can be intimidating, particularly when you aren't sure how to get started. Fortunately, Dublin based fashion photographer Anita Sadowska recently shared a video on her Youtube channel that provides helpful hints any photographer can use to get their foot in the door.
After a four-hour trip to London and only being able to catch whatever sleep I could during the uncomfortable journey down, I met with Peter Hurley and immediately felt welcome. For those of you who don't know, Peter Hurley is a headshot photographer based in New York City. Hurley once had a career as a model and was also part of the U.S. Olympic sailing team. He is known for his clean, white background headshots and for coining the phrase "squinch," which has now become relatively mainstream thanks to news channels and shows like Orange is the New Black. To many, Peter is known as the best in the business and this may be true, but, what is Peter actually like to work with?
Commercial shoots and photography can be quite demanding and even taxing on the body. But when I started out this art, I would have never thought it could go as far as taking out four of teeth out to create an advertising image. Well, that’s what Blair Bunting was willing to do for a campaign he shot for Discovery’s Deadliest Catch.
Albert Watson. Legend. Period, end. With a career spanning five decades and multiple iconic images, his career in fashion and portraiture would be the aspiration of any budding photographer. Alongside Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, PDN recognized him as one of the twenty most influential photographers of all time. And in a new video by Profoto, the man whose subjects have ranged from Alfred Hitchcock to Kate Moss, discusses his approach to lighting, photography, and life.
A few weeks ago, I came across a post on social media from the Jônt about a shoot out contest inside a staged multi-million dollar estate which piqued my interest. Reading more about the shootout, it would be geared toward several different genres of photographers, as they would have vendors on site providing food, drinks, cars, and models at our disposal for the shoot out. First, you had to submit your info along with your portfolio to be one of the selected photographers to join the contest, I figured I would go ahead and throw my name into the hat and see what would happen.
We are photographers. We are not a bunch known for a lack of opinions. By and large, we know (or think we know) what’s good and bad and aren’t shy about telling others just how qualified our own personal greatness makes us to pass judgment on other far inferior work. Yes, I’m generalizing to make a larger point. There are as many different types of photographers as there are different types of people. And, if ego sits on one shoulder, its distant cousin humility stands firmly on the other, grasping tightly to the other end of the rope in an endless game of tug of war. But knowing when to pull, and when to offer slack, from one side or the other can be the secret to both successful shoots and successful creative relationships.
Primarily, I'm a NYC Wedding Photographer. However, I also photograph business headshots in my NJ Studio as well. I love doing this as a side-gig that brings me extra money for practically no work at all. To be honest, I wasn't really all about it when D.C. Headshot Photographer Moshe Zusman told me I should start implementing it into my business. Seemed a bit boring and I didn't get how it would make me more money than the $10,000+ High-End Weddings that I photograph now. I was wrong.
Singapore Airlines' latest safety video mixes the regular safety video you'll see just before take-off with the dream of exploring Singapore. It's beautifully executed and shows how they'll push barriers to give you the travel experience you desire. Why is this important? Because it shows that the travel industry is really getting creative with their approach, and they are pushing the boundaries of just what's needed to evoke that curiosity and excitement of travel.
There are many paths in professional photography. I have gone down the route of commercial photography, and whilst I am nowhere near where I want to be in professionally, I thought I’d share a few points that can go a long way to making it as a professional commercial photographer.