December 30, 2008

2008's Coming To A Close

Looking over a few things today and realized that the hours are running out on this year!

I've been neglecting this blog in the last week or so, opting to spend my time reading books and magazines, watching movies, and spend time with family and friends. I've also been busy trying to wrap up the editing of my photos from December's photoshoot and starting to plan my January shoot.

In the next little bit I've got a busy photo schedule, but that's what makes it fun right!?

Part 2 of the boxing shoot happens this coming weekend. This will be a more traditional shoot to feature JS3's clothing line. Trying to come up with a lighting plan for this, and am thinking a two light setup will work nicely... although it would be super nice to have a ring flash for this.

I know the Orbis is new to the market, and by all accounts decent and affordable, but I won't get my order in time for this weekend if I go that route. Have briefly considered going with the Ray Flash Ring Flash but think I'll purchase this once the model for the SB-900 becomes available.

So my only other option for ring flashing bliss is the diy route. There are a lot of diy ring flash designs out there...some are a lot better than others. Found this design by Richard at Eye on Birmingham which looks the slickest, but I'm not loving the idea of having to cut PVC pipe with a jigsaw in order to get my sb-600 to shine into the middle of the contraption.

The only other diy ring light that I'll be able to make (and still looks half decent) is the two plastic bowl version mentioned on Strobist but originating from this Flickr page.

I'm thinking this one will actually save my fingers and time in the hospital, and will also end up costing me less than Richard's really slick looking ring flash.

Regardless, I need to have something operational by either Saturday night or Sunday.

Other than those plans, I have some reading to catch up on: Photoshop User, Digital PhotoPro, Lee Varis' "Skin," Jamieson and McCormick's "Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting", and the history book I got from my sister this Christmas "2oth Cenutry Photography." I highly recommend this last book for photography history knowledge. First, it's cheap ($14 at Costco I think she said?) and second, you get a good A-Z look at photographers of the 20th Century. Each entry shares examples of that photographer's work and also talks about their shooting style, influences, where they trained, who they worked for....really really awesome read.

Later today I'm going to do a quick run through my photos from '08 and share what I was up to the past 12 months.

More soon...

December 29, 2008

When Blogging Goes Bad

Like in all things, it's easy to stick your foot in the proverbial cow pie. Scott Kelby seems to have done this with a post mistake where he said he owned a Nikon 14-24VR such lens exists. Someone on his blog decided to be a bit ridiculous and ask if this was a lens that Nikon custom made for him.

Appears Scott decided to roll with it and go for the "yeah they did" response. Okay really, you can read about it all here.

I'm a little surprised at a few things:
1.) He'd even consider responding on a blog/forum platform in a sarcastic voice. People misinterpret words on this medium ALL the time. Seems a little irresponsible for someone this well connected to be doing.
2.) How much people really believe this guy. I mean come on people, if Scott Kelby said the sky was chartreuse, would you really believe him?
3.) That Scott Kelby hasn't turned the sky chartreuse in three easy photoshop steps and posted a tutorial about it...yet.
4.) How quickly misinformation spreads on the net: He wrote the fatal post last week on the 23rd and this Monday is telling us that Nikon has been fielding calls left and right and the blogosphere/forumverse has been going off the deep end. Seriously people, go shoot some pictures, read a book, write your own book.
5.) You mean no one else has noticed that Scott Kelby has turned the sky chartreuse!?
6.) That people are that hyped up about proving that Kelby is on Nikon's payroll and insisting he gets access to free stuff....although...I'd like to know how he got that tripod with his name engraved on it that there are only 200 made of that really only wealthy doctors can afford to own.
7.) Scott Kelby is god and the sky is chartreuse?

Really people, use your brains when reading this blog stuff...and cut the guy some slack!! He's either got a personal Starbucks barista that travels in his entourage or is mainlining crack. Between the 80 bajillion things that man has on the go he's gotta get tired and slip up on something at some point.

Kelby has his own Starbucks barista in his entourage!? Okay, now I've heard everything.

More soon...

December 22, 2008

Fine Dining Style Photography

Last week Thursday world renowned wedding photographer David Ziser wrote a post about how photographers, specifically wedding photographers of course, present their work to their clients.

His point was that too many photographers worry about quickly getting their just shot pictures up on their website so that the can quickly sell them to their clients. It's all about getting the quick turn around sale on a stack of prints and then moving on to the next event.

In the post Ziser is having a conversation with a friend about their work flow. The friend comments that: "It's not the time it takes to photograph the subject that takes up most of our time at my studio. Most of our time is spent editing the images and then creating our list suggestions for how the client might use and enjoy the photographs."

This got me thinking about customer service in general.

It's true, most bride's don't dream in wedding albums, they dream of the pictures that they see in bridal and fashion magazines. Crazy editorial setups that show them feeling and looking their best at a moment in time. So after you've determined which are the best 300 or so images to show the couple, then what.

Ziser's friend's suggestion of conducting a presentation session that shows off the couple and your work makes sense. Setup that presentation room. Set the mood, turn down the lights, offer a glass of champagne and a platter of tapas and show off their photos set to music. Then, sell them their options.

Maybe this means not showing them all 300 or so images. Maybe this means showing them the best 50 or 80 pictures of the batch in different frames at different sizes. Show them what a potential wedding album can look like in a leather bound and embossed book, or as an 8x10 framed in mahogany.

So why put in all this work in the first place?

Well, because you should, because it's what will differentiate yourself from every other photographer that's out there. Because wedding photographers are sometimes sleazier then a used car salesman, it's important to make the couple feel like they're the only client in the world that matters to you. It's very likely that they're not, but in that hour time slot they've bought into the idea of your photography and your artistic skills, so sell them on the best options you can give to enjoy what you've worked so hard on.

Caring about everything that happens after you've shot the photos is where you make your money and generate repeat patronage. Shooting and burning your images is the photographic equivalent of standing on the street corner hooking for your dollars. It takes some effort but being the high class full service photographer will bring more business and more money in the long run.

More soon...

December 19, 2008

Friday Linkings

I keep sending you off elsewhere to look at things...

1.) The worst photograph ever made was crowned today by The Online Photographer. I glanced at it quickly this morning, but it wasn't until I saw it pop up elsewhere in my readings that I realized what it was for (Lavazza Espresso) and who it was by (Annie Liebovitz). What is with this woman...she's popping up everywhere this week.

2.) The coolest photo project which took 32 years to make.

3.) The coolest photographer's website.

4.) The coolest retoucher's site.

5.) The most time spent with a wacom tablet.

6.) And just when I thought I couldn't find any more photography related links and blogs...Scott Kelby had to point me towards this site. Sigh...information freaks eat your heart out.

7.) And... Just to add to my Christmas reading list I uncovered Ronald R. Martinsen's Photography Blog and his list of books to read. Great.

I promise I'll do a proper musings type update in the next day or so. With work being nutso and Christmas arriving I'm trying to concentrate my writing efforts elsewhere right now.

More soon...

December 18, 2008

Nothing To Do With Photography

During my usual morning reads I came across an article on Champurrado, a kind of Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, brown sugar and cayenne... It sounds fantastic!

Although I live in a very asian part of Toronto I think I'm going to try and find the ingredients for this recipe:

1 3.3 oz disc of Mexican hot chocolate
1/2 cup of masa harina
2 cups of water
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (to taste)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
A pinch of cayenne

1. In a pot, place the hot chocolate disc in 1 cup of water and 2 cups of milk. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and cayenne. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted.
2. In a blender, mix the masa harina with 1 cup of water. Add the hot chocolate to the blender, and mix with the masa until smooth.
3. Return the chocolate and masa to the pan and heat on medium low, stirring occasionally until thickened. If too thick, slowly add a bit more water until it reaches your preferred consistency.


I have no idea what masa harina is nor where to get "Mexican" hot chocolate, which to me looks like a disk of cocoa, but I think on my few Christmas days off coming up I need to go on an expedition to find these items.

Anyone know of a Mexican grocery store?

More soon...

December 17, 2008

Wednesday Linkings

Wasn't really meaning to do a linking update until I saw these:

1.) Time Magazine has not surprisingly named Barack Obama as 2008's person of the year. What is surprising is how they've raided Flickr for pictures of the people's man from the people. Some really cool photos are in the Flickrverse of this man.

2.) Not only does this project have the best name ever, I think it's quite an original photo concept. Take a look at Finn O'Hara's work, but check out the site he made for this special project "I Love Your Fucking Name". To read the full story on this quickly read the Torontoist article on Finn before they disappear into net oblivion.

3.) Hmmm maybe photography isn't where I should be working on a second career...maybe, as evidenced by this, I should be a stylist for one of Annie Leibovitz' photoshoots... Except that I'd be short $778K if I did... On the other hand, I wonder how much Annie gets for these same shoots....

More soon...

Being Taken Seriously

Had a conversation today with my friend Isaac. He's just getting into this photo chimping thing and was showing me the newest camera that Pentax has released which, interestingly, is white. Yeah, you heard me...white...See? Have a look for yourself!

So our general consensus was that we're not liking the white so much, and more specifically the white with the little black's just...well...all wrong. Isaac wanted to know if other camera companies had gone white with their DSLRs ...I didn't think they had because - I reasoned - most of the other camera companies have people who want their cameras to look pro and unfortunately in this industry that means just black.

From there we got on to the conversation of looking professional and what that means ie: showing up looking like you can handle a photographic situation competently, being able to impress and please the client etc.

Now I'm just going on pure reasoning and logic here, but it seems like an industry full of creative types who have an insatiable desire to be remembered and differentiated from the others in the pack would want to have a camera that looked different from everyone else.

If Nikon offerred a bright red camera body tomorrow...I think I'd be out there trying to trade in my D80 body for the red one. Don't get me wrong, I love the blackness of my Nikon gear but it'd be fun to have something that made my camera and in turn myself stand out from the crowd.

Think of it this way. You meet a client you do a great shoot, you're personable, warm and friendly, you're efficient and they love the results you've churned out of your camera. In short, they're pleased with the entire photographic experience and by some miracle you've managed to turn it out without a hitch.

Yeah, totally unrealistic, but it's my scenario.

Lets say now that you did that entire shoot with a blood red camera. They could get their pictures done by some other photographer who has the same old boring black camera but what will they mention when they're trying to remember your name to ring you back?

"Hey Billy Bob, what was the name of that photographer with that crazy red camera?!" Yeah that's right, it's called differentiation and recall... just thought I'd toss in some marketing type buzzwords for y'all.

So seriously now, why does an industry of creative types insist on having boring black cameras? Nikon, if you're listening, it's my idea, you can have it, but the least you can do for me in payment is send me a blood red D3x, hard is that.

More soon...

Oh dear...

When art imitates life...sometimes it's not that funny.

More soon...

December 16, 2008


An SB900 was delivered to me by the photography stork last night. It is currently snuggled lovingly in my arms and is sleeping soundly. Whoever said life would change once great lighting arrived, really knows their lighting.

We are both doing well. :D

More soon...

Linking Around

Just a collection of variously interesting photography and non-photography related links for today. I should really do a proper update this week, but piles of things happening. Oh and it's almost Christmas...ACK! Still have so much shopping to do!

1.) Adorably cute cat loves him some boxes. Which must be followed up by this one.

2.) Joe McNally weighs in on the working for FREE conversation and writes the best thing I've read in a long time ...on photography. Makes you realize how passionate someone can be about taking photos.

3.) A good old What the Duck comic.

4.) An awesome commercial photo for Xbox's Fable II.

5.) The speed ring setup I'm seriously considering using thanks to David Tejada.

6.) And reading David Hobby's conversation with Rembrandt over beers makes me realize that I should be looking through all those art history books my mom has at her house. Perhaps my Christmas reading.

7.) MSNBC's Year in Pictures. It's always a well polished collection of amazing photojournalism.

8.) And my favourite photo couple (Matt Adcock and Sol Tamargo at del Sol Photography) reach their first anniversary!

December 14, 2008


Yes you read right!

That totally plastic, less than a pound camera with the made in China label and the plastic toy gold sticker on the bottom. I've had my eye on it for a while and thanks to an astute friend, lomographic goodness is now mine!!!

Shot through the first roll of medium format at my birthday party the other day and since I had a roll of Ilford lying around I figured I'd frankenstein the innards slightly and shot 35mm until I can get my hands on some more 120.

Couple the Holga with a very funky handmade camera strap from my friend out in Vancouver and Annie Leibovitz At Work and it's been a very Happy Photoday to me!

Birthmakas present arrives tomorrow and I'm crazily excited for this :)

More soon...

December 11, 2008

Hitler's Upset About the D3x's Price

Yes, it's true der Fuhrer has heard that the pricetag for Nikon's newest shutter-candy is over $10k and well...he's a weee bit upset.

Fuhrer, no one is forcing you to purchase the camera. Well okay maybe Stalin forced your hand a bit when he bought the D3 but seriously now, it's NOT the end of the world.

More soon...

Small Strobes, Big Results Workshop

Just a quick FYI to any Toronto area photographers.

David Tejada of "The f-Stops Here" is thinking of offering his Small Strobes, Big Results Workshop in the Toronto area.

Head over to his blog and leave him a note if you're interested in participating!

More soon...


To everyone for the overwhelming response to the project and yesterday's shoot results!!

As of an hour ago I already have shoots for this project lined up for January and October 2009. That means there are only 10 months of shoots left to fill!

More soon...

December 10, 2008

December's Shoot

So here it is...

The first few pictures of my Photoshoot a month project. Thanks to the beautiful and wonderfully gifted Ellen for enthusiastically agreeing to come play with me and my camera.

More soon...

Warm & Sunny

It's nice and sunny today and although still cold outdoors my office feels really warm which is nice when you're under the weather.

Found a few cool links for ya'll to check out:

1. A DIY Flash Gel Kit - So doing this at some point...although I do have coloured transparencies that I purchased from Michael's Crafts and having just bastardized my flash with velcro the other day I may just test those out first.
2. Brad Moore - ex-Joe McNally assistant and current Scott Kelby assistant shares his "I screwed up bad" story.
3. David Tejada's Basement Bounce...hmmm think I'm gonna keep this in mind for my basement studio.
4. The husband and wife team at Del Sol Photography and their blog at are huge inspirations for me. I want a cave in Mexico where I can regularly stage cool shoots like these.
5. I want me one of these.
6. And most of this reading list.
7. Cool performance art?
8. And how can I use this mouse for photography evil?

There's always cool photography stuff on the net. Don't know if I'll do this update daily, or just collect the ones that I love and share it at some point. We'll see.

Photoshoot tonight...which I can't wait for!

More soon...

December 9, 2008

Unveiling the Plan!

So for the last few weeks I've been hinting at a special project that I'm going to be working on, and well today is the day to unleash those plans on an unsuspecting world.

First, the reasoning.

Today is my 27th birthday. I'm now three years away from my goal of being a profitable photographer and for the last month I've been trying to figure out how I can improve both my portfolio and my skills. The barrier to this being a lack of actual commissioned work.

I've been doing a lot of running around shooting things as they happen in the community taking the photojournalist route of learning this craft, but it's time for me to work on my studio work. That's a little scary to state, but having tried a bunch of different things out this year, and having conversations with fellow photographers, I've come to the conclusion that: 1.) Wedding photography is not for me 2.) I don't want to be locked into a pure portrait based business either 3.) Although I love the concept of photojournalism and becoming this transient being that roams the world shooting in the face of danger...that's not me...I love some stability. 4.) Commercial photography (what you see in magazines etc) is really where I want to do my work...whether that's in fashion or commercial portraiture... ideally I want to shoot people, but I want to see my pictures in Vogue, in the fashion spreads of Vanity know...that sort of work.

So working backwards from my do I work to achieve that.... Many people do a photo a day project where they work hard to take and post a picture each and every day for a year. Yeah I tried that in the spring...didn't go so well.... Okay so there needed to be both a timeline and something that would allow me to not get caught up in the intense daily process.

Okay the plan....

Starting today and ending in 2009 on this day I'm going to do a photoshoot a month for FREE...haha NOW you see it all coming together don't you. The ideas can be suggested by people, I welcome volunteers to be my subjects, but for the most part the shoots will be my doing from concept, sourcing, planning, execution to completion and posting to this blog, my flickr account and my website that I'm working on building.

So here are the rules I'm setting out for myself:

1. One shoot a month.
2. Shoot must involve a lighting setup of some kind.
3. Shoot must be FREE and for the building of my portfolio.
4. Shoots must involve people...not necessarily "models" but
5. I must still shoot for myself a minimum of once a week.
6. I must share my successes, failures and photos with you.

There you have it! Feel free to suggest ideas for shoot themes, volunteer yourself to be in the shoot, suggest locations for shoots to happen!! Really I'm open to any possibilities that this project may present.

Next year at this time I hope to have 12 amazing shoots to look back on and yes, the project starts tomorrow. I have a shoot at 5:30 tomorrow night that is mine all mine.. I'll share pictures when they're ready!

More soon...

December 7, 2008

Just Some Pictures

Not much to say tonight. It's really cold outside (a "feels like" temperature of -22!) so I hunkered down at home for most of the day.

Ventured up to the office later in the day to deliver files to a client and shot some pics. Now enjoying some hot throat is killing me...

More soon...

December 5, 2008

Shooting for FREE

Okay, so this is a double edged topic for most photographers. Trying to balance out the idea of making money for shooting pictures and also getting the opportunity to shoot pictures in the first place by not charging money for it.

Really this comes up today because of a post on David Hobby's Strobist site. Have a read, and this post might make more sense.

For the last while I've done a lot of pondering about this interesting dichotomy and had been reading some things that helped me form my opinion....

So, here is what I think of it.

YES, it's perfectly acceptable to shoot for free. I would say this even if was pulling down major bucks to shoot on a full-time basis.

The reasons? You ask?

1. I refuse to shoot anything at a discounted rate. The rate I would charge someone for a shoot is the rate that is required for me to meet my basic costs, pay for my skills and training, the maintenance of my gear, storage of final files etc. Discounting my rate hurts me, devalues my work and devalues the industry as a whole. If I'm not going to shoot it at full value then I'll shoot it for FREE. But...

2. Shooting for FREE happens when one of two requirements is met: a.) I've created the project from scratch, b.) I feel the proposed project would otherwise not happen because the person/group is unable to pay for it and that project is worthwhile/will have added benefits down the road.

3. I'm in the process of building my portfolio and shooting what I want for that portfolio means having to come up with the ideas myself = doing it for FREE.

4. Doing things for FREE gives me opportunities that I might not otherwise get if I were to charge people for them.

5. The possibilities that can come out of me setting aside some personal time to shoot projects for FREE are endless.

All of this comes up at a very opportune moment. It makes me really happy to see that my thinking is in line with a lot of photography's heavy hitters and I feel like my plan (yes, still being vague) is right on the money.

More soon...

JS3 and Joey

Had an awesome opportunity tonight to shoot some boxing pictures for Joey and his company JS3. After tossing back and forth several e-mails this week we met tonight to shoot some pictures of him teaching boxing. I was really keyed up to do this shoot, and I'm loving the raw images that have come out of my camera. Going to work on them a little bit more this weekend, but here are some favourites so far.

Joey, thanks so much for an amazing high energy session! It was a pleasure working with you!

More soon...

December 3, 2008


Today it's become painfully obvious to me. I enjoy the taking, processing, planning, creating pictures thing way too much.

My heart is just not where I thought it was, and I think most people know that now. I know there are two places where my heart does lie...but to make that change scares me pantless.

So thought I'd share a note I sent a friend:

"I'm scared that three things are becoming painfully obvious to a lot of people:
1. My heart just isn't in this magazine thing any more.
2. I'm too distracted by photography related things.
3. I need to sell my place.

What's scarier is that if I do all of the above ...
1. How do I make my income
2. I like the lifestyle i can sorta afford right now.
3. I want to cry

So there yah have it ... a really honest glimpse at my life right now. To make matters worse I have a parent that's encouraging me to setup a studio in the family business offices and I'm not sure who in the family I can really talk to about all this. I work for them and I don't want upset/disappoint them.

It's tough.

More soon...

December 2, 2008

Shoot This Week!

So the craziness continues...

I've got a shoot lined up for this Thursday night at 9pm. Shooting a boxing training class and then doing a model shoot of people modelling a fitness clothing line. Very very cool.

It's not a paying gig, but I've decided that getting out there and shooting whatever comes my way is more important than the money that comes from it. I'd rather shoot for FREE to build my portfolio so I can start to charge what I'm worth than having to beg, borrow, and steal for people to want me to shoot them and then charge a reduced rate. My philosophy: get paid full value or not at all.

Debating on whether I hand the guy an invoice when I deliver the final images and mark it as paid to show him the value of what I do, or if I should just leave it. I'm leaning toward the marked as paid invoice.

In the mean time. I'd like to pick up at least a shoot through umbrella between now and Thursday. Unfortunately, it looks like the only time I'll have to do that is on Thursday night several hours before I do the shoot ...and that makes me a little uncomfortable. I don't want to be figuring out how to setup my new equipment on site. But I think the lighting would be softer using a shoot through than if I used my bounce umbrella. Will have to think more about this.

Later tonight I'm planning to work on editing and posting some more pictures from this past weekend's activities.

Work-Passion-Life Balance is definitely coming into play rather quickly...

More soon...

December 1, 2008


It's a funny thing this inspiration stuff.

In an artistic medium - writing or photography - you're always looking for this sort of thing. It's a constantly elusive quality. You need it to keep going from day to day and when you don't have it you're desperately trying to find more and any source to give it to you...come to think of it sounds like a fricking drug addiction!!

Well it was and amazingly cool thing to hear today that I'm an inspiration to a young budding photographer. Isaac's work is really great! He's got an awesome eye for colour, exposure and composition and I can only imagine that he'll become a photographer of note as the year's go on.

So Issac, thanks for the notes I read today! It truly brought a huge yet humbled grin to my face, and a sense of responsibility for what I do photographically. To know you enjoy my work and draw inspiration from it makes shooting all that more exciting. Keep sending me your questions! I'll keep answering.

So to all the people I'm inspired by in my photography, both those that I personally know and those I have yet to meet.. THANKS! Your work truly inspires me. It reminds me why I love taking pictures and why I'm pursuing this passion.

More soon...