March 31, 2009

Finished the McNally

As predicted I plowed through McNally's Hot Shoe Diaries like a farm hand at dinner. All important bits highlighted, every ounce of knowledge absorbed. It was a great read, but like I said yesterday, I'm a bit disappointed that I had already read most of the chapters before the book was even printed! The vast majority of chapters were blog fodder over the last five months and not just "oh the pictures and anecdotes are the same," it was VERBATIM. I know I know...I shouldn't be that hung up on it, I just was looking forward to new material that I hadn't already read. This would be true for anyone who's not a regular reader of his blog, but I am, and therein lies the problem.

I still highly recommend it for anyone in love with photography and lighting and looking for tips, info and clues as to how to become a better photographer. Although it's not like McNally says "THIS WILL MAKE YOU A PHOTOGRAPHY GOD" anywhere in his book, it's more like: "here's some things I've learned in the school of hard knocks photography that I think will make your life easier."

It's about building a knowledge base. If you're just starting out, you don't have 30+ years of photography shoot knowledge database to pull from when you go up to a situation and the weather is crap and the light is awful and you only have three minutes to get a well lit shot. I'm a big fan of learning things from those older and wiser than you, cuz if you listen you don't have to repeat their mistakes; you already know that a+b+donkey dodo = awful photo and unhappy client.

Now thankfully I get to make use of some of this photographic knowledge/inspiration. I did notice in all of McNally's stories that he uses tungsten white balance (which turns the world blue) a lot, and I've never really found the need for this. However, on Saturday night I'm scheduled to a do a shoot that I'm entitling "Locked in the Comic Bookstore" and I think it will be the perfect place to try out some tungsten white balance and some theatrical gels ala Joe McNally.

I'm looking forward to it!

More soon...

March 30, 2009

Site Down

Turns out my domain name: wasn't set to auto renew, so it appears the site was down for a few days. No worries, all is under control and the site will be back up and running by the end of today!!

Horay for auto renew!!

More soon...

March 29, 2009

And in the Land There Was Much Rejoicing

That's right! On a whim this rainy afternoon I drove over to Chapters to look for inspiration of any kind...photographic, design, good looking men...the usual stuff. Did my run through the magazine section and found about $50 worth of magazines to buy and consume. The stack wasn't that big, but it was heavy. Then browsed the photographic techniques and photography section of the store...there were some titles there that I owned already, others that I want to get but cost too darn much to justify right now and then others that will forever remain unpurchased by me: Dogs in tutus? Seriously folks! It obviously won the heart of some editorial, promo team somewhere, but ... seriously.

Then out of curiosity I wandered over to the fancy dancy mac enabled kiosks to see if a certain book by a certain National Geographic and Sports Illustrated photographer was in stock. Fully certain that it wouldn't be. I checked anyways, and to my surprise it said: 2 copies available at this location, 8 copies available nearby.


Panic then ensued. CRAP! I didn't see it in the photographic techniques section...AHHHH!!! There was another girl intently perusing that section...NOOooooooooooo She's probably got the only two copies! CRAP!!!

*walk fast walk fast walk fast*

*Search search search*

GAH!! It's not there!!! OMG! Someone has them and hasn't bought them yet!! AAAHHHHH!!!!!

*walk fast walk fast walk fast*

HOly crow where's a staffer when you need one!!!

"Uhm, excuse me, I'm looking for a book in the photographic technqiues section, your computer says there are two in stock and yet I can't seem to find them on the shelves in that section, can you help me?"

*walk fast walk fast walk fast*

*double search search search*

"AHHHH HA! Here they are tucked away in a hidden section of the photographic techniques shelves!"


*Return piles of magazines to racks*

*walk fast walk fast walk fast*

"Oh man am I so glad that you guys had two copies of this book! I've been waiting a long time to get it!'

Girl looks at me like I've got horns, warts and am speaking Swahili. I am undaunted and continue my discourse on how photographers have been waiting with baited breath for "Hot Shoe Diaries" to arrive in Canada, and that it's made my day that I've been able to find not just one copy but two.

Yeahh.... sometimes I need to keep the geeky, awkward enthusiasm in check.

So I've read to page 120 already. Highlighting the important bits, but being careful not crack the spine nor bend the pages and corners. A bit of reverrance is needed for such a book, but only a smidge.

I'm surprised to see that I've already read several of the chapters, besides the one that I pointed you all to a few weeks ago online. It seems Mr McNally err Joe, has been testing his material out on us to test drive the response to said book. Not that I mind, I love his casual conversational writing style, one that I think more writers should adopt, but it's a bit like already knowing how the massive summer blockbuster will end because someone filled you in on the details ahead of time.

Ah well, I'm just glad that I now have a copy of my own and that I don't have to wait around anymore. The hard part will be not reading through the whole book at warp speed.

More soon...

March 25, 2009

You're Kidding Me Right?

So today I did my usual morning routine of getting ready to head into the day job, which generally consists of checking the following: facebook, various work, photography and personal e-mail sites, twitter and quickly glancing at my blog reader. (Yes, all before even setting one foot on the floor).

Usually there's a lot of interesting stuff on the blog reader, some fun things/photography things on facebook, not much on twitter, lots of work email and no personal emails. So imagine my surprise when I saw two notes from two different Kijiji ads I posted back in January, inquiring if I'm a female photographer.

"Yes, I am female.


Got into the day job office and noticed there was some e-mail sitting in my personal account. It's a note from "Sweetheart" (fake name to protect the ignorant) and oh glory be, she's: "Looking to hire a female wedding photographer."

OH how lucky! I happen to be both female and a photographer! So far I'm winning!!

The wedding is in December, there are two days of festivities, and they are looking for a professional who can offer the following "styles:" candid, traditional, portrait, "fun/offbeat," and romantic. Interestiinnnnnggg....

It gets better....

My eyes bugged out at this part:

1. Before agreeing to any contracts we must meet the actual photographer and see a portfolio of their work which must include proofs from at least one entire wedding, as well as your portfolio of "best shots."
Okaayyyyy.... a bit strange on the "proofs from at least one entire wedding" thing, but fairly standard otherwise.

2. We will not purchase any photo/print/album packages upfront before we receive our photos.
Again, okayyyyyyyy..... we have a cautious couple who aren't wanting to spend the $ on crappy pictures.... why are you hiring a "professional" if you're putting in this condition? You should be able to predict the results you'll be getting since you'll have seen the proofs from AT LEAST one entire wedding that I've shot and my "BEST SHOT" portfolio!!

3. We require a CD with high-resolution images of ALL photos taken including any "retouched" photos.
WhAT!? You want every single image? Including the "I'm checking the light levels and blinkies" shots? wHAt!? You want to remember the giant pimple you had on the tip of your nose that suddenly appeared on the morning of your wedding and then see how good you looked after I healing brushed it out!? WAHT!? You think you're going to tell me you don't want any advance print packages but you want a disk with ALL retouched and raw images and I'm not going to realize that what you're doing is taking the final ones to WalMart or Costco to get .30 cent prints of your most precious memories?!

4. We do not need our photos arranged in albums or framed. After our wedding, we plan to order prints and albums at which point we would be happy to discuss these items with you.
UHhhhhhhh...Seriously, do you think I'm THAT much of an idiot?! See response to "Term" 3.

5. The wedding pictures taken during the first event cannot be shared with others or be part of the photographers portfolio due to a religious accomodation request (These pictures are specific to the bride but others may be used.)
Okay, fair enough, you have a religious custom that needs to be adhered to...I get that, no pictures of the bride at the first event in my portfolio...not a problem.

Sweethearts e-mail then proceeds to tell me how they are holding a very large wedding and that they "hope to share our special day with a photographer who is flexible, easy to work with, has a good personality and a sense of humour." Yeah alright I get it....but can I write up "TERMS" that require my bride, groom and wedding party to be flexible, easy to work with, and not require me to do the following?

"HOW TO APPLY" (uhhhh did I find you or did you find me? This isn't Workopolis or Monster people)

Please apply through email with information on your experience/work, website, or resume (say what? June 2, 2006 - Smitherman Wedding, June 31st, 2006 - Johnson Wedding.... are you gonna ask for their names, addresses, phone numbers for references and then my SIN for a credit check?)

Please also include the BEST RATES (their emphasis) that you are able to offer us as we would like to narrow it down to a few photographers that we are interested in considering.

Thank You

Sweetheart and Prince

NOOOOoooo!!! THANK YOU! For providing me my first taste of wedding photography hilarity/ridiculousness.

I considered "applying" for this wedding. Really, truly, I did. I considered how nice it would be to purchase a D700 and a 200 f2 and how fun it would be to have some interesting photos for my portfolio. Got home tonight, sat down and read over the e-mail again. Highlighted the important bits, wrote in pencil my questions/concerns and what a potential response might be. Thought about that D700 and 200 f2 again...reallllly thought about it... and then went. NAHHHHHHHH FORGET IT!! I don't want the hassle, aggravation, pain, exhaustion, negotiation and probably an unpaid bill.

I am still considering sending Sweetheart and Prince a polite e-mail stating what my rates would be and that I would be unable to give them ALL of my pictures without them paying a large fee for that exclusive privilege.

Sorry, Sweetheart and Prince, someone else may be desperate enough that you'll pay them the price of a point and shoot from WalMart, but it's not me. I value my time, and abilities more than that.

More soon...

March 24, 2009

Crazy Hectic Weekend!

I had a crazy weekend but it was so much fun. In fact it was so much fun I can't even tell you what I did on Friday night!

Which probably means I did the responsible thing and got several full hours of sleep. Had some familial obligations Saturday morning but then the rest of the weekend was devoted to my only love right now: photography.


Took my D80 (Linda...Evangelista...yes it has a name) into Vistek, my favourite camera shop, downtown TO and had her sensor cleaned. Bought the much coveted Lastolite TriGrip Sunlight/Silver 75cm reflector cuz I had some extra cash even though I shoulda been good and saved that.

Met up with a friend and grabbed a coffee before they headed off to work, and the conversation was of course about photography. Specifically Man Ray and his 30s fetishist fashion photography and various other things that were probably a good conversation at the time but I can't recall in detail now. Took it easy and headed home to prep, plan and pack for a morning portrait session in Mississauga for a healthy sized family gathering.

Sunday, headed to former stomping grounds in Mississauga. It's always weird to return to places you used to spend a lot of time in and see how much it has or hasn't changed since the last time you were there. Safe to say there's NOTHING new in that part of town.

Did the setup and shot a few hundred pictures in about an hour for the family.

Everyone was lovely and the grandchildren were so curious and intrigued by the camera gear. It was OODles of fun! Just another quick favourite from that shoot:

Okay fine and another one:

Packed up from that shoot and headed downtown. Ended up waiting around for my friend to come back from a walk-in clinic, which suited me just fine, got to wander Toronto's Harbourfront area and shoot whatever came my way. Always such and enjoyable and interesting thing to do. I need to make this more of a habit. Pick a section of the city, define the streets that will confine my wandering and just wander there and shoot shoot shoot... Sounds like a wonderful summer time activity!!

I'll post the pictures from Sunday afternoon's wandering later...had to get the important client pictures up before the sniping for pleasure ones!!

March 20, 2009

Pimp My McNally - Failed Attempt 1

This afternoon I called a well known business and office depot in Canada. They have a copy centre attached to many of these places, and so inquired about the cost and time needed to pimp my McNally.

Cutting the current spine off Moment It Clicks will cost $1. NICE! So then I asked how much it would cost for rebinding it with nice coil binding. The girl on the phone then proceeded to inform me that they are not allowed to destroy, mangle, repackage or "republish" copyrighted material in Canada. It's against Canadian Copyright law. Sigh.

If it was uncopyrighted material, they would then be able to do the cutting and rebinding. This doesn't make sense because copyright is assigned to the creator from the moment the work is created and therefore ALL publishable, reproducible material in Canada is considered copyrighted. I can print the entire contents of my blog and that is deemed to have a copyright assigned by me and to me.

So not sure how to find away around this. Perhaps I will try a different printing centre that starts with a "K" and rhymes with Gringos.

March 19, 2009

Step in Front of the Lens

Last night Mike, a photography friend of mine, did a fashion photoshoot with ME as the subject. He's in a portfolio building phase right now, and I was in the need for some fashion type photos of myself: works perfectly doesn't it!?

Sunday we were out for a bite and ended up finding this crazy scandalous dress that I typically wouldn't wear on any "normal" occasion. Lets just say the back is pretty much non-existant..well actually the whole dress is pretty non-existant...

Mike picked the Humber River Bridge downtown Toronto as the shooting locale, which I didn't tell him was the first place I went to take pictures last year at this time (I realized I was hooked on fotographie here). I have a black and white picture from that day that has remained my desktop picture ever since. So yeah, cool synergy with that location ... ;)

Anyways, the point of all this is that it was SO MUCH FUN! to be in front of the camera for a change. I've done the in front of a camera thing with a few other people before, but at this one I felt the most at ease.

A HUGE credit goes to Mike for this. He's the sort who keeps a cool head while paying attention to detail, but it was neat to see him working with subjects giving direction and pointing out things like needing to bend a leg more, or point a toe more, or where to focus your eyes. Even when the wind and a large piece of fabric knocked over one of his light stands (the light survived) he kept it together (I believe my response was "OH SHIT!").

It was great seeing how another photographer works, and handles "clients." Giving direction and feedback to the subject is always one of the toughest challenges for a photographer and he did all of this marvelously! I'm incredibly impressed with the quality of his work, I always have been, but after last night's shoot that has grown exponentially.

If you want to check more of this talented guy's stuff out you can find him overhere at: Mike Campbell Photography and you can also follow him on his blog at: Mike C Photos

Mike you're an amazing photographer! Keep studying, practicing, shooting and doing what I know you really truly love...oh and get your website up already!

March 17, 2009

Pimp My McNally

Just read on PixSylated's blog that he got word that The Hot Shoe Diaries are shipping via Amazon. This means I can hopefully get my non-Amazoned (I prefer a Boreal Forest anyways) McNally in hopefully a week or two!

The other thing I read on Syl's blog is how to Pimp My McNally.

Done and offence Mr McNally but Syl's got a point, a perfect bound copy of the world's currently best written photography book (only to be ousted by the coming Hot Shoe Diaries) is entirely useless.

I'm pimping my McNally... aren't you?


Warning the premise for this post stems from a friggin Facebook quiz:

So I'm sitting at home tonight. Thinking about life and where I'm at in it.

Earlier today I took this aforementioned Facebook quiz about the best place for me to live. (It's apparently Italy...not complaining). One of the questions in it is how would my friends best describe me. So naturally I turned to a close friend and asked them which of the words described me. They broke the rules and combined two of the words from different categories: Driven and Down to Earth.

Down to earth I'm not surprised by, but what did surprise me was their response of "Driven." I've never seen myself as being driven, I always feel a day late and a buck short; always behind in the game of life and maybe that's actually part of being driven, you always feel like you're playing catch up.

True I have goals and ambitions and I'm working on achieving those goals and ambitions, but as I sat at home tonight and thinking about life, I realized that maybe I've been a bit to "driven" in the last several months. Here I am doggedly pursuing this photography thing, and to what end?

This weekend at the shoot I did, Jim asked me what I hoped to do with my photography. I think I gave an answer about how I want to do portrait work and I enjoy meeting new people and I'm outgoing and a good conversationalist and so it's a natural combination.

I also think I mentioned how down the road I'd like to see my portrait/commercial work fund my photojournalistic ambitions: travel the world and document all of its triumphs, injustices, inhumanities, victories and defeats. Not necessarily in a war torn, bedraggled photojournalistic way, but not in the "I've-got-my-whole-studio-in-the-Land-Rover" National Geographic sort of way either. I want to show people doing the everyday...commuting to work, at work, at play, at home, doing what billions of other people around the world do every day; live.

The part that concerns me about this "driveness" is that I hope I don't drive others away. At the start of February I went on a date with a great guy and several days later told him that I couldn't devote the proper time to going on further dates with him and working on photography, while meeting the demands of my real full-time job, and the time I devote to my friends and other commitments. Then it was the truth. It still is. But.. there's always a but.

There have been some things happening in the last few weeks that are causing me to look at this. One of them involves my friend who said I am "driven." This friend in the span of almost two years has become like my right arm. We are the two amigos.

They have been as much a part of my daily life as the oxygen I need to keep living. They're the one who keeps me going photographically, who inspires me to keep picking up the camera, who can make me smile when I'm down (and there have been some real lows in the last month) and whom I'm afraid sometimes shares my brain.

This dear friend has met someone who seems to make them giddily butterfly filled happy. They're infatuated and I'm happy for them, because they deserve that and more. The tough part is that what I've been fearing would happen is happening and it feels like I'm losing my right arm and my oxygen at the same time. It sucks.

I know my friend is driven photographically, but I'm jealous. Jealous that I felt that I had to give up on dating someone to be driven photographically and in what I want to do, and jealous that they don't feel that way; jealous that we can't remain the two amigos; jealous that time can be more easily divided or devoted to other things, and annoyed that I feel like I'm competing for my friend with someone who sounds so fantastic.

So back to my life and where I'm at tonight. I don't know.

Last week was a hectic one in my life. Some debts were consolidated, I started a new car lease and I was given a clean bill of health in a situation that had me incredibly low and feeling very alone for almost a month.

As I look forward there are amazing and very exciting things coming my way, but it feels like I can only be successful at one aspect of my life at a time. I'm thankful for what I have, I'm thankful for where I am today but I don't want to have to choose between being photographically/career/work successful and relationship successful. I want to work at one and have the other come easy and I know that both require work.

I think my health experience in the last month has opened my eyes to what is really important to me. A different friend said at the start of that journey that this would be a catalyzing moment for me, and I think they're right.

Oh btw, the song that goes perfectly with this stream of consciousness is Kanye's "Welcome to Heartbreak"

March 15, 2009

March Shoot - Sarah and Jim

Had the good fortune of driving out to Brantford yesterday and shooting pictures of Sarah and Jim who quickly volunteered for my photo-shoot-a-month project when I announced it back in December.

I know Sarah from my teenage years at camp, she was our crazy, lovable, hilarious Sarah C. It was great to see that she has not changed at all...she now corrals much younger children who do many more stupid things than I think anyone in our counseling group ever did... but her youthful, vibrance is the same as ever.

On the same branch of thought, it was awesome to meet Jim, the mister Sarah picked from the pack! He knows exactly how to get Sarah to crack a smile (not that's a difficult feat); lots and lots of tickles :D

Anyways, enough! Here are some of their photos:

March 13, 2009

Happy Cameraversary!

Bought my D80 slightly more than a year ago! It's awesome to think how much I've learned and improved in 365 days. To think that a year ago I had no idea about apertures, exposures, lighting ratios or how to use a light meter...seems a little insane now. I'll post my first D80 photo sometime this weekend. It makes me chuckle now :D


It's funny what you discover when you google [your name + photography]. (Can you tell I was a little bored tonight and at the same time not sleepy enough for sleeps?)

A few things:

Mark Wallace over at his blog SnapFactory posted my twitter contribution
BlogTO came up with my photo in their article "Digging for Underground Supper Clubs in Toronto."

Also... I've made a lot of comments on a lot of photography blogs using my real name. Don't know if that's a good or bad's a little weird to see how unique my name is (guess that's also a really great thing!)

March 12, 2009

An Event to Remember Blogdux

Meghan over at An Event To Remember posted a thanks to me for some photos I took of her preparations for a baby shower back in February. Just reciprocating the THANKS!

Sounds like she's going to be a busy gal in late May and June!

The website I shot some photos for in December and early January is up and running and looking fantastic!

Was at the launch party for Joey's company and website.

It was a fun night and cool to see Joey's network of friends and family all there to support him on his new endeavour. Not to mention the mini quiches were delicious and I discovered a new favourite snack: pretzels and french onion dip... yeah give it a try. I dare you to tell me it's not your new favourite snack.


So I realize that in the world of photography I am a n00b. I have not been shooting that long, and have not been studying it that long either.

At this point I am working with 1% experience, 8% luck, maybe 2% skill and 89% sheer determination. This equation changes daily based on a bunch of other factors like: mood, what I'm shooting, how prepared I am, how relaxed I am, whether I'm having a confident day...blah blah blah.

The thing I've noticed watching all you pros is that you're doing a heck of a lot of other work during your shoots: video crews to film production and shoots, tweeting about the shoot as it happens, blogging about the shoot both before, during and after it happens, shooting instructional videos...blah blah blah blah.. I know. It's all about hype. It's all about marketing and branding YOU the photographer, but seriously folks what about KISS.

In the age of "AH MY GAWD THE MARKETS ARE FALLING" chicken littles, cut back the production scales and the production hype. What, are you afraid your photos won't stand up on their own? Are you afraid that you're only as big as how much you hype yourself? Are you afraid they're gonna forget about you?

If what you're shooting is good, relevant, worthwhile, and in demand, the simple act of shooting, and delivering an honest photo should be enough.

I took a bit of a step away from my blog for a bit to sort out some personal issues, but I also stepped away from this crazy cycle of shooting, reading about shooting, thinking about shooting, blogging about shooting and getting myself worked up about it all. I'm working at building a portfolio and a name for myself, and yeah I think about photography a lot, more than a lot of other people I know who have been shooting for longer than I have, but a bit perspective and time away helps.

I have a shoot this weekend. It will be interesting to see what comes of it. I'm just waking up from a personal fog that I've been in since early to mid-February and now that my head has cleared of a lot of junk I'm hoping that I see what I like on Saturday night. So tomorrow I'll start my process of shoot prep: charging batteries, loading the fresh film, cleaning the gear, packing bags, and finding inspiration. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best way to go.