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Monday, 7 October 2013

When Shooting becomes overwhelming

Ever notice how often life gets overwhelming. I would like to give you a quick example of what a week for me looked like this past summer. I don't do this to complain, actually the opposite is true, we all get busy but when you are doing something you love it just doesn't seem that bad. So sit back read about a week in late August and next week we will get back to our tutorial on using your camera in manual.

DAY 1

 It started on a Thursday when just after 10 AM my cell phoned chirped an appointment alert. Now I wasn't that stressed about it cause anything important I give myself a 24 hour and 1 hour alert, so imagine my surprise when I checked it and discovered I had to be on location for a filming shoot for a pilot local cable TV show. No camera equipment in my vehicle I had to race home load up and head to the location arriving a mere 10 minutes late, which I blamed on traffic. We filmed all day and then I took my wife to YUK YUKS comedy club that evening for an entertaining time with friends.

 Day starts at 7:00 AM ends 2:00 AM

DAY 2

Now my day did start a little slower as I didn't have to do anything till 10 AM so slept in till 9. Then it's time to hit the computer and start work on the film that was shot Thursday.

At about noon I decided, all beit late and not smart, that the volunteer t shirt I would be wearing on Sunday shooting Chilliwacks Flight Fest should have my LOGO on it. Now if you have read earlier posts you may have seen the one about LOGOs and how important I think they are, well I also said that you should have professionals do that work and shirt logos are no different. I did not follow my own advise and due to the lateness of the hour I decided to go with an iron on printed at home. I couldn't find any iron ons in clear only white so the shirt did not turn out as nice as I had hoped but I learned from this mistake and will change things in the future.

That night I had the opportunity to shoot KAT at Party in the Park, a local Chilliwack festival. Now this girl is amazing. I have shot her in the past and love being involved in her career. She won EMI & MOA record recording contract 2012. She has been featured on Jan Arden's Being Jan  and continues writing and recording her own flavor of music. Look her up on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. I was home about 9 and had to work the photos for her social sites that night. Post production done at 2 AM sent via WeTransfer to her manager. Off to bed.

 Day starts 9:00AM ends 2:30AM

Day 3

Preparation for Friday nights Hangar dance shoot and following airshow shoot. Now if you've never been to the Chilliwack Flight-fest hangar dance and dinner you are missing something amazing. The food is incredible with a full steak dinner with baked potato and Chilliwack grown corn on the cob. After the dinner there is an evening mini performance by some of the performers flying the next day. Shoot into the evening, have a few beverages, home late , do post on photos that are needed for the next day bed.

 Day starts 8:00 Am ends 2:00AM

Day 4

Start the day shooting the Flight-fest volunteers setting up for the day. A pancake breakfast for the community and then on with the show. Now this is my second year covering the event and it is a true honor to be the exclusive photographer for the event. Between B25 Mitchel bomber, spitfire, wing walker and stunt planes this was a photographers dream. The weather was amazing and the photo ops even more so.






Day starts at 6:30 AM ends 10:00pm

Now comes all the editing and when you shoot that many venues in that short a period of time it is very critical to get the best from your manual settings as you can so there is very little editing to be done. By Thursday, and after working at my other full time job 36 hours, my editing is done and all photos are in the hands of the clients. They are happy. I am happy. Now onto a new photographic day.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Learning to Shoot in Manual: Photography tutorials (Part Two) Exposure triangle









Here it is. The secret to shooting in full manual mode. Three little words, ISO, Aperture,Shutter. When you understand these 3 elements you will achieve optimal exposure.




So let's break it down. Shutter, most of you probably know, is how fast or slow the opening inside the camera opens and closes.When you press the button, known as the shutter button it causes the sensor inside your camera to be exposed to light. If you use very high shutter speeds then it will freeze action whereas if you use slower shutter speeds it creates more blur or softer images. Now why in the world do you want blurry images you ask, or you might say "that's why I'm looking at your blog because most of my pictures are blurry", there is a difference between out of focus and blur. If you look at a photo and everything is blurred then chances are it is either out of focus or you were shaking the camera. When things are creatively blurred then  most of the photo will be sharp, but a section will have blur to suggest movement or speed or softness.




Looking at this photo on the left you see how crisp all the details are except the bus. This is a great example of creative blur. It gives the feeling of motion and speed and the subject is clearly defined with composition (rule of thirds, more on that later) and the crispness of everything else in the frame.








Other examples of longer shutter speeds would be water that looks like mist, or light trails as shown on the right.




Now you cannot just alter the shutter speed alone. If you increase the length of shutter speed like I did, to capture these effects, your photo will come out like a white piece of paper, perhaps with some grey shadows here and there. The reason for this is because there was light coming into the camera for too long and your sensor was filled with light particles. A very good analogy is to imagine the sensor on your camera is a platform covered in buckets, you want your buckets to be filled just to the top. Overfill, and your buckets will leak water everywhere and wash out your photo. Don't fill the buckets enough and your photo won't have enough light and things will be dark to black. So how do you get the buckets filled when changing your shutter speeds so the buckets are filled to jut the right level. That's the other parts of the triangle.

Adjusting aperture gives you the ability to lengthen or shorten shutter speed based on need. Your aperture controls the size of the opening through your lens and therefore the amount of light that is allowed in. Now what is somewhat confusing is that the lower the aperture value, f1.2, f1.8, f2.0 the larger the opening in the glass. Lenses with a lower number f stop such as these are referred to as fast glass, because you can shoot at much faster shutter speeds in lower lighting conditions. If you increase the aperture number to f12, f18, or in the case of the photo above left f22 and on the right f9, you can then slow the shutter speed down considerably because the opening is so small the shutter needs to be opened longer to fill the buckets on our sensor.

Is that the only purpose of aperture, to control the speed of your shutter, of course not. If it was then photography would be much easier and everybody would take breathtaking photos every time. The other purpose to decreasing or increasing your aperture is to create back and foreground softness. If you look at the photo below you can see that just the main subject is in focus and everything behind begins to become softer and out of focus. 



This is one of those creative styles used in photography and especially portrait photos. If you  shoot landscapes or broader subjects where you want everything in focus then using a higher f stop will provide greater focus. These shallow and great focuses are what are referred to as depth of field. A shallow DOF is simply very little area in focus along one distance from the camera. Take for example the the photo above, the focus point on the subject is x feet away and everything in the photo that is that x distance away is in focus and everything else is not. Now look at the photo below, everything in this photo appears to be in focus and will so even if enlarged and that my friends is the simple truth of shallow vs. broad depth of field.



                              

Now to be fair there are other ways to change depth of field using different lenses, prime vs. telephoto, but lets leave that subject for another day. For now I want you to go out and play with your depth of field and shutter speeds. You will discover that one is reflective of the other and both need to be in harmony to achieve a good exposure.

Oh wait what about the third part of the triangle, ISO. Well I think I will leave that to the next post as you have more than enough to chew on for now. ISO while important is not quite as difficult to understand as these other two and once you grasp shutter and aperture ISO will fall quietly into place. So till next time keep playing keep creating and have fun














Sunday, 22 September 2013

Learning to Shoot in Manual: Photography tutorials (Part One)

When I began shooting, as a small child, I was fortunate enough to have a great teacher to show me the ropes on a SLR camera. My Grandmother was a shutterbug in her day and had a very nice Olympus which she carried around to all the family reunions and trips she took. When she got on in years and was no longer able to get out with the frequency she wanted she allowed me to continue using that camera which I did right up to just over a year ago. When I made the switch to digital I transferred the camera strap from her camera to my new DSLR and now every shot I take I feel like a part of her is instilled in the picture.

Anyway I reminisce, The point I was going to make was although even then point and shoot cameras existed, Polaroid, Kodak, and a variety of others, I always shot on a SLR. The difference though is that those SLRs did not have an auto function at all, also the price for failure was somewhat expensive. After my Grandmother passed on and before I purchased my DSLR I equipped and used my own darkroom which helped cut some of the costs, but still it was quite pricey to make a mistake. That my friends is the beauty of the digital age. You can make mistakes and it costs you no more than time.

So I guess my question to you is why are you still using your camera in auto mode. You don't have to, going full manual is fun, exciting, and will feed a side of you just begging to be born. Now I'm not saying to turn off auto and never go back, if you are shooting something very important and you don't fully understand manual, stay in auto then when you have time to explore and practise go back to manual.

In this blog series I will endeavour to take you on a journey of exploration and excitement. We will together have moments of joy, at getting that perfect shot. Moments of frustration, trying to get that perfect shot. Finally moments of anguish when we entirely miss that perfect shot, but in the end we will grow and learn from each other.

So grab you camera lets go and make some mistakes. I promise the experience will be rewarding and you will feel that same sense of accomplishment all photographers get when they get that perfect shot.

The first step is of course getting your camera into manual. Now you don't necessarily have to have an SLR it's just that I do, many cameras today have manual or semi manual modes, it's just a question of finding it on yours. You can check your cameras manual, if you still have it, or look at the top of your camera. All DSLR have a button on them with different "modes" M being manual.




You can see all the different modes in the picture to the side. We will look at these modes in depth as we go but for now I just want you to locate manual mode. Remember that this is the first step to opening yourself up to a whole new side of creative photography so make the switch and without doing any thing else take some pictures.Leave your camera lens in auto focus and just shoot. What do you see? The odds are nothing, very few of you might see some sort of picture but most will either see nothing but black or white but certainly not what they shot. You see there are a few settings you must adjust to get the picture you want.




You see what your camera used to do on it's own in auto was adjust 3 variables that you as a photographer needs to become intimate with. They are ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed. This is known as the photographic triangle. each of these plays off the other and none can be ignored or the photo just won't turn out.

For now just keep in mind that each of these three elements go hand in hand, I will explain them each in depth, but for now put your camera back in auto and look at the settings when you take a picture. From there, looking at your cameras manual, figure out how to adjust each of these settings. Don't hesitate to play around in manual mode change your aperture, change your shutter speed just watch the exposure indicator to ensure that a proper exposure is being met. If you don't know where the exposure indicator is then please open up the owners manual and read through it, things will be clearer as we progress through this series.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Destination Photography: Westin Bayshore, Vancouver














What a spectacular weekend!

Continuing from Friday's blog about shooting video, my wife and I attended a wedding this last weekend in Vancouver and stayed at the Westin Bayshore Inn. What an experience. The service, the comfort, the views ... incredible. You can see one of the shots I took of the area above. Is that not breathtaking?

Arriving somewhat early to video the guests arriving and the venue before the shindig got started, I felt the first stop should be to introduce myself to the photographer who was hired for the wedding. As he watched me approach (with two camera bags, lighting bag, tripods) you could see apprehension in his eyes about this "presumptuous guest" being his worst nightmare. Photographers are largely lone wolves; they might not mind working with another photographer at times, but to have a guest show up with a pile of equipment usually translates into another obstacle that needs to be navigated.

I quickly explained to him I was very close friends with the bride, and that I was here to video her wedding for her elderly grandmother. This did not change the look on his face, but my next question did.

"Where can I be so I won't impede any of your photographs?"

That, my friends, was the key. This man and his assistants have a very difficult job to do and every guest on that boat has their own special way of becoming irritating to the wedding photographer. It was an obvious relief to him that I was willing to work around him, rather than getting in his way.


I took special effort to ensure my equipment was always out of the way and not impeding on any of the shots he was taking. Towards the end of the ceremony, he and I had some time for a bit of a chat. He went through some of the stills that I took and gave some great feedback on them. One he liked in particular was this, taken at full dusk.

Keep this in mind when you are a guest or at a venue you have not been hired at. Introduce yourself, be courteous to the staff photographer, stay out of the way, and maybe you will get some gems the way I did. If you stay out of their way, they're more likely to let you get your shots after they're finished, and everyone is more likely to have a good time. It's a matter of respect, and who knows -- maybe one day the tables will be turned and you will be the staff photographer wishing that everyone would stay out of your way.

Now I can't let this blog end without explaining the full experience of staying at this grand hotel so please read on.

I booked our room about six weeks ago and speaking to the staff on the phone left me feeling that I would be enjoying a very luxurious weekend at their hotel. There were a variety of packages available and they patiently walked me through each one that interested me explaining the perks and pitfalls of each one. They were not hesitant about explaining where one package fell short or another shined based on the needs of my wife and I. Even after I had booked the room, which was a non-refundable discount, they had no problems exploring my options when I thought I had to cancel (which, luckily, I didn't). One issue that did arise was the request for corporate discount, which the staff suggested was very difficult to qualify for, seems reserved for large corporations not small business people. Some places are more welcoming of small business owners and require only a business card or other proof that you do, in fact, run a business. Unfortunately Westin Bayshore wasn't one of them, but it's not anything I was going to sweat about.

We arrived about two-and-a-half hours before check-in time, and they allowed us entry to our room which was ready without an early check-in pricing. A bellhop was assigned right away to take us and our luggage, including a formidable amount of video gear, to our room and our vehicle was taken by valet parking. En route to our room, our bellhop explained many of the features of the hotel, some of which I immediately pegged as opportunities to get some shots of Vancouver. There was a beautiful dining area overlooking the harbour of Vancouver, an exercise/fitness centre open 24 hours, indoor and outdoor pools, spa, coffee shop, and the list goes on.

In our room we were delighted with the spaciousness of it all. A stylistic tile bathroom with more than enough space for you and your travelling partner to spread out all your hair face and beauty needs. A tile and glass rainshower to  relax your fatigued muscles from the trip in and freshen up. Sitting and office area are combined with large flat screen TV and high speed wired and wireless internet. Finally, (and I leave the best for last) the most comfortable, relaxing, enveloping bed I have ever slept on in my entire life.

This bed is so comfortable that it requires its own paragraph. When I check in to a hotel I usually will flop down on the bed just to see how it feels. I am so thankful I was already dressed for the wedding my wife and I were attending because if I had of flopped onto this gem I may not have made the wedding. It is hard to describe just how this bed seems to wrap around you, as you lay under the comforter. It's not that it was an overly soft bed, which tend to be hard on your back if you sleep in them, but it just seemed to provide support all around you in just the right amount of resistance. In a nut shell this was the best bed I have ever slept on and I thought it didn't get any better than home.

I would strongly suggest if you are looking for an exceptional getaway, where you are pampered, truly looked after and made to feel like the most important client ever, stay at the Westin Bayshore Vancouver. It was a relief to check into a hotel that took care of the little details and had everything I needed nearby, so that I could focus on the wedding and on getting some leisure shots in my spare time.

Normally a photographer would end this piece with the bride and groom, but that's normal instead I would like to leave you with this photo of the bride and her new niece, and the reminder that special moments can happen any time, so just pick up the camera and see what you capture.


Friday, 30 August 2013

Shooting Video: Should You?

Now for something completely different: I am tasked this weekend with recording a good friend's wedding. Now, I have shot some pretty successful videos; however, I have never shot a wedding. A wedding is the single most important day in a woman's life and I am honoured to be a part of that. But should I shoot this? Well, when the chips are down, as they say: shoot away.

Recently, I read that for the first wedding to shoot, you really shouldn't take point. This is superb advice: you should never be solely responsible for the memories of this special occasion as a first timer; try to be an assistant or just help cover some less important aspects of the day.

With these tips in mind, you may ask why I'm so willing to put myself out there on a special day and on such short notice. There are a few reasons: The person I am doing it for has a photographer already hired and it is that person who will be responsible for the memories of the day. Secondly, I am very close to this person and all she wanted from me is to film her vows. Sadly, her grandmother isn't able to attend due to health reasons and both parties desperately want to be together. That is probably the biggest reason I have agreed. In these circumstances, everything is pretty well-covered, and I should be able to video the vows no problem, since it's a straight-forward shot.

When I was tasked to take care of this special event I hit the internet to find as many articles as possible to augment what I already knew about videography. This includes shooting style, equipment needed, and all other aspects of shooting a video (versus photographs, which is where my expertise lies).

Today is the day before the event, and I have begged, borrowed, and purchased the extra equipment I need. This includes a pan-head tripod, second and third body, lots of fast memory cards, lenses, and a suit.

But if all she wants is a little video of the vows, why all the fuss? I have very often blogged about the client being in charge, and they are, but for this example I have a good friend who invited me as a guest and doesn't want to impose on me to work during what is supposed to be a fun occasion for all. I, however, am at odds with my creative self and want to produce the best video of my career, so will go out of my way to provide a professional level movie of her special day.

As the countdown is on I will cut this short, but I will write next week with how things went and possible post a short excerpt of the final movie.

Feel free to comment about experiences you have had shooting outside of your comfort zone -- we can all do with a little advice!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Photography, Down and Dirty

Get your mind out of the gutter! The down and dirty of photography is really all about how we photographers kneel, crawl, hike, climb, and really get into all sorts of nasty positions just for that one great shot.

We see photos everyday that are taken at the same old boring run-of-the-mill position. Subject standing, probably a little sideways to the camera, Photographer standing at eye level with the subject. Boring!

How about doing something a little different, like getting above your subject?

Take a look at these two examples and see how dramatically the mood changes just with viewpoint alone. The photo to the left (a straight-on shot) is just your average snap shot, but the photo to the right (taken from above, as my sore and craning neck will gladly tell you) relays more emotion and energy.









That's above, but why not also try tackling a subject from below?


This baby portrait shot was taken with me flat on my back while the child was flown over me by an uncle. Great family memory.











Finally here's a shot one of my bemused family members snapped of me while I was setting up to shoot an exhibit at Hell's Gate. It's not an attractive view of me but that's why I'm a photographer and not a model. More importantly, I got exactly the shot I was looking for, and it's probably not one that the thousands of other visitors took away from the same exhibit.




The result was great -- although it's worth noting that I was only able to, ahem, spread out because I was there early in the day. I encourage you to to take up any weird position necessary to get a shot, but make sure you're not a nuisance to any one else trying to see the same sights!


There is more to shooting pictures than standing and firing off hundreds of frames. You need to be ready to get down and dirty with your photography. Seize the moment, and don't worry about looking like an idiot. You'll have the last laugh when everyone wishes they thought to take the photo you were sweating for.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Bit of a Guide to Photo Restoration

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine was lamenting that she had a damaged photo, and that she could not find anyone to restore it. One of the people she was talking to suggested talking to me, and I found myself taking on a new and interesting project. 

Usually I like to suggest locations for photographs, or talk about how to get that special shot, but sometimes the work you put into a photo after the fact is just as important. That being said, I believe that the more careful you are creating and composing your original shot the better the quality and the less post production you need to do. For the most part I use Lightroom for a bit of white balance correction, perhaps a bit of crop. If I think the exposure is a bit off, I might play by a stop or two. I can do the basic functions, and I have fun fiddling with the levels (sometimes with surprisingly neat results), but Photoshop is not a strength of mine by any means. When she asked me to take a look at the damaged photo, I was a little hesitant but also excited to try out old tools in a new way.

The first thing I have to note about taking on a restoration project, however, is to be completely frank about your expectations. I was up front and said I would give it a shot, but could not guarantee the final output quality. Thanks to Photoshop, Even if you're attempting to restore a photo for the first time, at least there's no chance of harming the original.


A few days after accepting the job, this is the photo I received.

This is a Polaroid photo of her children who I believe are in their early 30s now, making this Polaroid over 25 years old. It is sun-bleached, where it sat in some sort of frame, and has burn holes and stains embedded into it. As soon as I saw it, I understood why no other restoration place was willing to take this on, but because of the working relationship I had with the client, and since I'd already stressed to her that there were no promises about the result, I thought I would give it a whirl.

The first thing I did is scan at 2400 DPI (the highest setting on my scanner) to create as much information on the photo as I could and smooth out some grain, then the work began. I did a quick crop to get rid of the boarders, including the darker sides, did a lot of colour correction and dodge and burn to change exposure in specific areas. Finally, I super enlarged the photo to use the clone tool to "heal" some areas by replacing damaged areas with a similar colour from nearby healthy areas on a pixel by pixel basis. 


This image was the result. Not so bad, now, is it?

I am sure there are Photoshop artists out there who could have re-conditioned the entire photo, but even though this way is not perfect, it still has that early 70s Polaroid.

Scanning the original at such a high resolution and healing with a pixel by pixel process also meant that I was able to enlarge the original, so the client was able to print out a larger version as a 4x5.
After delivery, the owner of the photo was in tears. She couldn't believe that the photo, which was so dear to her, was brought back to this type of quality. I didn't have the heart to tell her the reason no other photo refinisher/restorer would touch it was because she wouldn't have wanted to pay for the nearly 14 hours of work that this photo took; it probably would have cost her several hundred dollars.

But part of being a part-time photo geek means that I have the time to fool around with projects like this when it suits me, without worrying about putting bread on the table. This project does give a good example of how much you can do in restoration work. 

Do you have a restoration project you would like to share? Leave a link in the comments below! I would love to see what others are up to and maybe offer some tips and tricks for specific projects if you're stumped about something. 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Destination Photography: Harrison Hotsprings

The beauty of Harrison Lake
It's almost time for my wife and I to make our quarterly trek to Harrison. This is a delightful location for both of us to decompress, re-energise and relax. Located just off of highway 7 in the Fraser Valley, about an hour and a half from Vancouver, this is a world-renowned location that attracts visitors year- round for its splendour, beauty and (most importantly) its hot springs.

Arriving in Harrison I strongly suggest taking a wander down to Muddy Waters Cafe where they serve breakfast all day. Or, if you're interested in some lunch, they boast the best nachos in town. I've had them on more than one occasion and I can honestly say the boast is not idle.




After lunch you can take a casual stroll along the park and lake; the town of Harrison takes great pride in their parks, as you can see in this photo. If the kids are along as well, you will find the communities brand new playground close to the man-made lagoon. Luckily, just a two minute walk away there's a refreshing lake with a sandy beach for those who no longer hear the call of the monkeybars.





 If you're there with someone special, maybe you want to just sit and watch the waves at the beach.








If you enjoy the outdoors there are also some spectacular hiking trails. If water sport is your passion there are boat rentals, guided fishing adventures, or relaxing beach side. Of course the greatest of all is the hot springs which has given Harrison its worldwide fame.

If you are staying at Harrison Hotspring Resort then you have access to the hot springs at their source. There is much more to see and do check out the community tourism page for all the latest and greatest of events.

On the path around the Resort


Accommodations are plentiful and available in a variety of price ranges. Be sure to shop around for pricing and specials. My favourite is the Harrison Ramada Hotel. They offer frequent deals, and the rooms are newly renovated, some with spa tubs and king-size beds.

Just a couple doors down, the Harrison Hairstyling and Day Spa is there for all your relaxation needs.








For evening dining I would recommend the Blackforest Restaurant. The food is simply to die for and the service has always been above and beyond exceptional. I enjoy the schnitzel Madagascar and believe it is the best schnitzel I have ever eaten. If you prefer, there is a sushi restaurant on the main street that I also recommend.

With so much to see and do in Harrison, I believe you will, like me, find more than enough reason to go back again and again and again. Don't forget your camera, because Harrison is full of beautiful and secluded spots, boasting everything you want in a nature shot (mountains, water, beaches, blue sky) as well as quaint little areas in town just begging for a snapshot.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Destination Photography: Hell's Gate

Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, Hell's Gate is located two and a half hours away from Vancouver it is well worth the journey. If you start out early in the day, you can arrive easily by opening at 10 a.m. and even have time for a coffee and snack in the picturesque town of Hope on your way up the Trans-Canada Highway.
In terms of a view (and the resulting photos) this location is awe-inspiring; more water carves its way through this narrow Fraser River canyon than goes over Niagara Falls each day.

The main attraction is the air tram spanning the river, and as you board you can hear the thundering water. The sound isn't all that surprising, considering 200 million gallons of water per minute crushes between the sides of the gorge. On the day I visited, the river's water level was 120 feet deep, and this was at the end of July when high water is already down considerably.


At the other end of the air tram is a quaint and very informative interpretive centre. There are things to see and do for all ages, which kept my family occupied nicely while I devolved into my natural shutterbug state.


I made a point to wander out over the river on the suspension bridge and made full use of the late morning lighting to photograph the river and the fish ladders (see right). These fish ladders are designed to help salmon make their journey up the Fraser to their spawning grounds; they're designed to slow the water down so the fish can have an easier time getting through the gorge, where the water gets a little rough and rowdy as it pushes through.


After I finished with the suspension bridge I wandered through the displays. I found the Chinese history exhibit (dedicated to all the workers that helped build the bridge and the bordering rail lines) particularly interesting. While my family wandered around, I took advantage of the fact that we were the only ones there to get down and dirty and take some interesting shots of the artefacts. This is one of the benefits of starting out early and on a weekday: you can sneak shots in without getting in anyone's way or having to wait for a passerby to get the heck out of your shot.


Other than these photo opportunities, I have to wax poetic on lunch. I had an amazing bowl of salmon chowder, which was the best I have ever eaten, and a very large cheeseburger and fries that tasted like they had coerced a master chef into the tiny kitchen. Even if you're not a chowder kind of a person, just trust me and order a bowl. It was creamy, well-seasoned, and they weren't shy about adding the salmon. Perfect!

After lunch, I took some time with the family to check out the fudge factory. Yes, you heard me: a fudge factory. They had 23 different kinds when we were there, and I cleaned them out of the last of their espresso crunch fudge (which I can't stop eating, and now my wife has instituted a lunch-before-fudge rule).

Anyway there are many other things to check out and see, and a ton of great photo opportunities. Sometimes you don't have to go very far to find a completely new location and snap some dramatic pics, and I recommend you check out your own nearby tourist locations. Even if you roll your eyes at the thought of playing tourist, you shouldn't discount the opportunities waiting for you in your own neighbourhood. Tourist attractions draw tourists for a reason, and you can up your game by playing tourist with an SLR instead of a point-and-shoot or camera phone.

If you find yourself heading to Hell's Gate, I recommend bringing a wide-angle lens to grab more of that great landscape, a telephoto lens to zoom in on details that other tourists are likely to miss, definitely a tripod to help steady your shots and maybe set up some timed family portraits (including you), and last but not least, a big appetite for fudge.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Looking Beyond the Megapixel

Many people, when they go shopping for a new digital cameras, are convinced that the megapixel count is the most important consideration. While megapixels are important to take into consideration, it is only one piece of the purchasing question. Buying a camera with the highest megapixel count might make you feel endowed, but it won't necessarily make you happy in the long run. Instead of zooming in on the megapixel count when going to purchase a new camera, the first thing you need to ask yourself is what types of photos you want to produce.

I mean, do you even know what a megapixel is? That's what I thought.

The answer to that is actually fairly simple: picture data is made up of individual dots. With film, lower film speed means a finer grain (or more dots) and the higher the film speed the fatter the dots. Now with digital, the sensor captures information on pixels. A megapixel is just a measurment of the number of dots on the camera sensor. The more dots, the sharper the image -- so more megapixels means a better camera, right?

Unfortunately, not all megapixels are created equal.

For example, look at my smart phone camera: I have an HTC, and it has a 5 megapixel camera, which it says is a resolution of 2592x1552. That means the image size is 2592 dots by 1552 dots, mathematically calculated as 2592 times 1552: 4022784, which they round up to 5 million, otherwise known as 5 megapixel.

Now, when I shoot professionally I use a Canon Rebel T3i. It's an 18 megapixel camera, with a maximum resolution of 5184x3456. Compared to the phone camera, the resolution of the canon is 3.6 times greater -- but the resolution is only about double. Why don't they line up?

The answer, my friends, is easy: it's all about sensor size. When you're shooting in digital, the key to image quality is not just megapixel, but also sensor quality and size, and when you're out there shopping for a camera you need to consider all three.

Now, if you're only going to be using this camera to create online albums or print some small photos for around the house, then a good camera phone or a point and shoot is really all you need. If you remember, in an earlier blog I talked about the camera in the latest iPhone. It really is fantastic for something with such a small sensor, and I've read that within the next five or ten years the point and shoot camera will become obsolete; any smaller camera will be the one you find in your phone.

Now, that camera phone will do a fine job if you're just looking to post photos on Facebook, but you'll really need a DSLR if you want to enlarge your work for a poster or what have you.

Take, for example, the photo below. It's a photo I took on vacation in Alaska last year, and it's hanging on my wall as a 12" by 36" canvas print. Try doing that with your iPhone!

The lesson I'm trying to leave you with is to look beyond the megapixel when purchasing a new camera. If it's not backed up by a sensor, then all those megapixels are about as useful as a trophy wife. Pretty numbers are nice to brag about, but wouldn't you rather have someone dependable to accompany you through life? Do your research, and make sure you get a good sensor to back your numbers up. 


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Getting Social Media in Gear

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been talking with friends and colleagues about blogging and its importance. A couple have been surprised to learn that I blog about my work, but I'm more stunned to discover how many professionals don't use social media at all, and the excuses they have. No time, poor writing ability, the infamous writers block. In reality, there are a ton of things that can stop you from using social media to its full potential. Excuses have never been more easy to come by.

But a social network is just that, a network, and if you're willing to use it that way it will only benefit you.

Today, having a social media presence is so very important and is often underused. Personally, I've been working pretty hard at improving this aspect of my work, and you're right -- it's not always easy. But it is important. Anyone who believes starting up a photo business is just taking a few shots will soon learn how much more there is to the business the second they try to market their work. Clients want to know what to expect, they want to know what you've worked on, they want to know you're both serious and passionate about what you do. and perhaps most of all they want to know if they're going to get along with you. These are all elements that social media is practically designed to help you ace.

That being said, it can easily get overwhelming; there are many social media sites begging for new members, and the first task is differentiating the useful ones from the ones that will just waste your time. Social media is important, but by no means should it be taking up the majority of your time.

My three go-to must-haves are Facebook, Twittter, and this personal/professional blog. I try to give the three of them my attention at least weekly, Twitter and Facebook probably even more frequently.

The thing you'll want to work towards (something I'm only putting together now, myself) is a dedicated website. It goes without saying that this is a ton more work than just updating a Facebook status once in a while -- you'll want galleries of your work, an incorporated blog, contact and pricing information, and not to mention the fact that content needs to stay fresh and current so clients are interested in going back to see it and search engines will continue to monitor it.

I recommend sticking mainly to those three: Facebook, Twitter, and a blog/website. If you're a social media whiz, you can dive into Instagram, Pinterest, 500px, Reddit -- the list goes on. Just remind yourself that updating social media isn't your job, although it is a great excuse to procrastinate doing any real photography work.

Even if you hate taking advice and you hate change and you hate social media, I still highly recommend that you make the leap into it if you're serious about your business. I was a stubborn hold-out for quite a while, and when I decided to finally get into the game I felt (and still do, some days) that I was a long ways behind. There's definitely a learning curve, and I stumbled sometimes and took a while to catch on to the way some things worked. But in the end, it's absolutely worth it -- even if you hate it, it's a great way to keep eyes on your work, including your own. You'll find yourself keeping to a schedule and multitasking better, not just within social media but also in your photography projects.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Location, Location!

Choosing a photo shoot location is one of the most overlooked (and yet critically important) areas in photography. If you're thinking about investing in new equipment, you're going to spend a large portion of time looking at the market and researching the product. But while we all salivate over one gadget or another, how many of us go out for the sole purpose of researching, finding, and testing shoot locations?

A photo shoot location may be as simple as your backyard or as complex as the top of a volcano in South America or Hawaii. These locations change, sometimes dramatically, according to time of year, time of day, weather conditions and a host of other factors. How do you even begin to explore them photographically?

Before you get overwhelmed by the options, take a deep breath and start simple: step into your backyard. Easy, I can hear you saying. Nothing too dramatic there. But go into your yard and really look at it. Leave your camera inside and look at it without a lens. Can you see how the shadows are falling from your house or that big tree? Is there a strong vantage point you could shoot in the middle of the day when the lighting is not great?

Once you think you know the space like the back of your hand, change your point of view. Stand on a ladder, lay on the ground on your stomach and then roll over onto your back. I guarantee you'll have different ideas about the space than you did before.

After you have the space firmly in your mind, visualise clients or subjects in your yard. Where do you want to put them? Layer the elements one at a time -- and don't try to run before you can walk.

But you may not always have unlimited access to a photo shoot location to prepare and brainstorm, so how do you get ready for that?

Again, we return to the importance of research. Now especially, research is at your fingertips. The obvious places to start? The Internet, travel magazines, your local library. However, there is another, somewhat overlooked resource: photographers. In this business, as any other, it's important to network. Contrary to popular belief, even as an artist-based community, we usually don't "guard" our secrets. I, for one, am quite flattered when someone asks how or where I got a particular shot -- and I know they walk away thinking about how they might do it better. That's how we all got into photography in the first place: we see the beauty of a work, and then go on to figure out how to change it. This is how photography, as an art form, continues to evolve.

If you're feeling a little shy, however, the library is a great place to start. I recently took a gander at a book called The Print and The Process by David duChemin. This is an artist based out of Vancouver and I found it to be an incredible resource. Among others, he tells a story (which really illustrates the point of shoot location preparation) about a trip he took to Iceland to photograph some of the natural landscape. He was there with another photographer, Dave Delena, and when they arrived they drove out into the country for a week or so, making notes about location and conditions and shooting the occasional photo. It was on the way back that the magic happened. They looked over the notes they had taken, having already considered what they wanted to shoot, and from that game plan they produced the best possible outcomes for the return trip.

On the other hand, when we go on a vacation with our families as amateur or semi-professional photographers, that system probably will not work for most of us -- backtracking is not always possible, and taking a thorough look at your surroundings while travelling can bore the rest of the family to tears. On the other hand, you can do a couple of things. Step one: look at what where and when other photos have been shot. This is easy enough to research before you leave, and this gives you a good jumping-off point. You can get a rough idea of locations you may want to explore further, and from there you can plan some family events in those areas. Even when you get to your holiday spot, I suggest making brief unplanned excursions for an hour or two to take some family "snapshots." The family, after all, is expecting you to document the vacation -- and if you spend all your time focusing on personal photography, they might get a little steamed when there are no memories of the family vacation. Spend time with your family or travel buddies first, and don't forget to come out from behind the lens.

Meanwhile, think about where and what you want to shoot on the way back. Once you have a few places in mind, set aside the hours or day that you need to create your pictures. Your family will be more patient, as they have had your undivided attention for a good part of the trip, and you won't feel rushed, because you filled your family's needs first.

Whether shooting at home or abroad, remember that research is just as important as knowing your equipment and taking the actual photo. Take some time and research your yard, your local park, and any particularly picturesque areas within 50 km. Network with other photographers, both in your area and in areas you would like to travel.

Lastly, have fun.  Don`t be afraid of your failures; these are just successes in a different frame, and creativity comes to those who wait and are relaxed.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

No Cameras Allowed

Over the last couple of months, I've offered hints, advice, and solutions. Now it's time for a little bit of a rant.

You know what really ticks me off in the photography world? Camera discrimination.

You probably know exactly what I'm talking about. You arrive at a venue -- be it a concert, a festival, or even a clothing store -- and a sign on the door states in big, bold letters that no cameras are allowed.

That I can deal with (mostly), but what really gets my goat is that while SLR after SLR is turned away, the camera phone is allowed through without question.

Take, for example, a concert. Most, if not all, refuse you the ability to bring a camera, whether that be point and shoot or SLR. If they were so serious about eliminating  cameras in the venue, shouldn't they be concerned about the rising megapixel count built into the newest cellular technology? Restrict them all, if you're going to turn my Canon away at the door. It's not like people can talk on their phone during a concert anyway. It is out for the sole purpose of taking shots, tweeting, and facebooking, so restrict them or let us bring other types of cameras in.

The current quality of cell phone cameras is excellent. There are stock photography sites solely aimed at collecting and distributing high-quality phone pictures, and if that doesn't speak volumes about this issue then I don't know what does. The current iPhone boasts 28 megapixels, video in 1080p, and the ability to shoot 240 degree panoramas  -- all in a single hand-held device with no special equipment. The sensor is small, but the reality is this camera outperforms many point and shoots on the market today. Check out this pic from their site.



I'm guessing you've realized that this rant is coming out for a reason, and you would be right.

I attended a benefit concert last week and left my camera at home. (Not a smart move, by the way: a photographer should always have his/her camera with them). While I was there, I saw a person capturing some of the action with a point and shoot, so I decided to quickly fetch my camera and follow suit.

Before I left, however, I was informed that photography was not allowed. The person with the camera was a staff member. Oh well, I thought, and I sat back down.

Except then I started to look around, and noticed that everyone had their cellphones out, including a good friend of mine who took this shot.


                                                                                     Photo used by permission of KG
She also shot video without issue, and she wasn't the only one. There were people who came right up to the stage to get pictures. Again it begs the question: what's wrong with allowing cameras into venues?

I don't really have a solution to this problem. But I guess the answer (other than sneaking in your equipment, which on the advice of my lawyer I DO NOT advise) is to remember that as a photographer, you have many tools at your disposal.

And like it or not, one of those should probably be a camera phone.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Giving control to the clients: the editing process

You've been approached by a client. You've met with and hashed out the details of a shoot. You've shot amazing photos of the subject and now it's time to do some editing and wrestle with the age old question: what to keep, and what to discard?

In this new age of digital photography, there are some who firmly believe in setting the camera on auto  and firing away, relying on the law of averages to get some good shots.

But you call yourself a photographer, and when you're charging a client for your skills there'd better be more to it then that.

The last shoot I did was a family of three: mom, dad, and baby girl. In all honesty, there is no real way to screw that up. They were an extremely photogenic family, and they chose their nicely manicured backyard as the shoot location. I shot for about an hour, and ended with just under a hundred shots.

Then the real work starts: I returned home to do my editing.

First of all, I deleted any photos that were grossly out of focus, which brought me down about eighty shots. Not bad. After going through the remaining photos, I found myself with about thirty-five photos that I believe delivered the wow factor I'm looking for. Burn to disk. Deliver to client. Done!

Or so I thought.

During the shoot and just after, I showed a few of the shots to the clients on the camera LCD, just to give them a small taste and make sure I was still capturing in the style that they wanted. This is something I always do in shoots; clients are usually a bit apprehensive, and nobody is going to be as picky about their appearance as they are, so giving them a little taste is not a bad thing.

But with this particular shoot, my clients took that little taste a bit further. They remembered some of the shots I had shown them, which I was not happy enough with to include on the disk, and asked after them.

So we went through the rest of the photos together, I was stunned when they specifically requested copies of another twenty shots or so. Especially when dealing with a nine-month-old baby, there's always an element of surprise with candid shooting, and you can end up with some (shall we say) "unusual" facial expressions. These were shots that I took out, but when we went over the photos a second time, the parents thought that these expressions were natural and adorable. Even if they were kind of funny, they were shots the parents wanted to keep.

I've already talked about how it's important to keep your client in the loop when choosing the circumstances of a photo shoot, and this just goes to show how important it is to have the client's feedback. In the future, I'll try to include the client in the editing process as well. It's still important to go through and cut out any blurry or out-of-focus shots first, but when it comes to subject matter, who is the photographer to judge? Again, it's important to remember the client knows what they like; you only think you do.

Remember, as always, the client needs to be in charge -- especially with candid photography. This can be a hard place to work from, but clients are starting to look for an "interactive" experience with a photographer, instead of the traditional studio shoot. All too often you'll be the only one interacting with your photographs, and you won't always have the opportunity to ask your subject what they think of the final piece. When you can ask a second opinion, do so. Involving the client will end in a more relaxed atmosphere, better photographs and a completely customized experience for your client.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to swing by my Facebook page and like me there.

The winner was Roxanne, and she now gets to pick an original digital print for her own use. Way to go, Roxanne!

Anyway, I'll keep this short and sweet. I will talk to you all on Friday about including the client in choosing photos they want. Stay tuned!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Giving control to the client: candid photography

As a photographer there are many clients that we meet with on a regular basis. You might be a studio photographer and have people come to you. Maybe you're a magazine or newspaper photographer who freelances for a variety of publications. Or maybe, like me, you do a little bit of everything and wear a variety of hats. This week I did some portrait work, and I discovered that I'm photographer who prefers candid photos to formal poses.

Candid portraiture is a bit of an emerging area of photography, and the type of portrait photography I like looking at and shooting best. There are some very special shots out there to take if you watch for them and are ready to shoot, and I find that catching candid moments can be far more effective than putting people in poses and expecting them to smile.

The problem with candid portraiture, however, is relaying that style to a prospective client. When people hear the phrase "portrait photographer," their first thought is a studio environment -- and it takes some time for them to wrap their head around this candid philosophy.

I met with clients the other day who fell into this type of category. This wasn't their first time hiring a professional photographer, and they actually have a portrait sitting two or three times a year. They've had the studio experience, had portraits taken on a cruise ship, and a variety of portrait experiences. Our session together was definitely not their first time at the rodeo.

But before this, they had always been told where to be, how to stand, when to smile, what to do with their hands -- and so on. Do they have some amazing shots to show? Absolutely. That style of photography produces very nice, traditional shots that will stand up to the test of time.

But that's not my style of portrait. I'm a candid photographer, and I don't want to control anything.

So when they asked me where I preferred to do the photo shoot, I gave them an answer they probably weren't expecting.

"I've only known you folks for about five minutes," I said. "What gives me the right to tell you what you will like in an environment? What are your ideas?"

What a difference that made in the rest of our time together.

After they warmed up to the fact that they were in charge and I was there to capture their moments without interfering, the ideas came flooding out. Given the chance to explore and make their own decisions, they came up with about a thousand concepts and ideas in terms of locations, clothing choices, and subjects -- meaning their dogs were included in the photos.

This is great creatively speaking, because they'll end up with exactly what they want. But on the other side of things, this is also a great place to be in as a business: we likely won't be able to tackle all these ideas in one session, and assuming they're pleased with how the photos turn out the first time, they'll automatically turn into repeat customers. They'll not only be pleased with how the photos turned out, but proud of the role they played in the shoot -- meaning the photos will hopefully be passed around more so than they would normally and the name of my business will spread by word of mouth.

Keep this in mind. Find your niche market, study it, create it if you need to, and ultimately stay true to it. As I've said before, there are certain aspects of your business that define you as a professional. Stay true to those areas, so when a client hears about you and your work they will get the same experience and energy you provided for the person they heard about you from.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Just over a week left until contest closes!

Time is running out!

We're coming down to the final week before the contest for one of my original digital prints is over.

It's super simple. Like me on Facebook (by heading on over here) and on Wednesday, June 19 we will draw a name from my current fans. The winner chooses one photo from the four below.






The photo will have the watermark removed and you can use it for any personal use you would like. You can print it, use on your site, or anything else (except sell).

Easiest thing ever. Like my Facebook page and you could win!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Graphic Designer: Yes or No?

What is a graphic designer, and should you use one?

This is a question for the business side of things, rather than the nuts-and-bolts of photography, and it comes out of the leap from hobby photographer into the world of selling your work. This could mean trying to edge into the stock photo market, or it could mean hanging prints on coffee shop walls with a card and a price. Either way, and especially if you post your work online, you're going to need a logo. You can use it to brand yourself and your business, but I also use mine as a watermark over any photos I post online to make sure the photo gets accredited to me if anyone tries to use it.

I originally didn't plan to use the services of a graphic designer to design my logo, but the opportunity sort of fell into my lap – and I'm glad that it did.

My original logo was constructed by a very good friend of mine after I shot a music video for her daughter. I quite liked the logo, so I didn't see the need to hire a graphic designer to do one up for me.


The layout of this logo was awesome and I love the emphisis on the CTF which was very important when the logo was reworked. The 35 mm film reel was also a brilliant touch.

However, after I did a shoot at the Chilliwack Flight Fest I was approached by one of the organizers about my logo. The organizer asked if I would mind if he sent my logo to a friend of his for a bit of rework before he posted the credit for my work. 

It turned out that his friend was one of the guys over at Big Cat Productions, and over the next week or two my logo was worked and reworked. Now you see the final results all over my media pages. I use it as a watermark, as headers and footers, on business cards. Anything and everything that has my name has my logo from Big Cat Productions. (You can take a look at some of their other work here.)

As you can see both are simalar in design concept which is what I liked, but there is a flow to the professional one that just works for who I am. The 35 mm film reel still exists and the CTF is also still emphisised but in a different aspect. I also loved the plain black on gray and if you follow other sites I am on you will see this trend throughout when I can control the look.

Even though I was pretty fond of the old one, at the end of the day I'm glad that I was able to use professional services to develop it further. The thing to keep in mind is that your logo is your public identity. It defines you and your work in many cases, since this is the first point of contact for perspective clients. You want to put your best foot forward, and that might just mean shelling out a couple of bucks to get someone to do it for you. As a photographer, you probably have a pretty good eye in terms of composition and design, but you might not have the program experience to sit down at a computer and put something like a logo together yourself.

In the beginning stages of setting up a photography business, you'll be cook, captain and cabin boy all rolled into one. There isn't a need for (or a way to necessarily pay) employees or assistants to work for you, so you'll be in charge of getting everything done – from scheduling to billing to advertising to marketing to graphic design. This isn't a bad thing, because it'll teach you a lot about yourself as well as the business.

However, always try to remember that your primary focus should be to shoot and shoot and shoot some more. We're in the photography business because we love to get out and capture the world with a camera. The time you spend doing that is what pays you, both financially and creatively, and that's what you should be spend most of your time doing. 

But even in those early days when you're doing it all yourself, I think it's worth it to get a professional graphic designer to do up your logo. You can see the difference between my original logo and the one I now use for everything – which is basically a cleaner, more professional-looking reworked version of the one I liked in the first place.

Remember, when anyone searches for your company the first thing they see when they land on your pages is your logo. You control what that first impression is – and in this case I can say I am beyond glad that I chose to let a graphic designer have a crack at it. 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Surprise Blog/ Photo Contest

Surprise!

I'm going to run a contest over the next two weeks!

Head over to my Facebook page, hit the "Like" button, and you will be entered to win a hi-resolution photo of your choice from the photos in the blog this last week. It will be a digital copy that you may print, use on your site, or anything else, except sell. It's really easy! Click the link, like me there, and follow the blog and Facebook. Winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 19th.

Oh, and if you already Like me on Facebook then you are already entered.

Good luck! And I'll see you on Friday for another blog post.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

What to bring, what to bring!

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to an SLR photographer is what equipment to carry. The easy answer is all of it — but is that a logical response?

This past Tuesday I was a parent escort on a trip to the local aquarium with my son's biology class. I traveled on a school bus with the students for an hour and a half, and if you've forgotten what that's like, I can definitely say avoid the experience if possible. The seats have shrunk by half, and the manufacturers seem to inject the smell of sweat into the seats. (I'm sure it can't be that I got bigger and learned the value of good hygeine.)

Anyway, I digress. Long before pondering the school bus experience, another question filled my attention as I started preparing my equipment the night before. What to bring, what to bring. The urge is, of course, to bring everything. But that's not always possible — especially if you have to cram into a bus with a bunch of highschoolers. How do you narrow lenses, filters, tripods, and miscellaneous equipment when it is all begging to be taken along?

The first question is what subjects will be available to shoot. Then consider what lighting conditions are available — what are the local restrictions, if any? The easiest way to find the answers is to look at websites if available. You will be able to see what others have shot, by looking at any photo galleries that pop up online,  as well as check to see if there are any restrictions on what you can bring in or use.

At my aquarium nothing is off-limits to photograph, so I then considered what my subject matter would be. I was excited to see they were currently running a jellyfish exibition so needed to consider equipment for that in particular, as well as equipment to shoot frogs and reptiles in the rainforest room. I figured taking a light source was not an option, since any flash would only reflect against the glass and setting up a separate light stand would be in danger from the milling crowds. Cutting out lights means only taking lenses and tripod — easier and a whole lot heftier to pack. In the end  I decided on taking a standard lens, medium telephoto, macro, and (just to be interesting) the 50mm prime. I also packed the tripod, since I knew I would be shooting in a very dim enviroment and the shutter speeds were going to be a bit long. Like this post.

Here are a few of examples of the photos I took with my pre-planned-and-packed equipment.
3D Dolphins. Hope you don't get wet:)
Undersea Life
Yes I am a frog and I am looking at you
The beauty of Jellyfish

The other benefit to planning ahead is that you get to enjoy your time far more. I ended up arriving at the aquarium 40 minutes before it opened, and was allowed to wander the nearly-empty aquarium and shoot to my heart's content before the crowds arrived. I had the luxury of being able to really set up and plan the shot, which is not always possible at a usually-busy attraction like the aquarium. When the doors opened and the public came in, shooting was very tough, and again it came in handy to have all my equipment organized and close to hand where I wanted it.

By the time the crowds became too thick to handle, it was time for lunch and a coffee followed by enjoying the displays as a casual observer. This is another important lesson for any photographer: don't forget to come out from behind the camera and enjoy the experience.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Talking to clients about copyright laws

This is a continuation from last weeks blog.

As I explained I had a situation where my client was under the misconception of ownership of work, once that work was ditributed online. So, what did I do to correct this belief and still retain the client as a happy and fulfilled individual?

First off, it's all about profesionalism. There is no point in getting angry or feeling hurt if a client uses or wants to use a photo of yours in a manner that you have not given permission. In fact, the opposite should be true most of the time. In my case I was very excited and happy that my client felt my work worthy enough to be used in a capacity that was much larger than I had anticipated, and I stated that in the opening paragraph of my email. What we as photographers want to do is educate our clients on the new copyright laws, not alienate them from using our services. This can lead to them trying to seek out another photographer who may not be as professional as us, which doesn't help anybody.

What transpired was a very matter of  fact approach via email as to when, how, and what laws changed with the copyright regulations. Right from the beginning we (the client and myself) had an agreement that the work that I provided to them could be used for any use for a specific period of time. In this case it was one month. I pointed out, after explaining what had changed with copyrights, that this one month period period of time was drawing to an end and I would be more than willing to negotiate any further uses. Below find an excerpt from the email I sent to the client, I believe it sums up why this education is so very important. Names have been removed for privacy.

"I wanted to put that out there for two reasons. One it protects my work from being used in a way that I might not approve of. Second it protects --------. If sometime down the road the photos surface with or for some ill intent, similar to the -------- current slander campaign against ---------, I have the ability to put a stop to it because I retain copyright ownership."

That is the crux of the issue. This new regulation protects your work from surfacing in a way that you do not want, and if it is found, you have a legal way of stopping it. Prior to November 2012 you would have a large fight on your hands, but now you have the ability to control how, where, and who uses that you created and worked so hard to achieve.

Now back to the client feelings. I believe that because of the professional way I conducted myself they did learn what copyright meant in today's photography world. They were not angry or upset, did not feel slighted or misused, and I felt that they had more respect for me and my profession. I went on to shoot this client a number of more times over the week and am sure that I will be the first person they call for any of their further photography needs.

In closing for the week I want to stress DON'T LET PEOPLE TAKE YOUR WORK, and be flattered when others want to use it. Be open and professional about what you need or want for your service and never ever settle for less than what you believe. We are artists. We work hard to achieve what we produce. Our work is a representation of who we are. We wouldn't sell ourselves out, so why shouldn't we treat our work with the same respect?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Canadian Copyright: What's Yours, and What's Theirs?

As I've mentioned, I've been photographing one of our local provincial party candidates for the past couple of weeks. It's been a wonderful experience, and I've enjoyed helping out in whatever way I can.

However, earlier this week it was suggested that once the photos I took for the party went public I would no longer own the rights to them. This didn't sound right to me, and I dove into research regarding the new copyright laws in Canada – and I found both very helpful, interesting information and a whole lot of misinformation.

Let me start by saying every photographer, both amateur and professional, should spend a little time looking into this subject for themselves. I'm going to explain Canadian laws as I understand them, and feel free to comment below if you have more information or supporting sources. Most people in Canada are aware that laws surrounding downloading copyrighted material changed significantly on November 7 of last year, but most people are not aware of is this included the works of a photographers as well.

Before these changes, if a photographer was commissioned to do a shoot and wanted to use the photos for anything (advertising, selling the prints, etc.), they would have to receive a release from the client. Once a contract was entered into, they no longer had any rights to that work except with the client's permission. Many photographers worked around this by providing a release right up front and would not agree to the contract if there was no release provided.

After these changes, if a photographer is commissioned to do a shoot, they have to provide a release to the client to allow them to use that work for a profit basis. The client can use the photos I give them for any personal use, as long as it isn't for profit or gain. This is the law that's in effect right now.

This means that I retain copyright on any and every photo I shoot for 50 years after my death, unless I expressly sign that away. Wow – what a switch, right? In fact, Canada is just playing catch-up to most of the world. Other kinds of artists—painters, sculptors, and artists in general—in Canada have enjoyed this protection for years except photographers.

You still need a release form signed by a model or subject, human or otherwise, if you are using that photograph in an advertisement. However, if you are using it for art, editorial, or or personal use you do not require a model release in Canada.

I hope that makes things a little more clear, but if not, here is a link to an article that is far more in depth: http://www.cippic.ca/fr/node/129237#Do.

Take the time to read it over. Be informed, and inform others who may not have this information. If nothing else, it will  help the public understand the rights of artists everywhere in Canada.

Oh – and by the way, the political party did not fire me for pointing out the error, and I continued to shoot right up till their loss.

But that's another blog. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Week Three

Well, another week soon closes. Things have been hectic as usual!

I've had two more All Candidate Meetings covering Gwen O'Mahony. By far the most enjoyable was going out to one of my local elementary schools where Gwen was addressing a grade 4/5 class regarding the NDP platform. This was a great group of kids, who asked some of the best questions I've heard since starting to shoot for Gwen. 

I posted a few more photos on my Facebook page, so swing by check them out and leave some comments. All the photos in the fine art album are available for sale in high resolution, and pricing is relative to size, medium, and quantity. Contact me for a quote if you're interested and I'm sure we can work something out.

This past week has also seen a number of my shots of Gwen being developed into NDP campaign photos, which is hugely exciting. These are also on my Facebook page, if you're interested in taking a gander.

If you are in need of advertising photos drop me a line and we can work together to see your product out there in the best possible light.

Anyway  things to do, places to be. I look forward to hearing your comments below. If you have any questions give me a shout and I will do my best to answer.

As always, you can find up-to-the-minute updates on FacebookTwitter, and now Pintrest!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Finishing out Week One

Here I sit, looking back on the last week – and what a week it's been.

Before Monday, I had not even considered putting together a blog, but on my son's recommendation, I made the leap.

Today I thought I could share the links to my Facebook and my Twitter and I invite you to travel over to see my work and follow my regular activities.

I'm going to do my best to blog at least a weekly overview, both successes and failures, just to keep things real and interesting.

In other news, I have been super busy this last week shooting my local MLA Gwen O'Mahony as  BC heads into a provincal election. I am Gwen's campaign photographer, and get to follow her around to all sorts of events and day-to-day activities. Man, does that woman put in a lot of hours! Go Gwen!

Below is a poster that her team has created from one of my photos.

Very excited to be part of this and wish Gwen all the luck in securing her position as our voice in Victoria.

Aside from the schedule of shooting and publishing the material for very short deadlines, I have been busy developing my social media presence, including Facebook and Twitter pages. I'll be working on a website soon, so say tuned for that as well!