Wednesday, October 27, 2010


There's some work I'll still do for free. Today I lugged 2 AB400's, 2 SB-600's, 4 umbrellas, 6 lightstands, my new Yongnuo radio triggers, and a 4' roll of white seamless to my daughters first grade classroom. Carrying all of that gear reminded me of my days as a divemaster, when I'd carry my gear, an instructor's gear, and sometimes student gear as well. I'd look and feel like a shambling mound of baggage...

This was the setup:

I shot about 47 kids in an hour and a half. 2-5 shots of each, depending on the kid and the results. Then, I spend the afternoon cropping, dodging the background a bit, and generally tweaking the images in lightroom. Two images of my final 103 hit photoshop for a quick touch. The result?

I suppose we could call today's efforts "marketing"? "Personal work"? Call it what you will, I had a heck of a fun day. The punchline? I get to do it all over again tomorrow for my preschooler's class! Think I'll get to bed early...

Not one misfire on the Yongnuo's. This was their first real test, and I must say, I'm sold. And they only set me back $80 for 2 transmitters and 2 receivers.  (The N1 Nikon set for my D300s is a little more expensive than some of the other sets. Buying the right set for your camera lets you also use them as a wireless shutter release! I haven't tried this yet but I will soon.)

10/28 Edit, the Preschoolers:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting paid to take pictures.

After casually showing people my work month after month, shooting soccer games, karate classes, school events, etc., and posting the pictures, I suppose it was inevitable. Someone asked, "Where did you take that?" Someone later asked, "You took that? Nice."

A few months later it was, "Could you take our Christmas card photo next year?" and "My daughter's birthday is coming up, can you do pictures like Sears can?" Or, "Can you take a picture for me sometime?"

Still later, it's become, "Are you free this weekend to shoot ____? How much?"

This was really hard for me. How much? "I'll do it for free because I love taking portraits!" Then, "Oh, whatever you think it is worth." Poor self image? Maybe.

Now, many months later, I'm up to: "I charge $X for a sitting, which does not include the prints. I'll post the images and you can order any prints, t-shirts, mugs, whatever you like. These are the prices."

I'm still charging less than I want to, but I'm not busy with jobs. If I ever get busy, I'll assume I am good enough to charge more. In the meantime, I am having the time of my life, and learning more and more every day.

The photo above is my favorite from yesterday's shoot. I love it. (Yes I know there is a tiny bit of tree growing out of her head. I made a mistake. I wish I'd bent my knees one more inch. But I love it anyway.)

Sky: 55mm f/9 1/250 sec.
Subject:  SB-600 in an umbrella above camera, full power, aimed down onto subject's face.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October is off to a good start.

To expand on a recent theme, I got back into the studio with model #2 this morning, and grabbed about 100 frames. 25 or so made the cut, and I've already edited 7. On shots like this, the editing goes as follows:
  • Nuke any intruders. (Paper seams/wrinkles, umbrellas at the edges, hair or dirt on the floor.)
  • Sanitize. In a shot like this, I avoided some with advanced application of gaffer tape, but there was a lot of cloning and repair tool work inside the case. Motherboard logo, gfx card logo, printing on the cables, etc. I helped myself a lot by dressing my model in logo-free clothes.
  • Check that the in-camera isolation went well. Sometimes there's a few stray hairs floating in space...
  • Cleanup any visible smudges or ugly spots.
  • Lighten the floor a bit. (It's getting dirty, so I quickly mask it off and lighten it just a little.)
  • Check for CA. (Purple fringing.) Here, I had a bit at the right edge of the computer case, which was right at the leading edge of my main light. (super high contrast...) Easy enough to remove from a nice straight edge. (Thanks Nicolesy, I tried your method and it was better than the process I'd been using.)
Fifteen to twenty minutes per image, I'd guess. This much effort makes me more selective about my picks. I think I might also just upload the first 10 or so, and wait on the reviewers' verdict. Then, edit and upload the rest later if things go well.

There's lots of variations on the above, with various other implements of construction/destruction. And I still have at least one more set I want to attempt before I try putting that computer back together... I'm starting to lose faith that it's going to make it through POST after all this abuse...

Parting thought #1: If it takes 2-3 years for an image to earn it's money, then why on earth do I waste my time checking my earnings 50 times a day? I have the awesome PicNiche contributor toolbar, two iPhone apps, and I leave browsers on two different computers open to my iStock earnings page. I just can't help it. I swear, the day they invent a cyber-implant that rings a bell in your ear for every sale, I'll probably be the first in line.

And #2: $117.08 for September. Best month ever.