A very special thanks.

I find it interesting that almost at every photo shoot that I do, I get the same question:  “How does your wife react to you doing this?”  At first I found the question a bit odd.  What is it that I am doing that should incur the wrath of my wife?  I didn’t understand and so I have asked my wife if she minded.  And with a bright smile on her face she told me that she did not mind.  Quite the opposite, she supported and encouraged me.  And me being me, I didn’t give it much thought thereafter.

It took me quite a bit to understand that taking pictures of models might arouse hints of jealousy in some people.  And why shouldn’t it?  The time that you could be spending with your significant other is now being spent on photographing beautiful people who are acting seductive and sexy for your camera.  But it goes beyond just photographing models.  Every time we pick up the camera we take from our loved ones and give to our passion.

To have a someone who supports you and who understands that photography is art and not adultery and despite themselves, help you, push forward while they stay behind waiting for your return.  And I think it falls to us, artists, to understand that we are not the easiest people to deal with.  We are needy and sensitive creatures.  We need love, support, healthy criticism and social media likes.  We want to be recognized for our work and to be desired by people who we never met.  We want to see our names written in tiny letters on a building size advertisement.  And while we crave all of the above we sometimes may forget the one person who is there for us, who understands us and who will step over their own fears, doubts and insecurities without a moment’s pause if it meant for us to continue doing what we love to do.

Thank you Anna, I love you.

B&W or Color?

Breaking away from black and white was probably one of my first and biggest challenges.  I can take a picture of the garbage on my desk and as long as the exposure and contrast were right, it looked like a cool photograph.  In fact, I actually did that and it looked pretty cool.  Black and white photography is very forgiving in that sense.  All you have to watch out for is your blacks and your whites.

So the question comes in, when do you want to shoot in color or when in black and white?  And at the same time, if black and white is so forgiving, why not just stay with the classic instead of attempting your luck with color?

To me, the reason to break away from the monochrome was simply a matter of a personal challenge.  I knew that my color photography was awful and I needed to learn it if I ever wanted to be a well-rounded photographer.  What I find amusing is that once you shoot color, you rarely can leave it as is.  A regular shot in color always seems a bit bland and a bit amateurish.  However once you brighten the colors, deepen the contrast, blur here, dodge there, increase the saturation, and do an overlay of another color, your picture can look quite amazing.  Yes, it is a bit more involved then that but you get the idea.

Color photography is a lot of work; however I do believe that it is worth it.  Color draws the eye of the viewer.  In black and white, you achieve this effect by using your contrast and negative space.  With color photography you pretty much highlight everything that is important.  If I had to pick the uses for black and white photography and color, I would have to say that black and white is more artistic whereas color is more commercial; not exclusively of course.

Now there are some photographers who would mix black and white with color.  So for instance have red lipstick in an otherwise black and white photograph.  I am one of those snobs who just happen to think that style as tacky and unattractive.  To me it has the same effect as a book publisher releasing a book and highlighting all the important parts for you.  Don’t do that.

In conclusion, always consider what you are trying to say with your photograph and adjust the medium to fit the idea.  If find yourself stuck in one medium, it is probably time to attempt the other.  The more versatile you are, the more knowledge you possess, the better artist you become.

As always please post your thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Which camera should i get? Part 2

So assuming you have read the part one of my rant last week, I will move on to part two.  So you have decided to move on from your point and shoot to a DSLR.  Now, the big question that everyone at this point will ask:  Nikon or Canon or what?  There are so many options with so many recommendations and so many good reviews on all of them that it really does become hard to choose.

Well my dear readers, the answer is not really that simple.  This is something that I have recently gone through and just want to divulge some information.  For starters, if you search for what is the best professional camera, most of the time the answer will be either Nikon or Canon.  Now unless you have a fortune to throw at this, you really have to pick a brand and stick with it.  The reason for this is simple, once you invest into lenses; you really do not want to have to spend all that money all over again if you switch brands.

The quick 411 on the two brands:  they are pretty much the same.  Comparing the best cameras from each brand the performance difference is pretty small.  Canon has a smaller lens selection with more expensive lenses whereas Nikon has cheaper lenses but an incredible range to choose from.  You will hear many people swear by one brand or another but the simple truth of the matter is, it really doesn’t make a difference.  Both cameras will give you a fantastic performance and you should choose the one that fits your needs better.

That being said, the next question is whether to pick an FX or a DX camera.  FX and DX are both formats of the camera and of the lenses.  DX lenses and cameras are cheaper but they tend to crop the photograph instead of taking a full frame.  However, DX cameras are faster and are in many respects better for action shots like car racing, sports or anything where you want to get as many shots per second as you can.  The Sony DSLR shines in this area being able to capture almost 100 shots per second.  However you will sacrifice color and depth of field for this.  If you feel like you are a sniper photographer and are confident that you can capture the necessary picture with one click, I would most certainly recommend FX cameras.

Also if you feel like you will be very serious about your photography, do not invest into cheap hardware.  It is worth it to buy one expensive camera with one expensive lens then a cheap camera with 5 cheap lenses.  The quality of your photographs does depend on the hardware you purchase.  And you don’t want to buy a cheap camera and then have to buy an expensive one down the line.  But be honest with yourself and see what will suit your needs best in the long run.

As always please post your thoughts, suggestions and comments.  I would love to hear from you.

Which camera should I get? Part 1

“So which camera should I get?” the usual question asked by newer photographers who are trying to improve the level of their work by improving their tools.  People who have been taking pictures for a while always know exactly when they need to upgrade and to what.  Does the camera make the photograph or is it skill alone?  Does the brand matter?  Not so long ago I was teetering on the fence regarding these questions.  I think that in the last month or so I have finally came to a conclusive decision.

Does the camera make the photograph?  The answer to that question is “Heck no!”  But doesn’t super amazing camera with super amazing lens make super amazing quality pictures?  The answer to that question is absolutely yes.  While a great camera can surely boost the detail, color depth and the amount of pixels, but it will not help you with perspective, composition or subject matter.  Also think about this:  technology is evolving at lightning speed.  And less than 10 years ago DSLRs were only coming out and yet breathtaking photographs were taken long before that.

Taking pictures for Instagram with my phone really helped me understand that a tool is only as good as the person who wields it.  Sure, I can run around with a Nikon D800S snapping every little thing I see, but if I don’t understand what makes a good image, the camera itself won’t help me.  Okay, I may get lucky… but that’s not the point.  The point is that I normally shoot with a Nikon D600.  And Vogue Italia only published photos that were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S2 Phone and my very old Pentax film camera.

In conclusion, to answer the question is you really have to take a look at your work.  See if you have reached the pinnacle of your creativity that only new hardware can improve.  Speaking from personal experience, if you get a fantastic hardware in attempts to increase your performance, you will rely so heavily on that hardware that your output may actually suffer.  Once you learn to create breathtaking imagery on worse hardware then and only then will be the time to upgrade.

As always please feel free to tell me your experiences and thoughts on the subject.

Are free photo shoots really so wrong?

Is it wrong for a photographer to do photo shoots for free?  Do the photographers that charge money for shoots lose business to those who do it for free?  Do the photographers that shoot for free ruin the integrity of photography and art?  Are the photographers that charge an obscene amount of money for their work automatically considered as better artists than those who do not?

First I would like to say that whether you choose to charge for your photography or not, it is your prerogative and no one in this world has the right to tell you otherwise.  Secondly, there are such concepts as “Time For Prints” and “Unpaid Test”, which are in essence free photo shoots.  And thirdly, it is in everyone’s best interest to receive money.  So if someone decides they want to lose out on a lump of cash, it is their loss as well.

Why do people do free shoots?  Is it for publicity?  Is it to improve their portfolio by working with some well-known artists?  Or is it just to spite those evil photographers who dare to charge money?  I am pretty certain it is not the third option.  Think of people who are new to the business and have no portfolio, how can they justify to charge anything while they are still trying to find someone to shoot with?   Why would I as a client want to shoot with someone who has five photographs in their portfolio?

On the same note if I am a client and I want quality service with superior product, I will most likely go to professional photographers and pay for what I need.  Because when money exchanges hands, it will legally bind the other party to produce what is agreed upon.  Yes, if I, as a client, would see a promising new artist with a good portfolio who is looking to grow it out, I may give them a fair shot.  An unpaid test is always a great way to discover new talent without losing anything but time.

In conclusion, all I would like to say is that there are many great photographers who won’t charge you, and there are many horrible photographers who will.  Paying someone money does not always mean you will get a superior product even though it implies it.  Each person should decide what business model is right for them and should not be criticized for it.  No one would ever go into a coffee shop and yell at the owner saying “How dare you give out free muffins with each coffee?  How DARE YOU?!”

As always please feel free to comment.