How to “legally” become a photographer

I ran across a great article the other day on Digital Photography School.  It covers various types of legal protection as well as a few good insurance options.

Here’s the link: http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-legally-become-a-professional-photographer

The problem with reviewing photo labs

I try not to complain, I really do. Only the things that bug me the most get voiced on this blog. Today I want to talk about reviews.

I’ve seen many reviews of various photo labs and have come to the conclusion that nobody has a clue how to do it right.  There. I’ve said it.

Every review that I’ve ever seen consists of the reviewer sending identical files to different labs and then critiqing the results.  “lab a is too yellow, lab b prints a little dark, lab c has issues with borders….”   You get the idea.

Here are the problems and solutions (at least from my viewpoint – since I do work at a lab):

  1.  multiple people correct the color- you never know which color technician checked the color. There are varying degrees of skill within that group of people as well as various factors that can affect their performance: such as personal problems, or technical problems such as a monitor drifting out of calibration or even the time of day – a person is more likely to loosen tolerances right before breaks, lunch or at the end of the day.
  2. Sending one identical set of files is not enough to randomly sample average output from a lab. To find out what a lab consistantly produces, it would be much more accurate to send multiple samples over a span of time.  A particular lab might have a printer or profile issue or a bad batch of paper (it happens). testing over time compensates for specific issues and also addresses the issue of multiple color technicians.
  3. If you really want to see how well a photolab can perform, consider sending in problem files such as over or under exposed files, really bad color or bad skin tones, blown out whites, blocked up shadows, odd file types, extremely large or tiny files, or even weird items to color match (if possible).    Even a mediocre photolab could make great prints from good files. Put the lab through the paces and see which ones shine.

Some review items are great: prices, hosting time, packaging quality. But for your own piece of mind, take the print quality with a grain of salt. If the reviewer doesn’t take the time to get a real quality sample – then their misinformed opinion of print quality could steer you towards an inferior photo lab.

In-camera stabilization coming to Canon cameras

Not sure how soon or even if it is near or distant future. Here is a link to a canon patent for in-camera sensor stabilization.

http://www.canonrumors.com/2010/01/new-canon-patent-finds/

Sandy Puc Tours – what an experience!

howdy folks,

last sunday I attended a seminar from Sandy (a.k.a. Sam) Puc in Tulsa. (her last name is pronounced “puch” – like much with a “p”).

What a great experience!

The session covered family portraiture ranging from posing, marketing ideas, shooting techniques, marketing strategies and gear to extensive marketing plans.

Did I mention marketing?  This seemed to be the seminar’s greatest strength. Packed with marketing ideas by topic (portraits, seniors, weddings, etc…) and  by monthly or event based or seasonal ideas, this tour is definitely worth the admission. When I came into work on monday, I told some co-workers about it and now they are looking at attending one of her other sessions.

Now for the bad… As it was the first session, it was pretty disorganized. I didn’t receive the promised literature (session catalog?), nor did I get a t-shirt that was promised for signing up for sam’s world university – a marketing strategy website  from sandy that has monthly updates with multiple marketing campaigns and other resources. We were informed that we would receive a pdf of the catalog and I was promised a shirt to be mailed.  From what I saw in the session and from watching Sandy speak for 5 to 6 hours, I feel pretty secure that they will honor those offers.

As a speaker, she was very emotional and just plain passionate about photography.  She gave a lot more credit than she took and showed a deep level of knowledge on being extremely efficient in shooting, sales and marketing. She also held a deep commitment to charitable work and spent around an hour of the show just on that topic (it’s way better than it sounds). Not once did I lose attention or get bored. My only real complaint was that “I felt that I missed quite a bit of the presentation from having to take notes as I didn’t know what the literature we were supposed to receive contained”. I was so worried that the literature wouldn’t have something that I thought might be important, that I wrote down the content of almost every slide and specific content she talked about.  If I could afford another day off, I would attend the Kansas City seminar just to see what I missed.

From her own presentation, Sandy said this was the third year in the series and there would be at least 8 more annual tours in the future. I plan to see all of them if I can.

So here it is, in a nutshell.

PROS:

  • best marketing education I’ve ever seen in a seminar.
  • lots of product ideas
  • easy, efficient shooting techniques with great results
  • she is passionate, articulate, and knowledgable

CONS:

  • A little chaotic and unprepared (probably just first “on the road” show technical problems)

Update: I received my catalog a few days after this post. Unfortunately it really is just a catalog. I was extremely disappointed with the content. Although the presentation of Sandy’s tour is second to none, the lack of a decent handbook severely diminishes my opinion of the value of her show.

Update: It has been over a month since the show and I still haven’t received the t-shirt that I was promised for signing up for Sam’s World University. The email I sent two weeks ago has never been acknowledged. I am extremely down on the whole experience at this point.

I’m back – a couple book summaries

howdy folks, I’m back

After a grueling 275 hours worked in December, I am finally ready to resume the blogging grind.

Today I finished reading the book “blink” by the author Malcolm Gladwell. It was an incredibly interesting book. Every bit as good a read as his first book “The Tipping Point”.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find as much applicable knowledge as his first effort.  Here is my brief review of both books.

Blink (in a nutshell) :

  1. First impressions can be very powerful, insightful and corruptable.
  2. First impressions become more accurate with training in the subject matter involved.
  3. It is important to provide “white noise” (time to process the first impression data) and understand/determine the conditions that can cause a first impression might be incorrect (biases, lack of training or not enough white noise). 
  4. Too much data can cause people to confuse information with understanding.
  5. The more complicated a situation, the higher the probability your first impression is correct.
  6. We (as a society) might want to review our legal system and pre-marital councelling techniques.

Here is the Tipping Point (in a nutshell):

  1. Business, societal and biological trends can be affected by minor “tweaks” (changes) to them or the system they exist in.
  2. Three types of people are important to these changes: the maven, the connector and the salesman
  3. trends are affected by the strength of their “stickyness factor”
  4. trends are affected by their environment – which the author Gladwell calls “the power of context”

Here is a better overview of the books on wikipedia

The Tipping Point

blink

 Here is a link to both books on amazon.com

The Tipping Point

blink

I think I’m going to have to add “the Tipping Point” to my favorite 5 business book list. the content is simply too simple, elegant and powerful to ignore.

Finally, I thought about adding Mr. Gladwell’s blog to this post but it appears a little dated (his bio hasn’t been updated since he wrote his second book). the posts are a little sparce and on diverse other topics than these two books. Very interesting to read but very intellectual. If you have enjoyed his books you can find the blog with a quick search on google.

100 plus

howdy folks,

sorry i haven’t posted in so long.  As some of the followers know, i work at a professional photolab and we are deep into the thick of seasonal rush.  as of this post i have worked over 83 hours in the last 6 days and am bracing for another 15 hours today continuing through the 22nd of December.  i’m not ignoring the blog so much as trying to survive these crazy work hours.  i’ll post again after Christmas.

Happy Holidays –

Brian

My “under $10,000″ complete studio solution (part 2)

howdy folks,

today I’d like to share my equipment list for my sub-10k studio.  Here we go:

  • one Canon 7D ($1700)
  • one Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 with vibration control ($650)
  • two Canon 580 exii Flash units ($420 each)
  • one radio popper Px transmitter and two rp Px receivers (approx $750 total)

We’ll also need battery packs for the camera and flash units (add $450), memory cards (add $200) and the lumiquest 80-20 promax kit ($50).

I’d like to note that the studio kit is for location portraiture or wedding photography – not  sports, architecture or nature.  Those styles can be added with just lenses at this point.

for nature or sports add – Tamron  AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 with VC ($600)

for architecture or landscapes add the – Tamron AF 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 ($550)

I rarely shoot on a tripod since I never know if I’ll be shooting kids or pets.  My tripod usually only acts as an assistant to hold my camera while I’m setting up other gear. 

On a final note, I’m undecided about flash brackets. If I were to require one I’d probably go with the Custom Brackets Digital PRO E ($250). It is has a slick quick rotation feature and you can use two quick releases on it.  One to remove the camera from the bracket quickly and the other to attach the bracket to the quick release mount on your tripod.