No more fumbling through the camera bag for a lens

LenzBuddy

Working with photo assistants has taught me that you need to communicate clearly with them. Every photographer has a different system for doing things.

If you work with the same assistant all the time you are at an advantage to those of us who need to hire different assistants from time to time. I am not so busy that I have a full-time photo assistant.

One of the things I just did was to label my lenses in my camera bags. I had been researching different labeling systems for camera lenses and tried out LenzBuddy. They make a variety of front lens caps, rear lens caps and camera body caps.

I decided to put all the lenses into my ThinkTank Airport Security Roller Bag with the lens rear caps facing up.

I then ordered all the “Focal Length Only Custom Lens Cap – Rear” which cost $9.95 each. The official Nikon rear lens caps cost $14.82 on Amazon.

You can put your Logo or other custom design on and of their caps.

Just this week when I had my daughter as the photo assistant this helped a great deal. “Can you get me the 35mm?” was no longer a slow process for her to pull each lens out of the bag to find the one lens I needed.

Maybe you have been digging through your own bag of lenses labeled with a Sharpie on masking tape (or not at all) and realize how much this could help. I just think that whenever you can present yourself in front of the client as one who thinks of all the small details they will trust you even more with their details.

 

Simple one light setup to balance existing light

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 400, ƒ/1.4, 1/125–Alienbees B1600, Translucent Umbrella, Pocketwizard remotes]
My daughter helped me today on a photo shoot. Here she stood in for a test shot where I needed a key/main light due to the overhead skylight creating unpleasant light on her face.

Setup

Once I had my setup I just dialed the Pocketwizard AC-3 power up and down to balance the light in the room. I chose to make it about a stop brighter to be sure it was the main light on her face.

Next I just moved closer and tried a few angles with the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4.

After exploring my options for later, I then took my second Nikon D5 and put the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G lens on it and did a few more shots for angles. Now the reason it is on a second body is it would be much faster to change cameras than lenses.

[Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 200, ƒ/1.8, 1/60–Alienbees B1600, Translucent Umbrella, Pocketwizard remotes]
Again I then tried a few different angles and compositions.

My gear for this photo shoot:

Nikon D5

Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8

Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4

Alienbees B1600

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pocketwizard TT5 & TT1 kit

Pocketwizard AC-9

Pocketwizard AC-3

Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand

Westcott 2001 43-Inch Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella

Drew Gibson Country-Blues Song-Writer

Drew Gibson plays at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega, GA with Dave Hadley playing the steel guitar. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45]
Last night we drove up to Dahlonega, GA to see one of my wife’s friends from her college days in Richmond, VA play at The Crimson Moon.

Drew Gibson plays a country-blues style of music. He writes all of his music.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/3.8, 1/100]
His latest album is 1532, which is about his late father and his family. I believe when artists start to deal with those raw emotions that they experience in things like losing of a loved one they are able to unleash their emotions.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/70]
Musicians often create a vibe with their music that draws others in since this often resonates with their audiences emotions as well.

While listening I felt like the photos I was taking from my seat just didn’t capture all the emotions I wanted to capture. I went outside and saw this in front of The Crimson Moon and could see Drew and Dave playing through the window.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/90]
Shooting through the window created this barrier between me and the musicians. The reflections in the window were from outside the coffee shop.

Often this is how I think we listen to music. We hear the music of the artist and at the same time we are reflecting on our own lives. The experience of the event creates this hybrid of our worlds colliding.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/25]
When I came back into the restaurant I wanted to capture the guests all relaxed and listening. I wanted to pickup on the mood of the place itself.

I took a few photos from different parts of the room to give more context to the small venue in Dahlonega.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/80]
Too often people get a tunnel vision and just continue to shoot from the same spot with the same lens. It maybe a great composition and the best angle, but it isn’t the only angle.

Move around and find those different perspectives.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/500]
If you are wanting to experience a similar concert as I did, then go to The Crimson Moon website for list of concerts.

You can find out more about Drew Gibson on his website as well.

This is song about Drew’s Mother Betty Jane from the album.

Here is another song by Drew, “When the Vinyl Scrapes”.

You can’t handle the truth

In the bush village of Sabtenga a small outreach group has been started. The oldest man in a hat was Musanai Zemnai, the Chief of the Young People, who is welcoming the group. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/350]
I grew up singing in Baptist churches “Blessed Assurance”. The refrain went like this:

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

The words of this song are key to the photojournalist’s ethics. We are not there to tell our story, but rather the subjects story. As long as the subject is honest with the journalist then they must reciprocate.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 15-30mm ƒ/3.5-4.5, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/160]
When I was visiting the Chief among the young people of the bush village in Sabtenga I took many different photos of him.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/500]
While I ended up with a variety of photos that I could use it was imperitive on me to pick those photos that helped to tell his story.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/640]
Often the photojournalist is limited to just one photo, so which one is the one photo?

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/400]
How a journalist arrives at the photo is one of determining the storyline. Often the journalist will pull together a narrative using the photos in a certain sequence to tell the subjects story.

Look at these different photos here and pick which photo you think is the best photo for the story.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/180]
[Nikon D2X, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/180]
[Nikon D2X, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/180]
I hope you took your time and looked at each one closely. Most of those who may read this will have picked a photo.

If you picked a photo and would run this photo you have now just violated the ethics of photojournalism.

The question you should have been asking is what is the story and which photo does the best job of telling the story. Since you didn’t know the story then you must say I cannot choose without knowing the storyline.

What are the code of ethics? Here is the National Press Photographers Association code of ethics.

Code of Ethics

Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:

  1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
  3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
  5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
  6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
  7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
  8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
  9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

Ideally, visual journalists should:

  1. Strive to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public. Defend the rights of access for all journalists.
  2. Think proactively, as a student of psychology, sociology, politics and art to develop a unique vision and presentation. Work with a voracious appetite for current events and contemporary visual media.
  3. Strive for total and unrestricted access to subjects, recommend alternatives to shallow or rushed opportunities, seek a diversity of viewpoints, and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view.
  4. Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromise or give the appearance of compromising one’s own journalistic independence.
  5. Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.
  6. Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.
  7. Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Visual journalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it.

But we are not journalists!!!!

We have to protect our __________

You may have inserted into that blank your organization or even the subject. You feel like you know how best to help people by not telling the complete story. The audience just will not understand.

Just remember that you put yourself on a very high horse just like in the movie

Could “we the people” handle a bit more of the truth? One would certainly like to think so.

When you get in the way of “truth” you have changed the narrative. You have robbed the subject of “their story” and replaced it with “your story” or “your organizations story”.

Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

When it is finally shared do you want to be the one person that altered the story in any way that could diminish it’s power?

Who has your back?

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320]
If you are a freelancer or a business owner you might be like me and wake up in the middle of the night sweating from anxiety of how will I pay my bills this month. There is nothing on the books for a while and you wonder will the phone ring again or will you get an email.

Matthew 6:25-34

Worry
25 I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?

27 Can worry make you live longer?[a] 28 Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. 29 But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth[b] wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. 30 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?

31 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

34 Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.

So I know that scripture and still I wake up in a cold sweat. My main concern is how to get a paying job from a client or potential client. This is the core issue.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]
One of the best things about being young was not having these worries. My parents carried those worries for me. I went out and played with my friends.

I think the key to solving the “cold sweats” at night are the same keys to building strong friendships.

One of the coolest things I can remember growing up was when someone knocked on the door and wanted to play with me. Today I still enjoy it when a friend calls me up and asks me to play golf with them.

This feeling of euphoria is one of the most powerful emotions.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
What was even better than just having a friend knock on my door was the invitation to do something that they had already made plans. Do you want to go bowling? Some of the best memories are when I had a friend who was creating an experience for me and asked me to join them.

One way to have your “cold sweat” disappear is the client to call with a project. That solves my problem right away. This does happen, but what I have found that solves this problem more than receiving a request is to be just like that friend of mine knocking on the door asking me if I wanted to go out on the lake in their boat for skiing.

You see, most all of your clients also have those “cold sweats” of some sort. They need ideas as well.

Solve your clients problem and you will solve your own

What is your client’s problem? This takes a lot of time to figure out. Steve Jobs solved problems for the world. One of the first problems he solved was a way to carry around a lot of music and help musicians sell their music through the iPod and iTunes.

Another problem Steve Jobs solved was needing a computer with you all the time to be able to solve problems at a moments notice. The iPhone allowed you to search the web right in the palm of your hand.

[Nikon D2X, 20-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 4100, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
You need to put your clients first and success will find you. Once you have clients it is much easier to get to know them and learn what their needs are than if they are prospects.

If you do a great job of providing a solution to their problems that you can provide then you are on the way to a profitable career.

Not every solution should involve you. If you are truly concerned for a client there are times that you just will give your client a solution that doesn’t involve you directly.  When you do this on a regular basis rather than just one time you will be communicating that you are really looking out for their best interests over your own.

By not always coming to a client with solutions that only you can fulfill but others are better at meeting those needs you become the fixer for them. They will be more likely to listen to you more than if the only time you are coming to them you are the solution.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/640]
When you are the person calling your clients with ideas for their problems, you are just like the friend knocking on their door asking them to come and join you on an adventure.

Faith is Distinct from Human Belief

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/18

Yesterday I was studying Hebrews 11. As I was reading all the examples of those who had great faith it struck me that all these examples did not have the scripture as Jews, Christians or Muslims have today.

Hebrews 11
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. 

The chapter continues using the examples of: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

They had a very special relationship with God. They knew God and God knew them. They seemed to walk together through life.

What to me is interesting is the phrase of “By Faith” used to introduce each of them. This is quite different than saying “By Confidence”.

Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, “faith” for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will.

Throughout scripture faith is always received from God, and never generated by us. In many ways this is what Christians would believe is the Holy Spirit working through us. It is also what many would say is how God works on the hearts and minds of those who are not believers.

Understanding that Faith is given by God makes it much easier to read this scripture and understand it was only with God’s intervention that Abraham could have offered his son in sacrifice.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

The more I read and study about the concept of faith the more I see that it is something that comes from a relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”

To run my business by faith would require me to be called by God to be in this business. It requires me to yield to his will and to take time each day to be in a relationship with God. Without the relationship there can be no faith. I must allow God to speak to me and be willing to listen.

If you feel called to the profession you are doing today, then are you living by faith? I cannot tell you the 5 steps to living by faith, because faith is given by God and not something that we can be produced by us.

We can carve out time today to be with God. We can read the scripture and live by his commandments. We can seek to know his will.

This to me is why I love Jesus so much. This one scripture keeps it simple for me.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Mac Users tips on Sharing files with PCs

USB Drive

This is written for Mac users. I have found that when it comes to formating a USB drive or even an external hard drive that you intend to share with PC users it is important to know there are many ways you can choose to format the drive.

I will walk you through the steps here which will let you easily share your files with anyone and if they want to they can add files to the drive to give back to you. We had to do this for our Storyteller Abroad Workshops where we had a mixture of Macs and PCs used in the workshop.

We wanted to share photos and videos so we could use this in b-roll and we needed to have everyone’s Adobe Premier project completely saved to a hard drive that we could open on the instructors computers to fix if needed later or if we need to change something due to changes in the storyline.

In your toolbar pick the Launchpad.

Then select “Other” folder.

Inside that folder is “Disk Utility” that you want to select. Another way to select this is to go to Spotlight and type in Disk Utility.

When it launches it you will then go and highlight your drive that you want to format on the left column.

Then in the top center of the menu click on “Erase”.

Name your drive and then click on “Format” so you can see all the options.

You want to pick “ExFAT”.

Next be sure you pick the scheme of “Master Boot Record” as well. The problem is that Apple defaults new partitions to GUID, which is bootable on a new Mac. But Windows can’t read it. You have to manually choose MBR (Master Boot Record) as the partition type, which is bootable in Windows, and then format as exFAT.

Sometimes you might get an error after it attempts to format the drive. Try it a second time and it usually works.

Now you can share your files using a USB drive or hard drive with your clients.

I suggest using this format all the time so that you never get the call that the client cannot open your USB Jump Drive or Hard Drive.

Use flash like garlic – A little goes a long way

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
I am one of my favorite customers Raving Fan. For the past 13 years Chick-fil-A has taken one day a year for customer appreciation day. However the cows like to call it “Cow Appreciation Day.”

Being a Raving Fan of Chick-fil-A I wanted my photos to stand out and show my enthusiasm for the brand.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 560, ƒ/4, 1/100 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
Now everyone is taking photos with their phones and point and shoots of the day. I am competing with thousands of photos. How do you make your photos stand out and look “different”?

The best way I have found is to use a flash off at 45º of the camera axis to create a pleasing light. It also helps color correct giving you excellent skin tones.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/200 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
Here is the setup where my assistant is holding the off camera flash for me.

Using the flash helps in so many ways. I do not have raccoon eyes from the sun overhead and getting the skin color just right is equivalent to singing in tune.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 140, ƒ/2, 1/100 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
I am using the flash inside and outside. Also I am just adding the flash to about +1 Stop above the existing light. Sometimes a little less. If you are just above the existing light level the flash can help color correct any color cast.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/200 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
One more thing that might not be apparent, but I am not lighting the entire scene. I am just adding a little light to the subject only. The backgrounds are all lighted by other light source than my flash.

If you want to make your photos stand out just add a little light to the subject, because just like seasoning a little light goes a long way.

Here is all the gear I used for the photo shoot. All of these links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.


Nikon D5
 Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4
Neewer TT860
Neewer Radio remote

MagMod Basic Kit – v3

MagSphere

How to identify people in large group photos and projects

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 1/80 – (2) Alienbees B1600 for fill]
Yesterday I did a few large group photos. The editors needed identification of everyone in these group photos. Within Lightroom you can go to “People” and it will search for all the faces and using face recognition software similar to how Facebook works.

While Lightroom helps you with “face recognition” you still have to get everyone’s names. For an earlier post on how Lightroom “face recognition works here is that blog post.

Here is a link to Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop software:

 

By the way I just made the photo with all the people’s names in it big in Lightroom and did a screen grab. In addition to putting the information in the IPTC I also gave them this photo for them to see the identification.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 360, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
I had each person print their name on a 3.5″ x 5″ card with a Sharpie. Then I made a quick headshot of each person.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 140, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
After they held up the card I had them put it by their side and did a couple of very quick headshots. I gave all these also to the client. It is a bonus for them, but I needed it to help me to identify people in all the photos.

I also needed everyone to fill out a Model Release. Here is the short form I use on a card stock.

My assistant hands out pens and the cards to make all this go really fast. I use the Software fotoBiz to create the model releases. It comes with the wording as well for the model release. This is a link to the software. I am an affiliate and the revenue from sales helps support this blog.


I hope these tips can help you the next time you need to identify a large number of people quickly in your group photos.

What do I charge and how do I word something with a client?

This is the most useful software package I own for my business. While I have Adobe Creative Cloud Suite which I use Lightroom, PhotoShop and Premier Pro regularly, it is fotoBiz X that runs the business side of my work. Here is a link to the software. I am a affiliate of their program. This is an affiliate link which means that I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.


Now for years I knew about the software, but I didn’t use it. I couldn’t figure out the advantages of the software.

Now many years later I regret having not purchased this earlier. Experience started to teach me that I needed help.

When you first open the program you should go to setup and put in your information and if you have a logo put that in as well.

They show you examples of what it will look like on a #10 envelop or on a invoice.

One thing you will need early on is a model release.

Under “Forms and Releases” you will find five difference templates. There is one for:

Adult Model Release
Minor Model Release
Photographer’s Portfolio Release
Property Release
Simplified Adult Release

It will drop your name or company name into the form and then you can just print it out.

Another problem I was always running into was how do you word your cover letters, late payment letters and even a copyright violation letter? Well the software comes with a lot of email templates that you can use and modify for your correspondence uses.

A question I often had early on and continue today having is what to charge for certain uses. The fotoBiz comes with fotoQuote which will help you with knowing what you should charge not only for a stock use, but also in assignment work. Here is a link to just buy fotoQuote.


fotoQuote was just updated to version 7. This includes social media use now in the latest version.

It has also video and all the possible ways you might want to use it. Now while you may not always get the prices they recommend, these are the prices many are getting in the industry.

By having this information of prices you now have a better idea of the range of a job and what you can quote. I have learned that fotoQuote has helped me more than anything in getting a better idea of a low medium and high price for a job. I just give clients three prices most of the time.

The low, medium and high price quote is based on uses that the client can get as well as how long they may use the images. Without fotoQuote I really didn’t have any idea on how to offer three different prices.

fotoBiz also helps you with creating estimates which then can easily be transformed into the invoice with just a click. You can always just create the invoice as well.

When you sell a stock image the software lets you embed a thumbnail into the invoice with all the information about the sale. It will ask if you want a reminder on your calendar when the usage is up. This way you can then write a letter not to remind the people time is up, but to write a letter asking if they want to extend it with estimates for extending the usage.

You can download the demo and try it for 14 days free of charge. fotoBiz is just $299. This is not a subscription based software. You own it and can use it forever.

I can tell you that this is a software that will help empower the freelancer to know what to charge and help you communicate with your prospects and clients in putting together estimates, invoices and even email correspondence.

FotoBiz® has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so what do you have to lose?

Here is a video showing you how it works.