When one photo is needed from an event

Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Newnan is renovating, but while renovations are taking place there is a new shipping container restaurant for drive thru only service. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200]
This week I have had a few assignments that each one needed one main photo that would work with an extended caption.

While I shot hundreds of photos all around these locations it comes down to one main shot that if there was space for just one photo then I had to have one that summarized the event the best.

I like this first one for showing a brand new shipping container modified for temporary drive thru restaurant.

The Georgia Historical Society put a historical marker at the Original Hapeville Dwarf House. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1100, ƒ/16, 1/500]
On Tuesday there was a dedication ceremony where they unveiled the historical marker at the Original Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA. I arrived early and put my Nikon D5 with a 14-24mm lens on a monopod and hoisted it up high to capture this shot. The fire the shutter I just used the timer on the camera to trip the shutter release.

Now I had hundreds of photos of speakers and people gathered around the historical marker, but all of them didn’t make the simple statement that this photo does. There is a historical marker in front of the Dwarf House.

The key to finding the photo is knowing the storyline. Now you cannot tell the entire story, but can you come close. Just think of what the audience needs to see.

Vince Dooley, the chairman of the Georgia Historical society and advisory board member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation was one of the speakers. Being the famous UGA football coach I continued to think of fun captions for this photo where he is commenting on playing between the hedges. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 320, ƒ/9, 1/500]

Creating the Publicity Photo for the Musical Oklahoma

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/8000

This morning we spent the time shooting promotion shots for Roswell High School’s Theatre performance of Roger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma. We were shooting a variety and then we will pick the one favorite we all have for the 12′ x 8′ banner that we will put in front of the school.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/400

This is me and the setup for shooting the first photo that Dorie my wife took of me. Now I am shooting High Speed Sync of 1/8000 to make the sky go darker and create more of the “Big Sky” look you would have in Oklahoma.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/4000

This was the first photo we started shooting.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1400

Here you can see my setup. I am using [2] Alienbees B1600 for the lights. To power them I am using the Paul Buff Vagabond batteries. To trigger the lights I am using Pocketwizard AC-9 pugged into the Alienbees B1600 and then into the Pocketwizard TT5. This is receiving the signal from the Pocketwizard TT1 with the AC-3 to dial in the exposures on the camera.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000

I am shooting low again to emphasize the big sky.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/640

I tried to keep it simple by not moving all around the farm but rather make use of more time at the same location and vary the camera angle.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/4000

Last night we watched the movie of Oklahoma with Shirley Jones starring as Laurey Williams. I feel like this last photo has that same look and feel of the movie.

I wonder which of these might be the banner photo we use to promote the musical Oklahoma.

Here you can get a feel for what we are creating when all the type is added.

My favorite images from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2016

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) is knocked out of bounds by Washington Huskies defensive back Taylor Rapp (21) during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

This is a sampling of some of my favorite images from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) is knocked out of bounds by Washington Huskies defensive back Taylor Rapp (21) during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. [Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 64000, ƒ/8, 1/1600]
Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
Washington Huskies (20) defensive back Kevin King pursues Alabama’s (9) Bo Scarbrough. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) scores their first touchdown. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 66535, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts looks for running room. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts looks for running back Bo Scarbrough for hand off. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the fourth quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the fourth quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 65535, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates Bo Scarbrough (9) 68 yard run for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the fourth quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 32000, ƒ/4.2, 1/1600]
Alabama head coach Nick Saban addresses the crowd as the Tide celebrates after the Alabama vs. Washington Peach Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal football game, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. [Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
Alabama head coach Nick Saban receives the Peach Bowl trophy after the Alabama vs. Washington Peach Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal football game, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. [Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]

Tis The Season for Group Photos

This is a photo taken at the mall near us where you could get your picture with Santa. They created an experience that with Po and his friends you can go on adventure to see Santa. Our son loves Po so we wanted the photo with Po even more than our photo with Santa.

They had created great backgrounds and over all experience to put families with Santa.

The key to group photos is planning — and how big you plan to use the photo can make a big difference in your planning. We don’t hang wristwatches on the wall, because their faces are so small you cannot tell time with them. In most family rooms, you could have a three-inch face clock and tell the time. In a classroom, you might need a 10-inch face. The clock face size is a good rule of thumb for determining whether someone will be recognized in a wall print at a normal viewing distance.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 900, ƒ/8, 1/100

The more you show in a photograph other than people’s faces, the larger the photo needs to be to recognize the people, because their face size will diminish. If your group photo is more for identification, then getting everyone close together where you can see their faces should be the primary goal. Then you can run the photo in a publication and people can tell what everyone looks like.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 – 2 Alienbees B1600 strobes in a balcony lighting the room

On the other hand, if your photo is more about creating a mood for a poster of, say, a hip-hop band, then you will shoot much looser and space the people out and let their body language help establish the mood. For these concept/mood photos, I like to spread people out and put people at different heights (relative to their faces). I like to think in triangles. If you were to connect the dots (faces) between people, do they make triangles? Create depth by having some people closer to the camera and others further away. This will give it a more three-dimensional feel.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, 4 – Alienbees B1600, 4 – PocketWizard Plus, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

If you go to the music store and look at CD covers of music groups, you can see some of the leading work done in the industry. Try copying some of these until you get the hang of it and can come up with your own concepts.

If you pre-plan and have a good idea and have taken into consideration people’s sizes, you will move pretty quickly through the process. If you don’t, it goes slowly and your photo may fall apart — because you will lose the attention and interest of the people in the photo.


Nikon D4, 14-24mm ƒ/8, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200, Off camera Alienbees B1600

In scouting locations in advance, you are not only choosing a location because of the scenery; you are also ensuring you are there at the best time of day for a group photo. Having the sun right behind the group isn’t the best technical photo. Sometimes, a location won’t work simply because the group isn’t available at the right time of day to make the photo.

I have found that if you have done your homework, you can pretty much make any group photo in 10 to 15 minutes. You may get to the location earlier, but the people in the photo should be able to be placed into position immediately — and then you are just looking for good expressions.

Nikon D5, Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125, Off camera Alienbees B1600

One last thing that can make a great impact on the quality of your photo: either have a laptop computer or TV on location to view the images as you shoot. Virtually all digital cameras will plug into a TV and let you see the image big enough to assess the smallest details — enabling you to move people only inches and improve the final product.

Some of my favorite Sports photos

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/8, 1/2000

I just thought I would share some of my favorite sports images that I now have in my most recent “Sports Portfolio.”

This first photo is of Kerri Walsh spikes the volleyball against Jenny Krop & teammate Nancy Mason in the 3rd round of the Women’s $100,000 AVP Crocs Tour at Atlantic Station in Atlanta.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Georgia Bulldog’s #2 Defensive Back Maurice Smith breaks up the pass to North Carolina Tarheel’s #3 Ryan Switzer in their win over UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome.

What I love about the photo is there is an anticipation of the big play and we see both the offense and defense in a very competitive and athletic moment. Both players appear to be giving it their all in the moment.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Georgia Bulldog’s Freshman Running Back #35 Brian Herrien Scores his very first collegiate touch down while UNC’s Safety #15 Donnie Miles was unable to stop him during tonights Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome.

I love the effort made by both the teams in the moment of competition. This is what the game is all about, getting a touchdown and defending all wrapped up in a split second.

Nikon D100, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 1/350

Jaron Nunnemaker attempts to ride Hot Rod during the 2004 RBR Atlanta Classic at the Georgia Dome.

Bull Riding is the wildest and most dangerous event in rodeo. In the American tradition the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight full seconds to count as a qualified ride. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 64000, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000

The bulls are rated and even more famous in many ways than the cowboys who ride them. This bull here had 27 consecutive buck offs, now that is 28. A cowboy must stay on the bull 8 seconds for the ride to count. Then they get a score which takes into account the bull they are riding.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 64000, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000
Every once in a while when a bull is determined unrideable the Professional Bull Riders Association has a million dollar ride. At $125,000 per second, this bonus ride is offering one of the largest payouts any athlete has ever received for the amount of time they are required to compete. In comparison, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received roughly $12 million dollars to play in 15 NFL games in 2013.  At 54,000 seconds per season, it took Romo 4,500 seconds to make $1 million.
Nikon D100, Sigma 15-30mm, ISO 400, ƒ/6.7, 1/180
Georgia Tech’s #1 B. J. Elder lays up and passes Duke’s #2 Luol Deng during second half play at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia.
I love basketball and for those teams that take it to the net this is my favorite place to photograph. You get to see the effort in the face expressions and how close they are to either making the basket or defending it.
Nikon D100, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/6.7, 1/180
Georgia Tech’s #2 Isma’il Muhammad slams one early over NC State’s #11 Gavin Grant during play at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia.
This is one of those photos most players either love or hate. Love that Isma’l flew over the NC State player Gavin for a slam. It made the ESPN highlights during that week and was played over and over. When Isma’l graduated the coach had a large print made and gave it to him.
Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, Sigma 2x, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3000
Mike Trapani is chased down by Chris Campbell  and finally tagged out by Nick Chigges  of the College of Charleston during play at the Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
I love the steal in baseball and if I am in the right position as here can capture the effort of both offense and defense as they both are trying to advance a base or stop it.
Nikon D2X, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6,  ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/200–[6] Alienbees B1600
Sometimes my favorite moments were when I made the team photo that would help sell tickets for the season. Seeing this photo on the side of buses around town to promote Calvin Johnson and the rest of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2006 season was a pleasure.
Hope you enjoyed some of the moments in sports of mine through the years.

You ready for snow days?

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000

Here are just a couple tips that can help you in taking photos in snow. First you can use the scene mode of snow if it exists on your camera. Another option is the beach scene mode. Both of these will get you pretty close.

The downside to using scene mode is the camera doesn’t know if you are shooting landscape or action in the snow.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/800

My suggestion is the use the exposure compensation on your camera as a way to compensate for all that white snow.

This is the location of the Exposure Compensation on the Nikon D3S. You push this and spin the dial on the back of the D3S to under or over expose the photo.

Now this is in different places on each camera, so get your manual out and look for exposure compensation in the index.


Exposure Compensation Dial on Nikon P7000

Most of today’s cameras also have different metering modes. On Nikon I recommend shooting with matrix metering.

Here is what camera settings I suggest for capturing action in the snow.
  1. Matrix Metering
  2. +1 Exposure Compensation – Take test shots and see if needing more or less. Each camera responds a little differently.
  3. Auto ISO
    1. Use the camera suggested latitude ISOs for your camera. I use 100 – 104,000 for my Nikon D5, but only 200-6400 for my Fuji X-E2
    2. Minimum shutter speed of 1/2000 for my Nikon D5 and 1/500 for Fuji X-E2
  4. Aperture Priority – Choosing depth-of-field that is appropriate for the photo. 
  5. Continuous Focus – Single focus mode will lock the focus but if they are sledding to you they will not be in focus. Need to be in continuous mode to track the subjects.
Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000
For many of these photos I decided to shoot as fast as I could at 1/8000. It isn’t necessary to stop the motion, but I was just seeing what it looked like and really liked the results.
Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000

Action Shot Tips

  1. Place yourself to where the action is going. For most all these photos I captured the people at the bottom of the hill. this way I captured their expressions and not the backs of their heads.
  2. Don’t just shoot action, but reaction and things around the action.
  3. Use your motor drive to capture series of images.
Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000
Here I was at the top of the hill and captured the brother and sister as they came back up the hill. You can still see the excitement. I also purposely composed to show someone at the bottom of the hill or you wouldn’t know it was a hill.
Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 2000, ƒ/8, 1/500
For this photo I was panning with them as they got a push. The idea is to mix up as much as you can the photos so you have captured more of the memories for the years ahead to remind them how everyone was having fun together.
I think I am now ready for some snow.

Storytelling is the biggest form of entertainment

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience’s attention. Although people’s attention is held by different things, because individuals have different preferences in entertainment, most forms are recognizable and familiar. Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures, were supported in royal courts, developed into sophisticated forms and over time became available to all citizens. The process has been accelerated in modern times by an entertainment industry which records and sells entertainment products. –– Wikipedia

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/45

During my time in London we stopped by The Globe. The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997 approximately 750 feet from the site of the original theatre.

I believe photography is one way for us to preserve these storytelling moments and be enjoyed in a new medium and able to be shared to many more than live theater can do. While theater is quite entertaining it is just one way for us to capture the imagination of people. Storytelling is a great way to take the brain hostage and substitute ones own imagination for another person’s.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 3200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I love the theater for the same reason I love the movies and TV dramas, they all help me think beyond my imagination. After watching these stories I often find my mind dreaming new dreams made possible by these art forms.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

To me the one thing that is just as impactful if caught in such a way that it is a slice of a story is real life. I believe photojournalism is that medium of telling real life stories.

Here is a slice of a wedding which is the first chapter of the couples new life together.

If you want your photography to get better the more your work embodies those real moments that are captured in the best light with a perspective that helps move you along the storyline I think you are going to have a very good chance of hijacking a person’s brain from their own dreaming stories to your storytelling.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Great lighting, great stage direction and acting can really capture an audience’s attention. But if you want them to really remember then a sound track can make your story even more memorable.

We all have had a earworm. An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition”, “involuntary musical imagery”, and “stuck song syndrome”.

Also music can just help create mood as much as light does. Music helps us remember storylines and just about anything.

This leads me to what I love doing today the most. Multimedia packages where I combine still images, motion and audio to tell a story.

I do this for companies. Here is just one example:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/160960408 
Storytelling is an art form. The artist is always looking for ways to capture the audiences attention, because you are competing not just with other things demanding their attention, you are competing with their own day dreaming.

I want to cover international conflicts

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Before you take a career jump to become a Conflict Correspondent let me give you some insights that come from many years of studying this for myself. First, I have never covered war.

I have many friends who have covered war and conflicts around the globe. I have sat in many presentations by them where they have shared some gruesome to insightful comments on these situations.

http://www.stanleylearystoryteller.com/WarBooks/index.html
These are some of the books that I have in my personal library on covering conflict. I have read all of them and met many of the authors. I recommend all these books and you can still find them on Amazon or eBay.

This doesn’t make me an expert, but it does make me more educated about some of the issues of covering war.

This is the latest book I have read on the subject by Lynsey Addario. It is a honest and very transparent biography of a war photographer. Click on the picture for link to the book.

The possibility of being kidnapped and hurt are very real. Daniel Pearl was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal with American and Israeli citizenship. He was kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists and later murdered in Pakistan on February 1, 2002.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Every time I am teaching a new group of wannabe photographers I have someone wanting to pursue this path. If this is your calling then by all means pursue it, but don’t jump out of the plane without a parachute. That parachute should be some resources to help get you out in an emergency as well as people who are in touch with you regularly who can track you down if they lose communications with you. A contract with someone before you go is ideal.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Here are my comments from a recent post on a Facebook group. The person had been in the military and was asking how to do work in hostile environments as a photographer.

My first post was to search for the Committee to Protect Journalists and The Dart Center for Journalism

 There were a few posts in between. I could sense this guy was ready to go, so I chimed in again.

Before risking your life I would highly suggest having portfolio reviewed by photo editors that see this kind of work regularly. You need to know before you go if you have a chance of being published based on your ability to capture story. Also will help with finding someone who is willing to consider your work. You need someone interested in your work to send it to before you go. 

I thought that if you didn’t know how to find that kind of material you most likely were not going to be good in war trying to find information, but I didn’t say that instead I wrote this in response to their question on asking me to tell them who that might be.

VII agency, Magnum, Newsweek, Time, … most importantly I would not go without being on some contract. You also need a lot of street smarts and kinda know how to research who even uses war photography. Pretty simple. Pick up magazine/newspaper. In masthead are your contacts. 

They thought they would just contact those sources and they would just use them right away on the field. I had to chime in again and say:

Most War Correspondents start at a paper. Often just a small paper. 

Still not understanding I continued:

You start at a paper covering local not going straight to overseas. If you can’t tell stories locally you are not going to do so overseas. That is how you build a brand.  

The military didn’t send you to battle without extensive training so why do you think you are just as prepared with camera? If your goal is conflict coverage then show you can win the war and not the battle. Take the steps to prove you have the visual storytelling skills. It is similar to showing you passed all the basic training skills necessary to be a soldier. Skipping this step, as all your posts appear to insinuate further demonstrates to me that you are not ready.  

Patience with storytelling is very important. It appears you are in love with the experience and not why journalists cover conflict. 

Storytellers/Journalists want to inform people with truth. They realize how extremely difficult this is. Not just a photo of what is in front of the camera but rather interpretation of the events so as to help inform accurately. You need to be a writer as well. You need to write informative and journalistic captions if not stories to accompany your photos. 

James Nachtwey’s heart is so engaged and his head is using every skill it can to provide understanding.  

My last comment that is the most important point I can make. 

What can you provide that isn’t already being done? Unless you can truly talk about stories not being told I don’t think you have proven to any editor why they need to see your story.  

Publications/Media Outlets have limited funds and need to support those who are already proving every day with their work. Its not fair to those who are producing right now and doing a great job for you to get any work, unless you have a portfolio of work that is superior.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 450, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

By the way our oldest son served in the Army and just recently got out as a Captain. I can tell you if you go into conflict many of your family will not rest while you are in conflict. I knew many spouses who had to stop working while their spouses served. They were hyper-vigilant waiting for safe return and scared that someone would be knocking at their door with sad news of their loved one dying in service to country.

If you have plans to have a family then you really need to read these books and hear how most everyone had no family life or ended up in divorce.

War will take a toll on you emotionally. You may come home physically in one piece but mentally a wreck.

If you still think you are called then do everything you can to be prepared. Also, if no one will send you this is a good sign that you don’t have what it takes. You have to demonstrate you can be a storyteller outside of conflict before anyone will trust you.

Working on capturing the mood and place for a community

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

I am working on a story that requires me to go to a few states and capture some of the culture in those communities.

This week I am in Hyannis, Massachusetts. I cannot think of Hyannis without thinking about the Kennedy family. It is also a beach town and this is the closest I could find to bring me to what I think about when I think of this community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800

I tried to capture the beach in a way that said Cape Cod. Some of the lighthouses in this area are in private communities guarded by gates. I didn’t want to just go all over the coast when the area I needed to concentrate on is Hyannis.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640
Just turning around is the ocean, but to me this could of been anywhere on the east coast. I was missing something that made me thing of Hyannis which is in Cape Cod.
I am capturing not just moments but symbolism and I needed the building that was classic to the architecture of Cape Cod.
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/400
This is a typical home in Hyannis. What I mean is the color of the home and the cedar siding.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

Now I went to Main Street and captured some of the shops along the street. While this isn’t the peak of the summer when the place would be packed, I do think I was capturing some of the community.

Samsung 7S Edge, ISO 50, ƒ/1.7, 1/18816

While in Lansing, Michigan I went to the local GM plant and shot this through the chain link fence on a bridge. The reason I used my cell phone is my camera lenses were too big and captured the fence. The lens on the Samsung 7S Edge was small enough to fit in the opening of the fence.

Some photos are not as dramatic, but do help establish what a community is about. Many people are employed here from the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2200, ƒ/8, 1/100

The other thing about Lansing is it is the state capital of Michigan. I worked at getting a decent photo of the state capital to help talk about the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/800

Sometimes detail shots like of this lamp around the capital can be very useful in a package to tell a story.

All of these stills are part of a larger story where I will be using motion and interviews to put the story together. My goal with the photos is to have some b-roll that I can use just like Ken Burns does in his films. I often find panning across a still photo is much smoother than video sometimes can be and I can get many more shots in than the time it takes to get a 20 second motion clip.

Here some travel tips that I am using for each of my trips.

  • Google the City and look under images for your search
    • Make a list of possible locations
    • Research where to maybe take some of those photos 
  • Schedule my interview early with the subject so I have time to go out and capture some of the images of the things the subject talks about in their comments.
  • Talk to people from the area
  • Talk to front desk people at the hotel for their input. Sometimes they can give you unique insights
Now many times the city skyline is quite famous. For me this is a photo you need if the community is know for it’s unique skyline. Here is a post I did about the St. Louis Skyline.
Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 2.5 sec
Sometimes like with the famous skyline of Seattle you get what I call a WOW photo. The key is to try and find a way to surprise your audience.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12500, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
Sometimes it is just getting close to an icon like the Auburn War Eagle. 

Understanding Copyright and Cost of doing business isn’t the secret to success

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, 4–Alienbees B1600, ISO 200, ƒ/11, 1/160

For the past 20+ years the photography community has been pushing for photographers to know their rights. Copyright is at the top of that list. Right next to it was you knowing the cost of doing business.

I even perpetuated many of these tips that photographers needed to know to be sure they were running a healthy business.

Before 2002 quality images were hard to come by versus today where almost daily the amount of well exposed, in focus images are being created faster than we can calculate. The reason I picked the year 2002 is that is when a 6-megapixel camera went from $25,000 to under $2,000. This made if very affordable for the masses.

Today there are so many images available that for the most part photography is now a commodity.

As photographers were pushing for more from customers and trying to explain why they must get more money the customer needed them less and less.

Let me start the business lesson where we never did in the past for photographers. We need to start running our business based on the customer/audience.

Nikon D100, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM,, ISO 200, ƒ/22, 1/160

What is the customer’s problem?

The best possible customer for you is the one going through a major crisis. You can be the super hero and help save their business. You can see plainly their problem and you have a solution that will not only fix the problem but also help them be more successful.

The reality is that this is your only kind of a customer. If they have no problem needing to be fixed with your services they do not need you. Businesses don’t spend money on things that will not help them reach their objective. At least we know they cannot afford to do that very often without going out of business.

Next you need to figure out how much it costs you to provide that solution to the client.

You see if you don’t know the problems you are solving for a business you cannot figure out what you need to be doing in the first place.

[Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

Do the math

Now this math you are going to do has two parts. You have what we call ongoing expenses, which you must spread over all your jobs. This is not just what money you need to pay your home budget needs, but also your business budget. This includes your gear, your costs to find out about customers and costs to communicate to them about your solutions. Remember you have to do all this because they may not hire you and you still have to pay for it somehow.

This cost of doing business is then spread out over all your jobs through a year. Maybe that figure is about $600 per the average job you must build into the price.

Next you must do your math again and add up all the expenses to do the specific job to solve this client’s problem.

You add these together and this is what you must make to stay in business.

How you arrived at this price or what this figure is should never be discussed with the client. This is for you only.

Now if you have a client for example in a ditch with their car in the middle of no where and you have a tow truck and are there to help them you are in a great position, especially if they are in a hurry. This is when you can get a lot more money than had you been in a large city with many more options for the customer to choose from than just you.

Take the time to get to know your market and what prices are typically being charged for these services.

Determine your Target Audience

Now if the going rates are lower than your figure you need to charge you have a problem. You will need to somehow convince people that you are a better solution. That is possible because an oil change can run from $19.95 to $20,000 for a Bugatti Veyron.

Believe it or not there is a formula for true luxury and it is called the Intrinsic Value Dependency Index. Now I am not an expert in this, but in general a product must be of the best quality and in the process creates a space in the market of it’s own. It is important that this item be rare as well. True luxury comes with over the top service as well.

When you get a $20,000 oil change they are doing a lot more than you driving into a bay and stay in the car while they change your oil. They are offering your wine, Champaign or a wonderful latte. Good chance they even picked up your car from your home and brought it back to you at your convenience.

Once you know your figures that you need to charge and you know the market place and have decided where you want to be in that market you not only set your price you create a marketing plan to execute.

You have a website, portfolio, brochures, business cards and other materials you will use to help showcase your work, which is a solution for the customers problem.

Going back to the side of the road with our customer in distress you give them your sales pitch. I am here to help you. I can have my limo driver come and pick you up and take you to where you need to be next and while that is happening I can get your car out of the ditch and take this to the repair shop of your choosing. If you don’t have a repair shop you prefer I have a few that I use regularly that will work with your insurance and get you back up and running.

They love it and ask you how much. You give them the price and they gladly pay. Your limo driver picks them up and offers them some beverages and takes them to their appointment.

Your business is grounded as every other business–you solve other people’s problems. The key is much more than the cost of doing business, copyright or having the latest camera gear. Knowing your client first and foremost is the key.

Photography/Video/Multimedia is the tool to solving problems for customers. Those who are the most successful are not waiting by the phone like a plumber getting a call because a toilet overflowed. The most successful are like Steve Jobs creating products to solve the problems for clients that they didn’t even know they had until they saw the solution.

Summary:

  1. Start with the problem of the client
  2. Come up with a solution to that problem
  3. Know all the costs involved in providing that solution
  4. Create the sales pitch that addresses their problem with your solution and how the outcome will look if they use your services.
  5. Create a price that will cover your costs and help position your services within the market place. Hopefully one that is a luxury and not a commodity.

The secret to successful business is one that is focused on solving clients problems.