How to handle client negotiations

during the second half of play of NCAA college basketball game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 in Atlanta. Georgia Tech won 65-53. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/200 – 4 Alienbees B1600 with 40º Parabolic reflectors]
The Slam Dunk

A Slam Dunk in business is when you exceed the expectations of the client. I have made the mistake many times throughout my career of not doing a great job of managing those expectations.

We have all had the client call and also had the bills stacking up and due to our need of getting the job we rush to do whatever is necessary to just get the job. This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will make unnecessary purchases.

Houston Astros Chick-fil-A night [Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/1000]
Know the client’s expectations

When you have a brand new client managing expectations is so important. You need to not just listen and hear what they are saying, but I often ask for examples of what they are used to working with or if they have not worked with a photographer examples of what they would like that they have seen some where before.

Just this week I had two new clients, which I have never done work with before. In both cases I asked if they could send me some examples of what they are looking for so that we are on the same page.

I had one client send me work that would take little effort on my part to meet and exceed the quality of work they showed to me. However, the other client was talking to me about a photojournalistic coverage of where I was just shadowing someone, but then the photos they sent to me were well crafted lifestyle photos that would be used in a major advertising campaign.

The funny thing is that one client’s budget was more like champaign budget the and other was a beer budget.

In the case where the budget was cheap the taste was luxury for sure. This is where your attitude and negotiation skills come in to help educate the client or at least price the job properly so as to be sure you can deliver the product to meet those expectations.

Father Flor Maria Rigoni is a missionary with the San Carlos Scalabrini and works in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. [Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
It is a conversation

Be careful to not jump to the very end of the process and write a contract that is a take it or leave it situation. Pace yourself.

I talked with my contact and let them know that the price range would be three to four times more than we had first been discussing if the images they showed was exactly what they were wanting. I also asked if they were showing a situation or more the quality that they are looking for in the photo.

Basically I don’t need to spend a lot of time producing an estimate for a advertising shoot when they really just need a ground breaking photo.

I always do my best to start with how I am able and more than willing to meet their expectations and can make it happen for them. I let them know my concern is to always get them the most for their budget.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/500
Don’t be shortsighted, Have Foresight

Your creativity should not be limited to your work with the camera. You need to make the entire experience for your client so special that they love your work and tell others about you.

Your goal should be to surprise your client. One of the ways I started to surprise my clients was to use off camera flash. Just like here with this family photo.


Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/60

In this photo of the hunter it was raining. My flash is covered in zip lock bags. Had I not used the flash the skin color would not be as accurate and the dynamic range would have made the photo look extremely flat.

One way I continue to surprise my customers is quick turn around. I shot a client’s son’s wedding where before the Bride and Groom had left for the honeymoon the next day they had all the photos in an online gallery. As compared to most wedding photographers who take a month or two to get those photos to the bride and groom I had surprised them.

I have a good number of clients that are always changing things at the last moment. My response is always that is OK. I am here to make it happen for you. [Side Note: I do price to cover my need to be flexible]. Many times my clients make changes and I will do my best to move things to still work to get their project done. However, if I cannot make it happen for me to be there I line up a photographer/video person to give them the same quality as me or better.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
[Nikon D4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 10000, ƒ/10, 1/2000]
Take care of your photographer colleagues

This just reminds me to be sure you are developing great friends in the industry. You want to give them work when you can and they should be doing the same for you over time.

If a job is not suited well for you take care of the client and find them the photographer who will be a good fit for the job. They often will come back to you for other jobs when you show to them you are looking out for their best interests over just yourself.

On The Same Page

When you and the client are working from the same page of notes, your ability to meet and exceed their expectations is something you can manage. However, if at any point you make assumptions and don’t verify what their expectations are for a job you can often find yourself reshooting for the same underestimated budget and therefore losing money or just lose the customer over all.

Here is a little secret I discovered over time. When you ask these questions to the client to clarify the scope of a job it makes you look more like an expert and their trust goes up in you.

Still Photographers – Showstoppers

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/80

When you go and experience the Theatre you are seeing the sequencing of a story into moments. Within each scene there is build to a crescendo and then all of these different scenes build to a showstopper most of the time.

A showstopper is a performance or segment of a theatrical production that induces a positive audience reaction strong enough to pause the production.

Nikon D4, NIKKOR 14-24mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

Now when you compare the two photos above the main difference is one is a theatre production and the other is real life happening in real time.

For a scene to be a real showstopper the actors must portray through their body language, expressions and tone of voice what would be in a real life situation.

Now what the theatre has in common with still photography is real life is more like video and moving constantly and with theatre and the still image the pause of the action allows time for the audience to absorb the moment.

Nikon D3, NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

In life we have moments where we ponder and think. If a writer is describing this brief moment they may take four or five pages to describe all that weighs on the character as well as their thoughts and/or dreams. In real life you cannot hear or read those thoughts of people. However in real life the expressions of the person communicates often some of this which a writer only has text to convey.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Actors must convey those four to five pages of text from a book into the play version of that book. The playwright may have notes to the side of the script to help the actor know what they are trying to communicate, but still what it boils down to is capturing in a moment the expression, body language and tone to communicate to the audience the character’s thoughts.

Photojournalists/photographers are not actors in a play. If they are a photographer and they are shooting a scene that will be used in advertising to sell something or doing public relations for a corporation they often will assume the roll of the director. They will place the actors and create the scene to communicate all that they need to capture to move the audience to action.

If they are photojournalists they cannot take on the roll of director. They take on a different roll. The best way to describe that roll has been to be the fly on the wall. The photojournalists can fly around the room looking for a better perspective to see what is going on and then they capture moments as they happen to the later communicate to their audience what happened.

Nikon D5, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.3, 1/400

What does the novelist, playwright, director, actor, and photographer all have in common no matter their roll? Each is aware of what they are communicating and why. To move the audience you must know what you are trying to capture as a photographer.

Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

If you are a photographer you are capturing moments for which you hope they make others pause. As a photojournalist I have learned to do my research before I show up. Listen a great deal with my ears and eyes. I clarify through questions to understand the situation so that I am doing all I can to be true to the moment and not to my preconceived thoughts. I look for those moments that will capture and hopefully be the showstopper that makes you pause and absorb the moment.

I want my pictures to worth the price of admission that my clients pay to see them. 

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.

I am in the People Business

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

McDonald’s

Most people don’t realize it, but McDonald’s is not a burger-flipping restaurant chain; it is one of the world’s best real estate portfolios. Franchisees flip the burgers. McDonald’s simply owns the best commercial property all over the world.

Well through the years and more so lately it has struggled. At one point Ray Kroc said, “McDonald’s is a people business, and that smile on that counter girl’s face when she takes your order is a vital part of our image.” However, that wasn’t a consistent quote from their leader.

Another time Kroc said, “We’re not in the hamburger business. We’re in show business.” But the one I hear the most often when you are at business schools is “We are in the real estate business, not the hamburger business.”

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 2000, ƒ/2.8, 1/400

Chick-fil-A

The founder of Chick-fil-A Truett Cathy said, “My business grew on my understanding that customers are always looking for somebody who is dependable and polite and will take care of them.”

Today Chick-fil-A has a corporate purpose that is in front of their company headquarters that everyone in their company if you ask them can pretty much quote this for memory.

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

I have been in countless meetings where I continue to hear “we have made a commitment to take care of the people who take care of our communities.”

Dan Cathy says,

At Chick-fil-A, we are convinced that Jesus had it right in Matthew 20:26 when He said, “Those who want to become great (leaders) must be willing to become servants.” WE built our leadership competency model around the word SERVE, because we believe that great leaders…

S ee the future
E ngage and develop others
R einvent continuously
V alue results and relationships
E mbody the values

In the lobby of Chick-fil-A Support Center is this statue of Jesus washing Peter’s feet. Here you can see a tour group in the background.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 11400, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

Every manager goes through training on the SERVE model and when they complete the training they get a miniature replica of this statue to put on their desks and remind them of their role.

Communication Professionals

Are you in the people business or are you defining what you do a different way? I believe the core of what we do is all about people. When you ask the basic question of WHY? for all your work it will lead you to a group of people or a person.

Now many of you might think that Jesus was just a push over and a doormat based on the washing of his subordinate’s feet.

If you read John 2:13-22 you will see Jesus clearing the temple with a whip.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320

Humanitarian Communication

Great communication with an audience requires the communicator to ask, “Why should the audience care?”

I think the key to great humanitarian photography is tapping into people’s compassion for one another.

Compassion literally means, “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

Sadly today to get the audiences attention on caring for those who are in need it takes a lot to move the human spirit. After covering those around the world who by no fault of their own are struggling to live and find audiences not responding it can cause the heart of the communicator to break.

Summary

You can define your business as Ray Kroc or as Truett Cathy did with their models.

In 2015, McDonald’s closed down more than 700 of their restaurants.

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3600, ƒ/8, 1/100

Chick-fil-A just celebrated their 2000th store opening in Springfield, IL. Here is the story. They have plans to open 95 stores this year.

You maybe thinking that this is nothing compared to all the McDonald’s worldwide, but the reputations of the two chains couldn’t be further apart.

Chick-fil-A is the highest ranking fast food restaurant in the U.S. for customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report 2015.

If you are in the people business then the most important thing is the customer satisfaction, because sales are always there with this model.

What photojournalism has taught me

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 400, ƒ/11, 1/250 

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that employs images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g., documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work is both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media. ––Wikipedia

In photojournalism you are capturing moments rather than creating them. This is a great way to learn how to capture those moments that help convey the events of the day.

Since you cannot stage your coverage you learn how to go about capturing life. You are trained that you need to get those elements that you can later choose from to help construct a sequence of images that when accompanied with words will tell a story of the day.

The Establishing Shot

The photo above is a great example of an establishing shot. Well maybe not great as in call the pulitzer committee, but for covering the Fort Worth Stockyards it does help establish the place which your story takes place.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/320 

Stand Alone

When shooting for news the photojournalist is mindful of space of the publication. They are looking for the one shot that helps convey most of the story elements. Here is example from the morning I was at the Fort Worth Stockyards that might work as a stand alone shot. You can see the herd of cattle being moved as they do each day by the cowboy.

Detail Shots

Nikon D3, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 2500, ƒ/1.4, 1/320

You may just go down the street to the world famous Billy Bobs and capture some boot scoot dancing for some detail shots.

Nikon D3, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 2500, ƒ/1.4, 1/320

You may just capture some portraits of the patrons for some of your detail shots for the story.

Nikon D3, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 6400, ƒ/1.4, 1/160

The challenge for the photojournalist is to capture those eye candy moments that are part of the story and not just graphically interesting.

Thinking larger package

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1000, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

My mentor Don Rutledge taught me there are times you really just don’t have an ending shot but rather just more examples of the flavor of the story. This here is the world famous Joe T. Garcia’s restaurant where you cannot make a reservation. Bridal parties will just come and wait to be seated on their wedding days.

Nikon D3, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 6400, ƒ/1.4, 1/160

Every time I am at the Fort Worth Stockyards I feel like I am in a travel story for some western magazine.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320

What photojournalism taught me was that if you pay attention and are sensitive to the moment you can anticipate great moments that are more powerful for the most part over a well produced movie. I think this is true because of the authenticity of the moment always trumps something made up.

Expression is often the key element to great photos

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250
Key elements of the sports photo often include the ball and the competition. Here you can see the valiant effort of the receiver catching the ball and the expression of the player as well. He is fully extended and running full speed and keeping his eyes on the ball. Also you can see the defensive player seeing the catch and the concentration as well he has on the ball.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
Here you can see the runner extending for all he can and also see a defensive player’s look of concern that he is still moving ahead.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

The key to almost all good to great photos of people is EXPRESSION. In sports it can be the one thing that helps tell you more of the game.

The closer crop of the top photo shows how intense the defensive player is playing.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

In this photo on the left and right you can see the defensive players reacting to the quarterback starting to pass the ball.

Sometimes the tendency of sports photographers is to crop tight to be sure that is what you need to see. However sometimes by pulling back and including more of the action it helps to communicate more about the play. For example you miss the fact that two players faces are reacting and you miss how close the sack of the quarterback is on the play by being a little looser on the play.

Sports enthusiasts like to see the game being played whereas those who are just a photographer will tend to crop tight for impact.

I can tell you as one who played sports that we like to see more of the play. Seeing the player’s feet during basketball is how players decide which way to drive for example. It is why the crossover is such a big deal.

While this cropped version helps you see the player’s faces it is the looser shot that gives you the perspective of the play developing.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

When you have very little space to use a photo it is better to go tight, but this is why so many sports enthusiast loved getting Sports Illustrated. Those photos that filled two pages didn’t need to be tight as they photo in the sports section of the newspaper. They had the space which helped those who play sports get a better understanding of the play.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

In a high school game the quarterback is more concentrated on the execution and it shows in the face. In the pros they are moving so much quicker that it must be instinct that kicks in for the quarterback to make the handoff.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Expression is more than just in the face. Here you see the bodies all twisting to adjust to the play that just went by them. You also are seeing that the ball carrier is looking more down field and missing the defensive player to his left.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

This is the split second later where his forward advance is stopped.

Which photo here is the best photo? You will see photo editors really studying a photo for the nuances of the expression of the bodies in motion.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

 This first one looks like the defensive player is just about to give up.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

 In the second photo the defensive player looks like he is matching his stride and you wonder if he will catch him.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

In the last photo you can see the offensive player is pulling away and the defensive player is giving his last diving effort to stop the touchdown.

Which photo is best? Well which one not only tells the outcome of the play, but it often needs to be the moment that communicates the game. Most media outlets do not have unlimited space and must choose the moments they use to communicate.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

You really have to pick the right moment to capture the intensity of the play.

Going back to the photo above, compare it to the split second before.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

See how the defensive player’s head is down and you don’t see the eyes?

Now look at the photo again from the split second later of the same play.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

The largest difference between the two photos is being able to see the expression.

Order of importance:

  1. Expression
  2. Composition
  3. Exposure
Now the difference between the truly great photos and the rest is all three are well executed. But the sign of the technician photographer is often those who concentrate more on the last two elements of composition and exposure and not enough on expression.
Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 280, ƒ/7.1, 1/200
Expression can also be in the form of light which helps to create a mood.
Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/100

Getting Good Skin Tones Shooting Basketball

Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/200

The very best way to shoot basketball and get the best skin tones is to use strobes. I have four Alienbee B1600s on a catwalk lighting the basketball court.

Now depending on the colors in the room the color can shift and give you a color shift even with the studio strobes. The reason is the light is bouncing off those colored walls and ceilings. Even the crowds clothing can affect the color temperature.

There are a couple ways to get a color measurement of the light. This is using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport system. After I pull the RAW photo into Lightroom I just click on the eye dropper tool and put it on the grey square I have pointed to here in the photo.

Walk onto the court and hold the card where the players will be and then take a photo.

AS long as you shoot RAW you will get the very best colors because you can tweak this later in the post production of PhotoShop or Lightroom for example.

So when the play is going quick and right in front of you just take the photo.

While strobes will give you the best color as long as you are shooting RAW and taking these pictures of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport you can dial in and get the best color with the existing light as well.

My first preference is the ExpoDisc, but the cool thing with the ColorChecker is you have now more colors for comparison. You will be able to see under some lighting conditions that even after you click on the 18% grey square you may not be able to get a true purple color and since that is on the card you will see that is the best you can get.

How a faith impacts the work of photographers

Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/100

My faith has a lot to do with who I am. I am often asked what it means to be a “Christian Photographer?”

There is an assumption that my faith impacts my work in a way that makes me different than those who are not Christian.

I really wish those of the Christian faith that are photographers were in some way able to outshine all others because our faith in God has illuminated us in some special way that our work just stands out from others, but that is not the case.

Martin Luther was one of the most influential priests in the Christian faith. He is one of the main architects of the great reformation. When asked about being a “Christian tradesman,” he responded so well with

“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

The more I think about Martin Luther’s words it has shaped my thinking of what it means to be a “Christian Photographer.”

The Proof is in the Pudding

The biggest thing that faith can do for someone is to give them the compass to use when making decisions. You could still make the right decisions in life without a compass, but it will not be as intentional and consistent as someone who has a compass.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalms 119:105

I think the advantage of people of faith verses those without a belief in God is our ability to hold a compass [scripture] in our hands and to meet in a house of worship regularly that helps to shape our moral compass in life.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

When I see people today taking “selfies” with their friends and sharing them this is how I see people of faith with their God. They are having a relationship with God and often are sharing through their social media their best friend who helps to guide them through this life.

How Studying Scripture Helps

Now one of the best things that scripture does for us is gives us so many examples of characters just like us that also dealt with difficult situations in life. People of faith will not only read these stories but gather in classes and study these stories. They learn to look at a situation and break it down.

Studying scripture is a skill that will help you study your business and learn how to dissect the decisions that you will need to make and also predict outcomes based on moral laws.

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” 

― Augustine of Hippo

“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” 

― Confucius

I do know that my faith should not just be evident in my photos, but in all areas of my life. How I treat my fellow man. As a follower of Jesus I seek to emulate his example and learn to serve others.

As a person of faith and a follower of Jesus I believe my purpose is to live a life that God touches people through me. My goal is to get out of the way of God doing that through me.

I believe that faith in God is what helps to shape us into better people. I believe that I would be very self centered if it were not for my faith.

Photographing The Citadel’s Ring Day Weekend

Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/100

The Citadel Ring Day Weekend

This weekend is the time the seniors at The Citadel get their rings. Most cadets go through the ring with their parent and date. Here my wife is going through the ring with my step-son and his date.

Nikon D3s, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/80

I can tell you that you are better off shooting without your on the camera flash. You are just too far away for it to really make a difference. You need a camera with and ISO of 6400 or higher to really get a good sharp photo.

You may want a lens that covers 50mm to 200mm if you stand down on the floor.

Tips:

  • Arrive early
  • Take test shots at different White Balance settings.
  • Custom White Balance is the best [blog on how to do that] Also the blog explains how to set presets as well.
  • Set ISO up high like ISO 6400 or higher. I shot the second photo at ISO 12800
  • Keep shutter speed up pretty high as well, so shoot wide open with your aperture
  • Make test shots and take a look
Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/125–Two off camera flashes on either side of the camera.
Take photos other than going through the ring. Here I photographed them in the Quad of the Barracks.
Nikon D3S, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Good news is the afternoon before walking through the ring the seniors get their rings. Great time to practice in the same room they photos will be that night. Here my son helps with name pronunciation.
Nikon D3S, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 3200, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Here is he is getting the ring. Good news is when they are standing in the ring and walking down the carpet there are more lights on them.
Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/3200
You will shoot a lot of these photos of your cadet holding the ring close to the camera. Be sure your aperture is pretty high. Here it is ƒ/8. This helps keep their ring and faces in focus.
Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.3, 1/60–Two off camera flashes on either side of the camera.
If you son/daughter isn’t a senior this is a great time to practice a year or two earlier so that when your time comes you are seasoned. If you get great photos then you can share them with the other families.
We are grateful to have all these photos to remember our son’s journey through The Citadel.

Are you a photojournalist who finds themselves suffering from depression?

Nikon D3, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, ISO 1000, ƒ/8, 1/160

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality. – Nikos Kazantzakis

These are a few sentences I found interesting a few years ago in article by Rev. Peter M. Wallace.

There has never been a more challenging time in [fill in the blank]. Everyone is scrambling to find the right way to connect to an audience that has fractured and fragmented to numerous different platforms. 

And yet the reality some fail to acknowledge in this midst of this chaos is that the need or function all these declining institutions used to fulfill remains. People are simply choosing different ways, different platforms, to meet these needs.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 2 sec

It has been easier for me to focus on an institution and set my path in life to get to it as a destination. So many of my friends who wanted to work for Sports Illustrated or National Geographic were focused on the institution and not the need or function that these institutions were serving.

Sports Illustrated just let go of their staff photographers and through the years National Geographic has shrunk their staff as well.

I had focused on working for The Commission Magazine. It was the flagship printed piece for missions for the Southern Baptist denomination I was once apart of years ago.  While I did get there and worked on the magazine for a short time I never really got to be one of the main photographers for the magazine. They would do 3 or more major stories a year.

During the financial crisis of the late 1980’s the agency had to make cuts to balance the budget and I was let go.

Nikon D2Xs, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, Sigma 2X, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3000

I went into a major depression. My first marriage fell apart. I had continued to push forward realizing I needed more skills to add to my resume and I went to seminary and got my masters in communications.

Upon graduating none of the missions agencies were hiring so I found a job at Georgia Tech. All the while I was there for ten years I was seeing this as a temporary job on my way to my original dream. Still no openings through the years that I could find.

Nikon D2Xs, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 400, ƒ/5.3, 1/2000

Slowly I was coming out of depression, but I still was finding that my dreams were not becoming reality. My skills had improved dramatically and I was thrilled to be working, but all the time I never felt like I was fulfilling my purpose.

Maybe you find yourself in this same spot as I did. Today I too find I drift into this depression. My friend Gary Chapman spoke at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference a few years ago and introduced me to the book Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life. For Gary the photography stock market was his cheese. He had built a library of images at Getty and other smaller agencies and each month could expect a pretty decent check. That check started to shrink. Soon all he was seeing was just crumbs each month rather than the large block of cheese he was used to experiencing.

As a storyteller I learned early on that one of the biggest mistakes we make when trying to tell our stories is focusing on what and the how. When someone comes back from a overseas trip where they went to help out a NGO and they were so moved by the experience that when you ask them to tell you the story they end up giving you a timeline of their experience. They tell you what and how they did their work.

What is missing is too often the WHY.  Once you hear the why you are more likely to stay engaged. Many Christians who are fed up with their churches will say they are followers of Jesus today. They choose to focus on Jesus rather than the institution.

Maybe the reason so many of us are depressed and feeling like someone moved our cheese is we have been focused on these institutions more than we should have been. The key to our purpose might be wrapped up better in focusing on the need that these institutions were fulfilling. Focus on WHY these institutions were founded.

Due to corruption and many other man made mistakes many people have left the church. In a Gallup poll they reported that “Most Americans Say Religion Is Losing Influence in U.S. But 75% say American society would be better off if more Americans were religious.

You see the need still exists. People are looking for what faith brings to their lives.

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.  – Viktor E. Frankl

Maybe the reasons we are struggling in this profession is we have been too focused on institutions and not enough on the reason WHY these institutions existed from the get go.

Photojournalist Job Description

The primary role of the photojournalist is to be a visual storyteller.  By photographing, editing, and presenting images, they tell a story in a way that no other media can.  Some photojournalists will work for a local publication, while others will travel nationally or abroad, sometimes putting themselves in constantly changing or even dangerous situations.  The subject matter can vary greatly, from local civic issues, national political races to social unrest in a foreign country.  Many photojournalists are freelance photographers and sell their photos to various organizations around the world.  The photographs serve the purpose of enhancing the story for the reader or viewer.

As you can see the role of the photojournalist isn’t limited to an institution. It is just a matter of having stories to tell and finding the audience that needs to see them.