“Glory Years Are Now”

While Mark Johnson was interviewing Dave Labelle during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia, he joked about well this might sound like, “Get off my lawn.”

He was addressing the fact that veteran photojournalist and he were talking mainly to a room full of college students.

“What would you say is the purpose of photojournalism today?” asked Mark Johnson of Labelle.

Labelle said, “Humans are still the same.” He went on to explain how the technology to tell stories has evolved storytelling has always been here. “Visual storytelling has also always been here as well,” said Labelle. Storytellers just paint with pictures using words if not visuals when telling their stories.

With technology as advanced as it is now Labelle said, “The Glory Years are now.”

Mark Johnson, Dave Labelle & Andrea Grace Briscoe Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 75)]

Photo Night was a concept started by Billy Weeks.

Billy Weeks interviews his good friend Mark E. Johnson at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Photo Night March 7, 2018.
Billy interviews a photographer

The format is where a photographer is interviewed and brings just 3 images that they want to talk about. Many photographers often ramble and this format works great. Billy and now Mark both are able to help steer the conversation to the nuggets of wisdom the audience will benefit from the most.

Steffenie Burns, a 2017 graduate, is being interviewed by Mark Johnson on Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 28800, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]
Savanna Sturkie, a 2017 graduate, is being interviewed by Mark Johnson on Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]
Ryan Cameron is being interviewed by Dr. Kyser Lough, Assistant Professor, Journalism, about his Sugar Bowl coverage experience during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

Here are some of the tidbits that I considered gems from Dave Labelle worth sharing with you.

Talking to the students Labelle said, “You are acquiring skills now from your classes for a job in the future you don’t even know about.”

“Calm seas never made a sea captain.” He was saying that if you have a lot of privilege you don’t learn as much as when you struggle in life experiences.

I asked Labelle is there a reason you can see the story before you talk to people? He said that he grew up with a father who got angry and would go into rages. He said his wife thinks that his background made him good at reading people and situations from a pure survival mode.

Mark Johnson asked Labelle, “How do help today’s generation look up and out from their phones?”

“I’m a hugger,” was Labelle’s response. He said he needed to engage with people. The power of human touch is what moves his soul. He said he is never bored, because he just loves meeting people.

Dave Labelle talks with one of the students during Photo Night @ The Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

Sharing these stories of people he finds with others is his way of giving hope to people. Hearing and seeing people overcome struggles is his way of giving the world a sense of hope to give them purpose.

Be the Hero

I see way too many photographers who play the victim or the villain in their own lives.

They have a client that picks another photographer for a job and this sends them into a tailspin. “Woe is me,” is what you hear them saying in one way or another.

Anyone can see there is a reason to be upset, but you cannot be successful living with this mindset. The problem is you are not addressing the anger you feel.

People get bogged down in feeling victimized tend to view events in their lives as happening to them and feel ineffective and overwhelmed. They also operate on the basic assumption that the world should be fair, which is a child’s way of thinking. You can learn to deal with this in a much more productive way.

You need to understand that anger is a simple, irrational emotional response to frustration.

When we examine the loss of a job to another photographer we often are thinking that the client “should” use us. We believe there is some sense of obligation of them to us.

Oxeye Daisy [NIKON D2X, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 180)]

I started this blog with a picture of the forest, but what we are really seeing is the picture above. Something within the forest. Often it is just a tree or even a flower.

I think it is important for you to give up a sense of entitlement and to recognize that you do not inherently deserve to receive anything in the way of good treatment from others.

Too many photographers will talk badly about other photographers. This is often done by those who feel like a victim and now are acting as a villain. They have turned that anger into putting down others with the hopes of making themselves look better.

Putting those around you down alienates people and drives them away from you. You are now negative energy. Creatives don’t thrive in this environment and they will most likely distance themselves from you.

If you have ever watched professional ice skating competitions, then you have seen failure. It is often just one small mistake, but that means that day they go home without a medal.

Skaters will analyze their performance over and over. They will work with a coach to help them nail it next time.

My first go to after losing a job is to do just like skaters and look for where I failed.

Today I realize that this is often not the only thing we should be doing.

I think we need to think of things from a higher perspective. You need to think of this from the client’s perspective.

Sometimes you may lose the job because:
  • They have a friend who is a photographer
  • They have been asked to try a new approach
  • Someone offered to do it for free
  • They just want to see what someone else can do for them
  • They want some variety
  • A new person is now doing the hiring
    • They hire their friends
    • They have a photographer they worked with in the past
  • A person in the company has someone they recommended they use and that person is someone with political power
Wakeup Call
  • Let this be something to make you try new things
  • Ask yourself on the last job was I listening to the client
  • Go and produce some new work to send to that client
  • Work on updating your portfolio
  • There are seasons with clients and maybe the season has changed
  • Time to market yourself and find more clients

The Hero in a story faces challenges. It is a moving story when the hero must go into a burning building and get someone out. It isn’t interesting as a story if they just take the elevator to the 2nd floor and meet someone and they go to lunch.

Heroes in stories face challenges and overcome them.

Play the Hero. Remind yourself that this is a hiccup and you need to embrace it and learn from it. Find a way that this can make you a better person and not a bitter person.

Be the Hero of your story and not the victim or the villain.

Your Appearance & Competency

Professional headshots are not just for actresses and models. Every person in business needs a professional headshot.

Marina Tanjga

A first impression is what a person thinks of you when they first meet you. It is the feeling that they get or the initial evaluation that a person does of you when they first meet you. It can be done during a glance, a conversation or even from a distance when someone is looking at your body language.

People will judge you as warm or cold personality very quickly. They also will judge your competency in how your present yourself.

Your headshot makes you real in the virtual world. Yet some people continue to leave their headshot blank on places like LinkedIn, or they don’t take it seriously when they do upload one. 

  • Don’t use selfie. Using a bad headshot, you are making your first impression suffer.
  • Don’t use images where you’ve cropped others out of the frame; it’s weird.
  • Don’t use images with multiple people in the photo. 
  • Don’t leave it blank – this makes you less real and more suspicious in the virtual world.
Robin Rayne

Your headshot should be just as polished as all your marketing materials if you want to leave that great first impression that portrays you as the sharp and competent expert you are.

As part of your personal branding, a photo of you that communicates your professionalism and approachability improves your messaging.

If your current LinkedIn headshot is from 10 years ago, it’s time to upgrade.

Believe it or not, a professional headshot can actually be quick and painless. If you work with your photographer to plan out all the details, it should take no time at all to capture the perfect headshot.

3 Camera Video Interview

I posted this photo on my Facebook page and got a lot of comments. I thought I would just write here about my setup.

Camera 1 – Gesture Camera

My first camera, which if I am not using but only this camera is straight on and shooting a little loose. Always shooting interviews on 4K lets me crop in and do some Ken Burns Effects. The Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production from still imagery. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns. 

This first camera lets me get some gestures when the subject moves their hands.

Subject is on 1/3

I position the subject on one of the 1/3 vertical spots in the frame and normally looking to the side with more space.

Camera 2 – Expression Camera

I usually put one camera to a side that is much tighter. I like the second camera to be tighter where I am focusing more on the subjects facial expression.

Here you can see the setup from the subject’s perspective. I have one light off at 45º to just keep me from getting raccoon eyes due to the top lighting. I like having a good Rembrandt style lighting on the face for interviews. I try and keep the cameras all on the shadow side of the light to give me some modeling on the face.

Then the 3 camera is what I call the sizzle camera. Here I am using a motorized slider that is always moving on a loop.

Couple quick tips
  • FOCUS – I trying and shoot on manual focus. To keep the person in focus when they move I shoot typically around ƒ/5.6.
  • FOCUS SETUP – Once I get the composition set I zoom in to check the critical focus on the eyes. I do this on my Cameras by pushing the + button on the back of the camera. Since both the Nikon Z6 and D5 have touch screens I can also pinch them like you would do with your smart phone.

My primary microphone is typically a wireless lavalier omni directional microphone put on shirt near the subject’s breast bone centered. This is always manually adjusted using closed headphones and the audio meter on the camera.

2019 Pictures of the Year

These are some of the photos from this past year. I put them in for me to remind myself of some of the highlights.

If you want to see them bigger go here.

Here is one video I want to share as well I did when I went to Togo, West Africa to help raise funds for this 35 year old hospital in need of upgrades.

Nikon Z6 @ Insane High ISO

Top Photo Camera Settings: [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 122)]

I could not believe how dark the venue was at Lips Atlanta, but the Nikon Z6 took on the challenge and didn’t disappoint.

“Lips has been serving up drag from coast to coast for almost 25 years. Lips is Atlanta’s on true LaCage dining experience. Enjoy Vegas style drag shows nightly on the Lips stage. Lips is the best place to celebrate anything and everything! Atlanta’s #1 drag shows and home to the first lady of Atlanta – Mr. Charlie Brown!” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 45600, 1/200, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 28)]

We were celebrating Dorie Griggs, my wife, and daughter Chelle birthdays. 60 and 21 are milestones that deserve going big.

[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

Even the stage wasn’t super bright. I was shooting at ISO 20000 to get good results.

[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/80, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 55)]

I am not expecting ISO 51200 to look like ISO 100, but to just be able to take photos in that low of light without a flash is incredible.

Years ago with film shooting ISO above ISO 800 was only possible with black and white. Shooting color you had to just light venues.

This camera is just incredible in so many ways. This just shows you the high ISO capability.

The three birthday girls, Chelle, Dorie and Kate. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/200, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 28)]
[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 16000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 160)]

Covering the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl from a Brand Perspective

Top Photo: Justin Jefferson #2 of the LSU Tigers makes a catch against Justin Broiles #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half at the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 250)]

When I am hired to shoot a game for a company like Chick-fil-A I have to look for ways to show the brand.

LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) pulls in a pass before scoring as Oklahoma defensive back Woodi Washington (5) closes in in the first half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma, Saturday, December 28, 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 240)]

This photo here works just great. You can see the branding on the patch of the Oklahoma player.

LSU’s Joe Burrow (9), The Heisman Trophy winner, gets under center from the three-yard line and bullied his way into the end zone. It’s his eighth touchdown of the day, and his first rushing touchdown. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 195)]

While this touchdown is a great photo as well, it is less useful by itself since you cannot see the brand anywhere in the photo. The place it does appear is in the caption when the photo is published in news outlets.

K’Lavon Chaisson #18 of the LSU Tigers is given the Most Outstanding Player award by Dan Cathy after beating Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/4000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 240)]

It also helps when the CEO Dan Cathy is in the photo.

Bruce Deel gives the invocation at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019. As the founder and CEO of City of Refuge, Bruce Deel is bold, relentless and unyielding in the fight against poverty and the consequences it has in Atlanta, GA. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/2000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

The other thing you are doing is some photos of key people participating for the brand. Capturing the invocation is important to the client.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 560, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]

You are also taking photos of the company leaders at the event as well as coving the game itself.

The Sooner Schooner takes the field during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019. It is an official mascot of the sports teams of the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Pulled by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, it is a scaled-down replica of the Studebaker Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory around the time of the Land Run of 1889 and is considered the first mobile home. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

When an icon intersects with your client’s brand you know they will use it. In combination with other photos it shows that their brand is associated with cultural icons.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/4000, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 92)]

What is the point of this post? It isn’t just about shooting for a brand, it is more basic than that. Know your client and their audience.

Know your client and their audience.

Test Shots with Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL

Photo above: Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia
[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL list price $699

Sale Price $479

I have shot with this flash in Hawaii, because they have a couple at the school I teach at each year.

I put this photo up on the blog in February using it here.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, Focal Length = 24]

When the sale price popped up around Thanksgiving I started to think should I do it and buy them. I finally bought two and now will be slowly selling my older lights, which work just fine, for these in the near future.

Setup for the first photo
Krog Street Tunnel with Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 75)]

I took my daughter to the Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta. The Krog Street Tunnel is a tunnel in Atlanta known for its street art. The tunnel links the Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, and Inman Park neighborhoods. It is very popular among cyclists, and is used as part of the BeltLine, for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Hulsey Yard.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I shot all these on TTL and controlled the two lights using the Godox X1 that I already owned before buying the lights.

I just put one of the lights on A Channel and the other on B Channel and powered them at 0, -1 and low as -3.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 48)]

Now depending on the ISO I set the camera the scene would look a great deal different.

Krog Street Tunnel Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 48)]
Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

The lower the ISO the more the flashes became the dominate light. The reason is I didn’t want to hand hold the flash a long time and then you would see ghosting in the subject if she moved.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

By basically changing the ISO I could decide how the blending of natural light with the strobes was working. I find trying to keep just a small amount of flash on the model’s face gives the best color and dynamic range in the skin tones.

Krog Street Tunnel Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I also took my daughter out in the sunlight and did more photos. Here the daylight is at more of her back, she would have been silhouetted without the flash. Notice the flash sync went up to 1/320. You can do high speed sync with these flashes.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

While I shot with my Nikon Z6 to get all these photos, these flashes will work with Fuji, Nikon, Canon and Sony. Just need to buy the correct transmitter for your camera brand. The strobes will work with all of them.

I bought the Flashpoint brand. However, you can find the same flash in other brand names like Godox, Neewer, Cheetah, MoLight and others. It’s a good idea to go with dealers a little more local to you just in case of problems. If you have a problem with the Flashpoint Adorama has good reputation of taking care of you to get it repaired.

2019 the year I moved to SSD from HDD

Many years ago I change out my Macbook Pro Hard Drive with Solid State Drive. WOW!!! That was a huge difference in my time on the computer.

The difference between hard drives and solid state drives is in the technology used to store and retrieve data. HDDs are cheaper and you can get more storage space. SSDs, however, are faster, lighter, more durable, and use less energy.

When I changed my computer over to SSD the start up time and performance of time the computer took to complete a task was super fast as compared to the standard HDD.

External Hard Drives

Since I was just storing and not needing performance when it came to photos I just continued to use HDDs for my external hard drives.

Back in June I wrote this blogpost Camera Insurance? I wasn’t Covered!!!

I told how, “While in Trinidad teaching in the Storytellers Abroad workshop I got up from my chair and my foot caught the power cord which was plugged into HyperDrive – USB Type-C Hub which also my 4TB Western Digital Hard drive was also plugged into. The hard drive went crashing to the floor.”

This is when I switched to SSD external hard drives.

My first external SSD was the Samsung 500GB SSD. You see the main reason the traditional 4TB HDD failed was the moving parts. When the hard drive crashed to the floor the platters got scratched. Had I been using the SSD that wouldn’t have happened. There are no moving parts.

I also am making backups more frequently than I did before. I lost a lot of images because I hadn’t been backing up those drives as often as I should have been doing.

I have bought many more SSD drives like this SanDisk 1TB. While these are about 3 to 4 times more expensive than the HDD drives for the same amount of space, I feel more secure that the chance of failure is greatly diminished.

I still recommend backing up your hard drives. The SSD can fail just like the memory cards we use to capture the images in our cameras.

When writing this post their are sales going on that place these hard drive prices:

  • 500 GB $80
  • 1 TB $150
  • 2 TB $300

While the larger drives cost more, they maybe a better investment. There are many who believe it is better to have smaller drives than lose a lot if one were to go bad.

Whatever theory you are using for drives now is probably good to do with SSD.

I hope this tip not only helps you but keeps your images around for a long time.

Setting & Meeting Deadlines is Critical to Success

One of the best things you can hear in a testimonial from a client is, “Thank you for the quick turnaround.”

You see in business when you miss a deadline it often has a financial impact.

You won’t instantly find success in the world of business by just setting arbitrary deadlines for all of your projects. Your deadlines need to set you up for success—they must be strategic.

Being strategic running your own business means that your deadlines are important to help you achieve goals.

Image result for giving tuesday logo"
Giving Tuesday is December 3, 2019!

For example if you were producing a video to ask donors to give and you missed having it used on Giving Tuesday. $511M was raised on the day of giving. This is a 28% increase from 2018.

Missing that deadline means you missed an opportunity to have a good reason to reach out to your audience with an ask.

Always Quick Turnaround

It doesn’t take long for one to create a great deal of content that needs to be edited. As long as you have projects that need to be edited and delivered to a client you have MAJOR RESTRICTIONS on your time.

You cannot just respond to that phone call that someone is asking you to leave tomorrow for a major project that may require you to fly around the world and work for a month.

Setting realistic deadlines doesn’t always mean you are rushing the process. The largest time killer is not starting and not how long it takes to do a project.

Starting my career at a newspaper drilled into me the importance of a deadline. We have all been watching TV when they break into your normal program and give us a “Breaking News” story.

In AMBER ALERTS they know every minute is precious. Based on the history of child abductions the longer it takes to get the news out can be the difference of life and death.

Because the news organizations know these breaking news events can happen they have a plan to execute in those situations. The way to improve the quality is to increase the time. That is done through early planning.

Lightroom, PhotoShop & Adobe Premiere Skills

You take classes and practice working on images. You get better and better in not just being able to improve the product, but also improve your time doing those skills.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Benjamin Franklin

The largest problem most people face in business is time management. Keep a sharp eye on any timelines.

Image result for mind the gap"
Mind the gap” ( listen (help·info)) is an audible or visual warning phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal, and in some cases vertical, spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

The largest issue in meeting deadlines is the gap in your timeline of you working on the project.

Don’t Be This Photographer

Know the industry standard for turnaround times

How long should it take to get wedding photos back from photographer?Average wait time for wedding photos. Typically it can average anywhere between 2-6 weeks. Of course photographers will try and get your photos to you as soon as possible, many will send some sneak peak photos of a selection that have been edited for you to view.

Don’t Be Average

  • Take classes in your profession to help most of all improve your quality from Good to Great.
  • Maybe use something like Loupedeck+ Photo & Video Editing Console lets you edit effectively using its intuitive buttons, dials, and sliders. 
  • Do personal projects – if you are only working on clients work you cannot experiment and try to techniques and ways to improve your time and quality.
  • When you take on a project carve out the time to finish the project in a timely basis. Mind the Gap!

Hope these tips and reminders will help you see that getting images to your client in a timely matter helps them make more money if this is for corporate work and for things like weddings, well the link to the video tells you that story.