One of the most difficult things for photographers to photograph is large groups.
Communication is key to getting the best photo where you can see everyone’s face.
One of the best possible solutions is risers. They are often called CHORAL RISERS.
Now even using these risers doesn’t solve the problems with people’s heads blocking the people behind them in a photo.
No matter how many times I work to get things just right there are always a couple of folks who move and from their perspective they think they are OK.
The two guys on the back row here think they are OK since they can “see” me. What you need is each row to create enough space between people that the space between their heads creates a “Window” space for the people in the row behind them to stand.
Staggering people works, but telling the people on a row to help create a “Window” and have the 2nd row put their heads into those “Windows” can really speed up lining people up for a group photo.
If you don’t have risers be sure to create more space between people.
I found out that while I was overseas for three trips this year if my gear was lost, stolen or damaged I wasn’t covered. I thought I had done everything right. I even wrote about it on this blog on how I screwed up.
A few years ago, I was reading on a photography forum how people were getting great deals through their State Farm Insurance representative. I was with State Farm for my house and cars at the time, so I called them.
I explained that I do not have a studio and do location work all over the country and occasionally overseas travel. The quote I got was for about 1/3 what I had been paying. I jumped on that and had the policy for more than two years.
Just change that “State Farm Insurance” to “Allstate Insurance”. The difference in how I got burned this time was that ASMP had listed them as a benefit.
Howard Burkholtz was the representative that I talked with about switching from Tom C. Pickard & Co.
I explained that I travel and do not work out of a brick and mortar business. I travel to my clients all over the world.
How it all went wrong
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.
Not everything on the drive was there a second copy of the files. I sent it off to get recovered. I knew that the insurance was suppose to cover this.
Well I read in the policy they sent to me to sign that the limit was for $10,000 for data recovery. When I talked to the claims adjuster they informed me it was only for $5,000.
This is when I discovered that I wasn’t covered as told by the Allstate Representative.
When I just leave my house I was covered only by about 1/2 of what I had the policy before. I also found out that I was not covered at replacement cost, which I specifically requested.
The worst thing is I found out that my camera gear was not covered at all overseas. I had made three trips this year to Peru, Trinidad and Chile. Had anything been damaged or stolen I wasn’t covered.
So my coverage with Tom C. Pickard & Co. was around $800 a year. Allstate was originally quoting about $350. When they saw I did video as well that went up to $500.
Howard Burkholtz discovered the problem and was willing to find another policy that would cover me as I requested. He came back with a price of $1,800.
I canceled their policy and called Tom C. Pickard and company (http://www.tcpinsurance.com/). Allstate refunded me and the new policy is right back to about $800 a year for all my $45,000 gear.
I learned even the insurance recommended by a professional association like ASMP can be bad for you. My recommendation is to talk to other pros doing similar work as you and find out what they are using.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
One of the most difficult things I struggle with when it comes to my clients is wanting to help them, but I am not invited to the table.
What I have learned from my 35+ years in the industry is that I have what my friend calls “accumulated scar tissue”. I have seen so many things and been in so many planning meetings that when I listen to your ideas I am bringing all of this to the table.
Just on Facebook the other day a photographer went to an event where they had the podium in front of a window. This makes it nearly impossible to get a good photo/video of the person at the podium. This is a great example that someone could have spoken into the planning that has the expertise of why you are doing the event – for media coverage.
Most of the time people are not going to invite you in and hold a meeting to listen to you. They are not even going to invite you to the room.
They often have a fear that you may only give them suggestions that are benefiting you and not the organization. Even if you have built the reputation for giving them advice that doesn’t benefit you and them, they are still so cautious they are missing out on some counsel.
How to be present when the client isn’t showing interest
Be available – Do everything you can reasonably do without being a stalker to show you are there for them. Just check in with them. Be Supportive – You are not asking for work, you are genuinely offering to help in any way you can.
Be Organic – Imagine allowing things to happen naturally, and things work out, and all you did was smile and watch. To do this you must know what you can do. You let what is going to happen, happen. Accept the outcome, good or bad. Always try and learn from the situation. If you have this attitude then when your client talks about something they are working on you will have the perfect opportunity to offer counsel.
Do your research – Nothing is worse than to have an opportunity drop in your lap and you botch it. Those opportunities come seldom, so do your homework. This is very hard to do if no one is letting you know what they are working on. This is kind of like how the US has to monitor North Korea, they have to ask China, Japan and South Korea to give them intel.
Model the behavior – Have you ever noticed that you want your client to open up so you can help, but you haven’t opened up for others to help you? This is probably my weakest area myself. Find someone you can talk to and this can help you think better and also develop the patience necessary.
Set Boundaries – Realize your limitations. Don’t become the pest. You don’t want to put pressure on them in any way. They should never feel pressured by you.
Don’t Avoid Them – This is strange that I should mention this, but sometimes we treat our clients like they lost a loved one or have cancer. We don’t know what to say, so we withdraw from them. Amazingly just being there for someone can mean sitting in silence with them. Having answers and ideas all the time isn’t as valuable as just knowing when you don’t have an idea.
The photo above is from the photo call for Show Boat performance at East Carolina to open the new theater April 3, 1982. The camera I shot that on was a Nikon FM2. I would have been using Kodak Tri-X film pushed to ISO 1600. The shutter speed would have been about 1/60 @ ƒ/2.8.
Everyone was in place and told to freeze. Notice how all the guys hats are in the same position. Would that happen in a real scene? Why was this posed? Well in the 1980s the film didn’t allow for you to move much or you were blurred.
Before writing this blog I surveyed my professional photographer friends who shoot theater. Not one doesn’t prefer shooting real time action over staged moments.
The first photograph ever shot, the 1826 photo View from the Window at Le Gras, took a whopping 8 hours to expose. When Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype in 1839, he managed to shave this time down to just 15 minutes.
Technology made it almost impossible to get action shots as they really happen in a dress rehearsal or live theater.
I have been doing headshots for actors all of my 35+ years in this profession. Recently I tried to mix some real “Moments” into the photo shoots.
I asked the theater people to give me all the face expressions they can think of in 30 seconds. Even if those photos taken during those 30 seconds didn’t turn out the best, the photos that followed were far superior. The difference is going for a “real moment” and not a “posed one”.
In 2017 I photographed my daughter’s high school production of Oklahoma and was shooting the live performance. Here I froze the peak moment where a dancer was doing a split. This was not possible in 1982.
Until the Nikon D3 was introduced in 2008 the maximum ISO sensitivity setting that you might be able to shoot at was either 1600 or 3200 (depending on the model), and even then, not particularly confidently.
I jumped from shooting ISO 1600 to ISO 12800. This was 3 whole stops of ISO.
Today I have the Nikon D5 & Nikon Z6 and have had to use ISO 51200 or higher to get photos. Before now they were not possible without a flash.
Nan Melville who shoots for The Juilliard School performances says, “shooting in real time in rehearsal is important – Instead of stopping and having the actors pose. I never do that.” [Nan Melville’s performing arts photos]
Alan Goldstein says, “I’ve photographed many performances and preferred dress rehearsal because I could move around the theatre. However, I have also photographed live performances from the rear of the theatre. Nothing was staged for me and I liked the spontaneity.” [Alan Goldstein’s work]
Jeff Widner said he shot these of the broadway show “Network” during the performance. Go here to see those photos.
Michelle Heimlich says, “I know Ball State University, that I shot for 15+ years ago with the move to digital photography, has gone to all real-time photography instead of dress rehearsals.”
Now when it comes to dance that takes things to a whole new level. This photo if it was taken in 1982 with my Nikon FM2 would have been 1/2-second-long at ISO 1250 and ƒ/5.6. Also that wouldn’t be in color. Back then ISO for Color was about ISO 320. Your shutter speed would have been about 2 seconds.
Nan Melville says,
“With dance I find it almost impossible to pose pix and can generally tell when I see a photo that has been set up. Sometimes the set-up Photos with elaborate background can be effective when they are done on a grand scale if you know what I mean. Like the posters for ballet and opera.
That is with a setting and lights organized for a particular effect. However, these have to be really good or I think they are so fake.
Just recently a dancer asked me to take pictures during a performance because all the rehearsal pictures were so bad and the real intensity did not show.”
Only recently has it been even technically possible to capture the scene above that I did recently at the dress rehearsal for “She Kills Monsters.” ISO 51200 made this possible.
As you can see the actors don’t really have the emotion in their faces as they would have had during the actual scene. Stopping and posing just makes for poor aesthetic images.
It makes the actors look horrible. What I like about capturing a rehearsal and performance verses a photo call where we stop the scene for photos is that the emotions of the performance are lost.
To get high school performers to look real in posed photos has got to be near impossible. This is why I love shots like this of a high school performance.
“Photography is not like painting,” Henry Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
When theatre is done at its best, the storytelling becomes real and moves the audience to feel. Their bodies will react to those scenes. Your body wants to run when the scary parts of the story are told and cries during the sad moment. You laugh at the times of humor.
Photography of the theatre should do the same. It should capture those peak moments and bring the audience into the moment. When we stop actors and tell them to hold a pose we kill the moment.
The TV Show “Lie to me!” is inspired by the work of Paul Ekman, the world’s foremost expert on facial expressions and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.
The research is based on that people have micro expressions that happen only at about 1/30 of a second. I know that there are many seasoned photographers who can anticipate these types of moments. When you freeze actors, you will never capture these micro expressions which bring a level to the performance of a scene that is not possible without the actors in full performance mode.
With today’s camera the technology affords us the ability to capture theater and dance live, which was not possible just a few years ago. If you want to fill those seats in theaters with paying customers then the only thing that many will see that will determine if they come or not is the photos that promote the performance. You need the best possible “Moment” to promote it.
Hire a photographer who is known for capturing the “Moment” and has the gear to photograph in low light to get the best possible images to promote your performance.
The photo above is of Brown Pelicans. The Brown Pelican is the only pelican that uses the plunge-dive while fishing. The bird flies some 20 or 30 feet above the water. [NIKON Z 6, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, Mode = Manual, ISO 800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]
I am loving shooting with the Nikon Z6 camera during our families vacation at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.
Combining the Nikon Z6 with the Godox V860IIN flashes I was able to get some good group photos and portraits on the beach.
I love the ability to see what I am getting before shooting. Less chimping and checking the LCD. Also using the Electronic View Finder I can pretty much see what I am getting. While seeing the histogram is always helpful it is less necessary with the mirrorless as compared to the DSLR.
I loved taking early morning walks each day carrying the Nikon Z6. For this photo I used the tilting LCD screen to get the camera low to the ground.
I enjoy the dynamic range that the camera is capturing as well.
I love being able to capture the family as well in candids.
I like how the face recognition and eye tracking function works.
All positives so far in using the camera during our family vacation.
I was asked by my niece the bride to take some behind the scene photos of the wedding. The venue had a package that included a photographer.
They wanted me to have fun as well. Dorie, my wife, officiated the service and Chelle, my daughter was the soloist at the wedding.
I am writing this blog for those who are interested in the newest mirrorless camera from Nikon the Z6 and how I set it up and used it for this wedding photo shoot.
I brought a really small kit.
Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 Art
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
Godox 860II Nikon
Magmod Maggrip w/ Magsphere
I really love the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art BOKEH when shot wide open. With the new firmware 2.0 on the Nikon Z6 the eye tracking focus really helps nail the eyes when focusing.
Now I was in the room with the Groom and all his 16 attendants. Did I say this is the largest bridal party I have seen? 30 total. They have a lot of friends and family is the best way to describe this conundrum.
The Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 let me go from this wide group shot inside to much tighter shots of the Groom with individuals.
My Flash Settings on Nikon Z6
e1: Flash Sync Speed – 1/200s (Auto FP)
Auto ISO sensitivity control – Subject and Background
For the Godox flash I set the compensation to -1.
So during the wedding it was actually raining. Just a few drops, but this tells you the type of light we had. I decided to just fill in to give a little pop to the photos. So outside I was shooting at 1/2000 shutter speed with a flash.
Then I am inside shooting at ISO 10000 at shutter speed of 1/50.
It worked just great on the dance floor. Here I shot at ISO 6400 with shutter speed of 1/30 to add a little action to the shots.
I love shooting with the on camera strobe in a situation like this. I lets me be sure there is light on the people and then lets me record the background in natural lighting.
Sometimes the light was great without a flash. Just turned it off when I didn’t need it and turned it on as needed. The settings on the camera stayed the same.
I really love just taking photos as a guest and not the official photographer.
The other thing is if you know the people in the bridal party you get different expressions than the official photographer can sometimes get.
I love the Nikon Z6 with the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art lens with the Godox V860IIN with the MagMod MagSphere for weddings. I think you can shoot 95% of the wedding with this setup. I think you just need a long lens like a 70-200mm for the ceremony.
Now the other thing that really makes this system work is the updated Adobe Lightroom. I love using three of the controls that if used properly can really help out some photos that in the past without these controls would have been so-so photos.
I love the Texture, Clarity and Dehaze sliders. I cannot recommend them enough.
For sharpening I hold the Option key on the Mac while sliding the Masking control.
I loved shooting the wedding with the Nikon Z6. I think a lot of wedding shooters will fall in love with the mirrorless Nikon Z6 as much as I have this year.
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
President John F. Kennedy
The United States has been described as a “Melting Pot” and as a “Toss Salad.” I prefer the “Toss Salad” better. I think we live in a very diverse country and when you get to know your neighbor makes this such a wonderful place to live.
For many years now Dorie Griggs, my wife, and I have been involved in participating in the very diverse interfaith community of Atlanta. Dorie helped to produce an interfaith dialogue TV show and I have helped by helping create websites and photograph these different organizations through the years.
Last night Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosted a Ramadan dinner for Atlanta Muslim community at Atlanta City Hall. The attendees were from many of the diverse faiths of Atlanta.
The three Abrahamic faiths: 1) Muslim, 2) Judaism & Christianity all had speakers at the event and people from those communities of faith in attendance as well.
What I have discovered from my time in dialogue with people of different faith is that when it comes to living in community we are more alike than different. All the faiths hold education as core to their values which means their interest in public education is high.
While everyone enjoyed seeing their friends from their faith community at the Iftar Dinner, they also were just as pleased to be in such a diverse community.
What I love about the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta is that they are about education of the faiths and not about proselytizing. They realized when we learn about the different faiths that we start to see some of our common bonds.
They are also realizing that they needed to help create a safe space for dialogue, so that people could learn about their neighbors and not feel threatened by them.
“If you let it [United States] give in to us versus them, at some point, America won’t be America anymore.”
President Bill Clinton
“When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race.”
President George W. Bush
Interfaith dialogue is possible only when two convictions pre-exist in the participants:
No participant is seeking to proselytize any other participant.
The participants are persuaded of the inherent validity and integrity of all the faith groups involved in the dialogue and are persuaded that no group possesses total and absolute knowledge regarding the nature and works of God and human involvement with the Divine.
“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.”
Hans Küng, Roman Catholic Theologian & Advocate for Interfaith Cooperation
I recommend you hosting a group like the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta’s Interfaith Speakers Network. It is a collaboration between the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) and the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB). The ISN provides opportunities to hear and interact with a panel of local practicing representatives from six faith traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism Hinduism, and Sikhism. The panels are educational and facilitate dialogue and understanding between different religions. In addition to sharing information ISN panels showcase ways that different faith traditions can work together.
ISN programs promote religious pluralism by both emphasizing our shared values and practices and modeling respectful civil discourse when discussing our differences.
Uber asks, “Know where you are going but need a ride?” Then they offer you options.
Every time you are talking to a client or a potential customer you need to know your intent and the obstacles that are in your way or their way.
You need to have an objective in mind. Knowing where you want to go is the same as telling the Uber driver where your destination is to be for your trip.
In Barrel Racing the rider wants to complete the course in the least amount of time and the course is around three obstacles which are barrels laid out in a triangle shape on the course.
When I am teaching Storytelling we use the same parts of the story that were outlined by Aristotle in Poetics. He wrote this around 335 BC. It is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. The subject wants something and there are obstacles to overcome to get it.
This is great for telling the core of any story, but the one thing that is missing that companies and organizations must have for their storytelling is a “Call to Action.” Now that you have heard this story we want you to do something.
Traditional Advertising Call to Action
No obligation: “TRY” is in all caps, the email offers a full refund.
Usability: Readers are directed to click “Subscribe Now.”
Immediacy: Copy includes the phrase “right away,” and the Call to Action button uses the word “Now.”
The key for effective Call to Action is to provide people with compelling reasons to ACT NOW rather than defer that action.
Avoid using a passive voice. Use action verbs.
Get straight to the point and make it short and sweet.
Here is a trick that will make all your Call to Actions successful. Start with the audience and the call to action. Then find the story that will best emotionally connect with them to achieve your “Call To Action.”
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
How does one learn? How do you grow? I believe the answers to these questions lies in our failures.
If you try and avoid all failure then you will be taking no risks. Without taking these risks you cannot learn.
When watching a PGA golf tournament you see the caddies and golfers referencing these notepads. They have the notes they have taken about the golf course. They are often called yardage books. Here is what they may look like.
PGA golfers cannot play it really safe and win a tournament. They take risks. To take those risks they assess the lie of the ball and pick the place they want to hit the ball. Those that win the tournaments take risks.
We often picture Tiger Woods hitting the green and sinking the put.
However we forget how often he misses.
The reason bull-riding is a popular sport isn’t because it is easy to do. It is popular because of how hard it is to stay on a bull for 8 seconds.
Rewards come after the risks have been taken.
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
Originally posted this on the Facebook Group “Nikon Z6 Z7 Mirrorless Cameras”. This is a repost of it.
I am a little tired of seeing posts that oversell a camera. It comes off as a used car salesman. I think we need to be transparent as possible on the merits of a camera.
There are people who are looking to buy a camera and often are disappointed because they listened to some posts over selling a camera.
Nikon Z7/Z6 cameras are awesome. I own the Nikon Z6.
We need to go back just to the film cameras just before digital became big in 2002 to remember what I think we forgot.
We had a number of cameras back then.
When digital came along we tried to buy one camera to do it all. The reason was simple those first digital cameras cost as much as $25,000 or more.
Today I think we have slowly returned to where we should be. There are many cameras like the film days that work great for certain types of photography, but there really isn’t one camera that does it all.
I do have to admit that the Nikon D850 comes pretty close to doing it all.
After the Digital revolution in photography we have the mirrorless revolution.
If you do this for a hobby you will most likely just buy a good digital camera that meets most all your needs.
If you are a pro or a amateur with the means to buy more than one camera you will buy at least a backup camera. Then you add those special cameras for the things that work best.
Many pros don’t buy every camera they will use. Many rent those high end medium format cameras for those jobs that need that resolution.
When it comes to Nikon Cameras for the advanced amateur or pro here is how I break down the Nikon Line.
Nikon D5 – The ideal camera for a photojournalist. They are asked to shoot just about everything. They need a great sports camera, good for portraits, low light shooting and also video. Buffer of 200 RAW images is awesome. Also XQD Card Slots for speed.
Nikon D850 – This is one of the best cameras for just about anything. I do believe the Nikon D5 is better for sports due to low-light and frame rate. The large resolution of this camera is a must for the landscape and commercial photographer who needs to make super large prints. Great for video
Nikon D750 – This is a great full-frame camera, but the buffer is small at 6.5 fps. It has a lot of the low light capabilities like the D850 just not the resolution. It is the entry level of the full-frame.
Nikon D500 – While this is a smaller DX format is is pretty much the Nikon D5 in a smaller DX format
Nikon Z7 – This is the mirrorless version of the D850. Due to the way the DSLR focuses it isn’t the same, but close. The fact it has more focus points in some ways it is better. Picking this camera over the D850 is for all the reasons mirrorless has advantages over DSLR.
Nikon Z6 – While very similar to the D750 the buffer is greater with the Z6. This just might be the best video camera as far as mirrorless on the market. It has a higher frame rate than the Z7 and higher ISO than the Z7. I bought it for those two reasons.
Why I like mirrorless
Seeing what you are getting
Quieter even with mechanical shutter
Less need to Fine Tune Auto Focus
Optional electronic shutter
More focus points
Face and Eye recognition
No need for extra gear when doing video
It is great that you are getting sports images with your camera. It is great that you are able to make extremely large prints from you smaller sensor.
When you start to compare your camera by saying who said my ______ Camera can’t shoot __________ is the same as saying my Nikon ______ is as good as the Nikon __________.
That is what I have a problem with.
Show off your wonderful images. Talk about the love of your camera. Just don’t try and say your camera does everything that the entire Nikon line of cameras does, because it doesn’t.
The closest camera to doing that was the Nikon D850, but even it has some limits.
In my opinion there is not one camera that does it all.