Monday, April 28, 2008

What kind of camera should I buy?

I get asked this question CONSTANTLY whenever I'm on assignment or just from friends and relatives. Unfortunately, I usually mumble something like, "unless you are willing to spend at least $1000. on a digital camera, stick with film". This comment isn't meant to be contrite, but my experience is that people get really fed up with shutter speed lag when trying to take pictures of their kids and fido. The moment is generally long gone by the time the shutter actually activates. Couple that with the fact that I REALLY dislike photo equipment, and there are better resources than me to ask about cameras. People see me lugging tons of equipment to a shoot and think that I know everything there is to know about every camera on the market. I shoot professional Canon equipment with professional Profoto lighting equipment. This stuff I know about...I also know most people aren't willing to drop $8,000 on a camera body. If you are, let me know and I will highly recommend what I use. You WILL be happy with the image quality :-)

I heard about this camera on a forum last year and if I were in the market for a point and shoot, I'd take a serious look at this:
Ricoh Caplio GX100 The camera retails for $519.00.

Happy snapping!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Elmira Star-Gazette article on my book...

John Cleary, writer for the Elmira Star Gazette newspaper wrote a small article about myself and my book, Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait for todays Sunday paper. The article can be read here: Star Gazette Article

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Louisiana Riviera...

Here is a photo of my future retirement home. Not sure if my wife wants to join me, but the way the photography business is going, it might not be an option :-) It looks cheap, but it's probably worth 300K...:-) Location, Location, Location...

Taken somewhere on the Gulf coast between Port Arthur, TX and New Orleans, LA after two days on an offshore oil rig for Michael Baker Engineers. Fujichrome Velvia with Canon EOS-1n.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

High wire act AND some love from Professional Photographer...

This was shot while I was on assignment in Puerto Rico for Mylan Labs. I was shooting a new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that was under construction. I was on a roof top doing "poor man" aerial photography, when I noticed this scene taking place a few blocks over. I shot it with a 400mm lens. The job is not for anyone who is afraid of high voltage or skittish about heights. Watching the worker prance around on high tension tower was fun. He certainly didn't show any trepidation about his job and moved swiftly about the structure. I'm sure the safety belt he was wearing helped add that extra sense of security.

I learned today that Professional Photographer magazine will be featuring me in a profile in their June issue. With a little luck, I'll get the cover as well. Too early to tell, but I'm excited about being profiled by Ellis Veener who wrote the article on how I approach executive and upper management portraiture. I gave them 18 portraits to pick from for the article, so it will be interesting to see what images they like the best. Professional Photographer is the official magazine of the PPofA (Professional Photographers of America) which is the largest and premier photo organization in the United States that advocates for over 19,000 member professional photographers. I am humbled to be featured in a magazine for an organization that has some very talented members and I hope my work and story inspires!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Congratulations Danica!

Those who know me , know I'm a total gear head and a huge motorsports fan. I've been particularly thrilled that American open wheel racing has finally buried the hatchet between ChampCar and the Indy Racing League. A quick primer, ChampCar went bankrupt and the Indy Racing League has aquirred the assets and we now have just one open wheel racing series for Indy type cars. The sport which was once the greatest racing in the USA took backseat a number of years ago to NASCAR due to infighting, huge egos, super expensive equipment and testing and loss of major sponsorships. Those of you who follow this sport, understand that my comments here are very simplistic and short. Let's just say to keep things simple, open wheel racing in the United Stats is bound to get better and will see the glory days that were long lost in the nineties...It will take awhile, but myself, and fellow race fans have a lot to look forward to!

Auto racing is the sole reason I got into photography. As a kid I used to go to the races at Watkins Glen. Formula 1, Can Am, sports cars, Formula 5000, and Trans Am races were my love. I saw photographers standing trackside shooting the sport, and thought to myself, "what a great way to make a living..." And that is all it took for me to get interested in cameras and shooting. I even photographed a few races, but discovered that lugging huge telephoto lenses around all day in 90 plus degree sun while walking miles to cover every angle of the track really WASN'T fun. The biggest thing I hated was that you actually see little of the race while you are working to shoot it. It's kind of hard to explain, but trust me, most serious spectators knew more about what was happening than the photographers covering the race.

So this weekend Danica Patrick, the IRL poster girl finally won her first IRL race in Japan and deserves a big "way to go!"
She has been under huge pressure to win since she has been in the big leagues and though she has clearly shown herself to be competitive, had yet to win and there were too many nay sayers about her abilities. I've never been a huge Danica fan, but have always felt she had talent and her competitive spirit and drive finally paid off this weekend. It's tough for ANYONE to win at this level in sport, so kudos for the first WOMAN to win in US Open wheel racing, and now hopefully the media will get off the Danica Mania kick (doubtful) and get back to covering ALL the deserving drivers and teams who work so hard to get to the top. I'm sure you'll be sick of hearing of Danica by the time the green drops at the Indy 500 in May. But despite what us hardcore fans think, the new Danica Mania Pt. 2 will be good exposure for our sport in bringing new fans, media coverage and more money into the sport we all love.

Here is here winner circle interview from Saturday at Motegi Ring: Danica Patrick wins at last.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's keep with the spring flowers theme...'s sunny, the robins are chirping, and I put my screen in my storm door today! Makeup by Patty Bell. Photographed with Fujichrome Velvia 120 film with a Pentax 67.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ode to 3-M Scotch 1000 film

I used to shoot this transparency film back in the day that was rated at 1000 and then push it a couple of stops...The film had grain the size of a golf ball, but was really beautiful as you could see each grain and the color within the grain itself. One wouldn't normally use this type of film for beauty shooting, but this was a test done with makeup artist, Patty Bell and model Jenny Cramer. Patty is a fantastic make up artist and a ton of fun to work with it! We always have such a great time getting crazy, doing stuff we generally never get a chance to do with our clients, and we aren't afraid to make a mistake here and there in the search for something unique...
In case you are wondering, we did shoot normal transparency film, as grain generally doesn't show off the makeup artist's work as good as a finer grain film. But, I still liked the grain version the best. The Scotch 1000 film became so scarce before it went out of production, I had to order it directly from the factory in Minneapolis. I had a ton of it in my fridge. This week has been sort of a "blast from the past", as I recently had a need to sort through thousands of returned stock images from my now defunct agency. There is a LOT of really great stuff, now I just need to figure out what to do with it all...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Signs in the Southwest...

A couple of whimsical signs that I photographed a number of years ago in New Mexico and Arizona...
These photos are really old.  How do I know that?  Because the "Thing" sign that advertises bull horns and velvet paintings also is advertising regular gas for 1.12 a gallon!  Ahh...the good old days...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Senior Picture time is getting closer!

I've been quite busy preparing marketing materials, package pricing, and senior picture updates to my website: seniorpics  The senior portrait session season will start soon mostly because the weather gets warmer and so many of you want photos done outdoors.  I'm really psyched for the Class of 2009 and I've got A LOT of really neat tricks up my sleeve so you'll be certain to have a unique look and photos you'll be proud of many years after you graduate.  I've seen way TOO MANY yearbook pictures that look cookie cutter and to be frank, it should be an embarrassment to have your photo look EXACTLY like 6 other seniors in your class.  After all, if you showed up to the prom and 3 other girls were wearing YOUR dress, I don't think you'd be a very happy camper!  Unfortunately, this happens all too often when photographers either refuse to shoot different locations, fail to listen to your requests, or simply aren't creative enough to photograph you in an interesting manner...I mean come many fences and waterfalls can one photograph before burning out?   I don't have anything against waterfalls or fences, but at least move the camera and change a lens once in awhile to get something DIFFERENT!!!!  Now to be fair to other photographers, not all Seniors are willing to put the time in for great pictures(and you GUYS know who you are :-)  Making great Senior pictures is a two way street.  Photographers need to have their seniors have an open mind and be willing to experiment and spend a few hours to get great shots.  However, if a photographer isn't willing to work his/her hardest to get those once in a lifetime shot, you are being short changed.  Cheap photography is easy to find, but quality lasts forever and costs less in the long run.  I WANT to work with seniors who consider their portrait session a TEAM effort, and I have YET to find a senior who has more energy than I do once the camera starts clicking!

If you are presently a junior in the Avonworth and Quaker Valley school districts, plan on receiving direct mail offers and promotions within a month or two.  I HAPPILY shoot seniors from ANY school district, but concentrate my marketing efforts currently within this area. Nothing against you great seniors from other districts...I would love to get a call from ANY senior, regardless of school district and have the opportunity to make you look as good as you can be! If you don't get any mailing please just give me a call or shoot me an email and I'll get all the info to you right away!