Store, School, Gallery, Shop!

Big news — in a few weeks, I am opening my new mall studio/school/store/gallery on Orléans, Ottawa, Ontario. Based in Place d’Orléans mall, this shop will have me in it much of the time and will do the things outlined in its web site, www.michaelwillemsphoto.com.

The opening is August 15, but as you can see, it’s almost ready for business. If you are in or near Ottawa, give me a call!

Corporations

Now that we are on the subject of corporations… we live in interesting times. What I see around me is corporations making poor decisions, based mainly, from what I observe, on their need to report greater profits every quarter.

We have Adobe being predatory (see last article, below), and we now have Apple completely losing its direction. Apple updates used to be exciting. Now, they are just messy. Minor updates fort major money. And I have no idea what all the iPhone versions are. 7, 8, 10, XR, XL, XS, whatever. I can’t even remember them. And the equipment lasts a year, maybe two, before the battery dies. Inbuilt obsolescence. And the Mac, which used to be the mainstay of Apple, is now an afterthought.

This mess is there only to make profits: not to make sense, let alone to make our lives better. For all his obvious faults, Steve Jobs would have never allowed this.

Corporations forget that you should never disrespect your customers. Seeing customers as mere cash cows, as Apple and Adobe clearly do, opens the field for competition. There will be Lightroom competitors. And there will be Apple competitors (Huawei was coming on strong: perhaps that’s why Mr Trump is trying to kill them. But it will not work.)

And in our field, Canon is doing the same. The drive to “mirrorless”, a fashionable but not yet very useful phenomenon, is designed mainly, I think, to make us all buy thousands of dollars’ worth of new equipment. New cameras, while the “old” ones work perfectly well. New lenses, which are more expensive than the “old”lenses.  New accessories (as mentioned before, some of the new cameras have a non-standard flash hotshoe so you have to buy new flashes and can’t use standard radio triggers.

I was all ready to promote Canon in my new shop (www.michaelwillemsphoto.ca) but it seems that Canon want a large investment (think tens of thousands) before they will talk.

Well, corporations: we are paying attention. You are risking a Bastille day; a day when we all revolt and “en masse” jump ship to whatever competition there is. That’s how markets work: they are not all about extricating more cash from your customers every quarter. And it behooves you to remember it.

Meanwhile, my search for alternatives goes on. Interesting times.

Adobe, oh Adobe

Adobe is stretching the limit of what is acceptable to me and other pros. If they gop on, I will look for alternatives to their software sooner rather than later.

One thing is the pricing model. You can no longer buy a license, you have to pay monthly “or else”. Thus costing you many, many times what a license used to cost. Over my dead body, Adobe. No way will I let usurious suits decide at any moment whether I am allowed to run my company. Forget it.

But there’s more. Adobe is doing almost zero development. Even bug fixes aren’t being done: When you try to export a slideshow, Adobe LR hangs if the slides include horizontal as well as vertical slides. Old bug, still not fixed. This is intolerable!

The speed also hasn’t improved. Again, intolerable.

So, another few nudges like this and Adobe, which is already a company I intensely dislike, will be a company I advise all my students to avoid.

In this, they are a metaphor for all US business, which thinks it is invulnerable. Apple is another example: $1400 for a cell phone? $600 for a Mac Pro screen stand? Really, Apple?

Shaking my head.

 

 

Ajax and Karsh

I just spoke as one of the keynote speakers at an Ajax Photography Club event called “Discovering Karsh”. All about Armenian Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, whom The Economist, after his death, described as “the best portrait photographer in the world for the past fifty years”. 

Karsh can teach photographers today a thing or two, and that was the subject of my presentation. He was a master at light, mainly in moody low key portraits (think of the grumpy Churchill portrait, where Karsh had respectfully pulled the cigar from Churchill’s mouth), for one. Google it—for copyright reasons I cannot reproduce it here.

He was also a real people person, and that was his super power. He studied his subjects before a shoot. He talked to them. At length, often, if given the opportunity. Instead of taking 100 pictures and choosing one, he took one or two when the moment was right. He was a master at choosing the moment. And his subjects trusted him and his ability to make them look good.

Google “Karsh” and see the iconic portraits that defined the 20th century. Sure, Karsh is not everyone’s taste—his portraits are low-key and often moody—but they are certainly masterful. And they defined the people that he photographed as well as reflected them. As a portrait photographer, if you can do that, you have made it.

 

 

Why I am not switching yet.

“Mirrorless” is all the talk. Everyone, it seems, “is going mirrorless”.

But not me, and not many other photographers either: not quite yet.

Canon 1D Mark IV camera

Canon 1D Mark IV camera

Why not switch to the latest technology?

Well, while mirrorless offers advantages, like

  • Preview information (eg histogram) through viewfinder.
  • Post-shot view.
  • Smaller, lighter! Especially if you get the new lenses.

…there are also good reasons for pros to hesitate and hold off. Here’s a few:

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.Why mess with something that is proven to work?
  • Mirrorless is unproven. Looks good, but it’s new. Why risk it?
  • Battery life. Not as good, not nearly as good as the pro DSLRs
  • Dust. The sensor is exposed and every lens change introduces dust.
  • New lenses needed—and that’s a major investment. Or you use adapters and invest in those, and forego the “smaller” advantage. Adapters are always iffy anyway: another point of failure.

As you see, there are good reasons to not mess with something that ain’t broken.