Why oh why!

Why, some people ask, should I pay a photographer hundreds of dollars for some shots that Uncle Fred can do for free?

A fair question. It is clearly not that the photographer is getting rich. So what do you get for your money when you hire a photographer?

Here’s what.

  1. Knowledge. I have heard it say that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything, from brain surgery to plumbing. I can believe it – I spend every hour shooting or learning about it even today. A working photographer has the hours of learning needed to ensure success.
  2. Practical experience. It is unlikely that, when you hire a pro for, say, an important event, it is the first time he or she has shot that type of event.
  3. Artistic insight. Unlike Uncle Fred, the pro knows how to compose your photos. He or she will not put every subject in the centre: instead, you will get artistic photos.
  4. Equipment. A pro has the right gear for the job. My $15,000 worth of cameras, $10,000 worth of lenses and $10,000 of other equipment means something. It means that your shots will be tack sharp. It means that if we need a wide angle lens, we have it. It means backgrounds can be blurred out by large apertures. It means that if the shot involves low light, we will get it without motion blur. It means the cameras will work in the rain. It means that each shot can be written to two memory cards at once, so that if one breaks, the shot is safe. It means the colours will be right.
  5. Post-production work. The pro knows how to finish the shots in post-production. Cropping, exposure adjustments, skin blemish fixups: often, a one-hour shoot means two hours of finishing, exporting, and uploading. Do not underestimate that: half the work is in the post.
  6. Reliability. You can be assured that the pro will show up as promised, when promised…

And that is why a pro deliver substantially better photography service – and better photographs – than dear old Uncle Fred can. You are not buying prints: you are buying expertise – and in the end, results.

And that is what matters. Your event, your child, your product: a good photo makes it last forever,which presumably is worth the minor expense of doing it right.

KISS – Keep It Simple, S.

This picture shows that you do not need a studio with much equipment, necessarily.

I used a Canon 1D Mark IV camera with a 580 EX II speedlite.

And that’s it. Really.

I had the camera on 400 ISO, manual, 1/60th second, f/4. TTL did the rest with the flash.

The flash which was of course pointed behind me, giving “light from 45 degrees above”. Leading to pictures like the one above, and this:

Which when you zoom in enough shows you The Man In The Pupil:

..which of course is me.

Can you see how my flash aimed backward makes a pattern on the ceiling that looks like an umbrella? That’s the  entire point!

Sometimes very simple equipment is al you need for professional work.

Me in 1982

In Nineveh…

At the spiral minaret in Samara…

And after a ministry in Baghdad was bombed:

That picture, taken from my room at the al-Mansour Melia hotel, got me interrogated by security… but they were kind enough afterward to actually give me back my developed slide film. I must be the only person to have had their film developed by Saddam’s security men.

Lightroom Tips

Two Lightroom performance tips for you today:

  • Optimize your library regularly. On a Mac, go to “Lightroom”, “Catalog Settings..”, and select “Relaunch and Optimize”.
  • Increase your Camera RAW Cache size to at least 10 GB (if your hard disk has that much size available). On a Mac, go to “Lightroom”, “Preferences”, and set Camera Cache size to 10 GB or more.

This will keep your Lightroom installation working more quickly.

New toy

Just received the new Honl Photo bounce card/speed snoot.

It is like the previous ones in that it is small, sturdy, and conveniently attaches to the Speed Strap.

What’s different?

This one has not a white but a gold reflector (equivalent to 1/4 CTO).

That means I can use it to:

  • Shoot with flash in Tungsten ambient light without making the background warm or the subject too blue; or
  • Warm up portraits with a nice warm glow.

Yet another thing to make my light-life easier.

I am going to be once again sharing my Flash expertise in Phoenix next month – 22 and 23 March – for pro and emerging pro users. You can be sure I am going to show how these small modifiers enable a whole new world of flash.