Why a MUA is needed.

[a repeat from 2014]:

I generally recommend doing things only if they need to be done. And one of those things is a make-up artist (a “MUA”). You can be pretty sure that TV producers, for example, would not use make up artists if they were not necessary. But they are.

Witness this “before” and “after”:

Make up artists do not just fix blemishes. They also shape the face so it is suitable for the shoot. Here’s MUA Melissa Telisman doing her thing:

And here’s what that results in:

Glamour and perfection without “photoshopping”, which I am not a fan of. But make-up is not just for glamour; not at all. I recommend a MUA and a hair stylist for corporate shoots, too, especially—but not only—if women are involved. If TV shows do it, you can be sure it is necessary, and not a luxury.

Incidentally: do we need the entire person in every shot?

Decidedly no. You get a much more intimate feeling when you do an extreme close-up (an ECU, in movie terms). Try it; experiment in your next shoot and do some shots like the one above. You’ll love them.


A student asks.

Here’s me, teaching a Sheridan College class just the other day:


My student asks:

How did you know you were ready/good enough to charge for your service?

You are ready when people think it worth paying you. Period. Of course yes, you should have the standard technical skills: know about exposure, focus, colour, metering, all those basics. And the basic composition rules. But that is not indicative of a successful photographer; those are merely “hygiene factors”. Like saying an author needs to own a pen, and paper, and know the alphabet. Well, yeah, d’oh! If you are not 100% sure you have all those skills, get my camera books from www.michaelwillems.ca/BOOKS.html

But as said: you are good enough when you manage to make people part with their money. In other words, when people want to pay for your work, your work is good enough to be paid for. A truism, but a true one. :-)

Would you say there is a specific set of equipment you need to be able to charge for, say, a wedding shoot?

Yes. redundant equipment.

Lots of lenses, several cameras, lots of flash gear: all that is good but not necessary. Depending on your style and your clients’ wishes, you COULD shoot a wedding with just one wide angle prime, for instance. Or a 35 or 50mm prime. The equipment expands your possible styles, that’s all.

But redundant (spare) equipment and at least some form of flash is necessary. It is irresponsible to shoot a wedding if you do not have backups for everything. Because anything that can fail, eventually will. Count on it. And it will be during the ceremony, in the middle of the most important part.

…Or for a portrait shoot?

No. A digital Rebel with a 50mm prime lens is enough if you will. Sure, the more the better, but by no means is that necessary. Sure. Headshots: nice to own a 70-200. Environmental portraits? a 16-35. Available light? a prime. But all those are just means to an end. If you do one type, have one style, then you need only one lens. And an affordable prime is enough. For studio, even a kit lens is fine.

Then you do need a range of flash gear and modifiers. See my flash book, and my portrait book, from www.michaelwillems.ca/BOOKS.html


Lowlife miscreants.

…have hacked this blog. Apologies to all. There’s always going to be criminals, I guess.

I may now need to simply take the blog down: many files appear corrupted and fixing that needs an expert WordPress programmer. This would be a shame: after 8 years of posts, taking down the blog would be horrible. If you see no blog here, apologies.

Also, getting the content back on a new blog may be impossible. Stay tuned and we will see.

If www.speedlighter is unreachable, please check out www.michaelwillems.ca for more news.


Make that seven

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Smoke. Mirrors.

The Internet is a funny place. There’s so mamy opinions,. And everyone is an expert.

The problem is that you need no qualifications, so most of these opinions are just plain wrong. I have heard things like “the rear curtain setting gives you softer flash pictures”, “you need to use the zone system”, “you should never format a memory card”—and many other absurd statements.

So, my advice is, “beware”. Especially if it costs money. Do not buy “exposure courses”. Exposure is simple: if it is too dark, make it brighter; if it’s too bright, make it darker. And do not buy Lightroom presets, unless they are things you truly cannot do yourself. And so on. Buy courses only if you get a 100% money-back happiness guarantee.

And especially: when you read something on the Internet, research a little. Who is telling you? Research them. Are they are real photographer? Are they an expert in their field? Or are they Uncle Fred, or a teenager in his mother’s basement? Judge their answer based on this—then run it by another few people.

Or just take courses from reputable, proven speakers. That is also a time tested way of doing it.

Perhaps I can recommend my ebooks and my courses—but you be the judge. Caveat emptor, whatever you do.