An interesting observation

I am wrapping up my 13-week winter “The Small Photography Business” course tonight, at Sheridan college. And one subject we discuss in this course at length is production and pricing of images, books, prints, and so on. For all purposes, weddings, graduations, events, fashion portfolios, etc.


Modern people, like the young woman above, do not do what older people did. Each generation finds this out, to their consternation.

As an example, I love to make beautiful albums, like the ones I produce at Beautiful, metallic paper, hard pages, covered to make them invulnerable to spills and fingerprints, that fold fully flat, hand-bound: super stuff for little money.

But one young person, when shown this type of album, just told me “I hate that. It’s like a small kid’s picture book. Quality doesn’t matter, how many people will look at it anyway. I’d rather have more pictures and lower cost”. She would rather have a crappy book with horrible pixelated pictures, printed on the equivalent of toilet paper, because it’s more modern, cheaper, and less like what grandma had.

And the cost of an album is considerable. An album may only cost me $300 to buy, but by the time my time is included, which can be a day or two, it’s going to be $800-$1200. Which is good value, in my opinion. But I am not the market!

Kodak made the mistake of thinking they could dictate what the market should want. No, best not to make that mistake. Please do not undersell yourself, but also please do not engage in wishful thinking regarding market desires.

Makers of albums and wristwatches, watch out.



“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” (Robert Capa)

You have heard me on this theme many times. Getting close can often make your images better. You get close and intimate with the subject, your images have more impact. Like in these two, from that recent shoot:

Now of course you can do this by getting close. But be careful: closer than a couple of metres means you distort faces.

A better way is to use a longer lens. My favourite lens for this work is the 70-200, therefore. That has the additional benefit of not forcing you to be “in your subject’s face”. Yes, you have to have space, but that’s the entire point!

An alternate way is simply to use a somewhat long lens and then to crop for the rest. Those two were taken with the 85mm lens and cropped afterward. That is why you have all those megapixels, after all.

Next time you shoot anything, do yourself a favour and shoot the way you would normally shoot, but also shoot closer. Then when you look at the results, consider carefully which ones you like better. Where you like the close-up better: why? Where you like the wider view better: why? This is how you become a better photographer.

There’s still space on tomorrow’s Travel Photography session in Oakville, Ontario: 10AM-1PM, Sat 12 April 2014. $125 and it’s virtually private tuition!

Miscellany Musings

Learning opportunity: Tomorrow AM and Friday PM, you can see me talk at the Coast To Coast arts convention at Toronto airport. Come learn about camera basics (tomorrow) or Landscapes (Friday).

Cat Opportunity: always be ready to shoot your cats with a wide open lens in available light. And I never waste an opportunity to post a cat picture:

Theft opportunity: that is what you are giving thieves by leaving gear in your car. A good friend last night had her multiple cameras, multiple expensive lenses, and laptop stolen from her parked car. So sad, a terrible loss. The lesson can benefit us all: DO not leave cameras in cars. Even if you do not have a license plate like mine (NB: link is not suitable for work!).

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel: your home insurance, and if you do not have this your car insurance, may well cover part or all of this loss. Immediately make a police report, and then immediately contact your insurance company. Meanwhile collect serial numbers. in the EXIF data of each photo, things like camera serial number and often lens serial number are present. You can use a free utility called EXIFTOOL (Google it) to see the full EXIF data, if need be.


More Courses

You want to learn professional photography skills? Good!

And there are more opportunities than ever.  Apart from learning from me at Vistek Toronto and Sheridan College Oakville, and reading my four e-books, I now have more courses planned in Oakville:

Click to see the schedule, and to sign up. There’s half-day specialized courses, and there’s a five-week course. I hope to see yo on them: this is the time to learn the pro skills that will make you love your images.