Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Will Work For Money

I know it's been a long time since I've updated this blog. I've been pretty busy and keeping up with Facebook and Twitter has been a lot easier than sitting and writing entries on a regular basis. However, this time I've got something to talk about that requires more words than would fit on your typical social media update.

A few years ago I was using a freelancing site to find some extra work. I had gotten a few decent jobs from there, but shortly after I started making some money, the site changed the way it worked and it became difficult to use. They were trying to make money off of the freelancers and expected us to pay for our bids. This was a big turn off, so I stopped using it. Recently, I decided to revisit the site and I was pleased to find that they not only did away with the offending changes, but actually gave you more to work with now. This morning I was checking through some of the jobs on there to see if there was anything I'd be qualified to bid on, and I came across this gem:

"I am going to need someone that can take pictures of people, things, and activities. Examples would include something like a request for a picture of a person eating a hamburger. I will need multiple shots of each request. I need someone that can take pictures of people from all countries.

I will pay $1 for original photo taken per request with touch ups completed as needed.

I will request about 20-25 different photos for a total payout of $20-$25 People in the photos will need to be of different countries so you must have access to lots of different people.

Again, if I need someone eating a hamburger I need a few angles and photos of that person eating a hamburger. Requests will be similar to this and I will most likely not need more than 3-5 angles of each photo. You will then gloss the photo and correct shadows and submit for use on a public website."

So, anybody who understands anything about how this kind of business works, will understand that this is an unrealistic request. Only a moron would do all of the things this guy is asking for, for $1 per photo. I used one of my "bids" (you get a limited number per monthly cycle) just to leave this comment on the job:

"If you want someone to go out, find models, get releases signed, set up scenes and lighting, edit, and deliver, for $1 per photo you'd might as well just hit up Essentially, what you're asking, is for someone to do a whole lot of work for free."

Needless to say, I got no response... People need to understand that this is a business for most of us, not a hobby. If we're on a site like this looking for work, it's quite possible that it's because we have bills to pay and this is what we know how to do best. $1 per photo is a ridiculous request for the kind of work that would go into producing even marginal-quality photos, let alone professional quality.

The process of getting cheap results for cheap pay, only cheapens your brand image. When your brand image is cheap and weak, so is your business. When your business is weak, it doesn't last long, and that takes a toll on the economy. We can't continue allowing people to rip us off, regardless of what you do for a living. We all suffer for it in the end.

More soon,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Conversation With Daniel

This blog post is long overdue, and due to the hectic nature of the last few weeks/months, I won't have enough time to go into full detail. However, there's something very important happening tonight that I want everyone to know about.

I'm sure almost everyone remembers Daniel, the beagle that was put, with other dogs, into a gas chamber in an Alabama shelter to be euthanized, and came out alive. Late last year Daniel made headlines for surviving the gas chamber when all the other animals in with him died, proving that user error was not a factor.

Shortly after, he was taken in by 11th Hour Rescue in NJ, and then adopted to Joe Dwyer of Nutley, NJ. I had worked previously with Joe when I filmed some footage of his pit bull rescue Shelby for a music video that I was asked to make for Monica Richards' cover of the song "Like Animals." Joe contacted me in late January, along with a mutual friend of ours, multiple award-winning director/producer Steven C. Crowley, to ask if I would help create a short film that outlined Daniel's story and explained what lies ahead for him.

I was honored to help and was brought in as Director of Photography and Editor of the film. We shot over 2 months time and I edited along the way to speed up the process. We hit a few minor speed bumps, but I feel we were very blessed to have an incredible team of people on the project that worked well together. It also helps that we all shared the common goal of telling Daniel's story and using it to save animals in the future.

Tonight at the Pets & Heroes Awards Dinner, the film will premier to an audience of over 200 animal advocates, as well as premiering online via Daniel's Facebook profile and fan page, and later tonight on his official website

If you have not yet joined the event on Facebook, you can do so here.

Around 5PM EDT, we will be making the video public and posting it to various pages associated with Daniel and this project.

Please join us tonight. If you don't, or if you're reading this after the event/premier is over (my fault, no time to blog lately) please know that you can access it any time, as it will be available indefinitely on YouTube after tonight.

More soon,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Think Inside The Box

A long-time friend of mine got in touch recently and asked me if I could take some new head shots for him to use with his resume and LinkedIn profile. After working out our schedules, I realized this would be the perfect chance for me to try out my new pop-up softboxes from LCD4Video.

I bought a field monitor for shooting video some time back from LCD4Video, and as usual with any catalog/website/vendor, I routinely get emails with special deals. They recently had a sale on their hot shoe pop-up softboxes, which were already a steal to begin with. I'd been looking into the same item, but from Lastolite, for some time, and just couldn't justify the cost for the amount of times I'd use it, so when these showed up in my inbox for a fraction of the cost, I figured, even if they were garbage, it wasn't a total loss. Well, much to my very  happy surprise, when they came in I noticed the build quality and portability I needed was there, and I didn't have to spend hundreds on a pair. When I do location portraits, I'm a two-light kinda guy, most of the time, unless I need to blast the background with some light or color (in the studio, that's a whole other story).

They provide the perfect amount of softening while not losing too much power. I was able to shoot at full power, and half or quarter power, and get a very nice ratio between my main and fill.

Enough geek talk, back to the shoot. Since we both have very busy schedules, it worked out best for him to meet me at my 9-5 at the end of the day, that way neither of us had to fight crazy amounts of traffic getting home. Since I work at a print shop, it's very cluttered, so finding a place to actually shoot the photos was enough of a challenge, never mind needing room to set up lighting. The lack of space is what made the hot shoe softboxes perfect for this. I slapped some white paper in front of the vending machine and got my Canon speedlights up on some stands with the softboxes, dialed in what I thought was a good ratio based on the distance to the subject, and then just tweaked my in-camera settings to get the right exposure.

Here's a pull-back view of the setup:

You can see the main light up high on the right, and the fill to the left side just behind the supply rack.

Then we just went through the usual range of faces, positions, etc. 

Here are a couple fun photos from the session:

I call this one, the Politician

This one is known as the "Buddy Christ" (if you've never seen the movie Dogma, you might not understand)

These are un-retouched photos right out of the camera, all I did was crop in. I usually leave any retouching requests up to the client, and will take care of the photos as per their instruction.

I'm running a special throughout the month of March for all NY or NJ clients. $50 head shot specials. Travel costs may apply depending on your location. Get in touch for more details or to book a session.

I'll have some more news coming soon on another project I've been working on since late January, so keep an eye out for that.

More soon,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goodbye, Hope

I've been busy around here lately and even though there is much to share on the blog, I simply haven't had the time to sit down and write it all down. Knowing me, that means it might never happen, but I digress. Something stopped me in my tracks tonight, literally. I was walking between rooms when my wife looked up from her phone and said "Hope died." I stopped mid-step and my head spun around as I asked "What?!"

If you've been following the blog and my projects for a while, you know that I had started work on a documentary about the farm animal rescue For The Animals Sanctuary in NJ. I had met the owners by chance through mutual friends, and immediately wanted to know more about the place and went out to visit. I got to know some of the animals and people there, and learned their incredible stories. I decided I wanted to help get the word out by producing a documentary around them. We had started filming and realized it was going to be a bigger undertaking than I could afford on my own, and so we started asking for donations. Some good people helped us out and we continued. About a year ago, filming was put on hold because of the weather, and some time later there were some changes in personnel, so as of right now we are still waiting for word on when the dust is settled enough to resume work on the project.

One of the most amazing animals there was Hope. Hope was a spent dairy cow, which basically means that she had been artificially inseminated and impregnated (That's how the dairy industry gets milk. Cows are mammals, they need to be pregnant to produce milk) so many times that her body was no longer physically able to perform the way the industry needed her to. She was rescued from slaughter by a good samaritan who would visit the farm she belonged to and had grown attached to her. This woman called around until she found a home for her, and that's how Hope wound up with my friends at For The Animals Sanctuary.

Her life of constantly being raped, having her days-old babies kidnapped for veal, and her baby's milk pumped out of her while she herself was pumped full of hormones and antibiotics left her, like many other milk production cows, with calcium deficiencies that lead to bone density loss, making her prone to fractures. I know for a long time they were very worried that if during a harsh winter she accidentally fell, it could break her hips beyond repair and she'd no longer be able to get up and walk, and be in constant excruciating pain. At this time, I still don't know exactly what happened, as is the norm for finding out something like this through a Facebook update. I want to allow my friends the time they need to deal with the situation, as it just happened today, before calling, but I do hope to hear from them so I can get the whole story.

When I first met Hope, the first thing I noticed was her size. She was huge. Not fat, just large. Hope was very tall, and very powerful, and yet was as gentle as could be. If you walked up to her and said hello, she would let you rub her face, and if you touched her nose she would lick your hand - her own way of saying "Hello".

Hope was going to be a major part of the documentary we were making, as she was the first production cow that they had rescued and her story, while typical of the industry, would stand out to viewers who didn't know what happened. Hope's life started with constant misery, torture, enslavement, and exploitation, but at least I know that for the last few years she finally knew love, compassion, and admiration. It won't be the same visiting the sanctuary without her there, but she died amongst friends, rather than in a slaughterhouse, being prodded to follow the fencing and gates that would lead her and hundreds like her to their death, all the while listening to the screams and cries of their bovine friends and siblings. All cows should be so lucky to go the way I'm sure Hope did, but instead she's a perfect example of why this cruel and disgusting industry needs to stop. Every day, humans abuse and murder thousands of nameless "Hopes" because they're told that it does a body good. Whose body? Our body? The cow's body? How about nobody.

One of my favorite pieces of footage of Hope will live on forever in a music video I created for Monica Richards' "Like Animals" cover. I used footage from the sanctuary in that video and there's a shot of the camera zooming into her eye. You can watch the video below to see it. There is also another scene where she is laying in her barn and she rests her head down.

If anyone is interested in making a donation to For The Animals Sanctuary, they can always use the help. Just follow this link to pitch in. It costs a fortune to house and feed these animals, so every little bit helps.

R.I.P. Hope

More soon,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Ibanez Catalog

I've got a few things in the pipeline right now, but here's a really quick update on something pretty exciting for me:

I found out from my good friend Steve Bello that one of the photos I took of him is in the new Ibanez 2012 Electric Guitar Catalog!

Sure, it's not the cover, or a full page, heck, it's not even an inset, but you know what? I took it, and it's in there, and that makes me happy. I didn't think any of my images would ever make it into a guitar manufacturer's annual catalog, but it happened.

Steve has been an Ibanez endorser for some time now and it's also the first time a photo of him has appeared in the catalog, so we are both thrilled. Now next year we have to aim for a full length shot of him.

Hopefully I can report on some new developments very soon, so hang tight for some news!

More soon,