Archive for the ‘How to and tips’ category


Building the right photo website. Dilemmas and truths.

Finally my new website is LIVE!   By far creating the right website is one of the most important steps for a photographer and to me one of the most difficult and stressful tasks.  The website is your whole image and the best chance you have to catch the attention of a potential client.  I used to have 6 printed portfolios that traveled from agency to agency but rarely I get calls for a book anymore.  Clients will decide on a photographer based on their site, a bad website will get you no work.

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What is a good website?

There are many opinions but my idea of a good website is EASY NAVIGATION, SPEED, CLEAN PRESENTATION, GOOD VIEWING/IMAGE SIZE, GOOD ORGANIZATION and of course GOOD CHOICE OF IMAGES.  The GOOD ORGANIZATION and GOOD CHOICE OF IMAGES is by far the most difficult part and I wish I could say I had it down.  I spent sleepless nights thinking about what galleries I should include in my site and in these galleries what images I should showcase?  With the new website I tried a different approach, with most galleries being photo essays that tell a story (is very possible that by the time you read this blog this could have changed).   I find it much more interesting to look at photo sites that tell stories rather than a sites that have Portfolio 1, Portfolio 2, Portfolio 3, with a bunch of unrelated images.  However, many art directors, art buyers, photo editors or possible clients don’t have time to look at photo essays and they won’t like my approach.  If they have a project and need a good people shooter, they want to look at a site and see a PEOPLE gallery with just people.  Websites organized by specialities, like PEOPLE, LIFESTYLE, BEAUTY, SPORTS, to give a few examples, are the most popular.  Probably a more effective approach than mine but I find it boring and impersonal.  I rather be hired because I told a good story than because I saved somebody a few minutes so  they can spend more time on facebook.
The other important part of GOOD CHOICE OF IMAGES and GOOD ORGANIZATION is to create somewhat of a theme that works together.  If you are a tabletop, studio photographer, you probably don’t want to put a gallery of your latest trip down the Grand Canyon.  If you shot a wedding and got some cool shots don’t put them on your site unless you want to be a wedding photographer.  If you want to shoot some weddings on the side you are better off creating a separate website.  The photographers who specialize are the ones who will have an easier time selling their work. They can focus on selling what they specialize on and it sure makes it easier.  I started my career as a fly fishing photographer.  I could list my potential clients on my fingertips and was easy to go after them.  It was so easy to just put fly fishing images on my site and not worry about anything else.  Now things have changed in my world and a list of obsessions have been added to fly fishing and focusing on very specific subjects is something I struggle with.  There are so many things I do and love to shoot, with different styles, and I find it really hard to pigeonhole myself to one thing.  To me style is nothing but repetition and repetition is a bummer.  Who wants to eat the same thing over and over?  Even if it’s your favorite dessert? So the key is to showcase images, subject matters and styles that work together but always remember why you decided to be a photographer.  You should be passionate about what you photograph and don’t just shoot something because it sells.


Blogging. Why use WordPress.org for dummies.

 Trying to save you from making my mistakes.

This is my FIRST post on WordPress.org and I am pretty excited.  At the end of last year I started my blog using WordPress.com (very important to see the .com detail).  After pressing a bunch of buttons, trying to figure how it all worked, I gave up after the first post “Hello world”.  I let it sit for a while unused, feeling a little overwhelmed by the complicated process.  A few months went by and I had another burst of energy after seeing my photographer friend Jeff Hawe’s blog.  Simple, clean, I liked it immediately. Shortly after seeing the blog I emailed Jeff asking him.

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“What do you use for your blog?”.  He replied “Blogger, it’s easy to use and free”  “Easy to use” is all I wanted to hear at that moment.
Now that I learned more about Blogger, easy to use and free would be the only reasons I would use it.  I signed up with Blogger and within hours I was up and running with my new beautiful blog that looked just like Jeff’s but I guess that’s what you get with a free service.  Everything seemed perfect and I started happily blogging away.  Months went by and I quickly realized the limitation of my new dreamy blog.  The slick dynamic template that I was using didn’t allow basic functions like sharing the posts with facebook or adding specific widgets.  They gave you the option of sharing with Google+ but not Facebook. Does anyone use Google + anyway?  Blogger is owned by Google, they prefer shooting themselves on the foot and loosing users t

han giving the share with facebook option on Blogger. I spent days going over the net trying to figure out ways to crack the code to get what I needed and started learning more and more about the limitations you have with blogger. I realized that to have the share options I wanted, I had to change template and crack some more code AND, AND, AND.  Weeks went by, my brain was smoking, my success was limited and I started reading about Worldpress.org.  Finally a Blogger Guru from India named YOGA and a super nice guy who specializes on Blogger Dynamic template emailed me through his blog to let me know that what I wanted to do was not possible with Blogger.  Thanks to YOGA I realized it was time to make the move to Worlpress.org.


THE MAKING OF CHOICE OUT LOUD

I was driving down a desolate Montana road watching snow blow sideways across the pavement.   Still painfully thinking about the job for Saint Lucia Tourism my producer and I had been bidding for two weeks but never got.  We were so sure we had it we ordered a life supply of sunscreen.  I had envisioned leaving snowy and cold Montana to photograph the tropical world.  Part of the job description was photographing beautiful women bathing underneath waterfalls, hiking lush mountains, swimming in turquoise waters, not a bad option from the snowdrift accumulated on the side of the road.  As I drove by what appeared to be a frozen cow Jeff Martin calls.  “I have a cool job if you are interested”. “Cool” and “if you are interested” don’t go together, usually means there is a catch.  The catch was that it happened to be a Pro Bono job but it sure was cool. This was the job description.
 
January 22, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision protecting every woman’s right to abortion. Forty (40) prominent advertising, fashion, editorial and fine art photographers from around the country will all shoot a single female subject. To create this project, each photographer will shoot multiple consecutive frames (60-80) of their subject, which will then be edited together to create an empowering, stop-motion video. Forty faces back to back, beautifully executed moving portraits and creative visions woven together to create an empowering message of choice.”
 

Not only I thought it was an amazing creative endeavor but I also feel very strongly about pro choice. What women do or not do with their bodies should be their choice, especially when talking about a pregnancy.  I was for sure in.  The only guideline was that the background had to be black or gray and as I watched a snowy white landscape I realized shooting outside was not going to be an option.  Had to be done in a Studio.  Studio?  I am a location photographer, my studio is for computers, printers and file cabinets not for shooting.  I remembered years back, at the beginning of my career, when I shot entire catalogs in my living room with a stylist and an assistant.  It was time to go back in time and move those couches around since renting a photo studio in MT was not going to happen.  I didn’t want to photograph one woman and call it good.  I wanted to give Jeff a few options and photograph a few different women so I spent the following month “livingroomless”.

Women live with the reality and consequences of a pregnancy.  They are vulnerable to what happens to their body.  In those 60 frames I wanted to capture a sense of vulnerability, the moment of realization, and the moment of choice.  The frame was to start with the woman with her head down (vulnerability) raising her head and opening her eyes (realization) and then flaring to white in a flash(Choice).  Thinking I was in Sweden I also did what we called a “rated R” version that showed skin and nudity.  As expected the “rated R” version didn’t make the director’s cut.  Clearly we are not in Sweden and I am not sure what I was thinking.  In the rated R version, I wanted to emphasize even further a sense of vulnerability.   The message was simple and that’s how I wanted the lighting.  Simple, classic and clean (see lighting diagram).

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I used hot lights because to create the flair to white I placed the back light on a remote dimmer.  Unfortunately because of time constrains and space limitations, on the final stop motion project, my images could be not be edited fully as I had envisioned them.  Still turned out to be an awesome project and I am thankful and honored for having been chosen to be one of the 40 photographers.   I thank you Jeff and thank you to all the women who helped me making it happen.  Ashely (Model/Assistant), Kezia (Model), Laura (Model), Jennifer (Model), Crysten (Model), Aspen (Model), Yvonne Reddy (Make up and Hair for Jessica, Laura and Kezia), Deirdre P Quinn with Indulgence (Make up and hair for Ashley) and all the the other women who offered to be part of the project or helped.

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We sure had fun! Ashely having a fit.

Down below are the final images.  If you enjoyed this BLOG and want to stay updated on what I do please LIKE ME on facebook by clicking here.  If youwant to see the full video this is the link

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