New Year’s Eve News

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The end of 2007 is finally upon us, and I thought I would wrap this year with some interesting news from the photography industry.

  • Photoshop User Awards – Today is the last day that you can enter your work into the Photoshop User Awards. This photography contest is presented by The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), featuring a Grand Prize that includes an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for you and an assistant of your choice. In addition your work will be the cover of an issue of Photoshop User Magazine, the publication produced by NAPP. You can find out more details and enter here.
  • Canon USA Offers Discounts – Canon is now offering up to $125.00 savings on EF lenses and their 580EX speedlight. You can check out more details regarding these instant savings here.
  • Nikon D40 Sweepstakes – Nikon has got the sweepstakes of a lifetime! You can enter to win an all expenses paid trip for two to Tuscany, Italy to shoot with your brand new Nikon D40. Now you don’t have to purchase anything to enter this sweepstakes. And the D40? That’s part of the prize! According to Nikon’s terms and conditions of the sweepstakes, the grand prize package is worth around $31,000.00! WOW! Something else that blows my mind… you have 1 year to book and take the trip! So if you’re the lucky winner, you don’t have to worry about arranging time off from work or school to meet specific trip dates. You can find out more about the sweepstakes and enter here.
  • DisplayCalibration.com – I stumbled across this website yesterday and thought it might be a useful one to bookmark. The site walks you through a basic display calibration of your computer monitor to help you achieve the best results you can without using a calibration device. It covers factors that affect calibration like lighting conditions, location, etc. I tried it myself and it works quite well. You can find their site here.

That’s it for today’s news. This year has been an incredible one for me. I have traveled a little, shot a lot, and spent a lot of time and had a ton of fun with my family. I got to live in Dahlgren, VA and Brunswick, ME. Next year will be even better as I’m moving back to San Diego, CA and have a lot of travel plans along the way. I hope to bring you some shots from some exotic places and I’m sure it will be a blast taking them. I wish you and yours all the best for 2008! Have a safe and Happy New Year! See you next year! 🙂

Warmest regards,

Stephen

Making Money With Photography

First off, let me just say that I am not here to write about how to get-rich-quick with your photography. That’s not going to happen in any way, shape, or form. Making money (or even a living) with photography takes time, a lot of time. Below are a couple of ways that you can start to bring in some cash with your images.

  • Microstock – Probably one of the least complicated ways of selling your images is through a microstock website like iStockPhoto. If you have excellent commercial images that you can sell, a site like this is the place to do it. They have a large customer base and all the marketing is done for you. All that is required of you is to have (or shoot) the commercial images, upload and keyword them, and wait for someone to buy your images. You receive compensation each and every time one of your images is downloaded. Now you can’t just upload any old image, there is usually an approval process and limitations on what kind of content you can provide. iStock for example, doesn’t want or need images of flowers, flags, your dog, etc. They have TONS of them I’m sure.
  • Flickr or Zooomr – There seems to be quite a buzz in the photography industry about people selling images online through websites like Flickr and Zooomr. Now, this method takes a little more leg work but it may pay off after some time. Publishers, designers, etc. seem to be cruising these two sites looking for images that they can use in their publications. I’m not for certain, but my best educated guess would be that they can get the images cheaper directly from the photographer instead of a microstock site. Photographers upload their images and tag them as being available for sale and then begin to market themselves. You can do this by commenting on other blogs, visiting other member’s groups, participating in forums, and so on. Using this method, there are no restrictions on what images you can upload and there are no approvals. You just have to find something that meets the client’s needs.
  • Weddings & Portraits – A more traditional method, these can be great avenues to part or full time income. You can start by shooting weddings and portraits for friends. If you work is good, they will help you spread the word and get your name out there. Weddings are great because if you market yourself and the products and services you provide well, you can make great money. The only catch is, get used to working weekends. Weddings are very seldom on a weekday. So if you have a 9 to 5 job Monday through Friday, you won’t have a lot of time to yourself or your family. Portraits are easier because they don’t take up as much time and you can be very flexible as to when you shoot them. I recently shot a family portrait and newborn portraits for a family and I was there all of about 35 minutes from arrival to departure. That’s not to say that all clients will have you in and out in that amount of time. Some might be more picky and want you to shoot for an hour or two. In business, that translates into charging more for the session. 🙂

So there’s a couple of ways for you to make some cold, hard cash with your photography. A really good resource (that I refer to often) is photopreneur. It’s a great blog with lots of different information on making money as a photographer, what it takes to be a pro, and more. They conduct interviews and have a lot of great information on the subject. Be sure to check them out.

That’s it for this week, I hope everyone has a great weekend as we get ready to wrap up 2007 and head into 2008. See you next week!

How Much Camera Do I REALLY need?

pic_001.jpgThis is a question that I am often asked by friends and acquaintances when they are considering a digital camera purchase or upgrade. Like buying a new computer, this too can be tricky and confusing. Salespeople are always trying to upsell and there are always new cameras and new features emerging on the market. By the way, this information will apply to both Digital SLR cameras as well as Point and Shoot cameras.

  • DSLR vs. Point & Shoot – This is a really important decision if you are torn between the two.  Most consumers or everyday shooters will think they are buying too much camera when considering a DSLR.  What really hurts is to decide on a Point & Shoot and then try a friend’s (or someone else’s) DSLR and fall in love with it.  On the other hand, if you buy a DSLR to only take snapshots, you could end up hating it because it can be a hassle to haul around.   Without a doubt, a DSLR will always be a better camera and produce better images, but there are some great “prosumer” P&S cameras that give DSLRs a run for their money.  P&S cameras are great because they are easy to use, take great pictures, and they are ultra-portable.  The big advantage with DSLRs is having interchangeable lenses in which the optics are far superior to those in a P&S camera.  Now remember, it’s the photographer (artist) that creates the image, not the camera.  You give someone like Vincent Laforet or Joe McNally a point and shoot, and they will still create amazing photos.  Just some food for thought before you dive in and spend $500.00 plus on a new DSLR.  And that brings me to my final point; cost.  An entry-level DSLR will almost always be more expensive than even a high quality P&S.

Personally, I use a Nikon D40 which is the most entry level DSLR out there.  I can’t complain, (I won it in a raffle) but I have also fallen in love with it.  My D40 takes great photos, is super lightweight, and I just plain have a blast using it.  Would I like to have a D300 or a D3???  Sure I would, but my bank account disagrees.

  • Resolution – Here’s a subject that a lot of people get wrapped around the axle about.  Resolution, defined in Megapixels, tends to mislead buyers.  Salespeople who don’t know any better contribute to the problem by conveying that if they buy a camera that has a 12.1 megapixel sensor, it will take better photos than the camera that only has a 6.1 megapixel sensor.  Not true.  The amount of megapixels a sensor is capable of does not determine the quality of the image.  The size of each individual pixel does contribute to quality though.  A larger pixel means a larger amount of light can be taken into that pixel.  That’s why a camera with a larger sensor will produce higher quality images than a camera with the same resolution that has a smaller sensor.  Resolution really translates into how large you can print the image before you start to lose quality.  For example, an image made by a 6 megapixel camera can be printed with excellent results up to 13″x19″.  If you want 16″x20″ you need 8 megapixels.  And lastly, if you need to print a 24″x36″, you’ll need 10 megapixels or more.

Once again, it all comes down to personal preference.  Those who are serious about photography will most likely choose a DSLR over a P&S.  However, if you are on the fence I really think you should take a hard look at some of the entry-level DSLRs.  Nikon and Canon both make excellent products and you won’t be disappointed with either brand.  Those that want to always have a camera with them with the least amount of hassle will probably go with a point & shoot.  Canon and Nikon both make great P&S cameras as well.  Another thing you can do is find your local camera store and go in and play around with a couple different cameras and see which one feels best to you.  The salespeople there will be far more knowledgeable than those found a major electronics retailers and they will be more likely to give you honest advice since most of them are photographers themselves.

I hope everyone is having a great week and enjoying the holidays!  Happy shooting! 🙂

I Missed “The Shot”

As much as I’m torn up about writing this, I have a hard-learned lesson to share with you.  As you might have guessed from the title of this post, it’s about missing an opportunity to get “the shot”.  Most photographers cringe at the thought, and I’m still reeling from it.  Anyway, here goes:

  • Last night, my family and I were driving back from a day trip to Boston.  We had just left Logan Airport where we dropped off my wife’s mother and sister.  As we were getting back on US Route 1 my wife says, “Hey, look at the moon!”  When I looked off to my right, my heart sank.  (I always have my camera with me, but here’s where I blew it last night.)  The full moon was low in the sky and was only reflecting a small amount of light from the sun.  On top of that, there was a perfect line of clouds in front of it.  I was thinking about pulling over and grabbing my camera when it hit me; it’s 6:30 PM and completely dark AND I DON’T HAVE MY TRIPOD!!!  As dim as the moon was, there was no way I could have gotten a tack sharp, hand-held shot with a low ISO setting and a Nikon 18-135mm 3.5 zoom lens.  If I had a VR lens I might have given it a shot, but without the VR or a tripod it wasn’t going to happen.  When you are zoomed in tight or using a telephoto lens in low light, you have to be on a tripod if you want your images to be tack sharp.  VR or IS will help, but you should use a tripod whenever possible.

So there you have it, another lesson learned.  Some people may ask why I would want to put myself out there (like I just did), but I want to share my experiences with others so they too can avoid these headaches and have a better chance of getting “the shot”. 🙂

Friday News Tidbits

Happy Friday! Here’s a few news tidbits from the world of photography to take you into the weekend:

  • Kelby Training Offers Online Courses – Kelby Training has once again broken the boundaries of traditional training and is now offering online training courses. You can learn about Photoshop, digital photography, and the entire Creative Suite from Adobe for the amazingly low price of $199.00 for 1 year! WOW! Of course, if you’re a NAPP Member you can save an extra $20 bucks and you’re looking at $179.00 for 1 year of online training. The lineup of instructors includes some industry greats like Bert Monroy, Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Matt Kloskowski, Dave Cross, Terry White, and more! You can check out all the details right here.
  • MaineToday.com Seeking Photobloggers – I saw a post on the Maine Craigslist that MaineToday.com is seeking more Photobloggers for their website. I submit content for their website and it’s a great way for someone who enjoys taking pictures to get some exposure. But keep in mind, this isn’t a paying gig. You can check out their website, get more details, and contact them about becoming a member of the Seen team here.

Well, that’s it for this Friday night. Enjoy the weekend and I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday. I’ll be out and about this weekend shooting in the area. I’ll be sure to post some shots later this weekend or early in the week!

Louis Lesko on Models and Fashion Photography

I read a really interesting online article in Digital Photo Pro. The article is titled, “It’s About Sexy, Not Sex” which is very fitting. The author, Louis Lesko, describes his first model encounter on his very first fashion shoot and how that encounter influenced him and his professional relationships with his models throughout his career. “What happened,” you ask? I won’t spoil the read (which I think is great insight by the way), but I will tell you that it has everything to do with ethics and being professional when it comes to your models. Please don’t mistake that for me advising you that [models] are the only people that you need to be professional with. If you want to have any sort of career in professional photography, it’s key that your reputation, ethics, and morals are strongly intact. All it takes is one momentary lapse in judgment and the word can spread like wildfire, sending your photography career into an uncontrollable, downward spiral. If you have or ever have any plans on shooting with models, read this article. It could potentially save your future career. You can read it right here.