I found a video today on the internet that shows a model shoot with the Olympus EPL-1 micro four thirds camera in an underwater housing. If you don't like pretty girls made out to be like creepy zombies then this isn't for you, but if you are curious about the video at all, it is worth a look. In fact the website (Photofide) is full of content that I've yet to explore, its a pretty good find. Video link below:
I'm caught up again on all my photo editing and work pretty much. I have a few customer DVD's to make and some print orders to fill, but it is all light work. We are designing new rack cards as a resort we have shot a wedding at liked our work and asked to display our literature. We normally don't do print ads as we don't find them that effective, but in this case the resort wants to include our stuff with their wedding package information and that is great. The challenge is going to be to try and produce something that fits the look of our brand.
We like to play nice with other wedding vendors as much as we can. With the Bride and Groom's permission we share photos with venues, caterers, florists, etc. for their promotional use, and we do it free of charge with no watermarks. Why? Well weddings are a competitive business and we know that other vendors recommendations can be a big help. We like to recommend vendors to our brides as well if we know they are of good quality and fit with how we think a Bride should be treated. It costs us nothing to give vendors photos, plus they show our work on their websites (we do ask for photo credit) and in literature and the goodwill we build with them is very helpful. Plus, if you look at a lot of wedding vendor websites you will see some really bad photography, so we think of it as kind of a public service. I know that most photographers are unwilling to share and I see a lot of caterers or venue managers running around with point and shoots at weddings. What goes around comes around (I hope) and I know for sure that most photographers don't share.
Of course we haven't always had a good experience with other vendors. We sometimes give free images only to have them not used (even when asked for) or we don't get so much as a quick thank-you email in return. We file those experiences away so that we don't recommend those vendors (not that we bash them either, that would just be stupid) or we don't offer free photos again. Recently we decided that we wanted our website to have some more photos on it that reflected the style of photography that we feel we are evolving toward. We want our Brides that go to our site to see the kind of photography we want to be doing, not the kind of photography we necessarily have been doing which in all honesty has occasionally been exactly what everyone else was doing. Simple, safe and well exposed to appeal to a broad audience. Anyway, in the interest of long term happiness and carving out our own niche in our community we really want to push ourselves and our style so we decided to get some models and some dresses and work with a hair and makeup artists to create some really dramatic images for our website.
We scouted some really fantastic locations and we ordered up some new lighting for location work. We then dropped by a local Bridal store to see if we could purchase some used display dresses. Well the owner of the store are a husband and wife and the husband recognized me from a recent wedding show. He suggested we could work together and they could provide dresses on loan if we could provide them with images. We quickly agreed and were very excited. The first model we had set up was a good family friend. She happens to be quite skinny. No we didn't think of her because of that, it is simply because we've photographed her before and she is a natural in front of the camera and is a really really nice person (easy to work and spend time with). I mentioned to the store owner that our model was quite small and he said that it wasn't a problem, they could pin the dress, so great!
Well about three days later I email to arrange a follow-up meeting and I get a return email that essentially accuses us of photographing anorexic models that the store customers won't identify with. The email is from the wife, the co-owner of the store. She wants sample photos of our models and isn't sure she can work with us. In the meantime I've found another model who is of a larger dress size but as I read the email I was pretty angry. A judgement has been made, and it's not one I like. My partner and I work very hard at being great to our customers. We work hard on our image, and we are NOT that type of seedy photographer. I have a daughter, and a wife, and I don't promote anorexia. I admit I was pretty offended, but I politely emailed back with a reply that we were happy to work with plus sized models and suggest we meet to make sure both our needs are met. I get no reply for a couple of days so I stew on it and eventually reply to end the arrangement.
So we are going it on our own. Which was the original plan anyway, but as you can tell I'm not happy with the result of that vendor relationship. Of course I want to work with them, but if I do, it won't be a fair trade agreement, it will be them paying for service.
That is about it for my little rant/lesson on vendor relationships. We will always be a company that wants to share with other vendors and help them out. We will network, we will shake hands and we will share images, and I recommend other photographers do the same. You will get the brush off occasionally, you will find some people ungrateful, but occasionally you will find people like the resort we found this year that will help you grow your business and you will be happy you made the effort.
I took this image last year while photographing for the local Crisis Society at their annual Soles for Souls event. They have people bring shoes (which later get donated to charity) and they pile them up in sort of a memorial. The shoes all have written on them on tags the names of friends of relatives that have committed suicide. It is a moving ceremony and one I enjoy photographing for free each year as my little contribution. I'm not sure if I've shared photos from it before, but I thought of it in relation to the debate raging right now on a couple of other blogs. If you have something you feel strongly about that you want to contribute to as a photographer, and it normally wouldn't be something a pro would be hired for, then I say contribute your talent and time to the cause. Free can be a good thing and you may grow from the experience.
I entered one of my images in the annual Scott Kelby Photowalk competition. Pretty sure it won't be the winner, but honestly with street photography and landscape photography I'm really not as seasoned as most amateurs. Which leads me to a train of thought I've been having lately about amateur photographers. I met several on the walk and know several myself and I find it really strange how the word 'amateur' has become symbolic with 'not very good.' Really it seems that it should mean "I love this art of photography and I'm willing to do it for free."
I've seen a lot of amateur photography on Flickr and in my local Photography club that is frankly excellent and far superior to the work of a lot of pros. I don't think there is, or should be shame in calling oneself an amateur. It is just doing something for the love of it, not the money. It does not directly relate to skill level. I run into a lot of hobbyist photographers that will tell me that they could be doing it for a living but they have a (insert word like 'job, or family obligation, bad back, etc) and then they start talking gear and stuff with me. It reminds me of that guy that will meet an NHL player and say 'yeah, I could have been a pro hockey player but I blew out my knee,' like there is something to be embarrassed about by playing in the local recreational hockey league on weekends. If you love hockey and play as an amateur or love photography and do it on weekends to show your friends on Flickr then just realize it makes you no less relevant than the guy doing it for cash. So when you meet a pro photographer or a pro baseball player, or heck a pro bowler, just chat with them about your shared passion, ignore the urge to justify your insecurities over not collecting the cash, and I think you'll find a kinship exists beyond the finances of the subject.