Big Belly Baby

Jessica came to the studio because she wanted to gets some maternity photographs done to remember her “big belly baby” as she called it.   Jessica was glowing and she looked amazing.  We spent a few fun hours shooting to create all the photographs for her memory book.

As a photographer I really like it when my clients bring in a large variety of outfits to a shoot, as it gives me lots of creative choices.  Jessica brought a ton of fun outfits, resulting in a beautiful collection of shots.  Each photo set created a new mood.

Jessica should deliver her baby soon.

Orcatek Maternity and Pregnancy Photography – Phoenix, Arizona

How to succeed as a photographer – Part IV

This is the final part of my series on how to be a success as a photographer.  In past blog articles I wrote about working with your clients, providing them with what they want and equipment choices.  This week I am going to write about some more tools and training.  I am going to assume you are working with a digital camera like me. 

The worst thing any photographer can ever say is “No problem, I will fix it in Photoshop.”  I can only wish every time a photographer says this they get a shocked by their camera – ZAP!  Yes Photoshop is a great tool for photographers, but it should be used to enhance a good photograph.  Removal of stray hairs or getting rid of blemishes are good uses for it.   You need to get the shot right in the camera first or it’s like putting pants on a pig, its still a pig.

You may have noticed I said Photoshop.  There are several other good programs available that you can also use such as Gimp or Paintshop.  The challenge with these programs is when the time comes to share your work or even get training your options will be limited.    In the end you will need a good program to retouch your images.  Or you can hire a service to do this for you.  This can be a good choice as you spend your time taking photos and not sitting in front of the computer.

The next question I get is, “What plug-ins should i buy?”  Plug-ins are those add-ons to Photoshop that automate and add features.  None are actually needed to do standard retouching.  You can achieve what you need to do without them.  Some are nice to have as you have revenues, as they can save time.  If you must spend some money, I suggest looking at a sharpening tool and a skin softener.  Learn to use them with a lite touch.   You will hear the term selective / masking in Photoshop.   You can download trials from almost every major vendor.  It is a matter of tasted as to which works best for you. 

Learn to create or find some actions to do your work.  Actions are an automated series of steps in Photoshop that are processed very quickly.  I have about four actions that I use daily which I have created.  These are about fifteen to twenty steps long.  What would take me over ten minutes to do manually, the action will do in about a minute.  For example, I use an action to take a two page album spread and cut it into two images, adjusting the image for the gutter (area where pages come together in the center of the book) so the spread looks good when the book is opened. 

If you can’t write your own actions, look on-line for them using one of your favorite search engines.  One good action site is atncentral.com – Lots of free actions.  Even if you don’t use them, you can see how they were constructed and learn some things about Photoshop can be used.  Assign the ones you like use to function keys to save time when you want to run them.  You can even use these in batch processes to do a hundred images at once – great for weddings. 

Get some training on using Photoshop.  Attend classes, get a book, read magazine articles,  or even on-line.  Lots of good free Photoshop videos are available on YouTube.  Photoshop is very powerful and some basic training will go a long way towards learning how to use it. 

The one tool you should get is a graphic tablet, such as those made by Wacom.  They make a small tablet that does everything a photographer needs – the Bamboo is about $80.  It will save you huge amounts of time and improve accuracy once get used to using it.  Later you may wish to upgrade to a larger one, but I have both and have found the small one is just as good or possibly better for my photo retouching work. 

The other big time saver I cannot stress enough is learning the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop.  This will save you so much time you can’t imagine.  It doesn’t take long to learn either.  Here’s how you can learn them quickly.  Each time you need to click on a tool or menu item, look at the short cut and then use it instead of clicking.   The items which you use a lot you will learn in a very short period of time. 

Once again I’ve gotten long a bit winded in this blog article.  Feel free to drop me a line with any questions you might have.  For those who are in the Phoenix area I do teach retouching with Photoshop. 

 Orcatek Photography, Phoenix – Arizona

 Photography Studio Rental in Phoenix

Sassy Sarongs Product Photography

This week the most fun I had was as the photographer of product shots for Sassy Sarongs.  A great company which produces an amazing variety of sarongs.  Lisa is always great fun to work with on her projects.  Each time she gets a new batch of sarongs in, she calls her favorite photographer – me.

We started the day with some photography of Lisa for her marketing materials.  Her sarongs made for some very colorful and interesting shots.  She was a great sport about trying various things to get a large variety of photographs to work.  As usual, my photographers eye saw some great opportunites to create some amazing photographs.

After the headshots were done, we moved on to the product photographs.  The shots were targeted for her website catalog along with some printed materials.  Once again there was a large variety of sarongs to shoot.  The colors and quality of these sarongs is amazing.

We ended the day by shooting the full body promotional materials.  These photographs will featured a beautiful model posing in a gentle breeze.  Getting the sarongs to behave in the breeze to was a challenge, but as a photographer I’ve learned a few tricks to get it to work.  The final photographs will be used in magazine, posters and other marketing materials.

I look forward to working with Lisa and Sassy Sarongs again on their next project.

Orcatek Photography Phoenix

Weather Thwarts Airship Flight

Airship

I spent the last week in San Fancisco, California shooting photographs for an article on Airship Ventures.  They provide rides in their airships over the area.   The views should be spectacular.  They fly to other areas around for special events. 

The plan was to come up to their base at Moffett Field and do their two hour flight to get plenty of variety of shots from the air.  Unfortunately the first day low clouds caused our flight to be canceled.  No problem, we would just go on the shorter bay area flight scheduled for the next day out of .

As we arrive at the meeting point in things look like a go.  Then we get the bad news, winds were too high for our flight and we were canceled again.  Winds are a big deal to airships, as they get blown about pretty easily being lighter than air.   Whereas they are capable of flying in the winds of the day, the do not as the ride is very rough, unpleasant and possibly dangerous to passengers.  Good call by them, but a disappointment to us.

Airship Control

I did manage to get these shots of the airship when stopped by Moffett for our ground shots.  We will be going by soon to take the flight and finish the article.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

The Studio is now open

The Studio is officially open for business.  We built the Studio so that photographers could rent a studio with the features to create amazing work without paying for all the flashy stuff that doesn’t pay the bills.  With today’s tight economy, photographers need to watch their budgets very close.  The Studio is the answer to their needs.

We have four primary shooting areas available for rent.  Each bay was created to fit the varied needs of a photographer.  Why rent what you don’t need.  Of course if you need more we have that too.

The first bay is a large cyclorama which is 20×36.  Plenty big for photographing cars and large groups.  With two cove corners to allow the photographer to work with ease.

The second bay is a small cyclorama which is 18 feet wide.  The bay extends back 23 feet.  Perfect for fashion photography.

Bays three and four are what we call our standard bays.  They are 18 feet wide and 23 feet deep.  Bring your own backdrops or rent our seamless papers.

 The bays can be draped off for privacy as needed.

 Located on the Tempe / Scottsdale / Phoenix border, it is the perfect location.

It took a lot of time and effort to build The Studio, but it was worth it.  We have already had photographers come in from Los Angeles and they said it was just what they needed – affordable quality and functionality.  Exactly what we had in mind.

The Studio – Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and the rest of Arizona

Photography on Location

Working on location with clients on location can be both fun and challenging.  The resulting images though make it work the extra work required. 

 

One of the biggest challenges faced when shooting on location is the lighting.   Frequently these locations are outdoors so you have the sun to work with.  Then comes the supplemental light needed to make the image come to life.  Sometimes its reflectors, other times it is portable strobes.  More often than not it is a combination.  I personally like to use my speedlights as they are small and run on batteries.

© Copyright Dean Farrell, Orcatek Photography

© Copyright Dean Farrell, Orcatek Photography

 

 

 

 

The Pocket Wizard company has come up with a new version of their product that really makes this work well.  Radio Poppers has also been selling a product to provide very similar features, albeit in a very different way.  The end result is wireless control of your flashes using full ETTL in environments where the built-in IR method was difficult if not impossible to use.  Both these products really add to options for location photography.

 

Another challenge on location is permission.  Phoenix requires a permit to shoot anywhere in town that is not private property.   Private property owners control their property.  The city is actually pretty easy to work with, and the permit is not expensive if you meet the requirements.   Private property owners can be hit or miss.  Some are great, others are huge corporations that you can’t even find a person to say “yes or no”.

 

Other cities are in the Phoenix area are not so clear cut.  I have contacted most of them and they say no photographer permit for small shoots that I typically do.  However I have had police and park rangers ask for my photography permits.  I always tell them the truth; I was told I don’t need them.  If they insist, I ask them where I get them.   In any case, I still have been run off a few times, and on follow-up found that no permit was required.   Better to take walk away on your own, then in handcuffs, so I prefer not to fight it too much.

 

So check the rules in your area.  Get some portable light control.  And produce some great location images.

 

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

Imaging USA in Phoenix

Once again it was time for the Professional Photographers Association (PPA) to have their annual conference Imagine USA.  The event was held here in Phoenix this year and it gave me a chance to try out our no light rail system from Valley Metro.

 

The light rail was easy to use and full, but not crowded during the times I traveled.  They did check my ticket on two occasions during the convention.  If I had to travel to Phoenix on a daily basis I could easily see using this.  Wish the voters had approved it back in the ‘80s.  Now we would have a great system instead of the limited line we have now.

 

The convention was great as usual.  For those who haven’t been before it consists of a tradeshow where you can see all the latest and greatest products.  And a series of seminars/classes were you can learn from the best in the industry.

 

The tradeshow was very helpful for me as I was looking for some new providers for some of the products I use.  I was able see the products to make educated decisions on which vendors to choose.  Sometimes it was a very difficult choice as several vendors had very high quality products at similar price points.  In this case I am going to order studio samples from each to see how there service performs.

 

I also saw several products I had wondered about after seeing them in magazines.  Some were better than I expected, and others were good but had something I found that kept me from buying.

 

The seminars and classes were overall pretty good, but there were a few that were bad and I left part way through and switch subjects.  The classes covered business, techniques, Photoshop and trends.   Several of the speakers I wish I could see in a smaller venue to really pick their brains as their knowledge was so incredible on the topics they discussed.

 

I ran into lots of other photographers that I know and it was good to get caught up on what each of them was doing.  Since it was here in Phoenix I skipped the parties where a lot of the networking takes place.

 

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

Sassy Sarongs Product Photography

This week the most fun I had was as the photographer of product shots for Sassy Sarongs.  A great company which produces an amazing variety of sarongs.  Lisa is always great fun to work with on her projects.  Each time she gets a new batch of sarongs in, she calls her favorite photographer – me.

We started the day with some photography of Lisa for her marketing materials.  Her sarongs made for some very colorful and interesting shots.  She was a great sport about trying various things to get a large variety of photographs to work.  As usual, my photographers eye saw some great opportunites to create some amazing photographs.

After the headshots were done, we moved on to the product photographs.  The shots were targeted for her website catalog along with some printed materials.  Once again there was a large variety of sarongs to shoot.  The colors and quality of these sarongs is amazing.

We ended the day by shooting the full body promotional materials.  These photographs will featured a beautiful model posing in a gentle breeze.  Getting the sarongs to behave in the breeze to was a challenge, but as a photographer I’ve learned a few tricks to get it to work.  The final photographs will be used in magazine, posters and other marketing materials.

I look forward to working with Lisa and Sassy Sarongs again on their next project.

Orcatek Photography Phoenix