September 2013

What’s the point to a point and shoot?

I visited a wonderful photographer in California a few months ago. Gregory Moore. We had a nice dinner and as we walked along the evening streets chatting about photography (imagine that) he kept pulling out his little point and shoot and clicked off shots of walls, town streets, store fronts, and anything that caught his eye.

I’ve loved his work because of his subdued lighting.  Especially when it’s obviously a location shot.  Well, not really a location shot.  I think he often does a shot in the studio and lights it impeccably.  Then in post he adds one or more backgrounds in and then uses yet another set of amazing skills to blend them so perfectly that I can’t really tell that it might not be on location.  Then again, I’ve been with him on a location shoot where he used even more of the same background to add more flavor and emotion to a shot.


Canon Powershot S120

So, there is still a good reason to have a good P&S in your pocket at all times when wondering around.  Just the other day I was walking the mall and there was a wall between stores that was seemingly out of place.  Beautiful wood or different colors.  Now I have it as a possible backdrop in a future shot.  And it’s mine, I don’t have to pay anyone for the right to use it.

Speaking of rights, I always make sure there isn’t any ‘prior art’ in a shot.  There was a photographer that took a picture that was published and in the background, blurred out by the DOF, was some graffitti.  Now, the graffitti wasn’t legal but the tagger who created it sued the photographer for $10,000 and won.

The first thought is, why not just use my cell phone?  And I have before.  But, having a camera that has enough lens to capture some good light, has a nice ISO range, and in the case of the camera I’m looking at, the Canon S120, the low fStop of f1.8 will make evening pictures rock.  But, most important, is to get one with at least 12mp and RAW so the image can be manipulated a LOT after the fact.  This is also the difference between the $100 camera and the $450 camera.  But, worth it.  Pick whatever you like but so some serious research to make sure you find what you like and it has good reviews.  Sony seems to lead the pack but it’s a close call these days.  Canon is hot on their heels and I didn’t see anyone talking about Nikon at all.  Which is odd because Nikon was hyping their P&S cameras in ads not long ago claiming that if you had their P&S you didn’t need a photographer.  Yeah, that impressed me too…really?

So, work on those masking skills in Photoshop and start building up that background library.


Vanishing acts…




Okay, so, you have chatted with a model and you set a date and time for a shoot.  Now you are sitting there, camera ready, maybe a studio rented, and even a makeup artist standing by.  And….



The model doesn’t show.  She doesn’t answer the phone.  She unfriends you on Facebook and blocks you.  No excuse, no reason, just what we call a no show.

The photographer sits and wonders what happened.  He doubts his work for a bit wondering why this model wouldn’t do everything possible to get a chance to shoot with him or her.  Then the anger at the lack of professionalism sets in.  Just common curtesy of a simple phone call or text would be all it took.  But no.  Nothing.

What probably happened here?

Well, there is no definitive answer because we are diverse human beings.  But here are some guesses and suggestions.

Realize, it will happen again.  That’s a given.  Reducing that is what we need to talk about.

Part of it is youth.  Many youngsters (18-30) have time management issues.  They look into their future as far as the expiration date on the milk carton.  Well, actually, milk lasts way longer these days.  So, forgetfulness, better offers like a trip to the mall, or they find $20 in the laundry and it’s party time.  It’s hard to tell.

I tend to work with people I’ve worked with before who I have found are reliable.  Getting to that point was a rocky road.  There are still speed bumps.  Talk with other photographers and see how their experience was with a perspective model.  A good model is checking your references so why not.

When talking with the model an actual phone call the day before would be good.  If you don’t have his or her phone number shame on you!!  Your fault!!  Last minute questions, answers, outfits needed, etc. is a good reason to chat.  And a human voice on the other end of the phone isn’t the same as a text.  Texting and social networking is actually very de-humanifying.  It’s easier to be a no show to a string of text messages than someone you have actually talked with and heard their voice.  Telling someone with your voice that you will ‘be there’ and then not show is a lie.  Saying it in a text and then not isn’t a lie.  Well, it is, but hey, they were just talking to someone with their thumbs on their phone…that’s not the same, right?

We are talking about trade shoots here.  When the model is going to make $50 per hour they tend to show up.  95% of the trade is for fun and not really a portfolio, so it’s not as important to them as the photographer in most cases.  And they don’t really understand the work involved in prepping for a shoot.

If, as some point in the conversation about shooting, the model starts talking about money issues, like bills, affording gas, etc., you are being asked to pay them something.  This is where you either explain that you can pay for gas, or pay them $50, or politly cancel the shoot.  They need to spend their time making ends meet by being productive.  Move along and find someone else.  Otherwise, you are asking for a ‘no show’ or cancel  because any other opportunity that would make them money would over ride your shoot.

If a model communicates with “yes”, “sure”, “perfect”, “super”, and other one word responses you can expect a no show.  Lack of communications is a bad sign.

Understand they have a life and life happens.  Emergencies, illness, cars that don’t run all the time, job schedule changes.  Don’t hold those against someone and try to reschedule.  The second time that happens I tend to move along.  Your call.

Here’s hoping for no flakes…but know they will continue to happen until everything you do is a paid shoot with agency models.