28 November 2012

How to Shop for YOUR Photographer

Heather Rae, World Traveler, Photographer (Nikon),
and Writer from In Search of Squid
As I mentioned in the last post, I spend a couple days a week at B&C Camera, owned by my friend, Joe Dumic. Everybody in this shop is shooting pro work. So with Christmas coming up, I figure you might be thinking about getting that photographer in your life something special and if he/she is anything like me, we're all picky as hell. This may be your significant other, a son/daughter, boy or girlfriend, or whoever. Maybe its an uncle. Shopping for a photographer can be tricky. Sometimes it might be better to NOT get us anything related to photo rather than get the wrong thing that we can't use or don't want for whatever reason. So let me help you out a little bit. Here are a few pointers and options. Holla if you have questions.

What you need to know for your photographer:

1. You have to find out what your photographer already has. That doesn't mean you need to trick them into giving you an inventory of their gear. But you have to first know what brand of equipment they have and then what type of camera it is. What do I mean with that? Eighty-eight percent of most photogs are shooting either Canon or Nikon and the gear brands are not interchangeable. Sony, Pentax, and Olympus are other brands that some people stick to. Then you need to know the sensor format. Chances are it will either be a full-frame sensor, identified commonly as FX, or it will be a cropped sensor, commonly identified as DX or APS-C. That's important to know because lenses built for DX cameras will not generally fit on a FX camera. These are considered DSLR cameras. If your photog is shooting either medium format or large format, sheeshh... contact me directly.

Chances are, your significant other will have mentioned at some point, what gear they need or have on their wish lists. All you have to do is listen. In terms of buying them a lenses, which is ALWAYS a good choice I might add, they will probably be throwing out a lot of numbers like 70 to 200, or 2.8. You may hear them talking about fast glass, wide-angles, or tilt-shift. Write this stuff down as you hear it and try to get it as specific as you can. THEN, go up to B&C Camera and tell them the information you have acquired and let them guide you on a proper choice.

**NOTE: And let me throw this caveat out there as well. We're talking about PHOTOGRAPHY. Be prepared to drop some bills. My folks freak out when I tell them I spent $2,000 on a lens. To a photog, this is not an issue of expensive or not...its a matter of what we need. Better gear nets better quality.

With respect to cameras, all you have to know is what camera they currently have and then go to B&C to find out what a proper upgrade might be. It might even help you to sneak into their camera bags, or where ever they store their gear and take inventory on what they have. This will tell the B&C guys how old their current cameras are and they will help you with reasonable upgrades within your budget.

Portrait, British world Traveler, Central America
2. Another thing that will aide the B&C representatives in helping you find the right gift is to know what genre of photography your photographer shoots. The needs of a SPORTS photographer is entirely different than a LANDSCAPE photog or one who shoots BOUDOIR. If your photographer has a website, let the guys at B&C know. They can see clearly what your photographer shoots and what their primary business is modeled around. Their gear preference might also be located on their websites under an ABOUT ME or BIO tab.

3. There are some gifts that you should NOT try to purchase under ANY circumstances unless you ABSOLUTELY know what your photographer wants. For instance...photography BAGS are one of those things that is just so personal and intimate to a photog that it would be easier for you to avoid that purchase. Its sort of like a woman and her purse. She will buy this purse on so many factors that have nothing to do with size, shape, or cost. Its just to risky. Don't do it. Ask the B&C guys for help on this. By the way, there are several associates working on any given day, so if you speak Spanish, ask for Angela, German...Joe, Lithuanian...Ugi or Rob, Mandarin...Lucy, or Black Guy...come find me. And all of us have varying degrees of expertise. Rob...Video, Lucy...Underwater, Me...naked people!

4. If you want to stay on the safe side, storage cards can be an excellent option. Large capacity brand name cards can be appreciated no matter if they already have some or not. Make sure you know if their cameras need CF or SD cards and get the top of the line and largest capacity you can budget. B&C sells some excellent SanDisk and Promaster cards up to 128GB and 1000x speed. Just ask for the biggest and fastest cards if you don't want to get into the numbers on that.

Portrait, Californian World Traveler, Central America
Lights are another safe option. Speedlites or on-camera flashes are great, but you have to know the brand of camera it matches. Monolights, such as the Elinchromes brands (along with accessories) are top of the line and great for either camera brand. You can ask the professional reps for assistance with that. Along with that, if you can get a high-end carbon fiber tripod by Manfrotto or Gitzo, you really can't go wrong (I bought this one last year! Love it!). If they already have one, again find out what brand they already have an upgrade it. PocketWizard wireless flash triggers are an EXCELLENT option. The new PocketWizard Plus IIIs are excellent...again, know what brand of camera first. They are coded for a specific manufacturer.

5. Find out what Christmas specials are being promoted right now. Tamron lenses have significant rebates in addition to the Canon and Nikon ones. This information will be posted throughout the store. If all else fails, get a B&C gift card and put $500 or so on it. Maybe a $1,000, if they've been nice.

And the last two points of concern are about you:

6. Don't be afraid to get yourself a little something-something. Treat yourself to a nice camera as well. The Nikon 1 system is an excellent alternative to the regular old point and shoot cameras. They have the same simplicity but a quality that comes closer to the larger cameras systems your photographer uses. The Nikon N1 J1 and the N1 V1 are mirrorless cameras that are very affordable right now with rebates up to $450 off. And if you really want to step up quality wise, check out the Sony NEX-6 or the NEX-7. These Sony brands use some of the same sensor sizes as the larger DX cameras your photographer might use. The NEX-7 sensor is 24MPs! Let your B&C store associate help you with the best choice for you. They will also help you set up your camera and assist you with getting started. You won't find that with online stores. If you have questions later on with it, visit the store again and they'll show you how take care of those issues.

World Travels I met in Central America
7. Take the two classes offered by B&C for $35 each. They teach beginner and intermediate level classes twice a month. After your second class, you will have a better understanding of what your photographer is talking about and can better share in that experience with them. I challenge you to tell me another way you'll bond with your fave photog quicker than that.

In addition, you can hire ME for a personalized, but flexible 2-week training session for yourself or you AND your photo guy/gal. I'll run your through a myriad of scenarios that cover everything your camera is capable of. I teach by hands-on training in the field. Classroom time is minimal. You will learn by shooting, covering all the basics and then some of the advanced mechanics of photography, cameras, lenses, lighting, etc.

So enjoy your the season. Spend time with family. And shop with confidence that you'll get the right gift for your photographer. For the record, I shoot NIKON and ANY of the guys at B&C will know exactly what I need.

B&C Camera
4511 West Sahara
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Open 7 Days a week from 10am to 5:30pm

26 November 2012

Top Eight: Photography Websites You Should Fave

Everybody's got their list of favorite sites they like to visit on a regular basis. Photographers, in specific have their own special sites that they visit for information, inspiration, or entertainment. I probably have a million different sites that I visit for various reasons, a few hundred of which I visit on a weekly basis. So I've broken down a few of them and will periodically highlight some that I think are most relevant to me at the moment. I wouldn't even say the list is in order and is not an actual TOP website listing, but Top Eight sounded better than Featured Eight. So lets begin.

Nude Art Model, © 2009 Terrell Neasley

1. F-Stoppers - Originally founded by Patrick Hall and Lee Morris, FStoppers has a plethora of writers and a boat load of information on just about everything, which can be proven if you check the archives. This is one of the sites I visit primarily for Photography News updates, Gear Reviews, and general well-written and interesting articles on photography. They are in no way limited to photography as you can also get the low-down on practically anything video.

2. PhotoFocus - This is likely the site I currently visit the most. Scott Bourne is one of my favorite photogs doing his thing today. He lives here in Las Vegas (never met him personally, though) and along with Jerry Ghionis and Richard Harrington, Scott consistently puts out some of the best material that will benefit you as a photographer concerning gear, photo techniques, and business best practices. This site has been up since 1998, so the man's been doing this on a regular basis for quite a while. And because of that, he'll be turning over the reins to his bud Richard next November to focus on some other areas of interest in his life, namely racing! I like the man's insight and the way he puts it honestly on the line. He can be very introspective, especially as of recently, and that's to our benefit. Scott Bourne will keep you from later on having one of those, "If I knew back then what I know now" kind of moments if you listen to him today.

3. Photo Attorney - I first found out about Carolyn E. Wright about 5 years ago. She's an attorney. She's a photographer. And right now, her law practice specifically serves the needs of photographers. I mean, 'nuff said. She should definitely be on your list of faves and you should be reading her periodically or at the very least researching her site to review posts relative to your current specific needs. In fact, stop reading my post and go check her out. Come back when you are done.

4. Digital Photo Pro - This site is actually the online version of the magazine I used to subscribe to. It was one of my original sources I used in my initial development as a photographer. When I chose to get serious with this gig in 2005, one of the first things I did was to subscribe to this magazine. The issues helped me with inspiration and creativity. From this source, I found out how good everyone was and how I needed to be better. Regular articles on the new and up and coming young photographers, along with tips and techniques on lighting helped me expand my portfolio and get noticed.

Nude Art Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

5. Crisis Lab - I'm still trying to figure this guy out, but I like the hell out of him. Kevin Good runs this joint and much of it is focused on cinematography. I just came across him recently researching some information about the new Tamron 24-70mm lens with image stabilization compared to the Nikon version as well as Canon's new higher priced version for a grand more. Tamron has the only version with image stabilization and since I spend a few days a week working at B & C Camera, I want to be better educated when customers ask me about these systems. Now, I'm hooked. Kevin and his crew are funny, but incredibly informed and they present information to you that makes sense and demands your attention. If you are a Nikon shooter, you may have to get past his Canon bias. It can be harsh. You've been warned.

6. Chase Jarvis - Now this is my point about mentioning that this list is not in order. No way would I be saying CJ is ranked 6th out of 8 in anything. Let me put it to you this way. I'm a grown ass man. I'm 44 years old, but if there was anybody I'd say I want to be like when I grow up, its Chase Jarvis. I'm mean, granted...I'm only speaking photographically here. I don't know him personally, but as far as a business model, I couldn't complain one bit if my business suddenly mirrored his. I say that with only one caveat. If he's not doing nudes, then all bets are off. I'll just be me.

I came across his work a few years back while researching options for back-ups that photographers use. We're not like the typical consumer who can back up everything they've done over the years in a Gig or two.  Every time I take a picture, that's an almost 50mb file. I can fill up hard drives fairly quickly. In my research, I came across Chase Jarvis' video on his data management and workflow techniques and was amazed at his redundancy, efficiency, and the overall system he has in place when he goes on assignment. I won't even get into the people on his team. But I think it's amazing. He continues to inspire as he was recently sailing with a bud off the coast of South Africa and South America.

7. NikonRumors / CanonRumors - Here is where I go to put my ear to the rumor mill. Whether you're a Nikon shooter or Canon, both these sites have the low down on what's coming up in new announcements, news and info. They both seem to have to goods on speculated topics and gear. In fact, I'm going to take a break and go check'em out now. Maybe get a bite to eat. In fact, I'll be back in a couple hours.

Nude Art Model, © 2010 Terrell Neasley

....A few hours later

8. How Is Should Have Ended  - Yeah, photography...no. But you recall what I said earlier about cinema, right...moving photos...well, this qualifies. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. HISHE is an animation parody about the movies we go to the theaters to watch. I'm always going to see movies. My fave HISHE animation clips are the "Inception", "Lord of the Rings", and "Star Trek" parodies on how these movies SHOULD have ended. Its funny, highly entertaining, and should definitely be on your list of favorites.

Anyhoo... Here is Kevin Good giving his analysis on the 24-70mm lens for Tamron, Nikon, and Canon.

16 November 2012

Photography is My Thing

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

"Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."
~ Henry David Thoreau

People have all sorts of reasons why they do photography. Some are professionals at it and some do it for the fun of it. The skill levels vary tremendously, although I would assume a bell curve would favor a left-ward distribution. WHY people do photography is just as varied. Its a job for some. These pick up a camera only because they are being paid by an employer to do so. On their down time, the last thing they want to look at is a camera. Some people are enthusiasts at whatever skill level and they do what they do for the love of it, but only after the get done with the day-time job. Probably the most prolific are they that simply want to document the time of passage for the family, vacations, holidays, and special events. I was viewing a video podcast recently on how many pictures have been taken by everyone since the first image was every captured. An estimation concluded that 10% of all images ever captured were taken in only the last 12 months and 20% of them wind up on Facebook. [I decided to add the video at the bottom]

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

I'm sure we've all heard it said, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life". This is my thing. Its my gig. Its not a job for me. I'm not a pretender, poser, faker, or wanna-be. I'm in business for myself. I do it for people to make a profit, but I don't do it for money. Does that make sense? For me it does. There would be absolutely no change in my game if I wasn't getting paid. And trust me, the clients and the money can get scarce at times. I still go shoot. I may not have a gig lined up, but I still buy the gear. What do I get? I buy what I feel like is going to get me the best results in my images. From a business sense, I justify my fees because of my time, my skill, my equipment, and the expenses I incur to produce a desired result for a client. I probably won't ever get the gig because I was the cheapest or lowest bidder, but my job is to get the shot and produce deliverables with no excuses or settling.

"Do what you love; you'll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you'd be surprised how many people don't get this one right away."
~ LL Cool J 

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
Photography is my thing. Yes, nudes are a passion for me, but photography is my thing. "Working with a camera to produce a creatively exposed image with the desired focus using a preferred technique of editing and presentation." THAT is my definition of photography. When you talk to me, you get a sense of my passion for it and I've always shared my passion. I teach photo. And when I say I teach, I'm not talking about just lecture. No, I take you on a two week boot camp program. I used to do monthly workshops with a group of photogs. My workshops were cheap and some of these guys when you'd run into them 3 months later had't picked up a camera since you last saw them. The investment was one-sided with little to no ROI. Now when I teach, I get you for a good 2 weeks that might start out at 5am for a sunrise at Death Valley. Or we might be out at 11pm in the middle of the desert doing extended exposures or learning the stroboscopic features on your flash with a model. We'll be visiting interesting locations and learning everything to the limits of your camera's capabilities. Why? Because first, this is what I love and I want to share it with people who love it like I do. Second, because I want to have fun. As you might expect, I don't get many takers. Most don't have the time to commit and others balk at the money. And that's cool. I understand. Most people are not into photo like I am. I'm in it when I'm by myself and I do it when I'm not making money on it. This is my thing.

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
Do what you love. Easier said than done, right. Maybe. I ain't judging nobody. If my kids were still little, this might not be the case. Those little knuckle-head like to eat and the older they get, the better shoes they want. But on my own, I've slept on a inflatable mattress (but a good one!) for almost 3 years. I found it difficult to justify the expense for a bed, when I could put that money on a new lens. This past January, I had my daughter and her husband come stay with me for a bit during the first part of my recovery. I know they are partial to "real" beds. So I bought a nice one. Then I bought a couch and some living room furniture. Two months ago, I got a TV! I haven't needed a TV. I spend too much time on a big monitor as it is editing photos, doing online tutorials, or catching up on the latest news about photography from my favorite bloggers.

This is my thing. Wanna go shoot?

09 November 2012

Long Term Effects of Posing Nude: About Body Image

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

 "The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people." 
~ Jamie Lee Curtis

An interesting young lady, photography student in the UK, contacted me earlier this week and asked about some comments I made on Alex B's blog post "Therapeutic or Artistic". Alex was discussing the reasons why we pose nude and I made offered my sentiments. She runs a fabulous blog, by the way. Genea Bailey found my comment interesting and asked me about my experience and opinion where models site a confident boost from modeling with me. She wanted to know the long term effects of whether or not these feeling are a lasting and positive change of self-image or if the moment is only temporary.

It does raise an interesting question and I hadn't really contemplated this issue from the perspective of her query. "Long Term Effects"...

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
I don't know anyone who has done any in-depth study and analysis on this matter and I'd challenge anybody to show me empirical evidence to back up their findings if they had. Not because I'd have an automatic dispute, but because I REALLY would like to know and would certainly want to research their findings that substantiate their claims. I'll be following Miss Bailey's work very closely and would love to even collaborate even further on the matter. You can check out her post which includes my responses from our email correspondence. >> "My Chat with T. L. Neasley" <<

I almost wish I had given more thought to her questions. I think I answered too quickly. I gave her my "off the top of my head" response. The more I think about it, the more I contemplate the different women I've shot and wonder how they may feel now after having worked with me. I used to ask some models to fill out a quick survey which recorded how they felt immediately after working with me, but I don't think I've asked this of many models after several years. I'm still in contact with many of them and not all had self-esteem issues to begin with. Not everybody who worked with me as did it for a confidence booster. It would still be interesting to know how some of these women feel who did a one time project with me. Several posed nude only once and never did it again. Not because anything bad happened, but because they got it out of their systems. It was never more than a one-time thing.

“One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body. I got tired of hating myself."
Gabourey Sidibe, (from the movie, "Precious")

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
I've often pondered getting with some of the models whom were my firsts. I'd SOOO love to shoot with some of them again just to see how I might do them differently. I've learned so much since I shot my first nude model November of 2005. I was using a cheap film camera and kit lens that may have cost me about $400. I have flash guns that cost more than that. Interestingly enough, a few of those projects remain the best work I've done to date. Some, you will never see because they do not exist in digital form as per the agreement I made with two models. I have never made an agreement like that since, but the work I did with them was also incredible. These works only exist in print form which I developed and mounted myself. Actually, let me correct that statement. One of them did eventually allow me to post images as long as they remained anonymous. I miss those days of film. I drove to Colorado last year to work with one of my original models again, but things did not pan out and we were not able to meet after I arrived. I've come close a few times to working again with a few other former models of my days before Vegas and have only repeated projects with one former model. In the meantime, I will contact some of these girls and see how things have been since then.

I do know that I've worked with models since coming to Vegas who have had body image and self-esteem issues. I've done incredible work with them and the affects have been varying. As I eluded to in Miss Bailey's post, I think much of the sustainability of any improved confidence is heavily weighted on the cause of the lack of confidence. For instance, one model compared herself to others was encouraged when she saw my pics of her that showed her she was just as beautiful. On the other hand, that same confidence of another model, while much improved initially, was not reinforced at home because of her choice in men. So its my opinion that any measure of confidence will be dependent on the environment in which the model finds herself in.

But now, I have to find out on my own more details on this question. Thanks so much Genea Bailey!