26 June 2017

B&C Camera Rentals

Art Model, Faerie
“A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.”
~ Roger Kingston

In Part II of my Photographer's Block series, "Get Some Gear" was Tip #5 and that covered renting photo/video gear as an option to help you break free of Photographer's Block. I thought it might be a good idea to cover that in a little bit more depth.

B&C Camera is an independently owned brick and mortar camera store, owned by German photographer, Joe Dumic. It is one of the fastest growing stores in the western U.S. and is steadily evolving. The Camera Rental department is what I'll obviously focus on in this post. Joe continues to add more and more camera gear to the rental inventory. You can now get the newly released Sony A9 to rent if you want to try it out before you buy it. Testing gear is one thing. Businesses and professional shooters will rent out a lot of gear at one time. I remember when Matt Damon came to Las Vegas to film his latest "Jason Bourne" movie last year. You'd think those guys would have brought everything they needed, but nope. They came to B&C Camera for gear.

Art Model, Faerie
If I had to guess, I'd say film crews need more lighting gear than anything. Especially out-of-towners who don't want to pay the extra airline baggage fees for lighting equipment. Locals will spend more on camera and lens gear when they get a gig which calls for an upgrade on what they may currently already own, particularly lenses. You can get anything from 8mm to up to 600mm glass. Special events come to Las Vegas all the time. That's when you see the 70-200s of all brands began to disappear off the shelves. The Super moons will make demands of the Tamron 150-600 for both Canon and Nikon models. And its all easy as pie to rent. So how do you get some gear? Glad you asked.

“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
~ Robert Frank

The first thing you have to understand is that B&C Camera is a retail camera store who happens to do rentals. So Joe has to secure his inventory with credit card deposits usually for the replacement cost of the rental. We get plenty of people who come in with cash deposits as well. They may need an extra speedlight and will do a cash deposit of $400 or so. You you'll need a credit card and you ID. But first, you online and choose some gear! You can reserve it right there on the spot for the date you need it for. Be smart and make your reservations as soon as you know you'll need the gear. There are multiple availabilities on a lot of rental gear, but not for everything. There's only one A9 at the moment, for instance. So reserve it before some other smart photog beats you to the punch.

Art Model, Faerie
You can see how much the deposit is when you make your reservation. You don't pay anything at the time of reservation. All that's done at the store when you go pick up your rental. So make the reservation online. One the day of pick-up, bring your ID and credit card. The credit hold will go on the credit card. Debit cards are not advisable and they won't usually take them for deposits. For whatever reason, banks don't release the deposit hold very quickly. It can take up to 30 days and that will usually piss some people off. Coming up to the store to complain won't help. Its got nothing to do with the store. Its a bank issue. So bring a credit card.

Art Model, Faerie
You'll usually get an email notification alerting you that your rental is ready for pick-up. Someone will test out the gear you are renting, make sure the battery is charged, and bag everything up, making the process more efficient. All you have to do is sign all the rental paperwork. At this point, they'll run your card for the deposit authorization which will then put a hold on those funds. So if you're renting a camera and a lens, the total deposit might be $2000. You need to have at least that amount on your credit card available to you. Lets say you have $2500 available on your credit card. When they run your deposit, $2000 will be held on that card and you will then only have $500 available to you until you bring back the camera gear and the hold falls off. It may take another day or two for the bank to release that hold, but in any case, you are not charged anything. It won't even show up on your statement.

After that, you simply pay the daily rental fee up front. You rent for 3 days at $50 per day, then you'll be charged $150 right there on the spot. But get this... Saturday, Sunday, and Monday count as ONE day... a weekend rate. So if you reserve it for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, you only pay for ONE day, not 3. Just have it back on Monday before 7pm. So make your reservation online, bring in your credit card and ID, and sign all the paperwork. After all that, you're walking out with your gear with high expectations! Some things to keep in mind, though. You may need to also rent some extra batteries. And if you're getting a high resolution camera, you just might need some extra SD cards. The Sony A7rII is a 42-megapixel beast with large file sizes. I shoot with 32Gb cards. Maybe you'll want 64Gbs. So keep all that in mind. Happy Shooting!

Art Model, Faerie

20 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part III

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
"The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way." 
~ Diane Arbus

I broke this series up into three parts for a reason. I wanted to use my first post to drive home the fact that those 4 realization points were imperative before any benefits from any tips could come to fruition. The next post dealt mainly with elements that involved a more direct focus on photography. However, this last post of the series has a bit more focus on the issue of mental health, itself. When you look at creative blocks, its your mental ability to cognitively contribute that's impeded. So, let me dive on into this.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #6 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a medical check up (and some rest)

If its been a while since you've had your last doctor's visit, maybe it's a good time to make an appointment. Getting a clean bill of health can be mentally comforting all on its own. At the least, you can get a doctor's recommendation to help you deal with stress, know what vitamin/mineral deficiencies you might be suffering from, or find out in advance if there is something more serious which can be caught in early stages. 

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
If you can't do that, then at the very least, get some rest. Spend a day or weekend doing absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing...I'm talking about getting up to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom and that's it. Take a chill weekend. Prep for it. Prior to your do nothing day, get errands done, pay bills, and arrange for a baby-sitter if necessary. Me and my girl did a staycation at the Artisan earlier this year just to get away for a bit. I let her go on her own for a few days and then joined her for another 2 days after upgrading our room to a huge suite. Netflix and chill.

Tip #7 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Spend some time with family/friends

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Sometimes hiding away or going solo is not the better option. It can be just as important to remember why certain people are important to you and then treat them as such. Call them up and arrange some hang out time. Do the phone only if there are miles and miles of separation that makes eye to eye a bit challenging. Invite a friend (some friends) over and get some pizza and beer. Hang out on the back patio and just talk. Its not necessary to have to spend a bunch of money or make a big to-do about the matter. Relax

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tip #8 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Take a day trip 150 miles away

Now this one is more of a task or assignment, but it definitely belongs here. Look at a map from where you live and plot out a sight, place, city, or landmark that is 150 miles away from you or the closest to it. Pick a date within the next week and go. You don't have to even bring your camera but at least have your charged cell phone. Nothing at 150 miles...do 200 miles. But now you've got 3 hours one-way to kill and beyond that gets into more than a trip you can make in a day. Here out West in Southern Nevada, I'm grateful that I can travel in any direction and see wondrous landscape of all kinds. I can head up further into Nevada, head south into Arizona, southwest into California, or Northeast into Utah. Any direction I go I can find a major State AND National park to visit. 

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #9 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Have sex (or at least exercise)

I wouldn't think it necessary to go into details on the benefits sex has on your life, but you'd be surprised. And I'm not talking about meaningless sex for the sake of simply having sex. For the purposes of this post, lets assume intimate relationship sex. But regardless, who's going to argue with me on this one? The health benefits are too staggering to ignore. You want to freshen your mind with a splash of creativity? Get with your partner and become awash in the dopamine and endorphins that will rest your body and heal your mental incontinence. Its relieves stress, helps you sleep better, helps reduce depression, and more. At least, that's some of the stuff I read in this recent Medical News Today article. But do you really need an article to tell you this...

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #10 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Grab your camera and go shoot something

And finally, when it comes down to it, do the things that you can do. You don't have control over everything. You DO have control over somethings, though. And when you can't do the things you want to do, do the things you can. You may be blocked, but you CAN still pick up your camera and press the shutter release. You CAN get in your car and drive 150 miles to a location and explore it. You can tell your mother you love her and go pay her a visit. You CAN actually do a lot of things. Go. Volunteer. And if its taskings you need or assignments, I have that too and I'd love to share them when requested of me.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
* BONUS Tip on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Pray

And sometimes you have absolutely no control what so ever. Sometimes any and everything you can think of crashes down like a house of cards set aflame. I had a school project due in a photographic final presentation. I was to photograph a couple in their mid-50's and it was to be a great project. For whatever reason, they bailed on me for our shoot. I could come up with nothing else and time was running out. At the end of my rope, I prayed about my predicament and honestly didn't really expect much. On my way back to my dorm room, I ran into Elizabeth sitting on a bench, whom you see featured in this blog post. I hadn't seen her in a year and even before that I didn't really know her. We had mutual friends, only. 

We talked briefly and said our cordial, "Hello...long time no see" to each other. As despondent as I was, I just wanted to get back to my dorm... Until she asked about my photography and did I have any need for any models. She turned out to be one of the best I have had the privilege to ever work with. Answer to prayer? Yes. Directly, so. The girl was a God-send, because I had no control, no power, and no idea how I was going to get any of it done. So yeah...Prayer.

17 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part II

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” — Pablo Picasso

Now that you have given close and careful consideration to the Four previously posted Realization Points, let's get into some of those actual tips on dealing with Photographer's Block. There are a myriad of different taskings you can assign yourself. I have written more than a hundred just for the explicit purpose of speaking or writing on this before. But I want to challenge you just a wee bit differently here in this post. The goal isn't so much to just give you all the answers and have you mimic programmed robots that execute commands. The objective is two-fold, but they run together. I want to prime your pumps, so to speak, and get you into the habit of thinking. In the majority of these examples I give, it still leaves open room for your input, creativity, and values that are important to you. Here are the first FIVE, I'll challenge you with in this post. You can let these digest a bit before I do the last FIVE later on.

Tip #1 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Volunteer

One of the best cures for dealing with your own troubles is to help someone else out of theirs. Find a "Give Back" project and open yourself to it as much as you dare to. I won't tell you what to do and it doesn't even have to be in a photographic capacity. Volunteer somewhere that you feel is meaningful and that you know you can make a contribution. The specifics don't matter so much. Photography doesn't matter that much either. The reward should be purely intrinsic and your intentions completely altruistic. Start there and spend some time in this endeavor. When you are ready, pick up the camera and consider documenting this cause, but only when you begin to see the story in it.

I've spoken regularly about my efforts to help out NowILayMeDownToSleep.org which offers remembrance photography services primarily for little babies that don't make it long after birth. These are professional portraits done that mark a child's time on this planet much better than a birth/death certificate can do. Its likely the only portraits that will ever be done. I reached my limit with this program after about 5 years. Trust me. Its good to know your limitations. Now this is a give-back program that already involves a camera. However, there have been several more causes that I've taken up whereby I brought the camera in later. So you search yourself and look for opportunities to give back.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #2 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Act like there is no block

Yes, it sounds crazy, but think about it for a minute. First, staying positive about the situation is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. Second, conducting yourself and your affairs as if there IS NO block is the ultimate in self affirmations that will help you actually BELIEVE there is no block. But lets take those two points of fact out of the picture for a minute. The third reason is that you can easily FORGET that you are blocked by allowing yourself some distractions. When you take the pressure off, you can bring in some much needed reprieve by catching a movie or spending some time with someone important to you. Before you know it, you're not blocked. See? Not so crazy.

"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." - Aris Moore

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #3 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get Desperate

Right. I know what you're going to say. This sounds like the opposite of Tip #2. Well, that's chiefly because it is. These are not systematic tips that you are supposed to methodically utilize one right after the other. If only one of these tips helps you, then that's all you need. Getting desperate is a trick I used to play on myself during my military days. When a task seemed insurmountable, but absolutely had to get done, I'd change the stakes. Which is to say that I'd imagine much more dire consequences if I failed at my mission. Failure became an unacceptable option simply because the mission perspective changed. I'd do the same thing in high school. I may have an assignment due for which I procrastinated til the last minute. Getting my ass whooped by my mom became the unacceptable option that made me desperate enough to put something on some paper and get an assignment turned in. You'd be much surprised to learn that many of my final grades on last minute projects where over a B. So if you have to, Get Desperate!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #4 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a mentor

As self-promoting as this may be, you need somebody like me. I'm an ass-kicker. I'm going to be in your face and I will hold you accountable. That's not to say I go all out drill sergeant on you, but think of me like that big brother that honestly cares about your success and well-being. Because, I do. Finding a mentor like that is priceless. Well, let me not say priceless, because I do sometimes have quite a specific price. But once you got me, you got me. I've got several students that have paid me to teach them photography in my week long one-on-one courses. Its a rare thing to never hear back from them again and some have become very close to me. I'll get a call back from any one of them asking about advice and counsel and it doesn't have to even be photo related. Get a mentor like me.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #5 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get some gear

I work at B&C Camera on an on-call basis...maybe a day or two a month. We have a Rental department that is absolutely exceptional. I spent the first part of the day yesterday prepping rental equipment by getting people's rental reservation gear tested and ready to be picked up. Its been a while since I had worked there and there have been a plethora of new additions in all sorts of cameras, lenses, LED lighting, audio and video equipment, action cameras, you name it.

You can reserve 135mm Zeiss Batis glass which is perfect for those indoor sports gigs, the Hasselblad X1D-50s, Rode or Sennheiser Wireless Mics, Profoto studio lights, a DJI Osmo X3, or a million different items in the Canon, Nikon, Sony, line-up. And there's plenty of  the latest Tamron and Sigma lenses to even mention. So I'm not even saying you have to go out and buy your own gear. Just go online and reserve it, then pick it up at the store. Wanna play with a Nikon Tilt-Shift lens? Reserve it. Go get it. And see what it looks like. Then see what you can do with it! Get some gear!!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

15 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part I

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." 
Aris Moore

I think this year has been tough on a lot of photographers, including myself. As a mentor, friend, instructor, and counselor, I often get calls asking for help, inspiration, and advice. I try to oblige in any way I can, and that's usually by first dealing with the attitude about the problem via a change of perspective and or perception about what's actually going on. I've noticed a few common origins to many people on creative or artistic mental blocks. So here are a few realizations you need to come to terms with before any tips can be meaningful. So I start with these FOUR Realization Points as they will be the focus of Part I of this 3-part blog series. Bear with me, as it might get a lil' bit preachy.

REALIZATION POINT #1: Its okay to put the camera down for a while.

There is no rule that says you absolutely have to ALWAYS be shooting. Life happens. Sometimes you may need a little bit of self healing before your creative outlets can manifest its work in your own self expressions. To pressure yourself when you are not ready internally only exasperates the issue. That'll feed negatively on itself. Its so much liberating to put the camera down and rest your mind, your soul, and your body. Get your center back.

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

For me, the camera helps me find my center. If that is the case for you as well, then I definitely invite you to pursue that option. However, my warning still stands. If you bring in the camera but also bring in the pressure...you'll ruin yourself on photography.

REALIZATION POINT #2: Get it out of your mind that everything need to be perfect.

This is another one that is so stifling that no wonder you are artistically constipated. Not everything is going to be perfect. You want to do your best with any endeavor you pursue, sure. But ofttimes, that perfect project comes up from an imperfect idea, that done well becomes more akin to perfection. There are times when I honestly had no idea that something would turn out the way it eventually did. I've shot something that I wasn't so pleased with only to see a client lose themselves in it and call it, "perfect".

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Your goal should be to just go shoot and do the best you can in that moment. Drop back to fundamentals if you have to and begin anew. Try to understand and find out what or where the blocks come from and make adjustments. You might be looking for the next perfect concept because you've spent too much damn time looking at other people's art and end up comparing yourself too harshly on it. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. I can promise you, your work will develop faster and more freely when you rid yourself of the unrealistic burden of comparison. Just be you. Open yourself to your own world and your own calling. You'll find your ambitions will gnaw a hole inside you and your need for self expression will attempt to fill that cavity. But if comparison is the soil in which you sew your seed, you waste yourself.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #3: Nothing says you have to do this alone.

In so many ways, I'm definitely a loner. However in those moments of photographic blocks, seeking help is a winning proposition. Check out the most miserable times in your life and see if one of your habits is to hermit yourself in your special room and shy away from people who "don't understand you". Okay, well I respect that. But if you want to get out of those doldrums, you're going to have to ask for some help. This may not be direct requests to someone. It could be indirectly by joining a photo group, taking a class, or finding a mentor. Hell, BE a Mentor! Okay, I'm getting into some of my actual tips to be covered in a following blog post, but you get my point.

Original ideas don't have to come to you in a dream. Talk to people. Better yet, LISTEN to people. Here their stories and challenge yourself to interpret them photographically. These aren't epiphanies that drop like an apple of inspiration onto your head. The opportunities are swirling around you like leaves in the wind. Just be still. Listen. Let the stories come to you.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #4: Don't worry about the money.

Granted. This is a hard one. Especially when you need to be about making that money! However, in terms of getting over photographer's block, the money issue comes into play when there is a lack of resources. You begin to believe that you can't come up with the perfect idea, like Mr. Pro-tographer down the street, because you don't have the resources, access, connections, or camera gear, like he/she does. Listen to me. If you spend your time looking over someone else's shoulder and using that comparison as the measuring stick to gauge your own ability, you're in a sad place. Stop doing that to yourself.

Conceptualizing a good project begins in the mind, and not with the camera in your hand (or the lack there of). Yes, there are projects that require resources and in some cases, a lot of money. But we're talking about just getting past the block. When you get the creative nectar flowing, the ingenuity kicks in that open up doors and possibilities. You'll begin to see how to work a budget or form partnerships and trades to get it done. Don't let money be the driving force though. Have your reasons, but don't let money be the primary impetus. When you aren't making money, then what? What do you do? Stop shooting...No! You improvise and figure out how to work with a Canon 60D that you can borrow from your neighbor's high school kid. Either way, you go get to work. And by the way... I profess to be no master at any of this. Its a progression.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley