Thursday, January 28, 2010

Field Trip!

One of the advantages to being self-employed is that I get to be more involved in my boys' activities, particularly anything that is going on during the daytime. Case in point: Yesterday #2 Son's class had a field trip down to Conservation Consultants Inc. (CCI) on Pittsburgh's South Side. CCI is a company that consults with small business and homeowners to make their buildings more eco-friendly. They do educational programs for schools, to teach kids all the ways you can improve a building. The photo shows their rooftop garden, made of of trays of desert plants. The garden provides insulation by eliminating the amount of dark rooftop that absorbs heat in the summer. Because the trays hold the rainwater, the garden also minimizes contaminated water runoff from the roof.

For the field trip they needed some parents to go along as chaperones. Since I didn't have anything else scheduled for the day of the field trip, I volunteered to go along. Of course I took a camera and flash along to take some photos. I figured the school could always use some for their website. Granted I wasn't getting paid for it, but I viewed it as an opportunity to do some free marketing as well as hone my camera skills. But all of that was secondary to the smile on my son's face when I first walked into his classroom...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Carlow School Basketball

This past Saturday was my first time working for a new client, Carlow School's basketball program. There were six teams to photograph (three boys and three girls), and they wanted team team photos, individual photos, and game photos. They had contacted me because some of the kids had also been in the Dynamo soccer league that I began photographing last year. The parents really liked the idea of being able to do all their ordering online through ExposureManager after the photos had been taken.

The gym was a small older one that reminded me of something out of Hoosiers (that's a compliment, by the way). One of the things that is interesting about this gym is that the balcony where the spectators sit is right up against the court. So if you are at the railing, when the action comes near you, you are literally right on top of it. This gives some really unique angles for some of the game photos. Unfortunately it also meant that I spent a lot of time going up and down steps, which I felt in my legs the next day.

For the indoor individual photos of the players, I used my SB800 (with a diffuser) on my Stroboframe bracket, and the SB600 on a stand to the left and behind the player. The SB600 was set 2 stops lower than the SB800.

Carlow basketball is the first sports shooting this year. I'm anticipating doing a lot of youth sports in 2010. It seems the online ordering approach appeals to local parents who are tired of the usual approach of order envelopes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another Office Assistant...

This is another one of my office assistants, Jumper. He's asleep on my laptop keyboard waiting for his morning caffeine fix... Good help is hard to find!

Jumper is your typical senior staffer. He's been around for a while, and he isn't afraid to flaunt his status. Like many senior people, it takes him a while to get started in the morning. More often than not, you can find him in the break room having a snack, or schmoozing the CFO (my wife), or looking out the window daydreaming. But you also find him chasing after the new hire, to keep him in line. Jumper is also responsible for corporate security, and is constantly on the lookout for birds, squirrels, and other potential intruders.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Picture the New Year" Portrait Promotion

For the month of January, I'm offering a new promotion for my family portraits. The sitting fee for the portraits has been reduced from $70 to $50. In addition, all customers receive a coupon for $50 off of their order if they order at least $100 worth of photos. Which means that the the sitting will effectively cost nothing!

Sittings are usually done at the client's house, and typically take an hour. Multiple poses, multiple groupings, and multiple clothing changes are all recommended. My portrait portfolio can be found here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Office Assistants...

One of the advantages of working in a home office is that I have four office assistants of the four-legged feline variety. They are wonderful for keeping me on schedule (Especially when it is feeding time). They also love to keep things organized by pushing papers off the table onto the floor. They are trying to learn how to use the computer (although their emails and IMs still need some work). They even tell me when it is time to take a break, usually by curling up on my laptop's keyboard. Unfortunately we still have a problem with office politics (particularly fighting over who gets which workspace) and more often than not, we usually find them sleeping on the job.

Unfortunately they aren't always the best models. Even though they are always primping themselves and demanding attention, they're really poor at taking direction. Getting them to hold a pose for any length of time is difficult, and they refuse to work with others. It is also impossible to keep their attention, especially when they hear the refrigerator door open.

Pictured above is Chagall, the newest member of our staff. Like most new-hires, he is enthusiastic and energetic. He can be somewhat loud and demanding at times. I think he is angling for a job as my personal assistant, because he seemes to follow me everywhere.

Technical Details: I had to work quickly because you can never tell when a cat is going to get up and leave. I used my 35-70 f2.8 lens, set manually to f3.5. Lighting is from my SB800 set to TTL, with the head turned 180 degrees (in other words, backwards) and tilted up at 45 degrees to bounce off the wall (3 or 4 feet behind me) and ceiling.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year Reminder

Hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's. Just a friendly reminder to everyone to update any copyright notices you have on your websites and other materials to 2010. If you are an ExposureManager user, there are three areas you need to check:

  1. You want to check your backprinting settings ("Sell My Photos" ==> "Overview" ==> "Packaging Slip / Print Settings"). This will appear on the back of all prints (8x12 and smaller) that ExposureManager prints for you.
  2. Check your watermarks ("Gallery" ==> "Edit Settings" ==> "Protect") in all new galleries. Don't forget that if you need to change the watermark on an existing gallery, you must regnerate that gallery afterwards ("Gallery" ==> "Regenerate Images") and then clear you browser's cache and cookies in order to see the changes.
  3. Check your custom headers and footers ("Layout" ==> "Custom Header & Footer"). I have a "Copyright 2004-2009..." notice in my footer, and needed to update that to 2010.

Here's to hoping that 2010 is a great year for you and your business.