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August 2012 Archives

August 3, 2012

The Coiffure Project: Big, Bold and Beautiful

Glenford Nunez grabs attention with a new project featuring curly, glorious, natural hair

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All images ©Glenford Nunez

Some attention-grabbing projects are the product of brainstorming or countless hours of intentional artistic exploration. Others just emerge, almost by accident, from the casual creations an artist is already doing.

“The Coiffure Project” fits into the latter category, but it has taken on a life of its own ever since its conception by Baltimore-based fashion photographer Glenford Nunez. “The Coiffure Project” began as a series of cell phone pictures that Nunez captured of his assistant. The African-American woman wears her hair naturally, sporting a variety of large, curly arrangements, and Nunez started photographing a running series of her voluminous hairdos. “She is always around, so I was always photographing her,” he says. “After a while, I noticed that I was starting to accumulate a small collection. I had been trying to come up with ideas for a bigger project, and then suddenly it hit me; images featuring women with natural hair would be perfect.”

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Nunez was educated as a graphic designer and worked as a web developer before launching his own studio, TYP Photography Studio, when he was 24. He is a lifelong student of art who has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He considers the camera just another means of expression, like a paintbrush or a pencil. It’s part of him, part of what he does, so much so that he can’t clearly pinpoint when began photographing. “It’s just what I do, what I’ve always done,” he says.

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Professionally, however, Nunez is relatively new to the game. With barely two years in professional practice, he has already landed several prominent clients in New York and Los Angeles, though he conducts most of his shoots from his studio in Baltimore. Last fall, he shot New York Fashion Week for Pop Africana magazine and is now working with some additional high-profile media publications.  

Continue reading "The Coiffure Project: Big, Bold and Beautiful" »

August 7, 2012

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing

Producing Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Part 1 of this series, I covered planning your photo book, namely picking a subject, identifying your audience, determining how many books you can sell, selecting your publishing option, and researching publishing. Here I will talk about writing, revising, and finding assistants, such as book shepherds, editors, designers, and printers.

1. Write Your Book
Before you begin writing, find books similar to the one you will produce. Visit local libraries and bookstores, and search online. Get a hold of copies to see what other authors do well and to look for areas of improvement. Look especially hard for aspects that no one else has covered. If you fill this gap, then you can point out to your audience how your book is unique.

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Before I wrote Curious Critters, I had a vision: a children’s picture book featuring boldly colored animal portraits (one per page or per two-page spread), lots of white space, and fun, educational text. In surveying the market, I found some books with white-backgrounded animal images but none for ages 4-8. I had found an unfilled niche.

When you sit down to write, always keep in mind that you are creating a product. Focus on what Kitty Locker’s business communication handbook calls “you attitude”: Consider the needs of your audience above your own. What does your audience want and need to hear (as opposed to what you want to say)? Meeting their needs will help you sell your book; you will be able to demonstrate how your product benefits them.

When I wrote “Curious Critters,” for example, I kept elementary school teachers and librarians in mind. I researched national and state life science education standards and then wrote my book to meet all K-8 standards. Now I can demonstrate to educators how “Curious Critters” benefits them.

What if you are not entirely comfortable writing? My advice is to work with others to develop your skills. Identify family and friends who are good writers and seek their help. Enroll in a class at a local adult education program, college, or university. And look for writing groups in your neighborhood or within professional organizations. In writing “Curious Critters,” I sought the advice of other writers in the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, for example, and I asked for help from my colleagues at Ashland University, where I teach writing.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing" »

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling

Selling Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Parts 1 and 2 of this feature I discussed planning and producing your own photo book. In this final installment, I will cover what you need to do to sell your product, including building a web site, hiring a publicist, finding a distributor, working with bookstores, planning book events, and working with corporate and nonprofit partners.

1. Build A Website
An engaging, eye-catching, and useful website is the cornerstone of your book's marketing plan. As you, your publicist, reviewers, and readers talk about your book, you need a place to send them for more information. Today that place is a website.

Hire a professional web site designer, and then work together to build a site that you can maintain over time. For "Curious Critters," I worked with my friend and Web guru Brett Mitchell, who helped me set up an attractive and functional Joomla!-based site. Similar to WordPress, Joomla! allows everyday users the ability to update and change content easily. Pre-made templates in both Joomla! and WordPress make putting together your site a snap.

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The home page for my children's picture book, "Curious Critters," matches the design of the book: high key, bold colors, and simple layouts. Created using Joomla!, I can update, add, or subtract content as needed. A slide show of "Curious Critters" images engages visitors to the page, and a limited number of legible links help in navigation.

Your book's website needs to be eye-catching and useful. Make your photos the centerpiece of the site, but pay close attention to including what users will want. Include "In the Media" and "For the Media" pages, the former listing all the places your book has been reviewed (with links). The latter should have downloadable files, including JPGs of your book's cover and PDF copies of your press releases and bio. Other standard pages include "About" and "Contact."

A nice touch is to add sample flipping book pages. To show readers a 12-page teaser of "Curious Critters," I used Flipping Book Publisher to create and upload a portion of my book. If you don't want to buy Flipping Book software, there are free alternatives, such as Issuu or the free version of Flash Page Flip.

Also try to include free downloads for readers. For "Curious Critters" I included PDF coloring pages and word searches along with eCards. You might make several of your photographs into downloadable wall paper or offer a short e-book version.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling" »

August 8, 2012

Identifying an Email Scam Before It's Too Late

By Maria Matthews

Chances are you’ve received scam email, such as one saying you are the lucky winner of a huge cash prize, and all you need do to collect is email back with your address, place of work, and for tax purposes, your Social Security number. You’re on to those, but what about one from a frantic bride begging you to cover her destination wedding in just a few months’ time because the one she had booked suddenly disappeared? Watch out! Not all scam emails are clearly phishing schemes. There are plenty of advanced scams that cast a smaller net, aiming for you.

Whether it’s a wedding, a commercial shoot in an exotic locale, or the cover shot for a high-profile magazine that requires immediate travel, watch for a few things that can alert you that your dream job might hook you into a financial nightmare.

Warning signs

• The client asks to pay you prior to seeing your contract, or even discussing your fees
• The client asks you to be responsible for paying other vendors
• The client says they reside in another country, frequently travel internationally, or require you to travel on fairly short notice
• The client’s “major event” just suddenly came up
• The event is to be held at a venue that does not exist
• The client wishes to deposit payment directly into your bank account
• A check or money order arrives that’s substantially higher than the negotiated fee—the client “accidentally” overpaid and requests a cash refund or wire transfer
• The client asks you to provide your services or products without a contract in place and without paying beforehand
• The client’s email address is the only way to reach him, and they cannot provide a valid physical address or telephone number for whatever reason

If you encounter any of the above, do not reply at all if it’s the initial email, and immediately stop communicating if it happens in subsequent emails. If you fear you’ll be risking your reputation for customer service, tell the prospect you took another booking for the date, due to the prospect’s uncertainty. These scams are often ploys to collect valid email addresses in order to send you additional spam in the future.

Your next step should be to immediately notify the email provider (such as Yahoo!, AOL, Google) of the offending sender and message. Email service providers all have an “abuse” contact online on their customer service contact page or in their Terms of Use or Terms of Service agreement. The provider might then freeze or delete the fraudulent account.

You can also notify federal agencies that collect and investigate such spam. Inform the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov, or you can fill out the online form at ftccomplaintassistant.gov. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, run jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National White Collar Crime Center, and Bureau of Justice Assistance, catalogues online fraud and partners with law enforcement agencies at varying levels to investigate reports; go to IC3.gov.

If it’s a business that emails you, also report the incidence to your own and their state’s Office of the Attorney General. The division that investigates cyber-crime or online fraud typically falls within the attorney general’s jurisdiction. If the firm engaged in the scam seems to be a reputable, well-known or large company, contact the company as well. It could be their identity has been hijacked.

If you’ve already invested a significant amount of time in landing the “prospective” client, and he’s made a payment, do not attempt to deposit a check without verifying its legitimacy, and verify that the funds are in fact available. Take the check to your bank or call the bank of origin and ask for verification of the account. In most cases, the check has been previously deposited or is drawn on a closed account.

In some instances, the “client” might send a money order. Do not cash or deposit it without verifying it with the fraud department of the issuing institution; e.g., Western Union or the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition to phishing schemes, email is also used in cash forwarding scams. For the latest trends in e-scams, visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov and fakechecks.org.

Bottom line, never jump into an assignment without meeting or speaking with your client by phone, and never accept payment of incorrect amounts or in manners outside your norm.

Maria Matthews is manager of the PPA Copyright and Government Affairs Department.

August 14, 2012

Brilliantly Vintage Yet Perfectly Modern: The Modern Hard Case

By Robyn L. Pollman

The Modern Hard Case by drop it Modern is a vintage-inspired bag that was thoughtfully engineered to create the perfect combination of quality and security for your camera. The exterior is constructed of genuine leather. The interior features a rich, thick corduroy lining to protect your gear.

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©Robyn L. Pollman

The Modern Hard Case comes standard with well-designed features, such as an adjustable waist strap and customized pockets.

This bag is designed with:
• 100% Handcrafted leather in brown or black
• Solid metal hardware
• Room for a camera body, two or more lenses, and accessories
• iPad & iPhone pockets built in
• Three Removable dividers
• Top flap gives easy access to memory cards, batteries, and lens caps
• Metal push-button clasp for easy opening & closing
• Adjustable messenger strap with leather shoulder pad for added comfort

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©Robyn L. Pollman

My favorite feature: No more fumbling and digging around in your camera bag for extra batteries, flash cards, and lens caps—this bag has secure slots for each of these in the top flap.

What’s shown in the bag:
• Nikon D700 body with grip
• Nikon 50mm f/1.4G
• Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
• Nikon SB-800
• Apple iPad2
• Speck iPad2 FitFolio Cover
• HTC Evo Shift 4G phone
• Abie Designs camera strap
• Wallet-size WhiBal card
• CompactFlash Cards

The rules for my bag-tests are simple. I select camera and electronic equipment I own and use frequently both for personal and professional photography. With the exception of laptop and iPad pockets, I do not fill any exterior or interior pockets with additional items. I only fill each bag's interior compartment. In order to create additional storage space (exactly how I would carry the bag and contents for personal use), I do not always use all of the removable protective padding included with each bag.

Everything shown photographed in the "what fits" images has to not only fit inside the bag, but also allow the zipper or snap on the bag to close, and the bag has to remain closed when worn on my shoulder.

Measures in inches: 12.5 W x 9 H x 6.5 D
Messenger strap: 34 to 58 inches
Waist strap: 30 to 44 inches

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©Robyn L. Pollman

August 15, 2012

A Gold Medal Gig: Kevin Jairaj Scores an Olympic Opportunity

By Jeff Kent

The 2012 Olympic Games may have concluded, but the victory celebrations are just beginning. As the U.S. Olympians make their way through the post-Olympics media blitz, many of the images representing them will be from Dallas-based photographer Kevin Jairaj.

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McKayla Maroney   ©Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire

Best known for his upscale wedding work, Jairaj has always loved sports photography. About a year ago, he submitted a portfolio to US Presswire for consideration as one of their freelance sports photographers in the Dallas area. He was accepted, which was a thrill, but the real excitement started when the U.S. Olympic Media Summit came to town this past May. The summit was a day-long press event during which American athletes were shuffled through a series of interviews, press conferences, and photo shoots. US Presswire contracted Jairaj to shoot images for a series of feature stories in USA Today that would run in issues leading up to the Olympic games.

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©Kevin Jairaj

Jairaj’s initial assignment was to photograph 10 pre-selected athletes for the USA Today features. However, as other athletes came through the summit, their handlers and media relations people would bring them to his on-location studio if they had time. By the end of a long day of shooting, he’d around 75 of America’s Olympians, from gymnast Gabby Douglas to soccer star Alex Morgan to swimmer Dana Vollmer.

“A lot of these athletes are amateurs, and weren’t well known at the time,” says Jairaj. “They didn’t have the big egos that you get with a lot of famous professional athletes. This was the first big media event they were doing for the Olympics, so it was very interesting to see them before they became international celebrities.”

Continue reading "A Gold Medal Gig: Kevin Jairaj Scores an Olympic Opportunity" »

Photoshop CS6: Content Aware Move and Patch Tools

By Marianne Drenthe 

Content Aware, introduced with Photoshop CS4, is considered one of the best tools for editing within Photoshop. In CS6 Adobe has updated the algorithm for Content Aware, has added Content Aware technology to the Patch tool, and has added the Content Aware Move tool to the Healing Toolset. In this tutorial we will explore each of these exciting new additions to the newest incarnation of Photoshop.

USING THE CONTENT AWARE MOVE TOOL

One of the cooler innovations in CS is the addition of the Content Aware (CA) Move tool. The CA Move tool allows you to reposition and recompose a part of an image faster and easier than ever before. You can use it for actions that used to require selecting, masking, and advanced compositing—all by simply selecting the image and moving it to another portion of the photo. Content Aware does the rest by filling in the background of the image automatically, the end result is a change in composition of the image. Let’s take a closer look.

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In this image the woman and baby are composed in the center of the image in front of a large window, I don’t necessarily love this composition, so let’s make a selection around them and move her to the left hand side of this photo.

1. I first selected the area around the subjects with the Lasso tool set at 15-pixel feather. I loosely encircled her to allow a little background into the selection. Sometimes the CA Move tool likes to take out parts of the subject, so creating a loose lasso works very well in images where moving the subject on the same sort of background is what you intend to do. 

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2. I selected the CA Move tool from the Healing Tool subset (you can also access it by using Shift+J until the tool icon looks like two arrows overlayed like an X). 
3. In the Options Bar at the top of the screen I selected the Move mode and set Adaptation to Strict. Adaptation determines how well the moved object adjusts to its new background.
4. I moveed the selected object to its new place on the image.

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5. After Photoshop finalized the move I selected the part of the image that was previously above my subjects’ heads by loosely lassoing that area and went ahead and cloned the area, choosing white background with the Clone tool. 

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While the immediate results from using the Content Aware tool are not completely perfect, they are great starting point to finish out edits for most photographs.

Continue reading "Photoshop CS6: Content Aware Move and Patch Tools" »

August 16, 2012

Opinion: A Challenge to Slow Down

By Scott Hays

While it may feel good to blame the lady down the street with a high-quality camera for our business troubles, it’s time to consider the contributing factor that we have the most control over. Ourselves. There’s nothing you can do about camera manufacturers improving their product and making it affordable enough for enthusiasts to attain. You can’t blame people who are enthusiastic about photography and want to make it the source of their livelihood. We were all at that level once. But we can examine ourselves and refine our technique and force the competition to rise to our level rather than letting ourselves get sloppy and only equal theirs.

Before digital, we had to wait until our film came back to see what you had accomplished. When we shot a senior session, most of us were pretty content with shooting a roll of 24 exposures, maybe 36, and then setting an appointment for our customers to come back to see the results. Now, with the aid of immediate feedback, the practice of shooting hundreds of images and culling them down to “the good ones” has pervaded the profession. It has allowed our artistic brains to get lazy.

Though I still love shooting digital, I have begun to shoot wet plate style as they did in the 19th century. No, it’s not a superior method of photography, but I find it fascinating. It can take up to an hour to prepare, shoot and finish one image. No built-in light meter, no light meter period. You take your lens cap off, count or look at your watch, and with experience you learn how long to expose your glass or tin plate. It can be anywhere from three seconds to 30 minutes if not longer. As there are today, there were specialists. There were portrait photographers, and the photographers who made what we would consider a head shot, which were the size of wallet images today. There were landscape photographers. They had one thing in common: the image took time to set up and prepare. If they wanted to shoot away from their studio, they had to have a mobile darkroom. Once you expose your plate, you have approximately five minutes to process it.

So how does this apply? Somehow the machine-gun shutter has become the norm. What do we accomplish by taking four or more shots of the same pose? What would happen if we started to take only 15 to 20 images in an entire session? Our clients aren’t expecting a couple of hundred images; they are expecting to see an incredible finished product. Is it the client who wants to see us acting like a fashion photographer at their child’s senior session, or is it that we don’t trust our own abilities? Slow down.

When photographers had no choice but to get it right the first time, they made beautiful portraits. Granted, it wasn’t our 21st-century style, but you can shoot in whatever style you like, refrain from overshooting, and still create incredible work. We have a choice, yet we are choosing to lose sight of what photography actually is. Photography isn’t taking pictures, it is the study of light.

Challenge yourself on a day when you don’t have a client. Go to the park or a visually interesting location, and only allow yourself to take 12 images. Take a friend or family member and shoot portraits. Use only manual settings, and under no circumstances should you view any of the images until you get home and download them. You will learn so much about yourself and your photography. If you still have your 35mm film camera, go pick up a roll of C41 color or black-and-white film. Take it out and shoot a roll of 24.

This exercise will help you believe in your abilities again. It will tell you what you need to work on. The first time you can’t look at the back of your camera, it will feel almost like an anxiety attack. If you have never taken on an exercise like this, grab a photographer friend and go out together. It gets a little amusing. Do this once a month. You will be amazed by how much your images improve when you slow down and think before you shoot.

As photographers, we need to start shooting for quality not quantity. How you do that is solely up to you. If we are as comfortable with our knowledge of photography as we all believe we are, we should slow down and use our knowledge of the foundations of photography. That’s an impressive photographer. It just might impress your clientele as well.

So when you preparing for your next session, or come back from the exercise I mentioned, think about how you are shooting. Ask yourself if you are shooting with deliberation. Can you slow it down? Can you become a better artist?

If you would like to comment on this essay, please post on our Facebook page or send an email to Senior Editor Joan Sherwood.

About August 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in August 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2012 is the previous archive.

September 2012 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


 
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