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09-02-2007, 05:38 AM   #1
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First paid photo shoot! What a rush!

The local school district decided to do new photo ID badges for the employess and the HR Director happens to be my Dearly Beloved's boss! Combined with a landscape photo I'd done on New Year's day that she wanted for the background on the badge, I got tapped to do the job. Not exactly glamorous, but it was a paying job and I used the K10D with the 77mm Limited for all the shots (617!). It was a 3 week opportunity to perfect my portrait skills!
Well, that in itself wouldn't be anything to brag about EXCEPT..as I finished the first badges (which were VERY well received!), the high school principal had hired a pro company to come in and do yearbook pictures and had independently decided to have THEM run the ID badges for the high school staff and teachers.
When they were finished, the photos were very dark and exposure in many cases was terrible, not to mention posing (I posed EVERY SINGLE SHOT and did TWO of each employee). It was rather obvious that the "Pro" had simply viewed the assignment as just another day in the office. When I got an opportunity to do an EXIF on some of their shots, I found out they'd used a Canon 20D and 24-105L lens, and they had come in with a full studio package, including lights and background and the whole bit!
I did 5 test series for the high school and they fired the pros and hired me to take the photos instead! Here's what my "setup" was: Pentax K10D, 77mm FA Limited lens, Really Right Stuff Ballhead, Manfrotto 3001N Tripod, NO LIGHTS, north-facing window for natural light, white projector screen for a "background" and AV settings on the camera.
The Superintendent said afterwards that they were the best photos they'd ever had taken in the 20 years he'd been there! And I SUCK at portraits! (Well, in MY opinion!) So I wound up photographing every employee, doing the ID badges AND the yearbook photos AND am talking with a number of individual people about doing more work—all because a professional Canon shooter (he even used a professional software package that allowed him to download the files to a website [Shutterware] to be processed) looked on his assignment as just another paycheck and didn't get emotionally involved in his shoot.
I LOVE being a Pentaxian because WE CARE!
Rob W

09-02-2007, 05:42 AM   #2
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Congrats on a successful shoot. Attitude has a lot to do with many things in life, including photography...
09-02-2007, 05:58 AM   #3
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Well done Rob
09-02-2007, 07:10 AM   #4
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Yes, well done indeed.

Could you share what techniques you used to pose the different people? Also, since you had a white "background", I'd think you would have used quite a stopped down aperture, right?

09-02-2007, 09:14 AM   #5
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Lol. it isn't the equipment, its the person behind it.

Most "PROs" I know are happy doing the same thing over and over. What ever formula pays the bills most often is what they stick to. Just because they get paid for this does not make them the best in the business. I find most advanced amateurs tend to know more about photography then most pros.

Here is a case in point. My school hires a professional photographer to do student photos for ID cards and yearbook. They come in with their standard bundle, and place everything exactly as they have done it a thousand times. They will even attach cord cut to the right length to make sure that set up is identical each and every time. The student goes on stage, and is posed exactly the same way. What thought is in this? Very little.

Congrats on the job.
09-02-2007, 09:26 AM   #6
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YAY!! I want to get the 77 limited too
09-02-2007, 09:59 AM   #7
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excellent!

Good for you sir!

One thing that I've always refused to call myself is a "pro", since it's not my full time job (yet). I think the local camera store likes that, since there are more than a few mediocre pros out there that are stuffy/pretentious, etc. As other have stated, there's a lot of amateurs out there that produce better shots and have more knowledge than some of those "pros".

I spent 3 hours with a very respected local pro, and he was excellent in giving me advice and just talking about stuff while he worked. He does mainly portraiture/studio and weddings. I learned a LOT, but his attitude was amazing. He indicated that your attitude will be a big factor in getting repeat customers.

The bottom line: I agree that your attitude, plus how well you can work with people, and knowledge of how to overcome or be creative in a situation speaks volumes. Caring is important, and you've got that - it shows!

Regards,
Marc
09-02-2007, 11:05 AM   #8
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Hey Rob, congratulation, more success to you. Would you share some of your capture with us, if you won't mind.

Cheers,

Rene R

09-02-2007, 01:01 PM   #9
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Here's one done spontaneously that gives an indication of the atmosphere for the whole shoot- relaxed enjoyment! Only PP was size reduction for posting here and adding the purple border to the original shot at the customer's request (That's the school district's colors.)
This is the finance department of the central office and was part of a series for the website that WASN'T posted there. (A more somber shot was used.)
Rob W
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09-02-2007, 02:26 PM   #10
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Rob,
Congrats!! It's always good to work at something you enjoy. Are we seeing the first indication of a career change, or a supplemental income? Either way congrats!!

regards,

Ken
09-02-2007, 03:24 PM   #11
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*o) Hopefully, the former! I returned to college 3 years ago and am minoring in Photography (only because our university doesn't offer it as a major); majoring in English Literature. Somehow, when I graduate at age 59 (!) next year, I hope for a career combining my two loves.
Rob W
09-02-2007, 03:45 PM   #12
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It is nice to hear about your first paying shoot.
When I was a High School senior, I was on the newspaper staff as a photographer and my girl friend (1st half of the year) was on the Annual staff. Most of the images in the Annual were taken by me and the one other official "Annual" photographer - who got credit - I did not since I was on the News paper staff. My school would have freaked out if we would have had to purchase images from a pro - way over budget.

Anyway - that was way before the current requirement for everyone to shoot images for badges. (69-70) Life was not as paranoid as we are today (in Wyoming too - where guns outnumber people about 3-1 and sheep out number people about 10-1) Remember that even Ken Rockwell (I know he is a controversial person here) says that when you start to turn pro - you have to work on some pretty boring sites/tasks etc. but in the long term those things that are "boring" = if you do them well, your reputation is really enhanced.
How to Become a Professional Photographer
Why Photography is Not a Profession
Your reputation and professionalism will bring you the glamour jobs. You just have to be ready to pay the dues, if you get complacent, like the "pro", the common everyday money making jobs will go to those who provide quality work.

There is a person where I work who started taking images of his wife and newborn daughter. He was in charge of the database where we kept our on-line phone book and employee information. (Before we were bought out by the big guys) He started taking images for employee photos (normally taken by the security guards on the first day of employment) for some of the higher ups he worked with. He now has a successful off-site portrait business. Mostly through word of mouth his business is booked for months on the weekends. He bought a new house - lives on the second floor, while the first floor is his studio and he is pretty cheap too. He has not decided to go full time into portraits - but he could.

With this job successfully on the books, create some business cards and hand them out to the people you have taken images of. You just might be surprised at the response, but treat this as a business - not a hobby - or it can come back to slap you up long side the head.

PDL
09-02-2007, 06:24 PM   #13
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Thanks Rob and nice shot. Being at ease with the subjects and having fun taking pictures, getting paid and captures that are appreciated makes a good combination, well done.

Cheers,

Rene R
09-03-2007, 12:54 AM   #14
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That's a nice shot, spontaneous. I hate all those serious-looking we-mean-business-type of shots which are over-posed with artificial smiles.

But I'd wish you really didn't trash that pro photographer because of his equipment. You don't know the real story. Perhaps he had child falling ill that morning and he had his thoughts elsewhere, perhaps he just had a quarrel with agency yesterday and they stiffed him big time. You know, we're all only human. Or perhaps he just was that kind of a person. It's not like Canon equipment makes them scumbags and Pentax makes us all saints. If you would've shot with Canon you would still have been same person, caring as much.
09-03-2007, 04:11 PM   #15
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Not trashing hs equipment at all! However, with what he had he could have and should have done better work! The first hand reports I got from a number of trustworthy people with no hidden agenda against him all said he simply had an "I don't give a hoot attitude" about the shoot and when several people commented to him his response was essentially "I'm just here to do the job and get my paycheck." Their reports uniformly said that over the three days he was there that the whole time he acted just plain bored and eager to get done. THAT is what I'm surprised at!
As for "us vs. them", heck YEAH I'm glad that Pentax "won" one! I don't trash anyone nor their equipment and am experienced enough to know that it's 95% the photographer and 5% the equipment and in this case, it showed! Bottom line: By sheer grace and a good attitude a Pentax photographer "got 'er done!"
Rob W
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