In a tiny shared commercial kitchen on Pendleton Street in the old West Village of Greenville, South Carolina there’s an atypical revival happening. There is no preacher. You won’t find a tent filled with people, but you can find salivation.
After over 15 years in the business, Jeremy Webb has finally decided to hang out his shingle. A carnivore’s wonderland, Revival Butchery is the aptly named new business where old world recipes have been passed down using the oral tradition, each generation adding their own little unique twist, possibly.
His prized kielbasa recipe was handed down to him from an old butcher he worked under who was given the recipe by an old butcher he worked under. That old butcher’s grandfather gave him the recipe that can be traced back to his ancestors in Germany. And that’s just the story on one of over 30+ sausage recipes that are available in Revival’s rotating meat case. Jeremy has been fortunate to have lived, worked and traveled around the globe and he’s making recipes based off these experiences and you’ll only find some of his creations right here in the shop. Editor’s Note :: I’m a really fat guy and have prepared a number of these dishes now and the flavors are truly remarkable. Another note, always trust a fat guy’s recommendations on meat sourcing. While I haven’t had it yet, next up for me is the Thai Fried Garlic Sausage, his most popular item.
The Webbs (yes, Jeremy’s brother, wife and children even pitch in from time to time) want folks to come into the shop with an open mind, hungry belly, and some charcoals warming in the chimney back at the house. His rotating features range from locally sourced meats and cheeses, to mouth-watering deckle steaks, to his incredible artichoke heart and bleu cheese pork pinwheels (a pork loin with sausage and herbs and spices rolled up into a beautiful and delicious pinwheel.) The items are often grill-ready and have a look and taste to make you the culinary hero of the house.
While you’re eating good, you’re also doing good as the business has a mission outside of profits. Revival Butchery works in a think globally, act locally mindset. They sponsor a child, taking care of medical, educational, nutritional, and shelter needs through the Nazarene Compassion Ministries. They hope to add another child every year. They also frequently donate meat to a local men’s homeless shelter in neighboring Spartanburg.
If you’re feeling adventurous, just go into the shop and let Jeremy make recommendations based off what’s available. And if you want to play it safer, place an order ahead of time by emailing email@example.com.
They are located at 1286 Pendleton St in Greenville, SC in the West Village and the shop is open ::
Tue: 10 AM - 2 PM
Wed: 10 AM - 2 PM
Thur: 10 AM - 6 PM
Fri: 10 AM - 6 PM
Sat: 10 AM - 2 PM
My father retired about a year and a half ago and he’s been slap bored out of his mind. He had a church call him for an interim job, preaching on Sundays and teaching on Wednesdays. That’s been a good fit because it gives him the best parts of his old job without all the stress of counseling and weddings and burials and day to day administrative duties. The rest of his time is spent tinkering around with little projects around the house. Redo the carpet in the old boat? Sure, why not? Reorganize the garage? Check. Re-reorganize the garage? Check. Check.
About a year before he retired he got really interested in bees. I’m not really certain what triggered this new passion but he went out with a friend who had bees and he was hooked. When he retired, the folks at the office pooled some cash and bought him a Flow Hive. It’s promise is that you’ll basically raise your bees like normal but the harvesting of the honey is supposed to work from a tap rather than the traditional labor intensive chore of harvesting honey. It also has a window so you can see the gang at work in there, which is pretty rad. It’s sort of the red-headed step child of the bee world, it seems. Every old timer says it’s marketing crap that won’t work. The design community praises it as the best thing since sliced bread. Everyone agrees it is a thing of beauty. We really don’t know yet. Time will tell, I suppose. Dad went ahead and bought a traditional hive to accompany it and set them beside each other so we’ll see, I suppose. I’m pulling for the Flow Hive to be just as successful because it’s a great design and a thing of beauty and it would definitely be a way for lazier people like myself to get into this.
Dad finally got the hive set up in my backyard as his neighborhood has houses on top of each other. Conveniently, his only two grandchildren live where his hives are, too. So, there’s that. We live just outside of the city limits but have a very large yard and I talked to all my neighbors who were cool with it. We’ve had chickens for about 9 years, so they are pretty used to things being a little different over here already. This has been a great new hobby for dad and a new way to spend more time outside, learning and sharing his new passion. He’s taken classes and the folks who sold him his bees and some specialty equipment have been huge resource. They are called the Carolina Honey Bee Company. Check them out. They are great.
Meanwhile, I’ve hired a consultant named Jennifer Kilberg for my business and she’s been stressing that I shoot more stories and so some of that stuff will end up here in the blog I suppose. We’ve been working together for a short while now and she’s helping navigate new waters and get my stuff together. If you have a fun story or know someone who does, I’d love to come document it. Hit me up here @ firstname.lastname@example.org or text / call me at 864.243.1930. Thanks for following along!
This past year I was able to move into a digital medium format system, a long time dream of mine. My camera is an older system but the files are still beautiful and the glass is breathtaking. The Hasselblad is not the best piece of photographic gear I’ve purchased recently. Nope. Not even close.
This is it. And it’s made by Rubbermaid.
So, now that you might be completely bummed by the banality that is a Rubbermaid cart, let me do some splainin’!
I used to assist 3 photographers in a giant commercial studio years ago and we had anything we wanted. Three giant shooting rooms, three Hasselblad / Phase kits, giant Cambo studio stands, a loaded van, dare I say 15 Speedotron packs? 40 heads? Chimera boxes of every size and flavor. A fully equipped tool and work room to build whatever we wanted and a corporate credit card for anything we were missing. The list goes on and on. You get the point. Also, we had rolling desks and some carts for location stuff. My young(er) mind was always taking notes for the future.
Throughout the years I’ve assisted other freelance photographers and in my own business I’ve seen firsthand that we can amass a ton of tools and most jobs don’t afford me the pleasure of working with an assistant.
In 2015 I found myself parked illegally downtown outside of a large building with more gear than I could carry in 3 trips by myself. Once I got everything inside, I loaded them all at once in an elevator and took my trip to the tenth floor. When the door opened to my clients lobby, gear went everywhere and the folks waiting for the elevator down just sort of snickered. “I meant to do that” in my best PeeWee Herman is all I could muster. Once I got moved to the location where the shoot was (on another floor,) I had to go back down and grab a few more things and go move my car that I was praying wasn’t already moved for me. I texted my wife “I’m buying a cart today.”
I rode around to different places and checked out the offerings; too clunky, too expensive, more useful for carrying a fridge up a flight of stairs. I also did web searches for photographers blogging about the carts they were using. The problem with those sorts of things for me is that I’ll picture myself being them and make their needs my own, which is not the case. I’m not flying to Asia to work. I’m not working with multiple assistants. It’s usually just me and my gear. Rather than pulling the trigger on the infamous Rock ‘n Roller, I decided to follow my buddy Ian Curcio’s lead (who has sense switched to the Rock ‘n Roller) and get myself a Rubbermaid, except larger. I also wanted to get a cart that I could tether from and be able to use on location or in the studio. His cart needs to fit his wagon. I have a Honda Element and I could afford to go larger than he was able to. I bought this cart brand new from a guy off of Craigslist for like $70 I think. This can be purchased at Home Depot for just under 200 bones.
Ian’s cart has to be unloaded and loaded each time it’s in and out of the car. Mine doesn’t. This was a huge plus for me. We’re talking five minutes of cut time here but I just hate having to figure it out. I like to know exactly where everything is. After a shoot I like to be able to throw it in the truck and hit the road. When I get back home or to the studio, it’s still organized on the cart when I unload it. I don’t won’t to touch work twice if I can help it. Now, I do still need a little ramp for this rig to be a perfect system but for now it’s working nicely.
I made a couple little modifications to this cart to make it do what I wanted. I added a D-Ring to each end of the cart and I purchased 4 Husky straps with carabiners to hold my 2 C-Stands in place. I leave these velcro straps in place at all times on my c-stands now. They are also useful for hanging things from the c-stand because you’ve instantly got two caribiners on your c-stand. One at the top and one at the bottom. I lucked out because my cart has 3 predrilled holes on each corner. It is the perfect size hole and distance for my 40” Grip Arm Extensions and I can lock it in with the grip heads on the outside. #winning
There is a tray under the push handle (a bonus of the bigger cart is the higher push handle, Ian’s can be a backbreaker if you’re taller than average.) In that tray, I keep all sizes of A clamps and Super Clamps, little odds and ends like gum, mints, brass spigots, clothespins, pens, notepads, etc. On both shelves of the cart, I put about three sheets of foam core as my base, two White and one black. I took a little paracord and a carabiner and hang all my gaff tapes from a loop and then through the grip arm extension. I’ve got two full size apple boxes I like to always have with me plus 2 - 25 lb. sandbags and a couple 15’s. NOTE :: I unload these sandbags before moving the cart into or out of the car. I use them as wheel chocks to keep the cart from moving while I’m driving. Everything needs to have multiple purposes. I carry my lighting kit in a LowePro backpack and my Fuji rig has it’s own little Think Tank CityWalker bag. The Hasselblad system for now is in another little LowePro bag that sits underneath the cart with the Fuji bag. All my modifiers, additional stands, tripod and laptop bag fit on the cart as I’m pushing it in.
I also had a friend of mine craft a detachable desk for the top. For the past couple years, I’ve really tried to be intentional in my purchases. I try to previsualize my career and how my purchases can fit the future of my business. When I bought this, I didn’t own a camera that would tether but I knew I was headed in that direction. I had him make it large enough to accomodate a larger laptop should I move to a 15” down the road. When my friend Jonathan Dearman (check out his amazing furniture and call him when you need something awesome made) told me to drive to NC to meet him and he’d bang out something quick for me I had no idea how he’d knock it out of the park so quickly. I pulled out of my driveway on the hone with him telling him the dimensions. Three hours later I pulled up in his driveway and he was 90% done with the thing. He did a quick test of all the measurements and Voila! He designed it so it can quickly be removed from the cart and removed from it’s own pedastal. I’d told him I wanted it to be able to be mounted to a c-stand if I just needed the tethering table in the field so we balanced it with that in mind. There is an Impact Wall Plate with 5/8” Locking Receiver bracket screwed to the bottom for this purpose. He nailed the design and made it gorgeous in the process. I’ve also included a snap of the cart at a gig recently. This was for a 18’ wide white seamless setup to pull large equipment on in a warehouse, also pictured. So, more crap than I typically carry was present.
A couple months back I was contacted by a group called Flashes of Hope and they asked if I’d be willing to shoot some portraits of children with cancer and they’d take care of scheduling, printing, etc. Thankfully, they asked me for some local makeup artists’ names and I got to work with my insanely talented friend Latia Curtis (stylin’ below). Our group for this shoot was 15 -30 years of age.
As I was waiting to to load in, I recieved a phone call from a young photographer in my area named Chrissy Harper. We’d never met but she was calling to ask me about joining the SC Chapter of ASMP as an associate member (I sit on out state’s board). I talked with her about what she shoots and what her goals were. We started talking about assisting and I told her that it was unfortunate that we had not talked sooner because I had a voulnteer thing I could’ve used her help with and it would give us a good opportunity to get to know one another. “When is it?” she asked. “In about twenty minutes” I laughingly replied. She texted me shortly after, “I’ll see you soon.” She showed up and I had an assistant. Boom! So, how rad is that? And, to boot, she did a great job. We had some amped up kids to wrangle and she jumped right in! That’s her sitting in for a quick lighting test. We loaded in to the hospital at 2 PM yesterday and made the last photograph around 8 PM I think. Everyone involved was really awesome. Here’s another cool thing; our two local competing hospitals, Greenville Hospital System and Bon Securs St. Francis Hospital System, gasp….. worked together to make all this happen! Very cool on both parties. The staff I worked with from both hospitals were awesome.
Photographer Nerds who’ve been following along lately :: I rented the Fuji XT-1 so that I could tether on this job to Adobe Lightroom. Everything was shot on the original Fujifilm 56 f/1.2 lens.
I got to meet a lot of cool people yesterday and I had a blast working with them all. I did connect with one individual more than any other. His name was Andre and he had a little girl just a few years younger than mine. He had a lovely wife and you could tell Andre was a great dad and husband. He kept looking for stray hairs for his wife and straightening his daughters outfit. And his little girl just melted my heart. He told me a little about his situation with cancer and the struggles he’s endured. As it turns out he’s also a musician so we hit it off. He’s really into hiphop and he’s a rapper so we did a couple promo type shots for him as well. He hugged me when we were through and just thanked me over and over. It was really the only time I almost lost it which is a miracle as anyone who knows me knows that I can be a real faucet face.
Here’s to you Dre! Keep getting stronger buddy. Can’t wait to see those dreads coming back in long again!
We had a great evening and I’m so thankful to be able to use the talents God has blessed this whole team of people with to brighten some folks’ night who could use a lift and hopefully give them some photographs that will forever capture the spirit of the individuals and their families.
Selfie for proof of a great time! Cheers!
Welcome back. We’re wrapping this 3 part series up with a bit of show and tell. I’m going to show you diagrams of some of the shots and will include the gear used to make them happen. Here’s part 1 and here’s part 2. It may be helpful to read those first. We are going to get through this stuff pretty quick as there is nothing too terribly complicated happening here. As promised in part 1, I’ll be posting a short blog showing you the cart in detail, how I customized it to make myself more efficient on jobs and why I believe it’s the best piece of gear I’ve purchased in years. First things first.
OK, so we’ll go through some of the pictures and I’ll list the gear used and the set up. Just to get this out of the way, everything was shot on the Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens. The images utilizing strobes were shot using the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra (it’s since been replaced by a couple newer versions, currently called the ELB). Just for clarification, I have the “A” or “speed” set with a shorter flash duration for stopping action, which was not needed for this. Elinchrom has their own wireless trigger system called ”Skyport” which is great because it can fire at a higher sync speed but the transducer misfires a lot, it could just be mine. It’s also tiny, uses a watch battery that lasts forever and the battery pack has the reciever built-in. All wins. Still, I used my Pocket Wizard Plus 3’s because they are consistent. As in, they NEVER misfire. They are clunky, have a slower sync speed and require cords, still, I use the PW’s the lionshare of the time. Side note :: the Fuji X-Pro 1 sync speed is 1/160th because of it’s focal plane shutter. The X-100 series have a leaf shutter thus allowing much higher sync speeds which makes the Quadra speed set witht the Skyport especially awesome. What sun?!
Our location looked like this but without all those awesome clouds. We had noon sun. Blarf.
I made all the lighting diagrams using lightingdiagram.com. These 72 DPI non-commercial one’s are free. You should check them out. Lots of great stuff there for light dorks like myself. Anyway, here’s the setup for our first shot.
What’s funny is that as I was going back thorugh this today, I realized that the above diagram didn’t change, just my position, camera settings and the use of the weeds and position of the reflector Maria was holding. Sometimes we dropped the reflector altogether.
Here, I moved to the model’s left side and shot directly into the seamless. I used the same exact setup for the two double exposures, I just exposed for the white seamless and placed her in silouhette, mostly.
This one was the exact same as the first setup, I just removed the weeds and flowers and shot more into the sky than the weeds. I still need to remove the flyaway hairs in this photo but for right now, she didn’t need this image and I’ve got a good bit of work resting on my plate. Image is still usable for some things but I typically wouldn’t show this. I did pull in a mask on each side of the sky in LIghtroom to bring those blues back in.
I really liked this particular setup for a number of reasons. We got the all five previous pictures with one setup and gear thats within reach of pretty much any photographer. So, five differnt looking shots with no lights at noon in a field between a methadone clinic and a strip joint in about thirty minutes. Scrims, silks, whatever you wanna call ‘em, I prefer (and used for the previous shots) the Matthew’s Artificial Silk because it’s cheaper and stops about 1.5 stops of light from coming through and makes for a giant softbox. Usually, when I’m pulling out a silk, the light is nasty outside. I do hate the yellow stitching around the edges. I would love to add the traditional silks to my arsenal but I don’t have the need right now and I’d rather spend dollars on other things. I have the 8 footer and like it because it’s the largest one I feel is safely manageable on a small set with no assitant and I can build my own PVC frame. It’s not the surest rig on the planet but it holds up fairly well. If you are buying any larger size silk, I suggest buying a proper frame. NOTE:: they ain’t cheap and you need some serious stands to hold ‘em and then serious sandbagging to boot. Don’t plan on using those without an assistant or two.
The next group of photos come from the basic setup that was in our next location. One light for all.
If you go back and look, there are many more examples in Part 2. You’ll see what’s what. I think that pretty much wrap’s up the how on this stuff. I didn’t shoot anything crazy here. Just nice and simple. Keeping it clean. I’m as guilty as the next photographer in thinking I need all this gear when very simply, I could go out and make these same photographs with a hot shoe flash and convertible umbrella, a basic scrim, any simple camera and decent 90-ish mm lens. In other words, you could give me $600 and I could buy everything I need. Don’t get sucked down the gear rabbit hole. It’s deep and can cost you a lot more than the price tag attached. Start simple, keep it simple. Work hard and learn the limits of all your gear. Always be on the lookout for ways to make something out of nothing. Ask any questions or start a discussion below in the comments. Cheers!
Welcome back! In part 1, we discussed the who, what, when and where of the Bohemian Rhapsody project. In part 3 we’ll discuss the how. Today, we’ll actually be showing the images from the shoot that made the cut and all the “why’s.” Why they made the cut, why I shot them in the first place and why I would bill them in so many different ways.
So, the work.
Before we jump directly into the work, remember I had multiple purposes on this shoot. One, my client needed images for her modeling portfolio. She wanted something a little different from her current commercial modeling portfolio’s reach. She specifically wanted something in the flowers and weeds and more bohemian in feel and fashion. This is not the type of stuff I usually shoot so I self-assigned a make believe editorial client; a new alt-country artist for NYLON magazine. I also needed to think about the possibility of selling some images to PASTE who likes a little different style than NYLON. Or what if her record label needed more stuff still? What about commercial interests? I had to tackle all these possibilities and in that order.
Below are all the photographs that we scored and deemed usable in our 2.5 hours of work, 30 minutes of driving included.
These were my top two favorites of the day. They served her well and I could see them being nice editorial images. They also both had a very naturally lit feel (the second image was lit) which is what NYLON likes a lot of the time.
Here we moved more into the artsy realm and I like pictures like these after straight pictures to offer some variety. These are also nice for merchandise type images or album art. This first one has just a hint of motion blur. I’m also currently on a bit of a double exposure kick.
These images were more about serving her as a client but also for other styles of editorial and these could even go commercial. One thing I really try to do on a shoot is make the person look a lot different from picture to picture. I want a bunch of variety. We were lacking in wardrobe options but I still feel we accomplished what we set out to do and then some.
NOTE :: the rest of these are sort of alternates, not really first picks so to speak. I’ve given them some BW conversions along with the color version because they could go either way. Typically, my clients want my editing decisions about black and white or color or whatever but for editorial they have their own style it usually needs to fit so it’s a little looser with some of the editing.
This definitely wasn’t the most looks I’ve gotten on a shoot but we scored a fair amount of looks out of our time together and our two locations. The first location was in an open field with no surrounding open shade at noon. Booooooooo! So, I was very concerned about getting to the woods ASAP. At a different time of day, we could’ve worked that location a little more and squeezed out a few more looks there.
OK, so now that the photos are out there, let’s take a look at pricing. So, for editorial, the rates are terrible. As in, if it’s all you did, you’d be royally screwed.
So, hypothetically, NYLON hired me to shoot this job. My guess is they’d pay something dismal like $200 for an inside story. If you got the cover, it’d probably add maybe like $500 - $1,000 more but since this is an up and coming artist, chances are slim that she’d make the cover. They have a circulation of somewhere in the neighborhood of 225,000. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Then there’s all the online eyeballs. So, while I could make a lot more money shooting a commercial job for the local factory, I’m truly gaining some exposure to more potential clients (editorial, commercial & advertising.) Not that sort of exposure where a local magazine says “we’ll give you some exposure.” Don’t go for that. Complete bull. Get paid.
So, let’s say that Nylon paid me $200 (chances are they wouldn’t have hired a makeup artist / hair stylist.) I’ve just made enough in the afternoon to just scrape by for the day after expenses. Forget feeding your family, ever having a vacation or affording insurance. We’d probably have signed a six month license to a year for those images that they used. The leftovers, I could sell immediately to another magazine, some commercial / advertising interest, her label, or her family for that matter. Ha!
This is where I need to get photographer’s to put on their thinking caps and commit themselves to the longview if they’re going to stay in this dance. If I signed over my rights, $200 is all I could ever make off that shoot. That’s a waste of my time and talent. If I keep my rights, you never know where things could go. Let’s say PASTE (an online magazine only now) wanted to buy two of the pictures for another $200. I get 200 more bones and lots more eyeballs (free advertising + credibility). We sign another 6 month exclusive license for them. Meanwhile, our artist is picking up steam and is all of the sudden Nashville’s indie sweetheart. Her label wants to use another photo from this shoot for an album cover for $3,500 including ads and promotions specifically for this release but not any merch. I still keep the copyright. She keeps going and they want to use another artsy shot of mine for a t-shirt, another $1,200. She has a storied career and one day she dies prematurely. People magazine calls, another $1,500. Her biography is written and they need a cover image. Another $2,500. Someone uses the image without permission, another $20,000. A film comes out, a greatest hits record, etc. You get the point. Does every gig follow this path? Of course not. Do most? Nope. Do some? Absolutely. The point here is that photographers should never, read NEVER EVER sign away their copyright. Photographs are valuable and the photographer’s intellectual property and potential future revenue stream.
For the buyer, the point is this, you probably never need the full buyout on a photo. Why pay for all the uses of a photo when you just want a license to use the image for 1 year on a single billboard. Photography generally works like this….. the more dollars a photo helps to make, the more dollars a photographer will ask for. So, when someone calls and says “we need perpetual rights for the picture of the boss at our company,” my immediate thought is “no you don’t.” I won’t say it like that but we’ll definitely have a conversation. If your boss is 40 and will probably retire when he’s 65, why do you want an image of him wearing clothes from 25 years ago, with his old haircut, when his hair was still black and he didn’t wear glasses? Where are you going to use that picture? Now, there are definitely times that picture could and should be used. But when investors receive this years corporate report, they better not have a picture of your boss from 1983 in there without a new photo too. But now, you could license that same image again for another $300 bucks or whatever, rather than the thousands you would’ve spent 30 years ago because you wanted full buyout.
This licensing / usage thing is not the big scary monster that lots of people make it out to be. It’s there to make sure that photographers protect their work and can actually make a decent living. It’s also there for the buyers’ protection. No one else can use the image while you are or for the next two years if you want to buy that license. Or, you may not have to pay the photographer to shoot something, you could just buy the stock images from a shoot someone else paid for. Is it catered exactly to your needs? Nope. Might it work and not be the terribly mundane stock that is used all the time online from sights like istock? Maybe. It never hurts to ask. Buyers, negotiate a fair price. Photographers, negotiate a fair price. In closing; there are no set rules here. Every industry has it’s own set of standard practices but good businesses get creative and negotiate and make some compomises for the greater good. In a smaller market like where I live, lots of companies freak out when we talk about usages and licenses. Sometimes your images won’t ever serve another purpose outside of it’s original intent. When you are faced with that as a photgrapher, don’t sweat the usage conversation. Just adjust your billing to reflect what you need to make from the images and call it what it is. Still, make a contract. The images you give are non-transferable and copyright belongs to you. In other words, I won’t shoot an image for company X and then allow them to give the image to company Y. I shoot for X and license to X and Y. Don’t let them sell your images. Register your copyrights. Get releases. Dot your i’s. Cross your t’s. Eat your green’s. Stay in school.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll be looking at specific lighting, gear and techniques used to shoot the images. Hope to see you soon. Plop any questions or comments below. Thanks for hanging in there. This was a long one. Here’s Part 3.
The audible sigh.
The deer in headlights look.
Abduction by aliens, never to be heard from again apparently brought on by receiving a quote for photography.
The TAKE MY MONEY! No questions asked, deposit received so quick you know you’ve just royally screwed up a bid.
I’ve experienced every one of these.
I’m hoping to shed some light on the topic and offer some clarity. Photography, like any other professional service, ain’t cheap. There are different levels of service and quality of workmanship that one can choose from. Think gas station car wash for $8 vs. car detailing at $250. They are both just washing the car. Why the price gap? It all comes down to what you value. Some folks are more efficient than others. Some folks care about putting out great work and want to see you succeed. Some just want to do it as quick as possible and cash in. Still others are good photographers but sadly, are poor business people and don’t realize that the fees they are charging aren’t sustainable and they will soon be out of business.
I’m going to walk you through a shoot and show you a typical quote for how this would have been priced for different usages and what the deliverables would look like. We’ll talk about different pricing models and how to make smart purchasing decisions whether you are an art director, photo editor, or any other type of photography buyer that will keep your business afloat and ensure that the photographer you enjoyed working with so much will still be in business the next time you want them to give you a bid. And since we have a varied audience here (hopefully) I’ll be talking about the gear and techniques used to make the images along with a little “what I was thinking” commentary while working on the job. Hopefully, you photographers reading can also gain some insight or can add to the discussion into pricing your work. So, here’s the backstory so that we’re all on the same sheet of music.
I was recently talking with my friend, Clarka Wickliffe, a commercial model with a popular fashion blog, about a project and she recommended Angela Amezcua as a model. I contacted Angela about my project and told her I’d do a shoot for her in exchange for a shoot for me. She accepted and we went to work. Around the same time I’d asked a makeup artist / hair stylist friend of mine named Maria Albright if she’d bid on a job I was working on. We’d never worked together and she had never worked on a photo set before so she was a little nervous about bidding on a job. So, we collaborated and decided she’d like to work on a few small jobs to get the hang of things before formally working on a set as a paid position. I went ahead and told her about the shoots with Angela and it seemed a perfect fit.
I went to work in Evernote establishing a mood board and posted a few location photos that I’d scouted. Angela told me she wanted something a little more artsy rather than the typical commercial stuff she shoots. She also wanted the wardrobe to be more bohemian in nature. I always find it helpful to establish a playlist of tunes that help fit the mood and I submitted one of the greatest gifts to human kind, Ida’s “Will You Find Me.” (PS - If anyone wants to find this on vinyl and gift it to me, I’d kiss your face and give you a little back rub).
Angela sent me some photos of the potential wardrobe options along with some photos that she liked for various reasons of either location or vibe. I submitted more photos that I liked and Maria submitted photos for makeup and hair as well as a few shots for styling purposes and a couple potential locations she’d scouted. We bantered and defended the merits of the submitted photos, locations and started defining some direction. On every shoot, my hope is that everyone walk away with what I call a “wallhanger,” something that everyone can get good mileage out of. We serve the client first and foremost but from there I want the stylists, models and myself all to have something we can add to our portfolios. I felt we were all going to get a winner except for me. I’m not a fashion / lifestyle / model shooter. So, I sort of assigned myself an editorial job for this. I thought “ok, if NYLON were hiring you to cover a new recording artist and needed 3 images, how would you handle this story? How would you envision space for text?” At the same time I needed to think on the “what if’s”. “What if you get the cover? What if the label would like to license these same images after the magazine was done or what if PASTE wanted to license these images down the road? What if NYLON didn’t like my creative concepts and wanted something a little more straightforward? NYLON likes mostly naturally lit photos and PASTE takes either. Further, what if a commercial interest comes up and they’d like to license an image for advertising? Food for thought. You still need to serve the client in front of you, first and foremost, Angela.” I never told Angela or any other crew members my fake editorial thoughts.
We scheduled an evening shoot but I felt that we’d be rushing and our ideas felt a little premature. So, we rescheduled for three days later but at the very worst time of day. Noon. Blarf. It was going to be unseasonably hot, 91 degrees. While it wasn’t ideal, it was what we’d been dealt with the given availabilities. I knew in order to pull off a shoot at this time of day, I needed one or more extra tools that would give us a better shot at making things happen. The number one tool I could use was extra hands. Good assistants are hard to find. It’s a thankless job at times. It’s especially difficult to find a good assistant when you have a ZERO DOLLAR BUDGET. I reached out to a friend of mine, Jonathan Durango, a fine shooter himself, who had previously assisted me. He obliged me and we all met up on a Saturday at 10 AM to start hair and makeup along as well to discuss the images, location possibilities and to pack the truck accordingly.
After ironing out our first concept and final location plans, Maria and Angela got to work on hair and makeup while Durango and I packed the truck. I knew we’d need a variety of options for all my editorial thoughts. One of my newest secret weapons is my customized studio / location cart that I can roll right into the back of my Honda Element, mostly pre-packed. This cuts down on some time during the initial packing as well as once we hit our location. It also affords me the ability to pack the kitchen sink. We are pretty much a mini rolling grip truck it seems. Yay! Thanks Obama! (I’ll do a little post of this guy soon to show the ins and outs of my cart and solicit your thoughts and ideas. It’s a community. We give and take.)
It was a 15 minute drive to our first location and we were on set pulling the first frame at 12:15. We were in an open field with no open shade and very little on the horizon so as not to have to deal with distracting power lines, buildings, etc. (PS - I wish we’d had clouds this gorgeous the day of shooting.)
We had to set up an 8’ x 8’ silk to soften the harsh light from the noon sun. We had a decent breeze blowing which posed a safety risk in our silk turning into a giant sail. Remember the most important tool I mentioned before, the assistant? Yeah, without him, we’d be screwed. And remember the makeup artist, she also was used to help hold reflectors / because of wind and crappy sunlight. All hands on deck. Fire Ants struck about the same time. Are we having fun yet? This team was a bunch of troopers. So, we marched on, knocked out this location in about 30 minutes. Everything here, was shot available light. I went ahead and grabbed a few double exposures here that I had already been running through my mind, one as a potential cover image where text could live nicely. We repacked the truck and headed to the next location in the woods, about 25 minutes away.
We arrived, unpacked, changed wardrobe, freshened up hair and makeup and went to work. At this location we had two wardrobes to shoot and I’d packed a Navajo print blanket for Angela to cover up with for a few frames. I went ahead and put together light modifiers for the strobes and had it ready to roll as I knew we’d have a chance for some lit shots in addition to our naturally lit shots. We put together a smaller scrim for this location as we were in the woods now and had the cover of trees to do most of the heavy lifting in the diffusion department. We ran over our imaginary deadline of 2:30 but only because everyone knew we were close to an extra concept that just needed a few more minutes. We wrapped up just after 2:30 and pulled a crew photo and then Maria drove Angela back to her car and Durango and I repacked the gear and headed back in.
Upon returning, I unpacked the truck and got everything back to it’s home but not before pulling the SD cards and getting two backups of the images. After that everything went into post production. Editorial generally has lower budgets and therefore cannot afford much post processing. Clean and simple is the name of the game. The most important thing as far as that goes is getting it right in camera so that you don’t need any time in Photoshop later. Again, stylists and assistants come to the rescue here. Extra eyes on set to help catch stray hairs and correct odd clothing wrinkles, makeup touch-ups needed, etc. I edit for the client at hand within their budget. When it comes to my portfolio, I’ll edit for my needs and then, edit further / differently for the needs of stock buyers.
So, that wraps up our narrative. We’ll hit the ground running with part 2; I’ll show all the photos that I deemed usable for the project and my intentions for them as well as quotes for the assignment, licensing for multiple uses and in the next few days as time allows, I’ll hit the gear and techniques in part 3. If you have any questions, please pop ‘em in below and I’ll try to answer them in the follow-up posts or in the thread itself.