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KEH CAMERA BLOG
Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Camera Robots

Artist Cat Bishop has been creating assemblage sculptures for a living since 2006. Some favorites are her camera robot sculptures that are super kitschy retro cool. We asked Cat, 'how did you come up with the idea to make these?' and she replied, "I was a collector and reseller of vintage objects. One day I just started stacking things and they came to life. I assembled a lot of my kitchen before I moved on to camera robots. I'd always loved old cameras, especially bakelite ones so I had a few around. I also had many bakelite pool balls so they became the obvious choice for heads."

Cat Bishop has a love for 1950's design that strongly shows in her work. She says, "It's so stylized and easily recognizable, can we say that about the 1990's? Clearly they don't make things like they used to, so I use the old things." Some favorite materials include bakelite, vintage billiard and crochet balls, Kodak Brownie cameras, clocks, 1950s kitchenware, old toys, dominoes, & dice.

Although she does use old cameras, she says she doesn't put legs and a head on rare collectible cameras, so "no hate mail please". She also tries if possible to use cameras that are still functioning and can actually be shot with.

Each sculpture takes on a personality of their own. Most are modeled after human-like robots, but the collection also includes some dog-like ones as well. Each piece is also given a (human-like or dog-like) name.

"Rufus"
"Sparky"
"Vintage Camera Robots and Their Rocket"
"Amazing Tripod Girl"
"Camdog"
"Hubert" as "a snappy necklace"


Cat Bishops sells both her camera sculptures and photographs of the sculptures. To visit her shop on Etsy, click here.
Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo Charities

We are a true believer in supporting charities, good causes, good people and the less fortunate. One of the most obvious and easiest ways to contribute is to give money. With the economy being the way that it is, that is quite difficult for most people to do. The next best thing is to give your time. This is something that most of us can do. We have found the following photography related charities, and hope that you will 1) take the time to read about them, 2) forward this on to your photographer friends and, 3) go sign up and get involved!

Flashes of Hope
"Flashes of Hope is a nonprofit organization that changes the way children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research." Website:  http://www.flashesofhope.org/

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
"Introduces remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring their child's legacy."  Website: http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/


Think Pink Photography
"Think Pink Photography is a charitable organization, comprised of a network of professional photographers, serving two main purposes – celebrating life and supporting the cause. We celebrate life through complimentary portrait sessions for breast cancer patients, and we support the cause by partnering with the Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation." Website: http://thinkpinkphotography.org/


Operation: Love Reunited
"The Operation captures the moments of love between a US Military member and their family before or during a deployment, and at the reunion." Website:  http://www.oplove.org/


Pictures of Hope Foundation
"The Pictures of Hope Foundation is a charitable organization comprised of professional photographers from all over the United States and Canada that provides complimentary, documentary-style photography services to families with a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)." Website: http://www.picturesofhopefoundation.org/


Celebrating Adoption
"We are a group of photographers who want to share the joy of adoption by celebrating with newly adoptive parents." Website: http://www.celebratingadoption.org/


The American Child Photographers Charity Guild
"A non-profit, volunteer based organization of child photographers across the nation who have networked together to provide families of desperately ill children complimentary portrait sessions." Website: http://www.acpcg.org/


In addition to presenting you with a little overview of the charities themselves, we asked a few photographers who are currently involved with one or more of the above charities to explain a little about why they volunteer their time and services.

"As photographers, we all know how hard it is to come by extra money. Making monetary donations is often difficult because our cost of doing business is tied to technology; every spare dollar we have goes to software, computers, or digital equipment enhancements. The reality: what we have the ability to offer goes well beyond the value of the money we have to spare. We have the ability to create images that capture the personality of a individual, capture a memory, or the images that convey a message -any of these can be used for the good of organizations that rely on donations. 
 
My studio supports Flashes of Hope, and we have been shooting for this organization for five years. We donate our time and skill to give families struggling through the torment of childhood cancer what is all too often the last portrait they have of their child and their family. We do it because it feels good to share our abilities. We do it because we should.

I always suggest to photographers that they should think about some charitable cause that may have meaning to them and their personal lives: starvation, breast cancer, mental illness, childhood diseases, or any other topic that holds a deeper meaning for them. Chances are there is an organization out there that relies on donations to research, support, or reach out for their cause. They should reach out to that organization and become useful. If nothing else, at the end of the day - no matter how good or bad business has been - it is a way they can truly feel good about their self and their business."

- Patrick Williams, PWP Studio: http://pwpstudio.com/


" I eagerly await my opportunity to help someone with a gift that I have been given. I think it's important to not only embrace the gifts that you are given, but to give back with those same gifts. To give back to those who could really use a wonderful portrait of a chapter in their lives, to mark a break through, strength, love and all the other emotions that encompass that situation. To also give back to a community that will help build your company up and make it strong, I think it is the least we can do to say thank you to these wonderful and beautiful people.

One of the two photography charities that I have personally decided to devote my time to is Think Pink Photography, which offers photography sessions to those strong women who are going through and have overcome breast cancer, a cancer that has affected my family personally. I think that there would be nothing better then giving a woman who is struggling with this cancer a different viewpoint of her situation; a view that she is beautiful, strong and worth the fight. Every woman wants to feel and look beautiful no matter what, and I want to be able to capture that for these beautiful and strong women who are faced with breast cancer.

The second charity that I decided to work with is called Operation Love reunited, which is a charity for those soldiers out there that are fighting for our freedom everyday and their families. To take a portrait of a strong solider and his/her family that they are able to keep with them and take along with them where ever they may find themselves. To give them hope that they will once again be back home with their family, and to give the family the same strength and hope. These are the people who are fighting and giving their lives for our freedom, and this is my way of saying thank you."

* UPDATE: There are more charities we have written about since this article and can all be found at Help Portrait and Hearts Apart.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Being a Wedding Photographer

Today we have a special guest contributor, Melissa Prosser, sharing some tips for those of you who may be thinking about getting into wedding photography.

Wedding photographers, it seems that there are a million out there. Each claiming to be a photojournalist, artist, capture real moments, etc, etc.... In this age of the digital revolution it takes much more than a decent camera and catch phrases to set yourself apart in the industry. It takes a lot of training, practice, patience, time, and EFFORT to stand out.
How I got here: I started out as an intern with other photographers in the Atlanta area. While interning, I formed my own website, and started charging what my peers were charging. This was a mistake. Charging too much for my experience level granted me only four weddings that first year that I had my website up. I continued working with other photographers while trying to get my own clients for the first 3 years. I’m glad I worked with others for a while, because I learned SO much from watching and observing these talented professionals that would help mold me into who I am today. When it was really time to fly solo, I chopped my prices in half, shot 14 weddings in one year, and gained a client and vendor base. The following year, I was able to raise my prices and shoot thirty-one weddings! I feel that I have seen a lot going into my sixth year in this industry, and with that being said, I’d like to give a little advice to those wanting to photograph the most important event in a couple’s lives.

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Be an intern. It is the best advice I can give anyone wanting to get into this industry. This is what taught me what I needed to know. Sure, having my art marketing degree is great, but the real world experience, and real WEDDING experience, under other professionals is fantastic. You get to shoot, and shoot a lot without the pressure of being the primary shooter. Learning the ‘ropes’ on someone’s wedding day as a primary photographer is just not a good idea. Being a second shooter or an intern allows you to hang out in the background a little bit more, be creative, observe, and shoot until your hearts content.

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Save on equipment. You can go completely broke trying to get all of your equipment at once. If you have the money, by all means, go for brand new, top of the line camera gear. But in reality, most of us don’t have that luxury. It took me many years to outright own all of my professional equipment, but I did it with no business loans and I’m proud of that fact! If you buy a decent camera body, then you can buy used lenses to test out the waters. It’s more affordable, and later on you can always purchase the more expensive ones. Another idea is to rent equipment and figure out which lenses and accessories you really want to have in your collection and spend the money on.

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Don't be afraid to drag your shutter speed. This is a classic amateur mistake. So what if your photo is a bit shaky at times? It can be a cool intended effect, or it can bring in ambient lighting into your photo and make it way more dramatic and effectual. I have held my breath many more times than I can count to drag that shutter and make the world look dreamy and romantic. (The image above was taken at night, with a barely lit venue. I dragged my shutter to a 15th of a second, put a little off-camera flash on the couple, and voila! Magic dance shot!)

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Use off-camera flash. Sure, bouncing a flash on a white wall is great… if you have one. In a lot of venues, this is not the case. Sometimes you may even be outside, with no light at all. This is why learning off-camera flash is so important. At all of my weddings, I have an assistant shadow me and give me some supplemental lighting when I need it. I dial in for the ambient, then give a little kiss of flash when needed. Using Canon’s awesome glass, this makes for wow images! (The image above was exposed completely for the sky, and the little peak of sun at twilight. My assistant was hiding in the corner with a flash aimed on the subject. Pretty dramatic!)

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Shallow depth of filed, use it! Shallow depth of field is your friend. I am constantly shooting below F2, and the results speak for themselves. Using a shallow depth of field really allows the subject to be the primary focus of the photo, and just lets everything else go into never never land. (The above image was shot at F2 outside as the sun was setting and we were losing light. The fast lens allowed all available light to come in, feature the couple, and just barely let us see the fabulous old car on the street.)

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My (secret) lighting tip: I adore shooting with a hot light/video light. Essentially, this is just a battery-operated light that videographers use with their own cameras. This lighting technique is great to use at twilight to expose for the sky, yet not overpower the subject. The light I use has a warm glow to it, which is so beautiful. It's also easy to use because you turn it on just like a flash light, and can then dial in for the ambient around you. Magic! (Shown above)

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The wedding photography industry really is an awesome one to be in. It’s not for everyone, and every wedding photographer does things a little different. In order to make it in this industry though, it's really important to have passion, patience, skills, and a clear vision and style. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade my job for the world!


-->About Melissa: Melissa Prosser is an award winning member of www.wpja.com and www.agwpja.com . She is based out of Atlanta, GA, and has been in the wedding industry for about six years. Prosser approaches each wedding with an artistic eye, unobtrusive approach, and sense of fun while documenting some of the most meaningful moments in a family’s life. She shoots with a Canon 5D Mark II and Canon lenses. Her favorite lens is the Canon 85 F1.2 L lens.

all photos © Melissa Prosser
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From a Model's Perspective

Sometimes it's a good idea to take a look from the opposite perspective to yours. So today we have a guest contributor, model Miss Voodoo Valentine, sharing her thoughts on collaboration photo shoots between a photographer and a model. (The types of shoots she's mainly referring to today are fine art, pin-up, portfolio builders, TFP, and small scale commercial and/or fashion. The following tips and information may not necessarily apply to large production shoots for editorial, commercial, or fashion where both the photographer and model are hired by another person, agency, or company.)

My first impression of a photographer comes from their portfolio. The things I notice the most are versatility, lighting, and polish or clarity. They matter because they are the seed of inspiration. I am a firm believer that to get the best product from a shoot, both parties need to be inspired. I really enjoy when a concept is given to me to be played with and tweaked into a personal best. When a model feels that the photographers skill is higher or equal to theirs, they will put forth more effort to go the extra mile.
A collaboration is always an exciting opportunity, but again, inspiration is the key. To ensure we all give our best, we each need to bring something extra to the table. These things may include having a designer, make up artist, hair stylist, or props on hand. Another incentive (in addition to either pay or trade) is also nice, and may include things such as promotion, images for submission, or something new and special to add to a portfolio. Keep in mind that extra intellectual or financial investment cements a bond of purpose between photographer and model.

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A few tips to keep in mind...
Do:
  • Listen to comfort zones, and pay attention to what the model is interested in, so that the shots do not turn out flat.
  • Communicate on shooting.
  • Offer basic amenities, to show some sort of genuine care at working with us.
Don't:
  • Talk yourself up. We know your abilities are amazing and world renowned, please stop telling us. A photographer’s work does speak for itself, and where there is no harm in talking about method and inspiration, it is a huge turn-off to listen to you sing your own accolades.
  • Make it so rigid that when the time to shoot comes, the project is stifled by guidelines.

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Models should also meet or exceed the photographers standards as well. There is no harm in inexperience, but you may need to spend some time to help them in their weak areas. Good models should know their angles, and how to best optimize their features. The photographer should also search the models book to learn their best angles. When the photographers job is composition, the models is position. Key things for you both to keep in mind are: marks, angles, body position, eye and facial expression, and hand posing. If you find that your model isn’t quite acing the shoot, don’t just let it ride, communicate ways to make it better.

Do:
  • Suggest channeling a favorite model, not to recreate, but to inspire them to reach the next level.
  • Let them peek at the camera, so as to self-critique.
  • Keep a mirror handy, so they can be assured that they look their best.
Don't:
  • Ignore your intuition if they are falling flat (they want a good image as much as you do).

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When seeking a model for your collaborative shoot, choose potential. Even if a candidate doesn’t have the greatest work in her portfolio, how does she interact in her shots? Is she interested in your subject matter, size appropriate, and willing to put forth effort?

I admire skill, creativity, and investment equally. To me, the thing that discerns a great photographer from a good one is not only the visual clarity of their work, but also their dedication to it.

Model bio: Miss Voodoo Valentine is a pinup and alternative model out of Nashville, Tennessee. She frequently works with national photographers and has represented such designers as Liberator Latex. She can be seen most recently in the pages of Retro Lovely 4 and Pin Up Magazine. (Above photos are from the modeling portfolio of Miss Voodoo Valentine, used with permission. Photographers noted under each image.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Making Your Photo Business Green

Today's guest post has two things in common with the holiday that is today, St. Patrick's Day. For one, we're talking about green things. And two, our guest contributor is Patrick Williams!


Patrick Williams is a photographer who is truly making a name for himself- not only with the impressive work that he does, his established client list, or his passion for life, but also by encouraging other photographers to implement green-friendly practices into what they do.

Over the past couple of years, Patrick has developed an initiative in his work to be an eco-friendly photographer. He has incorporated green and eco-friendly standards into everything he does. He reuses and recycles whenever possible, has replaced paper address and logo stickers with reusable polymer stamps, and has implemented the use of carbon neutral transportation to provide deliverable items to his clients.

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Today, we're going to talk specifically about labor and delivery (couriers, FedEx, or brown) services...
One of the things we have dealt with in our studio is the way we deliver our products. Not the packing, the materials, or any of the tangibles (that is whole different post!), but the actual service we use to send our products to our clients.
We are located in a metropolitan area, and business moves at the speed of light here. "How soon can I get the images?", "I need it yesterday", and "immediate turnaround" are phrases I literally hear every single day from our corporate clients.
Not so very long ago we were using couriers multiple times a week to satisfy the needs of our clients. One car making a special trip to pick up one package (often just a single DVD), to make another special trip to one destination the same day. When we started thinking about impact, we realized carbon output is at it's highest with a courier... costs were pretty ridiculous, too.
We started thinking about using UPS or FedEx ground for next day delivery - the drivers are out roaming around in the area, so less fuel is wasted for the pickup and delivery.
Then a low emission fluorescent light bulb went off - USPS drives by my mailbox every day, rain or shine! I can make labels online in my studio and stick my packages in the mailman's hand; no extra fuel at all! Mail it Priority Mail and it will usually go anywhere local in a day, for about $10-20 less than a courier.
Need more tracking and definite timely delivery? UPS also offers a carbon neutral delivery add-on now also. For just a few cents extra, your package delivery will be trackable AND carbon neutral.
So, it goes like this: when a shoot is booked, we briefly explain our impact initiative to clients when the topic of delivery comes up. We will courteously ask our clients if they actually have a deadline for the disc of images, or if they have a deadline for just the images (the impact is tied to the physical DVD).
Surprisingly, only 50% of the time will clients need the images immediately. In these cases, we handle requests for 'a couple' of images by email. When the client wants more than a couple, we post them on our server, send the client the log in information, and let them pull as many off as they want (which is faster than a courier, by the way). In both cases, we mail the high res DVD USPS Priority Mail or UPS carbon neutral.
40% of the time our clients don't have a deadline at all - they just have a conditioned response of 'immediately' when the topic of delivery is discussed. We mail the DVD USPS or UPS and sometimes (one out of five shoots?) have to send an image for a pop-up deadline before the disc is delivered.
For that 10% of time when a client simply has to have the *disc* of images immediately after the shoot - we will get a courier... Ok fine, I lied. I haven't ordered a courier in months! I am still waiting for that 10% that **really** needs the disc immediately.
When armed with the knowledge of 'why', and provided with a way to access the files, everyone is perfectly happy to pull what they need off the server and wait for the disc. They also love INSTANT access on the server.
For our studio, we had our IT guy build the PC server (sorry Mac) which gives us the ability to create web folders for clients and securely share files over the web. It is a Windows Server and cost us about $800 in materials and software to build the current 4TB version from scratch (expandable to 10TB with standard SATA drives). It is also the server that enables our employees to telework. If you don't have an IT guy, funds to build a server, or interest in anything PC, you can also look for a comparable Apple version, or try online sharing services like MegaShares, youSENDit, or SendThisFile.

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Bio: Patrick Williams is located in Atlanta, GA, and has a true passion for what he does at his photography studio, PWP Studio. He and his team capture special events for PWP Studio’s established client list, which includes the Georgia Aquarium, Wolfgang Puck Catering, KIA, Porsche, and many of the local Atlanta 'heavy-hitters'.
In 2005, Patrick helped to launch the first satellite chapter of Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization of award-winning photographers who photograph children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The organization works to capture the beauty of these children, make them smile, and provides the children’s parents with a portrait that captures the bravery and dignity of their child. (We previously posted about Flashes of Hope and other photography charities, along with some words on the topic by Patrick here.)
PWP Studio website: http://www.pwpstudio.com/


photos © PWP Studio
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