Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When you get portraits made at one of those franchise/chain places ...

... you're probably getting your pictures taken by someone who answered a help wanted ad that said, "No experience necessary."

Just sayin.'

Monday, December 29, 2008

Five reasons in-home portraits make good sense

1. It’s just a heck of a lot easier to have the photographer come to you instead of packing up and carting everyone to the mall or photo studio, then going through the stress of combing, primping and straightening everyone just seconds before it’s your turn to “look natural.”

2. You are the one and only customer. You have the photographer’s undivided attention. No standing in lines or waiting your turn. It’s all your turn.

3. Children (and admit it –adults, too) are more at ease in familiar surroundings. They can have professional pictures taken inside, outside, with a favorite toy or pet – even in their own room. How cool is that?

4. You can change clothes as many times as you wish. Can’t decide between casual, formal, seductive, or playful? Why not be them all?

5. You can feel free to show your passionate side. Whatever your hobby or avocation, the things you love to do can be a part of your photograph.

If your home has a window and a ceiling, it’s a good bet it can be quickly transformed into a temporary photo studio. (If your house doesn’t have any windows or ceilings, getting a portrait done is the least of your worries.)

A single strobe and a reflector or two (don’t worry, I’ll supply those) is all we’ll likely need to git ‘r done. I even can supply the backgrounds if you’d rather. I’ll even visit ahead of time (at no extra charge) to look over your home and discuss various locations that may work well for pictures. You may be surprised to find out just how photogenic your home can be – not to mention its inhabitants!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Engagement session – Kara and Eric

Kara and Eric will be getting married next summer and asked me to do some quick engagement portraits for them. This was a simple portrait setup in the living room at Kara’s house. I brought a number of plain and patterned sheets of background papers and Kara chose … white. The lighting was supplied by a single strobe bounced off the ceiling … the bride - and groom-to-be held small reflectors on their laps while seated on an ottoman.

The chemistry between Kara and Eric made the session a breeze. I suggested some poses, then let them get creative and have some fun. What you see is who they are.
Bling shot.

Messing around.

They did their thing, I just kept snapping.

A session similar to Kara and Eric’s starts at $150, which includes an hour of shooting time and delivery of a CD of images. Affordable high-quality print packages are also available. Leave a comment or drop me an email: james[at]jamesjordanphoto[dot]com.

Friday, December 26, 2008

National Geographic gets it, kind of

There is no question that the new digital photographic tools (for capture and delivery) have spurned an increase in the number of people who hope to be great photographers. But there is a space that exists between those who “want” to be great and those who actually have the talent and unwavering drive to become so. No matter how much the field of photographers expands, the very best always seem to rise to the top and emerge.

The above quote was penned by photography director David Griffin on National Geographic magazine's Editor's Pick blog. NG recognizes the impact that digital technology, both on the picture making and picture publishing sides of things, is having on photography in general. NG even hosts photo competitions for serious amateurs, revealing the vast wealth of undiscovered talent out here in photography land.

Prior to his summary quoted above, Griffin stated that the thing that sets the serious pro apart from the casual picture taker is consistency of results. Can't argue there. National Geographic has set the curve on great photography for decades.

But in defending the consistency of NG photogs, Griffin gives the misleading impression that NG photographers return from an assignment with nothing but winners. Yes, NG photographers deliver the goods, but those photographers deliver hundreds if not thousands of images to see a handful of pictures land on the pages of the magazine. "Consistently good" means coming through about one percent of the time.

Whether that omission of detail was meant to discourage or challenge up-and-coming picture makers is uncertain (I take it as a personal challenge). NG does have its ever-decreasing share of turf to defend, just like every other paper publisher these days. NG has not escaped falling revenue and the need to lay off employees. Some reports indicate that a NG-sponsored photography seminar was cancelled because of a threatened boycott by freelance photographers unhappy with contract negotiations.

The reality is that while NG seeks the best talent in the market, they can no longer afford to pay what has been the going rate for that talent. Time will tell how "you get what you pay for" will affect the overall market for photography.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you the very best this holiday season.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

Whither this business called photography?

Blame it on technology. Life is rolling along in its comfy cozy course when suddenly, a new technology emerges and upsets the happy balance of things. Then the new world order becomes the comfy course until the next wave of technology crashes ashore.

It happened with graphic design. In the mid 1980s, I was gainfully employed as a graphic designer, producing beautiful creative work, mainly by hand. Then this thing called the Macintosh computer hit the scene. Suddenly, intricate design work could be done in a fraction of the time and with more precision than previously imaginable. My t-square and technical pens are now a distant memory.

Fast forward another decade or so. Self-publishing on the internet takes off and the traditional printed media suddenly wakes up a few years later wondering what hit them.

Today, I read a lot of photography forum discussions that tackle the topic of the effect that digital camera technology and online photo sharing communities are having on the business of professional photography. Web sites like Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa and PhotoBucket have placed Carl Sagan-like numbers of photographs (billions and billions and billions) online and available for anyone to view and download. And a growing fraction of those billions of photographs are pretty darn good – good enough for some major users of photographs to take note and begin casting their nets in the direction of the online picture communities.

I can’t complain. Photo sharing has been very, very good to me. I had been photographing for several years, working very hard to get a few photographs published to begin building an audience for my work. I started a photo blog and a Flickr account in 2005. In the ensuing three-plus years, I’ve published about 2,000 photos online and currently receive from 7,000-8,000 views of my photos each week. I recently passed a half-million views of my photos. From online contacts, I’ve sold photos for publication and prints for private collections.

Some professional photographers are concerned about what the many millions of serious hobyyists will do to the quality and value of professional photography in general.

One only has to look at the graphic design and publishing industries to predict what will happen to photography.

The spectrum of work available will grow exponentially. In graphics and publishing, technology allowed a lot of junk to flood the market. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection could become a player. On the other hand, a lot of talented people saw the barrier to entry lowered and jumped into the game. We’re already seeing that with photography.

Good work is still good work. It is still possible to stand out in the photographic crowd, just like it still is in graphic design and publishing.

And that’s what those in the business of photography, just like the successful designers and publishers have already done to grow and thrive – find a niche in the overall market and become very, very good at servicing that niche.

The good news is that the very technology that brought upheaval can also help make the best of the new world order.

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.