One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to produce multiple backgrounds from a single light source is to use photo gels. These handy little pieces of transparency can take a white backdrop from white to any color backdrop you can imagine.
Take it one step further and run a color transparency through your handy printer and you can get patterned backdrops. Ebay is definitely your friend on this one. I've listed a few of the better deals out there below:
Posted in Studio SetupsJanuary 28, 2009
If you're new to the radio trigger systems of photography, but are interested in learning more about them I would highly recommend checking out www.radiopopper.com. These nifty triggers allow you to use flashes off camera and at great distances. The radio popper system is roughly the same price as the Pocket Wizards are, but the company will be coming out with the Radio Popper Jr. From what I've read so far they are looking to be priced around 100$ for a trigger and receiver which would be a super price point. Until those are released though there are a lot of different options available that you could try out. I've listed some of them below for easy reference.
Posted in Photographer HelpDecember 10, 2008
1) Bring lots of warm liquids and clothing with you. This is probably the most important tip on this list. If you are concentrating on being warm the whole time you will miss whatever it is you are attempting to photograph. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have a photographers backpack that has a side strap on it which conveniently works for a tripod, thermos or both. Having a warm soup or coffee with you while outside on a winter photography session is a huge bonus, and will enable you to have a longer, more productive winter photography session.
2) Lots of extra batteries if you have them. The cold will sap your batteries longevity much more so then you realize. Battery life is half what it normally will be depending on your brand of battery. The canon battery packs I have worked with all seem to hate the really cold weather and give perhaps 50% of their normal battery life for a canon slr camera.
3) Bring an assistant if you are shooting a model outside in the winter. If you are fortunate enough to have a model that is up for an adventure outside in the winter time you're in for a challenge, and some great photography. One of the best ways to facilitate an outdoor shoot during the winter is to have an assistant with you, or at least another set of hands. The biggest issue is keeping the model warm during shoot down time. Have your assistant at the ready with warm clothing and warm liquids that the model can access very quickly when the need arises. The last thing you want is a freezing model!
4) Let you camera warm up or down to the temperature you will be shooting at. One of the easiest ways to get lens condensation is to have your camera out in a warm car then step directly outside into freezing cold winter air. Trust me, you do not want to get condensation inside your lenses or camera. Take the time to allow your equipment to adjust slowly from its original temperature to the shooting temperature of the winter photo session.
5) Don't be afraid to get into snow. Its cold and wet, but it makes awesome photos. Most snow storms aren't the first place people want to be out in, but nature will provide you with an abundance of unique and beautiful photographs if you brave the weather. Walking is the best way to experience a snowstorm, or snow shoes if you have them. Get out in the storm and shoot while the snow is falling. I've found using a wide angle lens and getting close up on objects can produce a wonderful affect when combined with snow.
Posted in Studio SetupsJune 26, 2008
When does an amateur photographer officially become a professional photographer? That line has been blurred severely with the advent of the high end consumer digital cameras such as the Nikon 300 and Canon 5d. Anyone can go out and buy a decent camera for $1500, and say they're a professional photographer. Obviously the proof is in the photos, but the real question is when does an amateur photographer decide to throw caution to the wind and lease studio space?
One of the hardest things to do in the professional field is start your own business. If you take a cruise around the internet and search for home businesses, home based photographer is generally up at the top of the results. Its fairly easy to set up a small studio in your garage or basement (provided your wife doesn't kill you first) and start taking photographs that are passable as decent shots. The real tricky part is getting clients. Not many clients are up for traveling to your home and doing a shoot - especially if your home is creepy looking or your shooting in the basement. So whats the next step? Leasing studio space.
The search for studio space is one that I thought wouldn't take long, and for some reason I'm an idiot. Of course it will take you time, energy, and in the end lots of money. The overriding principle of business is location, location, location. Ask any seasoned business owner and they'll tell you that location is 80% of the final equation that will make or break you're business venture. So when your out looking for studio space make sure its in an area that needs and more importantly can sustain your photography studio. The best studio space you find might be in the worst part of town and as such will hinder you're efforts in gaining clients. Try and pick a space that is conducive to both clients that book by appointment over the phone, and those that are just walking or driving by your new space. If you take this into consideration when searching out studio space you'll be much better off in the end, even if you don't have the biggest or best space that you've looked at.
The next criterion you should look at when selecting studio space is the layout of the studio itself. Try to imagine how you would put together a floor plan while you're looking at the different spaces. If you can't easily envision the layout in your head as you're looking at the space then its not going to work out very well once you start trying to move in furniture and backdrops. Also take into consideration various needs of your clients. Is there a bathroom available? Does the space have access to hot/cold water? Is there enough room to build in a changing room? A props or utilities closet?
The biggest concern when looking to lease studio space and move yourself up into a larger location then your basement is the bottom line cost. How much is this space going to cost you a month, and how much are you willing to go in debt to have it. Most photographers that are starting out work a day job, then work as a photographer nights & weekends - much like myself. This leaves a quandary for which the studio space is based solely on the disposable income of whatever is left over after all other bills are paid from the day job's income. Depending on where you're located, the price per square foot of space for leasing will vary. In this particular area of the country it ranges from $5 to $10 per square foot for unfinished space. This means that a 1000 square foot unfinished space will run you $420 a month on the low end, and up to $850 on the high end. And thats just for the space, thats not including heat, electric, water etc.
If you're considering buying studio space the cost factor will be your biggest concern. Most new businesses take a loan out from the bank to offset the cost of leasing space. This is a good idea if you have the time to properly set up your business plan and you can get financing from a bank. I would highly suggest taking the time to come up with a business plan, financing from the bank, and then get the biggest space you can while staying under your budget. Keep in mind that most businesses loose money the first two years of operation.
Posted in Blog,Photographer HelpFebruary 10, 2008
Inspired by the excellent posts on the home light table setup over at diyphotography.net I took a quick trip the local cardboard box factory this weekend to begin the setup of my own home made light box table. And by local cardboard box factory I mean dumpster diving behind some of the big chain stores that sell refrigerators. Of course you could always walk in and ask a sales associate for a box, but sometimes dumpster diving is more fun - you never know what you might find.