Attached is the article from January's Digital SLR Photography available at Barnes and Nobles among other stores and magazine shops around town. Link to article here A MUST READ!


Some Random Technical Questions on Photography. Click Here


Some Random Questions and Answers Collected

1. when did you start photography?

in the business of it 9-10  years ago prior to that I was more hobbyist since I was younger, say 11 or so off and on.

2. when did you start modeling?

Briefly as a fitness model when I was 18-21, mainly body shots at the time.

3. what type of photography is your favorite?

Beauty, Beauty and generally more Beauty  if thats not available I like high end fashion, maxim styled glamor (higher end) and some shadowy art modeling work.

4. when were you born?

Long Island, NY  in Great Neck.

5. do you prefer digital photography or dark room photography better?

Digital, I used film, from 16x20 Polaroid down, 8x10, 4x5, 6x7, 6x6, and 35mm, and now feel that in quality the 1ds2 and 1ds3 produce work better than a 645 can and competitive to a 6x7 for most applications.  And a P45 (39MP) back is capable of outproducing a 6x7 easily and almost a competition for a 4x5 at most print sizes, but not in absolute resolution.  For still life a multi shot digital back can be very competitive to a 4x5 and may have certain advantages in edge sharpness, but thats no use for anything that moves. 

6. do you do your own dark room photography?

I did in the darkroom, and do in what is now called the digital darkroom, I do much of my own post production and retouching still, not layouts, just actual retouching especially skin and higher end fashion work.

7. what interested you in photography in the first place? (besides the models. :) )

I liked to draw but it took too long to create what I liked as a result, (realism) and was hard to make look good,  photography gave me a somewhat easier way to create a realistic (sort of) interpretation of what I saw the way I envisioned it.  Models never hurt :)

8. did you have any schooling in photography or are you self taught?

Self taught, photography, darkroom and digital work, read a lot of magazines through the years, and lots of trial and error.

9. Do you still get stressed at large shoots?

Yes, I am still mildly stressed over most all shoots at every level

9. b.How can you still be getting stressed at shoots given that yuo do it so well it must be second nature by now?

Second nature has little to do with it, I do not ever think it was hard for me at all, I have progressed in my abilities but never struggled its not really that type of work. That is not why or where the stress comes from. The stress is that its all subjective, there is no right or wrong, there is only cover your bases cannot be sued right or wrong. You can take the most beautiful image in all creation, of the most beautiful model of all time with perfect makes up and the best retouching and have the most salable layout imaginable and you hand it over to the person paying your bill with a smile only to hear "that looks like that cheating lieing stealing exwife of mine!" at which point he is not likely to be as enamoured as you and thats just the way it is. That little bit of uncertainty is always there no matter what, and that keeps you on edge and looking to improve and up your game as best you can.

10. where did you grow up?

Long Island, NY, Great Neck specifically.

11. if you could attempt any other job besides your own which would it be?

Race car driver, or stunt man/stunt car driver,  I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. 

And I am starting into commercials and Videos, and television/cinematography.

And of course I wanna be a rockstar!  but can't sing, hold a tune, scream that well or play an instrument so that may be a challenge but one day I may be up


12. What are your pet peeves in this business?

That's a loaded question. Well, for one I am annoyed when people misuse terms like edit for retouch or worse when the say to Photoshop instead of to retouch, and I am not bothered when they use it, but rather when the use it and it is explained the proper terminology and they still feel some sense of entitlement that allows them to use it how they choose and think that everyone else should cater to them and their usage. It defies logic and reason, I only see things like this in the art fields somehow they can justify that the whole system of common language which has been agreed upon and used to effectively communicate with others is not worth anything and they can do as they please and everyone else should figure it out and accept it.


Firstly, what was it that sparked your interest in fashion photography?  How did you get started into the business?  What do you think that I can do to better prepare myself?  Approximately how many hours a week do you work?  How competitive is the field?  Lastly, what is the one piece of advice you would give someone just getting into the business?  

I am more of a beauty photographer than a fashion photographer, though I do a lot of fashion commercial work, catalog and adwork.  I started in the area of  Maxim/FHM and found that I wanted to change my style and books which were filled with what was called glamour, and what it does is make people (well mainly men) say WOW at every shot, nice lighting, over retouched skin, glowing hair, shapely body great breasts makes em WOW! 

Than you go to fashion and you start to tell a story, maybe a EVU type slow shutter grainy story of 7 images, the viewer opens the book and sees page one and two of blurry grainy images that don't make full sense because they are just the preamble, and they say "oh well thats..............thats nice" in that I don't want to be rude tone.  They than move to page three and four and say  "Oh.........OK,  "  Than onto the next two and than the final where it all makes sense and they say  "Oh.......  I get it"  hopefully, and it leaves them with an OK impression if they did in fact get it, but not the WOW effect of every page. 

Than you start commercial work, hey thats where the money is and you shoot some kids on a swing that makes you 200,000.00 for verizon, and some shots of a grandmother and grandchild that generates you 60,000.00 for aarp and have a book of this and the viewer looks at it and says  "Oh well thats interesting"  as they yawn of boredom thinking well I have seen these everywhere I look in the city. 

This is why I went to commercial Beauty!  I had an ego problem,  I needed them to say WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW! on every page!  And I was sick and tired of having to shoot bigger breasts to get it and making mediocre money.  Beauty has the ability to make them say WOW! WOW! WOW! they WOW at the SKIN!  They WOW at the LIGHTING! The WOW at the CLOSE UPS!  They WOW at the MODEL!  They WOW at the MAKE UP!   And most often they are really WOWING AT THE RETOUCHING! 

But in the end every page tells a story and leaves them saying WOW!  and wanting more.  And beauty seems to pay more than most other areas short of being the lead photographer for Italian Vogue which makes you a 20million a year contract but more importantly the contracts for major ad campaigns that go in it which can make you that much in two shoots. 
I average a dayrate of 3500-7500 plus expenses plus additional usage which starts at 10-15thousand per image per media per view, per year.  At that rate I can earn anywhere from 20,000.00 to 150,000.00 a day shooting adwork, and have maxed out at around 300,000.00 for a three day shoot for an international ad campaign.   Not being overly greedy or wanting to burn myself out or oversaturate the market with my style I tend to shoot 3-5 shoots a month and they are generally 8 hour days, I do some initial retouching but leave that often up to the prepress and layout people to handle finals.  I do spend maybe a day total per week on the phone having conference calls and negotiations to keep that all going smoothly.
Business and marketing courses are the most important thing for a photographer to learn and be good at.  Most photographers I know either knew people or assisted many photographers to meet enough people and develop enough of a portfolio to start getting catalog and editorial work that eventually lead to getting mid sized campaigns than on to getting a rep to get larger and larger campaigns.  This field is very competitive and the reasons for success have largely to do with who you know, who likes you how personable you are and an ability to deliver not your vision but what the client wants which is generally something that is more mainstream commercial, and broad based in its simplicity than the artistic work many photographers want to create to show their range of talent.  You get hired and rehired on your ability to deliver what the client wants and that is something the masses finds overall appealing, not what you want or find artistically challenging and creative.  Understanding that will allow you to make money and do your artistic endeavors as a hobby on the side, this is a business that many consider an art, you can treat it like an art and die a starving artist or you can treat it like a business and make enough to be very happy, retire young, have plenty of free time to spend on your hobby artistic endeavors and enjoy a life that has a constant flow of exciting, beautiful and fun loving young people keeping your days filled with interest. 


 As a model what would you charge to shoot a portfolio for me? I am really looking for amazingly talented photographers to make my book good for the agencies?

Well, first you are not looking for a great photographer, what you need is a good test photographer, they are different and the rates are very different, nothing wrong with either job, they are just different and shoot and see things differently. Test photographers would likely be in a range from 250-700, makeup and hair would be extra and if they do not insist on it I would look more closely at their work and make sure they are at the right level. Styling is something that is often an issue, thinking you need a stylist is wrong, thinking they are not very valuable is just as wrong. That's a decision you can make, for test shots you want the shot to have impact but be simple and clearly show you in a strong way, take advantage of your strengths. See what market you fit and than go to websites of agents in that market and look at what they seem to have, take some examples and print them on a page and bring that with you for ideas, if possible email it to the photographer in advance. And if you find an agency that fits your look in your area, call and ask them if they have a list of photographers they often use, that is the easiest way. Working commercial photographers are good at what they do, but we are way too expensive for tests, its just not worth the price since our clients pay ridiculous fees, my average days start at 10,000 and then add another 10-15K for usage of 1 image and we can do upward of 5 in a day, so what would I charge a model for 3 looks? its just not practical and the problem with booking you on a day I am not shooting means I am also not meeting, marketing, networking, discussing or anything else that day that could be booking another commercial day so its usually not something we like to book, and the worse case scenario is that clients find out that you are booking days for a few hundred and lose the value of exclusivity they placed on your talent and skill which demanded that high price, yes that happens and yes it would kill you for some time in a commercial sense. A commercial photographer can likely give you nice test pictures but in reality it goes against what we are good at, we are best at taking what we have to work with and creating a great image that sells a product, without regard for the model. What that means (and this is different slightly for celebrity photographers) is that we need to create an image that sells to the public in the chosen demographic period, if that means making a model look nothing like themselves that's fine, so long as the image appeals to the masses. Celebrity photographers are slightly limited in that they have a given look they cannot deviate from to far and more importantly they have a feeling and image of which they need to create for that celebrity while maintaining a basic character set of the celebrity without too much alteration, this is slightly harder depending on what they have to work with and what the end results are to be, but this is also why they tend to often be specialized and very high priced, and stylists and artist are standard to help create the look and feel needed to accomplish the desired result.

Do new photographers create a sense of competition to your market or do you find them and their undercutting to be a problem to your business? Or do you just ignore them and their work as lower in someway?

Let me start by answering the last line first, they are not ever lower. There is no such thing as level in art, its art, and even in commerce I make no mistake and claim that what I do is art, its all business. Most often new unknown photographers are not able to get the contracts at high levels not because of skill or ability but because of the way higher end business works. Its like saying anyone on the street is competition for the CEO of Microsoft position, they can be, but they are not in actual direct competition for it.

Problem, you get to the 1500 a day rate plus expenses, you have a studio and equipment and have spent maybe two years building a reputation with smaller jobs to get where you are, and now you client calls you up and says hey we want to shoot! great the last fees were 1500 plus and all and they come back and say you know we love your work! we have always been very happy with you and what you do, but this guy down in accounting has a neighbor who just got a digital rebel and says they can do the shoot for about 350.00 plus another 200 in expenses and can get a few models and mua's that will do it for all the exposure we can give. What do you say? and now you either say the smart thing, which is

GREAT! when things go wrong and you need the work done by a professional I will still be around, and did I mention my rates have gone up? You know its normal but since your a great long term client I will still give you a discount over my higher rates and it will only be a little higher than last time, so best of luck to you.

But instead the photographer feels stressed, they do not have a ton of clients and do not want to lose the ones they have to someone else, and what if they are better? they can be? who knows? so they get back on the phone and say the wrong thing which is

Oh, really, that's a big difference, are they any good? I mean have a lot of experience with what you need? you know what I can maybe do some figuring and maybe come to some sort of deal to get it all done for less than normal, what would make you decide to stick with me and I will see what I can do.

Did I say that is WRONG!!!!!

Now this person just lowered their rates and will not likely ever get the client back up and will likely get a call a year later when the client hires a big ad firm who tells them they need to spend 30,000 on the shoot to make bug money and at that level you can't even consider an unknown like who you have been using we did to bring in the big boys to play at the majors! and you get passed over for someone charging ten times what you would have wanted to charge them but negotiated down to nothing!

Why? because the people who are making it do the right thing and say, hey that's great, all the best call me if you need me and I will see if we can still fit you in assuming you have the budget, and they can because the work is there and someone else takes that day and they still make their rate. At a higher level the clients have to know that the money they are spending on the whole shoot, location, staff, MUA/HS/WS/Model, graphics and layout people will not be wasted because the photographer was cheap but had an off day, he needs to have a proven track record of producing not a great image once in a while but great images for them everyday that he is booked to do so, and that is not artistic merit its an ability to deliver that comes from experience in dealing with issues and problems and overcoming them with ease. And that is what they pay for, the fact that they know you are consistently able to produce on demand! Now this is perhaps overshadowed by celebrity so if your famous they may risk it since the secondary gain is that a celebrity has done the shoot, but that's an offshoot of the topic.

Mind you I think I need to make a video of all this info since it would take days to type and hours to say, start your pre-ordering here

Here is a fast one, A steamship breaks down with 4 tons of perishable food that needs to be delivered cross the ocean and quickly!

They call a mechanic, he shows up and say try it now, they try and here clunk, thump, clunk, he listens and says try again, they do and hear thunk, thunk, clump, he walks to the back of the engine room and reaches for a wrench and squeezes in to a small area behind the engine and tightens a nut and say try again, and all hear the engine roar to a start

The captain gets a bill for $1000.00 And is outraged, he calls and insists on an itemized bill.

A week later he opens the new bill, and sees

tightening the nut____________ $ 1.00

Knowing which

.......nut to tighten _________$ 999.00

Total __________________$ 1000.00

said captain writes a check out


Business Ethics?

There are none! Learn that and live with it, your competitors will.

That said you can do what you feel right about, and if you are smart you think of the real long term effects of your actions and decisions. What long term effects? Well if you undercut everyone all the time you devalue yourself, but the industry over time begins to adjust, everyone starts to lower their prices, and eventually when you feel you need to make more money, you can't. Not because the companies are not making more, they are, but the rest of your competition will do it for less so they pay less, and you can take it or leave it. But wait, not me, I am special! no your not! and being one who has devalued yourself over time has left them with the impression that you are not worth much, in fact the people who turned them down and are still charging way too much are who they will turn too when they want to step up their game, you are low rent, everyone knows it. Did it too yourself

So, what if everyone else is undercutting me? Produce a product that is better than what they can for a competitive price, but not necessarily less, offer greater value for only little more, lure the clients. We are in a field where vision has a little pull, give them some of yours, show them what you can do and how great it is, even though they will only want some boring clean work on white, you have to wow them! Make them want you more than the other guy and show why you are better. Sometimes lowering your rates is warranted, but undercutting is bad for the industry as a whole so know that and do what works for you, just know that there is no honor among thieves any longer.


It has been asked is there meaning in shooting pretty pictures of people like you do? Do you find it meaningful and fulfilling? Some have said that fashion and glamour work has left them feeling that it has no meaning and is unjustified, and prefer other areas such as photojournalism?

What is meaningful? Is life? Is shooting ugly people? Is shooting tragic events?

What I do is pure commerce, it is designed to sell products to the masses who are lead like sheep through the use of images and words and flashy slogans into buying products that give them suppose joy, only to find out that they need something else since the joy is fleeting and often leaves as soon as the get their purchase home, so they go to buy the new next best product. All the while they work at deadend jobs to be able to buy more meaningless stuff until they die.

And I get paid a lot to shoot pretty people to make that cycle continue to happen!


Now I need to go buy some new stuff to make myself feel better about that.


I have read in a few articles that you do not believe in giving critiques, why is that exactly?

Well that's not totally correct. I am not a fan of them, and believe they serve no purpose unless there is a full explanation regarding the circumstances surrounding the image, and reasoning behind it, the goals set for it and the reaction to it by the end consumer be it the photographer, the model, the client or the art buyer. Was the goal met? How would I know without knowing what the goal was.

Second, I feel many critiques are met with an attack of the person giving the critique and that annoys me greatly. A person does not need to be a great pastry chef or even have to know how to boil water to know the difference between a great brownie and a lump of freshly compacted and pressed cow manure in the shape of a square, yet people feel they must have produced and be able to produce great art in order to have a valid opinion or statement about others art, and that is just not right. Second I am a believer that all opinion is nothing more than a subjective feeling and clouded by personal beliefs and experiences so it may be based on said rules of art or on a desire to want the artist to have broken the rules of art but neither is accurate or correct, it should be taken as it is meant which is as one person views and feelings on that given day and time and even that is subject to change over time.

Here is the basic problem I have had with many giving critiques, lets say I gave you two lights and a white wall and a model and said go shoot the model and show me what you have done. You return having taken the model over and placed her 5 feet in front of the wall and placed both lights two feet behind her and aimed at the wall and shot her in complete darkness, with a brightly lit wall, you return and show me the images. What should my critique of your work be? Should I say that's all wrong!! I cannot even see the models face! what if you wanted a silhouette? now if you said I was trying for a glowy light bright face shot of a model and this is what I arrived at, I would than be in a position to say that the placement of the lights was poor for the result you wanted, but if you wanted a silhouette the placement was quite perfect and the result may well have been exactly what was desired. So context is all too important and needed for any critique to be valid.


So from your perspective as it relates to the industry at a working ad level what makes a great makeup artist? Is it attention to details? is it creativity? is it a nice personality? or something else?

From a business sense its a combination, they need not be the best technically or artistically but must have certain traits that make them sellable and also resellable, to a client.

#1 personality and presentation. If the client likes them they will be more likely to be happy with the results and will overlook any possible issue that arises assuming it is not catastrophic, whereas if the clients do not like them any and every little thing they start nit picking on.

#2 Networking ability. Being able to meet and know the right people makes them valuable and easily sellable.

#3 ability to do what is asked in a pleasant and relatively timely manner. Being creative and having ideas is all well and good but a client really wants you to do what they want even if you think or know it will be bad, doing something you prefer even if its better but falls short of what was asked makes a client feel uneasy and possibly embarrassed in front of those who now see that they were not correct in what they had initially wanted and will not get them rehired. (explained a bit more in detail in my next post below) ***

#4 talent and ability to be technically good at application and details, with an understanding of various styles and differences between them even when explained poorly by those who are making decisions that have no vocabulary in which to adequately explain what it is they want.

#5 creative, able to be creative when called on and an artistic ability to create that which is envisioned by others as explained and also an ability to go with the flow and change with input and direction as well as be able to know what works and will work better on a particular face shape and style. And for me this often means being able to know if you can or cannot do something at a level required, there is no problem, shame or issue if it is above your artistic level, such as custom airbrushing and design or painting elaborate detailed realistic artwork, there is something very wrong and unprofessional with claiming you can and screwing it up on the shoot.

#6 Good sense of diplomacy, being able to smile and get along with the typical jackasses that are in the business from the highest ranked to the lowest since you never know who they know or where they will end up, and being able to do your best and leave them feeling like you were on their side even when they are asses will make them think of you in the future.

Most of these are what we call cover your ass reasons. In order for me to stick my neck out and recommend someone they must be able to meet all of these to a good degree, and the technical skillset is the least important, if the client likes them they will have an easy time even if they screw up and I will have an easy time explaining why I recommended them, if the client does not like them they may be looking for problems and I get blamed since recommending them was my fault and I by default am to blame for any of their mistakes. And these need not be actual mistakes made by an artist but a creative choice that gets blamed on the artist in any case if the shit hits the fan. So Cover Your Ass is a rule on big budget jobs always. And as a reality its hard for a make up artist to screw anything up on a shoot for beauty since we generally have to remove all skin and reskin and texture no matter what since the buying public is now becoming more and more use to seeing fake pore texture as real flawless skin, so while great make up is good to have and helps make the raws look good its hard to be at any real fault, but that wont stop someone covering their ass from blaming it all on whoever they can, and the weakest link gets burned.

*** additional explanation to number 3

If that is to me and I think it was, what was meant by 3 was that a client is the decision maker and often they are wrong, but they are the one paying, so if they come in and say that they want overdrawn lips even though you as a make up artist know it looks bad, you can certainly show them options and explain briefly why they are better, they may want the overdrawn lipline not giving it to them will possibly make them feel they dd not get what they asked for, and worse case scenario they sold the idea to superiors and those superiors will see a better version and mention it to a creative director/art director and they will be somewhat embarrassed as to having been shown to be wrong, and that will not get you hired by them again even though you essentially saved the day.

* additional explanation to number 3 If that is to me and I think it was, what was meant by 3 was that a client is the decision maker and often they are wrong, but they are the one paying, so if they come in and say that they want overdrawn lips even though you as a make up artist know it looks bad, you can certainly show them options and explain briefly why they are better, they may want the overdrawn lipline not giving it to them will possibly make them feel they dd not get what they asked for, and worse case scenario they sold the idea to superiors and those superiors will see a better version and mention it to a creative director/art director and they will be somewhat embarrassed as to having been shown to be wrong, and that will not get you hired by them again even though you essentially saved the day.

And all I do is billboards, point of purchase, signage and ads for beauty cosmetics and commercial fashion, and if I want to keep doing it and making as much as I am and more, I will not start getting up in arms that my work is being redone in post if that is what a client wants and expects, they will move on to the next guy waiting to take my place if I do. Business is Business, as a hobby, I can shoot and retouch however I choose and I do often choose realistic texture over fake, but than I see the fake, and say to most consumers don't you see it looks fake? nice fake, but fake nonetheless? and they often just do not see it, but they do not zoom in open a frozen image of someone face and see what real texture is, so maybe thats why not.

Now, From a motion picture point of view, I am now moving into doing commercials and videos and from that standpoint the above stands and since its all HD or 4K capture video, skill at making one look flawless in tone and texture with airbrushing is my newest concern since the last commerical we did had 17 seconds that needed to be framed out and retouched, lucky I did not do it because that is one huge expense and time waster, about 410 frames that not only had to be retouhced but they had to be retouched to match from one to another so when they are imported back in there is no noticable changes, the bill was very large and most anyone would have put up with the largest least friendly pain in the ass to have been able to avoid all that expense. Love this work, I get paid more no matter who else is at fault!

But its not good overall, so I am now even more picky with that on commercials and videos are usually too long to get away with that level of retouch so its lighting, filters (on camera) and lots of make up, even too much make up is perceived as better than seeing skin problems in the eyes of ad agencies.

Can you describe your typical Photoshoot days?

I will walk you through very different but very normal shoots. I should start by saying I rarely take on clients directly, and most have gone through my rep and pricing and negotiations are all thought out and determined based on media buy and usage. But that said I do have several long standing clients and often they recommend or schedule a shoot for themselves or a friend of theirs that falls outside my reps territory or under the pre-existing client exemption. In those cases, I start by telling them what an initial budget would have to be to even get me and models like what I usually shoot with for a basic ad and or POP or billboard, signage, brochure. That often scares many away right off the bat, and that's sort of designed that way since its really more a long conversation only to get to some unrealistic numbers that fall short of not my but the model alone's rates and mine are two to three times whatever that would be to start. Better to cut that whole thing off or get it out of the way. If they feel the budget I am starting at is within reason, and we discuss the product and I ask about a media buy they generally have a sense of what numbers we will be talking of.

The initial talks decide exactly what the usage and media buy and placement and term will be. Once that is all done and a basis for pricing fairly exists I ask if they have a concept or design or an ad firm doing some layouts? At this point I kind of know the answer will be no since if they had an ad firm they likely would have already been included in discussions. So once we establish this we move to a point of concept. I am not a creative, I do not want to be creative, I came from a psychological and philosophical background, with studies in linguistics and I had been an instructor of clinical and medical hypnosis, all that has lead my brain to work in a somewhat de constructive mode. I like to see what's there and break it down and determine all the problems and potential issues that need to be fixed, I typically ignore the good points as I know they will still be there regardless and focus on what and how to best fix whatever is wrong or needs correcting to get the point across. That's what I am best at, and I explain that if I am to be in any meetings 1) I cost a lot to be there since it is really not at all needed, and I do not like being at them until a few final concepts are ready to go, and 2) if I am at any meetings, I am never to be taken as being negative, but I will be the devils advocate on everything and point out every flaw and issue and thing that someone might find a problem and perhaps even there find an issue but be afraid to say since its more a cheering squad of yeah everything is great lets go get em types and I am not since I will be the one answering the phone when someone is not happy with the way it came out in the end.

If all that goes well, and it usually does, we move onto my suggestion which is to have some creative's of mine or theirs work together and come to no less than 5 concepts and no less than two explanations that everyone in the hire up chain of command feel are the target market. Than call me and I will be more than happy to rip them apart and fix it all and make a good ad for them. That's where they really like me!

So in they come with several ideas and layouts and a few paragraphs about who the target market is and I listen to the target market and if I have any I ask questions about it, demographics, etc. Than I look at the comps they have drawn and decide which I hate the least and start to tell them what I see wrong and we have a discussion where they usually all sit around and say things like oh yea, and oh I did not think of that, and yes. You all have this happen, maybe you see something and are afraid to say it and than eventually it comes out and you think I knew that all along... Well I am there to be a pain that day so I say it out loud so I expect and do fully believe most when they say I knew that since I bet most did and were just a little afraid to say it.

So in they come with several ideas and layouts and a few paragraphs about who the target market is and I listen to the target market and if I have any I ask questions about it, demographics, etc. Than I look at the comps they have drawn and decide which I hate the least and start to tell them what I see wrong and we have a discussion where they usually all sit around and say things like oh yea, and oh I did not think of that, and yes. You all have this happen, maybe you see something and are afraid to say it and than eventually it comes out and you think I knew that all along... Well I am there to be a pain that day so I say it out loud so I expect and do fully believe most when they say I knew that since I bet most did and were just a little afraid to say it.

OK, so now we have a budget and an idea and a sort of mock up layout. We start the model process, I determine the full usage and possible extras, and call (email) agencies the default casting requirements and pricing as a plus twenty number so they know exactly what the full bill must fall into.

We get email comps or packages from the agencies, it use to be real comps but now that's so impractical instead we get an email with a link to whoever is available, and from them we can see the model whole book online. I sort through and remove the ones I do not want, and send along everyone else which would be anyone I like and anyone I am indifferent to all together and all the same. If there is any real standout that I really think needs to be considered I would mention it, but that is very, very rare as it only opens yourself up to problems later on if anything goes wrong. Learn one thing on huge or small or any budget cover you behind, and be aware that the day after all is said and done if the bill payers are unhappy and start yelling you should only have to answer to one thing, photography! If they hate the model chosen, and say who picked her? hope its not you... and hope you did not recommend fact your best answer would be I don't know who was that? if they hate the make up and hair same thing! hope its not you. And all the way through say how easily that can all be fixed in post (at potential extreme rates) but if its not you those rates are justified, if its you your now ripping them off for fixing what you screwed up and that does not sit well. I can say this has never been needed and I still live by these rules because I know several who were better than I who had these very things bite them in the but and it caused years of issues rebuilding a pricepoint. So I prefer to think ahead and plan ahead and make sure everything goes super smooth from the get go.

Now once you find the right models from the cards there may or may not be a go see, where the models selected actually come in, I am rarely ever there and do not really care, I have a saying and its not based on arrogance its based on my ego that would not let it be wrong, If she has not changed dramatically since the image was taken, I can make a model look at least as good as the best shot of her in her book! whether that is through photography, lighting, corrective make up and hair placement, shadows, or retouching, I can and will. This does not mean I will produce the best image in their book, that may not be possible since they may have a shot hanging form the Eiffel tower where a three story high Oscar de la Renta gown while being showered by Swarovsky crystals, yes that's a bit hard to beat if they give me a sweater and a white wall to shoot her on, but I will be damned if she does not look as good or better than she looked in that shot! Well at least to me

So we then start at the artist reps, I point out any artists I have worked with and some I prefer over others, and let the client start to choose from several or any of their own preference, if they choose one I look at their book, but have never had reason to object as of yet.

Day of the shoot, we have a basic concept and idea in mind and a model shows up and starts in make up and hair and we all hangout for an hour to two, and breakfast is ordered (I do not eat anything at shoots ever, and bring my own water, I am very strange, don't ask) but everyone else eats some and we look at the designs or clothes or jewelry, depending on the shoot, and I look around at where and what I will be shooting, and if its a rental place everything is there, and if I am bringing things I have a grip or two that basically carry my equipment in and hang out all day and than take it out. I typically like to unpack things while make up is being done, and we all sort of talk and get to know one another and make some jokes and get a few little references to some funny and interesting scenes in the models life and sort of establish rapport and most important get a few referential jokes or things that when mentioned can bring a smile to their face. This is mainly just for reference, and I use them wisely to get a glean in the eye and a smile on the face and to break up any thought that they are not looking perfect in front of the camera.

Than I set up my lights around and play a bit, years ago we polaroided, now that's not an option, and I generally will have but don't use a light meter, I eyeball everything and play with the computer and my personal laptop and make sure that they are ready to go, if we have digital tech's they mainly have two jobs. On very larger shoots, one will be responsible for one thing and one thing only, to make sure everything is taken in and backed up to 5 external hard drives this is automated on my systems so I bring 5 external drives, he pretty much has to insert a card, press three buttons and it backs up to all 5, once the 5 are backed up he can transfer the files on the proof drive to a networked folder, the others stay as they are, when he has time he can burn DVD's but that is not a priority. This is my personal tech, he is my personal tech!!!!!!! I tell him and I tell everyone that he is responsible for all the money so he is not allowed to answer to anyone but me, not the client, not the model, art director, creative director, no one and if anyone approaches him he has one line to repeat, I am not allowed to show or really even talk to you please ask Stephen! that is so I know I do not have to worry about missing a file the day after the shoot, and that is his job, he will likely be bored, and I do not care if he brings a play station portable, ipod, sits on the Internet on my other laptop or does most anything so long as he is doing nothing but guaranteeing that I have all my files. My other tech gets the files on his system once they are transferred to the networked folder and we can all see them, generally I look through and pick one or two I like, and he or I do a real fast convert, retouch, and drop into the layout in Photoshop, than call the AD or CD or whoever they have there over and show them a corrected and slightly retouched shot before they see anything else. This way if the girl has bad circles under her eyes and make up can only do so much they do not look at that first, instead they see a beautiful looking face and say WOW, than see the others and if they comment we immediately show them what goes away and explain what a simple issue that is, not to worry, If you think this is a waste of time just look at this and then the link following two links, (don't look around there now, you can go back later and click index or nest, just check these two and you'll get the point of what a 4 minute and 30 second retouch can do, and tell me its not worth it to show them one before the other Link one Link two

No that is not a client shoot, and I hope I would never have to do that if I did the casting and make up people are all in trouble and I will have already been taking a quick bathroom break to call the client and say that we have a problem, and we will need to fix it but its all good!

So now that they see and have a reference we proceed with whatever we have to deal with and the shoot goes well.

End of shoot, at times, and for certain clients I will sit and run through the files selecting which they like and would like to consider, those will be rendered from raw and uploaded that evening or next day. Other times I go through and eliminate any I feel are worthless and render and upload the rest for them the following day.

Why all the hard drives? Well one I take with me in my pocket, one stays at the location (if its a rental studio or rental space of some sort) to be picked up at a later time, one goes in my camera bag, one goes in my computer case, and one goes with the digital tech to be burned to DVD or backup up or depending just to hold onto to make me feel better. I am a little paranoid? no, not really, I am not concerned about loss, but the drives cost 99.00 for a 120 GB or larger external usb2 drive, and they are reusable for a relatively long time, I would like to be over safe and happy I spent the 500, than wishing I was not so cheap I only had two copies, when something seems to be out of place. And yes I often keep the cards un erased as well, but that's never a given, and they can easily be lost so its like an extra, extra, extra backup . And as a side note, I have had a shoot where we shot close to 2500 shots over a few days, the selects were chosen down to one from each look, a total of 60 shots and from that wouldn't you know it one of the raw's did not open, it was corrupt, the simultaneous jpg opened fine and luckily I always shoot both raw and jpg when I have a camera that allows it and the first thing I do is set the jpg to the largest and best compression (least compressed) and no sharpening, generally mid to low saturation and contrast. So it takes up space, what are cards costing these days?

Now we are doing more backups on several live servers and DVD plus bluray DDS, I trust the bluray but I do not trust that the format will ultimately be victorious so that is in my mind a problem waiting to need to be rebacked up in the future. But still 50 gigs per disc is nice and convenient.

Afterwards a group will be selected, and the final picks will go through a real quick overview and retouch, afterwards the client sees a large preview, and make any markups they may want as far as retouching and changes to anything, logos need to be switched, colors that need matching to different samples, etc, and that is done and files are burned for them as flattened tifs and DVD burned, generally pdf are used for layouts to any graphics work and prepress is done and prepared for ad placement.

That's a long expensive large budget shoot.

Now for a smaller budget, but equally important shoot.

This is a call from a major Company, they need some trade show posters for light boxes shot, the whole office is basically at another trade show in Vegas, its needed to be in to a lab in manhattan for printing in 5 days, the idea is basically on white, they have 10 items, cameras, lenses, video cameras, they need to be prominently displayed in the shot but they want to the shots to stand out and make people say WOW and stop and stare, they will be backlit on the trade show floor at about 7 feet, and photographers will be walking over to them and looking to complain about the detail of the cameras at the pixel level of an eyelash that is now 1 1/2 inches wide and 5 inches long. Do photographers do that???? Not us we would never pixel peep like that when at a trade show looking at what the new cameras can do I mean really not a photographer?

OK, what's the budget? Not anywhere near enough for most major agencies. Of course.. So I get on the phone and call some agents I am friends with and see who's around, I make some calls to some models I am friends with and see who is available without breaking contract and is interested in doing a few hours for a shoot at the price offered. I have some great friends and the agents say sure, we can get you someone, and I have some to choose from. I pick the ones I want and show the people at the trade show the last options for the one spot left, they pick one and we are off. I get a stylist, and run around giving them some ideas of what I want, not clothes but colors and something interesting to stand out more than a fashion statement, we need to say WOW not Vogue! And I hire two make up artists I know that can make it. I shoot 4 a day two days, lucky most are friends so we schedule those who can do early early and those that are booked later in the day and we shoot. I go through and pick out and retouch my favorites making sure I pick at least one of each item, and a few variations (not everything was on the white, and I preferred those not, so I retouched them and added them in the mix) with same items also on white so they had what they had wanted as well to choose from.

I attached them (12 shots total) to an email, and sent it. I followed up with the rest of the shoot for them to look through. They choose from the initial 12 I already did the basic retouch from (its hard to see something that is perfectly retouched and drama added and than look at the raw's and find one you like, I know that which is why I pick and retouch the ones I like to show them, it kind of works in my favor since I want what I know is good there, and I have said and still say I am probably a better editor (actually able to look through and throw out the trash and keep only what's good not the more recent editor which is becoming another way of saying retoucher) Than I am a photographer, I can immediately pick out what's bad and what's left I can very quickly find what's best and discard the rest. The shots were put through a major skin overhaul and punch added and files upsampled to printsize and sharpened, I made 12x18inch proofs for color matching, and delivered the files to the printer myself.

One, perhaps my favorite is here of a very good friend of mine

At the show the following week and all looked great!

Easy to do, twice as stressful, mainly because what was I told to do? and I quote, "we like what you do, so do that on white and make sure the names are very visible, and do whatever, thanks. "

Somedays I prefer to have a picture drawn with crayons, whose lighting did not have to conform to the laws of physics, and which seems to have 10 light sources and no shadows, and have someone to say make it look like that! To which I reply, some post work may be needed, but NO PROBLEM!



I have heard some people say that photography and fashion photography in particular is an art it is something that must be a passion, something you MUST do

artists MUST be artists, it's a compulsion not a choice

they will sleep on floors to do what they must

Is that how you see? and do you feel that is needed to succeed? and what would you say to someone who is contemplating either being a doctor and going to med school or being a fashion phtotographer?

I am so happy I am not an artist and have no desire to be one. I take photography as a business and do what I have too to make money at it like any other business. From that end, luck and networking has more to do with it than talent, and the ability to produce what someone else wants even when its all wrong and you disagree is what allows you to be successful and make money.

Med school is safe, but the real reason more med students are working and making a living than photographers is because med students learn medicine and start practicing from the low level up. Photographers start wanting to create art and wont take a job at picture people or JC Penny even when sleeping on the floor of a friend cause they do not have money for rent. They are artists and want to create art, med students are workers and want to work. Med students can have photography as a hobby and create art on the side, I know many in my own area that have digital backs too do so. Photographers can work at photography and make a good living and create art as a hobby as well, but they generally do not want too, they want to be hired for a lot of money to do what they consider artistic. And that is the reason why photographers do not have a better success rate at making money. Being a famous fashion shooter is a very limited market for very few, being a successful catalog, commercial, still life, beauty, cosmetic, portrait, senior, wedding, event photographer is an easier path and is far more open, as the field is larger with less specificity needed, but the fame and prestige is not there. the same ratio may be said of people who went into med school and only would accept a internship as a brain surgeon right out of the gate because thats all they want to do, the rest of medicine is not challenging or creative enough for them to waste their gifts on. Luckily, most restaurants need wait staff and busboys and hospitals always need janitors.

the problem I have is not with the artist per se but the general feeling that many seem to have (this is not directed at you or anyone in particular, I see and deal with it daily though mail, assistants, portfolio reviews, schools I sometimes lecture at, etc.) It seems that unlike many other walks of life modeling, photography, acting to a degree, seem to generate in people a certain level of pride at the expense of ethic. What I mean is they would rather not work at all than work at doing something that does not give them complete artistic freedom, they want to get paid to do what they want! period! and that is not how the world works, even at the highest levels. Yes higher up you get more say as there is more trust and you have more input, but in the jobs that pay the most the people who pay the bills generate the ideas that you are to shoot, and sometimes its not what you want. Other times you are not even at a level where you can make it in the field you want but I see and talk to many who woudl not shoot anything else, not portraits, not kids, not animals, not weddings, events, still life nothing but their idea of fashion and wonder why they are borrowing money for subway fare to get to an interview to be a free assistant to a photographer? Eventually they either change through absolute poverty or they get lucky or they realize this is not working I should try to branch out and keep working at becoming a fashion photographer. Some of them end up becoming very successful in catalog, still life, weddings, they do not want to be they start it out of necessity and it grows and becomes more time consuming and makes more money and eventually they are doing it fulltime 15 years and realize their goals and dreams have gave way to a wife and children and house payments and a new car lease that is being paid for by the weddings they do on the weekends, and the sales of those wedding they do all week. It happens, its a fact of life, some make it big, some make it into at least the field they want but never become famous, I know a lot of catalog shooters who bring home maybe 150,000 a year and shoot web type catalog fashion, work with models shoot on seamless its a nice life in the basic field they wanted, just not exactly how they envisioned it. Others shoot kids and open a picture people, and make tons, still others end up at a glamourshots and hate everyday!

Its not mush different than any other business really, every med student wants to be a great doctor who cures cancer or save the president. Most end up general practitioners and some proctologists. I get the feeling not all love what they do everyday

This is not meant to be depressing, its meant to show some of the realities of the business. We all know actors who are famous!!! and we all know of actors who work the 2-9 shift at the diner because it has a flexible schedule to get to castings when needed. And than there are a lot of actors we take for granted we see them all over, TV, movies, and never know there name. Shoot for the leading role! but be open to a path to get there and realize there are far more supporting actors making that movie watchable.

A thread on a Model / Photography forum was once started over some comments made by myself and another photographer. Its something many new, established, young, and old photographers or even hobbyists in this field should read to give some food for thought and a little perspective. I paraphrased it below.

Post by Mr. Chip Morton of California (slightly modified for content)

Recently there was a post that took a brief, but related, detour. Two notable and established veterans. Mr. Xxxxx and Mr. Eastwood had an info exchange on file archiving and management. It was scary and made Mr. Xxxxx shiver in fear at the thought.

At one point, Mr. Eastwood remarked "And all I want to do is get back to the days where I just took a camera and ran out with a girl and shot some stuff at the park or local college campus and did not know what I was doing or that I was not suppose to be doing it there let alone without 14 lights and 3 people to hold them."

This made me pause for a long time. I think that most of us got into photography because we were attracted to the magic, this amazing thing that records what and how we see, and then we can show it to others. Hopefully that phase lasts forever where we jump up and down showing someone a new image screaming like a little kid in a sandbox. Like the little kid in a sandbox, everything is perfect; nothing was ever done "the wrong way. It was ALWAYS perfectly the way it should be. I don't think any of us thought "Yeah! I can't wait for the day that I burn through 5 TB's a month and struggle to stay on top of copyright law!"

There's no doubt that the successful photographers that have managed to grow their business to several employees and dollar numbers I can't imagine must feel the grind sometimes. But how has all that growth changed how they shoot? Are the same subjects still fascinating? Is the simple magic of fresh vision jaded by time, business pressures and keeping up with the Jones's? Is what was once interesting no longer so, not through the natural evolution of life experience but through the unnatural production of vision, like the way a musician might stand too close to the amps for too long and become a touch hard of hearing?

My Response:

I do not want to comment on this yet, I would rather see where it goes from others perspectives, but I would like to point out and clarify what was meant in from where those sentiments came.

I have not lost the excitement or vision of shooting, I have built (right or wrong, mental or real) a self imposed prison of sorts. I want to shoot like always, but before I found someone and asked she said yes and we went and shot something nice, we liked it many others did as well, and all was good. Today I look at those and realize they were not my best but that's not really important here. Today I see someone and I ask to shoot and they see my work and immediately there is an expectation of something. I do not want to say quality because that is in the eye of the beholder, but rather just an expectation. I now am limited (self imposed perhaps or actually likely) to deliver within that expectation, so I cannot do just anything, instead I do what I know will work and work well, for it should not just be as good as my previous work, but it should somehow have improved upon it. So I am limited and I do what I know and maybe try a little variation here and there, but I do not just run free like I once did before I knew a better way, before the girl expected a certain result, before those around me expect something with a certain quality and character that is associated with me or my so called style.

Best example I have to explain what I mean, I one saw a great spread in a European mag, I knew I was one of the first to have it here so it was not seen yet, in it were some shots totally not my style, grainy, slight motion blur, B&W over contrasted and not well retouched, not badly retouched, but imperfections were left in. I took the spread and sent it over to my rep, while on the phone he opened the e-mail and started telling me how great these were and asked "where did I see them?" to which I quickly replied "Oh I shot it this weekend...." to which he immediately said "ohhh what happened?" I said "what do you mean?" Already anticipating this response as it would quite possibly have been my own, his explanation is it did not meet the usual standard and he figured something was bothering me. The same images he was praising a moment ago, he even went so far as to point out things I did not do in post that should have been done (as per MY norm) and mentioned what made me use film or that over done grain effect. After a few seconds I said its not mine in my typical sarcastic NY tone to which he immediately laughed saying oh you had me going there, glad to hear your OK (obviously afraid that a money maker may have been washed up overnight on him) so I said hey they were from the new Italian vogue and mentioned the very famous shooter to which they were again a delight to view! wonderful and full of flair.......... at least to him, I no longer found them as enjoyable as I once thought them to be.

But those of you who get that will get it, those who don't maybe someone else can explain it, I am sadly tired of doing so not because of the explanation but because of the thought I harbor that even though it is my own limitation and I am aware of it I also know I will not likely overcome it even with another telling me I should, even if I tell them they should, tell me, I should.

I have even gone so far as to set up another name to use with pictures that I did take but are not images I would have used rather they were rejects from a shoot, only to perhaps be free of that insane "Expectation" I have most likely self imposed and feel fearful to fall short of.

I have yet to ever actually go through with it. I figure it will backfire because once I show up they will likely know its me or somehow it will get connected and so what would be the point? so I don't bother. Maybe one day I will be in Fiji and shoot a native that has no expectation of anything. Or maybe I will be in NY and just stop caring.... Hopefully it will be of what others may think and not of taking a picture I like.

OK.... so I typed a bit more than planned, but I still did not type my answer to the original post but rather added some additional information which lead partly to the statement above. I should be sleeping.

That seems far more melancholy than it was actually meant, I am not depressed over this, its more like frustration with my own limits and an inability or unwillingness to just "get over it" that frustrates me. Partially because I do not really consider myself an artist, more a commercial realist who happens to currently have a talent to produce images that enough people feel are valuable enough to pay enough for to make me very comfortable and busy. I see real artists and wish I had some of what they have, and I see real artists, and am thankful I don't have some of what they have, some are really tortured souls.

I am a Capitalist! and if the business changed and said my style should with it, I would, for now its OK and I happen to be very lucky that I get to do something I typically enjoy and get paid well for it. Its hard to complain (well not for a New Yorker) but I know its hard to have sympathy for anyone who does what I do and gets paid! I sure wouldn't


Follow up Poster comment by another poster: P.S. I'm not nearly as high-up the ladder as people seem to think I am. But I can see where the next level of photography would drive me, and so I've been pondering a lot of the issues mentioned above.

My Response:

At times it is possible to establish a style that allows for anything to go, usually it requires a rich someone who is related or a special someone who you have befriended that is in a position to make it be in VOGUE so to speak. I would probably envy those that can have a style that allows for them to do whatever without a care in the world.

I do not however, believe that just cause they are famous everything they do is some amazing piece of art! sometimes it crap! just many are afraid to say, and actually saying it should not diminish the fact that the same person can again create great art, society should be more confident in themselves to say what they feel instead of say what they think they should feel because of who or what they are saying it about may represent.

A piece of crap placed in a world renowned museum will most likely gather some amazing acknowledgments from those who would harshly critique an unknown. Thus we have ART!

Just make sure your not dependent on the industry when you make a stand against one who has many friends in high places.



Hope that helped some.  Any questions feel free to email me back.

Attached is the article from January's Digital SLR Photography available at Barnes and Nobles among other stores and magazine shops around town. Link to article here

©Stephen Eastwood 2008