Greene feet are reusable, that's right…one pair will last and last and last. Made from super strong a rubber-like plastic (Polypropylene) they are weather proof, lightweight and very flexible. I put a loop of tape on the bottom and stick them down when I want my subject to stand and people automatically go over and stand on them. Now they are facing the right starting direction and I'm ready to fine tune…saving valuable time! Afterwards I pull them up, throw away the tape and they are ready for the next shoot.
How did I come up with the idea for Greene Feet and how do they work? I shoot a lot of headshots, I do headshots for businesses and college athletic teams among others. Last year I had a busy day of shooting more than 30 headshots. I joke with people that I think I'm going to lose my voice saying the same thing over and over…"come sit right here, one foot on each side of the stool leg, facing towards this light". Sometimes I didn't express clearly where I wanted people to stand or the direction I wanted to them to face. They end up facing the wrong direction or not turned enough and I thought there has to be a better way!
I looked at feet shaped stickers but they were too expensive, considering they would only last one session. I found some foam feet for kids but they were too thick and I didn't want people to have a problem standing on them, so I decided to make my own! The next day I had 60 headshots followed by headshots for two basketball teams the day after. I put these down and WOW…my life got so much easier!
At first I wasn't sure it would work, everything was going smooth for the first couple people, even if I didn't notice anything different. I got to talking to an executive after his portrait, as sometimes happens when you build rapport quickly. As I was talking the next person walked in, walked over to the stool, lined up her feet and sat down. I looked over thinking, I'm 90% ready without saying a word. It worked perfectly and I was able to finish more than an hour ahead of schedule.
People see the feet, automatically walk over and stand on them...saving me time. Now I just say "go stand on my feet and sit down" then I'm ready to fine tune with the subject facing the right direction. After several months of working with the feet and seeing how much easier it made my life I decided to start selling them. I tweaked the original design and now I'm ready to share Greene Feet with everyone!
It's simple, put the feet down and people automatically go over and stand on them. Now they are facing the right starting direction and you're ready to fine tune…saving you valuable time and making your photo shoot easy from the start! Give Greene Feet a try and see for yourself!
It's not about the gear, everybody knows that…it's about the photographer…the camera is just a box that records light. What matters is what the photographer does with the camera. OK, yeah, I've said that too. It's easy and it feels good. But the truth is the camera does matter to some degree…wait, now hear me out. A better camera isn't going to make your images better, it just won't. But it will make your life easier. If I'm moving 20 large boxes everyday I can certainly get the job done with a Toyota Camry, but my life would be easier with a Ford F-150. Another example, if I need to remove a bolt I can certainly use a pair of pliers to get the job done but it would be much easier with a socket set. In each case what I'm using is just a tool to get the job done. I spent the first years of my career using film. I would try out different films in my fancy Canon EOS 630 camera (I still love that camera and might have to see about picking up another one some day). I like the color on this film brand and not this other brand. This film has too much grain, this film I can push two stops and that will come in useful when I need it. Now when you buy a digital camera you are also buying a permanent roll of film for the camera (yes, you can change some of that on the computer but we will talk about that in the future). Different cameras have different flash sync speeds – 1/250, 1/180, 1/125 or a leaf shutter where you can sync at any speed up to 1/8000. This camera will shoot two frames a second (not enough) and the other will shoot 15 frames per second (why in the world would anyone need this?). One camera will shoot in complete darkness another in near darkness and some fall apart when you go to high on the ISO. That camera has too much yellow, this one too much blue and that one over there is too red. These are all things to think about now when buying gear. The lenses are the most expensive part of the system. Once you invest in lenses it's harder to switch camera brands. I want a new camera and it's a couple thousand dollars but I have ten thousand dollars in lenses for this camera mount…see, there is much more in the lenses than the camera body. It's so much more important to have a good solid fast lens and nice light than it is to have a top of the line camera.
Yes, the camera is only a box and it depends on what the photographer does with that box that records light. It's also true that you can get a box that will make your life easier too. I heard this when I was younger and don't know where to credit it to? When a photographer is young they think they need a top of the line camera to make a nice image. After a while they think the camera doesn't make any difference at all and they can make a nice image any place, any time. After a very long time you start to realize that it's a mixture of both of these. Yes, you can make a great image any place at any time but it's also true that having a better tool will make your life easier.
Now, I'm not saying you need to go out and buy a new camera! The camera you have works just fine, but as you grow as a photographer it's something to think about. No matter what camera you have…just go out and make images! Happy shooting...
What gear do I use and why? Well, it seems that it is in flux most of the time but let's see what I have right now with cameras and lights. When I look at gear I look at it from two main points of view, from a photographer and from a business owner. The photographer loves gadgets, toys, tech and all things new and shiny. The business owner is only interested in things that will add to a return on investment that helps the business grow.
Over the years I have shot with all kinds of cameras…some I liked and some I didn't. Throughout most of my career I have always had Canon cameras even if I was shooting Nikon at work. About three years ago I sold all of my camera gear and switched over to Fujifilm completely. I did this for several reasons. I picked up the original Fuji x100 when it was released and just fell in love with it. After that I got the original X-Pro and the original three lenses. It got to the point where I was not taking the Canon out much and even when I did I was only using it for situation where I didn't have the equivalent Fuji lens. When the X-T1 was released I decided it was time to switch for good. Currently I'm shooting with the Fuji X-t2 and Fuji X100T (hopefully the X100F soon). Why did I switch and why I have I stayed? Well…in the simplest terms it was the image quality. The colors are just amazing! The JPEG files are just spectacular coming out of the camera (I shoot RAW + JPEG) and the JPEG's are almost ready to send to clients without work. The electronic viewfinder is wonderful and I can't imagine a situation where I would ever want to go back to a standard SLR camera. The camera is fast, responsive and fun to work with. This isn't going to be a camera review, this is more about why I made the decisions I made to have the gear I'm using right now. On the other hand, the business owner was very happy about this choice at the same time. Fuji is less expensive compared to my older system. That means I was able to sell my old equipment and buy the new Fuji's without spending much money. The image quality is better for my clients. Being able to deliver better image quality is a selling point. The equipment weighs less so I'm not stressing my back as much and thus will spend less on medical care. Camera insurance prices went down since the purchase price was less so I'm saving money every month. In the end I wanted to answer these questions...if I make this switch will I save money while delivering a better quality/service to my clients? Overall, I would say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
There are people who can tell you the specs of light output and blah blah blah. I don't get into that. I love lighting and love playing with light but for me it more about the end result. My requirements for lighting are simple. I want to spend as little money as possible while getting the strobes that will work for my needs. Coming up with what I needed took a little while though. I need something that is easy to transport since everything I do is on location. I need something that is durable, again since they will get set up and torn down repeatedly. I needed something that I could dial in the exact white balance. I needed lights that allowed me options for lighting modifiers and not just from the manufacturer but from third party sellers as well. Currently I am using Alien Bee strobes and Yongnuo flashes. I really like the Alien bees, they have good customer service, lightweight, durable, and simple. I don't use a lot of power when I'm shooting so I didn't need something where I can light up the entire city block. Most of the time I'm in the 1/8 power range on an Alien Bee B400. I've looked at other brands for strobes. I've found some that I have been tempted by but nothing for the price vs. value. Another important factor for me was having the ability for the strobe and the flash to fire at the same time. For some reason some of the strobes I tried did sync exactly with a flash and I usually mix the two lights when I working. For flashes I use the Yongnou flashes, what's not to love? I almost never use on camera flash and even if I do put a flash on camera I don't use TTL. I want to be able to control my light all of the time and don't like giving up that control to the camera. I use these as kicker lights, as fill sometimes and end up putting them all over the place when I need to conceal light in a small space powered down to 1/128th. They are just like the flashes made by Canon or Nikon without the TTL at an affordable price. If I remember correctly I picked them or for about 70 bucks each? On the rare occasion I do put a flash on the camera I usually pick two distances I'll be using most and get my readings. With the aperture ring on the lens for Fuji I can easily switch that and keep shooting as needed. Nothing fancy in my lighting but they work well, are affordable, reliable and give me the quality that I need.
Later on I'll have a "what's in the bag" feature and break down everything I use! Right now...it's time to go shoot!
Welcome! This see if I can get this started out, I have been working in photography for more than twenty years. I learned with film and have made transitions as photography has changed a lot over those years. As much as technology has changed photography the basic principals have stayed the same. Starting with film and my natural inclination to learn the hard way (doh) was before all of the worlds information was available on the internet means I made more than my share of mistakes. I've learned from them or learned how to avoid most of them. Yes, all of the information I can share with you is available elsewhere for the most part. The thing about having all of the worlds information available on the internet at anytime is…well, reading about it and understand it and putting it into practice are all very, very different things. I hope to be able to write and show you things that are easy to both understand and put into practice. Writing is not my strong suite, I write like I speak, so stay with me as I give this a shot…
I'll give you a very quick run-down of my experience. I started my career while living in Nebraska. I moved to Texas knowing only one person and by sheer determination I forced a career for myself because this is what I wanted. I started freelancing, working in photojournalism. Soon after I started doing some commercial work by accident. A few years later I would go work as a staff photographer at several newspapers throughout Texas. After many years I moved to Tennessee and returned to freelancing. Still working in photojournalism I started moving toward more commercial work. Not long ago I moved back to Nebraska and although I will do a few photojournalism assignments now and then I really live in the commercial photography world now. At each stage of my career I have learned different things and at each stage I have hustled to be the best I can be. I'm still learning, if you're not still learning then you have either given up or you're dead. There is always something new to learn.
While living in Tennessee I ended up teaching college photography classes in addition to my normal shooting schedule. I really enjoyed teaching and still enjoy seeing former students have such success. I know that everyone reading this has seen their work in either editorial, advertising or video format. I am willing to share almost everything I know (I gotta keep that one trick for myself, ha). It doesn't matter how much you learn, there is one very, very important part of this that can't be taught. I can't tell you when a moment is happening and when to push the shutter button to capture that moment! I don't view this as a competition, sharing information and making others better doesn't create less opportunity for me! Actually it's better...it's better to have people making nice images, it's better to have people practicing business correctly, it's better for photography…it's just better when people improve themselves and their community.
Now living in Nebraska I miss teaching advanced classes and seeing those students go onto their own success so I'm starting this experiment to see what happens. I hope to share both here and through a series of workshops some tips, ideas, theory, business ideas and more. Keep an eye out for regular workshops dealing with lighting, business and everything between. I don't know where this will go or how long it will go, but I'm willing to try and see what happens…so after all of this blah…here is my first tip: Learn business! It doesn't matter how good of a photographer you are, if you can run a business you won't be a photographer. We all have to pay bills, buy food and everything else needed to live, in addition we want to save money for the future, buy shiny toys and enjoy life every day. Those things take money and making money from your photography is a business. I will at a later point go into more detail about this but one of the things I have told every class I have ever taught is…learn business and how to run a successful business!