Thursday, January 31, 2008

A New Me

There's a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, Almost Cut My Hair, that begins, "Almost cut my hair. It happened just the other day..." Well, in my case, it didn't "almost" happen the other day. It happened.

For most people, hair cuts aren't a big deal but, for me, it is and always has been. I've spent a large chunk of my adult life with long hair. Sure, there's been times when, for varying reasons, I rolled with short hair: Servitude in the military, while employed by a Fortune 200 corporation, and a few other times. For the most part, however, I've been a long-haired type; pony-tail-half-way-down-the-back long. I guess I've never been able to let go of the 60s and, as that joke goes, I don't remember much of the 60s. That's how they were for me.

Yep. I've spent most of my life, as David Crosby says, "Letting my freak flag fly."

Since shearing my locks the other day, people have already told me I look at least ten years younger and that it actually appears like I have more hair. Cool! I'm definitely less scary-looking and more presentable. A friend and client, Biohazard's Evan Seinfeld, (who was also a co-star on HBO's hit series, "Oz") recently told me I look like a roadie for Uriah Heep. If you don't know who Uriah Heep is... was... they made some cool music back in the day. But to me, now that I've shed the UH roadie look, I now look like a middle-aged insurance salesman... except when I'm on my Harley. Now, when riding, I look like a middle-aged insurance salesman on a Harley.

So why did I cut my hair and what does that have to do with photography? As I attempt to move into other photo genres, I figured it might be in my interest to present a more respectable initial impression, you know, a cleaner-cut impression. It has always irked me the way many people judge the cover and not the book but that is what it is and I'm done fighting it.

The long hair hasn't ever been a problem shooting pretty girls. With many of the girls I shoot, I could have a swastika, a la Charles Manson, carved into my forehead and they would barely notice. But for the types of clients I'm now trying to get in with, long hair probably won't help my goals much, even without a forehead-carved swastika.

I only hope that, like Samson losing his hair at the hands of Delilah, I don't lose any of my photographic Kung Fu. Assuming, that is, that my photo-Kung Fu is strong enough to achieve some of the things I'm hoping to achieve.

The image at the top is Cindy from a year or so ago. I shot the pic in my studio against a black BG with three lights and a fan positioned at her feet and pointed straight up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Or is there?

I don't know how many of you read A Photo Editor. Perhaps you haven't noticed it quietly nestled amongst my recommended links? Personally, I read the APE blog daily. If you're like me and you make your living with cameras in your hands, or hope to, or not, I highly recommend putting APE on your daily blog-visit list. It will expand your photographic consciousness.

Yesterday, Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men's Journal and Outside Magazine, APE's founder and, currently, its chief bloggmeister, wrote about a new music service, Qtrax, which offers a free, legal, P2P downloading service with over 25 million songs available!

Twenty-five million songs!

That's a two and a five with six zeros behind them.



Available... but with a small catch. A catch that might be nothing more than a minor nuisance to many music fans: Enduring some ads with the music. (Like commercial radio hasn't been doing that since... well, since there's been commercial radio.)

What's all this have to do with photography? Maybe very little. Maybe quite a bit.

Haggart wonders, "Will the same eventually happen to photography where photos download with ads loaded around them just like in newspapers and magazines?


Some of you might have heard or read about the adult industry being an $8 billion or $12 billion or $28 billion industry depending on whose numbers you believe. The Wall Street Journal, well known for monetary exaggerations (or maybe not, I can't ever keep that straight) says "adult" is a $12 to $14 billion industry. What you might not have read or heard is that this big-money business, the business of smut, has been brought to its knees by free content available on the web. And who, you might ask, is taking it in the shorts the hardest as a result of this? (Sorry for the pun.) The content creators.

For whatever it's worth, I was on the phone today with someone who, in the grand scheme of all things "adult," is very high on the food chain. In fact, very near the top! He's scaling back. He's scaling back in a big way and he's more than a little concerned about where it's all going.

Back to photography-- Sure, there will always be work for truly exceptional photographers. And this "free" trend might not disastrously impact, for example, family and event photographers. (With the possible exception of some of those "truly exceptional photographers" suddenly becoming your competition for the next wedding you were hoping to shoot.) But with so many photographers, especially hobbyists, seemingly so willing to give away so much of their work for free or near-free (think Picasa and Flickr and more) you might want to buckle your seatbelts because professional photographers might be in for quite a long and bumpy night. Add to that the advances in user-friendly cameras and accessories equating to more photographers able to shoot competent images--perhaps not extraordinary images but competent images nonetheless--than ever before, and you don't have to be Nostradamus to envision where all this might go.

Okay, I'm done being Chicken Little for today.

The images of Faye and Bree, from the recent fashion shoot I participated in--for my cousin, the designer--were shot and processed by Leesa J. Personally, I think Leesa has more of an editorial eye than I do and, frankly, I envy her natural talent in that area. I particularly like the monochrome image of Faye with the Metrolink train approaching.

And now for something completely different: Jowlers!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sometimes You Gotta Improvise

A couple of days ago, I was called to shoot some web content for a client. It was supposed to be a quick, down-n-dirty, get-in/get-out/get-paid kind'a thing. I hate when I'm told that. Words like those practically guarantees the Murphy's Law faeries will be having a good chuckle at my expense.

I needed to be at a condo complex nestled in the hills between the Warner Bros. lot and Universal Studios at 8:30 A.M. It was a rainy day so I left a bit earlier than usual, hoping to increase my chances of arriving on time. It's about a 20 mile drive which means, in L.A. in the morning, about an hour or more in ridiculous traffic. The L.A. freeway demons must have been on a coffee break while I headed towards my destination: I arrived 5 or 10 minutes before my hoped-for ETA! (Although it still took over an hour-and-a-half to travel those twenty miles.)

I've shot at this condo before. In fact, many times before. This is the way this gig works: I rendezvous with the model at the condo. We exchange a few pleasantries before we trek upstairs to the actual condo we'll be shooting in. (It's on the third floor and way, WAY in the back of the complex.) No one actually "lives" in this condo. I have a key and an entry code. I should mention that this "condo" is one of those pads I would more accurately describe as an apartment. But since people buy these "apartments" for ridiculous sums of money, they call them "condos."

While the model applies her makeup, fixes her hair, and puts on whatever sexy clothing I've chosen from all the stuff she's brought with her--usually in a steamer trunk-sized suitcase-on-wheels--I set up my lights and prepare my camera. Yep. That's how this gig works: Just me and the sexy model, alone, in a vacant, sparsely-furnished, condo where, even though I've usually never met the girl before, she ends up in her birthday suit striking sexy "come hither" poses while I digitally capture all her naked beauty, allure, and over-the-top come do me charms for the benefit of horny internet surfers. The images aren't supposed to showcase the photography: They're about the models and, in fact, keeping everything on the clean, simple, straight-forward, flatly-lit, non-artsy side is what the client is looking for. It's that kind of gig.

Anyway, back to the other day: It's a bit before 8:30 A.M. and I'm standing in the rain looking for my model. She wasn't there. Even though I didn't know who she was or what she would look like, I knew I'd be able to spot her, assuming she was there... which she wasn't. I wasn't much concerned at the model's absence. Models running late isn't automatic cause for alarm. Happens all the time. After all, it was raining, the traffic sucked and just because I arrived on-time doesn't mean the model would as well.

9:00 A.M. Still no model. I called my client. He answers. I began explaining the situation but he interrupted me.

"She canceled, dude. She flaked. I meant to call you. Sorry. I'm trying to get the agency to send a replacement. Hang tight."

"Hang tight? That'll take an hour or two," I said, now becoming somewhat alarmed. "You meant to call me? When were you going to do that?"

"Please. Jimmy. Just hang tight. I'm all over this. It's under control."

"Okay," I said, already resigning myself to most of the day being screwed over a gig that should only take a couple of hours. "I'm going for coffee"

"Cool. Don't go too far. Keep your cell in your pocket."

"Yeah, like I'm gonna drive as far away as I can in the freaking rain and the f'd up traffic..." I didn't say... but I thought it.

Two hours and three coffees later-- Still no phone call from my client. I'm getting a little more than a little annoyed. I'm about to call my client back when, suddenly, my phone rings. It's someone from the agency.

"We just dropped Jennifer off in front of the condos."

"Okay," I said with some relief. "Call her and tell her I'll be there in ten minutes."

I hang up. My phone rings again. It's my client.

"Dude! Where the f__k are you? The girl's waiting for you! You're supposed to be there!"

"No," I calmly answered. "You were supposed to call me when you got a replacement."

"Dude! Don't do this to me. The agent will get pissed if his girl has to wait too long. They left her there by herself!"

"Dude," I said, mimicking my client "First off, why are you giving me a hard time? I was there when I was supposed to be there. Second, I don't give a rat's ass if the agent gets pissed. His first girl flaked! And third, they didn't leave the girl on a street, alone, in the ghetto. She's in Studio City in a fairly ritzy part of town in broad daylight in front of some very high-rent condos!"

"Jimmy, please," my client said, now lowering his tone. "Please just get back there."

I hang up and drive back to the condo. It's still raining. In fact, it's hailing. Hail in L.A. Go figure.

I arrive to find Jennifer waiting in the foyer just inside the main door to the complex. As expected, she has her modern-day steamboat trunk with her. We head up to the condo. As I mentioned, it's on the third floor and way in the back of the complex. I'm laden like a pack-mule with gear. She's pulling her trunk-on-wheels. We might look like a couple just coming home from a trip or a vacation except she's about thirty years younger than me. But hey! It's L.A. You see that all the time except, when you do, the guy has a way fatter wallet than I do.

Once inside the condo, I turn the portable heaters on. The central heat doesn't work in this place. Jennifer opens her steamboat trunk and starts showing me her outfits as she peels off the clothes she's wearing. She's hot. I don't simply mean hot as in sexy hot. (Which she is.) She's hot from lugging her trunk (with fifty or sixty pounds of slutty outfits and accessories packed within it) on the long trek to the condo. The sudden rise in temperature radiating from the portable heaters is adding to her overall hotness.

I pick out some especially slutty stuff from Jennifer's vast, mobile, wardrobe of slutty stuff. Yeah. It's that kind of web site.

Jennifer, now completely naked while standing in front of a mirror and applying her makeup, occasionally speaks to me with her sexy Czech accent. I answer her, not sure how well she understands American English, as I go about my business of setting up my lights and prepping my camera. She's almost ready when I realize I can't find my radio strobe triggers. I begin tearing through all my camera bags but still can't find them.

"I need to go down to my car," I tell Jennifer. "Hang tight. I'll be right back."

I head out the door wondering if "hang tight" translates into Czech.

It's pouring rain as I rummage through my car. I still can't find the freakin' radio triggers.

"Shit!" I shout out loud, contemplating a full-tilt, public, juvenile melt-down. (After all, the first model flaked, I'm running hours late, I'm standing in the rain and I can't find my triggers. Sounds to me like a good reason to throw a fit.)

A couple of striking writers, holding their "WGA On Strike" signs over their heads like cardboard umbrellas, are walking briskly down the street towards the Warner lot. They glance at me with some alarm. I stare back with a dead-pan expression. "What???" I shout at them. They quickly look away and scurry towards their destination, apparently not wanting to provoke the pissed-off lunatic standing in the rain. Writers. What do they have to strike about? They should try being photographers!

Back in the condo. I call Leesa.

"I can't find the damn triggers."

"Did you look in the camera bag?"

"No. I didn't think to look there, Leesa. I thought I'd look everywhere they shouldn't be just so you could suggest I look where they should be."

"And I'm supposed to do what about this?" Leesa asked, remaining cool and calm.

"Would you look through the office?" I asked. "They supposed to be in that little black bag and the little bag is supposed to be in the big camera bag but it's not. I've tore the bag apart looking for it. It must have fallen out or it got left at those people's house where we shot on Sunday."

I wait.

I wait some more.

The model is looking at me quizzically. I gesture to her that I'll be off the phone in a minute. I'm pretty sure my gesture translates into Czech. Leesa returns to the phone.

"They're not here," she twangs. (Leesa is from Kentucky where twanging is commonplace.)

I'm now getting, uhhh... a bit short with Leesa. "What do you mean they're not there? They have to be there! Either that or you left them at that house on Sunday."

Leesa still remains calm. "I didn't leave them anywhere. I'm sure they're either in the camera bag or they're in your car."

"They're not!" I responded with a bit more zeal than I intended. That's when I started ranting about how I didn't want to spend any money replacing them and how it was probably her fault they were missing and how she should pay better attention to where she puts stuff away after we shoot and...

I'm not sure at what point during my rant Leesa hung up on me. I noticed Jennifer was looking my way with a bit of apprehension.

"I have a little problem," I sheepishly explained to Jennifer, having now semi-composed myself. "I can't find my radio triggers. I'm going to have to improvise."

Jennifer stares at me a moment longer and then shrugs, turns away, and re-exams her lip gloss. Models aren't usually too interested in the technical problems photographers encounter. They just want to strut their stuff, earn their money, and go home.

So here's what I decided to do. I put my speedlite atop my camera and set it to manual. The monolight I was using as a main was modified with a 4' umbrella. Since I'd be keeping my mainlight behind me, and since the optical sensor on the monolight would be pointing at my back, I figured I could swivel my speedlite's head so it pointed behind me and would optically triggered my strobe when it fired. My mainlight would then optically trigger my backlight, which was another strobe, boomed behind the model and modified with a small umbrella. Since the backwards pointing speedlite wouldn't be adding much more than a bit of light bouncing off the walls and ceiling, I figured I could still meter my strobes the way I normally would except I'd be firing them optically with the speedlite (set to very low output power) instead of with radio transmitters and receivers. This worked out okay. It's not my preferred way to shoot but sometimes ya gotta improvise to get the job done.

Two hours later the shoot finally finished. It took up more of my day than I anticipated but, all in all, it wasn't all that bad. But I was very unhappy about my missing triggers! I tried calling Leesa again but, for some reason, she wasn't answering. Sometimes I truly despise the "Caller I.D." functions on phones these days.

When I got home, Leesa did her best to completely ignore me. She's pretty adept at that. I tried apologizing for ranting at her but, before I knew it, my apology started sounding like another rant. Leesa, still without a word, looked at me and got up, opened the camera bag, and, inside of about 5 seconds, found the little bag I keep the triggers in... albeit they were tucked away pretty well and they weren't EXACTLY where *I* always put them!

Silently and by myself, I ate my mid-afternoon lunch: Cold, poached crow.

The image at the top is Jennifer from the rainy day shoot. Canon 5D w/ 28-135, ISO 320, f/5.6 @ 125.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Few More From the "Fashion" Shoot

I thought I'd post a few more images from last Saturday's shoot featuring my cousin's fashion designs. I should note that, not only did she design the clothing, Tracy also built all the garments herself.

Leesa isn't ready to let me post any of her images yet. She's been working on portraits we shot on Sunday for a private client. (Private = Paid) Hey! Gotta keep those priorities straight, right?

The model in these images is Bree. Bree's from the OC. (That's Orange County, California, for those of you who don't know.) Turns out Bree also went to school for fashion design--that's where she and my cousin met--and she models, part-time, on the side.

Both images were lit with ambient sunlight and two, silver reflectors. Canon 5D, 28-135, ISO 200, f/9 and f/8 at 200th and 160th respectively. MUA Jennifer, Hair Heather, Stylist Tracy, Assistants Shauna, Kyle, Leesa. (That's three more assistants than I normally have around to abuse.)

For those who come here mostly for the eye candy, I'll try to get back to posting models wearing less clothing glamour images as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yesterday's "Fashion" Shoot

Per my previous post, we put together a photo shoot yesterday to help my cousin showcase her fashion designs.

It all went fairly smoothly. We met at my daughter's house where makeup was applied, hair was styled, and the models (there were two of them) were fitted. After all that was complete--it took about three hours--we headed to the local Metro Rail station to shoot some photos.

Almost as soon as we arrived, we met the station's security guard. And wouldn't you just know it, there was a local sheriff's deputy there as well. I performed a spontaneous song-and-dance routine, convincing both the deputy and the security guard what we were about to do did not qualify as a "commercial" shoot and, therefore, we didn't need a permit... and they bought it! (I have other skills besides camera skills.) Once that potential disaster was averted, we set about the business of photographing our models in and around the train station.

It was already fairly late in the day, requiring me to expend quite a bit of energy reminding everyone we were quickly burning daylight and that we needed to be constantly moving forward at a rapid pace. (I have much experience with running out of daylight.) Since everyone helping out was there out of their own, personal generosity, and they were either family or friends, I restrained myself from becoming a Nazi and barking orders to keep the photo shoot focused, moving forward, and on-track. (I knew all that sensitivity training would come in handy someday.) Leesa shot quite a bit more than I did and got some great images! Maybe she'll let me post some in another update?

We shot two models: Faye and Bree. The images I'm posting for this update are all of Faye. Generally, we went with more of a "catalogue" approach to the photography.

Faye did a terrific job. She donated her time and was enthusiastic throughout. I've shot Faye before but under completely different circumstances and for content that had nothing to do with fashion design. Who says an "adult biz" chick can't legit model? BTW, today Faye is on a shoot for Italian Vogue!

MUA Jennifer, stylist Tracy, hair Heather, assistants Shauna, Kyle, and Leesa. This was a "for fun" shoot for everyone's portfolios... mostly for my cousin and her fashion designs. The first two images were lit with reflectors, silver sides out. For the third photo, I used a single Vivitar 283, Strobist-style, unmodified, mounted on a stand and fired with a cheapie, Hong Kong-made, Ebay wireless. Shooting this kind of stuff was a whole different ball 'o wax for me. Not much processing on any of these.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trying My Hand at Fashion

Besides being my 2nd cousin, it turns out my (first) cousin's daughter, Tracy, is also an aspiring fashion designer. I should qualify the word "aspiring." Tracy has a degree in fashion design and is employed by a California clothing manufacturer as their in-house designer. But Tracy has her own work she "aspires" to market: That's where "Team Jimmy & Leesa" comes into play. Tomorrow, we're going to shoot models wearing Tracy's designs.

As you might expect, I've hooked Tracy up with one of the models-- One who won't be shedding the clothes she's wearing. (As opposed to the other times I've shot her.)

But I did say "models," as in plural, didn't I?

I did.

A friend of Tracy's is participating as a second model and I'm hearing there might even be a third model that Tracy's bringing along, although that hasn't been firmed up yet. Also, Tracy's bringing along yet another friend who is a hairstylist. To round out the team, my daughter, Shauna, (who is Tracy's age and her childhood friend and an photographer herself) asked a long-time friend of her's, Jen, to provide MUA duties. Jen recently graduated from a Hollywood make-up school. Although Jen is pursuing a career as an MUA for films and TV--she's specializing in special effects makeup... prosthetics and appliances and all that stuff--she's really excited to participate on this project.

I think it's going to be a whole lot of fun! I've known two members of the team all their lives: My daughter (of course) and her's (and my) cousin, Tracy. I've also known Jen since she was 4-years-old: Jen and Shauna went to pre-school together and have remained friends all this time.

It looks like Leesa and the old man are going to be finding out if they can artistically "hang" with all these youthful and creative minds.

The pretty girl at the top is Rebecca. I shot this image of Rebecca today, although she has modeled for me once before; about a year or so ago. Rebecca, who is from Barcelona, Spain, did her own makeup and I captured her with my Canon 5D with my trusty 28-135, all-purpose, zoom lens. Settings were ISO 100, f/8 @ 125, WB set for "strobe." Two lights were used for the capture-- a large, 4' umbrella directly in front of her and a shoot-thru, boomed above Rebecca from the rear. I used PS's Channel Mixer tool for the B&W conversion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ten Things About Me

Thanks to Lin, one of Fluffytek's resident art-photography bards, I'm challenged to pen ten (10!) things about myself that:

1) List some of my (supposedly well-kept) personality traits.

2) Provide a few glimpses into my past or present, peppered with a smattering of personal likes, dislikes, and/or idiosyncrasies.

In spite of being confident that no one really needs cares to know any of this stuff -- no one, it seems, but Lin -- I find myself without anything else to write about at this moment so I guess I'll just forge ahead with these egocentric revelations.

BTW, this little exercise in blogging self-flagellation is all part of some inane game played by certain inhabitants of the Blogosphere who, apparently, have too much disposable time on their hands. Be advised it is as a member of the aforementioned group that I'm taking this bait.

WARNING: Prepare to be thoroughly bored! If you decide to pass on reading the remainder of this update, trust me, I'll understand.

1. I'm a Harley guy--I ride an '07 Harley Night Rod these days--but I also have a thing for classic British motorcycles-- vintage 50s & 60s bikes. At one time or another, I've owned a 50s or 60s Norton, BSA, or Triumph motorcycle. My favorite of all of them was a 1963 Norton Dominator.

2. Due to my own stupidity, an accident caused me to spend many years with continually declining sight in my right eye. Eventually, a dark veil of partial blindness descended upon me: I became 100% blind in my right eye. Still, for over a decade I continued to steadily work as a photographer and videographer, blind eye or not. About four or five years ago, technology caught up with my blind eye. My eye was surgically salvaged and my full sight was restored! This was accomplished via new procedures and treatments and also with the help of a high-tech, synthetic lens implant. Yep! I have a bionic eye! On the down side, I now have a much harder time turning a blind eye to many things! (Sorry. That was a lame attempt at being witty.) Anyway, with the resurrection of what one of my doctors labeled my "miracle eye," I was suddenly fully-sighted and ready to continue my career as some guy who makes his living with cameras in his hands. Interestingly -- or maybe not -- while I was 1/2 blind I was only able to shoot with my left eye and, although its been 4 or 5 years since the sight in my right eye was restored, I still shoot with my left eye. Some habits, I guess, are hard to break.

3. For most of my adult life, I've been fascinated with history, archeology, human evolution, and cultural anthropology. (Not necessarily in that order.) I spend nearly as much time learning about these (and related) subjects as I do learning about photography. I'm a firm believer that we, as a species, must continue to discover all we can about ourselves: Where we came from, how our evolutionary and cultural pasts have molded us and changed us, and how our mistakes and triumphs continue to effect us and guide us, i.e., if we plan on surviving and thriving.

4. I hate lima beans. I do not simply dislike them, I detest them!

5. Most people prefer being spared my rants opinions concerning politics and religion. Trust me, I have much to say on both subjects and a lot of it is outside the consensuses of many groups of people. I'm neither an atheist nor an anarchist. I'm not a member of any organized religion or political party. My beliefs, religious and political, are rather eclectic and quite a few people consider many of them to be on the fringe.

6. When I served in the military, I spent most of my service time overseas; much of that time in the United Kingdom. While there, I became politically and socially active. That was during the late, Viet Nam War era. As you might expect, my activism was not appreciated by my superiors, the military establishment in general, or the British authorities. I was arrested numerous times, threatened with court martial on more than a few occasions and, as a result of a laundry list of infractions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, discharged early, albeit under honorable conditions and not before serving 5-months shy of four years. Proudly, I left the military at the same rank as the day I entered it.

7. I worship women! I adore the female form! From a purely anatomical perspective, I don't consider myself a tit man which, for most men, means BIG tits. Instead, I admire women's breasts in all sizes. Add to that a great derrière, shapely legs, a healthy dose of intellect, adventurousness in bed, and a humorous and engaging demeanor and that's the package that does it for me!

8. I probably have a mental disease: I am obsessive/compulsive when it comes to locking doors. I will, quite often, go back and check the doors to my car or home three or four times before I'm confident(?) they're locked. Even after doing so, queasy, uneasy, and uncertain feelings continue to gnaw at me. I've tried a variety of techniques to assure myself I've locked a door -- things like moving a ring from one finger to another as a "sign" I re-checked the locks -- but the uneasiness persists. I'll sometimes repeatedly question a witness-- someone I purposely asked to witness me locking the door. This can be very annoying to the person I'm questioning. Especially after asking them: "I locked it, right?" or "You're sure it's locked?" two or more times after they've already assured me the door is locked.

9. I wasted spent more than three years of my life actively pursuing a career as a stand-up comic. Trust me-- Comedy ain't pretty! In private and sometimes on stage, comedians are some of the most manic-depressive and depression-inducing people on the planet. During my "comedy" period, I sometimes killed and I sometimes died. Too often, I was just another clown on a stage trying to make a bunch of drunks laugh at the expense of my own flaws and dysfunctions. For some reason, it was something I had to do which, perhaps, qualifies as yet another mental disease in my possession.

10. Too often, I have a bad habit of not finishing what I've started. This being #10, it might either be a good example of me not appropriately finishing something I started or an example of the exact opposite... depending, I suppose, on how you look at it. (Wow! Heavy.)

The gratuitous eye candy at the top is Nikita Lea from two or three years ago.

Friday, January 11, 2008

PGS Reality TV Show Update

Yesterday, Leesa and I, along with our agent, were at a well-known production/distribution company's offices presenting our reality-TV, glamour-photography show to the company's development people. It was our first, official pitch for the show!

Why go to a production/distribution company instead of directly to the broadcasters? Well, as our agent pointed out, "We're better off taking the show to broadcasters with an 800 pound gorilla backing us up."

That certainly made sense to us!

We thought the pitch went well. We brought along copies of the treatment as well as a Power-Point presentation Leesa had put together on the laptop. We figured, "What good is show-and-tell without the show part?" The PP presentation served to cue us as we pitched, keeping us on-track, and it also helped maintain the attention of those we were pitching to: Leesa populated the on-screen presentation with plenty of great examples of glamour photography.

The main person we were pitching to, the lead pitch-ee, actually uttered, "I like this," and "This is cool." I'm trying not to read too much into those words but they sure sounded better than "I don't know about this," or "This sucks."

One thing we learned is that many broadcasters are changing what they're looking for in reality programming. What many of them now want is info-tainment. They're still looking for shows that peer into the contestants' lives and are constructed around interesting jobs and endeavors--designing clothes, cooking food, trying to become supermodels, or (ahem) shooting glamour photography--but they now want shows that allow the viewers to learn something, i.e., something more than what makes the contestant's tick or what their jobs and/or industries are all about. These info-tainment shows will be designed and produced, as you might guess, to market and sell products to the viewers via the information they provide.

If our show manages to make it to broadcast, don't be surprised if, for example, all the photographers in it are shooting with the same brands of cameras and it contains "real" dialog that includes more than a few words hyping those cameras.

It will probably be a week or more before we hear anything back. If the development people really did like our idea and thought of it as "cool," they still have to sell it to their boss and their boss probably has to sell it to his/her boss... you get the picture.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Featured Pretty Girl Shooter: Michael Soo

Since I'm pimping the work of friends (see last two posts) I might as well pimp the work of others. It doesn't matter whether I'm acquainted with those "others" or not. If I like their work or I think it's instructive or illuminating (creatively, technically, or for some other reason) why not share? We're all here to expand our photographic, pretty-girl-shooting, consciousness, right?

Friends aside, I promise I'll try to limit my pimping to on-topic topics, i.e, to subjects that relate to photographing the kind of stuff this blog is mostly about. I can't, however, absolutely guarantee I'll always do that. Mostly because, in my half-century+ of living, I've learned there aren't too many things I (or anyone else) can absolutely guarantee.

I came across a video--a behind-the-scenes video--of the Golden State Warriors' 2008 cheerleader/swimsuit calender shoot. The shooter was Cupertino, California-based photographer, Michael Soo.

I appreciated watching Soo's approach and demeanor with the models. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you are probably aware that I'm a firm believer in the creative power that results from gaining rapport with models and the much improved images that rapport almost always yields.

For pretty girl shooters, it's always rewarding when the models get all giggly and jiggly and they Oooh! and Ahhh! when looking at the pictures you've just captured of them. When that happens, it's usually a good indicator that you're doing a great job interacting with them, as well as taking cool snaps of them.

I saw a bit of my own, on-set, behavior in Soo: He doesn't affect a big-shot with the camera persona while letting minions do all the grunt work. Don't get me wrong, I love having assistants to help. I'm sure Soo does as well. It improves production efficiency and allows the photographer to remain focused on the subject. But, like me, Soo seems to prefer jumping up and moving or adjusting his lights himself, rather than directing an assistant to do so. Besides this being a spontaneous, impulse, move, illustrating how the photographer works, I often think doing this makes a statement to the models: It says something that works in the photographer's favor in terms of building rapport with them. Some models, of course, are impressed with the appearance of big-shot-ism almost as much as they're impressed with cold, hard, cash. (Albeit, not quite as much.)

Often, there's only enough room for one ego on a set. Personally, I think it's more productive to give that room to the model. I'm not condoning Diva-ism, I'm just saying if someone feels the need to flaunt an ego, I'd rather let the model be that someone. For the most part, the better the model feels about herself, the better the pictures will be.

In the video, Soo appears to be working with a single assistant on this shoot. But I'll bet his budget could have afforded another or Soo could have found others for free-- others who would have jumped at the chance to assist on a photo shoot like this.

My favorite part of the video (and my favorite image in his gallery) is when Soo has a model climb up onto the pinnacle of some structure, placing blue sky and direct sun behind her with a beauty dish, perched atop a very high stand, filling the front. With Soo and his camera remaining on the ground, his low-perspective shots with the model flagging the sun are very effective.

If you'd like to watch the video, you can do so by clicking HERE.

If you'd like to see a gallery of Soo's images from this photo shoot, they're right HERE.

And HERE's a link to Michael Soo's blog.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pimping Pussycat Preacher (Again)

Some friends just keep asking for more, and more, and more!

My pal, filmmaker Bill Day, has now entered his documentary, Pussycat Preacher, in the Cinequest Online Film Festival. Bill has asked me to brag to all of you that it's doing really great and it has rocketed to #1 out of 148 films!

Just for more bragging reference, another of Bill's films, Missionary Positions, about two young pastors who ventured on a Quixotic journey to fight porn, is the second most downloaded film on with over 100,000 views! Many of the films on Jaman are very mainstream with big budgets and notable stars! And just so you don't think Bill is completely obsessed with Christianity and smut, he's equally at home making films about the Amazon's native peoples and their fight to save the rain forests of South America. A few years back, his documentary, Saviors of the Forest, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

If you're still reading -- after all, this post represents two updates in a row that aren't about glamour photography -- I'm pimping Bill's film again because A) he asked me to do so and B) for a very limited time (I think for a week or so) you can view the entire Pussycat Preacher documentary, online, for free!

That's right. Free. Gratis. Sans monetary expense.

If you choose to do so, Bill and I would greatly appreciate you giving the film a thumbs-up and leaving a comment or two. Even if you hate the film, why don't you still give it a thumbs-up? You can simply pretend your thumb is stuck up Bill's... uhmm... nose. Yeah! Nose is what I was gonna say. Awww, never mind-- your thumbs up Bill's nose is gross: Bill doesn't know where your thumbs have been and you don't where Bill's nose has been. Besides, they're your thumbs. Do what you want with them.

If you'd like to view Pussycat Preacher for free (it's about 75 minutes long), you can do so by clicking HERE.

The image at the top is the Holy Hottie/Pussycat Preacher herself: Heather Veitch. It's from a couple of years ago. I got a whole bunch of magazine tears out of that pic!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pussycat Preacher

My good friend, Bill Day, is an award winning TV producer and documentary filmmaker. His newest documentary, Pussycat Preacher, is about to be released-- to the public on DVD and to film festivals.

Pussycat Preacher
is about Heather Vietch, a former stripper and soft-core porn performer turned Christian minister who, with the help of her pastor and a couple of other Christian chicks, decided to take the word of Jesus on the road and reach out to strippers and porn chicks. One of the things that makes their story documentary-worthy is they reach out to these (supposedly) lost souls in their native habitats, i.e., strip clubs, porn conventions, wherever they need to go to preach the gospels to girls they consider in dire need of God's ministering. Plus, there's that small matter of other Christians not being too thrilled (that's an understatement) about Heather's ministry.

So Bill asked if I'd help get the word out. (Word about his film, that is, not Jesus.)

Yep. Bill asked if I'd pimp his flick a bit. I guess he figured I'd oblige since A) I'm his friend and B) I'm in the documentary and C) I owe him some money.

Just kidding about the money. No. Really. I am!

You see, now that Bill's latest documentary is ready for release, he put together a website and a trailer for the film. But guess what? He didn't include me in the trailer! That's right. Somehow, my "friend" (Bill) didn't think it important to include his good pal (jimmyD) in the actual trailer. What's with that? Can you believe that crap? How's that for gratitude? Not only do I give of my time to appear in the film--numerous times over a couple of years--but I shot some additional footage for it *AND* I granted Bill free use of a bunch of photographs I snapped! (Yeah, I shot the pics you see featured in the trailer.)

But you know what? That's okay. I can rise above that. My ego ain't so out of control and I'm not so small-minded that I'm going to hold that against a friend.

But Bill, probably feeling guilty as sin for reasons only he can answer, somehow decided I might be a bit smaller-minded about this than I am and put together a little mini-trailer -- a teaser -- that's made up of a few clips featuring your's truly from the film.

If anyone's at all interested in seeing a middle-aged man make a fool of himself with some Holy Hottie Christian chicks, here's a link to a Quicktime of Bill's too late, too little clip. Like I said, it's not the trailer for the flick. It's some clips he put together to make me feel better about not including me in the OFFICIAL trailer.


Here's the Pussycat Preacher Quicktime Teaser

If Quicktime doesn't work for some of you, here's a URL (below) where you can see the clip streamed. Unfortunately, you'll have to endure some advertisements if you go this route.

Pussycat Preacher Clip on RevverDOTcom

I also hope you visit for more about Bill's film and a look at the OFFICIAL trailer that doesn't include me... other than a few snips of my voice buried somewhere in the soundtrack.

The image at the top is a candid I snapped of filmmaker, Bill Day, shooting Heather Veitch (the title character) at some point (I don't remember when) during the two or three years of filming that went into the making of Bill's latest documentary, Pussycat Preacher.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Photographic Prognostications

I received an email the other day from some company's website,, hoping to induce me to sign up for their services.

I've never heard of these folks, I know nothing about them other than their emailed claims of having "the most photography jobs anywhere" plus some verbiage about instant access to 4000+ jobs and adding 600+ jobs weekly. They appear to be part of a parent company called, "Creative Jobs Central (dot com)" and I discovered they have other websites in addition to their photography jobs website. Their other URLs are for people seeking jobs and/or internships in Fashion, Interior Design, Music, Makeup, Modeling, Advertising, Architecture, Gaming, Graphic Design, Entertainment, Marketing, and PR.


I didn't follow the links far enough to find out what it costs to sign up with these people and I'm pretty sure they aren't offering all their 1000s+ job leads for free. I have no idea if they're reputable or not. I'm not touting them or vouching for them. I'll simply quote Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes: "I know nothing." (I think I just seriously dated myself.)


What's this have to do with photographic prognosticating?

Well, in their email, the people at listed the 20 most recent photography jobs posted on their site and, curiously, 50% of those jobs, i.e., 10 of the 20, were for photography instructors.

Not for photographers.

For photography instructors.

So here's what I'm thinking: I'm thinking if anyone thinks the photography biz is already tough enough because there's way too much competition -- mostly due to the onslaught of the dSLR revolution -- I predict it's going to get worse.

Way worse.

If half the jobs listed on a photography jobs site are for photography instructors, it means those people getting those instructor jobs are going to be instructing even more people, probably by the legions, in the art and craft of photography until, eventually, all they'll be training are more future instructors or people who will be unemployed. Leastwise, unemployed as photographers.

In fact, there may come a time when the only actual jobs in photography will be photography instructor jobs!

You see, once just about everyone has an auto-everything camera capable of taking professional quality images, everyone will consider themselves a professional quality photographer. We're practically at that point already. Add some new technologies to the cameras and accessories -- like wireless everything where the camera's "brain" talks to the off-camera strobe's "brains" with text feedback to the photographer on the back of the camera's LCD telling him or her to move a light here, put another one there, modify that light, snoot this light, put a reflector over there, pan left, tilt down, zoom in, click the shutter...

You see where this is all going?

The only thing left will be photography instructor jobs because everyone else, that is those who are so inclined, will be photographers capable of producing professional quality photographs of, well, of just about anything simply by virtue of their gear. And the only people the instructors will be instructing will either be more instructors or those hard-headed, old-school, misfit/would-be photographers who take learning seriously and believe they might actually be able to shoot their own professional quality snapshots without their cameras telling them how to do it or doing it all for them or figuring everything out for them.

I'll admit my predictions are based on little evidence and there were no scientific methods employed while developing my prognostications.

I'm just saying.

The image above is Sarah from today. Sarah did her own makeup and I did my own assisting. I didn't shoot in auto-everything mode and I decided myself how to light her, what exposure settings to use, how to pose her, and how to frame the shots. I could instruct others to do the same but, eventually, no one will need to know any of that kind of stuff anyway. And yeah, I'm feeling a bit cynical today.