by Skip Cohen
With all but one episode of "Beyond Technique," we've always had a guest. However, this time around, Chamira Young and I wanted to host a very different kind of conversation. We tried to pack as many ideas as we could in our 30-40 minute window to help you think about being proactive in your business right now.
The pandemic has left us all with the look and feel of a deer caught in your headlights. But as the reality of the new norm of social distancing and anxiety sets in, too many artists have taken the directive of "shelter in place" to mean everything in their lives, including their business, marketing, and skillset.
So, Chamira and I took a shot at packing in a dozen or so ideas for you to consider doing during this downtime. They're not unique, and they clearly take up time...but time is what we've all got. There's an ongoing argument between the media, the CDC, the politicians and "doom and gloomers" over whose crystal ball is more accurate in how long this is going to last. It doesn't matter; we've all got to do everything to protect ourselves and our families for an extended period of time.
The silver-lining in these difficult times is there's so much you can be doing to raise the bar on your skill set, stay involved in your community, build a better blog, plan your marketing programs for when things get better, and the list goes on and on.
Just remember one crucial thing - you're not alone. We're all in this together, and this has always been an industry where we watch each other's backs and share ideas.
"Beyond Technique" is brought to you by...
Beyond Technique brings you a different perspective each month about business, imaging and sometimes even life. It's a lot like Platypod's goal to keep giving photographers a different perspective and more creative tools to their skillset.
From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
Right now the Max-Macro Bundle is one of their very best sellers and is on sale. Fine-tuning your skillset in macro and closeup photography is ideal during the downtime at home.
As always a BIG thanks to Photofocus.com for sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
If you've followed me for even a short amount of time, then you know I love this industry, but it's not just about the magic of capturing memories for your clients - it's the friendships and projects we all work on together. It's the way, so many of us help each other and utilize our skillsets to share information.
Today's post is just one of those moments, thanks to Charles and Jennifer Maring. After WPPI last week, they headed out for a few days in California before returning east. Along with their LUMIX Gear (they're both LUMIX Ambassadors for Panasonic), they had two working prototypes of Platyball, the Elite, and the Ergo.
Charles did a full review of the product in the video below. Having a chance to test drive the new ball head, he was able check it out firsthand. And, with six days to go, this is the community's last chance to acquire Platyball at a 20% savings and receive it before anyone else. And, it's a significant saving -
$50 on Ergo, $76 on Elite, and $175 if you're buying both.
More information is just a click away.
Click on the banner above to listen to the podcast on Photofocus or iTunes!
In March 2017, Chamira Young and I started co-hosting podcasts together. We've presented over one hundred episodes of great conversations with some of the most talented and passionate artists and educators in imaging. Last summer, we relaunched Beyond Technique with the intent that it would be just that - beyond the normal parameters of photography and even business.
Steve Brazill joined us this week for a completely new direction and well past what all of you consider technique. He's known as the "Razz" on KCAL FM in California, but that's only one hat he wears so well. In addition to being a well-respected radio personality, he's a LIVE music photographer and hosts what's become one of my favorite podcasts Behind the Shot.
Steve shared so much great information with us that we decided just to let the clock run longer than usual because music photography is unique. From relationship-building to knowing the rules, Steve pulled no punches in sharing his experiences over the years as an artist. Like so many of us, his love for photography started with photographing his family.
Steve's no stranger to SCU. He joined me for an episode of "Why?" last October with the image on the right. Until he told the backstory, I was convinced it was Mick Jagger!
Steve's galleries are a kick to scroll through. I grabbed screenshots of a few favorite images. Click on any one of them to visit his website and to put Behind the Shot on your radar - click on the banner below.
"Beyond Technique" is brought to you by...
Thanks to Platypod, the Beyond Technique series is bringing you a different perspective each month about photography and life. It's a lot like Platypod's goal - giving photographers a different perspective and adding more creative tools to their skillset.
From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
Check out their Kickstarter campaign for Platyball. They've literally turned a standard in imaging, upside down!
And a big thanks to Photofocus.com for always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
Images copyright Steve Brazill. All rights reserved.
While there's nothing Rick Gerrity can't photograph and probably hasn't, I wanted to share a little of his black and white work, because it brings out so much about him as an artist. I usually love to share the artist's backstory, but this morning I'm going to share it from my perspective.
Rick's a LUMIX Ambassador, and educator teaching all over the US, but most importantly, he's a student of people. His passion is telling the story of America, and that truck of his, which is approaching 500,000 miles, is proof of his road-warrior mentality to go everywhere it goes! All along the way, no matter where he's headed, a LUMIX camera is never out of reach. He described the combination of his LUMIX G9 with the Leica 10-25mm lens as a "life-changing combo!"
The fun of this industry is always about the friendships, and I first met Rick in 2013 when our mutual buddy, Tom Curley, was getting the Ambassador team started. Since then, thanks to cyberspace, I've been able to follow him all over the country as he documents Americana. And, while I love so much of his work, I chose black and white for today's post because B&W is so pure of the distraction of color - each image is about the personality of the subject or simply the moment. If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then Rick's already surpassed everything Shakespeare ever wrote.
But another aspect of knowing Rick is the fun of what he shares. Because of my affiliation with Platypod, he sent me the image on the right over the weekend, and the video below. While out and about in South Jersey, Rick was playing in the mud.
He used a Platypod Max with his G9 to capture the video. He had it tied to a tree as he took his truck in and out of a mud puddle just smaller than Lake Erie!
On one side of my home are two tables and all of Sheila's gardening tools and flower pots. She loves to garden, and I had a sign made that says, "Sheila's Garden Shop - Some kids just like to play in the dirt!" Well, obviously, Sheila's not alone.
For more information on Rick's favorite camera and lens combo, click on either thumbnail below. The G9 is also my favorite, but I love the versatility of the 14-140mm lens.
Rick should be on your radar. Click on any of his black and white images above to visit his Instagram page, where he shares most of his work. Even better, he's on the road right now and headed to Virginia to do a Travel Photography seminar at Ace Photo Inc. and then on to Texas to Precision Camera for another seminar on street photography.
As a LUMIX Ambassador, Rick's part of one of the most unique and diverse educational teams in professional photographers. This group of artists and educators represent some of the finest photographers in the industry and should be on your radar. You'll also find them hanging out from time to time in the LUMIX Photographers group on Facebook.
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about my role with the team at Platypod over the last few weeks. Since launching the new Kickstarter campaign on January 15, we've not only turned the tripod world upside down but set a level of awareness and performance that rocks the record books.
As of this morning, the campaign has brought together almost 1100 photographers as Kickstarter backers in just the first nine days of a sixty-day campaign. To find out more about the product and how you can take advantage of the launch promotion, take a scroll through the Kickstarter page.
Yesterday, Jay P. Morgan on The Slanted Lens shared the first video tutorial showing the Platyball in action which is below.
What I love about the short film is that it's more than just an introduction to seeing the performance of the product. It's a perfect demonstration of what makes Jay P. one of the leading educators and filmmakers in imaging. Whether you've got an interest in the ball head or not, pay attention to how he takes you through using Platyball as well as his thought process for what he's trying to capture. Then, imagine what the rest of his presentations are like.
There are almost 400,000 subscribers to The Slanted Lens on YouTube, with 501 videos to choose from. Each one brings together technology and Jay P's unmatched love for education and imaging. It's one of the best educational resources available, and subscribing is just a click away!
by Skip Cohen
This is a hard Sunday Morning Reflections to write. The topic isn't difficult; just the message I want to share without sounding like an infomercial. If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you know I don't shy away from much of anything - so, here goes...
I'm at IUSA and will be working in the Platypod booth this week. Every show I attend is usually about networking and building relationships for whatever my next project might be. It's about maintaining my relevance after a lifetime in this industry. However, this is the first time in years, I've actually worked a booth to help sell products and great concepts.
Three and half days ago Platypod launched their Kickstarter campaign for a new ball head and has already carved out their own little piece of photography history. We're approaching a thousand backers, and the response from photographers has been incredible. I don't want to talk about the product, but the team that put it together and the passion behind its growing success.
There's an old African proverb I've shared a few times over the years:
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
To succeed in anything, you have to be focused on your dream, and in the process, let nothing block your passion. "Dr. T," Larry Tiefenbrunn, had a vision four years ago and started to pursue it. He never strayed from the journey to create a new approach to the product he wanted to develop.
In a way, I feel like a rookie ballplayer who joined a team at the top of the ninth of the last game of a winning season. Helping with marketing the last couple of months, pales in comparison to the blood, sweat, and tears that's gone into this project before I joined the team.
"Dr. T" isn't just an engineer/photographer with a passion for change, but a team builder. It's that refusal to give up on a concept, while at the same time building a team that makes this fun to write about. His passion is infectious, and as I look back on my life in the industry, is something I've only seen a few times, and never from the front row! LOL
"We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we trust,
respect and care for each other."
I'm sharing the project video below, not as a pitch to you, but as a demonstration of what can happen when a group of people focuses on the same goal and become a team. While it was "Dr. T's" script, there were a half dozen people who helped write it; a talented filmmaker and his team who like a great chef turned it into reality, and then dozens of people, including, Scott Kelby and his team who helped launch it to the public. In every aspect, it's the result of a group effort.
And here's my point:
Each of you have dreams of success - things you want to do in your life. At times those dreams get buried under the baggage of stress from a variety of sources - changing priorities, a growing family, finances, developing your skillset, and the list goes on and on. Before you know it, those dreams have been pushed out of sight, put in a shoebox, and kicked under the bed. Right now, they're sitting in that same box with old photographs and your notes from a workshop you might have taken years ago.
Well, it's time to bring out that box and take some time to dust off those dreams. You don't have to do it alone. Share those goals with your family; bring in some friends to help, and lay out a map to bring them closer to reality. Don't let anything stand in your way, and like Larry and his wife, Mina - be willing to risk whatever it takes to turn those dreams into reality!
As always, I wish everybody a terrific Sunday, and I hope you'll take the time today and dust off any of those dreams you've let slip to the back-burner. Take a little time to think about the team you might need to help with your quest, and that includes shutting down the little voice inside you that challenges your self-confidence from time to time.
Go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people you care most about - always remembering they're a part of your team. Without them, whatever dreams you have can never become a reality!
Happy Sunday, everybody, and thanks for being part of my team. It's seven years ago today, with your help, I started SCU. Without you, this would be such a tedious business and a life that could put a rock to sleep! It's all of you who help make it exciting and ever-changing. And, if you're at IUSA this weekend, come by booth 157 and laugh at me as I try and act like I know what I'm doing!
by Skip Cohen
I couldn't be more proud to have Platypod as an SCU partner, but what most of you don't know is that Chamira Young and I are directly involved in helping them with their marketing efforts. It's a remarkable company with a product line that's giving photographers a different perspective and expanding the creative tools we have for capturing great images.
This past week Platypod announced a prelaunch program on Kickstarter for Platyball. The company completed two very successful Kickstarter campaigns in the past. They're known for keeping their promises and producing products whose quality always exceeds expectations.
Meet Platyball - the next new member of the family.
Platyball presents a new, revolutionary way to level. Featuring an inverted design, single-handed ergonomics, and a unique twist-action Arca compatible clamp, they've literally taken the classic tripod head design and turned it upside down. Redesigned from the ground up, the Platyball becomes an extension of your hand and allows you to level your camera better than ever before quickly. It is heavy duty and accurate to 0.5 a degree.
As part of the Kickstarter campaign, there's a special promotion for first-day backers of a FREE Platypod Ultra. All the details will be shared during the launch on Scott Kelby's show, "The Grid" on January 15 at 4:00pm EST.
Make sure you're on the launch notification list, so you're notified the minute the Kickstarter campaign goes live on Wednesday. Just click on the button button below.
Headed to IUSA next week? Stop by Platypod in booth 157 and check out Platyball for yourself. Plus the Max-Macro bundle is back in the online store by popular demand. It includes the new goosenecks, two Litra Torch 2.0 lights. Litra will be in the IUSA booth as well.
In the meantime, enjoy this thirty second clip from the upcoming video! Then, imagine what the rest of the video is going to be like!
This is a kick!
When Chamira Young and I relaunched this series last summer, we wanted to bring you topics out of the ordinary with guests who are extraordinary. Even though we love the podcasts we've done in the past, we wanted "Beyond Technique" to be different. Inspiration, new ideas, and sharing unique concepts while stepping away from the technique of capturing images was our goal.
Thanks to Platypod, the "Beyond Technique" series is bringing you a different perspective each month about business and life. In fact, it's a lot like Platypod's goal - giving photographers a different perspective and adding more creative tools to their skillset.
Suzette Allen joins us in the December episode, with a topic perfect for wrapping up 2019 and even better to kick off the new year!
Most of you know her as one of the industry's leading educators. She's a photographer, artist, educator, author, blogger, and a great friend to so many people in the industry. The story of how she got started isn't very different from most of yours. What changed was a horrific accident that became an incredible journey of hope, focus, dedication, and spirituality.
I've known Suzette for a long time, but what I appreciate the most about our conversation on this podcast is her ability to stay candid, open, and honest about what she went through. She holds nothing back, which is a big part of what makes her such a great instructor and friend!
I grabbed screenshots of some of my favorite images from her galleries. Click on any one of them to visit her website, blogs, and make sure she's on your radar! She and her husband Jonny are both LUMIX Ambassadors, and you'll find them both at a long list of workshops and convention programs throughout the year. And, check out her YouTube channel. There are 400 different videos covering a long list of topics, each there to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images and the support you give your clients.
"Beyond Technique is brought to you by...
We're proud to have Platypod as an SCU partner. Their products are giving photographers the ability to be more creative and capture images from a different perspective. From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
And a big thanks to Photofocus.com. Always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
All images copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
Image copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's "Mirrorless Monday," and last week LUMIX Ambassador, Paul Mango, shared this image from NYC. It was captured with a GX85 and Rokinon 7.5mm F3.5 lens. The exposure triad was F/8 @ 1/6 ISO 3200.
One of the fun aspects of sharing great images here in the SCU blog is the recipes that go into the photographs. I've been shooting with a GX85 for the last couple of years. I love the fact that's it's small and takes interchangeable lenses. It's got most of the features the LUMIX family has become known for and perfect for simply having a camera with you when you're out and about.
Another fun ingredient with Paul's shot is the addition of a Platypod. Platypod changes your perspective, and Paul wrote:
"I'm having a ton of fun with my Platypod in NYC and it fits perfectly in my pocket. Combined with the LUMIX GX85, it's the ultimate pairing for lightweight awesomeness."
Need a little inspiration? Follow Paul and the other members of the LUMIX Ambassador team. They're always sharing great content as one of the most diverse groups of photographers in our industry. And, check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page with images being shared every day from 7,000+ photographers all over the world!
If you don't know about Platypod, the website is just a click away, But, even better is this short video by Jay P. Morgan. The tripod isn't dead - it just needs a new sidekick!
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry, mostly because of the people I've met and worked with over the years. I'm not a tennis player, but we've all heard that your game improves when you play with somebody better than you. That's the way it is with creativity. That's also why taking as many workshops/classes as you can each year will help your skillset. It's not just about learning something new but being exposed to creativity on a different level.
Bob Davis is one of those creative buddies who never sits still and is always pushing the edge of the envelope. Together with his "partner in crime," Dawn, they're always looking for new ways to support their clients and build relationships. If you've never heard them talk about how they build relationships with vendors, listen to this past episode of Mind Your Own Business.
Every photographer is looking for ways to make their work different, especially in the wedding industry. We all know the sequence of events at a wedding, and it's tough to tell the story differently each time. But there are things you can do to make some of your images unique - find a different perspective.
That's one of the things I love about working with the Platypod team - they're giving artists the ability to capture from a different perspective. In turn, that creativity trickles up to the clients and helps create beautiful albums and memory-making images.
Bob sent me the images in this post (click on them to view in the SCU Lightbox) and wrote:
Platypod is the one of the best pieces of grip gear that goes everywhere with me! Sometimes tripods are not allowed in many public places, and when I travel it's much easier to pack this camera support over a tripod. I use remote cameras often and the Platypod is perfect for getting my remotes in position and out of the way.
He takes it everywhere, including while on Safari in Mashatu, Botswana, Africa, last April.
I had a vision of the Tree of Life, beneath the Milky Way and thousands of stars in the heart of darkness in Africa. It's the oldest Baobab trees estimated to be over 6000 years old, and I can only imagine what this ancient tree has witnessed.
Using the Platypod with a small Manfrotto ball head to support Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a EF 16-35mm f2.8 vIII lens, I was able to accomplish my vision. This frame the tree is rim light using the modeling light of Profoto A1.
Check out more of Bob's work with a visit to his website. And, if he's teaching at any conference you're attending in 2020, run don't walk to get a seat! You'll never be disappointed in what he shares. He's an artist who needs to be on your radar!
Interested in finding a different perspective for more of your images? Check out Platypod. There are some great holiday specials going on right now, and more creative tools to expand your skillset from macro to landscape and everything in between! Just click on the banner below.
Part of the fun of this industry is thanks to talented photographers/educators who are always willing to share their expertise and help us meet the need to expand our skill sets. In this new short video, my buddy Larry Becker put together five minutes of terrific "how-to" content to help you with simple product shots.
The key here is the simplicity of the setup. It's not rocket science, but done right; it can have results far better than what most people get when they need a product shot. We're not talking about the complexity of commercial table top images, just simple product shots we all need from time to time.
So, whether it's for something you're putting up on eBay or a product shot for your website, there's a lot of great content here to consider.
Larry's working with the Platypod Max Macro Bundle, which is part of Platypod's Holiday Specials this season. Just click on the banner to right to visit Platypod. Whether it's for yourself or the photographer you love the holiday season, there are different bundles along with the individual products to meet everyone's needs.
Check out Rick Sammon and Larry's podcast series, Picturing Success, with a click on the banner below. They're always sharing great content to help photographers achieve success in so many different areas of the business.
Images copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
One of the most fun aspects of this industry is about the photographs regularly shared by so many of my outrageously creative friends. Shiv Verma is one of those buddies who lives by a standard of always pushing the edge of the envelope and asking, "what if?"
It's the creativity of artists doing things with Platypod that got me involved with Platypod in the first place. There are an estimated 20,000 photographers who have added Platypod to their gear. It's a game-changer, always giving you a different perspective.
Shiv did just that with a ring shot recently. In fact, with these images, he wrote, "Platypod Max and two Litra Torch 2's (you can carry them in your pocket or your bag). Place the lights as appropriate and have a blast - I did."d
Both images were captured with the LUMIX S1R and LUMIX S 24-105 lens. The exposure triad for the ring in the petals of a white rose was F/4.0 @ 1/200 ISO 400. And the ring below was F/11 @ 1/30 ISO 400.
Platypod's Holiday Specials are going on right now! They're so worth the minimal investment to help you change your perspective and capture unique images. Add in the new goosenecks and Litra Torch 2.0 lights, and you've got more ingredients to expand your skillset and let the creative juices flow.
Check out the short video below and hear what several of the industry's most recognized pros had to say about the Platypod Ultra when it was first introduced. Now, you've got two models to choose from, plus more accessories and even the Ultra Travel Bundle, complete with a Benro IN00 Ball Head!
by Skip Cohen
Rick Sammon is no stranger to the SCU spotlight. In fact, you'd have to have been in solitary confinement the last thirty years not to know Rick's work shared in so many other venues. He's an artist, podcaster, author, educator, and essentially the Energizer Rabbit of imaging. He NEVER slows down, especially on his creativity!
Rick's always looking for a different perspective with so many of his images. Anybody can shoot beautiful postcard shots, but Rick looks for a way to capture moments that get us to look his way just a few seconds longer. That's exactly what he did on a recent trip to China and the image to the right.
One of my favorite "Sammonisms," is, "Use your hand-held camera like a drone. In other words, move your camera up and down, tilt it and move it side to side for creative angles. Thanks to Platypod, I was able to follow my own advice while photographing this woman in a rural village in China in September 2019."
Rick's angle is awesome but so is the lighting. Notice the true Rembrandt lighting (triangle of light under the eye on the shadow side of the subject's face) in the close up of the woman.
Learn how to become a better photographer, which is different than taking better pictures - in Rick's 40th book, Photo Therapy Motivation and Wisdom - discovering the power of pictures: Also check out Rick's online classes. Click on either image to see more of Rick's work and check out his workshops, books, blog and podcast while you're there!
Images copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
It's Mirrorless Monday, and Shiv Verma's sharing more beautiful images. He sent me the two photographs above this past weekend, and they deserve to be seen beyond his website or Facebook page. Click on either one to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox.
If you've met Shiv or at the very least, know his reputation. He never does anything halfway!
Shiv's using the LUMIX S1R and the LUMUX S 24-105 f/4 lens (which will do 50% macro). He's post focus stacked in the camera to create the image.
With the two pictures above, he enhanced the second one in post-processing.
The exposure triad was F/4 @ 1/500 ISO 500.
The last ingredient is having the camera mounted on a Platypod Max with their new goosenecks and two Litra Torch 2.0s.
Click on either thumbnail below for more information about the LUMIX S1R and 24-105 lens. And meet the entire S1 family with a click on the banner at the bottom of this post.
If Shiv Verma isn't on your radar, it's time you started keeping tabs on what he's up to. He's always sharing great content, and even better is catching up to him in person at an upcoming conference, convention or one of his workshops. His website is only a click away.
Follow Shiv and the other LUMIX Ambassadors for great content and a lot of terrific diversity. Each Ambassador has a unique skill set, but the common denominators are their love for the craft and respect for quality and creativity.
The image above is thanks to Carly Sullens, and it's a perfect example of my favorite thing about this industry, the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
Here's the very short backstory. Carly and I both spoke at ClickCon last August and will be there again next year. While we don't know each other well, like so many photographers, we share a lot of friends and companies we work with. Carly had a business question she sent my way, and I answered it. That started a conversation about photography, conventions, etc.
The image Carly captured above was one of her first as she started experimenting with a Platypod Ultra combined with two of her favorite pieces of equipment, a LUMIX GH5 and a LitraTorch 2.0 complete with barn doors. She sent it to me with the following comment:
"Extreme low light, the sun was setting. I wouldn't have gotten this sharp of an image without the Platypod and Litra accenting the still life."
Her exposure triad was F/2.8 @ 1/125 ISO 200.
Visit Carly's website to check out her work and educational opportunities for photographers. She regularly shares content to help you raise the bar on your skillset.
Platypod Black Friday Bundles - Click for more information
Click on any image to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox!
Images copyright Gilmar Smith. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Half the fun of photography is looking at great images, but the other half is the fun of getting to know the artists who create them!
When I started working with Platypod last September, I had no idea what to expect. I knew Platypod products were used by many of my good friends; I'd heard Scott Kelby talk about them on The Grid. My buddy and LUMIX Ambassador, Shiv Verma always has a Platypod Ultra and Max in his camera bag. A good pal and wedding artist, Bob Davis has a signature shot he loves from the floor just before the ceremony starts, and the list goes on and on...but I had never met Gilmar Smith.
As a member of the Platypod team, her primary focus is on social media. She's always sharing images and great content on Instagram, but her love for photography goes so much deeper. She's incredibly talented, not just as an expert in image manipulation, but as a children and family photographer.
I had no idea what to expect when I asked her about doing a guest post for SCU, but she exceeded expectations! Her post below is a perfect example of her passion for the craft, her family, and her clients. She redefines the meaning of the word "FUN."
She sent me at least a dozen images to share. I chose the Platypod image first for obvious reasons, but then pulled a mix of client portraits and her own family. As you think about the work you've captured and created for your clients, ask yourself one question, "Have I exceeded their expectations and made myself habit-forming?"
Gilmar never disappoints and has brought the best of technology into her skillset and combined with it her never-ending quest for creativity and fun. And it brings her clients back, over and over again!
Check out more of Gilmar's work with a visit to her website, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook too.
by Gilmar Smith
Photographing kids is one of the most challenging things ever, but sometimes it is not even kids who make these photoshoots challenging. It's the pressure and expectations of the parents. Everybody has this idea of having a perfect family portrait where everyone looks their best with huge smiles and a perfect pose. That, to be honest, is pretty unrealistic. Every family has different dynamics; every member of the family has a distinct personality, likes, and dislikes. To me, that's the most beautiful thing about families, that regarding our differences, we are meant to be together and love each other unconditionally amid chaos. That is what should be portrayed in family pictures.
If you look at a perfect family portrait on Pinterest, chances are that at least one of the faces of the member of the family was swapped from another picture. Unless you as a photographer, get really lucky and got everybody to give you your best in one shot, including a toddler and a five months old baby! If that's the case, CONGRATULATIONS!
As a parent myself, and photographer, I have witnessed it all, bribing, threating, crying kids, mom losing her marbles, dad uninterested and annoyed. It's a lot! Not to mention the time and money spent on buying new clothes for the Photoshoot. Then people hang those pictures on the wall that pretty much remind them of all the stress they went through. But heck, they are all smiling!
As a photographer, I find all that process ridiculous. I understand we all want to have beautiful memories of our families, but to me, it is extremely important to connect in a positive way to the images we hang in our walls.
That's why I approach my photoshoots differently.
Don't get me wrong; this is not something I came up out of nowhere. It is actually a technique that I developed with my kids, especially my son, and now I use it with my clients.
My son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was almost four years old. At about that same time I got a camera and started experimenting with photography. Obviously, I wanted to take amazing pictures of my son, but he wasn't interested at all; in fact, he was irritated by me trying to take his picture. So, I started using storytelling as a way to get him interested in getting his picture taken.
We would sketch a story, and then with the use of costumes, props, and the magic of photoshop, we would recreate our story. I noticed that by doing this, he was getting so interested, and he was enjoying being in front of the camera. He was also letting me into his world. Making these images together became our thing. As time passed, he started coming to me with concepts we could photograph, and that completely changed my approach to photography.
By photographing kids the way I do, I'm not only making the process a lot more pleasant and enjoyable for the kids (and the parents), but I'm also giving kids a way to express themselves and use the magic of imagination. And that's the best part of being a child!
This technique also works when photographing the whole family. Think about putting together everybody's personality in just one image!
I offer to create an image that really portraits their life as a family right now, that when they look at it in a few years, they can laugh and really see what everyone was like at that specific moment.
So how do I do it? I quickly explain my approach to my clients and show them a few examples of my work.
Then I go ahead and ask the kid's age, interests, mom and dad's hobbies, and what they do in their free time as a family.
With that information, I come up with different concepts and even create a mood board and sketch something for/with them. If you make sure to incorporate something that reflects the kids' personality in the shoot, such as a prop, toy, something they like to do, you are guaranteed that they will be more than happy to be in front of the camera, and most importantly, they will be willing to do it again!
One of Gilmar's favorite creative tools when it comes to hardware is thanks to Platypod. Check out their current Black Friday promotions, only available while supplies last. Click on any bundle below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
Don Komarechka is no stranger to SCU. We've shared so many of his images in the past, along with podcasts and great "how-to" content.
Last week the industry's favorite mad scientist astonished us again with "Liquid Flow" photography and the video below. I know this is very different from the kind of images most of you capture. However, besides the beauty of each photograph as art, pay attention to the way he tells the story in the video.
As one of photography's leading most creative educators, he's also ALWAYS willing to share the process he's used for the images themselves.
Platypod and the LUMIX GX9 and S1R played key roles in the short film below. And, if this was Hollywood, Don would be walking away with the Oscar for best director, producer, and writer!
Don needs to be on your radar! You'll find him regularly sharing outstanding content on his Instagram page, and his website is jam-packed with more images, podcasts and information about his workshops! Just click the thumbnail below.
As I mentioned above - Don's always willing to share the backstory on his images and each piece of gear used along the way!
by Don Komarechka:
Here's how you do "liquid flow" photography (and video, obviously) using ultraviolet lights and fluorescing inks!
Gear involved all listed below!
First, the lights. I'm using a bunch of stuff here, basically everything I had that I could fit in. That includes:
- 3 Convoy S2+ flashlights: https://www.fluorescents.com/products...
- 1 Convoy C8 'Fyrfly': https://www.engeniousdesigns.com/prod...
- 1 'Jaxman' UV flashlight: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07...
- 2 "Master Ultra365 units from MinerShop (AC-powered): http://www.minershop.com/051718/html/...
The lights are all held together with Platypod Max and Ultra units, with gooseneck arms: https://platypod.com/our-tripods
- added "crab clamps" to hold the lights, readily available from generic vendors on Amazon.
The tank is an 8" cube aquarium from a local supplier, but any glass aquarium would work.
The inks! These are all from a company called "Noodler's". The three used in this video include:
"Blue Ghost": https://www.gouletpens.com/products/n...
"Dragon Catfish Orange": https://www.jetpens.com/Noodler-s-Dra...
Cameras used: Lumix GX9 for wider shot: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc... Lumix S1R for main video/stills shooting: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc... Kit lenses used for both.
The shooting of the stills was simple: maintain a 1/200sec shutter speed, shoot wider than you need to crop in to the areas of interest (and get a greater depth of field from shooting further back), F/13, and whatever ISO is required to make those other two settings work. With the amount of lights I had, that was ISO 1000.
These images survive noise reduction VERY well, so don't be afraid to push to ISO 6400 and beyond if needed!
This is one of those posts where I feel like Carly Simon should be singing in the background, "Nobody Does It Better!" Because NOBODY teaches like Jay P. Morgan.
In just under six minutes, he hits eleven solid tips to help you become a more effective artist! And, if you're not a filmmaker but a still-photographer, you'll still find Jay P's tips and suggestions helpful to expanding your storytelling skills.
Co-starring with Jay P, actors Sean Ritchie and Savannah Phillips, Platypod had a couple of key roles. Check out Platypod's Instagram page for more ideas on how to change your perspective and bring more creativity to your videos and photographs.
If Jay P's website, The Slanted Lens isn't already on your radar, then you need to take a scroll over there. Check out his YouTube channel too! The archives are packed with helpful how-to content in 484 posted videos.
No matter what the topic, I can promise you Jay P is always sharing ideas that trigger something new to your skillset, you've forgotten or overlooked. Nobody does it better!
by Skip Cohen
Time for you to meet Joe Pellicone! A few weeks ago, images from his neon lights project were shared on the Platypod blog. I love it when artists give us a different perspective on subjects we take for granted. We've all driven by diners and buildings without thinking about how they look at night.
Joe started his "Neon at Night" project a year ago and has now accumulated 128 diners and other beautifully lit buildings - all with his camera on a Platypod. Besides his skill set, what makes the images so interesting is the angle he's working at - just a few inches off the ground.
Joe wrote about what :
I did my first diners with a tripod and quickly learned that it took too long to set up at each location. I had several encounters with diner employees or owners who came out while I was opening and placing my tripod. Some challenged me and questioned why I was taking photos. One was angry and threatened to call the police. I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation, I determined I needed to shorten my setup time so I could be in and out quickly. One thing that helped me with that was ditching the tripod and switching to a Platypod Ultra.
...Placing the rig on the ground adds an unusual perspective to my photos which I believe is an added bonus. Shooting low down gives the focus to the buildings, flattening out the ground in front of them and giving them a ‘hero’ look...The look is achieved by shooting in Aperture Priority at F22 and ISO 100. It provides me with starbursts on lights and gives a nice clear photo. These usually end up as long exposures running from 5 seconds to a minute.
Read Joe's complete post and check out more great images from Neon at Night. And, if you're in the NYC area, Joe's speaking at several camera clubs in the months ahead. Already on the schedule are: Syosset Camera Club on October 17, 2019; Suffolk County Camera Club on March 11, 2020, and the Port Washington Camera Club, May 13, 2020. Follow Joe on Instagram, his website and Facebook. He's always sharing great content.
A fun contest was just announced this week with some outstanding prizes including a first prize valued at just under $400! The theme is "Tight Spaces" and Platypod's looking for creativity, photography excellence and technique. All the rules are on Platypod's Instagram page, easily found with a click on the thumbnail below.
Image copyright Don Komarechka. All rights reserved.
It's Mirrorless Monday and the perfect time to share this image by Don Komarechka.
Don's no stranger to SCU. We've featured a number of his images, guest posts and a podcast or two - most recently on "Mind Your Own Business. He's an accomplished artist, educator, author, and over the years has become a great friend. I often refer to him as the Mad Scientist of Macro.
Don loves to take on challenges. He loves finding new ways to shift paradigms. It's like watching some of the best episodes of "Myth Busters." Over and again, he's taken us through new ways to capture and create incredible images.
He shared the image above on his Facebook page last week, with a detailed explanation of how it was created. It was too unique to not share again here at SCU for Mirrorless Monday! Don goes into the full backstory about the capture of the image on his Facebook page. It's well worth the read, but I pulled some fun highlights:
"A few simple ingredients at play here, all held together by a new accessory from Platypod – flexible gooseneck arms attached to their Platypod Max as a “base of operations” that performs exceptionally well for tabletop macro work!
...This image is novel for a number of reasons, beyond the cool gadgets I get to play with to make these setups easier and more robust. Another point of simplicity is that this image is not taken with a macro lens, nor was it focus stacked! This is the magic of the high-resolution mode in the Lumix S1R.
...Imagine shooting a 187MP image, which is possible with the Lumix S1R, and then intentionally throwing 90% of it away by excessively cropping. You’ll still have just under 19MP worth of image data to work with, and I had previously been shooting with 18-20MP cameras for my entire professional career."
LUMIX S1R Kit, Digital Mirrorless Camera
With 47.3MP MOS Full Frame, 24-105mm F4 L-Mount Lens
Don Komarechka needs to be on your radar.
His website is just a click away. While you're there, check out the pre-order special on his new book, Macro Photography: The Universe at Our Feet. Just click on the thumbnail to the right for more info.
Don never compromises on the quality of anything he does. So, if you're looking to expand your skill set into macro check out his podcasts, galleries and workshops too.
Starting Monday, March 23 at 2:00 PM EST. Ideas to help your business in these difficult times. Click for more info!
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.