Archive for 'Editorial Photography':

Chandler Effing Arizona

I’m in Chandler, Arizona today teaching a workshop. This is one of our shots from today. All you need is a dumpster.

Yesterday I spent about three hours walking the streets around here shooting 2 rolls of film. Well, I shot nearly two rolls. I shot 22 images and finished the other 2 images today. I’m working on a mini portfolio currently called “Chandler F*cking Arizona.” It’s inspired by a t-shirt that my previous studio manager, Erik Dixon, would wear. It looked a bit like this but with better typography. I have no idea really why I want to call this mini portfolio by this name. It’s kind of against my style yet it’s just something I feel like doing. Who knows. I’m sure I’ll play it safe when I’m actually putting it together. (I really hope I don’t)

So yeah, more walking around with film. Why film? Here’s the deal…

Film costs money and film takes time. So when I’m out shooting with film I’m asking myself a series of questions.

1 – Is it a good picture?

2 – Is it worth the money?

3 – Is it worth waiting for it from the lab?

4 – Is it worth giving up this frame of film for a shot that I might find later that I’d rather have than this one I’m about to shoot?

5 – Will it be worth cleaning the scanner, loading it in the carrier, and making a scan?

6 – Will it be worth spotting in Photoshop?

7 – Will it be worth posting or printing?

8 – Is it a good picture?

If I answer “no” on any one of these questions then it’s not worth shooting in the first place. It’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the time. It’s not worth giving up that frame for a frame I might get later. It’s not worth sitting at the scanner and dorking with all that. It’s not worth waiting for. It ain’t worth shooting in the first place.

How much do you think I concentrate more on each photo? A lot. When you shoot digital who cares? Just go ahead and shoot it and if you don’t like it later then no big deal. So you shoot and shoot and shoot and don’t really stop and think about the process. You also don’t feel really invested in it. At least, for me, right now in my life, I don’t feel invested in digital. I’m just in that phase where I’m adding limits to my work and simplifying. I need to grow. I need to move forward with my craft, my vision, and my work. DSLRs bore the shit out of me right now.

Boy, I’m getting a potty mouth. Probably due to shooting film. :)

Not only that, but I want better quality. Back in the days of film 35mm was for run-n-gun photography and newspapers. Medium format was the ruler of the pro field. Of course large format has even better quality but MF was the format that could give great quality and still be portable. 4×5 and up isn’t all that portable and you sure wouldn’t shoot a wedding with one. Or would you? If any wedding photographer out there would attempt it, it would probably be John Michael Cooper. :)

It used to be a $5,000 or so investment gap to move from 35mm to medium format. In the days of digital that canyon to cross from 35mm format DSLRs to MF cameras and backs has been $30,000 or more until recently. MF manufactures are getting the prices down. You can get into a system for about $10,000 and that is really amazing. Just as amazing as when the Nikon D1 came out and an unbelievably low $5,000. $400 Rebels shoot circles around the D1 these days. I’ll move these Hasselblads to digital as soon as I can but I got into the classic 500 series so that I can switch from digital to film with a click of a release button. The back I’m looking at is $14,000. That’s a heck of an investment but a few years ago it would have been $30,000 or more. Prices are coming down. Pentax and Mamiya both have systems starting at $10k and I know one of you (@MikeSeb) is rocking that Pentax. You need to do a review on your blog!

If you ever shoot digital MF and nail the shot then DSLRs will seem like toys. DSLRs have their place in my bag. They always will but I shoot portraits for a living. I’m not running and gunning through events so much these days. I don’t need to spray and pray anything right now. I sit my subject in place and do my thing. I can work slower and be more deliberate with what I shoot. That’s what I need.

The image above? Digital. Just shot that a few hours ago. The film I shot yesterday? I won’t see it for at least a week. At least. Then I have to scan it and I won’t have time for that for another two weeks. And then I’m going to want to print it. Really print it. Myself. In a darkroom. Damn it. Stupid film.

Cheers, Zack

 

12/09/11 – UPDATE – I was looking at the Hasselblad CFV 39 back for the V series cameras. It sucks. I’m not spending a dime on that stupid back. Sometimes it works! Sometimes it doesn’t. All for the low low price of $14,000. Yeah, no thanks. I am however moving to a Phase One it looks like. I’ll know in a week or two and update this entry and make a new one about it.

Film. New York. So Maddening. So Great.

April 16, 2011 | Editorial Photography

Starting to shoot film again is like having to learn photography over again. It’s maddening and beautiful at the same time. I had to wait nearly an entire week to see these images! And I haven’t even begun to dig into the 15 rolls I shot last weekend to scan them.

The image above is from the Hasselblad SWC. Super. Wide. Camera. It has no optical viewfinder and you have to zone focus. Read that as “guess focus” unless you want to pull a measuring tape out. It’s a lovely camera and I call it Squirrel.

More to come.

Cheers, Zack

Blackberry Smoke :: First Scans Coming Back

April 12, 2011 | Editorial Photography

My first scans are coming in from my recent shoot with Blackberry Smoke. Kodak Portra 400 NC in an RZ67.

Scans? Yes. Film? Yes. RZ? No. Too heavy (although it remains one of the best cameras ever made.)

I’m moving to Hasselblad.

More on this? Yes. Later. :)

Cheers :: Zack

Imperfect Work :: Blowing It On Purpose


Question… Does it have to be perfect? Can the best image for the job sometimes be blown technically but executed perfectly for the job at hand?

Wrong exposure.

Wrong focus.

Wrong shutter speed.

Wrong light.

Wrong composition.

Just right photograph.

As technically strong as I try to be I’m always drawn to the work of others and myself that blows “technical perfection” out the window in lieu of “emotion” “movement” etc. Thoughts? Each photo above is technically wrong. They should be dumped yet they are in the first edit of my new portfolio.

I wouldn’t want to buy an “imperfect” house. Why do I like “imperfect” photography? Thoughts?

Cheers, Zack

PS – More on the business coming up. Just needed a break from all that. :)

London :: Kevin Mark Trail Shoot in Camden Town

September 13, 2010 | Editorial Photography

Anytime I’m traveling to a new place I am always on the look out to shoot some portraits. I put a call out on Twitter last week for musicians in London who might be looking for some new shots and fellow photographer, Romain Kedochim, came through with a great connection to artist Kevin Mark Trail. Kevin is currently working on his second release. You’ve heard him if you’re into The Streets. He’s performed and recorded with them on tracks such as Let’s Push Things Forward. Also, a big thank you goes to Sylvester Nicholson for helping out on the shoot and finding this awesome location to work with.

And for the sake of consistency… Here is the opening shot in B&W.

And now for something completely different… I’m working on another “stranger portraits” project while I’m here. Here is one from today.

Cheers, Zack

Oi! London!

Oi! Man, are we ever having a jolly good time in London right now! I love this city. Why have I never been here before?

This is Carl Spring. He was attending today’s OneLight. He’s an amazingly good dude.

Cheers, Zack

Dubai Gallery :: The First Edit

August 7, 2010 | Editorial Photography

I want to thank all of you for the feedback on the Dubai photos from the last post I made. I wanted to share with you the entire first edit of images for this portfolio.

All feedback and criticism is always welcome around here. Some of y’all had some great feedback on the first post. If any of you want to take a stab at editing this portfolio go for it! Grab the images from the gallery, arrange them however you see fit, spit them back on the web, and send me a link!

Editing your work is half of your job as a photographer. It’s the one thing in this industry that I feel I can not teach. I can sit with someone individually and speak to it but I can’t just make a blog post about it. I know of no academic resource about editing your work… not that I’ve seen them all. I’ve read many articles on the subject but none have stood out as definitive volumes of knowledge on learning how to edit your work. I think the only teacher is experience and feedback from peers. I hope to have a selection of these images printed and ready for critique when I’m at PhotoShop World in Vegas in a few weeks. I’m going to corner McNally while I’m there. He’ll tell me like it is. If you want to get inside the head of an editor make sure you are reading A Photo Editor on a daily basis.

I’m not trying to develop a “travel story” in the traditional sense of the genre. This is more personal in nature as I’m shooting the city as an outsider looking in. These are images or representations that I am drawn to. I’m trying to congeal a visual set of 20 images or less from this set. As I pour over these images I see holes in the Dubai portfolio already. There are certain architecture shots missing. I’ll be back there in March of next year and my plan is to really have this book solidified. I think I need to get this first gallery down to 12 or 15 and then bring in the new work when I go back. Since this is personal work I think of it as an assignment that might have the creative direction of, “Go to Dubai and shoot the city as you see it.” Amazing story line isn’t it? :)

I’ve done some post production to some of the images. Some are still just RAW files. You’ll find some duplicates here and there through the gallery as well as a few clunker/personal images that are just in that folder for my own reason. Like the one of Joe McNally outside of Ravi’s. Finally, there are a few images in this gallery that are there just for the graphic designer I’m working with to have some extra visual collateral to work with as he designs the new books. I aint no designer. I’m barely a photographer. :)

If any of you are a working photo editor who feels you know how to speak to editing please leave me a note here. I’d like to speak with you about a project for photographers that I want to do. I just need the right editor who can communicate about the subject.

You can find the first edit gallery of 300+ images here.

Cheers, Zack

Working On My Portfolio :: Book 1 of 4 :: Dubai

As Lightroom churns through some images I’m working in PhotoMechanic on a few new portfolios for web and print. The one capturing my attention right now is the selection of images from my two trips to Dubai.

I’m still trying to figure out why I love Dubai so much. There’s something about that place and something about the people that has really caught hold of me and I can’t let go of it. I’m sure if I were to go there around this time of year it would change my ideas about the place.

More images and thoughts after the jump ::

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Buckhead Bottle Bar for The Atlantan Magazine :: + Lighting Diagrams

The great thing about shooting more editorial work is getting to shoot more editorial work. The problem with shooting more editorial work is there are times I have to sit on the images for 30, 60, 90, or more days before I can share them.

This is an assignment I shot for The Atlantan. The subjects are Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and ATL restaurant veteran A.D. Allushi. They just opened a new restaurant/bar in Atlanta called the Buckhead Bottle Bar. I shot this assignment while construction was still going on inside their new restaurant & bar. I had one little corner to work in that wasn’t covered in dust and was “nearly” completed. The rest of the place was in a state of chaos as they were trying to bring it all together for an opening a week away. There were a few issues on the shoot. There was only one working power outlet we could use and the lights in the onyx table top were not installed yet. Below is a portrait of the two of them and the table I’m talking about.

Here is where being comfortable with your lights comes in very handy. The lighting and design of this place is as much of the story as the menu is. It was important to show this table lit up so Dan and I spent about 20 minutes testing out several options for lighting the table with flashes. We ended up gaff taping three hot shoe flashes underneath the table and put them on a really low power. These were older Nikon SB flashes that have built in optical slaves in them. We set them to slave so they would fire when the main light fired.

I had everyone take a look at the photos to make sure it wasn’t straying too far visually from what the tables would look like once the lights were installed. We made some changes to the direction of the small flashes until it matched what it would look like once the tables were complete. Again, knowing how to use your lights is crucial to being a working photographer. Everyone was worried what these portraits would look like without light coming through the table. When you can solve that kind of problem you are the hero of the day. Especially when you can do it in camera. If you can impress your client like this then they trust you. If they trust you… they call you again. All that’s left is making the deadline. :)

I’m currently finishing up the OneLight companion book that’s going out to all of this year’s OneLight alum. It’s going to have images like this along with lighting diagrams and the thought process behind the shot. For the sake of this blog post I’m including the lighting diagrams and camera settings for the two shots here. The diptych above is what I call the grid spot with soft chaser sort of look. The two flashes used for this type of light are on the same axis. You put the umbrella or softbox or octa up and then fly a grid spotted flash right in the center of it pointing in the same direction as the soft light source. You’re looking to get the soft light to be 3 or so stops under the gridded light. It’s the same thing I did when shooting the Fences for the creativeLIVE studio class.

Click on the images below to see them larger.

This shoot is a good example of why having some big lights and some small lights are good way to go when you have to walk into unknown situations on a regular basis. A few Alien Bees and a few old hotshoe flashes will take care of just about anything that comes your way.

As for the Bottle Bar? Come this fall when I’m not traveling as much, I’m going to be hanging out there. It’s a very cool place. You need to check it out if you’re in the ATL. The bottles behind the bar are cool. I wish they were done when I was shooting this so I can show you how cool they are.

Cheers, Zack

South 70 :: Press, Promo, CD Packaging Shoot

August 4, 2010 | Editorial Photography

Just completed the post production for the shoot I did with South 70 last week. We were only kicked out of one location. Not too bad. You’ll notice guitars showing up in this shoot. I typically avoid including instruments in my press and promo work because it can become cliché very quickly but there are times I break that rule. It has to just “work” and I feel with this shoot it worked. They’re a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll and I need that guitar in a few shots to bridge the gap visually. Not only that, when the guitar was on set it was being played. When the guitar was being played everyone started to sing. When everyone started to sing everyone forgot about the camera. When everyone forgot about the camera something genuine would happen… like the image above. As a photographer you sometimes just need to create the environment, set the light, and then wait for a moment to happen.

Aaaaaaaaaand… then you go back to directing things.

Thanks to the crew!

Cheers, Zack


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