Sunday, December 27, 2009
Well it began with fun intentions, I heard there was an indoor driving range at the airport in Seoul so was pretty excited about hitting a few balls during my stopover here. But the weather had other plans and after circling the airport for 40 minutes on top of our 10 hour plus flight, we landed in snow all over the airport and minus 10c temps.
So I'm inside using the free wireless and drinking coffee for a few hours....meh, I've had worse.
I took these pics just now, one is from my seat on the flight and shows what it looks like on the ground here and the other one I just put my camera on the ground on the moving travelator for a 10 sec exposure and took a photo of my feet.
Gonna get some food and get out of here......Hawaii here I come.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Almost exactly to the day this time last year I made a decision to go for it and start trading as a professional photographer, up till then I had success within my own network doing fun little commercial gigs for friends, shooting my friends and family, pretty much the way everyone else starts out.
Looking back at the year now, I can attribute anything that I’ve accomplished in my first year to just a few basic principles:
· Hard work, lots of it. I live eat and sleep the projects I’m working on
· Passion for making great pictures and never being satisfied with where I am, I’m always looking to the next step forward.
· Good advice, no, GREAT advice from trusted sources and close friends with everything from business tips to encouragement. A big thank you to everyone who has been a part of this.
· A great relationship with my marketing rep in 2009 Luke Boman and his team
2010 is already shaping up to be a busy year, with some exciting projects coming up. As far as business direction one big change is that my business has shifted from marketing representation to in house marketing. To this end I’ve secured the services of web guru and marketing man Michael McMahon AKA Mike. Mike’s official title is Web Guru & Marketing Dude. He is gonna spearhead our online presence across social and formal networks and keep our work out there. There will also be a revamp to the website that will make it easier for current projects to be viewed as we roll them out, watch this space.
Personally, I also have a couple goals and resolutions for 2010, they are:
· Do everything perfectly ALL the time, hahaha just kidding, I know I’m gonna make a heap of mistakes.
Seriously this time:
· Creative work – on the top of my list is setting aside time for creative work, and this has been for a long time, what is gonna be different in 2010 is I’m setting aside a budget as well. A percentage of all gross revenue is going into a kitty for creative shoots, whether its used for paying the best talent, securing the craziest locations or hiring kick ass props, 2010 is gonna see me push the envelope creatively and back it up with the budget it deserves.
· Giving back – 2010 is gonna see a regular giveaway of images from my fine art collection. In between my commercial creating I take thousands of fine art images so as a way of saying thanks to everyone for the support I intend to get select ones out to you absolutely free.
Well I’ll leave it there; I’m off to Hawaii tomorrow so better get around to packing.
Cheers to a 2010 full of creativity in everything we do!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
We new it was in the pipeline, the Australian Dive Team had wanted to get their star athletes photographed for a recruitment drive and we were gonna shoot it. My representitive Luke Boman had shown my book to the right people and everyone was excited. Great!
The problem was when. When were we gonna get the whole squad at one place from all over Australia? We got the call on Saturday while I was on a forklift shooting down from above in a hangar we had painted black to form a giant studio. "Can we do it Monday?" yelled Luke. I said no, then yes, then yes, then no. Not because it was too rushed, but because before he yelled out the date he told me that the whole squad was together because it was during a national competition. I hesitated because I wasn't sure if I was gonna be able to deliver what we said we would during a competition. I wasn't just gonna shoot from the sidelines, they could get anyone for that.
I knew there was gonna be one question that would tell me how much access I could have..."can I use flashes?" Luke relayed on the phone...the answer came back yes, huh, I thought, cool.
We turned up Monday morning, sure enough, everyone was there. I met with Mary Godden the CEO of Diving Australia and was briefed on the days format. My first question was "where CAN'T I go?" She said "you can do whatever you like, just dont stand in front of the judges"
We set up speedlights in one corner where we would line up the athletes, and during the events I roamed around. I chose to shoot from the diving platforms for the mens heat, and shoot the underwater shots for the womens. The shot of Matthew Mitcham was taken while we were both standing on the 8 meter platform, he stopped and asked if I could read the scoreboard. I couldn't, my eyes aren't too good. He dove off and scored 3 nines.
Everyone was very cool, relaxed, and we had a good time. Big props to Jarrod Casey who assisted during the shoot and to Mary Godden and her staff for having me.
Of course the biggest thanks goes to all the athletes: Ethan, Briony, Alexandra, Matthew, Melissa, Scott, Olivia, and Sharleen. It was great working with you guys.
You can view the rest of the days work and connect on Facebook here
Brief technical info for us nerds:
Equipment list: Canon 1DsMkIII, 17 – 40 F4L, 50 1.4, 20 2.8 and 70 – 200 2.8IS, 3 speedlights, shot all action at 1600 ISO, portraits at 100 ISO
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thought I’d share some of the tearsheets I just received from the 2010 Amanzi campaign I shot a little while ago. I’ve just received clearance from the client and am now able to share them with everyone.
Amanzi is swimwear label with roots in the core sport and active lifestyles. In this campaign we worked with model Tara Barker who not only is a cool person and great model, but also an athlete in the Kellogg’s Nutrigrain series, so she walks the walk and talks the talk.
The final product you see is a result of a HUGE team effort involving a very hardworking team of individuals who are committed to excellence in their roles, and who go about it in a very fun way. Exactly the way I love to work.
I have to shout out to everyone at Amanzi for their support and collaboration both creatively and logistically from location scouting to styling to keeping us all supplied with cold drinks and who can forget the fresh fruit and Subway platters? Then of course my immediate team who I would not be able to do anything without: Angela Shepherd (Make up Artist) and 1st and second photography assistants Hannah Khurda and Kyle Wilson.
And for those of you who have connected with us on Facebook, stay tuned for upcoming behind the scenes video footage and stills as well. I’m even gonna throw in some shots that didn’t make the initial campaign, plus a little technical write up for those who are that way inclined.
Watch this space
Monday, November 23, 2009
Last week I made myself take time out for a photo walk. I was a little sapped keeping up with deadlines. I knew I had some big days in which coming up with "something" was the objective, so needed to charge my creative batteries.
I stopped at an old train yard in a town in country Queensland, and took some time taking photos of "nothing".
Nothing to see here........
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
A while back I made a decision to make a living as a photographer by doing what I love to do, creating pictures that I want to see and hopefully others are willing to pay for.
That love of photography even now bubbles up when I'm in a meeting pitching a creative concept, and it is literally all I can do from keeping myself saying across the boardroom table, "you know what? heck I'm so excited about my concept I'll shoot your print campaign for free". A feeling that I regard as healthy and I hope I never lose. It's my love for shooting that keeps me going to those meetings in the first place. Luckily I've been blessed with a bit of resolve and some really good people around me to keep my business smarts and realise I have mouths to feed, bills to pay and equipment to purchase and maintain.
To that end I've been reading Pricing Photography, the Complete Guide to Assignment & Stock Prices by Michal Heron and David MacTavish. I've found this book full of helpful information for anyone who is already or thinking about making a living as a creative individual. While the book is made for the US market, the useful information doesn't appear in the literal values, rather in the concepts and direction it gives. Everything from negotiating, writing out invoices, quoting for commissioned work or stock photography is in this book.
Anyway, I thought some other people might find this book helpful. I got mine on Amazon
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This is a cosmopolitan. I had heard of one but never knew exactly what it was. A couple hours ago I tweeted that I had checked into a hotel on a trip I'm on and was dared on Twitter by Wuthy, AKA Gold Coast Journalist Robyn Wuth to order one. Now, a dare is a dare at any time, but when dared on a open social network, backing down is no option. So Wuthy, dare complete. I knew you being a journalist and all would need an element of authenticity, so I took an iPhone pic and threw my card in there as a "proof of life". Cheers!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Ken Wallace is a nice guy, a very nice guy. In fact if I had to as some people say tried to "capture" Ken's persona in a photo, it would probably include a sunset, a flower and little fluffy baby mittens.
Along with what makes Ken a cool down to earth guy is a hardened steely resolve that is paramount to elite athletes.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympic games Ken Wallace came from behind to win gold in the Men's K1 500m final, after winning a bronze medal earlier in the Men's K1 1000m. Since then he's gone on to win a number of awards including Australian Institute of Sport Sportsman of the Year and an Order of Australia Medal.
I caught up with Ken at the Australian Institue of Sport Kayak and Canoe Facility to shoot a series of portraits of him.
You can view the rest of the series here. There is a behind the scenes shot here.
My thanks has to go to the Australian Institue of Sport for the oppurtunity and my assistant for the shoot Jovanka Pyman.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Well I finally get to blog about an actual photoshoot! I've been finding with a lot of my recent work that due to confidentiality clauses for one reason or another, I'm not able to release images via my blog or Facebook page until they are released. I promise to get them out to you as soon as I get the go ahead though.
Had a great shoot not long ago with reggae band The Cool Calm Collective. I came up with this pretty cool concept for them and pitched it, and it got knocked on the head, Ha! OK not exactly, but the powers that be decided to reserve that concept for a later date.
Instead, bassist and manager Jai Mitchell said, "let's just hang out and see what happens". We decided to all meet at his house, sit in his living room, then go out for lunch. The idea was to get real candid shots, almost like a bunch of housemates.
When I arrived in the living room, there was an old keyboard in the corner, and so much cool stuff that we just took a bit of time building a "set". I keep a ladder in my car, brought that in, and decided to shoot from overhead. You can view the setup shot here.
Next, I evaluated the lighting. Since all the shots were meant to look candid, I needed a way to light the room so that it didn't look "lit". To do that I had to make my light source as big as possible, so I fired a speedlight through a shoot-through umbrella pointed directly at the ceiling, essentially turning the ceiling into a giant softbox.
The final challenge was getting all the band members to show their faces without making them look like they were looking at the camera. I saw all of these Polaroids on the wall and we made a stack and got them to throw them at me. That way everyone would be looking up at the time I took the shot.
The final image is a composite of 3 shots to make it look like there were more Polaroids then there actually were.
After that we went to the 25 Hour Shop, this burger joint that has a old fashioned diner feel to it. The boss very kindly agreed to let us shoot in there, and we ordered a heap of food and, well just ate.
I got to use my new Canon 1Ds MkIII too, and am really happy with it. I don't normally like to get too into camera bodies but wow, I'm blown away. No one needs me to tell them how great of a camera it is, as there is a reason why it's the flagship Canon camera. But let's just say I'm glad I got it.
You can view the rest of the photos from this shoot here.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I took this photo with my iPhone while I attended the first birthday of the gallery 19Karen, if you can't make it out, it's a toilet paper dispenser in a toilet with the words "Fine Art Degrees" scribbled. I thought it would be ironic to put up while talked about stock or microstock photography, as it's hardly representitive of the techinical standard that stock sites are known for.
A lot has been said about the way that microstock has changed photography. No matter where you sit on the issue of photos being sold repeatedly for only a fraction of the cost of commisioned works to different buyers all over the world, there is one positive attribute that it provides for emerging photographers: A resource tool for gaining feedback
By signing up and submitting your work to a microstock agency, you get feedback on how your work fares in a technical context. Showing work to friends and people who like you anyway is great, but not exactly outside of your comfort zone. During the submission process through a microstock agency you are dealing with an actual human being who knows nothing about you, didnt got to school with your brother and doesn't care whether or not your photo gets accepted. Before the days of stock photography you had to get your work in front of a publications editor in order to have your work curated, often involving a lot of footwork and a great deal of luck.
Nowadays a stock agency will tell you how our work is on a technical level. You'll learn what you need to nail in a shot in order to get them over the line technically as far as focus, lighting, processing, composition etc.
What you'll learn is one half of the spectrum, of which there are 2 parts, the other being the creative and artistic element that makes a photo suitable for commercial application.
Even if you never make a cent selling microstock, when you're getting started you can't pay enough for honest feedback from a knowledgable source.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
The role is available on a per contract basis and is designed to facilitate meeting ongoing business deadlines.
Description of Services:
To provide advanced photo retouching and some design and creative support to Kenny Smith Photography. This position reports directly to Kenny.
The successful applicant will demonstrate all of the minimum requirements marked in bold, with preference given to those who also display the additional qualities.
- Advanced Photoshop skills (advanced composite creating, complex retouching, adjustment layers, actions, color balance, curves, RAW, batch processing)
- 2-3 years rigorous background in art and design on a professional level
- Background in basic website design and maintenance, HTML, Flash, email newsletters, web publishing and Internet procedures, terms, and issues
- Excellent sense of color, color management
- Strong understanding and diligent maintenance of digital workflow
- Basic knowledge of digital asset management
- Basic knowledge of photography and lighting is necessary; knowledge of commercial and stock photography is a plus
- Proven ability to add value through collaborating with creative people and satisfy business requirements
- Strong organizational skills
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Ability to manage change
- Self-motivated and self-directed team player
- Strong, proven sense of initiative
- Experienced in meeting strict deadlines, juggling multiple priorities, and working in a team environment
- Detail-oriented; strong problem-solving skills
- Excellent time-management and project-management skills
- Must be willing to work non-traditional hours depending on work needs
-Ability to sign and adhere to industry standard confidentiality agreements
-Must currently operate a registered business
Please do not call. Email resume/questions/pertinent information to
Applications must submit a sample of current work with an online portfolio showing before and after samples
Monday, September 14, 2009
After my initial post I thought I should spend some time clarifying what I meant by defining some of those terms.
For a while now I have been focusing on the business part of my own photography service. After operating with limited success through word of mouth and social media as my only source of advertising, I underwent a branding exercise and enlisted someone to help me design my website and stationary, all this to refine my brand and help me take my business to the next level.
Once this was complete, I began focusing on the next step, taking my product and brand to the people that I want to see my work. I made the business decision of enlisting a third party to do this for me. I made this decision after considering the target audience that I wanted to see my work, type of work I wanted to do, and my ability to represent myself in communicating with clients and making business decisions.
After meeting with a number of prospective agents and representatives, all with their own abilities and limitations, I decided to engage Luke Boman who directs and runs InRealmMarketing to take on the task of representing me and my brand.
Working with Luke and his team so far has been unreal. His innovative and fresh approaches to putting my work directly under the noses of prospective clients in my field using conventional methods such as telephone calls and physical presentations, as well as the modern approaches such as email newsletters and social media is exactly what I envisioned would be the approach I would like for someone in his capacity to achieve for me.
Working with InRealm has put me in a position where I have very little to lose, after the initial capital outlay and ongoing costs, I can concentrate on my product and continuing with my existing client base, all the while assured that I have someone working with me to reach exactly the type of client I am looking for.
So, that is the long way round to what I broadcast a couple days ago. I guess what I meant by creative individuals was the approach that Luke and his staff have taken to representing me, and by taking over the world I was referring to our playing field, through the internet and the modern economy, the sky really is the limit.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I was commissioned by a collector to shoot a, now rare, 1969 motorcycle made by BSA ( Birmingham Small Arms Motorcycles Ltd ). The client, an avid motorcycle history buff, wrote a bit of background on the motorcycle: "The model was named the Rocket 3, due to the fact that it has a three cylinder engine of 750cc and was the quickest production motorcycle of its day. BSA owned Triumph, Ariel and Sunbeam motorcycle companies, amongst many other assets, at the time. Originally BSA had been Arms"
manufacturers and had turned to manufacturing bicycles in the late 1800's (due to a lack of military action, I assume) which eventually led to motorcycle manufacture in 1903. Many models were made over the following years culminating in BSA becoming the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. "Unfortunately the BSA group of companies came to an abrupt end in 1972 with the onslaught of Japanese motorcycle manufactures taking market possession and the group was unable to adapt quickly to the changing situation."
The client's garage was so messy it was cool, so I turned off all the lights and used a little flashlight to paint the bike with light.......shots ranged between 75 seconds to 4 minute exposures.Twitter
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I got an opportunity last week to hang out with the boys at Emergency Management Queensland, the helicopter rescue team that attends to emergencies around the state
I knew that I was gonna just have to go with the flow, as I was shooting a real life team on a normal shift, at any point they could get a callout and have to literally take off.
I packed light, digital SLR, a few lenses, 3 speedlights and a couple stands. Instead of softboxes or umbrellas, I packed Stofen diffusers to soften the light if I needed to. (I could have used tissue paper and rubber bands in a pinch…try it).
Arrived at the hangar around 7.30am and met the boys, nice group of guys. First thing I did was ask where I should retreat to if they got a callout, last thing I wanted was to get in the way as they were scrambling to take off.
I walked around inside and outside and checked out the ambient light, the sun was fairly low and made for a really good key light…perfect.
Outside was a smaller chopper on a flat trailer. It was explained to me that as this particular chopper didn’t have wheels, they took off and landed back on this trailer. I was impressed, landing back on top of something not much bigger than 2 ping pong tables must have taken some skill.
Inside were 2 much larger shiny helicopters. “Brand new from Italy” said one of the crew, “yep, real beauties, only 16 million each” I took a step back to make sure I didn’t pass out along side of it and put a dent in the panel with my head.
The shoot went real good, I had a particular style of processing in my head that I wanted to use, so knew what I wanted as far as lighting goes. To that end I didn’t wind up using the Stofen diffusers, the hard light typically given by a speedlight provided the harsh lighting I would need to achieve that look in post.
Once I had shot inside and outside, the crew fired up one of the large ones and we did some shots on the tarmac. The intention was they were going to take it a ways up in the air and I could shoot them doing some drills. As the rotors intensified for lift off I scrambled over to my camera bag, I had thrown the lid closed but hadn’t zipped it, and the wind from the chopper had blown it open exposing all my lenses to the flying dust….thank Christ for weather sealing. I had time to tweet that experience on Twitter, thanks for all of your amused responses
Just before the chopper took off someone came running out of the hanger, the phone had rung and the unit’s services were needed. The shoot was over and they took off for real. This was not a drill.
I got back in my car; pretty happy with the shots I managed to get…it was time for a coffee.
As a special treat for you the reader I’ve chosen to put up a shot before processing in photoshop. I’ve processed the RAW into JPEG via lightroom and desaturated it at that time. When I was taking the shot I was having the crewman step out of the cockpit in order to add a bit of life to the shot. I had a flash pointed to crosslight with the direction of the sunlight. Although the one flash was fine as far as light went, the shot still looked a little lifeless. To change that, I took a second speedlight off the stand and threw it into the cockpit on the pilot’s seat. The result I feel gives life to the helicopter and indicates that the controls are on, plus provides a nice rimlight on the crewman. You can see the final edit and the rest of the series here.
Hope everyone has a great week.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009
Got a new lens recently. I found that with a lot of my lifestyle work I use wide angles a lot, and wanted one that was fast (wide aperture).
To that end I wound up getting a Canon EF 20mm 2.8 USM from my friends at Camerasdirect.com.au. I gotta say it's exactly what I wanted, in fact I don't know why more people don't have it.
We all hear about the 50mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.8, and they definitely are lenses you can't do without, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and buck the trend and say if there was a fire, I'd take my 20mm over the 50mm. It suits my style better.
Don't forget too that on a crop sensor 20mm becomes 32mm which is a really good walk around lens.
Anyway to try it out I grabbed the camera this afternoon when my wife Heidi and I walked our dog Gordy along the beachfront where we live in Currumbin on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Things, I like about it:
- Weight feels good, not too heavy but not too light, build quality seems excellent.
- USM focus which I need, not everyone needs it but I find that in commercial work with moving subjects I have fewer throwaways with a lens that can focus fast, I'm willing to pay for it.
- Price seems pretty good, not the cheapest of lenses but for a good quality lens I found it acceptable.
- Image quality seems real good to me, maybe I just got a good copy, but I'm happy with it, comparable with the 50mm 1.4.
- No Lens Hood! CANON WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE THAT STICK OUT OF YOUR ASS AND GIVE A PLASTIC LENS HOOD WITH EVERY LENS? EVERYONE ELSE DOES, NIKON, SIGMA TOKINA EVERYONE!! I REFUSE TO PAY $80 FOR A PLASTIC HOOD AND WILL BUY MY HOODS OFF EBAY TILL YOU DO. SURE MY "L" SERIES LENSES CAME WITH THEM FOR FREE BUT THIS IS NOT ENOUGH!!! WE WANT LENS HOODS ON ALL LENSES IMMEDIATELY!!
- Vignetting, Purple fringing, contrast and saturation performance seem a little weak for the price, but these can all be fixed in post so I'm OK with it.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Well I went down the street today to my mate Jamie Mitchell's house to help him setup his blog. This guy has won the 32 mile Molokai to Oahu paddle race in Hawaii 8 years in a row, holds the world record, was a finalist in the Billabong XXL monster wave event in 2007, and needs someone to hold his hand to set up a blog. I've shot Jamie a few times for various promotional and advertising reasons, and he is a legend, fun on a night out too when he lets himself drink. Don't let the photo fool you, I had the computer the whole time.
Anyway, since I set up his blog, I wrote his first blog post and gave myself a plug. Check out Jamie's blog here.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I wish I had a five cent piece for each time I’ve been asked “Was this a paid shoot?” while showing someone some photos I had just taken.
Now I know that people are just being engaging when they ask that, and are genuinely curious, but I think that the misconception out there is that if the answer is no, that somehow the photos have less value or the time you spent taking them was more disposable than if they were taken for commercial purposes.
The reality is, you should work for free, we all should a lot more.
Fellow photographer and contributor Adam Bolt recently wrote an article about his experience with an initially free shoot and how he successfully used it to get his foot in the door with a corporate client.
There’s another reason why we should work for free, and this reason brings us back to why we take photos in the first place…..creativity. In order to be successful at any level, we have to maintain our creative edge. Someone throwing a roll of hundred dollar bills in our laps is not gonna turn us into artists. We take photos and create pictures because that is the only way that our chosen artistic medium works. We have to produce and share to validate our existence.
Let me qualify this with a disclaimer, by giving it away I am not talking about someone else taking it from you. There is a huge difference between embarking on your own creative works and being taken advantage of. The way that I approach it is it has to be my idea, sometimes a result of collaborating with another creative individual, but I have to want to do it for me.
I know now more than ever that I have to set aside time for my own creative works, even if this means delaying or passing up on a paid shoot, and never regret it.
Bottom line, noone can ask me to work for nothing, but I can never give it away enough.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Steve “Maddog” Madden’s training run starts in Tugun, heads across the border of New South Wales, winds through the hills of Northern NSW and cane fields of Murwillumbah, and hooks round the oceanfront back to Tugun, roughly 80 km round trip.
Serious cyclists like Steve are different from the groups you see who get dressed up and ride 2 blocks to the local cafe in athletic lingerie like a Lance Armstrong themed fancy dress party. A training run is long, lonely and hard mentally and physically.
High tec met low tec to get these shots, I wanted to get angles I hadn’t really seen before, so I rigged the camera to the bike using gaffer tape and zip ties, and used a radio trigger hooked up to the PC port in the camera to trigger focus and shutter release.
View the setup shots on my Facebook fanpage here.
The rest of the series can be viewed here
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Little St. Kilda Cafe is in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast of Australia.
View the rest of the pics on my Facebook page here:
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Shot this for a designer, funny how we can spend thousands on digital equipment with wonderful colours, noise reduction, critical focus and intelligent metering, and then photoshop in barrel distortion, film grain, and make it black and white.
In this shot I wanted to replicate those classic fly-on-the-wall shots of someone with an old camera people watching, so I got Lana to take off a shoe and look away from me so her identity felt more mysterious.
I then added the film grain and "roughed it up" in processing to get it back to how I imagined it would have been snapped by a passer by with a flim camera.