Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Guide To YOUR Perfect Portrait

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.

Once upon a time, (just the other day, actually...)

I just wanted to write that as the beginning...I don't have anything to go with that start to a story or blog, but it's been holding up my thoughts, so I figured I should let it out and move on!

OK, now that my latest book, "The Guide To YOUR Perfect Portrait" has been released, (and is available at Createspace.com, Amazon.com, Barnsandnoble.com, a number of businesses here on Oahu, and through me),  I thought I should clear up a few things about the book.

I've come to know that the title isn't as clear to some people as I hoped it would be. After all the title actually took longer for me to settle on than the actual contents of the book! So here's the reason I wrote the book... As a professional portrait photographer, and one who specializes in Family Portraits, I have a special appreciation for the value of family portraits.

People have always been favorite subjects for my art. I started out as a very young child drawing and painting people...Copying photographs I saw in books of paintings and sculptures, and drawing portraits of family members. I gravitated to photography in junior high school when I was given a beautiful medium format camera.

Of course pretty girls were my favorite to photograph, and certainly I widened out my scope and began photographing lots of different things including sports events and landscapes. Eventually I started my own photography business in which I did just about every kind of photography there is above water.

Then my dad died. That's when I discovered no one in my family had any photographs of our whole family...portraits or snapshots. And that's when I decided to specialize in Family Portraits.

(That's the background...) Around the year 2000, I had an apprentice working with me who had bought a nice DSLR and wanted to learn photography...the EASY way...That is, by hanging around with a pro and asking a bunch of questions. Well, that's fine, but, hey, take a little more initiative than that, will ya?!

It was shortly after that when I began to notice that every "soccer mom" with a nice DSLR was now trying to make a little extra income by offering their photography services for hire! Again, nothing wrong with that...as far as that goes. 

Here's the problem...It's so easy to create a website these days, and if you make enough photographs in Program mode, (that is with the camera set to Program where it makes all the decisions except when to press the shutter release button), most folks will likely get a few pretty darn good photographs! And you can the post those good ones to your website.

Now you have some nice photographs on your website, and you're offering photography for hire. Most people looking for a photographer to create portraits for them just don't know what to ask potential photographers except, "What do you charge?" And that's really the last question one should ask! 

Now, I'm not one to discourage anyone from enjoying the experience of making photographs! Or from entering the wonderful profession of photography, but in order to call oneself a professional photographer, I feel it is required that one has knowledge and understanding of the science and art of photography...not just how to frame an image and press the button! Creating portraits after all is quite a bit more than "point and shoot"!

Now, as a professional I understand that it is part of my job to educate my clients, and potential clients. More than that, it pains me to see and know that so many people are really being scammed and taken advantage of by amateur hobbyists pretending to be professional photographers. Not that all those amateurs are scamming and taking advantage deliberately, but whether they are or not, it's still the client who suffers. They end up with snapshots instead of Portraits, and they're out the money they could've used to hire a real professional...IF they knew the right questions to ask in the first place.

So that's the main reason I wrote "The Guide To YOUR Perfect Portrait".  Additionally, in my career I've had the privilege and pleasure of creating the very first real portraits for many people and families. So I know that must be the case for many fine folks who wind up hiring an amateur instead of a professional. And these nice folks don't know what to expect from a professional portrait experience, because they've never had the experience before! 

"The Guide To YOUR Perfect Portrait" explains what a client should expect from a professional photographer and the whole portrait experience. It describes what a Portrait is, and what goes in to creating a portrait, and what differentiates a Portrait from a snapshot. There's a whole chapter on the questions to ask when interviewing potential photographers, so you can separate the Pros from the Pretenders. There are also chapters on portrait finishes, display options, and even how to care for your Family Art Treasures.

Of course, what is a "Perfect Portrait" for me may be different than what a "Perfect Portrait" is for you. So "The Guide" also helps the reader to determine what it is that will fill their personal need in the way of portraiture. All in all, I believe the small investment in the book will save the reader a lot of wasted money and a lot of aggravation! 

Next time I'll share some of the important questions that will enable anyone to separate the Pros from the Pretenders! Meantime...Keep smiling!   ALOHA!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Is An Apprentice

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.
 Webster defines Apprentice as: A person under legal agreement to work a specified length of time for a master craftsman in a craft or trade in return for instruction.

I have been a working professional photographer since I graduated from High School in 1971. I graduated from the New York Institute of Photography in 1982. I apprenticed with a master photographer for over a year in 1983~'84. Finally I "took the plunge" and opened my full time portrait business in 1993.

Since then I have taught and mentored several hobbyists and "serious" photographers who apprenticed with me, and at least 3 of them are now working professional photographers.

I enjoy teaching and sharing with others who have a love for photography, and I am currently an associate Instructor with the Hawaii School of Photography. My time, knowledge and experience are valuable.

In my business, an apprentice is a person who trades their time and helpful assistance in exchange for knowledge and instruction in the art, science and business of photography. Specifically Portrait Photography. This is a type of "barter"...money is not exchanged.

While that is the case, the position of apprentice does have qualifications and expectations. A primary qualification is a desire and ability to learn. Because the apprentice will be present and in contact with clients, and in that capacity will be representing my business, they will be expected to arrive at the assignment on time, with a clean, neat appearance, and dressed appropriately.

An apprentice must be responsible, honest and punctual. He or she is expected to answer or return phone calls or emails in a reasonably timely fashion. While being an photographer's apprentice is a fun position, portrait photography is a professional service business, and as such, professionalism and a degree of decorum is required.  

I am currently looking for a part time apprentice. If you live on Oahu and are interested, please contact me. My contact info may be found on my website: www;ParamountPhotography.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

How To Interview A Photographer

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.

 I've been creating portraits and commercial images in Hawaii and in California for about 35 years now. I remember when, oh maybe 15 or even 20 years ago, it wasn't all that unusual for a person who wanted to hire a photographer to ask questions like, "how long have you been a professional?", and "who have you done work for in the recent past?" These are good questions.

In the last 12 years or so since so many hobbyists have "come out of the woodwork" with professional DSLRs and offering their services for hire, a strange thing has occurred...It seems the only question people know to ask a photographer they are considering hiring is "how much do you charge?"!!

With some things, you just know that what you want is the 'more expensive choice'. When buying fish for example. If you have 2 fish of the same kind, and weight, one is $5 per pound, and the other is $1 for the whole fish... Pretty obvious there's something wrong with the dollar fish! No Thanks!

When shopping for cleaning supplies, and the local grocery store has the detergent you're looking for priced at $10 for 24 ounces, and the "big box" store right next door has the same thing for just $6, it makes sense to walk next door to buy it! Detergent isn't going to "spoil", so you're not risking anything buying the lower priced product.

With photography, as personal as portraits are, price really is the least important qualifying aspect to use when comparing photographers! I always say, "Price is what you pay, Value is what you get". When it comes to portraits, and hiring a photographer to create portraits for you, this is indeed true! This is one of the main reasons I wrote the book, "The Guide To YOUR Perfect Portrait". (It will be available by June 1, 2012 on Createspace.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com)

For now I'd like to share a few excerpts from my book with some important questions to ask photographers you are considering to hire, and the answers you should hear from a photographer before you hire them...

First thing to ask is: “What is your guarantee?” I mentioned this before, and I believe it is vitally important. If the photographer doesn’t have a guarantee, or doesn’t guarantee that you will be really happy with your portraits, then he doesn’t have confidence in his work. If he isn’t confident in his own work, how can you be?! If he doesn’t guarantee you will be happy with your portraits, or he’ll refund your money, cross him off your list and move on to the next photographer!

Here’s another important questions to ask: “Why did you choose photography as a career?” I really don’t know why many who are in this business got into it. I’ve met a number of photographers who seem completely devoid of personality. I’ve met a lot of photographers who only complain about how demanding their clients are, and what jerks they are! If a person doesn’t love people and love working with them, portrait photography is just the wrong career for them!

In my case, I was raised in a family of artists. My dad was a professional pianist. My older brother was a great horn player. I took to drawing and painting at a very young age. It was just a natural expression for me, and I always loved drawing people. People have always been my favorite subjects, so when I discovered photography in junior high school, I fell in love with photographing people. (Especially pretty girls!) 

I remember being so excited when in the summer of my junior year I got a job with the local newspaper as a “stringer” photographing local sports events! That progressed into working in the paper’s darkroom, and I was just in heaven! That only lasted for the summer, but from then on I have been constantly photographing people. I love making portraits, and I absolutely love
the reactions I get from the people I photograph when I show them their portraits! 

If the photographer you’re talking with answers this question without any passion, you should move on to the next one on your list!

These 2 questions are, I believe, far more important than the question of price. I know we all have to live within our budgets, and investment is important...just not the most important qualifier when looking for the right photographer to create YOUR portraits!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.

Today there are so many new things happening in the world of technology! Yesterday I published a book I wrote 8 years ago titled, "Epiphanies of the 50th Year". I published it via CreateSpace.com, and it's available there and on Amazon.com! This is all so amazing to me!

"Epiphanies" has nothing to do with photography or portraits...it's just things I've thought about and finally after 50 years of living and learning stuff, I decided to write about. And while the title might imply deep philosophical heavy reading...it's not! It's just musings and anecdotes about topics I believe most people can relate to. I hope people find it amusing and entertaining.

On my first blog post dedicated to the book, I've posted an excerpt from the introduction. Check it out and see what you think at http://epiphany-ist.blogspot.com

Friday, March 30, 2012

Film or Digital

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.
First I want to announce that I've changed the title of my book from "Creating Your Perfect Portrait" to, "The Guide to YOUR Perfect Portrait". After much thought and discussion I felt the original title sounded too much like a "how to" book for photographers, when it's really a guide for people wanting to have a great portrait made for them.

Secondly, I've been meaning to get back to this for at least 2 weeks now...but have been struggling with the cover art for my book. Now it's settled, I want to share a bit more of the book itself. This is an excerpt from the 4th chapter: "What to Expect"...

As explained in the first chapter, a portrait is more than just a photograph. Besides the planning and preparation, and then the photography, after you’ve chosen the image you want made into your portrait, there will need to be work done to the image. Things like removal of blemishes, softening of lines and wrinkles, whitening teeth, and more.

Back in the day when film was the only option there were a number of artists who were trained and skilled in “retouching” negatives, and doing certain kinds of artwork to the prints. Those days are past now, and the art of negative retouching and art working the prints is also a thing of the past. Today all the enhancements and artwork are done digitally.

How does this affect your portrait? Well, if a photographer uses film, in order to do the enhancements and artwork, the negative will need to be scanned and a digital file made from it. Then the work is done to the digital file. Or a print can be made from the film negative and the print scanned to make a digital file to work with.

The problem with scanning is that with every scan a little detail is lost. With every little bit of lost detail you loose some quality and sharpness, which will affect the final print, and limit the maximum size that can be made. So, it’s better to work with the original image, and it therefore makes better sense to work with a photographer who uses digital capture.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Should I (YOU) Have A Portrait Made?

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.
Here's the first page of Chapter 2 of my new book, "Creating Your Perfect Portrait". This book is all about helping people who want to have a great portrait made to succeed in that quest...And encourage more people to have a portrait made.

Why Should I Have A Portrait Made?

You may think that only people who are important, or
famous, or wealthy have portraits made of themselves or
their families. You may think that you aren’t a good subject
for portraiture, or that people will think you are egotistical if
you were to have your portrait made.

Let me assure you that people of every status in life have and
enjoy portraits of themselves and their families. And that
every person is a good subject for a portrait! And if someone
should think poorly of you because you have a portrait of
yourself, well, that’s his or her problem! Now, if you have
every wall of your home covered with larger-than-life
photographs of yourself, well, maybe your ego is a little
inflated…That’s a subject for a different kind of book.

It is true that wealthy, famous and important people have
portraits made of themselves and their families. You may not
consider yourself to be wealthy or famous, and that’s fine.
Most of us aren’t. But you certainly are important! You are
important to your family and friends, and you are most
definitely important to you! But let’s consider your family,
progeny and society in general for a moment.

You are important to your family no matter what part you
play in the family dynamic. If you are an unmarried child,
you are no doubt very dear to your mother and father. If you
are a husband or wife, you are very important to your spouse.
And if you are a parent, your children depend on you. You
are a very important person within your family and circle of
friends. For that reason alone you should have a nice portrait
made of yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Digeus Registry Cleaner

Specializing in fine portraits of Families, Children and high school Seniors for over 30 years in Hawaii.

This is totally unrelated to Photography or Portraits, which as you know is MY thing...But I just want to share this... I just recently obtained a copy of this program called Digeus Registry Cleaner. Here's what it says about what it does: Digeus Registry Cleaner speeds up your computer by cleaning errors in your Windows. It removes the junk that accumulates in your Windows Registry, fixes Windows errors which results in speeding up your computer. With Digeus Registry Cleaner you just need a few mouse clicks and your computer will become as good as a brand new one.

I am not a computer geek and don't even know what "registry errors" are, but I have heard the term before, and this program found some 1400 such errors on my computer! I was shocked! I had noticed that my computer was slower than it used to be, and I thought I was doing well with knowing to run a "cleanup" and "defrag" every month or 2. That didn't really seem to make any noticeable difference in its performance though.

Here's what I can tell you about this Digeus program...It's really easy to install and doesn't take long at all. It's extremely easy to run, one click to check for errors, which may take a while if your computer has as many errors as mine had. One click to "fix" the errors, and the fix doesn't take hardly any time at all! And it does seem to speed up the performance. All-in-all, I'd say it's worth the small investment.