Friday, November 12, 2010

November News

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

It's been a while since I wrote anything here, but in my defense, I'm the only one working in my portrait business. There are only so many hours in a day, and so many days in the week...and taking care of my clients takes priority over everything else. (Except for golf on my one day off each week!)

So, I cut my hair. I meant to trim it a little and reduce my ponytail from 20" to about 6", but what happened I can't really explain. Anyway it looked ridiculous when I finished, and I couldn't even get it into a ponytail any more. So I went to Supercuts to get it "fixed" so it looked decent.

My haircutter just couldn't get what I was explaining to her about what I wanted, so I left $20 lighter and no happier with my hair than I was when I went in. The next day I went to the barber here in the shopping center where my studio is, and she fixed it for me...for only $15!

Then I got MARRIED! (No, not to the barber! To my sweetheart of the last 15 years!)
Here we are saying our vows at Magic Island park on Oahu.

It was a very short ceremony, and then I serenaded
my new bride with a love song by Neil Young,
"Harvest Moon".

My good friend and fellow photographer, Steve Dantzig manned the camera during our event, then we put it on timer to include him in the group photograph. Unfortunately this Blogger program doesn't want to upload that photograph for some reason...I tried 4 times! But it was a fabulous day, and the food was great as usual at the Price Court after the ceremony.

I will attempt to be more frequent and regular with posing here in the future. All the best to YOU!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Classes, Actors and Videos!

I've been giving talks and presentations for more then 20 years. I've been conducting classes as an instructor of photography for a few years now. Not long ago, with some help, I made a short video for my website's home page, and that wasn't too tough. Mainly because I was on camera for only two short sentences or so. The rest of the voice over was easy because I wrote what I wanted to say, and I read it. I wasn't ON camera, so reading the script wasn't a bad thing.

Last week I undertook the making of a series of short instructional videos. Actually, I began the process some weeks back, but the actual production began last week. And I say BEGAN, because while I fully intended to make all seven of them at one filming..... That didn't happen!

I had written the scripts for the videos the week before, and I had them to where I thought they were good, and polished to the point I wanted them. When my friend and videographer came to my studio to record the videos I read over the scripts a couple times, and knowing the material, I thought, "This will be easy!"

Hahahah! Not so! According to all the best information out there, videos for YouTube should be about one and a half to two minutes long maximum. So when reading my scripts, I made sure they were no more than two minutes. Shoot! To record 14 minutes of video shouldn't take more than one hour...right?

I suppose that would be so if, and this is a big has the script memorized! So, even though as I said, I know the material, (heck, I wrote it, and it's stuff I've been teaching for years!), in a matter of three hours we were only able to get three of the videos recorded! And as it was, it would require quite a bit of editing on the part of my friend the videographer!

I'm excited to get them all finished and posted, but I tell you, I now have a whole new respect for actors! They memorize many pages of scripts and deliver them as if it were spontaneous. Nothing to it! That's quite a talent! One that I haven't developed. So, yeah, I have new-found respect for actors!

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

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Changing (Digital) Landscape of Professional Photography

Forty years ago nobody would buy a Brownie box camera and think to offer their services as a professional photographer. Around thirty years ago Kodak and a couple other manufacturers came out with “instamatic” cameras. Still, no one would think that with an instamatic camera they were equipped to offer professional photography services.

As camera technology progressed, more and more “bells and whistles” got added to the improving models of what then became known as “point and shoot” cameras. Still, nobody with just a point and shoot camera would consider himself or herself a professional photographer.

You see, back in the days before the advent of digital cameras, film was the medium for recording photographs. And before the invention of instamatic and point and shoot cameras, you had to actually know how to use the controls on a camera in order to properly expose the film to make a photograph.

Instamatic and later point and shoot cameras enabled millions of people to make snapshots and record their lives and those of their families and friends. Professional cameras with changeable lenses and aperture and shutter speed controls continued to be the tools of professional photographers and serious amateurs.

Point and shoot cameras designed for hobbyists proliferated and millions of people began to enjoy the hobby of photography. And certainly many got to be pretty good at composing and creating photographs with them. But even if all their friends told them what great photographs they made, do you think a person with a point and shoot camera would have the gumption to claim to be a professional and offer their services for hire? I think not.

Now days with all the available digital SLR cameras geared to the hobbyist consumer with a price tag that is within the reach of many hobbyists, one cannot tell by looking at the camera whether the user knows what they are doing or not! Why not? Because all the DSLRs have Program modes of operation that enable the user to use them just the same as a point and shoot camera.

The advances of digital photography have been absolutely wonderful! Now days a camera is a complex computer with a lens, and most people with a little practice can make some pretty good photographs with them. Certainly the optics for modern DSLRs are vastly improved over the point and shoot optics of yesteryear.

The downside of all this progress is that more and more hobbyists with nice DSLRs are marketing themselves as professional photographers, and charging for their services without knowing anything about photography except how to frame a picture and press the shutter release. As a result many people are being duped into hiring amateurs, and are buying amateur quality photographs because they think they are getting a good deal because the price is low. And because they don’t know how to separate the amateurs from the pros when choosing a photographer to do a job for them, whether it be portraiture or commercial photography.

Caveat emptor…Let the consumer beware!

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

How To Choose Your Professional Portrait Photographer

In today’s market place, with so many amateurs with nice DSLRs claiming to be professional photographers, how does one determine who to hire to create their portraits?

It used to be a lot easier. In times past it was fairly rare that you would see an amateur with a professional camera. They were too expensive, and one needed a working knowledge of the science of photography in order to operate a professional camera. (I’m referring to the days of film and before Program mode was built into pro cameras as an option.) And certainly one would never see a professional using a point and shoot camera on a paid assignment!

Now days, while it is easy to spot the difference between a point and shoot camera with built in zoom lens, and a DSLR, so many hobbyists are carrying “pro-sumer” DSLRs, one can no longer tell a pro from an amateur by the camera they use.

So, why is it important to know if the person you hire is a professional or not if the cameras are the same? Because, simply put, cameras do not create photographs. What?! You say… That’s right…cameras record the light that is reflected by whatever the lens is pointed at! Creating photographs is the job of the person operating the camera.

What’s the difference, and why does it matter? You can have the best camera and lens in the world, but if you don’t know how to operate it, you can’t make a photograph. If you know how to turn the camera on, put it on program mode and press the shutter release, you can indeed make a photograph. Well, one might say, that’s all you need then, right?

The answer to that depends on what you expect from your photographer. If for example a person knows how to turn the ignition of a car on, and put it in drive, that person can make the car move. However if that same person does not know how to use the steering wheel, accelerator and brake, you wouldn’t say they know how to drive a car…and it wouldn’t be long before they crash!

You see, photography and creating photographs is much more than turning a camera on and making a lot of exposures in program mode. With today’s advanced metering systems and computer programs built in, one is likely to get some fairly good photographs that way, but if that’s the extent of one’s knowledge, the law of averages is not with them.

A professional photographer knows their equipment and how to operate it so that the image they have in their mind, they are able to create in the camera. A professional photographer knows how light and shadow affects the image, and how to balance the light to get the effect they want. A professional photographer knows the difference between a snapshot and a portrait, and how to enhance a photograph so as to turn a photograph into a portrait.

Particularly for portraiture, you want to hire a professional, because a pro knows how to light and pose you to accentuate your best features, and hide less desirable features. You do want to look your best in your portraits, don’t you?

So, how do you know if the photographer you are considering is really a professional? You need to ask the right questions. Some good questions to ask are: Where did you learn photography? How long have you been a professional? What is your guarantee? Can I talk to some of your portrait clients? Why did you choose to become a professional photographer?

Besides being competent with their camera and lights, a professional portrait photographer should also put you at ease, and give you a sense of confidence that they will do the kind of job that will make you happy!

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

Why Family Portraits Are So Important

I have lots of snapshots of my family. I have snapshots of me and my brothers and sisters at the beach, at parties, etc. And I have snapshots of mom and dad in various places and times. But there are no portraits of my family with my parents and siblings all together. Both my parents and one brother are deceased, so that portrait of my family can never be made.

The tragedy of not having a portrait of my family, (actually there aren’t even any snapshots of all of us together), is the fact that my children and their children, etc will never know what we all looked like as a family. It’s about lineage and family history. If there are any photographs of my grandparents in existence, I don’t know of them. It’s a shame.

I don’t know why my parents never thought to have a family portrait made, but I sure wish they had. All families are different, and my family completely unraveled shortly after my youngest sister left home. Shortly after that I left the roost, (being the youngest child), and then my parents divorced. No getting back together for a family portrait after that!

Just an hour ago a young family left my studio. The husband is a medic in the Army, and will be deployed to Iraq in two weeks for an undetermined length of time. The wife works for the Army doing outreach and helps those families and spouses who have lost a family member. She determined to have a special family portrait made before he deploys. Her main reason, she said is because she works with bereaved families and knows what their regrets are. One that stands out to her is when the spouse or family has no real nice family portrait to hold on to. She’s not about to make that mistake.

Beautiful, sensitive family portraits certainly portray the family members in the most complimentary way possible, but they also give a sense of the personality of the family, the individuals, and the relationships within the family. The love and connection.

As with many other families, my older siblings left for the military, university, and marriage, and went of to various parts of the world to start their own families. And as many of my clients do, having a fine family portrait created before the children go off to college or other pursuits can bring back the added warmth and comfort to the empty nest. When going about your daily business in the home, you can look at your family portrait on the wall and see the expressions, all the personalities, all the love of and for your family members is called to mind, and warms the heart.

Family portraits also preserve the record of your heredity. Looking at older family portraits you can likely see where you got your nose, or who you inherited your jaw line from, or your eye color, or curly hair. Portraits are a wonderful way to remember your ancestors, and a wonderful heirloom to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Fine family portraits can give “life” to ancestors from past eras, and give proof to your inherited features. They can fill an empty home with warmth when family members are away. They can bring comfort and preserve precious memories when family members have been lost.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hawaii Family Portrait Photographers

Hawaii Family Portrait Photographers

I am a Hawaii Family Portrait Photographer based on Oahu, but that hasn't always been my specialty.

First let me sat that 90 to 95% of all pro photographers in Hawaii are Wedding photographers. There's good reason for that. Hawaii is the world's number one wedding destination! While I've always been a Family Portrait photographer, for the first half of my career I was a "generalist". That is I did every kind of photography that one can do...above water. After 1991 I began to specialize in Family Portraits. That was the year my dad died. And that's when I realized I had no family portraits - not even a snapshot of my parents and siblings all together. And now it can never be done. Sad.

I have always been an artist, and people have always been my favorite subjects. I moved away from my family as a young 20-something to Kauai, Hawaii, and at that time I just didn't think about my own family portraits. And mortality was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. I was on a life adventure to Hawaii!

I was a young man with a passion for art and photography living in Hawaii! I free lanced as a photographer for some time, then I took a position as a staff photographer for a Maui advertising agency. It wasn't long before I became the head of the photography department for the agency. Eventually I started my own promotions company and handled all the photography myself.

Then my dad passed away.
It was then that I discovered I had not one single family portrait, picture, snapshot. And that was when I learned the real value Family Portraits. That's when I understood what a treasure a fine family portrait truly is.

You see, no portraits exist of my family, and since my dad died there can never be one made. As a result my grandchildren and great grandkids will never know what my family looked like together. Even if we did have a snapshot of all of us together, it wouldn't be the same as having a fine, professional family portrait.

As a family portrait photographer here in Hawaii I create a lot of photographs at the beach, and so do a lot of other photographers. What I've noticed is that 99% of the beach photographs I see being made by other photographers are being made as if it were a wedding or other editorial type event. What I mean by that is the photographers are using only available light, or only one flash unit mounted right on the camera.

Available light can be very nice, but out on the beach in Hawaii, unless you set up with the sun shining in the subject's face, which will result in squinting, uncomfortable expressions, the sky will always come out white, because it will be way overexposed.

When using just one flash on the camera, the light is flat...but NOT flattering! (You can learn a lot more about location lighting by signing up for my class, "Little Lights - BIG Impact" at

As a lifetime student of art, and a fan of the "Old Masters" paintings, and with my experience in creating family portraits in Hawaii, I want you to know that I truly care. When you place your trust in me to create your Hawaii Family Portraits, I will take the time and care to make sure you will have the very finest portraits possible. I will invest all my experience, talent and artistry, I will put my heart and soul into creating the most beautiful and sensitive Family Portraits you have ever had....Made in Hawaii!

I invite you to view my website at, check out my work and see what my clients have to say.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Name Remains The Same

And so does the science and the art...of photography, that is!

Yes, there's a 'D' (digital) added to cameras and lenses, and indeed the capture media and post production are now digital, but photography is still photography. That is recording light and shadow. The tools have changed a bit, and all for the better in my opinion.

That wasn't my opinion when digital was first gaining a hold of the market, but improvements in digital media and printing has come a long way, baby! I worked with film for over 20 years, and most of that film was medium format, so I was used to the results of a larger negative. It's been ten years now since I made the switch to the digital format and printing.

I won't go into a comparison of film to digital here. That's for another blog...and it's been done endlessly...And I've engaged the subject before. Suffice to say that Kodak has announced it will be retiring film in just a few more years.

The thrust of this post is that even though the media has changed, photography remains photography. True, digital cameras do have advanced metering, faster focusing, and better program modes, and all that does improve the chances of making a good photograph even if you don't know any more than to point the camera and press the shutter release button. But all that would be true now even if we still used film rather than a flash card. It's just the result of ongoing development.

What makes a great photograph? 1) A great subject; 2) Great composition, (framing); 3) Great Lighting, and : 4) Perfect exposure. Other things can play a part such as focus and depth of focus, and of course post production. All these factors are exactly the same as they have always been.

Post production even remains the same as before digital, except that the tools have changed. Where before digital, one would have to make test prints and adjust the color balance and density by the use of filters and length of exposure on an enlarger, now we use computer programs like Photoshop and Lightroom, etc. And where retouching and dodging and burning to get the look one was after, with film all that was done by painting on the negative and using dodging paddles and masks in the enlarging process. Now with digital, all that is again done with computer programs. Digital is a lot "greener", that's for sure!

The thing is that the tools have changed, but great photography still requires working knowledge of how to make a perfect exposure with your camera. It still requires knowing how to manipulate light, and an "eye" for composition. And if you're working with people, it still requires knowing how to help people pose and be at ease in front of the camera.

The Digital Revolution in photography has made it so that the photographer can have control over the entire process of image making without spending time in a dark room with smelly and toxic chemicals. However, creating great photographs still requires the skills and artistic talent that it always has. So, the name remains the same, and so does the science and art!

For more articles on photography, and to see my take on the whole "Digital VS Film" thing, go to and click on Articles & Links. Feel free to leave your comments! ALOHA

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who Do You Trust

Let's say you go into a store to buy a "weed whacker". You see two on display side by side. They both look like they'll do the job. One is $150, comes in a box un-assembled, and has no guarantee. The other is $250, comes completely assembled and has a full 90 day guarantee. Who do you trust?

Now let's say you're shopping for a car for your teenage daughter. At the car lot you see two cars that look to be in excellent condition, and are the same year model. One is somewhat less in price and has a sticker that says, "AS IS". The other is a bit higher in price, and is offered with a "Satiafaction guaranteed or trade it in for 30 days". Who do you trust?

For some things, like chopsticks for example, a guarantee isn't a necessity. They're very inexpensive and you use them once then toss 'em in the trash. If you are going to invest in something that will have an impact in your life and that of your family, it makes sense to to invest with someone who has a good reputation, and backs their product with a guarantee.

Fine family portraiture can certainly have an impact in your life and that of your family. The one-hour labs, and "Big-Box" stores photo processing is fine for snapshots, but they aren't going to do the art work and re-touch required to turn your snapshot into a portrait for you.

Photographers using the "shoot and burn" business model, that is, they make photographs and burn them onto a disc and give the disc to you to have prints made...or not, will no doubt save you some money on the initial investment, but.... If the photographer isn't willing to finish the portraits for you and guarantee the quality and your satisfaction with them, essentially what you're doing is gambling!

You see, it's virtually impossible to guarantee quality and satisfaction if you simply put parts in a box then turn it over to the buyer to figure it out for themselves! And if a photographer isn't willing to finish their work and back it up with a guarantee that you will be happy with the results, you are better off continuing your search for a photographer who will!

When I started my full time portrait business in 1993, I did everything I could to make sure I made a pleasing composition, guiding my clients into attractive poses, making sure the lighting was just right, and making perfect exposures. Then I gave the film to the lab and left it to them to make the best possible prints.

One day my partner was delivering an order to a gentleman who after looking at them said, "These aren't portraits! A portrait has enhancements done to it!" And he was right! With all the care I took in creating the photographs, there was still shine on his forehead, nose and chin, and every line and wrinkle was boldly captured in my perfectly lit and exposed photograph! Of course back then I sold my photography for a fraction of what I sell my portraits for today. But that encounter left a lasting impression on me.

Now days I guarantee three things to my clients: 1) Everybody will have a good time and enjoy the experience of having the photographs made; 2) My clients will look better in my portraits than they do in "real life"; and 3) They will be THRILLED, not just satisfied with the portraits I make for them!

I can make the 2nd and 3rd part of that guarantee because I personally do art work and enhancements to each photograph they select. I take the time to reduce or remove the shine on faces, I soften lines and wrinkles, I enhance contrast, and I vignette. I make sure that the final portrait prints are as beautiful as they can be. And I guarantee it! Yes, you will need to invest more with me than with the photographer who will photograph you, burn the images to a disc and turn it over to you, but really, who do you TRUST?!

I invite you to visit my website at and see the work I do, and the testimonials from my clients. ALOHA!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Art & Photographic Portraits

What is art? Art is subjective, and not everyone agrees on what makes something art. Something like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

A client told me not long ago that while she had no problem hanging large art pieces on her walls, she just couldn't see a large family photo on her wall...She didn't want to look at herself "that big!"


I know my ears turned red because I could feel the heat coming off them! I stood there in stunned silence for a minute, then said, "So, you don't consider portraits as art?!" I felt like I had been slapped in the face!

You see, I have dedicated myself to creating the most beautiful family portraits possible for the last 16 years. To me, and to the vast majority of my clients, (I must say all my real clients), a fine family portrait truly is an art piece. A family art treasure! And I would venture to say that even the client I referenced at the beginning here would, in the case of a fire, grab her family portrait and run for safety....but I could be's happened before.

Since I was a very young boy and to now, I have always taken my inspiration for my work from the Old Masters of painting. Their ability to show personalities and emotion in their images has always drawn me in. Most of their works were portraits of friends and patrons. Yes, portraits. Are they art? Absolutely! Very few would disagree.

Back when the "Old Masters" were contemporaries, film hadn't been invented, so there was no photography as we know it. And as I said, the majority of their works were portraits commissioned by their patrons, or inspired by their friends. Certainly landscapes and city scenes, slices of life as it was then were also subjects for paintings. Very much as it is today with painters and photographers alike.

For the most part, the job of creating portraits has been turned over to photographers, and those who specialize in portraiture have received the baton from the portrait painters of old. The art of portraiture largely remains the same. Only the tools have changed. The ability to 'see' and to compose remain the cornerstone of the portraitist's art, along with the ability to draw out the personality of the subject and transfer the vision to print media.

There are many parallels between the painting masters portraits of old and today's photographic portrait artists. Not the least being that we are commissioned to create the portraits in the first place, and it is our passion and livelihood. Depicting personality, emotion and moment has always been about lighting and featuring certain aspects of the subject whether captured in oils or on film or by digital sensor. And today's portraits will be the future's historical record of our contemporary life.

So, are photographic portraits art? I'd like to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pride & Prejudice: Why I don't give printable images on disc

The question is asked more and more frequently these days, and it came up again just this week. "Will you give us a copy of the photographs on disc?" More and more people are wanting and expecting that when they hire a photographer to make portraits or photograph their wedding, they will receive a disc of images that they can print themselves, or take to Wallmart or Costco to have prints made.

I understand the reasons for this, but it still irritates me! When all photographers used film, it was rare that negatives were offered as part of the deal. That business model was in existence, but it represented a very small percentage of photographers. And typically it was wedding photographers who sold a package including the photography, (of course), an album or albums, and the negatives. Basically they figured that they would probably never get a re-order anyway, so why not give the negatives to the client since otherwise they'd just be storing them and taking up space.

That business model was rare with wedding photographers, and even more rare with portrait photographers! Fast forward to the Digital Age.... For some reason with the advent of digital photography and the availability of reasonably priced digital cameras, a huge number of people who like making snapshots, and their friends tell them how nice their photos are, fancy that they can market themselves as "professional photographers".

I have no problem with competition. I think it's wonderful that more people are enjoying photography. I think the digital revolution is the best thing that's happened to photography in years! Maybe ever! However, there are standards that need to be met before one can conscientiously call themselves a professional photographer!

You see, photography is both art and science. Ever since cameras have been mass produced there have been people who have enjoyed making snapshots, and many have been talented hobbyists. There have been 1000s of snapshots that were lucky enough to really come out good! But because every now and then a snapshot comes out really nice, doesn't qualify one as a professional!

What has happened in recent years is that a lot of folks have got themselves a good DSLR, and having some luck with shooting in program mode have made some good photographs. Then they figure, "Well, look at this...I can make photos as good as the Sears studio, (or name your favorite big box store or studio), so now I can hire myself out and make an income with my camera!" This has been the beginning of the dumbing of America when it comes to professional photography.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I sure have...The decline of quality images in a lot of professional mediums, such as magazines and PR publications. That is what happens when the first priority is to get the photos as cheaply as possible. This becomes the case when there are so many amateurs professing to be professional, and willing to work for near to nothing. You then get buyers thinking they're doing their employer a service by saving money, when what they're really doing is a disservice because the images they get are just barely good enough. As a result the employer's products are represented by photographs that don't do them justice.

The biggest problem with this is that over all, expectations are lowered and quality continues to decline. When this happens in commercial photography, the general public begins to lower their personal expectations for photography. Besides, just about everyone now has a printer capable of making pretty nice photo prints. So why not hire the photographer that will "shoot and burn", and you get the images and can print them yourself for pennies? Smart investment...right?

Not in my opinion. As an artist and businessman, I've never given the negatives to my clients. True, when working with film I would turn over the negatives to my lab, then after seeing the "proofs" I would give instructions for enhancements and retouch, etc., and leave it to the lab to complete. Now with the digital work flow, I do the art work and enhancements myself. And now after firing at least 6 labs for letting their quality control go downhill, I've invested in a state-of-the-art printer, and do the printing and finishing myself as well.

Does that sound like a professional who doesn't care how the finished product turns out? I think not! In fact, the reason I don't give the digital negatives, or the enhanced and artworked images to my clients is beacause I DO care how the finished product turns out! And I believe that it is the responsibility of the professional to make sure the finished product turns out right.

As I mentioned I've fired several print labs. They generally start out doing a good job because they want the business, but then after a while they quality control goes down. When that happens both time and money is lost because I refuse to deliver sub par results to my clients. And I have a very high standard when it comes to my work.

Here's the thing...I specialize in portraiture: Families, children and high school seniors, because I'm passionate about it! I love photographing people! I love watching their expressions and hearing their comments when I deliver their portraits to them. I know I'm adding joy to their lives with the work I do for them.

I've given clients permission to have a particular portrait reproduced for greeting cards or invitations in the past. As a courtesy. Mostly because it cost's me more to print them than what they can get them done for at a discount printer....But, I've seen some horrible reproduction of my work...and that sickens me! I put my time, no, I put my heart and soul into creating beautiful photographs. I spend my time doing enhancements and art work to the photographs so that they are as beautiful as they can be. Because I care! I should then turn the images over to the client to go fend for themselves and try and get a decent print from them? NO WAY!

I spent many years studying photography. I went to school to learn all about color harmony, composition, balance, and how to achieve various different results with my camera. I apprenticed with a master photographer. I've been creating portraits now for over 30 years. I put my time, experience and artistry into every portrait I make. I won't stop there! I make sure the color and density is right, and I print the portraits I create. And if they don't look right, I do it again! I will only deliver the very finest, most beautiful finished portraits possible. It just makes no sense to invest passion, time, experience and artistry into making beautiful portraits, then let just any printer, who has nothing invested, and doesn't really care how they turn out, print them. And that's why I don't give the printable images on disc to my clients.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My First Pro Photography Job

It was the summer after my Senior year in high school. I lived in the little "bedroom" community of Camarillo, California, and I had fallen in love with photography a few years before. I don't remember what had happened to the Yashika twin lens camera I had been given that started my journey into the world of photography, but I had since saved up and bought myself a Pentax K1000 35mm camera. I bought the camera kit, which came with a 50mm F1.4 lens, and a 35 to 150mm zoom lens. I loved that camera! It was tough! You could drive nails with it!

So I answered an ad in the local newspaper for a job in the paper's photo archives and darkroom. And they hired me! What a mess their archives were in! But the fun part was the darkroom, and now and then they would send me out to a local school sports event to get photographs. What a blast! I was a professional photographer at 17 years old!

I finally got their archives organized, don't ask me how...and it took all summer! What I do remember is how much fun I had covering the school games, and then seeing my photos in the paper! That was so cool! And of course now that I was a "professional" it was even easier to get pretty girls to pose for me! That was the beginning of my photographing new and "wannabe" models, and creating models portfolios. And it was the start of my glamour and boudoir photography career. I love this job! And I have since I was 17 years old!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My First Camera

I guess some kind of art is just in my bloodline. Yeah, yeah all kids like to make a mess with crayons, pencils and whatever they can get their hands on. For me it was a fascination with how you could take a flat piece of paper and put a pencil to it and make something that looked like more than that. Something with more than just 2 dimensions. Of course I'm writing this with my current understanding rather than that of a 2 year old...

Anyway, it wasn't just a passing thing with me. I loved to draw. My favorite was to copy pictures of famous artists out of art books , or to copy pictures of the human body from the encyclopedia. You know, the cut-away pages showing the various systems, like blood, skeletal, etc. I loved drawing with colored pencils.

Then when I was in junior high school an uncle gave me a really cool, big camera. It was a twin lens reflex Yashika. It was amazing! A whole different animal from the "Brownie" point and shoot cameras of the era. So I went to the library and checked out books on photography. Bought some black and white film and learned how to make photographs.

The very best part about carrying that big camera around was when I would go to the mall with it, I could stop any pretty girl I saw and they would let me take their photograph! That was a LOT of FUN! I was immediately hooked on photography at that point! And I've been "hooked" on it ever since! And people remain my favorite subjects to this day.

I don't know what happened to that Yashika camera. I know it was with me when I took my first photography class in high school, but by the time I finished high school I had replaced it with a 35mm Pentax K1000. That camera had a zoom lens, and was practically indestructible! And it was the camera I used on my very first professional photography job...with the Camarillo Daily News the summer after my senior year! More on that in another post.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keiki O Oahu Project for Charity

Back in 2004 I embarked on a project, the purpose of which was to highlight local Oahu people who are involved in charity work. I called the project "Local Heroes", and asked people I knew to recommend or nominate subjects to be highlighted. I determined that there would be a total of 12 people that would be selected for the project, and I would interview them to find out what charities they worked with and what motivated them to do so. Then I would create a portrait of each of them.

The 12 portraits would be exhibited at the major shopping malls on the island accompanied by the written interviews explaining what they did for the charities, and their motivation. The 12 portraits and interviews were on display for one week at each of the 4 major malls.

As I got to meet and interview the subjects for the project, first I was impressed by the selflessness of each of them, and then I became driven to find other ways that I could help. Originally I intended to repeat the same project each year, but the cost involved turned out to be more than I could take on the following year. And so I discontinued that project. However, I was still very much wanting to help deserving charities in the best way I could.

As a subscriber to Professional Photographer magazine, I read each month about the different "good deeds" that photographers around the country are doing to give back to their communities. One such "deed" is a project to raise money for a local children's hospital. This struck a cord with me as one of the charities I had highlighted in 2004 was the Shriners Hospital for Children.

The project I had read about was being done in Chicago, and when I contacted the photographer there I learned that he was copying a project that had been done in Los Angeles, and that photographer was copying the project as done in Australia!

Anyway, in each case the call to action was basically a call for children to be photographed for a coffee table art book. All the session fees are being donated to the local children's hospital, as well as a portion of the sales of the art book. This appealed to me a great deal, so I contacted the Shriners Hospital here on Oahu and presented the project to them. They loved the idea, (of course), but didn't think their headquarters would approve of the Art Book part as it hadn't been done here before...

Of course anyone with any sense can see that the whole project hinges on the Art Book part of the project to make it work and get parents to sign up to have their children photographed for a charity project! After all, if they were inclined to make a donation without being given an incentive to do so, they would! They wouldn't need me to photograph their kids in order to make a donation!

Long story short, I finally decided to do, and publicize the project without the help of any hospitals or other charities. And I chose 3 local charities to benefit: Helping Hands Hawaii, which among other things provides school supplies to under privileged children; The Ronald McDonald House of Hawaii, which provides a place to stay for families of children who come here from out of state and who need special care; and the Shriners Hospital for Children of Hawaii, which provides care for children in need without cost to the families. All very deserving charities.

I have set a goal to photograph 100 Oahu children (keiki) for the first book, and raise $10,000 to be divided to the three charities. The session fee for this project is only $100, and 100% of that is being donated to the charities. If and when I have photographed enough local keiki to reasonably fill a coffee table art book, a portion of the sales of the book will also be donated to the charities.

The challenge I've been facing is getting the word out about this project. Without the help of any of the charities, when I send out a press release, as a for profit company it doesn't get much support from the newspapers or the radio and TV stations. And as a small business owner and only employee, I don't have a lot of time to go out and personally distribute flyers and posters, although I have put in quite a few hours of effort doing just that!

I'm just one guy who wants to help. Unfortunately since I began this project in November, I've only had 5 responses that resulted in keiki portrait sessions. If you have any ideas on how to get the word out about this project, excluding paid advertising, please let me know!