Twas a long November back in '17

No this is not the date of the entry.  Well ok it does happen to be written in that month and year.  That is the title.  Just a very factual title.  This is a long and life changing month.  For me it has been a personal month and a photographic month.  As both areas of my life have changed.

October left with a crazy series of health issues.  I was out of work for a few weeks.  It took me out until the very end and just a tad into November.  I was at the urologists office having a stent removed on the 1st.   That marked the end of the saga from a physical standpoint.  It changed into a time to heal.

What I did not know is that it was about the first or second that a model whom I just recently photographed just weeks ago had taken her own life.  But I did not find out until well after the fact. 

Just days prior I heard news that another person I knew of just got married and returned form his honeymoon.  He was walking home with this wife and was mugged by kids.  Three 15 year olds and one 13-year-old.  He was shot and killed. In front of his wife.

Then not long ago I found that the bridesmaid from a wedding I photographed a few months back, she died of a heart attack.  The wedding day was the last time that the bride got to see her friend.

That is three deaths in one month.  In November of 2017.

A murder, a suicide, and a heart attack.  Three people who were just there and in a blink of an eye was gone.  I was still getting better on the physical side of things when these events started going down.  That is an emotional drain.  It is saddening.

The gentleman who was gunned down the wedding photographer still had the photos.  I know if that had been me, I would have been messed up and may have needed counseling.   That is a hard situation here it is a client’s life just ended and you have some of the last known photos of them.  On the happiest day of their lives.  Just 9 days before it came to an end.

So what does this all teach me?  So much.  It’s overwhelming emotionally if I am honest about it.  But life is not guaranteed.  It can come and go.  The Lord does indeed give and take away.  What changes is how we engage life behind the camera.

I have held my firm belief that photography is a way to cultivate and engage the person on the other side of the lens, and invite them into our lives and work together.  From the wedding I shot I had no idea it was going to be the last day that the bride would ever get to see her dear friend.    When I was shooting the models at the workshop, I had no idea that she would soon be dead.  What more could have been done? 

Just being the photographer does not mean getting the shot right.  It does but does it really matter?  At the end of the day I can look at these photos and realize that I captured some memories.  Both for me and the clients and models. 

These sad moments of life that came up this month is teaching me to really get out there and to cultivate and engage them. Each moment.  Each person.

Now the crazy lesson here is during the very workshop with the model who took her life, the photographer instructed everyone to not be bossy.  He was telling us that they may be model but they are people too.  Real human beings.  Each with feelings and emotions.  He was going to make sure that no one abused anyone.

And little did we know that one model, was full of heart and life and emotion like everyone else.

With the competition the way it is in the photography market we get so deeply involved with being the best ad cutting out our competition that we forget to be there, present, in the moments for the model and client sitting before us.  We get lost in perfection and product that we forget to be ourselves.

When the shutter stops clicking life still goes on.  I want my work to be great yes.  To be technically accurate.  To be aesthetically pleasing.  To be visually inspiring and a source of encouragement. 

We are connected to each other in ways we can’t imagine.  This is what I want to be show in my work.  It’s not about our “image” of self but being there to cultivate and engage with each other in life and memories that keep on spreading to the next generation and person.

So maybe we should stop being what we want to be (it’s selfish) and stop being nice to one another and start living and be a blessing to each other. 

Sometimes we have to put the camera down and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

A lens review….. Sigma 24-70 2.8 ART (Canon)

On my way up to a photography workshop in Cincinnati I really didn’t have a great lens.  Hey we all have to start somewhere.  And since I have been unable to find a stream of paying clients, I have to make do with what I have.

The workshop had begun and the instructor gave out advise on what the settings should be to get the desired look.  My lens was well, it was given to me and I can see why! 

Well before the class he did mention that Sigma gave him a lens to review.  Well I saw he was not going to be using it and asked him if I may borrow it for the workshop.    That was the best thing I could have done that day was ask for that!

So I have yet to play with the Sigma ART line up yet.  And I am a fan of the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 as it is a sturdy and dependable piece of glass.  I know Sigma has been making some big headway in the market.  All I got to say is Canon better step up the game or lower some prices because these are some good lenses.

I have used a Sigma lens before which was not bad lens at all.  But it was Canon quality.  If the subject oved I would miss the shot while it was focusing.  But this lens was a different story and changed the way I feel about Sigma.

First thing I noticed was the weight of the lens.  It was some weighty stuff.  It felt very sturdy even being a smaller lens.  I could tell just holding it this was going to be a sturdy dependable lens.  Well let’s get some shots to see how it does.

The res was a blur over the next few hours as I did not change my lens for anything after that.  Shot after shot they were very sharp.  The photos that were messed up were my fault as I forgot to change the ISO settings.  Yay go me!!!!

But the speed of the lens and shutter I did not miss the shots.  It focused on just what I needed it to and was very sharp.  I did have trouble adjusting from studio light into ambient daylight which once again was on my side of the error.

But the Sigma lens itself I felt was that assistant telling me don’t worry boss I got this!  And that it did.  Focus was fast, images sharp, it didn’t throw a fit with the focus and the 2.8 wide open did very well.  Once or twice I took it to 4.0.  But I was able to stay on one and stay there.

The price is cheaper than the Canon lens of the same specs.  I wish it were just a wee tad less expensive but for the money it is a good lens and I feel worthy to be considered a competitor or Canon. 

Some lenses are cheaper and you can tell.  There is usually a trade off in quality or speed.  If there were I did not see it or if were, it was so minimal it was nearly non-existent.

If I were to place side by side with the Canon this would be a hard choice.  I would nearly have to flip for it as I know both are stellar lenses, both are built very great, both feel right, and both produce excellent photos.  If money is no object or if you are a brand loyalist, then maybe Canon is your answer.  If you want to save a few hundred dollars then Sigma is the way to go. 

At the end of the day if I did not have a Canon lens I would be very happy and proud to say that I own the Sigma 24-70 2.8 ART lens.  It really is a nicely made piece of equipment that is worthy to be added into your collection.

Where to Buy

  •       Amazon
  •       Adorama
  •       B&H


Link to Sigma page

Oh yeah by the way I have not been endorsed or paid for this review or anyone.  These are my results from spending the afternoon with the lens shooting models under a variety of lighting scenarios. 



Ya know what Hurley was right

Ya know what Hurley was right.  He wasn’t saying anything sensational or never before seen type of conspiracy theory type stuff.  But People really do not know what they look like.

Earlier today I was doing a fundraiser shoot and was between clients.  So I did what any great photographer would do, I shot myself.  I turned the laptop towards me, put it on a music stand so I could shoot tethered and see the results.

I could have taken cheap way out and had someone else take the photos, but I wanted to say that I took my own photos thank you very much!

The lesson learned is that you do not know what you look like.  Life is not the same on the other side of the camera.  In front of the lens, whatever you think you may know is not all you think it is.

Looking at my photos, I would have told myself to look this way, do this or that, turn a different direction and so much more.  Heck even needed to tell myself to smile on several of these.

So looking at my own photos, I know that one cannot simply always coach one’s self.  We sometimes need each other to really know what we look like and what we need to do to reach our dreams, goals, expressions and whatever else we just darn well need.

It’s ok that we need other people to help bring out the best in ourselves.  It is also important to remember what life is like on the other side to know how we can help the others out nd bring out the best in them. 

No matter who is sitting in front of my lens it is important for me to help cultivate and engage them to bring out the best  version of themselves they can be.

TFP vs Paid shoots

What is TFP?

TFP is short for Time For Print.  It is a close term as well meaning both the model and photographer will shoot for "free" but in reality they are trading off. 

Yes I do shoot TFP however i do so on a limited basis.  I shoot if I am going to try something new, collaborating with others, trying something  artistic or even when wanting to stay sharp learning new techniques and styles.  Much like a chef will still go home and cook a meal.  If you love what you do, you find ways to keep doing it.

I do believe in paying for models as well.  Everything has a currency.  Weather it is time,  money, possessions, information, knowledge,  expertise, physical goods or merchandise there are many forms of currency that can be used.  It is much like the barter system in modern day times.

When it comes to charitable events, fundraising, and just to brighten up someone's day I have done TFP or Pro Bono work.  I will continue to do these as well.  

I may not be able to shoot everyone and everything in TFP.  I am learning how to create and run a business form the ground up.  Camera gear is not cheap nor is keeping up with web space,  prints, photo editing programs and the plethora of the other stuff needed to keep the day to day operations running.  

If you would like a TFP session please contact me HERE and I will reach out to you to see what may be able to work together  and create.