Friday, February 26, 2010

Must keep-in-mind for location scouting

Someone wrote an e-mail to me on Wednesday and asked what tips could I recommend for location scouting when dealing in commercial photography. I once wrote something but I think that these tips will help also.

Location: What is it?
A whole process that you must take care of when pre-producing. This is not production, this is something you do before getting into production, in fact, if you do not this right, the production will be affected by this. Location is big deal. Location will help the photographer tell the story. It is a character of the story as well as it is a setting. I like to think of it as the raw material of the final product.

Location: What types?
Natural like desert landscapes, oceans, rivers.
City like buildings, restaurants, coffee shops.

Location: How?
1. By looking. By recommendation. You should always be looking. As a producer, I constantly observe what is near me, where I eat, where I go shopping...I keep records of where do I go to in my mind. And I often discuss them as a possibility.
When scouting, visit the location the day of the week that you are shooting and at the time that you think will be working.

2. Write down the pros/cons of the location. What to consider?
a. Do you have power? Will you need the generator? Will you use batteries?
b. Weather. If it rains when you are there, will you be able to cover your stuff? If the sun is on the spot...will it affect the final result? I had this happening to me once, and this was not good (see blog post here) . So, I always remember this Sunday when we shot a music group on a location we loved and how the sun really changed everything. It went well but Diego hated me for a while.
c. Is there enough room for the make-up artist? The hair stylist? Wardrobe change? Will your client be able to sit down and see what you are doing? Is there space for catering (if required). Take a look around, walk and imagine the perfect set-up for producing.
d. Nearby stuff. If there is an outside location, remember:
- People use bathrooms
- Models need to change
- People get in a bad mood if they don't eat.
- Parking for crew and client
e. Negotiate a price and a contract. Put it on paper. Write it down. And book it.

3. Take pictures. These will help the photographer and the client to take a decision.

Examples of locations I have scouted:

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comments on Austin Monthly Cover Shot

I went to the grocery store yesterday. Got my February edition of Austin Monthly Magazine. I must admit that I was very excited to see that Tavaner Bushman from Austin, TX said that the cover was cool. I have received good comments about it, but it is always nice to see them in print. Thanks for your comments, it pleases me to say that I worked with an excellent team.

If you want to see the cover shot you can check it out here.
And the behind-the-scenes video can be seen here in a post by Diego.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

The next approach on the market.

I woke up early today, full of energy and with only one thing on my mind: I must blog.
I haven't posted anything new for a while, but not because I did not want to but because I haven't had an interesting thing to talk about. But now, I do.

As I said, I woke up early today. I did my morning ritual: gym, breakfast, shower and sit on my computer.
While sitting on my computer, I started reading my tweets, my FB home and came up with this new blog post of "A Photo Editor" which you can read here. His blog re-directed me to Scott Goodson's writings which you can read here.

So, I read. And read.

Interesting...hmmm... a while ago I was having this conversation with a friend of mine. It is amazing how they say that people are connected through ideas and that if you don't execute them right away, someone will do it instead. Proven correctly. There is this site called OpenAd; OpenAd opened my eyes. I haven't heard from it before however, we have talked about what would happened it if existed. My friend is one of those people that come up with ideas all the time, I actually enjoy being in a car together because ideas won't stop...she travels in space and starts telling me what she thinks, the dream she had, and all of them are related to advertising. Because of this economy, my friend lost her job last year. She is unemployed and still hasn't stopped thinking on what brands should do, creating advertising campaigns in her mind...and I think that I found a solution for her today. While unemployment is not fun either, she may now enter a world of creatives and start posting her very original ideas to be heard.

Kept reading Scott's writings and learned about "The Department of Doing". One more thing to add to my TO-DO list for today. I was impressed. I was blown away by these wonderful people that have just one objective: DO. While many others are trained and focused on what to do, they actually do it. They focus and actually execute their ideas. As a producer, my work is to do. And I believe I do it correctly however, you cannot have enough knowledge or enough experience. It is always nice to know that someone does what you do in other levels across the world. I congratulate both Neil and Richard for being so innovative and for doing, your work is marvelous. Thanks for being an inspiration.

With a lot in my mind, now I focus on my TO-DO list for Monday 22, 2010. It looks like it is all good. One of those days when I woke up with a positive attitude and looking forward to conquer the world. I must now conquer it with a different approach, with a new business plan, with an open mind and with the desire of doing.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Copyright...tell it from the start.

I am writing this after one more lesson learned. They say you learn things everyday.
And so I did today.

Back in the day, when I practiced Law as a paralegal in a law firm in Mexico, I was amazed and always interested in how to protect a photograph, a painting or even a poem for an artist. Art is really so relative but then again, valuable (all of it!) that it always interested me how should you protect the rights of the has always gotten my attention but how can you establish what is yours is just yours and yours only?

Simple. Do so in your estimate. So you can later count that there is no excuse; you have it written on paper since the first time you were asked to tell how much for your service..
Whenever you are asked for an estimate for a photo shoot, always establish that you are first and foremost, giving the rights to your client for its commercial use ONLY. The rights for self-promotion are yours. All of them. If you own the art, you are able to promote it. However, in this case be careful: check with the client the timeline he/she has to release the campaign, the magazine cover, or whatever you did and stick to their dates.

So, I would suggest this:
- Ask to get a signature on the estimate with the legend "Photographer will retain the rights of the photography for self-promotion".
- Agree with your client/ad agency on the terms of confidentiality of the photograph. You will of course not publish it on your website until the ad/cover is on and going.
- Stick to what you had agreed. Comply with the clauses you have written.

It is not too much to ask to ONLY have the right to self-promote; and self-promote is; by publishing on your website (when time comes) uploading it to your blog, adding it to your print portfolio or sending it out through promos . You are NOT using the photograph commercially, you are not getting income or taking advantage of the brand/label/artist/situation that you now own through a photograph. You are not selling it. And for that, I will ask to respect others work; models/ad agency/producers/stylists and everyone who worked with you.

Respect and ask for respect.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Less is More

As in makeup, as in fashion and almost everything...
less is more.

In photography too.

In the past few weeks, we had a photo shoot for Tate Austin Hahn. There is one I like to talk about. One of the set-ups got a little too far. In the creative process, we talked to the guys involved in making the decision, and we considered what Jenny represented. Jenny likes golf, is a longhorn fan and works sometimes from San Antonio.
Considering those facts we did this: Placed balls on the office hallway. We did not have big budgets on production so we were thinking of making the office hallway like a golf tee to practice.

Then we asked Jenny to come in.
However, as much as the many details we wanted to have on the photograph to represent Jenny as she really was, we decided then that it was not the way to do it. So, we just made a simple shot. Jenny against a orange-longhorn wall and made her smile. Less is more.

I mean, do not get me wrong sometimes and we have had some photographs that I have produced were a lot of elements are needed to make the photograph even more impressive like the one below but, it does not apply to all.

Note: For confidentiality issues, I cannot publish the final photograph of Jenny.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

To photograph a process and what you may find behind it.

I was in St. Louis this Wednesday and Thursday.
How much I learned. Paper is not something to take for granted (not that I do so) but, you never understand what is really behind a simple piece of paper. How many people work on it, how many machines are constantly functioning and how much it costs. So, besides learning how the process works, I also learned how to produce a photo shoot when you are documenting a process.

My task was to conduct Diego as the photographer throughout the process and let him know what the client wanted. Although we had a list of shots that the client specifically wanted, I had to consider that there were not only exterior and interior shots and horizontal and vertical. In fact, I had to combine them.

In spite of the bad weather, we had to shoot so, I decided to separate the list into two: exterior and interior. Exterior were postponed hoping for a better weather on Thursday. Focused on interior then, I directed Diego through a list of things to-do.

What I learned on Wednesday:

** Safety first. Care for yourself and care for the ones in your team. Be sure that the things to be photographed are controlled and watched by the safety guard.

**Some steps in the process are more impressive than others, they will use heavier machinery, however, try to narrate a story with your photograph. Be sure to have them listed and be checking them after you're done. However, you may ask for two different angles on the same site, so, list that too. Close-ups and Panoramic views are important shots to be listed too.

** I noticed that is not only important to talk to the person in charge at the fabric, but to the employees also. The ones who operate the machinery know what the machines do and they know what will be more interesting to you. Trust them, they know. They know more than you will.

** Look for a spot where the equipment will be safe. The place must be a not very transited spot.

The photo below is from Wednesday. FYI: JFF.

What I learned on Thursday:

** As my father always said, if you are up early, you take advantage of time. In Spanish "Al que madruga Dios le ayuda".

** Wear rainboots, have them packed. They come in handy.

**You can never trust the weather. So, be prepared. This Wednesday we took more photographs than we were supposed to. Luckily it turned out better, it was impossible to have them on Thursday. In conclusion: If you have time, spend it wisely and step on it. Pull off some more stuff than what you have planned, it may work.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hungry but Alert

I took this picture of Diego yesterday. We traveled to St. Louis for a photo shoot that is very different to what we have done before. This time, we are photographing the process of fabricating paper. I will of course, let you know important details that I learned in a photo shoot of this kind. In the meantime, enjoy. Eat. And try not to take around 12 hours for your next meal. You tummy will hurt and you'll start to feel me.