Friday, March 30, 2012

My Studio

I don't write about my studio, The Space, very much. I'm not really sure why. I spend most of my days (and many late nights) there. It's my home away from home. "Space Sweet Space" as we like to say. It's a happy place and a place of comfort for me. Why, then, was I considering not sticking around for another year? Let me explain...

The thought first crossed my mind in January. That's when I was looking at my financials from the year before. Without getting into too much detail, I wasn't sure if the studio had made me any money. I gave it some thought and figured that I hadn't even been there for an entire year yet, so I couldn't really say whether or not it was a good business expense. I should give it another year. Done... right?

The thought didn't leave my head. This worried me. When something sticks in my head, I find it really hard to get rid of. I really like that studio. Without it, I'd be back to working from home and meeting clients in coffee shops. But the money I could save! It all came back to money.

Then the obvious hit me: It's not about the money or the rent, but the opportunities having a studio creates. I started thinking about everything that's happened in or because of the studio and I couldn't believe how much has happened in less than a year! Let's just take a look, shall we?

- When the weather is nice, Belinda and I can pretend that we live downtown and head out for evening walks in the city. We've had some great walks through the Highlands, down the 16th St Mall and even to the Denver Public Library!
Me and Belinda hanging out near the Denver Art Museum!
- We've hosted fundraisers for organizations and political candidates we believe in.

- We've hosted networking events for groups that we're involved in such as CRAVE Denver and Smug Mug. We've also held open houses where photographers who typically work from home can hang out with other photographers and get work done, socialize and network.
Smug Mug meeting... it was a packed house!
Art working hard at a networking day.
- We hosted a workshop with one of Mexico's best wedding photographers (Fer Juaristi).
Here's Fer having a good time outside of the studio.
- The Fer workshop might just have lead to one of the biggest business decisions I'll make (but I'll save that for a future announcement).

- We've used it for surprise parties and game nights. It's so close to everything and is in such a fun neighborhood, it's a great place just to hang out with friends.

- Finally, lots of friendships have been started  there. I've grown very close with some of my studio mates and have become good friends with photographers who happen to work nearby or come to our open houses. These connections would not have happened if I'd still been working from home.

So, let's see... it's improved my social life, raised money for causes I believe in, introduced me to some world-class photographers, allowed me to meet lots of local photographers and business owners and created life-long friendships! Oh yeah... I guess it also made me more productive, relocated my office out of my basement and might just have increased my sales. What's the downside again?

Needless to say, I'm sticking around. If all of this has happened  in the last 7 months, I can't wait to see what the next year holds!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Polaroid Diaries: Part III - The Exposure Compensation Dial

If you've shot even just a few Polaroids, you've probably got a few under or over exposed images. Polaroid meters are not that smart, so it's just going to happen. What can be done about this? Every Polaroid camera should have an exposure compensation dial or slider. What's it for? Basically, it tells your camera to adjust exposure for the final image. It's up to you to tell it how much and in which direction (over or underexposure). I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure that on cameras with a built-in flash, it also adjusts the intensity of the flash.

So, how do you use this to get better images? First, you'll want to be able to read a scene like your camera will. Do you have a high-contrast or backlit scene? Better over-expose so your subject will (hopefully) have a decent exposure. Are you using a flash but your subject is more than a few feet away? Over-expose that image! Actually, I rarely ever under-expose an image unless I shoot one and find it's over-exposed and needs adjustment. The only time I start out with an under-exposed setting is when I'm shooting Impossible Project film that recommends less exposure.

One thing that you'll need to be careful of is assuming that you need to adjust the exposure of an image. For example, I was out shooting in full sun one day and stepped into the shade. I assumed I'd need to overexpose a bit due to the shade. I was wrong and ended up with an overexposed image. Why? The entire dynamic range of the scene was very flat, so the camera got a very accurate reading and would have probably given me a perfect exposure without any compensation.
I assumed I needed to overexpose this image because I was in the shade. I didn't.
As with anything Polaroid, there is no precise formula to follow, but with a little experimentation and trial and error you'll start to get more consistent and usable results. Have fun turning those knobs and sliding those sliders!

Here's a photo taken with flash that I overexposed by about 1 stop so it wouldn't be too dark.
I didn't adjust the exposure at all for this image. You can see that it exposed for the light sky in the background and not for Tess.
Since the brightest part of this photo was the subject, it came out perfectly exposed without any adjustments.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Valentines, Balloons and Film - Denver Portrait Photographer

I've got some amazing friends. When I ask if they'd be up for letting me shoot a few rolls of film while they stand in front of my camera, they just ask when and where. How great is that?

Tess loves love. She loves February, she loves pink, she loves hearts and she loves Valentine's Day. When I asked if she wanted to shoot on Valentine's Day with her boyfriend Mike, I already knew what the answer was going to be.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spirit - Denver Model Photography

I first met Spirit when she signed with Wilhelmina Denver as a model and needed some fresh images. Since then, we've shot a few more times and loved every minute of it. Here's a sample of what we've shot across a few of her sessions.

If you like her jewelry, she makes it herself. Check out Spirit's Jewels for more info.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Polaroid Diaries: Part II - Quick Tips

So, if you read my last post about Polaroids, you might think that it's almost impossible to get good photos. That's definitely not the case! You can get some really good photos with a Polaroid. It just takes a little knowledge of how the cameras work and see light.

While I don't claim to be an expert at Polaroid photography, I have learned a few things that I'll pass along here. While they don't work every single time, your chances of getting better photos should go up if you follow a few of these basic tips:

- If you can, use a flash. Not only will you get the classic Polaroid look, but you don't have to worry about tricking the meter. When I use my 635 CL, the flash goes off every single time. I get more good photos from that camera than any other Polaroid I own.

Without a flash, this self-portrait would have never happened.

- Limit the dynamic range in your photos. Because the metering system in a Polaroid camera isn't very smart, if your subject is in the shade but you have a bright background, the camera is going to meter for the background, your subject is going to be underexposed and there's nothing you can do about it.

Although I was shooting this session with strong backlight on my digital,
I knew I had to shoot Karina in full sun to make this instant image work.

- Recognize when you're going to get a long exposure and plan accordingly. I know that when I use my SX-70 or a packfilm camera, most of the time I'm going to have a long exposure if I'm not in direct sun. Long exposures mean I'm much more likely to have a blurry photo. I make sure to brace myself or use a tripod so I'll hopefully get a sharper photo.

I braced my SX-70 on a table to get this shot.
This handheld image isn't very sharp (but I still like it!).
I hope these help. I know they're pretty general, but they're a start. I'll dive in a little deeper next time with some specific examples. Until then...