Randal Ford

lacey_stockbauer1I am not Randal Ford.  Wish I were, in some ways.  Like when it comes time to shoot a Texas Monthly cover.  Randal is a supertalented shooter and a master of post production.  I think I’ve stumbled onto a small degree of his look here with this shot of Lacey, a volunteer at MOWAM, but I’m learning that when a magazine or agency goes looking for a shooter, their decisions have very little to do with what that shooter can do with his camera.  It’s really about what he can do with the entire scene.  A good still photographer has to be lots of things.  Technically sound, creative, a good director, well-versed in production, set design, lighting and wardrobe.  He can’t stink or cuss or violate the environment with personal opinion or political views.  And that’s if he’s just shooting people.  Those are just the basics.  That same guy has to be easy to be around and must have the ability to make his subject comfortable enough to emit the look he wants.  He also has to know business.  His business and his client’s business and his client’s client’s business.

It’s this little revelation here that gives me hope for my chances to be hired again and again.  With the digital landscape evolving so rapidly, it’s easy to question the future of photography as a business.  Unless you consider what really separates the pros from the amateurs.

My book

book

So for those who don’t want to click through the whole blog and sit through my ramblings, click here to see a random sample of some images from the past year or so.  Shots from assigments, directed shots, personal stuff.  Chase Jarvis, at one point, asked readers to send in their opinions as to which ones in his portfolio they liked (and disliked) most.  I’d sure appreciate some feedback from you.  I like them all, so if you only want to tell me which ones suck, that’s okay, too.  Thanks for any input.

Sometimes it’s easy

laceyI read a lot about photography. Mostly on the web, comments from other shooters, business-type stuff.  And I come across a lot of “we photographers have the hardest, most rewarding job in the world.”  Please.  Making pictures, even at the most extreme level, isn’t even in top half of the toughest or most rewarding.  It may be slightly difficult at times or give the shooter a sense of accomplishment, but real toughness is found elsewhere.  (Joe McNally would’ve surely disagreed with me after muling that balance beam through a muddy cornfield.)

And sometimes it’s one of the easiest jobs in the world.  I’ve been working on some photos for a van wrap for Meals on Wheels and More, and today, my work was done before I ever released the shutter.  That’s Lacey there, a volunteer for MOWAM, who was very kind in giving even more of her time to come down to the studios at Fosforus and stand in for a few shots.  Thanks, Lacey.  You did all the heavy lifting today.

It’s not your money

mealsonwheelsI’ve got small children, and we occasionally watch cartoons together.  Spongebob, Dora, some others.  If those cartoons weren’t loud and irritating enough, the ads that run between them are worse.  Yesterday, my five year-old asked, “Why do they have commercials?”  My best answer was, “All those people are trying to get your money.  They have something to sell you, and it’s your money they want in return for it.  You have money, and they have stuff.  You can buy whatever you want with your money, but if you give them all your money in return for their stuff, then you can’t buy anything else.  If their stuff is so great, why are they trying to get rid of it?”

He paused for a few seconds, took it all in and looked up at me and said, “Can we give them your money?”

Working for Meals on Wheels and More on one particular project has taught me something, too.  Mrs. Rodriguez, there on the left, is going to grace the side of a MOWAM delivery van.  The call to action is for volunteers.  It’s not your money they’re after.  Only your time.  And they’re not asking for much of it.

I know some of you are struggling just to take care of your own selves and families, and you literally have no time to give, and it’s perfectly okay to not do anything.  No one is begging or demanding or trying to guilt you into this.  They’re only asking.  As my friend Terry Boothe likes to say, “No” is a perfectly acceptable answer.

The Perfect Company?

fosforusMaybe, but at the very least, Fosforus is easily one of the most effective companies I’ve seen, in terms of what goes on there and what their clients get from them.  As a whole, they deliver fresh, smart business ideas and direction, but it’s downright astounding to witness the separate creative elements spill out.  Ask anyone there to come up with something to help your business, then push “start” on your stopwatch.

Their head writer is smart, informed, caring and genuinely interested in helping sell whatever there is to sell.  Not just tell.  I’m sure lots of companies have enough cash to simply spend a lot of money to show and tell, but I bet more and more of them will find their way to companies like Fosforus, especially in the current economic storm.

Their Creative Director (and I’m not blowing smoke here) is the Tiger Woods of the creative world.  His brilliant mind churns out more effective, creative and relative ideas in 30 seconds than I would in month.  Scratch that.  He does things I could never do.  Ever.

Their design guys stay out front in terms of what’s cool, what’s next, what’s useless and what works in different situations.  Masters of media, all of them.

I overheard a client of theirs coming out of a first meeting with them, saying, “My bullshit meter never went off.”  And that client went in with an itchy bullshit trigger finger.  I’ve watched the Fosforus engine work from many different angles, for years now, and I can safely say the same thing.

Dolores Rodriguez

dolores_rodriguez

Today, I took an opportunity to spend a half hour with one of the kindest, friendliest people I’ve met in years.  Her name is Dolores Rodriguez, and her smile did all the heavy lifting on today’s shoot.  Thank you, Mrs. Rodriguez, for welcoming us into your home.  And for the quick modeling job.  You’re a natural.