On the 18th of November 1998 my working life changed. Forever. That was the day when I received my first professional digital camera that was solely for my use. The Kodak DCS520 was a Kodak/Canon hybrid camera (also known as the Canon D2000) based on the Canon EOS1N that had a 1.9 megapixel CCD sensor with a small LED display on the back and removable PCMCIA flash storage cards. It was a revolutionary piece of kit and it didn’t seem to matter that it had a 1.6x crop factor. Nor did it matter that it didn’t work properly with the 540EZ Speedlight which was the top-of-the range offering from Canon at the time. We didn’t even mind the shutter lag because the DCS520 was infinitely better than the previous DCS offerings and much more convenient than having to process and scan colour negative film. (more…)
The other day I was chatting to a young photographer and trying to explain why a consistent and logical workflow was so important. I confidently referred to my own (this) blog and the many years that I have been writing about photography in general and about workflow specifically. Much to my own embarrassment it took me a few minutes to find the posts that I was looking for. I made a note to come back and create some “greatest hits” lists of posts for various topics and this is the first one – workflow and Photo Mechanic. (more…)
When I returned to the world of freelancing ten years ago one of the biggest changes that I noticed was the arrival of the “style sheet”. Almost every commercial and PR client had a prepared guide that let you know what they wanted from a commissioned shoot and a few pointers of what they, or their end client, liked and didn’t like in their pictures. These ranged from really helpful pointers about what kind of clothing should be worn for portraits or whether or not images should have unfussy backgrounds through the obvious such as “images should be properly exposed” to the mildly bizarre “avoid any and all references to money”. I wish that I had kept them all – they would have provided me with a mixture of useful references and a good laugh.
Recently I have seen two rather odd things in style sheets provided to me by three totally unconnected clients. The first oddity appeared when talking to a PR company about an upcoming commission. They are based in London and the job was for an insurance company. Their style sheet featured three identical pictures and one completely identical paragraph to a style sheet supplied to me previously by a Manchester PR company. I cannot see a connection between the two PR companies and so you have to think that they are getting their style sheets from a single supplier or that they have both copied something from a third PR company. Either way, it explains why so much of the PR and corporate sector has come to look like a catalogue for a stock photography company. Bland people doing bland things with even lighting is a bit dull and I’m pretty sure that every single one of the photographers involved would have been capable of something way more interesting.
The second oddity came when a PR firm working for an educational establishment sent me a style sheet with one of my own photographs used in it. A picture that I created almost twenty years ago and which bore no resemblance to anything that I was being asked to do. When I asked them where they had obtained the images for their style sheet they told me that they had got them from Google Images over the years. Bizarre indeed. (more…)
I’m not actually sure why but I have avoided Instagram since it was launched. I am aware that it can be used as a good shop window for photographers and I am equally aware that it can suck hours from your day. The thing that finally made me sign up and dive in was when a third picture editor informed me that they didn’t look at portfolios unless they’d seen an Instagram feed first.
When it happened for the first time I wrote it off as the narrow silliness of a very young picture editor. The second time made me think that the whole industry was going nuts but when it happened a third time I decided that I had to move with the times. Now this isn’t the first time that I have been (too) late to a party. I used Flickr when it first came out but deleted my account fairly promptly before getting back in the saddle a couple of years later. I had perviously used EyeEm as a mini-folio but that appeared to be a waste of effort after several months of putting effort into it. Could Instagram be the answer for me? (more…)
A good workstation for editing pictures is something that all photographers should have. For quite a few years now I have favoured having a good monitor married to a fast laptop. I have tried using an iMac and I have owned a couple of desktop computers but having a high end (MacBook Pro) laptop and a quality monitor has provided me with a very flexible set up that allows me to grab the laptop and work on that if I need to be away from home without the complication of having multiple computers. Well, that’s sort of true; I do have multiple laptops and use the MacBook Air when I am travelling light and on longer trips I take my spare MacBook Pro along to either use as a makeshift server or as a back up “just in case”.
My home office is a relatively small one and so my set-up is somewhat dictated by that. I am always evolving what I use and the way that I use it and my current monitor is a three year old 25″ Dell Ultrasharp (now discontinued) which has not only served me well but has been packed up in a flight case many times to go with me on trips where I have been working as an editor. When I’m at home the monitor is wall-mounted so that I can get it as far away from me as I can and give me as much desk space as possible. It is connected to a dock and so there is only one Thunderbolt 3 cable that needs to be plugged into the MacBook Pro. (more…)
Over the last couple of months I have been looking hard at the whole idea of an iPad and iPhone based workflow for the kind of photography that I do. I have tried to find a workflow that is repeatable and adaptable that could replace my tried and tested (and damned good) workflow on a laptop or desktop computer.
After trying different iPads and iPhones as well as dozens of apps and an endless combination of those apps I have come to the conclusion that there is no way that an iOS device can replace a computer for the vast bulk of my work. There are several reasons for this but the main one is that iOS was never designed for this kind of heavy lifting and the way that you move files around between apps is still pretty painful and that it is even worse with RAW files. Don’t get me wrong, using a fully-loaded top of the range iPad Pro with decent internet connectivity and a keyboard you get really close to a good workflow but by then you have a device costing at least £1,000.00 (and a lot more if you go for the 12″) which weighs and costs almost as much as an Apple MacBook without the access to rock solid made-for-the-job applications. (more…)
Once upon a time I had six 128 and 160 megabyte PCMCIA memory cards and I happily rotated them through my 1.9 megapixel Canon/Kodak DCS520 cameras. That was over nineteen years ago and, like most other photographers, I have kept on buying more and more newer, faster and larger cards ever since. In 2002 when I was shooting with the original Canon 4.1 megapixel EOS1D I graduated to a small pile of 256 megabyte cards which were replaced by 512 meg’ cards pretty quickly. Nine and a half years ago (2008) when I went freelance I was shooting with 8 megapixel Canon EOS1D MkII cameras and I had eight 2 gigabyte cards (along with a stack of ‘retired’ cards) and rarely needed more than four of those a day.
Fast forward to today and I still have a Think Tank wallet with eight compact flash memory cards in it – but now they are all 32 gigabyte plus three spare SD cards for the Canon EOS5D MkIVs and the 7D MkII. On top of that I keep a couple of 16 gig’ CF cards, six 8 gig’ cards and a couple of specialist SD cards in my ‘just-in-case’ case. further on top of that each camera starts the day with a 32 gig’ CF card as well as a 32 gig’ SD card. (more…)