Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Heroes - Are You Watching?

I don't watch a lot of television... at least not like some people. I can't say that when I was younger though. I used to watch a lot of television. But today, there's just too much to do and so I pick only certain shows to watch.

Among these is the NBC show, "Heroes." What an amazing show!

Are you watching? What do you think?

If you have missed a recent episode, you can see it on-line if you go to www.nbc.com and click on the Heroes link.

My family's favorite character on the show is Hiro, the Japanese guy who can stop time and teleport himself. I think this is one of the first times that a main character of a show actually does most of his dialogue in a language other than English. From an interview I saw of him, he said that he translates all of the dialogue himself. The writers of the show give him his lines in English and he translates it to Japanese. He is so funny on the show! My daughter says, "He's awesome!"

Which character do you like best? Which Hero's ability do you think is the best?

Personally, I like Hiro's character, but I like Peter Petrelli's ability because like the villian Syler, he can gather new powers everytime he is in contact with another Hero. But Claire's ability to regenerate after being mortally wounded is kind of cool too!

Among the other shows I watch is "Crossing Jordan." My family got hooked on watching this show because it was something to do on a Sunday night. Now they are moving it to Wednesdays, so we'll see if we can still keep watching. I love watching this show because I'm amazed at what they show on it. Not too long ago, it would be impossible to see something like an autopsy on network TV. Obviously, it's faked, but the amount of detail they show on this show is simply amazing. Because I've been to many real autopsies in the past, none of the things they show on TV really shock me, but it's still interesting to see it on TV.

I don't watch the autopsies on the show like most people. Sure, I say, "Look at that!" when I see some gruesome shots of the bodies they show. But what I really do that irritates my family is that I'll say, "Look... the body's breathing!" That's just the funniest thing to me! The bodies on the autopsy table are often seen breathing! Of course they take very shallow breaths, but if you look close, you can see it.

My wife says I take all the fun out of the show when I point that out. But come on... how can you not laugh when you see that?! :)

People ask me all the time if I watch CSI or one of its spin-offs. Actually, I don't. I have seen a couple of episodes lately, but I'm not a regular viewer. Although the show does try to keep real by doing some of the same things that I recall doing when I worked in a crime lab, but some of the things are just unbelievable. Because of that, I can't watch without saying, "That's fake... that can't be done." Takes all the fun out of the show for me and for anyone around me.

Of course, shows like Heroes is fake too. But at least I know that going into the show...

What are you watching?

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Uncle Bob's Shooting My Wedding"

Although I have not run across this in a while, I have heard from other photographers who have said that they lost potential clients because the bride found a relative or a friend to photograph their wedding.

I've posted about this topic before on my blog, but I thought it would be worth mentioning it again to any new visitors to this blog.

Here are the benefits for having "Uncle Bob" photograph your wedding:

1. It's a lot cheaper. You may even get Uncle Bob to do it for free.
2. You know your photographer. That is always helpful.
3. Everyone at the wedding knows Uncle Bob.
4. Uncle Bob just bought a digital camera so he's anxious to shoot your wedding.
5. Uncle Bob will give you the digital files of the wedding so you can make lots of reprints for a low cost.
5. Uncle Bob's been taking photos for many years. He's got to be pretty good by now.

These are all great reasons to let Uncle Bob photograph your wedding! But here's the drawbacks for having Uncle Bob do it and reasons to hire a professional photographer:

1. While it is true that getting something for free is cheaper than paying for it, there's a reason professional photographers get paid to photograph weddings. Style, experience and reliability.
2. Getting to know your photographer is easy. Just hire someone personable. A good wedding photographer always wants to meet his clients and get to know them. Avoid those who will not meet with you.
3. Sometimes you get more respect when you don't know someone. Will everyone take Uncle Bob seriously on the day of the wedding and will they cooperate with him?
4. Many wedding photographers will have the digital files available to you as well. Not all do, but many offer this now. So you can always make more reprints later.
5. Although Uncle Bob has been doing photography for a long time, how many weddings has he actually photographed? Was he the main photographer or just taking some snapshots at some weddings?
6. Professional wedding photographers go through lots of training and many have photographed hundreds of weddings. They know what to expect, what to prepare for and how to get the shot. They have top of the line photo gear able to get images with great sharpness, color and contrast. They know how to pose people, get stylistic photojournalistic shots and how to work with a variety of people.
7. Unlike other types of photography, in wedding photography there's often only once chance to capture the right image. There's no second chance to take a photo. An experienced wedding photographer can often anticipate when this moment happens and capture the shot easily.

Don't take a gamble on your wedding day. Hire a professional.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Roundtable Discussions - Another Huge Success

Last night, we held another "Roundtable Discussions" session at my office and it was a attended by eight local wedding photographers.

For nearly four hours we talked about a variety of topics only taking one break. Then, as we headed out into the parking lot to go home, several of the photographers were seen still hanging around "talking shop" in the cold!

We take our work very serious. It's great to see the enthusiasm in this group of photographers. And equally, it's nice to know that even with great looking sample albums (we all brought samples of our work to share with the group) we all still wanted to know how we can improve our services to our clients.

If you are a professional wedding photographer and would like to join in on one of these sessions, let me know. If you are a new photographer or would like to be a pro one day, perhaps taking one of my photography workshops could help you.

Thanks to all photographers who attended last night!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Photography Business Workshop - March 14, 2007 - 7 PM to 10 PM

Photo by Andy Schneider

Recently, I was asked when I would be holding some additional training workshops for photographers. Well, I only hold training classes when I have enough people interested in attending and I limit these classes to a maximum of five people.

Currently, there are a couple of people who are interested in some training in how to get started in the photography business. If you fall into this category and would like some ideas on how to start your business, what to consider to build your business and sales techniques as it relates to the photography business, please contact me no later than March 10.

You can email me at photos@russlowe.com or call me at 847-840-4082 if you would like some general information, cost information or to register for this training workshop.

This class will be best suited for the beginning professional photographer just getting into the photography business. Remember this is a group session for up to five people, so contact me soon if you would like to receive this training.
Update: As of 2/21/07, 9:30 AM - Two people have confirmed attendance for this workshop. Three more spots are still available if you would like to join us!

Monday, February 19, 2007

10x15 Vertical Albums

15x20 View

This is an image from one of my new 10x15 Deluxe Leather Albums. I like this panorama spread because it shows both color and B&W images together and it also shows the flexibility of the larger album format.

When the album is opened to a panorama spread like this, the total composite print is actually 20" wide by 15" high. That is one HUGE print! Consider that a large 16x20 print is generally made to be a wall print. This print is only one inch shorter in height, but just as wide! And it's inside a wedding album!

The "split" of where the album folds in half is just 1/2 inch to the left of the bride's left elbow. So part of the big image is actually on the left side of the album page where the remainder of the image is on the entire right side of the page. That adds some visual interest to the layout as well. By the way, the gap between the two halves of the print is only 1/16 inch... so it really looks good.

To see my sample albums in person, be sure to call and make an appointment with me! I'd be happy to show them to you!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Round Two... Roundtable Discussions This Wednesday

Well the second round of "Roundtable Discusssions" is happening this coming Wednesday. This time nine other wedding photographers will be coming to my office to talk about our businesses, get tips on photography and to share about their work with their clients.

I'm glad that so many other wedding professionals are taking an interest in improving what they offer to their clients. It just goes to show that this is truly a service-oriented industry.

Check out the January 26 post on my blog about the first Roundtable Discussion session.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why Consider The Deluxe Leather Albums?

Deluxe Leather Album 10x10 sized
with optional Slipcase

Deluxe Leather Album with 5x5 Cameo Cover Print

Panorama Print - 10x20

Panorama 10x20 View

Several clients have asked me why they should consider the "Deluxe" Leather Flushmount Album option that I offer over the standard flush-style album. Here's what's available on those deluxe albums that you don't get on the standard album...

For a 10x10 sized wedding album, the largest print available on the standard flush-style album is 10x10 inches whereas the Deluxe Leather album can accomodate a panorama print as large as 10x20 inches. If you were to order the 10x15 sized Deluxe Leather wedding album, the largest print it can show is a 15x20 print. That is one HUGE print! You can see a sample of a Panorama Print above. I've inserted a smaller image on the left side of the image to add interest. A standard 10x10 print would only show the bridge and none of the view of the Golf Course you see to the left of the bridge.

The Deluxe Leather albums also offer Spray Protected prints. This means that the prints themselves are smudge-proof and protected against potential accidents should someone spill something onto the page.

Page edge gilding is available on the Deluxe Leather album whereas the standard album only comes in black. The gilding can be silver or gold. What is gilding? Think of the silver or gold edged pages you see on many Bibles... that's gilding.

Page corners are rounded and do not have borders. The lack of borders means the prints go right up to the edge of the page. Essentially, the print becomes the page since it is glued "flush" to the page itself.
The Standard albums are preset at 12, 16 or 20 page albums only. The Deluxe Leather Albums can be ordered with as little as 6 pages to as much as 45 pages in size.

The Deluxe Leather albums can be ordered with or without a 5x5 inch cover cameo print. This is not an option with the standard albums.

Custom leather wrapped slip cases are available as an option.

Lastly, the Deluxe Leather albums can be ordered in a variety of leather types and colors. Standard leather, glove leather, napa leather (suede) or "distressed" leather are all available. And, your choice of a variety of colors are available as well. The standard album is only available in Ivory or Black. By the way, the images above are of my sample album in Glove Leather Black. Where my company's name is located is where the Bride and Groom's name and wedding date is typically placed.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More Snow Sculptures!

Well the competition drew a lot of people to Randhurst Mall in Mount Prospect, IL. As promised, here are some images of three of my favorites. Be sure to click on each image to get a closer look.
To see all of the sculptures, click here and go to the gallery called "Snow Sculptures."

I did not stay for the awards ceremony, but www.snowvisions.com
These sculptures are really nicely done. They will continue to be on display until they melt, so be sure to check them out in person!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow Sculpting Competition

Randhurst Shoppping Center
Mount Prospect, IL
I was driving by and saw this snow competition in progress so I pulled over and shot these quick images. It is happening at the Randhurst Mall on the corner of Rand Road and Elmhurst Road in Mount Prospect, IL.

The competition is happening now and you can vote for your favorite sculptures on Saturday, February 10.

If you are in the area, be sure to watch these teams put together these huge snow sculptures! You can see in the middle image that many teams are out there making their sculptures. The image on the bottom is one of the sculptures that seemed to be closer to completion than the others, so I've included it here.

I'll go back later this weekend and photograph the final sculptures and post it here on Monday.These artists really must be dedicated to pull this off in such cold weather. Go to Mount Prospect and see the action for yourself! Be sure to click on each image to get a closer look at the work in progress.

Compact, but Heavy

This is the camera rig I used at weddings a couple of years ago. Although the camera has changed and the lens is different as well, today's camera rig is basically the same as this one.

The camera and lens above is the Nikon D100 and Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 lens. Last year I switched to the Nikon D200 and the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 DX lens. The D200 is a lot more heavy than the old D100, but the 17-55mm lens is lighter than the 28-70mm lens. Essentially, the camera combinations are still heavier than I'd like.

This coming year, I'll continue with the D200 but will also add the Fuji S5 pro camera. The S5 is essentially the D200 body with Fuji's image sensor built-in. It should be quite an impressive camera. The image quality should be amazing in low light.

I use a Newton camera bracket with my Nikon SB-800 flash. It's a very compact flash bracket and allows me to keep the flash directly above for both horizontal and vertical shots. It weighs a mere 8 ounces.

I also use a Gary Fong Lightsphere "Cloud" as a flash diffuser. This device makes the flash a lot less "harsh" by diffusing the light. I've used many different diffusers over the years but I like this one the best. It's one of the more expensive diffusers on the market and many complain that it loses a lot of light since the flash faces straight up to the ceiling. But used correctly, it's very effective.

At times, I've been known to carry three cameras at one time, and I usually wear a waistbelt system full of lenses and other accessories as well. Someone once said I looked like a Ninja since I often dress in all black at weddings. It seems that black is the preferred color for wedding photographers. It helps us blend into the background easier...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Will This Camera Ever Be Used Again?

Hasselblad 500CM / Zeiss 50mm Lens

This was THE wedding camera / studio camera for a long time. Now I wonder if it will ever be used again. I still have this camera and a couple of lenses and film backs in my equipment inventory.

Digital has taken over to the point where film is really only used in certain commercial applications. But today's weddings are all going digital. Clients expect it today.

So will the Hasselblad go to the wayside altogether?

Hasselblad introduced a 31 Megapixel camera recently. So although the company is still around doing amazing things, even they have gone digital.

Anyone want a good deal on a 500CM? :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Superbowl XLI

Ok, we are all sad here in Chicago...

What started out looking like we were going to dominate the game right from the kickoff, turned out to be a disappointment in the end with the Bears losing to the Colts by 12 points with a score of 29 to 17.

In a historic 92 yards run for a touchdown straight from the kickoff by rookie Devin Hester, we were ready for an exciting game. But eventually things didn't pan out for the Bears. The rain didn't help either.

Even with HDTV, the visuals of the game was awful. The rain spots on the camera lenses just made for an overall blurry picture throughout the game. I had to wonder to myself how many "new TV" owners who went out to purchase large screens just for the game were thinking to themselves that HDTV just didn't look as good as they had hoped!

Our largescreen TV was purchased well before the Superbowl because our old set had finally stopped working. So ours was a purchase out of necessity. But I had heard that TV's were flying off the retailer's shelves because of this game. It seemed that everyone was looking for a good excuse to buy a new set!

We like to watch TV with only backlighting behind our speakers. It adds a little drama to the visuals. But not even special lighting effects could help us enjoy the game when we were losing in the rain!

Bears fans have waited a long time to get to the Superbowl. Not since the win in 1985 did we get to the big game. It's nice to know we are still the NFC champions even with this loss at the Superbowl, but it just doesn't feel the same as being the Superbowl champions.

There's always next year.

How many times have we heard that before?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bouquet Tosses Really Work!

Last year, I shot the wedding of Sarah’s friend Julie. Sarah was Julie’s Maid of Honor.

At the bouquet toss, Sarah was the lucky person to catch the bouquet. Tradition has it that the person who catches the bouquet will be the next to get married. Well, keeping with the tradition, Sarah got engaged and is getting married this July!

I am especially pleased to photograph Sarah’s wedding because she is such a wonderful person. She helped her friend Julie find her wedding vendors because she lived in the Chicago area but Julie did not. So Sarah did all the research, conducted all of the interviews with the various wedding vendors and narrowed down the choices for Julie. Then Julie came into town and interviewed the best of the best. In the end, I was booked as Julie’s wedding photographer. After the wedding, Sarah and Julie’s mom worked with me to design Julie’s wedding album because Julie was not around to work on it because she lived out of state.

I guess it should be no real surprise that Sarah called to book me for her wedding. After all, she actually did all the work in looking for a photographer about a year in advance to even being engaged! Not many people can claim that! Thanks Sarah!