Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Traveling with Photo Equipment on Airlines

I just got an email from fellow photographer Erik Seo regarding the joys of traveling with camera gear. Reading his words, it got me to begin thinking of all the fun travel experiences I've had over the years as a professional photographer. The wonderful line ups with the good folks at TSA. I wish I could say that these encounters have been fun, but I can't even jokingly say that. The fear of not being allowed to travel to a job with your camera gear is not a joking matter and it can quickly turn a bluebird day into a cloudy, crap storm.

But there are a few things that we as photographers can do to help protect ourselves in our travels.

One useful trick to consider is to check fewer bags and bring them on board with your carry on luggage. TSA allows working photographers to bring 3 carry on bags to accommodate the massive amounts of gear we usually travel with. TSA has a link HERE that lays out the rules governing this loop-pole. It's a good idea to have a copy of this in your travel documents to show to the TSA agent that insists you're only allowed 2 bags. However, a quick note, some airlines may not allow three bags although TSA will.

Additionally, you may also encounter problems getting your batteries through security. In short, as long as the batteries are in your carry on bags, you're okay. For a quick summarization of what TSA will allow you, check HERE. Additionally, you can print out the guidelines for batteries by the TSA HERE.

Regardless of where you're going, it's a good idea to know what you're allowed to bring with you on airlines... and even better idea to have proof that you're allowed to. Chances are, most TSA agents do not know the ins and outs of traveling with camera gear. If you have any problems, show them these documents and ask to speak to a manager. Eventually, they will let you through with your gear... you may have to jump through a few hurdles along the way though.

Happy traveling!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Photo Feature in French Magazine: SkiPass.com

I just got the link to the article a few hours ago and wanted to post it before I forget about it in all the madness of the holiday season. What am I talking about? I just got featured in the French online magazine, SkiPass.com

This is the second time that SkiPass has done a photo feature on my work, and I'm stoked that they continue to love my photos. The article that follows is a gallery of images from the past two winters with a brief insight into what went in to creating each image. Little stories, funny quirks or techniques that were employed in order to get the shot.

Click on HERE to check out the full article. But a warning... it is in Frech. So, if you're like me and weren't blessed with the ability to speak numerous languages, click HERE to cheat and read the google translated version.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Strobox iPhone Ap

I just heard about this from Strobist last night. (No, there's no connection to Strobist... just a coincidence.) The ap allows you to create lighting diagrams by placing various light sources in the field. A cute little drop down menu allows you to place models, soft boxes, umbrellas, strobes, etc... And when your diagram is complete, you have the ability to save or email your diagram.

Definitely a tech dork ap... but who am I kidding, I'm a bit of a dork, so I thought this was pretty cool. Beats drawing lighting diagrams on wadded up napkins or the back of my hand.

But to offer a critique of the ap, it could stand a few additional upgrades.
1.) The ability to scale the field of the diagram would be really nice. As it stands, the field is set at a certain size and does not allow the user to zoom out for larger scale scenarios.
2.) The field is set in a 2 dimensional view, and doesn't allow you to adjust the height and angle of light sources. A 3D option would be a nice addition.
3.) The ap does not allow you to make notes on a diagram, preventing you from inserting crucial data like light settings and exposure.
4.) The ap is set up for studio shooters, not location photographers. There is no sun on the drop down menu of lighting sources. If the user could edit the light sources themselves, it might make for an easy fix.

That's all I've got. I suggest checking it out... it's free! Here's a direct link to the ap store.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Newly Branded

I just picked up the newly re-designed business cards last night (pictured above).

After re-branding Ian Coble Photography this past Fall, I finally completed the last phase of the re-brand with the new business cards and supporting collateral yesterday. The people at Girlie Press, Custom Offset Printing in Seattle did a great job. I'd highly recommend them to anyone looking for offset print work.

Beyond the new cards, I also just completed a limited edition, small print run photo book. Super impressed with the quality of iPhotos Photo Book selection. Great value for the quality of the product they're producing.

That's it... just a little shout out to show off the new work. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pricing Photography

It's a subject I spend countless hours fretting over... how much do you charge for your work as a photographer? It can be one of the most challenging aspects of my job and is definitely one of the biggest frustrations at times.

To be perfectly honest, photography is an incredibly expensive commodity. Why you may ask? For a slew of reasons. If you've ever been to a camera or computer store, have you noticed the price tags? There's nothing in there for under $1000. Start adding up all the items that a
photographer needs just to be able to take and process photos (computer, software, cameras, lenses, lighting gear, etc...) and you're looking at an astronomical figure. Then factor in the photographers cost of doing business (CODB). That's your rent for your office, internet, phone, car, gas, insurance, health care, website... etc.

Not only does a photographer have to cover the cost of their equipment, and their CODB, but they also have to make a living on top of that. If you're not a photographer or a business owner, consider this: take your annual income from your job and then double it. That's roughly the amount of money a photographer will have to earn in order to take home the same amount of money that you do. Starting to understand why photos are expensive?

Unfortunately the photo industry is full of people driving the cost of photos down. Many new photographers just starting their career or looking to get a toe hold in the industry often end up being the very ones driving the value of photography straight into the ground. Photographers like this are collectively referred to as "low ballers". In an attempt to undercut competition, the low baller will devalue their work in hopes that the cheaper price tag
will lure art buyers away from the higher priced, experienced photographers. I've even heard of such photographers giving full unlimited rights to their work for FREE, in the hopes that the exposure will help out their portfolio. You heard right... giving work away for nothing. Sounds crazy? Don't believe me? Trust me, it happens all the time.

One might ask, what's wrong with a new photographer charging less for their work? They're new so shouldn't they charge less than an established professional? The use of their photos by a commercial client is great exposure and that's worth a lot isn't it? How about "any work is better than no work at all isn't it"? The answer to every one of these questions is NO! Here's why.

Photography, like any other product, had a fair market price. By charging less than that fair market price, one is short changing themselves and the entire photo industry in a race to the bottom. In photography, like in life, there are no shortcuts.

Rather than explaining it myself, I'll redirect you to a great read on the subject by photography consultant Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua. Click here to see her article on Low Balling.

Additionally, if you're a photographer that's just getting started and are trying to determine your CODB, check out this link. The National Press Photographers Association's (NPPA) has a neat little tool designed to help calculate your cost of doing business.

You may ask, why am I offering up this post? It's not to gripe about competition or the increasing trend of photographers undercutting their peers. I offer this up for several reasons:
1.) to help new photographers out there that are struggling with pricing. I personally got to where I am today through the help and guidance of other photographers that were kind enough to offer advice and answer my questions. As such I feel I owe it to the industry to give a little back given all it's provided to me.
And 2.) to hopefully educate anyone out there (that's taken the time to read this) so that they too can understand why photography is priced the way it is.

Oh yeah, if you've gotten this far in the post, I thought you might need a little laugh by now. After all, not everything has to be super serious :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inaugural Issue of Ski Washington Magazine

I just got this in my mailbox yesterday afternoon, the inaugural issue of Ski Washington Magazine. I'm really stoked to have landed the cover image for the first issue. This shot of Chad Wertz at Mt Baker has been one of my favorite shots for years. It just makes me want to grab my skis and head to the mountains.

Beyond having the honor of snagging the cover of the magazine, I'm also honored that the people at Ski Washington wanted to profile me as one of the "biggest names in the business". It's always an honor to have your work appreciated, and even more of an honor when someone wants to highlight your career and contribution to the industry.

If you'd like to read the article or if you'd like to look through the entire magazine, follow the link here to see an online version of the mag.

I'd like to give a big thanks to Karen Stebbins at Ski Washington for making all of this happen and to Crai Bower for writing the incredible article. Also, a huge thanks to all the athletes that I shot with. Chad Wertz, Kip Garre, Laura Ogden and Scott Rinkenberger... you guys RULE!!! Thanks for working with me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The First Day Back on Snow Since Last Winter

I just spent this past weekend up in the Cascade Mountains of Washington... a place that feels much like my home away from home. I say this because for a large portion of my life, I've spent the bulk of my existence in the mountains, more specifically in the mountains during winter.

When I first started my career in photography it was focused solely on skiing. I spent all of my time behind the lens, traveling around the world in pursuit of exotic mountains and deep snow.
However, in time as I've grown my career, and expanded it to other styles and subject matters I'm not able to spend my every waking day on snow. And although I may not shoot skiing as much as I had in the past, there's still a large part of who I am that's tied up in skiing and being in the mountains. It's where my roots are and it's where I feel truly comfortable and at home.

So when the weather here in Seattle recently started to shift to the grey, and gloomy overcast that the Northwest is so famous for, most everyone around me fell into their winter depression. I on the other hand lit up inside. Soon I would be back up in the mountains again... knee deep in snow, freezing my ass off and smiling.

Friday morning came and I had spent the night before much like a child on Christmas Eve does... trying to fall asleep as quickly as possible so that morning would come and the rewards of the day would be upon me. I rose early, started the coffee maker, grabbed my ski gear, loaded the car and prepared myself for the two hour drive to Crystal Mountain.

I usually don't do well waiting for anything, and the idea of sitting still for two hours is usually murder for me. But there's always been something calming to me about driving to the mountains. It's a time to reflect, to listen to good music, to drink coffee, to catch up with friends and to enjoy a slow start to your day. Most days, I'm bombarded the very moment I wake up with work, emails and the chores of daily living. But on this day (and every other day I spend in the mountains) I get to enjoy the start of the day at a snails pace... and I love it.

In an attempt to preserve the first day of the winter I tried to cut back on the amount of work that was involved, and instead tried to focus on the pure enjoyment of skiing. This was not going to be one of my big "ad days" where I capture that perfect moment that lands on the cover of a resort brochure or on the product hang tag of a new pair of skis. No, today was about trying to remember what keeps me coming back to the mountains every winter year after year after year.
So, with this in mind, I stashed my camera pack for the bulk of the day and instead chose to ski for the pure pleasure of it. The only camera I took with me was the one on my iPhone and the shots I've included on this post are from that.

They're not images of skiers descending obscenely steep, cliff ridden faces. It's not the images I've built my career on of skiers neck deep in shimmering powder either. These photos are the images that speak to me about the soul of skiing. They're the moments beyond the sport that speak to the calmness and serenity that you experience when you're out in nature (no I'm not a hippy, I promise).

So, the point to all my rambling in the preceding paragraphs is this... this post is meant to share some of the reasons why I ski. It's been a way for me to get back in touch with the very reasons I first fell in love with skiing and photography. To go back to capturing the simple moments, without a big fancy camera or lighting equipment or world famous athletes. And instead, focus on the simplistic things around us that make us happy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freeskier Magazine Contributor Bio

This little "shout out" from Freeskier Magazine ran about a month ago, but I wanted to upload it to the blog before I forget.
It's nothing super special, but it's always an honor when any of the magazines I work with want to call extra attention to me and my work.
It's an even bigger honor to share the page with one of my long time idols, the late Shane McConkey. I wish I could have had the opportunity to shoot with Shane, but I'm glad if nothing else, I got to share a few minutes with him over a cup of coffee at Squaw Valley two years ago. Thanks Shane, for being you, for all that you did for the sport of skiing and for the impact you had on my life and so many others. You will be missed.
Anyways, I apologize for getting off track for a moment. I want to give a big thanks to Shay Williams, the photo editor at Freeskier, for putting this together and for calling me "one of skiing's hardest working photographers"... what can I say, I'm flattered. Now I guess I should get back to work so I can keep that reputation.

Ski Union Feature Article

I was recently asked by the European magazine Ski Union to write a feature article about a trip I took last winter with Matchstick Productions to Northern British Columbia. You heard correctly... I got asked to write something... whooohooo!!! This is the first article that I've ever had published where I got to both write and shoot the entire piece. I'm stoked to have had the opportunity to test out my writing skills again, seeing as the last time I formally sat down and wrote anything, other than a grocery list, was my senior thesis in Anthropology some 8 years ago.

At any rate, I'm stoked that I was given the chance to test my creative writing skills again and I'm really happy with how the piece turned out. Thanks to Pally Learmond and Jamie Cameron at Ski Union for the opportunity. And a huge thanks to James Heim, Ingrid Backstrom, Hugo Harrison and the guys at MSP. It's always a pleasure to work with that crew.

Hope you all enjoy.

Click here to view the article.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If This Guy Can Dunk: Photo Shoot

I just recently met up with my friend Jason King and did a shoot with him to promote his new website and personal project www.ifthisguycandunk.com/. Jason is about to turn 30 and in an attempt to cling to his his youth, he is learning how to dunk a basketball. If you haven't yet had a chance to check out his website, I highly recommend grabbing a comfortable chair and clicking through his video journals. They're funnier than hell, well edited and have a killer soundtrack.
Anyways, all pimping of someone else's work aside, below is a link to a short behind the scenes video we shot during our shoot. This isn't a technical "how to" lighting seminar, it's just a little teaser to show what went into making the shots. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nikon World Magazine: Cover and Feature Article

This is a bit old, but I just realized that it wasn't on the blog... and it should be. Sorry if you've already seen this, and it's old news to you. But to the rest, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Post: Images from last years Warren Miller Shoot

This is my first post to the blog, so bare with me a little bit on this one... I'm still learning how this whole "internet/ world wide web" thing works.
Regardless of my technology shortcomings, below is a link to some of the images I shot for Warren Miller Entertainment this past March at Crystal Mountain, Washington. The images are part of their marketing collateral for their upcoming movie "Dynasty".
I was honored to shoot for Warren Miller this past year. I'd grown up watching Warren Miller movies from an early age. I can remember going to the annual shows with my parents and getting stoked about the impending winter after watching people fall clumsily off of chair lifts. On top of that, I was getting to shoot on my home turf of Crystal Mountain.
Follow the link and it will take you to the Warren Miller Entertainment media gallery where you can see photos from the shoot.