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 :)