Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fine Art Photography

I discovered a beautiful website with the work of many photographers which you should all check out. It's called Masters of Fine Art Photography, and I've added a link in the list of photography websites. It is an excellent resource for looking at the work of other photographers when you are looking for ideas for your assignments and clip books. I've looked at Yousef Karsh's portfolio, which has 50 years of portraits of very famous people, Sabastio Salgado's, Jill Greenberg's and Joel-Peter Witkin's, some of which are quite shocking.

Also, be sure to look at the link on Monitor Calibration. Although I have not been able to find a gray scale to bring in, this is a nice example of one.

If you are looking for an exhibit to attend and about which to do your gallery review, retired Rolling Stone Bill Wyman has a show running until April 14 at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Hollywood, 7517 West Sunset Boulevard. The Gallery is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Here are the links to the on-line articles about digital white balance I spoke about last week in class: Apogee Photo Magazine on White Balance and Color Temperature, Urban Fox on White Balance, and another one on Color Temperature taken from a book by Jeremy Birn.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Synching Strobe

After the incredibly frustrating experience of trying to set off my studio strobes last week, I learned that it is fairly easy to crank down the on-camera flash and use it to set off studio strobes with built-in electronic eyes, as my Balcars have. So we'll give that a try next time.
I also discovered that Hooper Camera on Devonshire in Chatsworth (just east of Topanga Canyon Blvd. on the south side of the street) had the screw-in flash devices I showed you in class. They also have one which will synch by cord to your camera (if your camera has a synch plug, of course) and set off the slaves. There were no prices on them, unfortunately.
CAI Camera, which is on Ventura Boulevard appears to be closing. I stopped by at lunch time today and the security gates were drawn, but no sign was on the door indicating why the store was closed. No one appears to be answering phones, and there's no voice mail announcement either. I guess it is just one less place to shop for equipment these days.
I did notice that Woodland Hills Camera was selling the collapsing reflectors/diffusers I used in class last week, if anyone is looking for them.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Photo Assistant Opportunities

Returning to the topic of learning to be a photographer's assistant, APA/LA is offering an Assistant Boot Camp on Saturday, March 31 at the Anthony Nex Studio, 3221 Hutchinson Avenue, Los Angeles from 9:30-1:30. It is free to APA Student Members ($45 Annual Fee) and $50 for non-members. You can register at I'll post the notice in class, but I'm sure you can find it on line.

Also, APA/LA announced an internship program they've set up with Santa Monica College and other local schools. I will do what I can to see if Pierce is part of that and making it so if it is not.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Photographer's Assistants

When I finished art school, I spent about six months freelancing as a photographer's assistant in New York. I was lucky in that I had a photographer friend who owned a studio lighting rental business and that my commercial photography teacher had gone back to New York to work in advertising design. Those two sources put me in touch with photographers who were willing to use women assistants (not that common in the early 1980s and a clue as to why I use my initials in my photo credits.) I was able to stay with my in-laws or friends, so I didn't have to pay rent in New York (my home was in the D.C. suburbs at the time.) In addition to the contacts I got from David and Tom, I also sent out hundreds of query letters to advertising photographers from lists I made by looking at work in the "Black Book" as well as by looking at credit lines, articles in photography magazines, and Communication Arts annuals. Today I'd be checking websites and sending my resume by e-mail.

When I set up my own studio, newly graduated photo students found me to look for work as an assistant. Every one of them will tell you they were paid on the day of the shoot and I always fed them well (not something I can say about the photographers for whom I worked.) Luckily, there are many photographers in Los Angeles, and many of them are in the market for assistants, either on a freelance or staff basis.

When starting out, it's a great way to learn. The money is a lot better than it was 25 years ago, but you are most likely to start out as a freelancer, working as needed by a lot of different photographers. If you have digital skills--meaning the ability to do the computer work necessary in today's studio--you can command top rates and will find steady work.

Unlike 25 years ago, assistants have resources for keeping in touch with each other and there are books on the topic of assisting. For some time, I've gotten an e-newsletter from, one effort to keep assistants informed and educated. If you check out the link, you can subscribe to the newsletter. It's free.

I noticed that they are offering workshops for aspiring or working assistants. Usually, these are held in New York, but they've scheduled one for San Francisco in April and are planning to hold one in Los Angeles. It looks like it may be a bit advanced for where Photo 10 students are right now, but it is something to think about for the future, especially if one is held in L.A. The price is a bit steep, but the program is quite intense and hands-on.

Many photographers' organizations offer special membership rates to students. This opens you to lots of information about the business of photography and the way individual photographers do things. I belonged to the National Press Photographers Association as a student, and I entered the contest they held annually for student photojournalists (I think I got an honorable mention for a feature or weather photograph one year.) I believe that the American Society of Media Photographers has a student membership rate and the Advertising Photographers of America may as well. Both ASMP and APA have chapters in Los Angeles which put on educational programs and student members are permitted to participate.

When looking for work as an assistant, it is good to know that photojournalists rarely have assistants, although some magazine photographers do. Advertising photographers and corporate photographers almost always use assistants, and the bigger the shoot, the more assistants on hand. Assistants rarely get to shoot, but they do get to know equipment really well. They also learn a lot about business management, clients, client contact, portfolio presentation, and logistics.

The most important skill an assistant can learn is to be one or two steps ahead of the photographer, rather like Radar O'Reilly on M.A.S.H. Needless to say, this is a thinking skill one develops from paying attention to detail and the big picture. Most of the time, a newbie assistant is a second or third assistant who gets to learn from the first assistant. Even if the newbie's job is largely about getting coffee, sweeping floors and keeping track of digital memory cards, it's a great learning experience. (And yes, people will want you to work for free to start, which is why it's easier to start if you still live at home. You might be able to get work/study credit from Pierce, too.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

CLICK! Casting

Here is the information that I mentioned in class on Wednesday about the new reality show which is casting for photographers:

Vh1 Casting amateur Photographers & People interested in Photography
Reply to:
Date: 2007-03-03, 12:05PM PST


A new television show for Vh1 is searching for the next amazing photographer! You will get to work with and learn from one of the Top photographers in the World!

If you are an amateur photographer with little or no experience and believe that you have an unbelievable eye or a natural talent to bring out beauty in pictures…. Then we want you! We are looking for men and women between the ages of 23-40 with a creative edge and great personality to participate in our new reality competition called, CLICK!

The new reality competition series, CLICK! Gives amateur photographers the chance to live out their fantasies as they fight to get the perfect shots and indelible images that make people take notice. The winner will get $1,000.00 cash prize plus the opportunity to shoot a major, national campaign.

To be considered, email your Name, Age, Contact number and a Photo.
Send to:

Sam Rhima
Casting Director

Stock Photographers

Stock Photographers Wanted

I found this information on Craig's List. Because it is a royalty-free agency, I can't recommend you actually sign with them, but you should check out their website to see what they are looking for and their contracts so you can see the conditions involved with payment.

There are many stock photography agencies out there, but the two biggest are Getty Images (located here in L.A.) and Corbis (owned by Microsoft.) These two agencies have led the way on reducing the amount of money photographers see for individual licenses on their images. In the days when I had work with two agencies, photographers saw 50% of each license of their work. These days, the royalty rate for photographers is less than 20% and photographers subsidize a huge amount of the agency overhead.

Reply to:
Date: 2007-03-06, 1:40PM PST

We are Stock Foundry Images. Partner with us and see your work distributed around the world. We're looking for photographers who are adept at shooting people and scenes depicting business interactions, family life, lifestyles, sports action and leisure. The qualities we most look for are your ability to tell a story with pictures. As most of our images are sold for advertising purposes, it is imperative that your work appeal to creative professionals. This posting invites interested photographers to join us as partners, with remuneration based on a generous percentage of sales.

Technical Requirements:
- Possess own equipment
- Shooting digital, minimum 10-12 megapixel
- Ability to source, coordinate and network with models

This opportunity is open to photographers working in Los Angeles and all other major metropolitan areas. If interested, please reply with 8-10 sample photos (low-res JPGs) and/or a website showing additional samples from your portfolio. Visit to see samples of the type of images currently associated with our brand.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tips on Tests and Reports

When taking an exam, it is better to make an educated guess at a multiple choice question or a true or false question than to leave the answer blank. In a multiple choice situation, you've got a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of being right--or it might be even better odds if you eliminate the obviously wrong answers first. With true or false questions, it's always 50-50. In either event, it's a possibility of getting the answer correct against a certainty of no points at all. While there may be some kinds of exams where a blank is better than a guess, the tests you take in this class won't be among them.

When doing an assignment, either a photographic shooting assignment or a written assignment, follow the directions. I want to see a solution which reflects what I have asked for. This is practice for the real world where a client will not be happy if you turn in an assignment which has no relationship to what you were asked to do. You can always turn in an additional solution which you think might better illustrate the problem, but solve the problem as asked first.

If I ask you to write about a photographer, I expect to learn something about that photographer. If you are given an image to write about, I expect you to write about that image. As much as I enjoy reading some of the material I have gotten from students about other things, you will not get credit for a report if the report is not on topic.