Wisdom and Wine

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Marketing, Tips and information.

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At one time or another, you have probably visited the website of a highly successful photographer and thought that the work seemed rather mediocre compared to some of the jaw dropping imagery that is floating around out there these days. You may have even said, “My work is better that this.” Why are they so successful? The main answer is that being a successful professional photographer can have little to do with your photographic skills and everything to do with your business and marketing skills. You may not realize that the persons work you are looking at has a background in business, marketing, acting, radio, speaking, communications; all great skills for any successful business.

I am just a women who picked up a camera by accident and has fumbled her way through every hurdle to turn this passion and dream into a way of life. There is no road map or how to guide when it comes to building a successful photography business. The toughest part is managing the fire in our souls and monetizing the creativity. That is why I decided to put together a special, small afternoon event Wisdom and Wine on June 28th. This event is for anyone with a curiosity about wanting to become a working photographer, or those currently making the transition and perhaps struggling with it.

The group size is limited to 16 participants so we can have highly actionable discussion about making money with your photography. It will be an honest afternoon about pursuing a challenging dream with advice and ideas from someone living through all the challenges of making that dream a reality. We will have a short think tank session where anyone in the group can pitch an idea and the group can collaborate how to make it a success.

First comes the Wisdom followed by the Wine, with time to network and continue the inspiring conversations. You can view the details and topics here.

If you know some one who may want to join, use the share buttons at the bottom to tell them about it.

If you just want to improve your photography you may enjoy the recent article I wrote for DPS, Improve Your Backgrounds, Improve your Photography. 

If you you just want to win some free stuff, check out the Gura Gear bag I am giving away – Details

If you just want to be inspired, stick around as things are about to get interesting.

Keep it Simple

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, inspiration, Tips and information, travel.

Dassanach tribe in the Omo Valey, Ethiopia

Gear, gear, and more gear, does not create compelling images. Your passion for what you are photographing is what will create those “WOW” images; the ones that pop off a page from a stream of thousands. With access to so much content these days, it is easy to view hundreds of photographers work. You discover a body of work that inspires you and your thoughts instantly race to “How can I create those types of images?” It’s great to be inspired, but I caution you about that urge to go out and buy all the gear  which the photographer used to create those images, thinking that is the way to capture stunning photographs.

Hamar tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Technically, you can create the perfect lighting, but if you don’t capture emotion, you have nothing more than an empty snap shot

 

BE REALISTIC

You have to take a realistic inventory of what the photographer puts into the photograph before clicking the shutter.  How much research did they put into the location, finding the right guide, the time of year they chose to go and why?  (I covered some of these topics in my e-book, “Dream, Plan, Go”). What was their budget? How much time were they able to spend on the project? Did they have assistants? How much experience did they have working with the gear they were using?  It’s so easy to overlook these questions and go for the quick fix telling yourself, “I can create these images if I just had some lighting, off-camera flash gear, or the new ….(name a camera body).”

One of the most important questions, is, “What was their emotional connection to the subjects and project?”  When you visited the photographer’s site or project site, did you get the sense that the photographer was emotionally invested with the subjects? Had they spent a lot of time writing about the subjects, or their experiences with them?  Was the body of work part of a long-term personal project?

 

HAVING PASSION AND VISION

Today it is difficult to find a place that has not been photographed, yet I constantly find a photographer who has photographed a very popular place or subject and their work stands out and draws you in. Usually what I discover next is their deep sense of passion they have for the place or subject. It is when you have a deep honest connection to your subject that you capture emotionally compelling photographs. Having the right tools to create your vision is important, but without an honest emotional connection you may find your technically perfect photograph to be empty.

Don’t take photographs to be the best photographer; take them because you’re driven to capture what you find fascinating and extraordinary.  Don’t listen to the “nay sayers”,  that it has been “done” or  “that it is over-photographed”.  This has been proven wrong, many times over.

 

BELIEVE IN YOUR ABILITIES

Most of us only have a short amount of time in a remote location, so you want to maximize what you can accomplish. My advice is to shoot at  your skill level. Take time to experience what you are photographing. Get involved with your subjects. Participate in their lives, traditions, and culture. Embrace the experience that you are having, which most people will only get to experience through the pages of a magazine, or a stream on social media.  Spend your time capturing the amazing moments, people, and places that you are experiencing.

Keep it simple, by using the gear with which you are most familiar with. Don’t bring a lot of new gear, with high expectations of coming home with the best images that anyone has ever seen.  Don’t use precious time to learn lighting and off-camera flash during the only time you maybe visiting a special village, especially if you have never tried it before. If your vision is to use off camera flash in a remote location, spend the time to learn this skill before boarding the plane. Once you arrive, embrace the experience of what excited you about the place to begin with. Let the photographs come naturally, by using your abilities to capture the creative ideas that stirred when immersing yourself into a new and exciting environment.

Below are images captured using natural light.  In an exotic place like the Omo Valley, you can capture incredible images with an iPhone and have an experience of a life time. It would be awful to miss these shots because you are fumbling around trying to learn new gear or a new technique.

Kara Tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

 

suri tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

 

Suri tribe, surma tribe, Omo Valley, ethiopia

 

Kara Tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

 

This last photograph was taken with the iPhone, in bad light. My pro bodies would not have captured this as well as the iPhone.  CLick here to read a  past article I wrote bout using my iPhone in the Omo Valley.

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Save the Dates

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, inspiration, Tips and information.

There are several exciting photography events, throughout the Los Angles and Orange county area’s in Southern California, happening in the next few months.   Many of these events are free or at a very low cost.  This is a great way to connect with like minded passionate photographers and get inspired. I  am excited to be apart of  these events and hope to see you there!

April 14, 2014

I will be giving a presentation at the Sierra Club Camera Committee. This is a very active group of photographers in the Los Angeles area.  I have had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers at their meeting over the years, including Nick Brant, who rarely makes public appearances. I will have give aways from Gura Gear and Outdoor Photographer. Hope to see you there. Details 

Sierra Club

April 26, 2014

On the Brink exhibit at the G2 Gallery

I am thrilled my rhino image will be on display with images from many very talented photographers;  Art Wolfe, Joel Satore, Thomas D Mangelsen, Michele Westmorland,  Ian Shive, Rebecca R Jackrel, Will Burrard-Lucas and many more at the G2 Gallery. The G2 Gallery is an award-winning nature and wildlife photography gallery that facilitates change by brining attention to environmental issues through the persuasive power of photographic art. The opening of the exhibit will be an exciting event. You must RSVP. DETAILS

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 May 3, 2014

OC Photo Summit

I am extremely excited to be one of the featured speakers, along with Jennifer Wu (Canon explores of Light) , Jasmine Star and Kristi Sutton Elias. This one day event is held at the refinery, an incredible space for an event, on the Lake Forest Campus of Saddleback Church. There will be hands on workshops, exhibitors with their latest and greatest, and canon will be there will a load of gear. Best of all, this one day event, is free. Be sure to register now. DETAILS 

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June 28, 2014

Wisdom and Wine

This is a private afternoon workshop, held in Huntington Beach,  limited to 16 people. I put together this informative workshop to  help  mentor photographers wanting to create a  successful  photography businesses. There are numerous workshops offered to improve your shooting and post processing skills, but there seems to be a lack of workshops that focus on the marking and business side of photography. During this informative workshop I will share my own experiences in making the transition from a successful career to full time photographer including; creating income diversification, finding a focus in your photography and why it is important, building a team as a solo photographer, collaboration, cross-marketing, the importance of social media, strategies in having your work reviewed beyond the obvious,  how to get through the hurdles, important facts in setting up your business properly, and much more. This will be followed by a private wine tasting where we can relax, network, and passionately  discuss  photography.  This workshop is 1/2 full. DETAILS

 

Passport Woodinville 2012

 

 

Feb 19-22, 2015

Nature Photography Summit

The Nature photography summit presented by NANPA is every two years. In February of 2015 it will be held in San Diego, California. Many of us have this inked on our calendars and are already looking forward to this event. If you are a nature or wildlife photographer this is an event not to miss. NANPA brings together the best and most passionate nature and wildlife photographers from around the world with top notch speakers, breakout sessions,  workshops, exhibitors,  and portfolio reviews. The networking at the event is like no other. There are several social events held during the summit and you will find all the photographers very approachable.  Details for this event are not available yet, but you can view the past summits on the website. 

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See you there!!

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The power of light is the power in your photographs

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Tips and information.

Creating a stunning photograph is all about how you see and capture light. Lighting is one of the main differences between a snap shot and a great shot. I still remember being out on one of my first safaris with professional photographers where they were discussing how quickly the light went flat; I was baffled. I was looking across the savanna and the light looked fine, except that it was about 3 hours after sunrise.  I was so new to photography, I really had no idea what was meant by “Golden light”.  Being self-taught, it took time to even understand this basic concept, much less the idea of side-lighting, back lighting, and using light to create contrast and  shadows for impact.

My understanding of light and its impact on an image really began to develop when I started focusing on tribal photography as much as my wildlife. I began following commercial and fashion photographers who were masters of light. Drawn by the dramatic images they were able to create, I went from a wildlife photographer sworn to never bother with flash, to using several speed lights and radio triggers. Subconsciously this began to have a huge impact on the way I photographed wildlife and how I used natural light. I began seeking the light in unique ways for the “Wow Factor”.

It took me years to see light in the way I see it today, which is what  inspired me to create the spirit-n-light workshop. I wanted to help photographers learn to see the light and use it to create stunning photographs.  Below are several sequences of images, all using natural light. Each sequence starts off with a photograph of a subject lit directly with golden light, followed by one or more images where the placement of the light created a more dramatic image.

 

The first image has beautiful golden light creating a wonderful photograph, but the second has the sun placed at about a 45 degree angle, side lighting or rim-lighting my subject. When scrolling through loads of images, the second photograph stands out and grabs the viewers attention.

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The first image was taken in beautiful evening light with the sun coming from behind me,  to beautifully light up the zebras. The second image was taken early in the morning placing the light at about a 45 degree angle from the subjects.  The side-lighting allows the sun to filter through the dust particles, reflecting light on to the zebras and illuminating the entire scene. If the sun had been placed behind the zebra’s it would have been a silhouette.

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The first photograph is another example of an image using beautiful early morning light. In the second image the light is coming from a 45 degree angle from the subject,  glistening through the dust and creating a dramatic scene.

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The beautiful afternoon sun creates a stunning image of this Kara warrior, but the images that follow have greater impact because of how the light is used to create shadows and contrast.

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The next two images show how using the light changes ordinary to extraordinary.

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Again, the first photograph is wonderful with the light saturating the horses coats, almost making them glow, but in the second image the light creates contrast, rim-light, shows movement, the horses breath and is clearly  more dramatic.

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Lastly, the first image has beautiful light and movement, but the others that follow are more powerful, leaving the viewer saying, “Wow”.

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Sources to learn more about dramatic lighting;

” Seeing the Light” – ebook by Mitchel Kanashkevich ebook

Kelby training videos 

Spirit-N-Light workshop

 

 

 

Paying for Photographs

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Tips and information, travel.

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This is a question that comes up often in the comments of my post on FaceBook and Google+, particularly when I am posting photographs of the tribes in Africa. There is no one single right answer to this question; every situation is different. I know this is a topic many photographers struggle with, so I thought I would share my thoughts on this topic.

ON THE STREET, IN A MARKET, DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD –

When I am walking down the street, jumping out of vehicle, or roaming through a local market, I don’t usually pay for photographs. I am photographing environmental portraits of everyday life as it is happening. I am not disrupting what people are doing; I am merely documenting what I am seeing. Handing out money in these situations promotes begging and has negative effects, changing behavior. It teaches the culture to harass every tourist coming to visit, even if they are just using a point and shoot or iphone to document and share their vacation/experience. It can be a little heart tugging not to hand out money simply because many of these people have little or nothing. The best way to help your heart is to donate to an organization doing good work in the area, prior to your arrival.

However, if I see someone interesting or someone doing something that caught my eye, and I ask them to repeat it, or take them away from what they are doing, I may give them a little something in exchange. This does not automatically mean this exchange is currency. It could be; printing a quick photo of them to and giving it to them, coffee, candy, razor blades (popular with the tribes), tee-shirt or some other desired item. In these situations, I prefer to barter with a materialistic item for rather than hand out cash.

IN A VILLAGE
When visiting a village, remember, you’re a visiting someone’s home and you are a guest. When I first come into a village, I like to arrive early to properly meet the people. Taking sometime to socialize with them before taking out a camera will make for a much more relaxed and welcoming situation. If time permits, I like to visit a village a head of time without my camera.

If I ask a subject to model for any length of time, and I intend to use the photographs for anything other than sharing with friends and family, I pay them. I respectfully try to make this a business arrangement and negotiate a price in advance, before pulling out my camera and shooting. You would pay a lot of money to a model in the western world, why would you treat the indigenous cultures you are photographing any differently? If a photographer/film company arrived at your home wanting to photograph or film how you go about your daily life, would you open the door and say. “sure, take as much time as you need?”. Treat them the same way you would expect to be treated, with dignity and respect.

AT AN EVENT OR FESTIVAL
Again, each situation is different, but if I attend an event or festival where an advance fee or payment has been arranged, and I have permission to attend and photograph the event, I usually do not hand out money for photographs. That does not mean I will not be asked, but to hand someone money in this situation because they are hassling me, is the wrong action. I have made an agreement that should be honored. Situations like this can become tricky; having a great guide and relationships with some of the people who are attending the event, can be key.

However, similar to my philosophy on street shooting, if I find someone fascinating and take him or her away from the celebration, to pose for me, I might, make some kind of exchange.

PAYMENT CAN BE MANDATORY
From my experiences and observations, in most situations, it is the tourists who are changing the behavior of these cultures and not photographers; aside from the major impact of the modern world being thrust upon them. Most photographers have a curiosity and fascination about the subjects they photograph. They want to spend time socializing with them to learn about their culture and way of life and then begin to photograph them.

Sadly what I witness is that most tourist arrive at a village, take out their camera’s, rush around for twenty minutes, grabbing as many photographs as possible, hand out money for every photograph, get in their cars, and leave. This may happen several times a day, especially when a remote area becomes popular because new roads create easier access. The result, the people have been treated like objects. They have been trained that a car full of people from the other world will arrive, take a few photographs and  hand out money. Over time, payment for photographs becomes mandatory. There is not much you can do to change this, once it has started, but how you handle this situation, can have a big impact not only on those your are photographing, but those coming behind you.

TIP
When planning a trip to photograph indigenous cultures, build time into your schedule to spend a morning, afternoon or evening, with them, without your camera. Bring a gift of coffee, tea, or sugar, but bring it as a gift, not in exchange for what it might bring you later.  This will not only add to your own experience, but your photographs will be more compelling. Remember, more than a photograph is the experience; one that you want to remember not only through the images you took. If you are not able to plan this much extra time, try to go with someone who already has established relationships with those you want to photograph. You may also want to travel with someone who has experience in these type situations before going solo.

ADVICE
These are just the guidelines I have created for those who travel with me and for myself; they may not fit your situation or values. This post is to help you make your own decision on what you feel is right. My philosophy comes from my experiences of working in the remote nomadic regions of Africa. There are many of you that follow this blog who have experience photographing cultures around the world. It would be great if you would share your experience, thoughts, and comments on how you handle paying for photographs. Together, as photographers, we can ensure that we try to handle this situation with respect and dignity to those we are photographing and be ambassadors for those following our trail.

It takes time to get a balance and create you own philosophy about  paying for photographs, but most importantly is to come from a place of respect and dignity.

Another article you may enjoy reading is  – How to approach street photography in 12 easy steps, by Valerie Jardin

Face to Face

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Marketing, Tips and information.

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Although we are connected through the Internet, it still does not replace the power of meeting and interacting face to face. It is easy, inexpensive, and takes less time to network through social media sites, so people are not investing time and money to network in person. Attendance at traditional venues where people use to meet is down, but the big talent and industry leaders are still speaking at these events. This gives those of us who do attend a big advantage to connect with the speakers and industry leaders.

Connecting on line first makes it easier to approach someone in person, but meeting in person will make your online connection stronger than those who have not met in person.  You have a better chance to create an opportunity at an event full of energy than cluttering someone’s inbox with yet another submission or proposal.  You will also have the chance to meet some of the most amazing people in your field that you may never have connected with otherwise.  Attending live events will heighten and accelerate your success.

Think about it from the reverse prospective. If two people who are equally talented emailed you with a similar proposal, but you had met one of the individuals in person over drinks, dinner, or conversation amongst colleagues, which one would you be more likely to response to or publish?  I have had far more opportunities come from someone I met in person than one I had only met online or by email.

I am writing this post because the NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) Summit is being held in Jacksonville Florida in about 10 days. If you are serious about becoming a pro or semi-pro nature or wildlife photographer, then I highly suggest attending this exciting, inspiring and fun event. Here is the link to information about the event. You will  find a list of speakers that includes: Art Wolfe, Guy Tal, Daniel Cox, Suzi Eszterhas, George Lepp and many more top photographers. In one of my recent post, I discussed the importance of having your work reviewed. This event offers portfolio reviews and I recommend taking advantage of that.

Several of us photographers have put together a photowalk to coincide with the event on Sunday March 3rd. This is another great opportunity to network and meet other photographers. The event is free, but participants have to pay the small zoo entrance fee. The group is limited to 50 and is half sold out. Here is the link for the information. You do not have to attend the summit to attend the photowalk. If you live near Jacksonville this is an event you will want to take advantage of.

We have heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it is who you know” and “Network, Network, Network”; it remains the truth.

An important first step

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Marketing, Tips and information.

One of the most important steps for you to advance your photography is to have your work reviewed. One on one targeted feedback on your images from talented professionals can help shape your future as a photographer and will provide invaluable business connections.

Don’t focus on the fear of showing your work and having it criticized; see this as an incredible opportunity to get first hand information. This is an opportunity to have one on one time with an individual whom you are not likely to secure an in-person meeting with outside of a review event. Think about it, you will be sitting in front of this person one on one for twenty minutes. If you ask them a question, they are on the spot to answer it. I have scheduled reviews solely to pick a persons brain, so to speak. Now you must be clever and respectful on how you do this, as first impression are very important. You should have a strong portfolio if you are going to sit in front of an editor of a major publication, even though your sole intention is not necessarily for their opinion of your work.

When you sit down, present your business card as you introduce yourself.  Let them know you would like to leave enough time at the end of the review for a few important questions. The questions can range from: how do I price my work appropriately, what is the best way to contact an editor directly or the owner of a gallery, what type of presentation or marketing stagey would draw a response from you, when is the best day and time to send an email that will get noticed? Remember, information is power!

A reviewer can provide creative guidance for works in progress, as well as marketing advice for completed projects. This will help you explore the marketability and business opportunities for the type work you are producing. Most events that host professional portfolio reviews have a variety of reviewers from different backgrounds. They usually offer reviews for all levels of photographers. There are two great venues coming up that offer theses professional reviews as part of their event.

The Nature Photography Summit hosted by NANPA (Feb 29-Mar2) . This is a great event and they have 20 reviewers. If you are a nature/wildlife photographer that wants to explore making a business out of your photography, this is the best investment you can make! Here is the link to the portfolio & editorial reviews- I also urge you to explore the entire program and the list of speakers.

The palm Springs Photo Festival (Apr 28-May3) is an event that is focused around having the best reviews in the industry. This event is not focused specifically around nature/wildlife and the reviews are geared for experienced photographers. In the past they have had the editors of National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, PDN and  the curators from such venues as the Annenburg space of photography, Fahey/klein, and Peter Fetterman Gallery. This event is held on the west coast in spring and is part of the PDN event held in NY in the Fall. Here is the link to the reviewers that will be at this event.

Below are some Do’s and Don’ts that I have put together from both of these venues as well as from my own experience.

 Do’s

Limit your main portfolio to 20 solid images

Be honest with your self about the level your work is at. If you need another year of shooting before you start showing your book to top editors and art directors, sign up for reviews that will help get you to that level.

Take reviews from those whose credentials indicate their critique will be most valuable for you, may lead to work, or be a valuable connection in the future.

Research your reviewers and make sure your work is relevant to their area of expertise. Learn about what they do so when you sit down you may open with “ I’ve been following your magazine for years and feel my work would ad value to the publication” or “ I would love your feed back on my book project and recommendations for colleagues in the industry who may respond to my style of work”

Have a purpose for each review and communicate it to the reviewer. Have 1-3 specific questions ready, that you want to ask.

Invest in a proper portfolio/book. If you are reviewing with an art buyer, stock agent or editorial editor, then most likely the end out put of your work will be in print. Show them how great your work looks in print. You have 20 minutes to impress them. You will look more professional and it will give you an advantage over the photographers showing up with only a laptop or ipad. Do bring a lap top with a few solid back up portfolio’s, your review maybe interested in seeing more of your work. An ipad picks up too much glare reflecting everything; don’t show your work on one in a review session.

Have a well-printed leave behind. Invest in a graphic designer to help you create something that looks professional. You will be able to use this in marketing your work, so this is not a one-time investment. It is very easy to print small quantities these days and if you create a post card size you can use this to mail to potential clients. However, don’t force your leave behind on the reviewer. They may have several reasons they do not want to take it. It could be as simple as they don’t want the extra “stuff/clutter” in their lives. They will already have your contact information on your business card.

Don’t

Don’t make excuses for your work such as: “ I didn’t bring my strongest work”  (why not?) “I didn’t have time to put together much, but this should give you an idea” (would you want to hire this person or trust them with a deadline?), “I just found out about this event”.  If you are not ready, do not go to a review.

Don’t argue with constructive criticism. The people looking at your work have years of experience. They are going to critique your work to help you understand what you need to do to improve the quality of your work, so you can compete on the level you are striving for. Listen to what they have to say and process it later, but don’t tell them they are wrong.

One last tip

Most reviewers are there to help and will be kind in the way they deliver their criticism. However, there are a few editors and curators that can be tough and brutal. The best way to prepare for a tough situation is to go the review area in advance. See who is sitting with your reviewer. When they exit the area, ask them about how it went and how the reviewer treated them. If they tell you they were tough, you will be prepared and not become defensive during your review. If you sign up for multiple reviewers, ask your first reviewer about the other reviewers on your list.  This strategy can be key for tough reviewers. When they see their harshness does not rattle you, they know you are professional enough to handle this extraordinary competitive, demanding, industry

Good Luck

If this was helpful to you, please share it.

 

Let the Adventure Begin…..

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, passion, Tips and information, travel.

They say it is more exciting to get ready for the party than the party itself. I agree with this especially when planning an adventure to an exotic location in a distant land. The camera has been the greatest excuse to justify hopping onto a plane and flying off to that place I have been dreaming about. I am so grateful for the way it accidently fell into my hands, as I have done more and traveled further to some of the most remote regions on our planet than I probably would have, without it.

I think everyone should have at least one great adventure in their life, whether solo, with friends, or in a group. This is why I chose to write my first ebook on something I am so passionate about; Dream, Plan, Go. I hope it not only is an asset to you in planning for a great adventure, but also in helping  you to create those memorizing images when your on the go and you have one chance to get it right.

An introduction to the book

As photographers we see the world through the magic of our imaginations. For a lucky few, these visions are made real via weeks and weeks in the field, literally chasing the light from pole to pole. But the reality is that most photographers can steal away only a few weeks at a time. So a trip to an exotic location can be your photo experience of a lifetime – your one chance to capture the mesmerizing photographs that will stand out in a sea of imagery.

With that premise in mind, I wrote this book as a guide by your side so you can utilize the tips and insights I’ve culled from dozens of trips to extremely remote locations throughout Africa and other developing countries. It’s a photography truism that the difference between an average photograph of an extraordinary subject and an extraordinary photograph of an extraordinary subject is the work you put into before you click the shutter. So inside are ideas and insights into lessons learned on how to connect with indigenous cultures, as well as simple ideas on lighting and composition techniques. All can be easily applied in minimal time.

Purchase your copy here for only $10.00

If you know some one who would enjoy this book or would find the information useful, please pass this on to them. If you would like to help me share this book on the official launch please click on the   social media buttons below.

TAKING THE NIKON CHALLEGE

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Tips and information.

The war of Nikon vs Canon is as old as time….. but yes I am going to bring it up. That is because Borrowlenes came through for me! They sent me a Nikon D4 body to use in Kenya and Steve Fujinaka – a client and now personal friend, from my Feb Safari – agreed to loan me his 200-400 lens (I threw a little green at him).  I am excited to bring this beautiful, state of the art gear with me and take the Nikon vs Canon Challenge.

This all started when I purchased the 1DMarkIII. Until then, I was a die-hard Canon rebel (not the camera body). The 1DMarkII and 20D are still my favorite bodies to this day. It was known upon release that the 1DMarkIII was faulty with back-focusing issues. Most everyone who bought one in the first few months had to send it back for repair… I did that. However, I continued to have focusing issues and did not ditch the body in the first year, as I know many who did. I keep things way too long and have continued to shoot with it for the last 5 years… I know… you don’t have to say it!! Believe me!!

The next body I purchased was the 7D as I wanted a lightweight body for street shooting. Unbelievable, but I had focusing problems. Both bodies have been to Canon numerous times and I have large stacks of receipts all saying we found the adjustment of the AF assembly was incorrect causing inaccurate auto focus….. or something to this nature.

I will mention that I also have the 5DMarkII and really like it, no problems at all.  However, they just released the 5DMarkIII and it is known to have light leakage problems and yes, focusing issues!

So this year I need to upgrade my very tired 5 year old 1DMarkIII. Knowing this for some time, I began realizing that I would probably be switching to Nikon. Most all photographers from my tribe were shooting with Nikon or had made the switch due to the quality issues, not for the bling.   I am not switching for more bells and whistles but because I feel too physiologically damaged to invest in another expensive body. It is too painful to look at images where you nailed the exposure and shutter speed with the focusing point dead center on the eyes and have soft images.

If Canon would just stand behind their product when a camera is known to be faulty and comes in multiple times for the same issue, I would feel better. But, I just can’t seem to bring myself to buy another $5,000+ black box and be stuck with junk and an attitude that you are SOL- Did you run the firmware update?!! I have much better things to do with both my time and money than to switch systems!

The exciting thing is that I will now be able to take the Nikon challenge. I will be on Safari with the Nikon D4, 200-400, ¼ extender and the 1DMarkIII, 500, ¼ extender. I know that the D4 is Nikons new flagship and the 1D MarkIII is old, but once again, it just came back from Canon and is suppose to have had a miraculous recovery :-)!

I am also specifically testing for the focusing system and exposure. Will it be an unbiased test since I am a little jaded by Canon? Yes, because even with all the pain, I really don’t want to have to deal with switching. The biggest problem is that I will now feel I need the 70-200, 200-400, and 500!

So stay tuned for the results! – My group is going to try to do a Google + hangout from the Mara on Sat, Aug 25 or Sun, Aug 26. I think Mike Spinak is going to try to help us set it up. I will be announcing the exact time and date on my Google+ page.

If you are not on Google + this is a great excuse and be sure to circle me!

One final thanks, to Jim Goldstein, at Borrowlenses for coming through for me at the last minute. YOU ROCK and Borrowlenses have my loyalty.

10 Must do’s for a successful remote photographic expedition

Posted by Piper & filed under Blog, Tips and information, travel.

I have been busy preparing for my series of classes at Calumet…. Travel and editorial series….if you are in L.A. the first class is this saturday,  April 28 and will be jam packed with information, you can view the details here

For those of you that are not in L.A. or are unable to attend I thought I would share with you my top 10 must do’s for a successful remote photographic expedition…..

 

1. Do your research. Taking an international trip to an exotic location, especially if you are going solo, can be a large investment. Whether you choose to go solo or join a group you need to take proper time to do your research. There are many area’s that I have researched for well over a year prior to committing to the expedition. When is the best time to go, are there events or festivals at certain times of the year, is it the rainy/dry season, how does that effect the roads and the environment that you are shooting in, how far are the accommodations from the subject you are photographing? Take the proper time to ask all the important questions and learn all the details to maximize your photographic opportunities.

2.Find the right guide. YOUR GUID WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR TRIP This is critical so either team up with someone who has been there or do your research. Search for guides on google, in travel and photography forums,  and through sites like flicker. Try to get to know your guide by email first. Once in the country meet for tea or coffee and test their knowledge and experience. Have they worked with photographers before? How flexible are they and can they take you to where you want to go and get you there on time? Do you feel safe with this person, can you trust them with your life? Take time to negotiate a price with them, in most cultures this is part of the relationship building process.

3. Know your outcome. Just going to enjoy taking photographs would be ideal but, if you are doing this professionally then you need to manage your expectations by knowing in advance what your expected outcome is. Are you taking stock travel shots, editorial, fine art, or all three? Create a shot list in advance so that you can check from time to time to make sure you are covering everything. Include the simple basics such as Vertical, horizontal, cover, wide angle…. this is to help you, not hinder you. When you get to an exotic location the excitement and adrenalin are rushing and you don’t want to come and home and say – why didn’t I shoot more verticals, cover shots, opening shoots, food,  etc.

4. Get organized. Don’t spend all your time frantically searching for  stuff and miss out on photo opps. Organize your photo bag so everything has a place/pocket and always put it back in the same place. However that does not always happen so decided on ONE convenient go-to place in your photo bag, side duffle pouch, a separate bag, an area that can be with you everyday and when you are in too much of a hurry throw it in there but then put it back where it goes before heading off for sleep. For  Items/Accessories  that are not going into your photo bag, categorize them and put them in separate bags. I have different color bags; one holds chargers, one holds audio, one holds cell and internet accessories… I think you get the picture…. I always know were everything is right when I need it.

5. Back  up and Back it up.  Have a back up workflow and stick to it. Download in the evening, lunch, twice a day, whatever works best for you, but do it consistently the same way/time everyday. Make a minimum of two copies and three if possible. Keep one copy on you and one copy in a separate bag or with your guide, just like off site storage. When flying keep one copy on  you and one under the belly.  If something were to happen and a bag is stolen then you would have another copy somewhere else. Bring back up batteries, camera body, card reader and the likes.

6. Slow Down. When you arrive in the big city, if possible, drive to your remote location and use the time to slow down, decompress from modern life, let go of your preconceived idea’s, and get into the rhythm of the culture and place. Plan to arrive at midday when the light is harsh, leave the camera in the car and just wonder about getting a sense of place. If you are photographing people take the time to meet them, have tea, show interest in them and their lifestyle.

7. Participate You will create more compelling images when you experience what you are photographing. If you are going to an event or festival put down the camera, participate, experience the moment and then photograph the experience. If you are photographing indigenous cultures, sit and have a meal with them, immerse yourself into their lives and culture and your images will be more powerful because of the connection you have with your subject.

8 Work the Light. Use different light sources to create an extraordinary photograph of an extraordinary subject or place. Use reflectors to bounce golden light or diffusers to soften shadows. Use fill flash or even better take that flash off camera. Try underexposing the background and using off camera flash with jells to light your subject for a very dramatic image. Paint with light, even in a remote location. Photographers tend to want to pack light and leave these type accessory items behind, but these are exactly the items that can add drama to your images and make your travel images stand out from the crowd.

9 Look. Don’t forget to look behind you as that maybe where the best shot is. When photographing people I have deliberately set up shots against the light anticipating the behavior that may occur behind me and then I turn around and grabbed a great natural moment. Lie on the ground and shoot up, climb a tree and shoot down, change your perspective and change the outcome.

10  Remember, more than a photograph is the experience. A great photo does not have to be new, it has to be you; your vision and your experience.