Making connections in this industry can be an extremely important aspect of being a photographer. Especially if your aim is to find work experience. The amount of places where you can make these connections is limitless as you can make them through Tumblr,Twitter, your own website or Facebook. I made my connection through a Facebook page dedicated to professional photographers. In which you are able to share and comment on any work you wish to get critique on. I started talking to Suzanne Freeman a family portrait photographer who is based in New Jersey. I decided to ask to see if there was any possibility of gaining some work experience with her as this would allow me to gain some information about her business as well as shadowing her as she photographs. She had seen my work within the page and I also sent her the link to my blog so she could see what I was producing at University and my online portfolio. She agreed to a 3 week placement.
I had to make a list of things to do before leaving:
– Flight Tickets
– Find a Motel
– Get Travel Insurance
– Hire camera from Media Loan Store
– Get gadget Insurance for camera.
This process on its own was rather daunting as I had never travelled on my own and the last time I travelled abroad was 7 years ago. It was slightly nerve racking but I got everything booked which on its own was an important part of my own development as planning such an important trip on my own was a big task.
On the 7th April I left for New Jersey in which I had an hour flight to Shannon (Ireland) and then had a connecting flight to New York (JFK). When I arrived I met Suzanne at the airport and then we drove to my motel. I was extremely tired so I stayed at my motel for the rest of the day.
I was looking forward to the next few weeks as I knew I was in for some exciting experiences.
DAY 1 – APRIL 8TH 2014
For the first day I went to her house as this is where she works. The first thing she showed me was how she keeps track of all her jobs. She uses a website called my.tave.com This website allows her to put photo shoots into a calendar making it easier to track upcoming jobs. She is also able to track any appointments with potential clients. This website also makes for an easier workflow after the shoot as she can mark off when a photo shoot has been completed as well as if the client has paid for her services. It even reminders her when a payment is due to be paid. She is also able to print off any invoices. The benefit of this website is that it allows you to keep all information in one place allowing you to be much more organised within a business.
Above is the page that opens when you sign into my.tave as you can see it tells you if certain things are late or if there are any up coming events that you are apart of.
When you click on one of your events you can see key information regarding that appointment or activity. Information includes when the event is booked for, the total amount due and then amount that is still owed. Having all this on an online system also means that there is less paper work and you would not lose the information. I feel this is a better way to keep information as if you were to forget to take paper work then you would struggle due to lack of information. However as this is all online you can simply log on, either on your laptop or your phone, and retrieve any information that is needed. If in the future I chose to make my own business, this is something I would definitely consider using as it is an efficient website to use.
Another thing we discussed was our editing techniques. Even though I use photo shop I wouldn’t say I am a pro with how to use it. Suzanne introduced me to things known as ‘actions’. Actions can be created by yourself by clicking actions, create new action, you then simply name the action and press record. Once you have pressed record it will record everything you do such as resizing the image or making a colour adjustment. Actions tend to be used if you use the same processing over and over and an action allows you to press play and it will do all the work for you. However you can also download actions making editing much more enjoyable. If you use a downloaded action, it adds different layers to your image which are adjustable so you can still make the editing your own. The rest of the day I spent looking through the website Suzanne gave me where I could download some actions, so I could try them out on some of her photographs that needed editing for a Bar Mitzvah tomorrow. It was a simple process of downloading and installing. You would download which ever action you would like, you can either make a new folder and put all your actions in there or you can load them into your official photo shop folder. When you go into photo shop you then go to actions>load action and go to the action you wish to install into photo shop. This will now always be in photo shop when you open the program.
Suzanne also told me a few plans for the following weeks such as when we would have trips to New York and the possibilities of going to Washington DC. How we would be having a family portrait day on the 12th April at SmithVille Park. Overall it was an interesting day in which I have already found out some interesting information regarding key elements to a freelance business and making the process of editing much more smooth running.
DAY 2 – APRIL 9TH 2014
Today was the day I was to develop my editing techniques. I did this by experimenting with the actions that Suzanne had introduced me to yesterday. However as this was something completely new I decided to first observe how Suzanne uses actions to get a better understanding for when I begin to use them. When you play an action it will add multiple layers to an image in which you can then tamper with to make it look the way you want it to. At first I was a little confused as to how I added more of something as some are blank layers that you can add if you wish. Throughout the day I tried to get used to this way of editing as it was such a different technique compared to how I would normally edit a photograph. For some reason I was just not getting the results that I wanted to produce but I was extremely determined to learn Suzanne’s form of editing. Eventually I started to apply some of this actions to some photographs I had taken prior to this experience.
As this is the beginning of my experience I hope to develop a better understanding of how to develop a certain look within these actions. By the time that I leave this placement I aim to enhance my editing skills so that I am able to create a higher standard of work. Throughout my photographic practice I have never been fond of the editing element of photography. At the end of this module, I hope to find that I would now enjoy every element of photography included the editing stages.
I also found out that I would be visiting New York tomorrow. So a little preparation was needed. We discussed possible places to visit and we decided the main places we would visit is Central Park and Times Square. To save hassle of driving through New York we chose to take the train meaning we would also be taking the subway through New York.
– Flash Gun
– CF Card
– Money for travel
DAY 3 – 10TH APRIL 2014
Wow!!! What a day this has been. Since I was very young I have always dreamed of seeing New York. The lively nature of this city is a beautiful thing to witness and the contrast between central park and times square are outstanding. I learnt two valuable lessons whilst in New York – 1. Do NOT even wear a slight plat formed shoe unless you are a true New Yorker.
2. Using a Flash Gun even in daylight.
I was a photographer who always used the light available as I always felt flash was far too over powering when you were already in daylight. However Suzanne met up with a friend in which she also photographed in central park. I said to Suzanne why are you using flash? She was quite shocked that I never used flash in daylight shoots. She told me that depending where the sun is, you would always get terrible shadows across the face. So one side of the face would be in darkness whilst the other in light. You also do not want to have your model facing the sun as they get all ‘squinty eyed’. After this lesson I knew I would now have to experiment with using flash in future photo shoots. This would allow me to compare it to any past photo shoots where I have used natural light. My choice of shoes really lowered my capability as I was concentrating on rest my feet for a little while compared to exploring what was around me. I do hope we are able to visit New York again as I have learnt so much from this day that it would be a great opportunity to take what I have learnt and apply to another photo shoot.
DAY 4 – 11TH APRIL 2014
As I spent all day at New York yesterday. Today I went through my New York photographs. I wanted to use these photographs to continue working on my editing techniques and explore elements of the actions further. I found that I understood the use of actions a lot more than last time. Something I have always noticed is that people think editing is a simple aspect and that ‘ beauty’ photographs take more work than a landscape photograph. I disagree with the statement as in a studio you have control over everything such as lighting and the positioning of a subject however landscapes you have no control over. The lighting is constantly changing and people get in the way of your photographs. The only real control you have is the composition of your chosen subject. All these issues make for a longer editing period, some areas seem too dark however some areas seem to light or there is something distracting within the image such as a bird or a person. Below are some of the final images from that day. I also found that I really enjoyed landscape photography which surprised me as it was something I had never done before.
Today I also had a lesson on ‘brand recognition’. This was something I had not really thought about prior to today. She first gave me a little test and asked me ‘What colours do you think of when you think of canon? I didn’t realise it but I answered straight away with red and black. She asked me again ‘What colours do you think of when you think of Nikon?’ Again I answered straight away with Yellow. That there was brand recognition.
She first told me about her logo that she had a friend turn it into reality. Suzanne has an Irish background so this is the reason behind her chosen colour of ‘green’. She also wanted to include a clover but at this point she didn’t feel it showed that it was a photography company. So the last added element was a film strip used in the background. I found this was an extremely unique logo/watermark. You do not want to create something that too simple that it doesn’t stand out from others logos. But you also do not want to make it so complicated that people would forget the look of your brand.
I learnt that you do not just place this on photographs but include it in everything you do. Whether thats on leaflets, business cards, post cards also include this into any social media you use for your business. The reason behind this is you want to make sure clients or potential clients recognise your brand so even if they see the colour ‘green’ they think of your business.
I found that Suzanne was extremely dedicated when it came to brand consistency. She has jackets which are green aswell as has bellemore photography and her logo sewn into the front. During weddings she has to wear black but to continue her green brand she would wear green jewellery. She even goes as far as writing in green pen with anything business related. I never knew the importance of brand recognition until this day. It was a truly valuable piece of information as I still do not have my own logo. This is something I will definitely be working on after this experience. I decided to look into what I could use as my ‘ colour palette’ so I headed to the website I made in my last module. I noticed that with the front page of my website as well as the blog it is linked too, I had already slightly created a colour scheme.
Overall I seem to have chosen greys, blacks and blues. I feel this colour scheme works rather nicely so I will explore the idea of drawing up any possible sketches of a logo in which I can then produce business cards of my own. Brand recognition also reminded me of the ‘The Logo Game’ in which a logo is shown and you have to say what company it is. I decided to give this game a go, just as an experiment to see which companys are more widely known. Surprisingly I knew so many without even realising it meaning I believe certain companys know how to get there logo known, whereas other smaller companies struggle to get recognised.
I also found out I would be visiting Atlantic City tomorrow. So I had to make sure I had all my equipment ready and charged. This was another change to work on my location/landscape photography compared to my New York photographs. I also wanted to make sure I experimented with fill flash.
DAY 5 – 12TH APRIL 2014
Today we had 5 photo session with different families. This was slightly nerve racking as it was something I had never done before.
When we first started I was known as the ‘Second shooter’ this allowed me to observe how she deals with a variety of clients from younger to older children. I found that with younger children you have to be extremely patient, if you are trying the make them sit in a certain way and they can become uncooperative, just give them a break let them do what they want this then allows them to become more relaxed. However older children are a lot easier to work with as they will do as you ask but one issue that may come up is they feel awkward when they need to smile giving that uncomfortable look. The aim is to get their natural laughter and believe it or not ‘boys’ especially’ respond to saying something funny about their brother and it makes them both laugh. Unfortunately one person cancelled and another just did not turn up, this showed me how business can sometimes be difficult. I believe a deposit should be made and there should be a cancellation time period so prevent the waste of a photographers time. Overall the shoot went very well in which I learnt how the use of fill flash can really help, especially when the photo shoots take place in the woods which causes a lot of shadow.
DAY 6- 13TH APRIL 2014
Today was my trip to Atlantic City, in which we spent all day there allowing me to get a real good feel of the place. I experimented with the fill flash which I was extremely surprised about as I feel that the images may have came out a lot better than I previously imagined. I realised I was really enjoying just being able to photograph whatever I found interesting. I also worked on my composition skills whilst photographing and making sure I got it as right in the camera as I possibly could.
DAY 7- 14TH APRIL 2014
Today was once again an editing day, I really felt during this editing process and had really come to terms with the use of actions and I began to see a clear improvement in my editing skills. Below are some of the photograph taken that day.
DAY 8 – 15TH APRIL 2014
Today consisted of how certain positioning of a model can transform how the look. Suzanne introduced me to a photographer called Peter Hurley. He does youtube videos to help other photographers be the best they can be. I watched this video below:
I was absolutely fascinated by this video. I had never had any training like this so to witness something so simple yet changes the persons jawline so significantly was mesmerizing. I would really like to test this out in the future especially in the studio, I would like to possibly produce a before and after outlook of this simple yet effective technique. I continued to watch a few more of his videos and I thought it is truly amazing what you can learn from the internet. It shows that its not just experience you need but it is all about researching. She also introduced me to Scott Kelby another youtube photographer who uploads 30 second photo shop tips. He shows basics within photoshop.
He also has longer videos explain certain techniques of photography
The rest of the day I began editing some of the family portraits I had taken on the 12th. As I short listed the photographs I could see a huge improvement in my photography ability. It made me realise that because I was enjoying the photo shoot it actually allowed me to produce some of my best work so far. Here are some of the photographs from the first shoot.
DAY 9 – APRIL 16TH 2014
Today we had a trip to Philadelphia and at this point I was really starting to love the whole experience. The places, cities, culture, beauty is unbelievable. For a photographer it was a real inspiration seeing all these places and prior to this placements I did feel I had lack of inspiration. So we drove to Philadelphia and explored the area for about 3-4 hours. We then decided to head back and begin editing the photographs we had taken. I also decided to attempted selective colour, now this is something I have always avoided as its normally a cliche thing to do. Below are some of my photographs.
DAY 10 – 17TH APRIL 2014
Today I attended a Wedding consultation, but before this she showed me her different price packages and what they include. The cheaper the package the smaller and less quality the book was. Higher the package they get a very high quality photo book. Something that also saves hassle is printing. She prints her own photographs at home mean there is no waiting time if you were to take them to a shop. I do feel however that prints would be higher quality if they were printed at a shop. So when I make my own business I will be send my photographs to be printed at a professional printing company. We met the client in a restaurant in which we discussed the prices of different packages and what is include within each one. Suzanne also showed the client some books that already had a wedding shoot she had already done in the past. Something that I found you had to do whilst at wedding consultations was ‘sell yourself’. As Suzanne has been doing this for years she knows how to do this, but it makes me wonder whether I will be able to do this. However it’s something a photographer needs to do to get work so this is a ‘must do’ in the future.
After this I went back and continued to edit the family portraits. Unfortunately during the second shoot Suzanne’s CF card was full and she left the other in her car, so I lent her mine meaning I was unable to photograph the second shoot however it did leave more time for me to observe how she deals with clients. Some photos from the 3rd shoot can be seen below:
I realise I have now got to the point where I love the editing stage of photography so this is one goal accomplished. I can only thank Suzanne as she has shown me a way in which editing can be fun and enjoyable.
DAY 11 – 18TH APRIL 2014 DAY OFF
I am not going to lie the running of a business is constant. There is always something to be doing and we have literally not stopped since I have arrived so it was lovely to have a day off and just visit the zoo. It was impossible to get decent photographs at this zoo as all the animals were surrounded by double fencing, making it impossible for the camera to focus through the bars.
DAY 12 – 19TH APRIL 2014
Today we had a portrait shoot as the woman who did not turn up decided to rebook. Me and Suzanne did not quite know what to expect as we knew one of the children had Autism. Even though he was a little shy at the beginning he really came out of his shell towards the end of the shoot and really enjoyed himself. There were some things we had to miss out as he did not want to go down the hills to the bridges. It taught me that you must be able to adapt to certain situations, do not make them do anything they don’t want to and it allows them to become much more relaxed with the photographer. After the shoot I went back and edited the photographs I had taken. Unfortunately my MacBook broke whilst I was out there meaning I am unable to retrieve the photographs until it is fixed. I have only been able to retrieve prevous photographs above as I uploaded them to my Facebook page.
DAY 13 – 20TH APRIL 2014 – DAY OFF
As it was Easter I spent it with all of her family which was a great experience as it was so different to how we spend our Easter in the UK.
DAY 14 – 21ST APRIL 2014
Today we spent all day in Washington DC which was so full of culture and history. It was such a beautiful place to visit and photograph. However the drive there and back was extremely long a total of 5 and a half hours. It’s amazing what us photographers do to find an interesting subject matter to be inspired by. We took a tour bus allowing us to see as much of Washington DC as we possibly could after all it is going to be a very long time before I can come back here again so I want to make the most of it.
DAY 15 & 16 – 22ND & 23RD APRIL 2014
These two days were spent editing the Washington DC photographs as I had taken over 400!!! Unfortunately as mentioned before, my Mac broke meaning I was unable to retrieve the photographs until my mac has been fixed. A total of 12 and a half hours were spent editing these photographs. I also had a tumblr lesson as I have never used this social media site before. I was introduced to a system in which you can create a queue of photographs to post at certain times or certain days making it much easier to be consistent with posting. Suzanne mainly uses tumblr for photographs from beaches, New York etc as this appeals to a wider target audience. She also writes a quote over her photographs allow the viewer to feel some form of relation to the photograph. On the 23rd we also had to prepare for our photo shoot with Caleb Hawley an up and coming musician. We had to research into possible poses to fit his type of music style. Suzanne also wanted to produce an interview video with him to give something back to his fans as well as producing more material for her Facebook page.
DAY 17 – 24TH APRIL 2014
One of the highlights from this work experience was definitely this photo shoot with Caleb. We were given a small brief from his manager in which said we had to make sure there was enough space within the image to include writing. This in some ways limited what we could do however we decide we would also include close up shots of the artist as this will then appeal to his fan base.I learnt that preparation is an extremely important element as you need to come across as professional as possible. To give myself maximum experience I would be an assistant with lighting as well as being a photographer. This allowed me to develop my skills within directing as well as assisting. The only negative of working with an artist is that the manager has control of when the photographs can be published. Meaning I am unable to share any of the work online until a certain date. We also produced an interview video with Caleb allowing his fan base to know a little more about him. Overall this shoot was an incredible experience in I which allowed me to develop many skills such as producing work to someone else’s brief as well as also producing work that I wanted to create. I really developed my people skills as I used to be extremely shy when working with people I did not know. This shoot has now made me realise I wish to explore further into the music industry whether this being small gigs or promo imagery. As said above I am unable to share any of the work online as the manager has control over when they can be released. During the photo shoot I used fill flash as well as used the reflector to create more of an even lighting. After this 4 hour shoot me and Suzanne decided to once again explore the city that is New York which I was extremely happy about as this allowed me to take all I have learnt from previous photo shoots and apply it to this moment. This time I was wearing comfortable shoes meaning I did not stop photographing for even one second.
DAY 18 – 25TH APRIL 2014
After a fantastic time in New York I was excited to edit the photographs I had taken. I decided to get to work straight on the Caleb photographs as they were the ones I wanted to see the most. Throughout the editing process especially with this shoot I felt I had come very far with my photographic ability. My composition and being able to direct had really improved from before my work experience. I had now produced work that I was extremely proud of and I can see this being a starting point for future jobs when I create my own freelance business. I can not wait to be able to share my work with others as I feel this was the most successful photo shoot that I took part in. The editing process took 6 hours as I wanted to really take care whilst editing these images.
DAY 19 – 26TH APRIL 2014
This day I had two photo shoots, an engagement shoot and photographing Ocean City. I had never really heard of doing engagement photo shoots so I did not know what to expect. However it turned out to be a lovely photo shoot. It was full of romance in which Suzanne knew just what poses to do to signify this love that these two people shared. Also this shoot was taken on the beach giving a beautiful backdrop. One thing the couple definitely wanted was them strolling down the beach but otherwise they were extremely happy do whatever was asked, whether that be looking into each others eyes or kissing. After this I went and explored Ocean city which was similar to Atlantic city as they are on the same stretch however Ocean city is said to be a little nicer. I was realising I could really do this for a living. This is definitely a future career in the making.
DAY 20 – 27TH APRIL 2014
This would be my last photo shoot for my work experience and to say it was a difficult one was an understatement. Today was a wedding shoot, in which I would be a second shooter photographer. I had done one wedding before which was my Fathers’ so there was less stress than photographing a strangers wedding. Overall I found the wedding shoot the most stressful of the whole experience. Certain rules of the church meant we could not use flash during the ceremony and we were not allowed in the aisle making it almost impossible to get decent photographs. However we were able to recreate the events after the wedding. This experience alone made me realise weddings will not be my main source of income in the future as I simply did not enjoy it as much as other photoshoots. Something I did learn was that patience is a key factor you need as photographer no matter which area of photography you are in. |I did however found the after party much more fun to photograph as you have much more freedom in what you photograph and there is always much more life in the party than the ceremony.
DAY 21 – 30TH APRIL 2014
As the last weekend of the work placement was a hectic one, I now had to begin to edit all the photo shoots. Today I edited my newest New York photographs in which I was very happy with the outcomes compared to my first trip to New York. Below are some of my result.
DAY 22 – MAY 1ST 2014
Now it was time to edit the engagement and Ocean City photographs. I really feel I have mastered the ways of time management especially now that I enjoy editing my photographs as normally I would just leave them for some other time. Below are some of the engagement photographs.
It was strange to go from a engagement shoot into a landscape shoot as you almost have to switch your mindset into a different photography mode. However I feel I have become much more professional in the way I edit as well as how I handle clients in this will now help me when it comes to making my own freelance business. I feel I am also now editing at a level that is consistent in which I have developed my own style. Suzanne’s style of editing is extremely different to mine my photographs tend to have high contrast especially in black and white photographs whereas hers have much less. I also have gained an interest of adding a small vignette to allow mass focus on the subject at hand. Below are some of my photographs from Ocean City.
DAY 23 – 30 MAY 2ND – 8TH 2014
I knew this shoot would be the most time consume probably another reason why I am not a huge fan of weddings. The editing process is extremely long and I must say rather boring. Due to the fact that lighting conditions are consistent means you pretty much have the same editing to do to each photograph. Also as it is such a huge day for the two people getting married it means you cant just edit 30 and send them. You have to give them a lot of options especially as it has to fill the book as well as having certain images printed etc. As this is also their special the photographs have to be as perfect as they can be so it is not possible to do a quick edit with wedding photographs. The first process is short listing as some photographs just do not work whether there was blur, someone getting in the way of the camera or poor lighting. After short listing I was at 176 photographs in total!!! See how this would take much longer than an ordinary photo shoot. I really wanted to push myself so I gave myself a deadline whereas when I photographed my Father’s wedding it was much more laid back regarding when the photographs would be finished. During editing some other photographs were thrown away as when having closer looks I found things I did not like about the image whether this being composition or if someone’s face was too covered by someone else. I managed to finish the photographs in 7 days spends 6 hours a day trying to perfect the imagery I had taken. I believe the editing process really solidified my dislike for weddings as it becomes extremely boring, however I would not mind photograph a wedding now and again. As I do feel I am capable of doing this now especially with the new knowledge I have learnt regarding editing techniques, the technical aspects of photography and time management. Below are some of the photographs from the wedding.
I do feel this placement has really brought me a long way, as I am surprised at how much my photography has improved since I photographed my Father’s Wedding. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work experience from start to finish even if the wedding was the most stressful it still enhanced my skill set.
Total Photographing hours = 53 hours/6 = 8 days
Total Editing hours = 92/6 = 15 days
Total business hours = 12 hours = 2 days
Total Days = 25 days