Category Archives: Sammii D

Uh Oh Spaghetti-O

Accidents, forgetfulness and natural disasters are inevitable. They’re almost guaranteed to happen. You could forget your memory card, it could fill up too quickly, it could get corrupted, you could run out of juice in your battery, forget to take it out of the charger, someone could bump into you and your camera busts into a wall and breaks the lens. It’s kind of like when you open your case to see all your strings broken or you don’t have any of your cables to plug in. Things happen and it sucks… a lot. 

Obviously the best way to prevent any of these problems is to have at least two of everything. Yes, it could get a bit pricey but it could save you in the long run from losing a gig and potential other gigs via word of mouth. People are always talking. 

If you forget batteries for the flash, most take AA so its fairly easy to get a hold of a new pack at any convenience store or maybe someone is nice enough around that has extra and will share (There are still nice people out there. While photographing a showcase, my flash batteries died towards the end of the night and another photographer there saw my troubles and gave me 4 brand new batteries!). Camera batteries will give you more trouble. You can find new one at most electronic stores but if you’re working the night shift, these may not be readily available. Try not to forget it! You could ask to reschedule but there’s a strong chance you will look unprofessional and could lose the job. It’s happened to me a couple of times, being forgetful can sure hurt you.

Things happen quickly and if you’re shooting manually (adjusting all of your settings…manually) there is room for error you may not catch. Sometimes you ISO could be to low, or the shutter speed is to slow, or a slew of other things. These are where your digital art skills (or a friends) can come into play. you can play with the color adjustments and filters back to how you want them to look, if they’re blurry, you could be out of luck, but if its movement, you can play with the filters and contracts and could have a pretty fancy looking photo going on there. 

 

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Let your imagination free

Alright you had your photo shoot, you have your photos, now what?

There are many, many programs you can use to edit your photos for any of you needs. Photoshop, Bridge, Coral, Lightroom, Aperture and many more. The things that these programs can do in insane. You can create fire out of nothing, remove that zit that popped up the night before, remove that double chin if you so please. Any of them are grand as well. Even if you can’t afford CS5 or bum a license off of your friend, any of the previous versions work just as well, even if your still on 7. You may just be missing a tool or so but you can still create magnificent images. 

When I’m in the shop, meaning at my computer, it depending on what I’m working on, determines which program I open. If I’m working in bulk, I tend to go with Bridge because you can do everything at once. You can view all of your photos at once, tag ones you like, want to use, you can adjust the color, the contrast, anything to all of them at once. This saves a lot of time when you have to go through 100+ images of the same person or group and shot them all with similar settings. 

When I’m working on a project, I go with Photoshop. Here you can focus on one image at at time and polish it until you’re happy. You can change the whole look of the photo. Basically, if you can imagine it, you can create it. Try. I dare ya. You can desaturate it (make it black and white) by clicking the desaturate button which does it by itself, or you can adjust the levels yourself to give it the exact look you want, you can sepia tone it and give it the rustic, old time feeling (that coppertone look), add text and shadow, bold, texturize the font to really make it stand out and look good. You can make the foreground black and white and leave the subject in color, merge photos together, make the image a bit sharper, really anything you need to do. 

When you’re making a flyer, whether it’s 11×18 or a quarter sheet you need all the standard things:

  • An eye-catching image to attract the eyes to your flyer
  • Your name so people know who the flyer is about
  • Event info (CD release date, venue name, address, event date, time, all the important information, but still needs to be short and too the point)
  • Addition contact information (website, myspace, facebook, etc)

Album art is slightly different. It doesn’t have to have any photographs in it at all. You can have it be 100% graphic design, just text, its up to you. It’s your work. You still could use these editing programs to get it all done however. You can change the image size here so it will fit properly in the jewel case or be the appropriate size for a slip case, use the rulers so everything is neatly aligned, use one of the many filters to give yourself a mosaic look…maybe? A Standard CD Cover has two different dimensions for the front and the back. The front half should be 12cm x 12cm and the the back should be 11.75cm x 15.1cm. Remember, the back is a bit bigger and has the side flaps. Another couple of important thing to remember is that this images should be high resolution as well, 300dpi. This should be done so its crisp and clean no matter the printer. The second is to leave some bleed room. Don’t leave any text or important imaging on any of the boards in the event they get cut during printing. 

If you have any question about things you’re working on, feel free to keep sending me messages. 

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It’s Photography, Not Yoga

“Alright, stand straight at me. Now turn your shoulders to the right. Look to the left. Head up. Put your hands together. NO! keep your head to the left!”

You get the idea, it could be difficult posing for a photo for business matters.

Each musical entity out there has (or should have) their own look. Something that sets them apart from the others, just like the music itself. It’s pretty everyday to see a metal band promo shots in some graveyard. It’s been done, look for something else.

When I’m out in the field, I try to get a feel of what the artist/group is looking for a take that based on their musical style. An electro DJ is going to look pretty out of place in a wide open meadow just as much as an acoustic guitarist will look in a fiery dungeon with chains. Unless, of course, that’s the look you’re going for. 

From promotional shots, you and the photographer should keep everything in mind. From the background color, to clothing even to skin tone. There are many looks you can go for and these things have every bit to do with it. You can be that dark shadowy figure, or the most vibrant object in the photo (whether its color or black and white). If you’re a studio musician, a standard head shot works well, most likely with your instrument. Performing bands/groups/artists, is typically on location somewhere (i.e. a garage, rooftop, field, basement, or even just in front of a wall/a staged background). Everyone in the group should be in view. Singers typically stand out but it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone can be in equal presence. It could even be a funny photo, if thats the type of group you are. When you’re sending these out digitally, the need to be high resolution. The viewer will be able to see every hair and pore, so you should look your best (Your best could be in tattered jeans and unbrushed hair too).

A photograph is a standard part of a press kit. This photo should be an 8×10 image with a white boarder and have your name on it as well. Your name should be in a plain font, nothing crazy. Remember these are just to give the higher ups information about you. Stick to the basics and try to be creative. That’s what your music is for. The photo should also be black and white. Granted, now-a-days most people are switching to color, industry standard is still B&W. 

Live shots are fun. These can go everywhere. Your website, Facebook, Reverb, Indaba, whatever other networking site you are using, flyers. They show you in action, your energy. These are the ones that will get posted next to your concert/show/performance review. The ones that girls (or guys) could squeal about. Sometimes these are set up in advance. You should have them to show yourself off further. Other times, the press will be out there while doing the review. (If this is the case, make sure you find out where and when the publication will be printed and keep it as a clipping for your Press Kit as well!)

 

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But… I’m with the band…

My apologies for leaving you hanging last week! But alas, there was work to be done which I can now explain to you! Last week was a big freestyle/dance fest held at Jones Beach called Beatstock. Like most photography jobs, I was hired as a freelance photographer for one of the performing acts. He hired me to photograph his set as well as new promo shots for his use. For events such as thing, you typically go by a day rate, which the musician/act/group and photographer should negotiate beforehand. 

When a photographer comes on set with a act, whether it is for the act or from their publishing company, in most instances, a press pass or a photo pass will need to be obtained. This will grant you full access around the venue to get photos from all angles, backstage, the crowd, in front of the barricade,  basically wherever (within reasons). On smaller scale shows, this may not be necessary. Just make sure that the venue is cool with photography.

There is always room for errors and problems. When the artist and I went to check in at Beatstock, there were no extra passes. Very frustrating but nothing out of the ordinary. The artist went inside to talk with the music fest’s bookers and producers to resolve the problem and was able to obtain another pass and off we went. 

Once inside, we went up to the green room and picked out the clothes he was going to wear on stage and then later on for the promo shoot. 

The performance was great and being able to roam around on such a big stage was probably as exciting as it would be to any musician. 

After the set came the hard part. Mixing business with pleasure: Trying to get the second photo shoot done while still mingling and shaking hands backstage. Artist, producers, radio execs, galore. The biggest problem was trying to find a suitable background where others wouldn’t be in the way. It was a bit difficult at first but we managed to find spots behind the the amphitheater in the security boat shack, one of the freight elevators and there was still time to take shots with other celebrities. 

It was such a good experience for both parties. I was able to make more contacts, which is a huge part it furthering your career within the business and hear behind the scene stories. And the artist was able to glorify himself, walking around saying “his photographer.” He called me a few days after saying next to his set that was the one thing people kept talking to him about.

 

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Lightning Has Just Struck My Brain!

Let’s start off this week breaking down the word,
photography. ‘Photo-’ traces back to the Greek origin but more importantly for
our use, it translates to ‘light.’ ‘-Graphy’ loosely translates to a form or a process.
Putting them together you get, the process of recording images on sensitized surfaces
by the chemical action of light (so says dictionary.com). For our purposes, you
use light to capture images, whether it is natural or artificial light.

If you take a picture in a dark room, you’re not going to
get anything back no matter how good your camera and lenses are. Besides your
subject, lighting is the most important thing. It can depict the overall feel
of the image and set the mood. There is a plethora of different equipment that
can be used for this. Using the sun is definitely the most inexpensive and
gives a fantastic, natural quality but it also can be very unreliable. It moves
15 degrees an hour, clouds come in, and it even hangs out on the other side of
the world for a good part of the day as well. At sunrise and sunset you will
find the best time to take photographs with great shadows since the light is
coming at you at an angle. At
noon,
the sun is highest in the sky producing almost no shadows. There are so many
avenues you can take using natural light because it’s constantly changing. Rain
isn’t always a bad thing, and a clear, bright and sunny day could be your worst
enemy.

When it comes to using artificial light, the basic tool is
your built-in flash. It can flash as slow as 1/60 of a second, so if shooting in
the manual setting, you should try to keep your aperture setting at f/60 or
higher. (On a similar note, if you need to shoot below f/60, you should use a
tripod since as a human you can’t quite stay steady for that long. Your photo
would turn out blurry). The range your flash will reach is dependant on your
ISO. The more you increase your ISO, the further the light will reach. If you
take a glance through the manual the camera/lens came with, it should be able
to give you a graph on how far the flash will reach based on your ISO and lens.

If you have light coming in from behind, we call that ‘backlight.’
It can provide for some great silhouettes, but if you want to have full detail
of the subject, the flash works wonderfully to fill in those shadows. This is
called ‘Full Flash.’

For more advance projects, you can use a flash that mounts
onto the camera. These flashes can allow you more freedom to play with the
light as you can adjust the settings to match those of the camera, or experiment
on other settings. You can intensify the flash, weaken the flash, use a sync
cord (a cord that connects your flash to the camera) and have the flash coming
from the angle of your choice.

Even more advance project, there are strobes, which is
another outside light source. You can be as simple as using a standard lamp or
go as high tech 1600w light unit which can sync to you camera, have the white umbrellas attached to reflect and control where the light is going and so forth. 

 

 

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