I started out as a still photographer taking black and white photos and occasionally shooting color slides and large format color transparencies. In 2011 I purchased a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera and my clients began to ask me to take video clips and still photographs during the same photo assignment. I needed to learn about recording sound and video editing. In 2012 I was asked by Google to produce 360 degree panoramas of businesses. It was a quite a learning curve.
I recently accepted a challenging photo assignment that required all three formats: creating a Google virtual tour, still photographs, and short videos of two model apartments at Park Place Towers in Hartford, CT. The kitchens had been recently remodeled with new cabinets, countertops and appliances. Due to the current pandemic it is more important than ever for people to view the interiors of residences and businesses, virtually before they visit in person. The Google virtual tours are here:
The views from the apartments are quite stunning, which presented a lighting problem and an opportunity. Many photographers take a short cut by utilizing HDR to photograph interiors. This technique known as “high dynamic range” is done by taking multiple exposures and then blending them into one image in software. The problem with this technique is the photos look overprocessed and unnatural. This technique does not make a home interior look warm and inviting. HDR photography does not add lighting where there is none.
Photographing a one-bedroom and two-bedroom unit took me an entire day. Much of my time was spent fussing with the lighting for the still images. I have eight small flash units that I can hide in the interior scene, along with utilizing the existing natural and artificial lighting.
The real skill is to have the scene look like it wasn't lit. Since I worked with film for over 30 years; I am a big fan of getting the final image correct in the camera, rather than spending hours with editing software later.
For the short web videos, I utilized a combination of still images which I lit with flash and live video that I lit with daylight balanced floodlights. I added a music track in the video editing. The attention span on the web is short, so each video is 30 seconds. You can view them here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2euubmzdff7xme3/One_Bedroom_2020.mp4?dl=0
This assignment tested three of my photography skills which I am constantly working to improve. It is my hope that my photography helps people find their new home. I am sure that watching the sun set behind downtown Hartford every evening, from the Park Place Towers, never gets old.
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
Even though I have been working as a professional photographer since my first job as an intern at age 19, at the “Manchester Evening Herald”, I still get nervous before big photo assignments. I looked it up on Google, and it is called “photographer’s anxiety”. I don’t remember most of the jobs that went perfectly, but the photo assignments that I had problems with, I will always remember.
“Whenever you go out into the world with a camera, you are going to make a mistake.”
I can’t explain the irrational fear that gives me butterflies in my stomach. Actors call it stage fright. Perhaps it is because there are so many ways that a photo assignment can go bad. Clients hire me for my expertise, experience and the way I see the world. I never want to let them down. Most of the time my anxiety evaporates once I begin clicking away. It is much easier now that I can see the image on the back of the camera. Before I started using a digital camera in 2000, there were even more ways to mess up; like the lab destroying my film, using the wrong flash sync, and thinking my camera was loaded with film, when it was empty. I have done all of these things. Unfortunately, back then, most of the time you didn’t find out until a day or two later that “your pictures didn’t come out”.
Big group photos and awards events, where I am on stage, give me the most anxiety. One way I cope is by being prepared with back-up plans and back-up equipment. When I am on stage at a corporate event, I better get the photo quickly because no one will wait around. I always have another camera over my shoulder just in case my camera breaks down.
In my camera bag I have two cameras, spare batteries and camera cards. I also have safety pins, ever since the time I ripped the seat of my pants covering an outdoor event at a womens' college. I squatted down to get a low angle and rip! That was embarrassing.
Equipment failure happens on a rare occasion, like the time a shutter failed on me during a corporate event in Greenwich, while the company President in his tuxedo was posing with his wife in her formal gown. As luck would have it, my assistant was standing next to me with a camera loaded with film, ready to go. Being prepared for failure does help. Then there was the time I had a light leak in my film back that I had used for a big corporate group shot. The company had to send out a letter to their employees stating that “due to technical difficulty” no photo would be sent. I found it so unnerving that I used two cameras on every group photo assignment after that, until I started using a digital camera. That too was a mistake. I relied on the automatic focus on my digital camera for a recent big corporate group shot, and only one frame out of eight was in focus. Now I check the image on the back of my screen at maximum magnification, before I tell the group “we are done”.
My biggest concern is not equipment failure; it is what I call operator error. For example, there was the time that I started setting up lights for a portrait at a doctor’s office and discovered I had forgotten my strobe packs. Of course, the marketing director from the client happened to be supervising the shoot. Luckily, I was only a few miles from my studio and quickly drove back to get them. When I returned to finish setting up, the client fearing that I was not coming back, was getting ready to take the portraits herself, with her I-Phone. Since then, I keep lots of extra lighting gear with me. I can't count the number of times I have pulled my car over on the way to an assignment to check my trunk, or to look in the back seat, to make sure that I have all the equipment I need.
While I was sheltering in place, I watched a recent Nikon sponsored video interview of a famous New York commercial photographer, whom I greatly admire: Joe McNally https://portfolio.joemcnally.com/index I got some comfort in hearing from him, that I am not alone in my anxiety. “Whenever you go out into the world with a camera, you are going to make a mistake” he said, “fear of failure is always is with you”. I have learned how to be a better professional photographer from my mistakes. I really dread messing up, but the only thing I am sure of is that I will make more mistakes and continue to learn from them.
I have had the privilege of making portraits of many amazing physicians and nurses. I am grateful for the way health care providers put their lives on the line every day taking care of us. They are true heroes who will see us all through this global pandemic.
Since physicians are so busy, I usually only have just a few minutes to light the scene and come up with an interesting pose. For the portrait below, I used a blue gel on the background light that automatically warmed up the main light.
Since the health industry has become more competitive, most providers have gotten comfortable with the marketing and the visual content needed for websites and social media platforms. I have found health care providers to be very warm and kind people who are patient while posing.
I often use my portable battery strobe light, on a rolling light stand; bounced off the ceiling for a soft lighting
effect. If time permits, I use two lights with umbrellas; a main light and a fill light.
I appreciate the long hours and sacrifices they make to keep us all healthy. Thank you! Thank you!
As I am writing this blog, it is my sincere hope that all my readers are doing well during these challenging times. I am very grateful that my family and I have remained healthy through this pandemic. I am coping by staying home and viewing instructional videos on commercial photography and Photoshop. The Professional Photographers of America and Nikon have made all of their on-line courses available for free, and I am learning a lot. I am also spending time cleaning the house and working on my lawn.
I have lived through wage and price controls, malaise, stagflation and the oil crisis of the 1970s and the recession of the early 1980s. Then there was another bad recession in the early 1990s when many banks failed. More recently we had the “Great Recession” of 2008-09. Nothing in my experience compares to this terrible virus outbreak and shut down of all non-essential businesses. All my future photo assignments have been cancelled or postponed; however, I did receive some photography work that was unexpected. I was contacted by Realtors Debbie and Steve Temple http://www.steveanddebbietemple.com/ to photograph several of their new home listings in Hebron, CT. This is the only professional photography that I have done in April.
I haven’t photographed home interiors for many years, since most of my assignments recently have been corporate head shots, corporate events, industrial plants, products and Google virtual tours. I really enjoyed the challenge!
Of course, I adhered to all the social distancing guidelines while handling these assignments. I had forgotten how much I enjoy photographing homes. The challenge for me is not just showing the home exterior and the rooms in a beautiful way; but rather making photographs that gives you a feeling for what it is like to live in this home. Whenever possible I light up the background of the next room to draw the viewer's eye into the photo. I want to capture the lifestyle of the home in still photographs.
If you would like to view all of my home listing photos in Hebron, CT; the links are here:
The uncertainty of the future is what makes this pandemic so upsetting. The history of our country has shown us that Americans have endured many challenges from the American Revolution to the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War I and World War II. We have always learned from the experience and become stronger. Our country also has been very generous in helping other countries. I truly believe that we will overcome this challenge; it is just a matter of time. I also believe that the American dream of home ownership will always be with us.
Hang in there and Stay Healthy!
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
Recently I was seeking inspiration from famous photographers. I did a Google search for “famous photographer quotes” and found a few that I would like to share.
“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality”
~ Alfred Stieglitz
The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz
According to https://www.metmuseum.org, "Alfred Stieglitz returned to New York in 1890 determined to prove that photography was a medium as capable of artistic expression as painting or sculpture. His knowledge of this new kind of art is evident in photographs from these years such as The Steerage, in which the arrangement of shapes and tones belies his familiarity with Cubism, and From the Back Window—291, in which Stieglitz’s internalization of avant-garde art combines with his own expertise in extracting aesthetic meaning from the urban atmosphere."
I never aspired to be a photographic artist, but I have a high regard for photographers who use the medium to create fine art.
From the Back Window—291 by Alfred Stieglitz
“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”
Cotton Mill Girl by Lewis Hine
Another photographer I admire greatly is Lewis Hine. He used his camera for social reform. His beautiful portrait work documenting children working in factories is credited with the passage of child labor laws in the United States. The power of the still photograph to effect positive change, continues to this day.
Almost everyone has seen the work of Ansel Adams. His black and white photography is stunning. He did most of his work with an 8X10 view camera to capture the most detail possible. He invented an exposure and developing technique he called the zone system. He was able to extend or contract the contrast range of his black and white negatives to make prints that utilized the entire range of the photographic paper. His account of taking the famous photograph: Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is amazing. He viewed the scene driving along the road. He quickly set up his 8X10 camera on a tripod and took one photo. By the time he had taken the filmholder out of the camera, flipped it over to take another shot, the beautiful lighting was gone. Sometime a good photograph is a once in a lifetime opportunity. In my opinion, his quote sums up photography.
Mt. Williamson Sierra Nevada from Manznar California by Ansel Adams
(Lead image - Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams)
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
There are many times when I need inspiration, especially during the winter months when I am between photo assignments; and wonder when the next one will come. It can be an emotional roller coaster ride. Fortunately, I have been blessed to have chosen photography as a profession. Over the years, it has brought me much joy.
" When people ask me what equipment I use - I tell them my eyes".