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Emerging Talent: Niki Feijen’s Interiors of Intrigue [and What Pro Photographers Need To Learn From Non-Pros]

ChaseJarvis_EmergingTalent_NikiFeijen_AmyRolloI was first introduced to Niki Feijen’s work via Amy Rollo who helps me with the Best Photo Locations pieces on my blog. I saw his stuff and, naturally, poked around to learn more about him. Ironically, one of my favorite parts of Niki’s backstory is that he’s not a professional photographer. He has a day job, and photographs his passion – urban exploring. And then something occurred to me: while it may be unconventional thinking, I believe deeply that pro photographers have a lot to learn from those who are not professional. Remember when your next photo wasn’t an “assignment” for a “client”? There’s something healthy about his. The following is Amy’s interview with Niki. The simplicity in approach is eloquent and noteworthy IMHO. Enjoy…

Amy Rollo: Every one of Niki Feijen’s intriguing shots could be featured ANY Best Photo Locations list.  With Tim Burton-esque scenes, intrigue draws you into these realms, yet we’re all terrified of what we may find around the corner. He brings us on a tour of abandoned hospitals, mansions, and churches. At first glance many of his images seem filled with life, sunlight bouncing off of smooth surfaces. Upon closer inspection you notice the decay and rot in every corner.  ”Lonely” is certainly a word to describe some these settings, but that sense feels temporary.  Like the family who lives here just went to the movies, but they forgot where they lived and their stuff has been waiting a few decades for their return. Naturally, I had to ask Niki what exactly makes him tick…

Amy Rollo: I understand that you’re not a professional photographer. Do you want to become one?

Niki Feijen: Well to be honest, I don’t think that my kind of photography could work out to be a full time job. If I want to become a professional photographer and do this full time I will need to step away of doing just urbex [urban exploring] photography.  I will have to master other directions, too. I would have to take assignments and I think it would drive me further away from the whole urbex thing. Besides that, I have an awesome job which I love.  In the meantime I can fully practice my crazy hobby. I’m currently in progress of assembling and publishing my very own book. I do not think I have the time and opportunity to do that if it were a full time job.

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ChaseJarvis_EmergingTalent_NikiFeijen_AmyRollo

Why is photography important to you?

Photography is a way to handle my urge to be creative. Since its a hobby I can do whatever I want. I have all the freedom in the world since I do not need to be here or there. I can make a crazy surrealistic shot or show the eeriness of an abandoned hospital. The tension and excitement of urban exploring is also a big fun factor. The rush you get when finding an entrance into a building that has been left behind for 20 years and is in a perfect condition is priceless.

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What makes photography art?

Every photographer has their own creative vision. Every photo tells a story just like a piece of artwork. If I can capture a scene and I can transfer the atmosphere of that scene to an audience, I have succeeded. If I can move the audience with my photographs and trigger their emotions, I think that is art.

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ChaseJarvis_EmergingTalent_NikiFeijen_AmyRollo

Talk to me about photo gear, your perception, and your approach

Technology goes so fast right now and there is still the big Nikon / Canon which-one-is-better “war” going on. I don’t think that there are any bad cameras anymore. It’s still the photographer that needs to make the photo and it really doesn’t make that much of a difference with what brand you use. I am very happy with my Nikon D800,  but if i did not have all the Nikon lenses I could just as well have taken the Canon 5D Mark III. I truly believe that mirrorless cameras will have the future though. The flipping mirror is from the 20th century and it is time to move beyond that. The mirrorless camera already has a lot of advantages.  Look at the FPS rate for example. Already they shoot more than 50 frames a second and the whole thing fits in your pocket. In a few years they will have larger sensors and the mirrorless camera will be mainstream. In 10 years we will buy a bulky retro DSLR on ebay to put on display.

 Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?

I have been photographing since I was a kid. Fascinated by the shots of the World Press photo and National Geographic photographers like James Standfield. I wanted to be like them.  When I got my first camera I tried many different directions like concerts, landscape, portraits etc. Many years later i discovered urbex photographty and nothing appealed to me more as that. Trey Ratcliff introduced me to HDR and when I discovered the combination of urban exploring and HDR by the works of Andre Govia, I was hooked. Even today there are a lot of photographers that inspire me. Lee Jeffries for example is a master in black and white portraits. No one can transfer the emotion and pain of a person as well as he can.

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 What makes a good photographer?

I don’t think you can define “good photographer”. What is extremely good for one person can be the exact opposite for somebody else. It’s the same thing as Art.

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Check out more of Niki’s work on his website and follow him on Facebook.

5 Things GoPro Nailed with the Hero3 and Why You Need To Care (NOW)

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GoProHero3Hey friends – want to take a second to re-introduce Erik, my on-staff video guru. He’s been with us for a few years now and, as a film school grad and long time commercial shooter, his opinions are a great asset to my own. One thing we’ve both agreed to lately? That GoPro is an amazing company and–it’s becoming increasingly clear–they really understand what their consumers want. So I’m kicking this one to E-rock (affectionate nickname) for his opinion on GoPro and their increasing success…

Thanks Chase. Erik here folks. A few weeks ago when GoPro announced the new Hero3 cameras, we were lucky enough to be in attendance for the unveiling and even luckier to walk away from the event with a Hero3 Black Edition in hand – one of just a handful in existence.  To date, they have listened to feedback and made big improvements on each iteration of their Hero camera line and this is no exception.  The Hero3 Black Edition is a perfect example of their ingenuity.  Of course the image  quality has been improved and 4K is cool and all, but take a spin through the number tabs above this post and read about the 5 new features that I find most useful on the new Hero3.

Go Vote! Dont Cry, It’s Almost Over — Participate & Celebrate

Hi everybody — Jerard here with a guest blog post on election day in the USA! I sincerely hope you are voting today.

Many people are ready for this election to be over. And after today, hopefully without legal turmoil, it will be. It’s so easy to get disillusioned and discouraged by elections. The video above has been circulating the internet since last week and it struck a nerve with millions of people. A 4-year-old Colorado girl is crying to her mother because she’s “tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.” Abby is expressing how so many people feel. After months and months of posturing, advertising, stumping, speaching and generally blasting the world with the business-end of their political-winded pie-holes…we’re all a bit worn out by “Bronco Obama and Mitt Romney”.

But as an American, the Presidential election that goes down every 4 years is one of the times I actually feel most proud of our process. “WHAT?!” You might say, “Are you crazy? We all feel like Abby or worse!” So why do I feel proud of the process?

Because when I think about world history, and even current history in many parts of the world, the fact that we have a peaceful transfer of power is a beautiful thing. Yes – the election process is painful (just ask little Abby) – but there something admirable in our process here. Around the the world, millions have fought and died to preserve the right to vote. Men and women have marched and suffered countless indignities just so they can vote without persecution. People from across the world have come to America because they would rather live in a land that lets them participate in a process that provides some say in how they are to be ruled. It is by no means a perfect system. But today, the right to vote is worthy of celebrating by participating.

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Photo: Macy Neighwander/AP

The scene of President-elect Barak Obama meeting President George Bush at the front door of the White House before the 2009 inauguration is one that has stuck with me. Two men and their wives greeting one another with smiles. All of them with very different views on how things should be done. In that moment, they greeted each other as countrymen. Call me patriotic or a sucker for a photo op – but it stuck with me. This tradition of the President-elect first meeting the outgoing President at the White House for a short meeting and then traveling from the White House together to the Capitol for the ceremony is over 100 years old. It began in 1877, with the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes. No bloodshed. No fighting (maybe some legal wrangling – eg: Bush-Gore 2000). Just the outgoing President handing the keys to the country to the new guy (hopefully someday a new gal) and saying, “Good luck. She’s all yours.” A nation of more than 300,000,000 people, the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest military moves from one elected leader to the next with ceremony, some level of civility and respect. Photo ops or not – the fact that Presidents from the 1970s to present gather to be in the same photo, despite massive differences in policy, beliefs and ultimately actions, is a testament to our process of a peaceful transition of power. And it starts with our right to vote.

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

So go do it. Whatever it takes. Whatever your politics. It’s worth waiting in line and braving any inconvenience to participate and exercise your right to vote.

Deliver with Style — 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients

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Hi folks, Megan here again, Producer at CJ Inc. We recently delivered a couple of big jobs to clients, and it got me thinking about file management, tracking + job wrap-up. As the producer, I’m responsible for creating + managing the post production schedule, sending files to clients for approval, then delivering final images once all files have been been given the thumbs up. I work closely with Chase and the digital artist to ensure that we’re delivering exactly what the client has asked for, which means cross-checking each image with both the creative brief AND the contract to ensure that our bases are covered.

Here are some things to keep in mind prior to arriving on set.

_File size:
What are the images going to be used for? A billboard or in-store signage? A web banner or e-brochure? Usage is usually defined at the contract stage, so it should be well documented and understood prior to shoot day. This will perhaps inform which camera you opt to shoot with and image resolution.

_File format:
TIFFs? Layered PSDs? JPGs? RAWs?

_Orientation:
Is shot #4 a horizontal or vertical? Be sure to have the creative brief handy if there’s no Art Director on set to advise.

_Naming convention + folder structure:
Has your client provided you with a specific naming convention or preferred folder structure? This is especially common on retail and catalog jobs, where each shot usually coincides with a garment SKU.
[If not, you may want to decide upon an agreeable solution before you start shooting.]

_Delivery:
How many files are you providing? Are you able to upload to an FTP fairly quickly? Or will you need to send a hard drive to your client?
[If you are sending a hard drive, be sure to label it with your name + contact info so it’s easily identifiable.]

_Description of files + thumbnails:
Along with the hard drive, we like to include a memo (or cover letter, of sorts) outlining the project name, shoot description, deliverables + usage terms. All of the pertinent info relating to the files is concisely captured in 1 document for the client’s reference.

I also include a page (or more, depending on how many images are being delivered) of thumbnails, so the client knows what he or she is getting at a glance. A copy of each of these documents gets saved in the project folder on the server so if there’s ever any question about what was delivered and when, it’s easily trackable. File delivery is usually the last step of a job, with the exception of final billing, and can leave a lasting impression on your client. You really want to nail it.

Feel like I’ve missed something important? Have anything to add? Feel free to leave comments below.

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(Disclaimer: I’m no Digital Asset Manager, so if you want additional info on any of the items above, check out the Complete Workflow and Backup for Photo + Video here.)

Impossible Pictures of Pictures

Impossible Instant LabHey photo friends, Erik here with my quick 2 cents on a new product that has sparked some debate here in the CJ Studio. The Impossible Project has a Kickstarter campaign for their new “Impossible Instant Lab”, which will “transform your digital iPhone images into real instant photographs that you can touch, caress and share with friends.”   Take a look at the Kickstarter video for all the details:

I should love this thing.  I mean, it combines Polaroids with iPhone Photography with Kickstarter! What’s more hip and awesome than that?  The charm wears off for me quickly though when I realize that all of this is just taking pictures of pictures.  Is there any artistic merit here?  I respect the tangible nature of instant analog photography, but more than that I respect the difficulty, unpredictability, and commitment it takes to do it well.  In my opinion, all of that is lost when you’re using an instant camera more or less as a printer that connects to your iPhone. We LOVE our iphone dearly, but this gadget isn’t about that. Does an analogue printer of digital undermine instant analogue photography?

What do you think? Like I said, I should love this thing, but I don’t know

Creative Video Angles: Inspiring POV Surf Shots

The weekend is here my friends [almost].

I’m resolved to go do something fun. Something creative. Something active. The videos below inspire all three actions.

There has never been a more exciting time in the history to be a photographer. Technology in enabling accessibility (and usability) like never before. Hell, if you can imagine it, you can capture it. And you dont have to spend an arm and a leg to do it. Helmet cam footage, a long-time staple in action sports and adrenaline fueled photography, has helped millions share their stories and creative vision in extraordinary ways. And the quality of these little cameras is getting better all the time. Big leaps have been made in the last couple of years — and we assume there are more to come.

Have a great weekend.

Traveling for Photo + Video Shoots [10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo + Video Travel]

Photo: Erik Hecht

So you’re going on the road to shoot photos/videos for fun or for a client? Kate here again, Executive Producer over here at Team Chase. I’ve been thinking a lot about shooting (for work or play) on the road. Whether you are traveling 100 miles or 10,000 miles, whether on a budget or with a budget, here are some tips I’ve learned over the past 10 years producing photo shoots away from home. This is part 1 of a 4 part series on Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots: Booking your Travel.

10 tips for booking your photo/video travel.
Everything can seem important when you decide that you are headed out on a trip, but nothing is more important than making sure you can actually get to where you are need to go. These tips will get you headed in the right direction:

1. Confirm that all travel docs are valid. Whether you’re traveling abroad or just to the next state over, certain docs are likely required… ID, driver’s license, passport, carnet (passport for gear) or other required documents. Make sure yours are up to snuff.

2. Research your destination. You can dive deep later, but initially you need to find out the essentials: how to get there, requirements for entry, vaccinations, and special considerations. A great source of info for traveling abroad is the US Department of State Travel Site.

3. Decide who will travel and how will you get there. If you’re a one-man or one-woman show, the ‘who’ is easy. But, if you have a small team traveling with you, make the call on who will travel, when, and if these people are available during your prospective travel window. For the how – weighing the pros and cons with respect to cost and efficiency will help you determine the best way to get to your location.

4. Apply for visas. If a visa is required, START THIS ASAP!

  • Gather information. how long will it take, where do you apply, what is required?
  • Gather the assets needed. the application, passport photos, letter of invitation if needed, travelers’ information.
  • Apply. To apply on your own, work directly with the embassy or consulate. If budget allows, you can explore two options for support:

-expeditors such as www.cibt.com can take care of the process for you.
-local production company where you will be traveling can help you gather documents if they are needed. (I’ll discuss more in part 2 of this series)

5. Get vaccinations and medications. If either of these are required, take care of that early. Some times there can be a wait period before they are effective. The CDC has helpful information: http://1.usa.gov/mg0vvE

6. Gather travelers’ information. For all travelers, you will likely need the names of each passenger, exactly as it appear on their travel ID (driver’s license, passports), ID number, date of birth, gender and mileage account information.

7. Book flights/trains/cars. If you are traveling by either plane or train, you can save tons by booking early, BUT make sure you know the penalties for changes or cancellations before booking. You’ll need to balance your savings with possible fees.

8. Book accommodations. You can often save money by booking early and paying a large deposit at the time of booking… this goes for small hotels, vacation rental sites, and longer term housing. Just be careful because these places usually come with hefty cancellation and change fees. Whenever I feel like the dates are likely to shift, I book through large hotel chains that have very flexible cancellation/changes policies. Some — like the Hiltons, Hyatts, Marriotts, Westins– will allow changes without penalty as late as the day of your scheduled arrival.

9. Book ground transportation. Even if you are traveling by plane or train, you will need to think about getting to and from the airport or train station. A ride from a friend, taxi, subway, booked car… all work, just make sure you allow enough space for the gear you’ll need to bring.

10. Research your Insurance Coverage. Think about what you will be doing and ask questions if you have new elements. For both your business and medical insurance, work with your provider to find out what is NOT covered. There can be lots of exclusions, such as, limited liability coverage for international travel. You can up your coverage for the duration of the trip or buy additional insurance. www.imglobal.com provides a ton of additional medical coverage for a great price.

Once you’ve checked these items off your to do list, you’ll know WHERE you will be, WHEN you will be there and WHO will be with you… the basic skeleton. That’s when I always feel like I can relax a tiny bit. But stay tuned for the next post of this series, I’ll have some production specific tips (ie – for shooting and making the arrangements to get your shots) at your destination. Until then, safe travels! Kate

Veteran NYTimes Photographer Arrested & Allegedly Beaten by NYPD [Interview]

You’ve probably heard about the New York Times photographer who was arrested and allegedly beaten by New York City police officers last Saturday night. There’s a lot of knee-jerk reaction going on out there on the internet about this story. We decided to take a look at it ourselves and go to one of the sources – the photographer himself – for more information. So far, the NYPD has not responded to phone calls and emails, directed in good faith at the Department of Public Information.

The photographer, Robert Stolarik, 43, who has worked regularly for The Times for more than a decade, is no stranger to intense photography situations. He has covered conflicts in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and South America, as well as general news here in the United States like the D.C. Sniper and Virginia Tech shootings. He was charged with obstructing government administration and with resisting arrest as he was taking photographs of a brewing street fight in New York that involved a teenage girl. Not exactly the civil war in Colombia (he covered that for the NYTimes too), but somehow things went sideways for Stolarik.

The incident was reported by the New York Times here:
“Mr. Stolarik was taking photographs of the arrest of a teenage girl about 10:30 p.m., when a police officer instructed him to stop. Mr. Stolarik explained that identified himself as a photographer for The New York Times and kept taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, according to Stolarik. He said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.”

I tracked down Robert Stolarik this morning to ask him a few questions directly and get his side of the story. He sounded a bit tired and frustrated, but gave me an intelligent and lucid account of the events. He came off as a professional photographer, even forgiving, who has been in his fair share of tense situations. He was very quick to explain, and frame his situation as unique, and that our rights as photographers are not a free pass to “do whatever we want” when law enforcement or other officials are performing public service or otherwise doing their job. He has clearly experienced this firsthand many times as a veteran freelancer for The New York Times; however, the events of his arrest, and alleged beating, last Saturday night clearly took him by surprise and have left him shaken and appalled.

CJ: In your words, what happened?

RS: The arrest happened without warning. I was taking pictures of something that was really wasn’t anything shocking for them. There was no police line. Ive been doing this a long time and its frustrating. Im credentialed. They asked for the credential, I’m shooting, the next thing I know I’m in jail and my equipment is confiscated.

CJ: Do you feel your rights were violated?

RS: Of course, but you have to realize that each situation each different. Just because we have this constitutional right doesn’t give us a complete right to do whatever we feel like doing. This needs to be understood. You can’t just stand your ground, in the middle of a police scene, and say, “Its my right to shoot this.” You have to walk carefully every time you show up to a [police] scene. There’s a lot involved. These police officers are trying to do a job too. Everyone needs to understand that. I always try to respect that.

CJ: For the benefit of those photographers up in arms about your situation, can you explain what you mean by “respect”?

RS: You want to be respectful of the police officers space as well. We need to be conscious of our surroundings. Even as we’re protected by our constitutional rights – this is important [as photographers] to remember. However, in this case, there is no question that what I was doing was right. I’m never the one to say the picture is more important than everything else on the scene. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for “standing my ground”, and an officer is in the middle of doing his job and [because of interfering] and an officer gets injured as a result of what I chose to do. Just because I have the “right” do take photos. I would never do that. And that is kind of what the police are saying about me. That they have the “right” to charge me with obstruction of government administration. They are using that to say, ‘we can do whatever we want.’ It’s unfortunate because I’m the one who was totally abused. They fabricated these charges. And now it’s them standing their ground on the same kind of idea. I understand they want to protect their officers – but lets be reasonable. Im not saying that they are deliberately fabricating things – but this just didn’t happen. It’s absurd. And no one is trying to make it better. This is worst part of what they’re doing. No apology. They are just trying to cover their tracks. As an individual its frustrating. Forget being a member of the media or press. As a citizen it’s very frustrating. Its appalling to to my friends, its appalling to my family, its appalling to the next generation of journalists who are coming up to see that I’m not protected as a [NYPD] credentialed photographer who works for one of the largest newspapers in the world.

CJ: Is this an anomoly?
RS: Such an excessive force of violence, yes, it seems surprising. Im not blaming the force [NYPD] for this. I blame the individuals. And I blame the individuals who are willing go to bat for people who did the wrong thing. It’s upsetting. Im surprised by how extreme it was – but there does seem to be a tremendous amount of animosity toward us for being photographers. For the sake of being photographers. To be beaten up, like Im some guy who is a serious threat to their well-being is incredible. Its unbelievable. That’s the problem with this whole situation.

CJ: What would you like to see happen next?
RS: Im a freelancer at the Times. Ive been there 12 years. [The Times], my colleagues, editors and other reporters have been tremendously supportive. But my main concern is getting back to work. Drop the charges. Give me back my equipment. Even if it’s broken, I’d like the cards to finish the story I was working on. Maybe I can get my press credentials back. Let me go back to work. That’s my focus right now. Maybe I can get my cameras back when I feel better.

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What the Foap?! How to Sell Your iPhone Photos [But is it Worth It?]

The iPhone application Foap says $10. Actually…$5 after they take their cut. Here’s the rundown…
Foap is a micro stock photography app made exclusively for iPhone photography. You upload your photos for review using their app, and then when/if they’re approved they become available for purchase in their market for editorial or commercial use by third party companies. There’s no end to the number of times a single photo can be sold (at the fixed $10 rate), so there’s a lot of potential to earn money  ($5 per sold photo) if your work is popular enough.

 

So what do you think? Sound like a good deal? Personally, I’m torn about whether or not I like this concept. Photographers get an incredibly easy way to put their photos on the market, buyers get super cheap images, and Foap gets to split the profits. So who wins in this scenario? Have any of you used this or other micro stock photography services with any success?

If this sounds intriguing to you, check out the Foap site for more information, or better yet, take the app for a test drive.

15 of the Best Olympic Photos on the Internet Today

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Photo: Gregory Bull/ AP

Here, for your weekend viewing pleasure, are 15 of the best swimming, lifting,hammer throwing, volleyball, fencing, shotputting, gymnastics, track & field, diving, horseback riding, and kayaking photos currently on the internet. We’ve culled through hundreds (fun job) and these are our favorites.
Click through the image tabs above to see the stunning photos that demonstrate the exciting thrill of victory and the stunning agony of defeat (Egyptian weightlifter with weight bar on her face!).

Enjoy the Games!

Blue Plate Special: the Proud Women of USA Diners and their Food

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Photo: Stephen Shaher

Jerard here from Chase’s crew. I love a good road trip. There’s nothing like the freedom and discovery of hitting the road with no real destination, no particular schedule and nothing but miles as your mission. I’ve driven the blue highways across the whole of America almost twenty times. Four times on a motorcycle. In all of those miles, there are some memories that fade into the blur of asphalt and double-yellow lines. But there other things that jump out with precise clarity. For whatever reason, food and the people who serve the food, are often among these memories. Places like the Hogs Breath Saloon, a watering hole somewhere between Kansas and Colorado. “Hog’s Breath is better than no breath!” BBQ beef on a kaiser and I can remember the way the waitress chewed her gum.

Hog’s Breath is better than no breath. -waitress between Kansas and Colorado

Swiss photographer Stephen Shaher took a massive road trip across America and created a fun project out of diner food and the characters who served it. The images feel real. You can smell the food and hear the voices of these waitresses. Design You Trust featured the work a while back (with the names and food order explained to boot) and while I dont think that Food&Wine magazine is going to be calling for any food photography from this project, the personality that comes through in these pairings of server and plates of diner cuisine is palpable. It makes me want to head back out on the road and find some hidden gems of Americana. Click through the tabs above to see Shaher’s series from his 2004 journey across the USA.

Photoshoot Secrets: Why Model Talent is Crucial & How to Cast For the Best

Hi friends, Megan here – I’m Chase’s primary on-staff producer. We just wrapped up a commercial shoot for a major sporting goods company and it required a monster amount of production. These tips are fresh on my mind and since it was a highly specialized sport shoot on a short time-frame (ie: challenging from a production standpoint) I thought I’d talk a little about the casting process for this type of job.

First, as you start to think about casting, you might want to consider the specific factors that are most important to both the client and photographer.

The LOOK (ie 6′ tall and blonde with blue eyes and long flowing hair)
If so, you probably want to start with your local talent agencies. You can find these online under ‘model’ or ‘talent’ agencies. They are abundant in most major metropolitan areas.

The SKILL (for this job it was athletic ability/running) 
If so, you may want to look for top-tier athletes in the given sport. You could reach out to local athlete groups, yoga studios, for instance, or running clubs. If you were shooting an ad for the circus you might need to find a juggler. There could be specific experience that your models need. You could also consider enlisting the help of a seasoned casting agent, who will be able to source potential talent from a variety of places. They, like model agencies, are abundantly available in most metropolitan cities worldwide.

The BUDGET.
Depending on your budget, you might be able to go world class with the talent from said agency above… OR…you may want to consider casting “real people.” That is, folks who probably aren’t represented by an agency and will work for a lower day rate, depending on their level of experience. These can be friends, part time models, or people you spot on the street who have a look you’re after. REMEMBER when sourcing these people: they usually have no experience, so you’re trading experience for a look. Sometimes that works great – other times it can cost you a lot because your production doesn’t move along as well as it should, as quickly as it should, with the right facial expressions, experience, etc. It’s a balancing act – and you usually get what you pay for.

In our most recent case for the job at hand, it was a combination of the above factors (and it often is…). We needed to find talent who were trained athletes with some experience modeling so they were comfortable running for a photographer – and within a well-defined budget. There’s a difference between folks who have been competing in track and field or marathons for years, and those who understand what it means to do it in front of a camera. Trust me. Athlete does not mean model and vice versa. The experience of understanding the need to repeat or hold certain body positions for the photographer comes from experience on photo shoots and will make the day run like clock work.

Since we were tasked with finding nine runners, we needed to be conscious of how quickly talent fees would add up. Enter Sports & Lifestyle Unlimited, an agency with branches in Portland and LA that represents highly skilled athletes. We were able to negotiate a fair rate for all parties involved…the model, the agency, and us. This was aided by the fact that we booked all but one of the models through them; you may have heard the terms “most favored nations” (everybody gets the same rate) or “economy of scale” (the more you use form one source or at one time, the easier it is to book for everyone, so there can be money saved…) used to describe our approach to this situation.

(other items that affect budget if you’re traveling models in for a shoot or having them for mulitple days or shoots for the same project…)

Travel days – what will you pay them for the time it takes to get to the shoot?
Shoot days – what is the daily rate for working in front of the camera?
Down days – what is the price for weather days or days when they’re at the shoot, but not in front of camera?
Per diems – this is a flat rate of money that you give models or production staff for non-shoot related meals. Guides for these amounts vary by region and are somewhat standardized… plenty of info on the ‘net.

Again, most agencies will work with you on these rates to arrive at something fair and reasonable.

The kicker to REMEMBER about BUDGET: Model agencies, like the rest of us, do work to make money. As such, model and talent agencies will add a 20% fee on top of Travel, Shoot + Down days, so be sure to factor that into your initial estimate. This is standard, fair practice and how agencies get paid.

Back to our story… Once we had received the talent + model specs from the client (i.e. age, height, ethnic diversity, “look”), we contacted SLU and requested a package of guys and gals that fit the bill. One of the things that was absolutely mandatory for us was running ability, so we asked to see a video of each of the talent submitted in addition to their portfolios + current snapshots. This is standard practice. Don’t be afraid to ask for this. The last thing you or your client wants is to get a good looking model on set that either a)doesn’t look like the shots on the talent website (ie shaved their head or similar) or b)can’t do the thing you need them to do as well as was represented when on the phone during booking.)

In addition to video, you may want to ask really specific questions of the talent (usually via the agent, but can be direct to talent on occasion…) that relates specific to the jargon of the activity you were told they were “an expert” at… For example if you’re looking for rock climbers, ask “what kind of climbing shoes do they own?” or “what level do they boulder at?” For runners, it might be “what was the last running event they ran in?”. You get the picture.

Our selections.
After Chase reviewed all submissions, we sent our recommendations to the client for consideration. After carefully considering who would work best for each of the shots we were tasked to shoot, they sent their selects to us for booking. At this point, if you have a shooting schedule already mapped out, it’s relatively straightforward to figure out the which talent you’re shooting on which day. In our case, the schedule depended entirely on locations + weather, so we ended up booking all nine talent for all shoot days in order to give us maximum flexibility. This isn’t the most cost-effective solution, but in this case, it was the only option for our situation.

When it was all said and done, our running talent was top-notch and total sweethearts, to boot. Worth every penny!

Let me know your success stories, failures, or — of course– if you have any questions. In production, it’s all about resources and who you know, so Kate and I are happy to share what we’ve learned throughout the years as best we can here on the blog :)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


“We shall never cease from striving – and the end of all our striving is to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.” -TS Eliot

Stephen Covey passed on today at 79.

The following is pulled from his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I admit to have gleaned a few important morsels out of this book when a coach made me read it in college. I”m banking you will get something from it to.

Dont forget to “sharpen the saw.”

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(The first three habits are called “Character ethics.” The second three habits are called “Personality ethics”)

#1 Be Proactive – Take responsibility for your own life: Have a Personal Vision

-behavior based on value vs feelings based on conditions
-proactive people carry the weather within (no such thing as bad weather) them and make the best of situations. Reactive people go the other way. Rainy day ruins everything.
-dont blame other people and circumstances for your happiness
-you have the power to choose
-your basic nature is to act and not be acted upon

Example: Man’s Search For Meaning By Victor Frankel
-how you deal with suffering
-the last ultimate freedom – “They could hurt my body.. but not hurt me”
-Conclusion: You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfilment

#2 Begin with the end in mind: Leadership Habit

-write you value system
-top line – what is it that we’re fundamentally about?
-dont tie yourself to history but to potential

#3 First thing first: Management Habit

-manage things but LEAD people. Dont manage people.
-can take control of time and events – as seeing how they relate to you mission
-reorganizing your life around your mission and then having the discipline to make it happen
-important vs urgent – must act upon it. Ringing phone.
-QUADRANTS: IMPORTANT (See Diagram Above)
Quadrant 1: urgent + important
Quadrant 2: not urgent + important: exercise, reading, relationships, education, etc
Quadrant 3: urgent + not important
Quadrant 4: not urgent + not important

PERSONALITY HABITS

#4 Think Win-Win
-agree to communicate until “we can find a solution we both feel good about”
-create new options – new alternatives

#5 Seek First to Understand… Then to be Understood
-Example: Try – “let me listen to you first”
-As opposed to the “collective monologue/ dialogue of the deaf”
-first listen – then talk

#6 Creative Synergy
-Creative solutions
-compromise = 1+1 = 1.5
-synergy = 1+1 = 5
-better solutions than alone
-authority vs martyrdom – win-lose or lose-win
-create Win-win OR no deal
-if we cannot get to win win – then lets go for no deal
-approach synergy with an abundance mentality

#7 Self Renewal: Sharpening the Saw
-Review and renew – teach then live

Common sense is NOT common practice

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You can purchase Covey’s book here
And watch a great little video about “The Big Rocks” here

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