9.13.2011

Professional photographers always use..................yadda, yadda, yadda.



The people on photographic forums are really nice people but they don't always have the story straight.  A lot of people learned stuff about photography that might have been true in the days of steam powered cameras but has lost its relevance in modern times.  There's also a mental glitch that translates stories or anecdotal events into facts and rules of thumb.  To wit:  All pros use full frame cameras! (No.)  All pros use big lights. (No.)  All pros use f2.8 zooms. (No.)  All Pros use Nikon or Canon. (No.)  All pros shoot raw. (No.)  All advertising clients demand 1. High res tiffs,  2. 120megabyte files, 3. L-series lenses. 4.  The highest resolution cameras on the market.  5. Kickbacks.  6.  Profoto lighting gear.  7.  Alien Bees lighting gear.  8.  Unlimited usage rights.  9. Ultra high sharpness.  10.  A perfect image every time.  (no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.)  All book publishers demand super high res files. (chuckle).  All cookbooks are done with Medium Format digital cameras.  All pros are abandoning  Olympus, Sony, Pentax, (fill in the blank) cameras.  My favorite of today, "All pros get their cameras free from the camera companies!!!"  I wish that was true.  My wife wishes that true even more.

Let's see,  the cover of the book above was shot with an Olympus camera and some really cool Olympus lenses but the real story is the inside stuff.  Mostly there are images of equipment and some lighting set ups.  Many, if not most, of the shots were done with a Canon G10 compact camera.  My publisher has done hundreds and hundreds of books and his staff are experts in color printing.  No one had a single complaint and, in fact, I doubt anyone could tell which shots were done with the small camera and which ones were done on a large camera.

We tend to take technique more seriously when using serious cameras but BUT if you take the time to put a G10, G11, G12, LX-3, LX-4 or some other well made compact camera on a tripod, light well and shoot at the minimum ISO you'll have great images.  Well worth putting in a book to illustrate concepts.  And you may find that the increased depth of field is a blessing, not a curse.  Especially when shooting products.

I love the perennial questions about which brand of electronic flash lights are "the" professional brand to buy.  Like DSLR cameras today, most are pretty darn good regardless of the price.  I recently wrote about dumping a fifteen year accumulation of Profoto gear and replacing it with cheap Elinchrom D-Lites.  The new lights are 1/2 the weight of my older monolights and less than 1/3rd the cost.  They're plastic.  Do I care?  About as much as I care whether the harddrive casing on my desk HD is plastic.  Hardly matters.  Will the Elinchroms be as sturdy?  I'm not sure.  We'll find out.  But I'm guessing that most photographers are flying a lot less frequently than they did before the recession hit so maybe their lights won't spend quite so much time in the hands of the baggage savages.  Maybe that will even out the MTBF........

By the way.  We did another shoot with the new lights today and the art director didn't notice any changes.  The lights flashed.  The image on the screen looked great.  That's all that mattered.  It's not like Profoto is a household name outside the arena of working professionals and gear geeks.  And if there is a hierarchy isn't Broncolor on the top?  I can't keep up....because we don't need to keep up.  1/10th of a stop control and 1/5000th of second t.05 flash durations are rarely issues in making headshots or shooting a group shot of the swim team.

I meet a lot of people who've decided to become professional photographers as I do workshops, speak at Expos and go to lecture at classes in three colleges and one university, locally.  And to a person they are all different.  No denying there are a lot of Canon and Nikon users but that goes with the market share.  The interesting people seem to be the ones who gravitate to outlier cameras.  A huge number of people are still shooting film and loving it.  Five or six friends recently followed me down the rabbit hole of shooting with Hasselblads.  My friend Paul is rocking a Hasselblad Digital body and a case full of Hasselblad lenses.  Agnes bought a pinhole camera and keeps selling prints to art collectors.  My favorite street shooters are using m4:3rd cameras and Nex cameras.  Alex Majoli used a compact Olympus to cover the early parts of the war in Iraq.   

I was on a forum where one old pro was roasting an Australian photographer.  Didn't think she had technique worth a crap.  Don't know what camera she was using but I do know she's a marketing gladiator and she's found a market for her stuff.  She's obviously resonated with her customers. We're all so different.  Our customers are all so different.  That's how we stay in business.

And for some of us the choice of cameras is tied up with a nostalgia for either a better time or at least a less hectic time.  Shooting film for me harkens back to the days when clients could wait a day or two to see the results.  When a long lunch was more important than ultra efficient post processing.  Incidentally, I shot part of a job on Thurs. with the film cameras and the client didn't get to see the images until Monday.  She held a few pages of transparencies up to the office window, chose three frames in less than 90 seconds and asked for scans. She loved the process.  She loved the look of the images. No time wasted importing and key wording and color correcting and converting from raw to jpeg and uploading and making a gallery on Smugmug and sending links and all that other "butt expanding" computer work.  We shot, we dropped, we picked up on the way into downtown and that was it.  Metatag?  It's written in Sharpie on the archival page sleeves......

Even though there are infinite styles and points of view in photography, "professional" is a word with just one meaning:  "I make money from my work."  Professional doesn't define the work it merely defines the business relationship.  Now go out and shoot with something fun.  If you can sell the work for money you just used a professional camera.  

Professional Color?  Why not.  If that's your vision.....
Bet that machine was made in 1955.  Still makes money for its owner.  Don't you wish you could buy something worthwhile and keep it for 60 years?  Maybe that's the real mark of good tools.  Longevity and the experience gained working with it..

Maybe today is a Holga day.  Naw, probably a Linhof day.  Either way something interesting might happen.

19 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

Let me say it one word Fuji GF670 MF or maybe a few words.

Wess Gray said...

Kirk,

Love the "Heidelberg" photograph. A couple of years ago I started my "personal projects" series with a portrait of an old school printer with one. If you are interested, www.wessgray.com under "personal projects", "the last ....". Thanks for your diligence.

Wess

Anonymous said...

Love it! Makes me think of the guys that spend $6000 on a mountain bike and are still terrible riders. It's not the latest and greatest "insert item here" you purchased that makes you good, it's what's in between your ears that really matters.

Anonymous said...

hey that's a heidelberg "windmill" letterpress ---- we still have one in our commercial printshop.
yes it is over 60 years old and still runs. And they sure don't make 'em like that anymore.

kman

Every photographer with half an eye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kirk tuck said...

All people who insult the blog owner will have their comments stripped from the blog. We don't offer this service in order to be abused by the less mentally gifted.

Thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill D said...

Just curious, those chromes you shot and referred to that were chosen , were they shot in MF ?

kirk tuck said...

Bill, Yes. I was shooting city landscapes to be used as background for exec portraits we're shooting here in the studio. Keeps the execs out of the heat and away from traffic....

Provia F ISO 100 medium format transparency film in a Hasselblad mostly with an 80mm and a 120mm lens. Standard development. Scans nicely.

kirk tuck said...

The second deleted comment was a rabid defense of me by another reader, in response to the jerky comment I trashed above. Just a note. I can take care of myself. But thanks.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog almost daily. Not for the photography though. After 20 years of practice I am probably the world worst photographer! Your wonderful and inspiring attitude towards life keeps me coming back.

Mel said...

Professional = make money. Makes sense in any endeavor. Means people see something of value in the work they are willing to trade for something of value from their work.

I am curious, though. Have you found any situation where the gear is the limiting factor; i.e., you had to have some particular equipment in order to deliver just what the client wanted. And how did you learn that was necessary and how to adapt to it?

Keep blogging - it's great to see another mind at work!

atmtx said...

Kirk, I just love these posts where you stir up the pot a little bit. I know you do this to make a point based on years of experience. There tends to be a lot of group-think on the net and it's very refreshing to get different opinions especially from someone that has a solid body of work to their name.

I wonder how many people that post mean spirited comments actually post their work?

As for me I use Canon, Sony and Olympus right now. They are all good in their own way. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I haven't made the jump to film just yet but just give me some time.

Bold Photography said...

Mmm... provia....

Mike said...

Can you elaborate more on the beautiful architectural shot? Those colors really speak to me. Film or digital? Love it either way.

'/1nc3nt said...

I love the Photograph of the old Heidelberg Machine.

Remembers me to the good old times of my parent's printing office. All the German printing machine sounds in synch and beautiful in our ears.
Unfortunately it was shut down after my dad's death.

Just like in photography business. Computer based printing and typesetting changed the whole perspective and turn a very lucrative business into a sad, competitive commodity in a decade.

Preston said...

That photo of the Heidelberg "windmill" press brought back some memories! My father bought one for his printing company about 1950 and we used it for some 50 years. An interesting aspect of this press is the arm with "Original Heidelberg" stamped on it. That is an on/off switch that turned the press off by rotating the arm upwards. As a point of interest, I think every "windmill" press I ever saw had this front panel taped, braised, or otherwise "re-attached" to the control rod because the pres operator would inevitably rest against the panel and break it. Here is a picture of our Windmill in 1960. The arm was intact at that point, but it succumbed several years dater.

Preston said...

Hmm. Looks like my HTML skills failed me. Try this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24804363@N00/6155386145/sizes/l/in/set-72157600670946040/

Wally Brooks said...

Well Said! A quote I heard: Leica Smeica go out and shoot pictures!
I think I will drag out, yes its work to carry that much gear, my 4X5 field camera and go shoot some B&W film and then tomorrow afternoon its speed lights, pocket wizards, bounce card, and and umbrellas to shoot the grand kids with the camera in manual mode!