Half frame mania. Starring the 150.

This is the rig.  The EPL1 with the Pen (film) 150mm f4.  I got a call from my friend, Keith, asking me to meet for lunch and knowing that he's into the new Olympus Pen cameras I looked through one of the drawers in my equipment cabinet and pulled out a lens to share with him.  I'm not sure the exact year I got my hands on this beauty.....probably in the mid-1980's....but the glass is incredibly clean and the lens looks like it's never been on a camera.  After lunch we headed out to a local museum to play around with out respective cameras.  He brought a very serious Nikon D3x with one of the Nikon Shift lenses and I played the eccentric outsider, bringing the above rig and popping a 38mm f1.8 Pen (film) lens in my pocket.

One of the amazing things about the whole micro four thirds revolution, as presented by Panasonic and Olympus, is the very short distance from the lens mount flange to the sensor in the camera bodies.  This allows people to make adapters for just about any lens from any maker whose lens was designed for a deeper distance between flange and film or flange and silicon.  There are currently adapters that will allow you to use Nikon, Canon, Contax G, Contax N, Leica M, Leica R, Olympus e series and OM series and Pentax K mount lensesFotodiox Lens Mount Adapter, Olympus PEN F Lens to Micro 4/3 Four Thirds System Camera Mount Adapter, Olympus PEN E-P1, PEN E-P2, PEN E-PL1, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, GH1, G1, G2, without restriction on the the EP series and the G series cameras.  I originally bought into the new Pen system just so I could use my old Pen film lenses.
So here's my Pen to Pen adapter ring.  It's a whopping $60, which I think is pretty fair given the limited market and the machining required.  When I ordered the adapter ring I didn't have high hopes for the lens performance and I admit I proceeded out of nostalgia more than common sense.  I figured that the normal focal lengths would be pretty good but I though even those would struggle given all the advances that have occurred in lens coatings, CNC machining, optical resins and other cool, technical stuff.  I thought the longer lenses would especially show their age given the advances in ED glass and other tech.  I'll admit that I brought the 150mm along to lunch to tweak my friend given our usual repartee about the sheer poundage of gear he sometimes schlepps around.  After all, the 150mm Pen lens is the equivalent of a 300mm Nikon at 1/5th the size and weight.
A size comparison.  The 38mm Pen versus the Nikkor 50mm 1.2 with its e system conversion adapter.

After a great lunch we headed off to shoot for an hour or so and to compare notes about the new 24mm Nikon TS lens, mounted on a D3x and playing with live view.  Keith is more diligent than I so he took the lead and set up some interesting test shots.  I stumbled around and played with the EPL and the Pen 150.  When I started chimping my shots on the back screen I changed my mind about the older lenses.  

This is an interesting lens.  It's a 50mm to 90mm f3.5 (constant aperture) zoom.  Stop it down to 5.6 and it's really very good.  (above).
We love to talk about pocketable cameras but this is a seriously pocketable 20mm f3.5.  You could actually (but uncomfortably) have a three lens system of old Pen lenses that could fit in the pocket of a pair of relaxed fit Dockers.  If you were willing to wear the Dockers.....
This was the first shot of the day.  I'm stuck in lunch rush traffic on Bee Caves Road.  I shoot some cars through my windshield with the 150 f4.  I wonder why that always freaks out the other drivers.......

So, here's Keith with the power rig:  D3x, Hoodman Loupe, 24mm TSe,  and a pretty cool cap.  He's the kind of photographer I admire because he's out testing his gear and getting comfortable with it BEFORE heading out to a job or off on the trip of a lifetime.  He gets that it takes time and practice to make the hands and brain work together to make great shots.  This is shot with the 150mm at about 15 feet, wide open.  We're in open shade.  I won't show you Keith's shots, that's bad marketing for me....
So while Keith is mastering the Scheimpflug law and the intricacies of lenses that can change their focal plane and move their nodal centers all around I was wandering around shooting things with bright colors.  All of these shots are done with the 150mm lens, handheld, using the A setting on the EPL.  I kept a close eye on the max shutter speed and now I officially want the next camera to go all the way to 1/8000th of a second!
I think you'll agree that the performance is pretty straight forward.  No huge flares, no softness and no weird color casts.  Considering how small and light this puppy is I can see including it in my standard, fine art travel package......
For those for whom the desire for Bokeh is all consuming I present the repeating background, out of focus objects at our widest aperture.  I burned sage as I was shooting this and contemplated sacrificing a small animal in order that the Ephors could divine the len's mystic Bokeh potential but I was short of goats and time.  I'll leave the interpretation of the optic's Bokeh to the more adept........  I like the light bulb.  It's shiny.
Of course,  all the rational critics on DPReview and other sites are absolutely correct:  It is impossible to throw the background of any photograph out of focus unless you are using a "full frame" camera!  I'll keep trying.  
I'm not sure why but there's one website where they review cameras and lenses and they always shoot pictures of gritty rocks to prove or disprove the attributes of their gear under test.  I guess little gritty stuff shows off sharpness or lack thereof.  All I know is that this is what I got, handheld, with the 150mm at its closest focusing distance.
As we left the museum, Keith pointed out these little flowers to me.  I thought I'd shoot em and see if I could drum up any Chromatic Abberation.  Any purple halos.  Any red or green outlines.  Nope.  Just flowers.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe this 40 year old lens is better than most of the consumer type zooms people are racing around with.  The downside of this lens?  It doesn't autofocus......

A request:  If you've read my fourth book:  Photographic Lighting Equipment, would you be kind enough to write a glowing, intriguing review over on Amazon.com?  Of course, if you didn't think it was a very good book you are probably far too busy with other stuff to write a review......

Thanks.  Kirk

Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital PhotographersPhotographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers


A wonderfully succint thought about art.

Just saw this quote on a friend's site and thought it sums up everything very well.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." Albert Einstein


Dream. A MidSummer's Night Dream.

I dragged myself back from my project in east Texas and I was amazed how beat up I felt from racking up the miles on endless stretches of Texas Interstate and the cobweb of secondary highways that criss-cross our great state.  I'd put my eye to camera in service of commerce and I was ready for some down time.  Some camera fun.  I went to Eeyore's Birthday party, which is usually my favorite raucous hippy event of the Spring but somehow  I got fixated on the idea of disappearing subtlety in modern culture and it soured me on the whole thing.  One photographer in particular, in a stereotypic black t-shirt, dripping sweat, was pushing and shoving to get through a throng of party-goers so he could cover the ongoing dancing with the feverish intensity of a journalist confronted with the unfolding assassination of a world leader.  Thrusting his long zoom into the faces of young girls and grizzled old men alike he became his own theater of the absurd.  In days past we would have picked the right tool for the job.  A Leica M?  A Nikon FM with a demure 50?  In modern times perhaps the stealthy but effective Olympus Pen EP-2.  Very understated.  There were perfectly well behaved photographers there as well........ But I digress.

I was looking for photo fun and while you don't always get what you want, if you try sometime you get what you need.  My fun arrived disguised as a request to have me shoot a dress rehearsal for a play in the park.

Every Summer the Austin Shakespeare Theater puts on a production in the Hillside Theater at Zilker Park.  There's something wonderfully timeless about watching the modern interpretation of Shakespeare's work while sitting under the stars on a soft Spring night.  A person you are fond of next to you on a blanket.  Maybe a bottle of wine tucked into your bag.  This year, to my delight, the production they selected was, A MidSummer's Night Dream.  But it was done in a wonderful, modern fashion, complete with a great band and plenty of Austin style panache and humor.

The rehearsal was Sunday evening.  We got off to a bad start with a fried lighting board but we soldiered on with good humor.  I shot the play with two cameras.  Both Olympus.  I used the e30 with both of the fast, f2 lenses.
The 35-100 f2 (which is the equivalent of a 70-200mm in 35mm circles) and the wonderfully underrated 14-35mm f2 (which mimics the standard 28-70 zooms for larger formats).

Around my neck I wore my little Olympus EPL Pen camera.  The newest and cheapest of the breed.  I left the little zoom and the cute Panasonic lenses at home and brought the old film Pen lens I've come to respect, the 60mm 1.5.  Yes, a real f 1.5 made specifically to cover this exact format.  I expect my copy was put together in the late 1960's or early 1970's and it's still as smooth as butter.  The look is different but I really love the whole experience of shooting with this combo.  I used the zooms when I needed specific angles of view and I used the Pen F lens when I felt the call.

If you look through the photos you'll be able to tell pretty quickly which camera they came from.  The ones from the Pen start with the letter sequence KEPL..... While the files from the e30 start with K3.

I used both the cameras at ISO's ranging from 800 to 1600 but I mostly stuck around 1600.  Can you see noise?  At 100% there is a bit of chroma noise.   But it's balanced by the way the two zooms bite in and the way the prime owns the frame.  The prime (60mm) falls apart pretty quickly when you start to pixel peep but I have a routine solution for that which might help anyone afflicted by similar noise problems. ...... don't look at stuff too close.  Life is noisy--it's okay.  I could probably fix the noise in PS but in final use no one will look beyond the image itself.  Some of us care about noise, but not the general public.  To them the photo either works or it doesn't.  In reality, it's only the special effects that get called out.  If you do fun work all they see is the fun.

This file came from the e30 with the 14-35mm f2 lens.  You might not be able to see it well enough on the web but it was shot at f2.5, almost wide open, and the actor on the right is wickedly sharp.  But even more fun, the color tones and the general tonality of the shot are perfect, even though this was shot as a jpeg under stage lights!

My technique is pretty simple.  I chose wide open or close to wide open apertures.  If one person was the important subject I used f2 or f2.5.  If the shot had more than one person and I wanted a wider zone of focus I would shift to 2.8 or at the most f3.5.  Nothing smaller than that.   It's a small production company and the lights aren't as plentiful or as powerful as the lights we use at Zach shoots but the e30 handled the focusing without breaking a sweat.  Most of the exposures were some variation on the theme of 2.5 at 1/125th @ 1600 ISO.   I use manual exposure and I spot meter.  I try to be aware of light changes.  I chimp when I think it's necessary----but never for expression, always for basic light values.

With the EPL I was stepping back about two decades to the time in which we shot dress rehearsals with Leica M cameras.  I used the EPL and the 60mm as a totally manual tool.  The exposure and the focus were Kirk Kontrolled©
But it was a bit of a cheat since I could watch the image on the EVF and fine tune as I shot.

Next time I'll bring two Pens and do the whole thing with vintage lenses because I really liked the look.  Sharp but not too contrasty.

The gear was secondary to the experience.  I was in front of a group of actors committed to their craft.  No contingent of photographers leaping onto the stage to capture the "news in a flash" moment.  We were all engaged in what we loved and the whole process flowed.  I went home at the evening with 10 gigs of files and a feeling of refreshment and invigoration.

We had a folder full of selections ready before lunchtime and on television by the end of the day.  I got to test the limits of the Pen Cameras and, truthfully, I was impressed.

If you decide to shoot a dress rehearsal leave your flash and your ego at home.  Dress in black.  Move smoothly in front of the stage.  Try to have a feeling for the arc of the story you're recording.  Look for moments and gestures that resonate with you and they will resonate for the people who view your work. But I guess my biggest advice is to discard the role of casual voyeur and embrace the role as a member of the production team.
Because then it will be easier to serve the actual purpose.....to propel the show into the consciousness of the general public. Someone reminded me this week that I've been shooting theater productions here in Austin for 17 years.  I still learn tons of  stuff on each show because each production is so different.

At least in spirit, join in the dance.
Be like the character, Puck, and try not to take anything to seriously.
Do photography with passion.
Don't posture or make an ass of yourself.
And try not to get carried away.

If you have a theater or dance company in your town doing images for them is a great way to fine tune your skill set as a photographer.   Timing, exposure, focus and predicting the immediate future.  It's all there and chances are good that they need you too.

The play starts this week (April 29th, 30th and May 1st ) and continues through the end of the month.  It is free to the public and here's more info for the Austin readers: http://austinshakespeare.org/drupal/


The classic desert island question: Which lens?

It's easy for me to pick a focal length.  I choose 100mm or the 35mm equivalent.  On my old Hasselblad that meant the 180mm f4.  It's a lens I still miss even though I sold my copy nearly ten years ago.  On an Olympus 4:3rd's camera, like the e30, it's resolutely the 50mm Macro.  Or the equivalent focal length on my 35-100mm zoom.  I the Nikon system it's a toss up between the 105mm f2 DC lens and the old but incredible 105 2.5.  The lens I like on the Canon is the standard 100 f2.  But all of those choices are easy ones for me because I know I love the focal length.  I can't seem to get away from my need to cut away background and focus in on my subjects.  The real question is,  if I could only choose one (and my accountant tells me that after last year's business performance I might want to start making choices....) which one would I rescue from the sinking ship?  The easy answer is the Hasselblad 180.  But reality tells me that film is fading away from the market and, additionally, once the old V bodies are gone there will never be another camera system to use the same mount.  I'd like to cheat and choose a lens that will be usable with future cameras, if possible.

That narrows it down a bit.  I love the Olympus 50mm f2 and I think it may be the sharpest of the other lenses but......it's slow to focus and I'm waiting to see the future roadmap.  Will they make a version that focuses like lightning on a m4:3rd body?  That's what I'd love to see.  The lustre still hasn't worn off of my little Olympus Pens and I'm still totally fascinated by how attracted I am to the previewable nature of the EVF's.  That leaves me with the two big boys:  Canon and Nikon.  And I have to admit it would be a toss up.  If I chose Nikon I would go with the 105 2.5 because it doesn't have the weaselly "G" configuration and that means I could use it on just about any camera body out there with the right adapter.  I could stick it on a Nikon D3x for those clients who need relentless megapixels and I could stick it on the Pen EPL when I just want to have fun.

The plus for all the older, manual focus, Nikon lenses is how great they are when used as "cine" lenses.  The focus ring is more linear than that of AF lenses and allows one to do a good rack focus.  I can still use it on my old Nikon F, as well.

Edit: Monday April 29th.  2:03 PM.  I should have been more clear.  It is a desert Island (whatever that means) but it is not deserted.  There are a bevy of supermodels,  several chefs and a crew of attendants.  We were shipwrecked and you were able to swim ashore holding one lens out of the salt water.  All the necessary cameras (sans lenses) washed ashore in a Pelican Case.  A cargo plane previously crashed on the Island with cases and cases of fine wines and interesting foods.  Miraculously the refrigeration unit is still functioning and will continue for several years given the solar panels and storage batteries that were also on the plane.............add your own restrictions to the story as necessary.

The Canon 100 f2 is faster and the autofocus works well on most of their professional cameras.  Not so great for crossing over to m4:3rds.....

I was going to write off the Leica M lenses because of the paucity of bodies for digital but now, with all the adapters to m4:3rd I'm playing with those too.  While the 90 Apo Summicron may be the sharpest of all that alone makes it a bit less practical for me as a portrait lens.

Enough.  If you were constrained to shoot with one lens what would it be?  And what camera would you put it on?

To make this sensible let's disqualify all zoom lenses if your intention is their flexibility.  If you truly believe that a particular zoom (at a particular focal length) gives you just the right look then go ahead and tell me that.

Anybody game?


Your favorite shooting destination.

A balmy August day at Barton Springs Pool. Austin, Texas  2008.  sony r1 camera.

So, we're closing in on 200 posts.  Probably get there by the end of the week.  You guys know a lot about me but I know next to nothing about most of you.  I wish we could just sit around at Threadgill's bar or at the Mean Eyed Cat and have a drink and get synced up. But some of you live in India, some in Florida and other spots around the world.  But I think the one thing that gives me insight into other people is to hear where they would go to shoot if they weren't on assignment,  didn't have to pay for the airfare and didn't have to drag their families along.

If you'd like to let me (and 350 or so other people) know about a cool location you could always post it as a comment, appended to this blog.  I'd love to know about places that other people think are cool or powerful.  And I'd especially like to know about places that are fun to shoot.

Let it rip.  Be our Google Earth! (Google Earth is a registered trademark...)

Thanks, Kirk

Why you shouldn't run your life like a business....

image of an actor portraying the famous Louisiana governor, Huey Long, for Zach Scott Theater.  Hasselblad 201f, 150mm 2.8 Zeiss lens.  

When I was young I never thought about money.  There was always enough.  Never too much.  Only rarely did I long for something I couldn't afford.  I was happy chasing beautiful women, eating euphorically great Tex Mex food and sleeping on a futon on the floor of my small downtown studio.  (Now we would call this a "live/work space").  I stayed in school at UT for nearly ten years if you count the teaching jobs.  And I certainly wasn't thinking about the money as I abandoned electrical engineering for English literature and then for photography.

What I was thinking about is how to make photographs.  And why to make photographs.  And how to enjoy my working life.  Even though it seems harder to make money in photography now I know that there is a flip side to that perception.  It may be that now I've had the inertia of hundreds or thousands of people in my life who either tell me directly or thru their actions that making money is vitally important, being a "smart" businessman is vitally important,  that dying rich is mission critical.  And for a moment I started giving in to the inertia.  I started to believe the upscale, white bread vision of the American Dream.

Thankfully, this blog, which generates no real money and sucks down hours of time delivered me a left handed gift in the guise of a reader who suggested that I run my business in a way that makes sense.  He read about the death of my favorite umbrella on yesterday's blog offering and took me to task for not taking an assistant with me everywhere.  No matter what the logistics of a shoot the entourage trumps my comfort and my "working methodology".  He went on to say that my belief in focusing on my portrait subject with all my conscious intention, and not being distracted by other people, and not letting my portrait subject be distracted by other people was "BS".  And I don't think he meant, "Bachelor of Science".  This is not meant to be a spiteful rejoinder to his well intentioned (I assume) post but as a paean to Hunter S. Thompson and the spirit of having fun in your own special way.  All fictional, of course.

So, according to the great, homogenized business plan of universal commercial photography a smart businessman would have an assistant at his side in every shoot.  Ready to lunge for falling light stands and take one for the team, when necessary.  To sweeten the pot I get the unalloyed joy of spending all my waking hours in the presence of said assistant.  They are to provide me chauffeur services when I get all noddy-offy.  And I'm sure I can look forward to hours of lively conversation about all sorts of things that twenty somethings are interested in during the endless dinners, lunches, breakfasts and coffee breaks we'll be taking together.  Sounds worse than dating and I've succeeded in avoiding that particular pleasure for over thirty years now.

But, indeed, this would be a smart business thing to do.  I can picture it now:  Yukio, all dressed in assistant black with tattoos , and I, are heading down farm to market road 123 in north Texas.  Yukio is at the wheel and is a picture of intensity.  The lines on the road whip by like the bullets in the Matrix.  Scenery? Screw the scenery! We're on fire.  I've got an iPhone in one hand and a laptop in the other.  I'm manically calling my clients every five minutes to check in.  When I'm not calling the clients I'm calling suppliers trying to bargain down their pricing to maximize our profit.  I'm on one call when the other phone rings.  It's my broker.  They need an answer right away.  Back to the first phone with my broker on hold and I'm speed dialing my attorney to make sure that the insider information I got from yesterday's client won't land me in hot water if I short a butt load of that client's stock before the closing bell.  We resolve that and I look over at Yukio.  She's in the zone.  We're making good time.  She's holding the Element right at 105 (mph).   At this rate we'll get paid for a travel day and a shooting day all in the same day.  To maximize profit.  Yukio hasn't slept in days.  I keep putting amphetamines in her coffee.  Makes her much more efficient.  And a much faster driver.

West coast should be awake now so I start dialing anyone who will listen to me.  The prices went up on a bunch of stuff I bought last week, some Canon stuff, and I haven't had it shipped to me yet but I'll probably sell it at a profit to some guy in LA who needs it bad and can't find the cool stuff in stock.  Is it wrong for me to screw the whole market and corner needed gear, selling it a week later at a much higher price?  Naw.  Gotta keep moving relentlessly forward.  Like a shark.  Or with Yukio, like a whole school of sharks.

We stop at a small gas station in Armpit, Texas to scrounge up Red Bulls and No Doze.  I notice Yukio shaking violently and think this can't be a good thing.  When she heads to the restroom I start dialing replacement assistants just in case.  Yukio comes back looking refreshed and starts crying when I offer to drive for a while.  She's out cold on an equipment case in the back, seconds later.

I stop a bit later with the intention of running into a Starbuck's for a quad shot latte and I wonder if I should wake Yukio.  Who am I kidding? It's been so long since I've carried my own coffee to the car I wouldn't know how to do it.  And I'm not very good with the lids on top either.

We stop in Texarkana where I've agreed to do an evening shoot in return for a slightly higher fee.  Yukio and I sleep walk through this one.  You gotta hand it to the assisting school the Yuk-ster attended.  She can dive for a falling light stand like no one I've seen.  I have her set up ten or so lights to impress the client and, at the end of the evening when I get bored I randomly knock them over to see just how many Yukio can handle under pressure.  Haven't lost one in months.

My turn to nap in the car while we drive on toward Dallas.  I wake up to find that we're somewhere west of El Paso and the engine is on fire.  I leave it all to Yukio while I sun bathe next to the interstate to build up my reserves of vitamin D.  Don't know how she pulled it off but apparently we've (she's) loaded all of the gear into a minivan that she commandeered at gunpoint and we're racing off to catch up with Dallas. We toss a couple cans of Red Bull to the elderly couple whose minivan we're borrowing so they don't get too dehydrated while walking across the desert.

I'm bored with the music I brought along on my cheap MP3 player (can't buy an iPod.  Not a sound biz decision) and I pout for a few minutes till I remember that I have an assistant in tow and I force her at gunpoint to start singing Beatles tunes for me while I cold call on the phone and look over some spread sheets I got from my business coach.  Real estate, baby.  All counterintuitive.

We make it to our location with minutes to spare and I watch with awe as Yukio loads the equipment cart high.  It would be easier on her if I could make up my mind but, because of the perilous nature of my business I require her to bring all four brands of lights I worship,  and three brands of cameras into each location so I can decide based on the spiritual vibes of the space.  What's six hundred pounds between friends.  No, scratch that.  Between employer and freelance contractor, uncovered by insurance or tax withholding.  Magnanimous photographer that I am I do hold the elevator door so that it doesn't crunch that bag of my favorite lenses.

It's a portrait shot and we've done thousands of these before but for the life of me I just can't make up my mind.  Six lights?  Ten lights?  Double backgrounds?  I leave vague instructions for my assistant and wander off to find the client and some coffee.  My client is a bit concerned because she's sure we discussed the exact lighting set up on the phone and in e-mails.  She even produces drawings of the intended shots which she claims to have sent me weeks ago.  I do what any self-respecting photographer might do.  I blame Yukio.  I dress her down right there in front of client and camera.  She doesn't mind, she knows that every once in a while everyone has to take one for the team.  As long as it's not me.  I gobble down a few Xanax to offset the coffee jitters.  Thank God for chemistry.

I'm on the phone with another client and Yukio is skimming Craig's List looking for a new job when the CEO of the company we're working for comes in.  He's ready to be photographed and he's like a beige bowling ball with a shiny, sweaty complexion.  No problem, Yukio will take care of that in a heartbeat. She's the Swiss Army Knife (TM) of assistants.  Ready to powder a "glistener" in a heartbeat.
Thank God I've got an assistant in the room because I haven't got a clue which direction we're shooting in.  All looks and feels the same to me.  She gets me lined up and ready.  Focuses the camera and sets the exposure.  We shoot.  She stands behind me making faces and twitches, staring at the client to get his attention.  We have a strict rule:  the client should never directly engage the camera.  It's the assistant's duty to distract them into a more natural pose and expression.

Just as we're about to pull off the perfect shot the power in the building goes off.  Not a problem,  the crafty and enterprising Y pulls a contraption that looks like an exercise bike out of one of our cases and sets it up.  On either side of the back wheel is a heavy grey casing that looks a lot like a car generator.  She plugs the power packs into the contraption then gets on the bicycle seat and starts peddling like Lance Armstrong running from the French.  She's sweating buckets but the packs are back up and recycling.  We finish shooting the CEO and as the last frame gets saved to the CF card my assistant falls to the floor, insensate.  She's inarticulate for a while.  Then we dowse her with a bucket of cold water and she comes to.  Just in time,  there's packing to be done and a bucket's worth of cold water to sponge up off the client's floor.

Looking back, we've billed three shooting days and two travel days in the space of two 24 hour days.  I wonder if I could be more efficient with a second assistant.  Seems counter productive but both Madonna and Oprah have larger entourages and they are far wealthier than me.  Seems like it's worth a shot.  Can I keep up this pace?  Will Pfizer and Sandofi keep making interesting chemicals?  Will the coffee run out?

Then,  I wake up with a start from this bad dream and realize that the assistant thing is an acquired taste.  And every photographer has a different comfort zone within which to work.  I don't mind coming early to set up.  I don't mind having dinner alone.  I'm okay handling most stuff. I don't have an iPhone.  I cherish my time writing and thinking.  I think I'll leave things just the way they are.  In the days of digital assistants are for big productions, or complex stuff.

Now,  when  it comes to post processing, Yukio and I handle it so well we've already post processed the stuff we're going to shoot next year.

To bring the whole blog back around to the beginning I have an observation to make:  When I actively think about doing things to make money stuff rarely  works out.  I do my due diligence. I send contracts. I follow up.  But when I focus on money as the reward everything always goes south.  When I enjoy the process or the challenge, when I love what I do, the money rolls in.  The more I desire the less I get.  The less I desire the more I get.  So, by that logic, if I desire nothing I'll get it all.  Whatever.  I just like the feel of a camera in my hand and a project in front of me.

Business note:  The IRS is busy redefining contract workers, employer obligations and YOUR tax obligations to contractors whom they may (almost certainly) classify as regular workers.  They (assistants) do work under your direction, with your tools and all the stuff that serves as a litmus test for who is an employee. If you think that freelance assistants are vital to your business you owe it to yourself to check with an attorney who is very familiar with payroll issues so that you don't wind up getting a big, unintended consequence in the pursuit of photographic business practices from the film days.......