6.08.2010

Taking a mental vacation to the islands.

Belinda under the Jamaican Skies.

Obsessing about your job is a quick way to make life suck.  Letting go of job-session is a quick route back to happiness.  Over the last couple of years our industry has been pummeled like an ugly pinata at a teenage birthday party.  We've heard that stock photography will eat our lunches.  We've seen that clients under duress have the loyalty of a Goldman Sachs executive.  And we've been beat over the head with the concept that legions of amateur photographers will steal our clients (the same feckless clients) and undercut us by working for free.  Well.  What a special and happy way to look at your chosen profession. (sarcasm intended).

I'm not buying any of it anymore.  We're in full mercenary mode at Casa de Kirk Tuck Photography.  No mercy, no prisoners.  But we're doing it by re-inventing reality to suit our disposition.  The rules going forward are simple:  Provide a great product and provide it at a fair price.  If someone wants it cheaper, say, "No."   If no one wants the product then take the day off and work on one of those long term, big payoff, personal projects.  Part of the new reality is that we've got existence and subsistence covered and we're only working for the gravy anyway.  My own European social welfare construct on an individual and self directed basis.

So today a job got postponed.  No worries.  I had lunch with a wonderful art director instead.  We even had beer at lunch!  I swam at the pool this morning.  I'm writing a blog now.  And I'm going on vacation in my mind, remembering all the fun places I get sent....just because  I am a photographer.  

The image above was done on a vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Again, on vacation with a Hasselblad and a 100mm 3.5 planar.  One pocketful of Tri-X.  We'd done a project here a few months earlier and part of our payment was an equal amount of vacation time at the same resort.  We sampled many islands over the course of two or three years,  nearly always with the same bargain.  One week of work in exchange for a fee and a one week of vacation.  And vacation can be a beautiful thing.

So I'm banishing all those negative presumptions and my new reality includes the fact that the phone keeps ringing, the e-mail pinging and the checks arriving like clockwork in the mailbox.  Job postponed?  Off to lunch.  Job cancelled?  Off on vacation.

GEAR NOTE:  I like to keep my friends up to date about what I'm shooting with.  As you may remember I got some feedback from a big agency client a few months back about the need for much higher resolution in my files.  I'd been shooting exclusively with Olympus cameras because I find their lenses to be wonderful and the color palette very attractive.  And to a certain extent I'm enough of a curmudgeon to not want to shoot what everyone else does.......

But I am running a business, I'm not paid by Olympus and I do listen to my clients with the intensity and focus of the Echelon System.  So, knowing that Olympus isn't making any higher resolution cameras right now I added a Canon 5D mark 2 and some lenses.  Decided I could work with the system and started filling in the blanks spots.

I just picked up two pieces last week that I actually like shooting with a lot.  The Canon 7D and the Canon 15-85mm EFS zoom lens.  I'm practicing with them now and I'll be wringing them out at the next few swim meets and then I'll be ready to let you know what I think about them.....

Love the idea of full disclosure.  Just wanted to let you know what's jangling around in my brain and my camera bag today.

8 comments:

Craig said...

I'll be interested to see how you think the 5D Mark II and 7D compare.

kirk tuck said...

Craig, So far I can tell you that I like the sound of the shutter and the general feel of the camera when the shutter goes off better in the 7D than in the 5D. I reach for the 7D first if I'm shooting personal stuff......But we'll see how it all pans out.

Daniel Cormier said...

Weren't you more of a Nikon guy before you sold off a bunch your gear? If so, why did you now pick Canon of Nikon?

kirk tuck said...

Daniel,

I've owned both the systems at one time or another in the film days. I did the Nikon system for the first XX years of the digital revolution and I bore easily. I hadn't owned any of the Canon stuff. I sat down at the store, looked at Canon, Sony and Nikon and did the math. The high res camera (singular) on the market right now from Nikon is $8000. The "just about as good" camera from Canon is $2400. I liked the idea of the 24-105mm lens. And finally, I've been doing video production with a friend, using a Canon 5D2 for most of this year and like the synergy of us both having the same system for projects. The Canon 5D2 shutter is slightly, very slightly, less annoying than the shutter on the D700.

And mostly because I like to learn new stuff.

Ron said...

Kirk,

I bought a 7D as a backup camera to the 5DM2, and now I hardly ever use the 5DM2 anymore. I almost feel like I'm slumming with it. The 7D is much more responsive (and fun), and I don't care if its sensor isn't full-frame. I am just as happy with the 7D images as I ever was with the full-framer, even at ISO 1600. Somehow we got the notion that crop-frame sensors were "incomplete". I think someone needs to come up with a new description that doesn't imply something "less than" a full-frame camera. (Camera manufacturers won't do it.)

By comparison, a full-frame DSLR is no "match" for a Phase One back, so it's pretty pointless anyway. Comparison is no way to measure quality.

Aside from the gear-chat, I read you blog regularly and appreciate the no-nonsense posts, even when you share a viewpoint that most of the blogger-worshipers would shudder at.

I'm inclined to follow your suggestion and pull down the dusty Mamiya off the bookshelf and go find a store that still sells film and take a walk. Wishing I hadn't sold off all the darkroom stuff at that yard sale.....

- Ron

kirk tuck said...

Ron, my brain is rarely wired right for efficiency or good business sense. I agree with you 100% about the two cameras. I pull out that 5d2 when I need maximum res with minimum noise but the 7D is a lot more fun.

Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist said...

A wonderful and healthy approach to work. Having a personal "European social welfare construct on an individual and self directed basis" sounds just fine to me, and I love the idea of "one week for work, one for vacation". Thanks for this great read!

Poagao said...

I've also heard that the 550D is fairly close to the 7D in terms of image quality in a much smaller package. My GF1 nearly matches the files I got from my old 20D. The evolution of these machines on all fronts is amazing. We're truly spoiled for choice as far as tools go.