The absolute worst branding: photographs that "look" professional.

How do I know when my work is in trouble? When it starts to look "very professional." When I look at headshots and all kinds of commercial and retail portraits out in the marketplace I see an endless reworking of older styles, not just from the ages of film but from the times when film was a tough medium to work in and it took real lighting and shooting skills to overcome limited dynamic ranges and a masterful touch to finesse tones and colors into an unforgiving print medium. Some of the lighting ratios that we use in the portraits weren't a reflection of us wanting a "flat" print as much as needing to compensate for the tendency of printing papers to block up shadow tones. And we've carried over these fixes and compromises as part of a codified visual style into recent and even current work. Well, not everyone has. If you work for yourself you are free to create whatever you want. And if you set the style then the details are yours to control and present. There are a number of conventions, the reasons for which I understand, that still drive me a little nuts because they are not honest reactions to the subjects in front of the camera but fulfillments of group think and cultural expectations set back in a different time and a different technical milleau.

A lot of the "rules" are protected by organizations that have outlived their aesthetic reasons to exist. While the PPofA might be a good place to discuss how much to charge for a wedding or how to maximize prints sales from a family portrait shoot, their influence on professional portrait photograph as regards aesthetics is corrosive and manipulates scores of people into preserving a status quo that may, at the same time, be killing the very businesses of the people who follow the intonations and teachings of that particular priesthood. I could cherry pick images off  the web to show you what I mean but that would be cruel. I'm referring to the same kinds of portraits that I've taken a thousand times. Parameters like the four light set up with a main light, a fill light, a hair light and a background light.  The overly perfect pose. The obsessive attention to grooming. The meticulous matching of colors. The perfect gradations--from safe highlights to detail larded shadows. The banal, textured canvas background or the solidly tired solid colored background. Just the right focal length. Just the right distances from the camera to the subject to the background. The ultra smooth skin retouching and sharp lips and eyes.  And always the cloying social correctness of the whole presentation with last century mat boards and thick backings. 

But in my own work, my personal work, I love to see inky shadows that drown detail, and highlights ready to bust out of their relegated area of the histogram. The light I love usually comes from one big source that seems to have a brain of its own and spills around the edges and sneakily pushes just enough juice onto the background to say "hello" in an entirely natural way. And when I say "natural" I mean:  That's a kind of light I see all the time in the real world. It's soft like that when I open my garage door and look back over my shoulder at the face of someone who is following me out into daylight...only they aren't out of the open shade yet. Soft yet directional. Defined but not surgical.

Tastes change and over the last ten years there's been a changing of the guard in the world of portraits. The old school stuff is just about dead and those of us who practiced it; either cynically, knowing it was no longer moving people's marketing or branding or self image forward---or in ignorance of a tidal change away from obvious visual constructions to much more natural and less codified styles-- will go down with the ship unless they take a good, hard look at what's in our portfolios and in our promotional materials and change quickly and sincerely. 

And therein lies the rub. If we knew better all along do we have the balls to be honest now and show stuff to sell now in that personal style which we really liked all along. Do we even get the new way of doing portraits? Are we doomed by our ages and the shackles of long experience to keep doing styles that no one really wants for a market of fellow traditionalist clients which is shrinking every day? I would go further and ask if our acceptance, as consumers, of photo dreck in our own lives means that we're giving a tacit approval to something that looks like it came from the Brady Bunch era. By that I mean to ask, do you buy the package of school prints your kid brings home even though you hate the style and your kid's one stab at expression is.....not up to snuff? You figure it's not that much money and you'll probably send the prints along to grandparents and great uncles who may, in fact, be the last truly appreciative market for those styles. Do you settle for good enough when you know that what you've bought is as dated as the Twinkies you found in that drawer in the tool box in your workshop?

I think the time is long overdue for anyone who wants to create portraits for money to make a hard examination of the kind of work they love to look at and make sure it matches the work they do for money. In fact, I think I'm calling for a wholesale re-imagining of the portrait as a sellable product and re-align it to be a sellable work of art. But to do that we'll have to stop aping the styles of the neighborhood studios from days gone past and start producing work that we really adore. Work that makes us excited. Work that you can hardly wait to post on your social networks.....just to show off what you've done. My personal work is quirky. At least I think it is.... But it's more honest than the main light / hair light / back light / rim light / fill light structure with added amounts of barbie-esque retouching that I sometimes default to out of fear or indecision or in the face of ambiguous direction from clients.

How can I break the bad habits I've amassed because I made the serial mistake of making my work safe over the last decade by making it indistinguishable from the hive mind? And why did I make it safe (homogenous) in the first place? Oh, I remember. The economy collapsed a few times and I wanted to embrace the safety of the herd. So I adapted the kind of looks that I saw in other people's work when I should have been an out-of-touch but stubborn artist instead.

I figured clients had been trained to accept flash photography as the lingua franca of our business so I started lighting with speedy lights even though I knew I liked the languorous effects of soft, continuous lights. I took the coward's way out and conformed to best practices which is code for "don't blame me, that's how everyone else does it..." I'm trying to get back to the garden, my garden, which means getting back to the way I lit people when I didn't care about jobs or purchase orders or what clients might think. 

To that end I've been dragging along an assortment of continuous lights with me on all of my assignments. I did ten portraits at a hospital this morning and all of them were done with large fluorescent banks as my lighting tools. Big banks covered with custom layers of diffusion cloth. I did a personal portrait yesterday (in black and white) and it was lit with a mix of daylight and the cool, soft light of my little open faced LED fixture. These are the ones I like and the ones that my family and friends say they like.

I think when we hit the digital age a lot of us got confused. There were teething problems with the early cameras, especially when it came to color rendering and profiling. We were also trying to get calibrated and it seemed like our job was to master all the technical shit. Stuff like making sure that what we saw on the back screens of cameras would match our monitors.  And then, since we were one foot in and one foot out of prints being deliverables we were locked into the battle of trying to figure out how to get good prints out of our labs or out of donkey like ink jet printers. We forgot that we needed to be in as much charge of a changing visual style as we were in charge of making sure our Epson printers didn't clog up the night before a big deadline. We technocratically mastered the process by overlaying the new instruction set over an older idea of what constituted "deliverables" while a new generation took all the tech stuff in stride, ignored it, flubbed it or (MOST IMPORTANTLY) made it into the bedrock of a new (deconstructed) style.

We ignore giant shifts of style at our own peril and sometimes in our paid work we are supporting something that (if we look at our personal work as our compass) we don't even believe in.

When I find myself grousing about the younger generation not "getting quality" when it comes to imaging I immediately stop myself and think of someone whose work I personally can't stand but who represents, in a way, everything I'm talking about. I think of Terry Richardson, the bicycle seat sniffing misogynist who made over $40 million in three years doing his snapshot style aesthetic for magazines, fashion designers and publishers. Small cameras, grainy, noisy files, a lot of direct flash, etc. But it's his style and he's become the mirror for a big swath of his generation because his work is NOT about perfection. It's about intimacy and risk and perilous connection.

Let's face it. When we all know how to achieve perfection in a craft the craft becomes boring and there's a period of time in which we sit, like a car in idle, and do this boring perfection craft until someone comes along and blows the whole thing up. Because if we all practice the same parameters of perfection the one person who zigs in the opposite direction and shows the market something new is nearly always the person who's chosen to do his own style in a vacuum made by our own resistance to change. Or our abdication of our personal style for something we imagined might be easier to sell....

I'm not recommending any course of action and this isn't a manifesto for anyone to follow. But I've been coming to grips with the fact that visually everything I did before I learned to be "perfect" is much better (emotionally, visually, connected-wise) than anything I've done since I made enough money to buy my way into the best practices of equipment and since I've had access to the internet to learn all the details I didn't even know I needed to know but which everyone now knows equally. My first year of shooting was my favorite year. And the next ten were great. But when I started to analyze and manipulate the work for an audience which I assumed wanted something with a common inflection and finish I unintentionally killed the very things I liked about the work and I've regretted it ever since.

So what am I doing? I'm making the act of shooting portraits less of a big deal technically and more of an exploration of what I like in a person. What I find interesting. Or what I hate in that person. But I'm not dishonoring them with template lighting. I'm not doing the equivalent of putting marks on the floor to follow for the lighting. I don't care how good the camera is, or how Annie Leibovitz lit something, or which light Chase Jarvis used on his Ninja Bankers Skiing shots.  I want to go back and connect with people like I used to. I want to worship the beauty of the fascinating women in front of my camera and I want to look at the men in front of my camera with the same interest and curiosity with which I approach my closest friends. I want to find things that are peculiar and interesting about the people in front of my camera and not hobble their representation by cloaking them in an unguent blanket of syrupy visual goo that makes everyone more of a metaphor for their image than an interesting and unique artifact of our mutual collaboration.

Way too verbose. I guess I just wanted to say I'm tired of photos that look like all the other photos. I liked the way mine looked thirty years ago. I want to go back to a naiveté that subverted mechanical details in the service of falling in love with the people in the frames. I want to celebrate the look and the energy, not my ability to solve problems.

In the old days when someone said, "Your work looks so professional." what they meant was that you had done a good job mastering all the hard technical stuff so that your subject could shine through. What people mean now when they say, "Your work looks so professional." is that your work is done in a style that matches the vast center of the Bell Curve of working imagers and meets all the basic technical criteria in the space. But the subtext is that your work is contrived, stilted, robbed of authenticity and uniform to a fault. Interesting when you find yourself on the wrong side of the divide and you always imagined yourself as a risk taker and a forward thinker. 

The day that you wake up hating the work you do for a living is the day you need to quit or start over in a more genuine way. There really is no middle ground for artists.


Having fun with little cameras. Making an image of my swimmer friend, Amy.

So.... a little while ago the folks at Samsung sent me a cool little camera and asked me to shoot with it over the Summer and I said, "yes, I'd love to." And at first I was apprehensive because it didn't have a viewfinder and I fear change. But pretty soon I discovered a few things. One is that I really like the NX300 and I really like its menus and the way it handles. Another thing is that adding a Hoodman Loupe to the back screen when I'm shooting in bright light is no big deal. And it works well for composition and color evaluation.

Well, there are a group of us evaluating the camera and sharing images on our blogs and in social networks and the 28 or us got invited to participate in a tiny, little contest. It was a perfect excuse to go out and self assign. The general idea was to photograph something you see everyday in a new and unique way. I mulled it over and thought I'd pass on the contest thing until I went to swim practice this morning and ran into my fierce and amazingly competitive friend, Amy. I decided, on the spur of the moment that I wanted my entry to be a photograph of Amy.

I see her at the pool almost every day, and most days we share a lane along with a rotating roster of other early morning swimmers. We get to the pool at 7:00 am and we're usually out by 8:30 am and the sun in central Texas is generally hidden behind clouds that get burned off later. So I see her in the flat light of early morning, mostly in the water with our heads down, our hearts pounding and our lungs burning. If she's feeling fast all I see of Amy most mornings is the splash of her kick as she pulls away and prepares to lap me. If I'm feeling fast I see Amy on my toes when I'm flip turning and we see each other briefly at the wall as she tells me (forcefully) to stop playing around and go NOW.

I thought it would be different and cool to make an image of Amy that was totally different for me so I asked her to meet me at the pool in the late afternoon when the lanes are nearly empty, the light is lush and luminous and the heat has ramped up and burned away the diffusing cloud cover.

I asked her to jump in the water and look as mean as she seems during workout. I laid on two kick boards on the deck and pointed my NX 300 at her  with the 18-55mm kit lens on the front. I added a polarizing filter to deepen the rich blue of the water and to remove whatever reflections I might not like.  I set the camera to manual exposure and then, laying on my belly, I directed my subject into place and started shooting. The screen on the back, when used with the Hoodman Loupe was perfect. I could see exactly what I was getting and access all the menu items I needed as well.

I shot a bunch of different images. I didn't use any fill cards or flashes. I set the Picture Wizard to "vivid" and the file setting to super fine Jpeg and knew what I'd add in post processing. I opened the files in Aperture and did general corrections and then I opened the keepers in Snapseed and added fun amounts of post processing, leaning on the structure filters and the "dramatic" filters. I wanted the image to look different from the whole film aesthetic. I had a hard time choosing which image I really wanted to use but in the end this one seemed very three dimensional to me.

We celebrated the shoot with pistachio cannoli and sparkling wine at Whole Food Market at Sixth and Lamar. I hope I win because the prize is a new lens. And all my friends know just how much I need a new lens........ but really, it's the competition and the self-assignment that's so much fun.

I'm also happy to know that I have good friends who are willing to jump in and help me out on short notice. It makes the art better.

And the combination of the Samsung NX300 and the big Loupe make shooting in full sun easy.  


What a nice day...

My day feels like this looks. Cool, sweet, refreshing and laid back. No complaints. I think I'll take a camera out for a walk and see how the day looks from a different point of view.

The Sony Rumors are starting to fly...Mirrorless comes to big cameras.

A quick snap of Victoria on set. Taken with the Samsung NX300 and the kit lens at ISO 1000 or higher. 

I've been reading stuff around the web and it seems like the rumor mill is firing up about the upcoming Sony replacements to their SLT product line. Cameras like the a77, a99, a58 and a57 all use stationary mirrors to split the light coming through the lens to both the image sensor and up into the finder to goad a phase detection AF module to leap into action and provide quick continuous AF. It's a system that works well, for the most part, but it's not technically elegant.  There is a 33% light loss which seems to limit sensor performance in the all important DXO sensor tests. And there is always the possibility of dirt on the mirror.

The basic technology to make these cameras truly mirror less, ala the Olympus Pens and the Panasonic line already exists in Sony's very good NEX line and in a number of their VG series camcorders. The bug in the sunscreen has always been that mirrorless cameras tend to slow down and get stupid when called on to focus continuously moving action. I won't go into the technical reasons that make phase detection AF faster (but less accurate) and contrast detection AF more accurate (but not nearly as fast) but regular practice with both kinds of cameras informs me that this is so.

If Sony (and Canon in their 70D, and Nikon in their V2) can produce good, solid phase detection AF points on their new lines of sensors then I'm pretty confident they'll match what we've come to expect from moving mirror cameras but with the additional speed benefit of not having mechanical moving parts to limit the imaging throughput. The rumors are that Sony will be converting their whole line to this new technology and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't take the chance if they hadn't proven the tech.

The one bugaboo that seems to stand in the way for the generation of unyieldingly recalcitrant photographers from the film era is the idea  of the optical viewfinder's necessity in the whole imaging chain. There is an emotional attachment to the glass periscope that, to me, defies logic. The idea is that you are seeing reality through the finder with an optical viewfinder and, the higher the quality and size of the viewfinder the higher and better the quality of reality. Of course most people don't make the thoughtful leap to the realization that their imaging reality isn't accurate unless they stop down to view the image at the taking aperture and that any mismatch between color temperatures isn't factored in, nor are the effects of in camera filters, settings or even movement.

The EVF (electronic viewfinder) view is a much more convincing simulacrum of the final photographic  artifact than the OVF could ever be and yet the argument goes on. If you've read the VSL blog for any amount of time you know what my passionately dispassionate opinion is: By the end of 2015 we'll ALL be buying cameras with EVFs, they will be better for most (if not all) applications and they will become so good that they'll be a fully transparent replacement for the older technology.

At any rate the rumor over on http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/sr3-specs-of-the-new-a79-prototype-camera/ point to an a79 with over 30 megapixels on the sensor, 480 focusing points on that sensor with full on PD AF, a 4 million pixel viewfinder, 8-14 fps, and no mirror anywhere in sight. I'm onboard with all of that. The two Sony a77's I owned were great production cameras and great studio cameras. If the newest chip tech is as amazing as the last generation of Sony sensors was the camera, sans mirror, should be remarkable. Whether the line does well against Nikon and Canon hinges on two things: Will they do the right marketing to get over the psychological hurdle of irrational finder love? and, secondly, will they put out enough and the right sort of lens choices for photographers? I think they will.

The NEX line continues unabated and the rumors there point to an introduction of a 50-150 or 180mm constant aperature, f2.8 zoom for those cameras coming in the fall. Now, if they'll give us a 16-50mm f2.8 for the NEX line as well I think we'll have a fully functional second system up and running.

What do I think of all this? As a guy transitioning from a still intensive content creation business to a mixed or hybrid still-and-motion business I welcome every tool that can cross over and do both jobs well. I played with a Panasonic GH3 yesterday. My friend showed me some beautiful video footage he'd just shot from the camera and I was amazed at the quality. Then I started looking through the video menus and that was cool. Amazing throughput. Good controls. Real time code. And a really great EVF. I was ready to switch systems again but I think I'll wait and see what Sony has up their sleeve before I go through all that mess again.

An interesting time to be in the creative content field. We are definitely going through another transition and we're leaving a lot of old and established paradigms in the wake. I'll miss the idea  of traditional camera designs but I'm certainly embracing the quantum leap forward in imaging potential of all kinds with the newest tech. Are you ready for 4K everything?  That's up next. I'm waiting for Apple to revolutionize the viewing space (once again....). 

And here's my interpretation of the image in black and white. I must admit that, out of habit, I prefer the black and white rendition. I know, it's nostalgia...


A new portrait. An old technique. A fresh model.

This is Victoria. We worked together on the project in Denver.  I lit her with a six foot by six foot diffusion panel and a 600 Watt Arri spot light. There's a little glow on the background from a Fiilex P360 LED light (balanced to match the main light.  The small, second catch light in her eyes is from a Kino-Flo fixture we were using to light our video.

The camera was a Sony a99 and the lens was the 85mm 1.5 Rokinon, cine version. This is one of the last many portraits done over two days.  I like everything about it so I wanted to share it with you, my VSL readers.

What I learned on the job yesterday.

I've been talking about the growing likelihood that traditional photography and video would collide and change the nature of the creative content market profoundly and permanently for photographers and, for me, it seems to be happening this year. I worked on a project yesterday and when we started talking about the parameters and fleshing out the brief with the client a few weeks ago the project was centered around the idea that we'd be shooting lots of stills for a rotating banner on their website. They tentatively asked about video and we said that we could do interviews and additional content called, "b-roll" that we could use to edit into the interviews to make them more dramatic. Over time the project changed from one that was still image intensive to one that is more video intensive.

Instead of spending most of the day looking for great still shots the time ended up being almost evenly divided between shooting stills and setting up and shooting video interviews and b-roll.

On the day of the shoot I made sure we packed a case with sound equipment which included a little Beachtek mixer that also matches the impedance of balanced, XLR connected microphones to the input impedance of my a99 camera. The little box is passive, meaning no battery power, but it does a good job managing the interconnection of professional, powered condenser microphones to what is basically a consumer level interface on the camera.

I debated a bit about which microphone to use to record my interviewees. A nice lavalier solves a lot of problems but, in the end, I didn't want any mike showing in the scene so I opted for a shotgun microphone at the end of a pole and used a Rode NTG-2 as my first choice. (Please don't write and tell me to take the microphone off the camera. As I said, we used it on a pole. The image above is just a quick way to show the "moving parts.") I packed extra cables and batteries as well as several back up microphones, just in case. The sound we got was good and detailed and Ben got it in nice and close which minimized the usual, office background noise. 

We were shooting broad spaces for the photography so lighting was very secondary in that regard but it was critical for the video. That being the case we knew we'd rely on continuous lighting so we brought two choices. We packed two large, florescent panels along with some nice diffusion cloths and we brought along four of the Fotodiox AS 312 LED panels with adjustable color temperatures. Ben and I used the LEDs, handheld, to pop a little light across glass or into dark spaces while we shot. We used the two, big, four tube per fixture florescent panels for our video set ups. They actually kicked out enough soft light so we could shoot with the (highly tinted) windows behind our subjects and show downtown in the background.  I thought we needed to travel light so I took intermediate sized light stands. They aren't really stable enough when the florescent panels need to go high. Next time I'll pack heavy duty stands for the fluorescent lights. We didn't have any issues but it sure made me nervous to see the lights sway a little bit next to floor to ceiling window, sixteen stories up.... This falls under: Sturdy stands trump lightweight travel. 

We packed one fluid head tripod and one tripod with a three way pan head. In retrospect, since everything we shot may end up as a 16:9 banner on a website and everything will be emphatically horizontal, we should have packed two fluid head tripods so that both of us could shoot various video footage separately. Even in the locked down shots of interior architecture (and there were many) we could have shot our stills and then unlocked the pan control and done a slow, controlled pan to use as a cutaway in our video editing. 

I don't shoot a lot of architecture anymore but at one time in my career I used a couple of Linhof TechniKarden 4x5 view cameras and a couple of wide lenses (75mm and 90mm) and shot tons and tons of interiors and exteriors for a magazine called, Early American Life. For a span of ten years or so I shot a lot of transparencies for them. If we needed to see a window in the scene and we wanted detail outside (we always did) we had to raise the ambient light level in the interior with strobes to balance. We'd always let the light go one stop hotter outside than inside. You could do that back then because film didn't just default to 255 and go white. It gracefully gave in to over exposure....

On this job I shot about fifteen shots that featured floor to ceiling windows with views of downtown Austin. Our working method now is to shoot a perfect frame for the exterior followed by a perfectly exposed frame for the interior and then we stack them in photoshop and paint in the window detail. I like working in layers this way because it makes it easier to control apparent depth of field by being able to blur the outdoor layer to tone down distance details and return emphasis onto the interior space. So far, in post production, this method is quick, easy and kind of fun. 

I learned to use my grid lines and the bubble level on my fluid head. If you have to pick one it's good to be consistent and depend on just one reference so that all your post production corrections are done with one angle change or one lens correction parameter. If you go back and forth between checking the internal levels and checking the tripod level one or the other will be off and you'll be zigging and zagging all over PhotoShop to correct them.

If you are transitioning to offering video it's cool to shoot ten seconds of video once you've got your still shot. The frames come in handy when you are editing and you know people are tired of seeing a talking head on camera. Intercutting related images breaks up the visual boredom. We roll ten seconds of video at the end of every still set up. Just to have it in the can. 

I did a stupid thing on Tues. (the day of the shoot).  I wore a white shirt. It was a really nice white shirt with collar stays and it was well tailored but....it was white and as I mentioned we spent a lot of time shooting into floor to ceiling windows...which reflect a lot of bright stuff from the interior space. Bright things like white shirts. I hate cloning out my shiny, shimmering white torso...Save yourself some time and wear you BLACK shirt when you shoot in shiny spaces. You'll have a lot less to mess with in post.

I learned that no matter how organized you are that by the end of the day you'll get tired and forget something. For video I keep a check list next to the camera and I've become manic about making sure the little red light on the camera is flashing to indicate that the camera is recording. It's hard to always remember when you stopped and when you started and it's embarrassing to get a really good take and then reach over to turn off the movie mode on the camera only to discover that you never pushed to start. 

We were organized but we forgot one thing. There's a great client logo/sign as you step off the elevator into their lobby. The client and I talked about the sign and Ben and I talked about the sign and we walked past it at least ten times on the shooting day. But we never shot it. After I do the post on about 120 shots I'm heading back downtown to shoot the darn lobby sign. Can't believe I didn't spend five minutes doing it on Tues. and now will spend more travel time and what not to grab the shot after the fact....In the future we'll write up and official shot list and check off stuff as we go. I've done so many shoots in my career they all blend together and it's hard to remember what  you did and didn't get. A list is helpful.

Finally, I learned that I still love the problem solving, people directing and general sense of discovery that comes with every shoot we do these days. I learned about a new industry. I had fun solving the interior/exterior set ups. I enjoyed directing people in their interviews and I had a blast having lunch at a downtown coffee shop with the kid.  Photography is still a wonderful and engaging career. And work keeps coming in. I'm loving it.

Bottom line? When you keep learning you stay engaged and attracted to projects. When you think you know it all you should stop and change careers. 



I worked with a perfect assistant today.

Imagine a photo assistant who is calm, collected and quiet. Imagine he knows your camera menus as well as you do, in fact uses the same cameras you do for his own projects. Now imagine that your assistant has taken several years of cinematography classes, done sixty or seventy video projects and won cash awards for his Public Service Announcement video projects. Imagine an assistant that can do better audio and better microphone booming than anyone else you've met. Imagine you could hand him an extra camera and tripod and trust him to cruise around on three floors of a class "A" office building in downtown Austin, autonomously shooting great "B-roll" for the project and that he remembers all the responses from the video interviews you are currently shooting and can translate them into visual opportunities without having to be told or prompted.

Then imagine that he showed up early, wore just the right shirt, pants and shoes for the client at hand and he was polite, engaging and endearing to the clients (and to the photographer). Then imagine he does all this just four days after having all of his wisdom teeth extracted. You might call him a "miracle assistant". Around the house we call him "Ben."

I worked with the guy for a full day today. We were shooting stills and videos for a new client and I wanted everything to go smoothly. Really smoothly. So I took Ben. Later he told me, "You didn't really need an assistant you just wanted someone there to assure you that you were doing the video correctly.  And you were." I don't agree with his assessment but so what?

It's fun when you realize that your kid is much better than you are at stuff. Not everything, but a lot of the stuff that really matters. Everything he suggested was right on the money.  And the beautiful thing is that he only suggested if I asked. That's a great assistant.