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2013 Tour of Elk Grove

Last weekend I had the great opportunity to photograph the Tour of Elk Grove Village. As you may know, I love cycling and even more, I love photographing cycling. It was a great weekend. Great racing, great fans. I was offered water, beer and scotch. all of which I declined. After all I was working.

 

Me & Bob Roll

Me & Bob Roll

Jeremy Powers (aka: J-Pow)

Jeremy Powers (aka: J-Pow)

 

I saw old friends and made new ones. Met cycling greats such as Bob Roll and Jeremy Powers (J-Pow).

The photos are online and have already been downloaded from South Africa (Team MTM, the first sanctioned team from South Africa participated). Photos have also gone out to Europe.

 

Photographing a race like this can be either very easy or very grueling. It all depends on how much you want to do or not do. If you want great photographs, you’ll do a lot of work. The last time I photographed this race was two years ago. That time I needed to have all of the days photos uploaded that night. The racing would be over about 8:00pm. By the time I got back to my hotel room it would be 9. I would then begin to transfer all of the image files to the computer, at which point I would hit the restaurant for dinner. When I got back to my room, I began edititng the days photos. I would usually be done around 2:00am, hit send, then go to sleep. I had gotten a nearby hotel room so I could start the edititing process sooner. I was also required, that time to supply more photos.

 

This year was different. The volume was lower. The deadline, not nearly as fast.

 

These are some of the factors that are taken into account when quoting on such an assignment.

 

As an example, some things that may or may not be needed for photographing a bicycle road race.

 

  1. Moto driver: Do I need to hire a motorcyclist to drive the course while I sit on the back and photograph the riders?
  2. Second shooter: I can’t be everywhere at once. Do I need to have one two (or more) other photographers along the course to capture everything that happens?
  3. Post-production assistant: If the photographs are need shortly after the event is ended, then a person is needed to handle image files as quickly as possible, usually as the event is still is happening

 

That is just a quick sample of what could be needed. Now obviously if you don’t have a budget for this scale, well then, you need to decide what it is you can afford and we can work together to make it happen.

 

 

Product Photographer’s Journal: My Job & what I do

There are different names for the work I do, Product, Table-top, Still-life, Catalog, Web, eCommerce Photographer. Basically, call it what you want, what I do is make photographs of things. As a Commercial photographer, what I do is make photographs of things that someone else is trying to earn a living producing

The difference in the names depends upon what the photographs are to be used for.  In a nutshell, here is how it usually breaks down

Product: All encompassing. Photographing an item for sale

Table-top: All encompassing. Photographing small items, things that can be set on a table

Catalog/Web/eCommerce: These three are basically the same thing these days. Photographing items to be used in a catalog format, be it printed or online

Still-life:  This is where I am to photograph an item (usually for commercial purposes), in a way to convey an emotion about the item. How would the consumer feel about purchasing the item (or how my client wants you to feel about buying it). Still-life is also considered a Fine-Art.

merchandise usa (Von R Buzard)
This photo is Product, because the item in the photo is for sale. Tabletop, because it’s small and fits on a table. Catalog/Web/eComm because that’s one way they are selling it. Doubtful anyone would ever call it Still-life

 

I’ll write more about each of these in more details in upcoming blog posts

My Liberace story

The other day I saw a little bit of the recent movie “Behind the Candelabra” about the life of Liberace. I was reminded of my own Liberace story.

Years ago, back in the days of video tape. I worked for Technicolor Videocassette. Same Technicolor you see at the end of pretty much every movie ever made. At the time, Technicolor was the major supplier of video reproduction for the Hollywood movie studios. The clientele consisted of MGM, HBO, Disney, Sony Pictures, etc… My job there was Quality Control Engineer. Most of my days were spent watching movies, looking for defects in video and audio. Before you get thinking…Wow! You watched movies all day long? Actually, what I did was gather random tapes from a recording run and watch short segments of the recording (usually at the beginning and towards the end). So you know, I would have hundreds of tapes (VHS & Beta) to check in a given day.

One day, my boss came to me with a cart full of copies of “Liberace in Concert” (200 copies on Beta to be exact). He told me I needed to do what we called a 100% QC check. That is where I would load 30-40 copies into players at once…Hit Play…then switch from one copy to the next looking (and listening (Hi-Fi & Low-Fi)) for defects and to do this completely thru the recording.

Trust me…not the way I want to spend a day at work

When I was done and I had to sign off personally that each of the 200 copies was perfect quality. I returned the cart of tapes to my boss and had to ask, Why? Why did I have to spend so much time watching and listening to Liberace?

The reason…Mr. Liberace was hosting a party. He had called Sony pictures (the distributor) and asked for 200 copies to give away as gifts. Sony pictures called Technicolor and well you get the idea.

 

The lessons of this story are…

1)      Quality counts
2)      Talent is due respect (say what you want, Liberace had TALENT)
3)      Be sure of your work before signing off on ANY project. Trust me, if there had been one complaint regarding any of those Beta tapes, it wouldn’t have been Liberace, the Heads of either Sony Pictures or Technicolor, or even, my manager who have gotten dumped on. It would have been ME and ME alone

Chicago Sun Times

As many of you may know. Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times fired their entire photography department. Then announced that they were giving their reporters iPhones (along with some basic training) and that they would now be responsible for providing photos for their articles.

This, as you can imagine has caused outrage among the photo community. How can they deny the talents of these photojournalists and think that an iPhone can be a suitable replacement. That talent can be replaced with technology.

For those who think that being a photojournalist doesn’t require talent. Go ahead and try it for yourself. Also tell it to the folks who give out the Pulitzer Prize.

Anyway, I wanted to lend a little of my own life experience to this. For a while I worked as an in-house photographer for a jewelry company.  This company had been going thru some bad times, mainly by no real fault of the management. Bad economy, soaring material costs, etc… The company was on a downward spiral. They tried numerous things to fix the situation. After a while, they had to start laying-off employees, something in their decades before they were able to avoid. After each round of lay-offs they did their best to assure people that they were going to fix this. Times were stressful, folks didn’t know if they were going to have a job week after week.

Then it happened. The head of Human Resources came to my office to tell me that I was being let go.

I’ve been told by those after me that, no matter what they said after that, everyone knew the end was coming for them. I was the guy who made photos that moved merchandise, that, without me, they didn’t know how they were going to sell their product.

Of course they weren’t totally without a photo department. They packed up all of the studio equipment and shipped it off to their manufacturing plant and that a guy in the IT department was going to make the photographs.

Yea! That didn’t last long. Within a year, the company was closed and the inventory liquidated. I myself was able to get some of the studio gear and a good price.

Now maybe it’s just me…but I see this as a mark of desperation on the management of the Sun-Times and won’t be surprised when they go belly up

 

Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune Photojournalist recently wrote”10 Responses to the Sun-Times Debacle” an excellent piece explaining

Product photo of the week: X-Ray Gogs

Old favorite product shot of mine. I love photographing toys

 (Von R Buzard)

Copyright Von R Buzard