Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Times, They Are A Changin'...

Well, for those of you that don't already know, things are changing quite abruptly for myself and the ZiF blog this weekend. Around the middle of August I was approached by one of my regular clients, The Heartland Poker Tour, and asked if I would be interested in working for them year-round instead of just two or three events a year. After a phone call to my wife where I begged like a 5 year old in the toy section of Walmart, I gladly accepted their offer. Why was I so excited? Well, allow me to explain what getting this position means to me.
I'll be good, I promise. -Yahoo search


Monday, July 16, 2012

Seniors, Seniors, and... Seniors?

I'll be completely honest, when I switched to doing portrait work instead of just shooting for myself, there was one thing I feared shooting above all others... Seniors. In my opinion, senior sessions are just one step below wedding photos on the photo pyramid. Most people are only a high school senior once, and if they aren't their parents probably aren't celebrating it with photos. So, it's a once in a lifetime photo session for the senior. That's a lot of pressure to get it right.So, having this fear, I was assured of one thing my first year of doing portrait work... I would end up doing more seniors than anything. :(

Lucky for me, I've been able to work with some great seniors this year, not to mention some great senior moms as well.  They have definitely helped me conquer my fear a little bit. Also, I'm starting to understand how shooting seniors helps you become a better photographer. When you truly make an effort to personalize the images to the senior, you find yourself being more creative out of necessity instead of trying to force it. You can't get away with posing every kid the same because it just won't fit them.

 I think I had also forgotten that I am going to perpetually be a goofy high school kid. Thus, I think it's actually easier for me to work with seniors instead of adults. We'll see about that 10 years in the future, but for now, I get them and it seems to be making things go easier.

Recently, however, there has been one 'senior' session that meant a lot more to me than all the rest combined. That was the session I shot with my grandparents for their upcoming anniversary. I love them very much and I was happy to be able to give them their pictures as their gift.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Trip To Vegas and The Return of Howard Photography...

Wow! Way too long without a post, but it's not without good reason. I landed a cool gig the week before last, but it came with a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), so I couldn't talk details. I'm pretty sure that I can say I worked for the production company that shoots MTV's Teen Mom. However, I think I'll leave it at that until the show comes out. I think the NDA applies mostly to show content and I would be fine talking about my work, but I don't need any legal grief at the moment and the show is still in production so I don't want to jeopardize future work over the coming months.

Moving on to something I CAN talk about, I'm excited to be picking up another shoot with the HPT. I found out earlier this week that they'll be flying me out to Las Vegas for their tournament at the Palms Casino. Yes, it's cool to be flown out for a job, and yes, it's cool to be going to Vegas, but this job means a little more than that to me. This job culminates four years of building a working relationship with a company and earning their trust as a freelance employee. In the last year, it has evolved from me only working a local casino, to me traveling on my own to St. Louis, to them flying me out to Vegas. Not bad for something that started with a cold-contact email to the co-owner of the production company. It's been awesome getting here, but I'd be even happier if it lasted a great deal beyond this point.

Lastly, you've probably noticed that I haven't been doing much on the photography front lately. That is because I have been fortunate enough to be busy with production work so far this year. Should things start to slow down, or on the less likely chance someone requests photos out of the blue (since I'm not advertising), I doubt that will change for the time being.

OK. I left that above paragraph in this post because up until the point where I typed the last period, it was true. My phone rang before I could start another sentence and now I am booked for a senior photo session. Just more proof I have no idea what I'm talking about. :)

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Little Drama Before St. Louis...

Well, now that we've had our first tornado (depending on who you ask), I suppose winter is over and spring has sprung. That typically means business is about to pick up. In fact, I've already been talking to my friend Bogac with Digital Odeon Productions about some jobs. The first of those jobs is actually very soon... as in tomorrow. That's right, tomorrow night I'll be headed to my alma mater Pittsburg High School to shoot their rendition of Legally Blonde The Musical.

Legally Blonde
Photo Courtesy Pittsburg Morning Sun
While I may not be thrilled with the play they've selected, I'm actually looking forward to this job. The last two plays that I have taped for them have been excellent and I'm sure this one will follow suit. This job actually represents everything I love about event videography. While anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people are paying to come see an event, I not only am getting paid to be there, but I sometimes get the best view in the house. While a local high school play might not be the most illustrious example of this, I still enjoy every minute of it.

Of course, taking in a bit of theater isn't the only thing on my agenda this weekend. Saturday I'll be heading to St. Louis for my second stop this year with the Heartland Poker Tour. The first stop was at Downstream Casino just across the Oklahoma border. I've been working that location for the last couple years, but this will be my first time working another city with them. However, I'm especially excited because this shoot will mark the HPT's 100th event. That's a pretty huge milestone, so naturally, it's looking to be a quite a party. There are six poker pros already slated to attend including Phil Hellmuth and Chris Moneymaker. If you aren't familiar with poker celebs, let me just paraphrase a little Ron Burgundy for you. They're kind of a big deal. As if that wasn't enough, we'll also be shooting at not one, but two locations this weekend. I'll only be shooting the final table, but qualifiers and the main event will be taking place at both the Lumiere Place and River City casinos. I'm sure it's going to be a crazy weekend, I just hope it stays on the good side of crazy.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On The Cheap: Yongnuo YN-467 Speedlite Review

I suppose, in the name of full disclosure, I should start out saying that I am wary about writing this review. This is mostly because I'm not deeply versed in flash photography. By that, I mean that I studied the technical aspects of flash photography while in school and I used a variety of flashes and setups as well, but in all honesty it was something that I didn't master and mostly fudged around with until I got it right. I was spoiled and shot mostly with strobes in a studio setting, but still used a speedlight, just not many times. So, if you are looking for a laboratory test/technical review where someone goes in-depth about verifying the guide number, measures the color temperature of the light, or whether or not it will blend... this is not it. 


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Just When You Thought You Were Rid of Me...

No... I'm not a morning person.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes... OK, more like a grumpy, half-asleep bear waking up from hibernation. The blog is alive once more. I don't typically do much work in December and January. It's not that I don't want to, but between the holidays and the winter slowdown it just happens. However, now that I'm starting to add jobs to the calendar, it's time to dust things off and get back into the groove of posting on a regular basis.

Now, I don't believe in New Years resolutions, but I do believe in setting goals. So, I've set a couple goals for myself this year. The first is to write more product reviews. I only wrote one review of a product last year, but I found that out of all my posts, two were generating the most traffic on a regular basis. The first was linked to an ad I posted to Craigslist for photography services, and the second was my review of the Bower Camera Bag I purchased. So not only is it a good way to bring more traffic to the blog, it's also a resource to other photogs at my buying level. Two perfect reasons to keep doing it. I've already purchased some new gear, so keep an eye out for reviews to start popping up.

My second goal for the year is a bit more challenging, for me anyway. I'd like to do more personal creative work. Whether it's shooting a short for the web, doing a photo series / working with models, or even getting back into nature/landscape photography. Being purely creative has always been one of my weaker areas. I've always considered myself a facilitator for the visions of others. However, I realize that if I'm going to continue to grow in a creative industry, I have to push myself to create my own work and not just sit back and wait for others to need me.

Well, that's pretty much it for this post. Like I said, there are jobs popping up on the calendar and there are already some interesting changes going on. It's shaping up to be a good year, even if a month of it is already gone.

Thanks for reading!