I love this future we live in

Where this can happen:

Icy Eyes

Madison Brown and Saydi Zirker, both emerging models of Phoenix Fashion Week caught during a runway practice session:

Underwater test of the DIY Sound Blimp

Turns out this thing is a lot more useful than I originally thought! Read more about how it was built here, here, and here. Some results:

A Personal Record

Largest group photo so far! What a colorful bunch, too – full gallery here.

A word on branding

When we show up to any shoot involving at least one other human being, the equipment we bring to the party reflects on us as photographers. If you care about the impression you make (you may legitimately not, which is a nice situation), then it might be worth considering what you can do to ensure it’s a positive one. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford/justify/rent the highest of the high-end brand kit, then that is one way to achieve this.

However, spending 3x-10x more money solely to impress others is arguably not only vain, but often also in vain, since few people other than fellow photographers will know that your flash generator is worth as much as your car. And why would you even want to impress other photogs? They’re not your market; they (usually) aren’t the ones hiring you, nor generate new business for you.

Another, possibly more effective way to make a solid impression on everyone is to show up with gear that looks well-organized, cohesive, and yours. This can be accomplished very economically by just having your shit together, in a minimal set of bags/cases, all of which are boldly marked with your own brand. I take the extra step of covering up the logos of the manufacturers of my stuff to clean up the look even further. This might seem silly and pedantic, but makes a bit of sense once you think about it: Why provide free advertising for a bunch of miscellaneous brands, when you could be reinforcing your own instead?

Unless these equipment manufacturing companies are actually paying/sponsoring you to use and show their stuff (a common marketing practice I’m not opposed to… *hint, hint* ), then why clutter your own image with their logos all over your gear? Gaff it up, I say!

Again, this does not apply if you always rent your kit, which there’s something to be said for too: You avoid some ownership and logistics headaches (maintenance, storage, traveling with it), in exchange for the rental-related ones (availability, shipping, beat-up condition). Also, if you own a little of the industry-standard rental stuff (e.g. Profoto), you can seamlessly supplement and expand with a few rentals as needed, and charge to your client an equipment fee for the stuff you do own.

I prefer to have full control over how, what, when, and where I can apply my craft, so I lean toward the ownership option (not the flashiest brands, but the best-value ones) and will therefore keep looking like a serious gov’t agency just arrived on the scene 😉

DIY sound blimp test

Testing the sound blimp I built here. Pardon the audio noise/hiss; I didn’t want to try to low-pass it out since it might mess with the comparison

MovNat Combatives certification course in Houston

This past weekend I flew to Houston, TX to attend an excellent course for trainers of self-defense in the MovNat organization. This is not martial arts, but rather combatives, meaning it’s all about being practical and nothing about being fancy or even “fair”. To give you an idea, the key targets to best survive a real street fight are: 1) eyes, 2) throat, 3) groin. This quote by our humble yet incredibly qualified and competent instructor Cedric “Vic” Verdier also sums things up:

I don’t want to cause pain; I want to break their bodies.

I brought my gear to capture the event and get some portraits, the results of which can be seen by clicking below:

DIY sound blimp assembly

Got almost all the way on the sound blimp project today; only the front window is left to finish! The Lexan turned out to be surprisingly clear, so I’m going to try using that for the front as well. I shot through it a few times and couldn’t tell the difference between that and without in the resulting photos, so it seems promising. It’ll certainly be a lot easier to cut it into a circle with my Dremel than actual glass! More rugged too.

DIY sound blimp project, commence

Scott and his Jacobson

Scott and his Jacobson

Having worked on a few sound stages, sets, and studios now, I felt the need for something to effectively suppress the rather loud shutter actuation and mirror slap of my D800. The “quiet mode” on that camera is a bit of a joke, and definitely does not cut it when sound is rolling on set. This limits when I can get behind-the-scenes/production shots without the audio crew wanting to murder me.

The classic solution is the industry-trusted Jacobson Sound Blimp, one of which Scott McDermott used on an on-location set of the NBC show The Moment that I assisted him on recently. It makes your camera look like something straight outta The Great War, which is both awesome and awful. There are no controls other than the shutter release button, and they cost almost a grand to buy.

Alternatively, and less effective, is a soft camera muzzle that I’ve seen ‘togs use at classical music concerts in auditoriums etc. The upside is that you can stick your hands into them and use all the controls. The downside is that you can still hear the mirror slap a few paces away. And you look like a sock puppeteer.

I cast about for other solutions, and came across several DIY tutorials based around a Pelican case, the best of which was this one. I love the fact it supports a removable extension tube for different-length lenses, so I can go long with my 70-200mm when I need to reach, or stick to my physically shorter 85mm prime when I want maneuverability and max light (both in photons and atoms). The fact that the whole rig ends up being completely waterproof is another huge plus for me (pool shoot ahoy!). So, without delay I ordered the Pelicase from B&H and raided my local Home Depot for the rest of the components needed:


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Green Street Realty Runway Show

Green Street Realty partnered up with Phoenix Fashion Week and put on their second fundraising fashion show on their offices’ lovely rooftop patio last month. The beneficiaries were Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Homes for our Troops, and everyone in attendance that spring evening.

Click below for the full gallery: